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first and the great early instrument of God amongst us, George Fox and what you have heard, seen and observed, of those heavenly worthies, their holy wisdom, zeal, love, labours, and sufferings, and particular tenderness to you, treasure up for your children after you, and tell them what you have heard, seen, and known, of the servants and work of God, and progress thereof, as an holy, exemplary, and edifying tradition unto them. And be sure that you forsake not the assembling yourselves with God's people, as the manner of some was, Heb. x. 25. and is at this day, especially among young people, the children of some friends, whom the love of this present evil world hath hurt and cooled in their love to God and his truth. But do you keep close to meetings, both for worship and business of the church, when of an age and capacity proper for it; and that not out of novelty, formality, or to be seen of men, but in pure fear, love, and conscience to God, your Creator, as the public, just, and avowed testimony of your duty and homage to him. In which be exemplary, both by timely coming, and a reverent and serious deportment during the assembly; in which be not weary, or think the time long till it be over, as some did of the sabbaths of old time; but let your eye be to him you come to wait upon and serve, and do what you do as to him, and he will be your refreshment and reward; for you shall return with the seals and pledges of his love, mercy, and blessings.
§. 5. Above all things, my dear children, as to your communion and fellowship with friends, be careful to keep the unity of the faith in the bond of peace. Have a care of reflectors, detractors, backbiters, that undervalue and undermine brethren behind their backs, or slight the good and wholesome order of truth, for the preserving things quiet, sweet, and honourable in the church. Have a care of novelties, and airy changeable people, the conceited, censorious, and puffed up, who at last have always shown themselves to be clouds without rain, and wells without water, that will rather disturb and break the peace and fellowship of the church, where they dwell, than not have their wills and ways take place, I charge you, in the fear of the living God, that you carefully beware of all such: mark them, as the apostle says, Rom. xvi. 17. and have no fellowship with them; but to advise, exhort, intreat, and finally reprove them, Eph. v. 11. For God is, and will be, with his people in this holy dispensation we are now under, and which is now amongst us, unto the end of days: its shall grow and increase in gifts, graces, power, and lustre, for it is the last and unchangeable one: and blessed are your eyes, if they see it,
and your ears if they hear it, and your hearts if they understand it; which I pray that you may, to God's glory, and your eternal comfort.
§. 6. Having thus expressed myself to you, my dear children, as to the things of God, his truth and kingdom, I refer you to his light, grace, spirit, and truth within you, and the holy scriptures of truth without you, which from my youth I loved to read, and were ever blessed to me; and which I charge you to read daily; the Old Testament, for history chiefly; the Psalms, for meditation and devotion; the Prophets, for comfort and hope, but especially the New Testament, for doctrine, faith, and worship: for they were given forth by holy men of God in divers ages, as they were moved of the holy Spirit; and are the declared and revealed mind and will of the holy God to mankind under divers dispensations, and they are certainly able to make the man of God perfect, through faith, unto salvation; being such a true and clear testimony to the salvation that is of God, through Christ, the second Adam, the light of the world, the quickening Spirit, who is full of grace and truth; whose light, grace, spirit, and truth, bear witness to them, in every sensible soul; as they frequently, plainly and solemnly, bear testimony to the light, spirit, grace and truth, both in himself, and in and to his people, to their sanctification, justification, redemption, and consolation; and in all men, to their visitation, reproof, and conviction in their evil ways. 1 say, having thus expressed myself in general, I refer you, my dear children, to the light and spirit of Jesus, that is within you, and to the scriptures of truth without you, and such other testimonies to the one same eternal truth as have been borne in our day; and shall now descend to particulars, that you may more directly apply what I have said in general, both as to your religious and civil direction in your pilgrimage upon earth.
§. 1. I WILL begin here, also, with the beginning of time, the morning: so soon as you wake, retire your mind into a pure silence from all thoughts and ideas of worldly things, and in that frame wait upon God, to feel his good presence to lift up your hearts to him, and commit your whole self into his blessed care and protection. Then rise, if well, immediately being dressed, read a chapter, or more, in the scriptures, and afterwards dispose yourselves for the business of the day; ever remembering that God is present, the overseer of all your thoughts, words, and actions; and VOL. III.
demean yourselves, my dear children, accordingly; and do not you dare to do that in his holy all-seing presence, which you would be ashamed a man, yea, a child, should see you do. And as you have intervals from your lawful occasions, delight to step home, within yourselves, I mean, and commune with your own hearts, and be still; and, as Nebuchad nezzar said on another occasion, "One like the Son of God," you shall find and enjoy, with you and in you: a treasure the world knows not of, but is the aim, end, and diadem of the children of God.' This will bear you up against all temptations, and carry you sweetly and evenly through your day's business, supporting you under disappointments, and moderating your satisfaction in success and prosperity. The evening come, read again the holy scripture, and have your times of retirement, before you close your eyes, as in the morning; that so the Lord may be the alpha and omega of every day of your lives. And if God bless you with families, remember good Joshua's resolution, Josh. xxiv. 15. "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
§. 2. Fear God; show it in desire, refraining, and doing: keep the inward watch, keep a clear soul and a light heart. Mind an inward sense upon doing any thing: when you read the scripture, remark the notablest places, as your spirits are most touched and affected, in a common-place book, with that sense, or opening, which you receive; for they come not by study, or in the will of man, no more than the scripture did; and they may be lost by carelessness, and overgrowing thoughts and businesses of this life so in pursuing any other good or profitable book: yet rather meditate, than read much. For the Spirit of a man knows the things of a man; and with that spirit, by observation of the tempers and actions of men you see in the world, and looking into your own spirit, and meditating thereupon, you will have a deep and strong judgment of men and things. For from what may be, what should be, and what is most probable or likely to be, you can hardly miss in your judgment of human affairs; and you have a better Spirit than your own, in reserve for a time of need, to pass the final judgment in important matters.
§. 3. In conversation, mark well what others say or do, and hide your own mind, at least till last; and then open it as sparingly as the matter will let you. A just observance and reflection upon men and things, gives wisdom; those are the great books of learning, seldom read. The laborious bee draws honey from every flower. Be always on your watch, but chiefly in company; then be sure to have
your wits about you, and your armour on speak last and little, but to the point. Interrupt none, anticipate none; read Prov. x. 8, 13. "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, Prov. xvii. 27. It gives time to understand, and ripens an answer. Affect not words, but matter; and chiefly to be pertinent and plain : truest eloquence is plainest; and brief speaking (I mean, brevity and clearness, to make yourselves easily understood by every body, and in as few words as the matter will admit of) is the best.
§. 4. Prefer the aged, the virtuous, and the knowing; and choose those that excel for your company and friendship; but despise not others.
§. 5. Return no answer to anger, unless with much meekness, which often turns it away: but rarely make replies, less rejoinders; for that adds fuel to the fire. It is a wrong time to vindicate yourselves, the true ear being then never open to hear it. Men are not themselves, and know not well what spirits they are of: silence to passion, prejudice and mockery, is the best answer, and often conquers what resistance inflames.
§. 6. Learn, and teach your children, fair writing, and the most useful parts of mathematics; and some business when young, whatever else they are taught.
§. 7. Cast up your income, and live on half; if you can, one third; reserving the rest for casualties, charities, portions.
§. 8. Be plain in clothes, furniture and food, but clean; and then the coarser the better; the rest is folly, and a snare. Therefore, next to sin, avoid daintiness and choiceness about your person and houses. For if it be not an evil in itself, it is a temptation to it; and may be accounted a nest for sin to brood in.
§. 9. Avoid differences: what are not avoidable, refer; and keep awards strictly, and without grudgings. Read Prov. xviii. 17, 18. xxv. 8. Matt. v. 38 to 41. I Cor. i. 10 to 13. It is good counsel.
§. 10. Be sure draw your affairs into as narrow a compass as you can, and in method and proportion, time, and other requisites proper for them.
§. 11. Have very few acquaintance, and fewer intimates, but of the best of their kind.
§. 12. Keep your own secrets, and do not covet others': but if trusted, never reveal them, unless mischievous to somebody; nor then, before warning to the party to desist and repent. Prov. xi. 13. c. ii. 23. c. xxv. 9, 10.
§. 13. Trust no man with the main chance, and avoid to be trusted.
§. 14. Make few resolutions, but keep them strictly. §. 15. Prefer elders and strangers on all occasions: be rather last, than first, in conveniency and respect; but first, in all virtues.
§. 16. Have a care of trusting to after-games, for then there is but one throw for all; and precipices are ill places to build upon. Wisdom gains time, is before-hand, and teaches to choose seasonably and pertinently; therefore ever strike while the iron is hot. But if you lose an opportunity, it differs, in this, from a relapse; less caution, and more resolution and industry, must recover it.
§. 17. Above all, remember your Creator; remember yourselves and your families, when you have them, in the youthful time and fore-part of your life; for good methods and habits obtained then, will make you easy and happy the rest of your days. Every estate has its snare: youth and middle age, pleasure and ambition; old-age, avarice. Remember, I tell you, that man is a slave where either prevails. Beware of the pernicious lusts of the eye, and the flesh, and the pride of life, 1 John ii. 15, 16, 17. which are not of the Father, but of the world. Get higher and nobler objects for your immortal part, O my dear children, and be not tied to things without you; for then you can never have the true and free enjoyment of yourselves to better things; no more than a slave in Algiers has of his house or family in London. Be free, live at home, in yourselves I mean, where lie greater treasures hid than in the Indies. The pomp, honour, and luxury of the world, are the cheats, and the unthinking and inconsiderate are taken by them. But the retired man is upon higher ground, he sees and is aware of the trick, contemns the folly, and bemoans the deluded. This very consideration, doubtless, produced those two passions in the two greatest Gentiles of their time, Democritus and Heraclitus, the one laughing, the other weeping, for the madness of the world, to see so excellent and reasonable a creature as man, so meanly trifling and slavishly employed.
§. 18. Choose God's trades before mens'. Adam was a gardener, Cain a ploughman, and Abel a grazier or shepherd these began with the world, and have least of snare, and most of use. When Cain became murderer, as a witty man said, he turned a builder of cities, and quitted his husbandry. Mechanics, as handicrafts, are also commendable; but they are but a second brood, and younger brothers. If grace employ you not, let nature and useful arts; but avoid curiosity there also, for it devours much time to no * Cowley, in his Works on Agriculture.