ePub 版

than now I can do; and when an author was highly commended to me by others, or pleased me in some part, I was ready to entertain the whole; whereas now 1 take and leave in the same author, and dissent in some things from him that I like best, as well as from others.

[ocr errors]



[WILLIAM PENN, a name never to be mentioned but with honour, is distinguished as a writer, as well as the founder of a State. His most celebrated work, entitled No Cross, no Crown, was written during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, and contains an exposition of the doctrines of the Society of Friends. Besides this work, Pend wrote Reflections and Maxims relating to the Conduct of Life, A Key to discern the Difference between the Religion professed by the Quakers, and the Misrepresentations of their Adversaries, and A Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People called Quakers.]

Against the Pride of Noble Birth.

That people are generally proud of their persons, is too visible and troublesome, especially if they have any pretence either to blood or beauty; the one has raised many quarrels among men, and the other among women, and men too often, for their sakes, and at their excitements. But to the first; what a pother has this noble blood made in the world, antiquity of name or family, whose father or mother, great-grandfather or great-grandmother, was best descended or allied? what stock or what clan they came of? what

coat of arms they gave? which had, of right, the precedence? But, methinks, nothing of man's folly has less show of reason to palliate it.

For, first, what matter is it of whom any one is descended, that is not of ill fame; since 't is his own virtue that must raise, or vice depress him? An ancestor's character is no excuse to a man's ill actions, but an aggravation of his degeneracy; and since virtue comes not by generation, I neither am the better nor the worse for my forefather: to be sure, not in God's account; nor should it be in man's. Nobody would endure injuries the easier, or reject favours the more, for coming by the hand of a man well or ill descended. I confess it were greater honour to have had no blots, and with an hereditary estate to have had a lineal descent of worth: but that was never found; no, not in the most blessed of families upon earth; I mean Abraham's. To be descended of wealth and titles, fills no man's head with brains, or heart with truth; those qualities come from a higher cause. 'Tis vanity, then, and most condemnable pride, for a man of bulk and character to despise another of less size in the world, and of meaner alliance, for want of them; because the latter may have the merit, where the former has only the effects of it in an ancestor : and though the one be great by means of a forefather, the other is so too, but 't is by his own; then, pray, which is the bravest man of the two?

No, let blood and name go together; but pray, let nobility and virtue keep company, for they are nearest of kin. 'Tis thus posited by God himself, that best knows how to apportion things with an equal and just hand. He neither likes nor dislikes by descent; nor

He re

does he regard what people were, but are. members not the righteousness of any man that leaves his righteousness, much less any unrighteous man for the righteousness of his ancestor.

But if these men of blood please to think themselves concerned to believe and reverence God in his Holy Scriptures, they may learn that in the beginning, he made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell upon all the face of the earth; and that we are descended of one father and mother; a more certain original than the best of us can assign. From thence go down to Noah, who was the second planter of the human race, and we are upon some certainty for our forefathers. What violence has rapt, or virtue merited since, and how far we that are alive are concerned in either, will be hard for us to determine but a few ages off us.

But, methinks, it should suffice to say, our own eyes see that men of blood, out of their gear and trappings, without their feathers and finery, have no more marks of honour by nature stamped upon them than their inferior neighbours. Nay, themselves being judges, they will frankly tell us they feel all those passions in their blood that make them like other men, if not farther from the virtue that truly dignifies. The lamentable ignorance and debauchery that now rages among too many of our greater sort of folks, is too clear and casting an evidence in the point: and pray, tell me of what blood are they come?

Penn's Advice to his Children.

Betake yourselves to some honest, industrious course of life, and that not of sordid covetousness, but for example, and to avoid idleness. And if you change your condition and marry, choose with the knowledge and consent of your mother, if living, or of guardians, or those that have the charge of you. Mind neither beauty nor riches, but the fear of the Lord, and a sweet and amiable disposition, such as you can love above all this world, and that may make your habitations pleasant and desirable to you.

And being married, be tender, affectionate, patient, and meek. Live in the fear of the Lord, and he will bless you and your offspring. Be sure to live within compass; borrow not, neither be beholden to any. Ruin not yourselves by kindness to others; for that exceeds the due bounds of friendship, neither will a true friend expect it. Small matters I heed not.

Let your industry and parsimony go no further than for a sufficiency for life, and to make a provision for your children, and that in moderation, if the Lord gives you any. I charge you help the poor and needy; let the Lord have a voluntary share of your income for the good of the poor, both in our society and others; for we are all his creatures; remembering that "he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."

Know well your incomings, and your outgoings may be better regulated. Love not money nor the world: use them only, and they will serve you; but if you love them you serve them, which will debase your spirits as well as offend the Lord.

Pity the distressed, and hold out a hand of help to

them; it may be your case, and as you mete to others, God will mete to you again.

Be humble and gentle in your conversation; of few words I charge you, but always pertitent when you speak, hearing out before you attempt to answer, and then speaking as if you would persuade, not impose.

Affront none, neither revenge the affronts that are done to you; but forgive, and you shall be forgiven of your heavenly Father.

In making friends, consider well first; and when you are fixed, be true, not wavering by reports, nor deserting in affliction, for that becomes not the good and virtuous.

Watch against anger; neither speak nor act in it; for, like drunkenness, it makes a man a beast, and throws people into desperate inconveniences.

Avoid flatterers, for they are thieves in disguise; their praise is costly, designing to get by those they bespeak; they are the worst of creatures; they lie to flatter, and flatter to cheat; and, which is worse, if you believe them, you cheat yourselves most dangerously. But the virtuous, though poor, love, cherish, and prefer. Remember David, who, asking the Lord, "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell upon thy holy hill?" answers, "He that walketh uprightly, worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart; in whose eyes the vile person is contemned, but honoureth them who fear the Lord."

Next, my children, be temperate in all things: in your diet, for that is physic by prevention; it keeps, nay, it makes people healthy, and their generation sound. This is exclusive of the spiritual advantage it brings. Be also plain in your apparel; keep out

« 上一頁繼續 »