Dear friends and brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ, your life and salvation, your rock and foundation, rest and sanctuary, in all storms, trials, and sufferings.
Now, dear friends, my desire is, that you may all strive for that which makes for peace [Rom 14:19]. ‘For blessed are the peacemakers, they are called the children of God [Mat 5:9].’ And therefore, whatsoever things are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, if there be any virtue and praise, think on these things [Phil 4:8] to practise them. So that in the power of the Lord, that is over the devil and his power, all may be kept chaste, pure, and holy, to the glory of God; and all that are in the true faith and knowledge may show it forth in virtue, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and true charity [2 Pet 1:5-7] or love, which beareth all things [1 Cor 13:7]. For they that dwell in love, dwell in God [1 Jn 4:16], that is their habitation. And let all things be done in love, in the name and power of Jesus Christ [Col 3:17]. And all to strive in the spirit of the Lord God, and his truth, to be of one mind and judgment; so that you may all be baptized with one spirit into one body, and so all to drink into one spirit [1 Cor 12:13]. And keep the unity and fellowship in the holy spirit of God, which is the bond of peace [Eph 4:3] amongst all God's children, that are led by his holy spirit [Rom 8:14], whose communion and fellowship is in the holy ghost [2 Cor 13:14/Phil 2:1], by which ye are led into all truth [John 16:13].
Now, dear friends, let there be no strife in all your meetings, nor vain janglings [1 Tim 1:6] nor disputings [Phil 2:14]; but let all that tends to strife be ended out of your meetings, that they may be kept peaceable; so that you may be at peace among yourselves, and the God of peace and love may fill all your hearts, which love edifies his church [Eph 4:16]. And condescend one to another [Rom 12:10/16] in the fear of the Lord, to that which is honest, just, virtuous, and of good report; and where any weakness has been in any thing, let it be covered and buried in the spirit and love of God, that his spirit <230> and love may be uppermost in you all, to unite all your hearts together: and that you may all show forth that you are the children which the heavenly wisdom is justified of [Mat 11:19], which is pure, (mark,) pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated [Jas 3:17], which is above the wisdom that is below, that is neither pure, peaceable, nor easy to be entreated, &c. And in all matters of business, or difference, or controversies, treat one another in such things kindly and gently, and be not fierce, or heady, and high minded [2 Cor 3:3f]; for that spirit will bring men and women to be lovers of themselves [2 Tim 3:2], and to be despisers of others, and that which is good [2 Tim 3:3], which leads nature out of its course, and so loses natural affections, and at last comes to be without natural affections [2 Tim 3:3]; which spirit we see most of christendom is led by: for, if they were in natural affections, they would not destroy their fellow creatures about religion; but being without natural affections, they have not affections to their fellow creatures; to wit, man and woman, which were made in God's image [Gen 1:27]. The law and the prophets commanded to ‘love their neighbour as themselves [Lev 19:18];’ and Christ commands, to ‘do unto all men, as they would have men do unto them [Mat 7:12].’ And the gospel commands, to ‘love one another;’ by which they are known to be Christ's disciples [John 13:34f]; and to ‘love their enemies, and to pray for them [Mat 5:44], and to forgive one another,’ as Christ has forgiven them [Col 3:13]. So that those, whose conversation is according to the gospel of peace, do establish the law and the prophets; who know the divine nature, and are made partakers of it [2 Pet 1:4], are not without natural affections, but have affections to it, to cherish and preserve it. And this the word of wisdom [1 Cor 12:8] teaches, by which all things were made and created good and blessed; by which all things are upheld [Heb 1:3], by which all things are sanctified to God's people, that God created by his word, and made them good, and blessed them: by which word and wisdom all things are sanctified to God's people, (as before,) and are used and ordered by his word of wisdom to his glory [Wis 8:1/1 Cor 10:31] and praise.
And now, dear friends, whereas there have been formerly some discourses by some in your meeting, of marrying within a year after the decease of the wife or of the husband; my desire is, in those things, friends may show forth both chastity, and virtue, and temperance: for formerly hasty marriages were reckoned amongst the infamous persons, as for a man or a woman to marry within the year of the death of the wife or husband. And therefore, for virtue and chastity's sake, and the truth, and good example's sake [1 Tim 4:12], that which is honest, lovely, and of good report, keep, and walk in, and follow [Phil 4:8]: for we ought, in the power of Christ Jesus, to outstrip the world in virtue, chastity, modesty, and temperance, and in that which is of good report. For our heavenly light ought to ‘shine so before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven [Mat 5:16].’ And therefore all in the <231> church of Christ ought to live in the spirit [Gal 5:25] and power of Christ, in which they do judge the world and all the fallen angels [1 Cor 6:2f]. So in this heavenly power, the virtue, purity, chastity, flows and shines over all; and they that do possess, as though they did not; and they that marry, as though they married not [1 Cor 7:29f]: they are all resigned in the power of Christ, that gives dominion over the world, which brings all into one mind, and to be of one heart and soul [Acts 4:32], and to one judgment, and are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and holy nation; a peculiar people, that show forth the praise of Christ, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light [1 Pet 2:9], and as living stones, are built up a spiritual household, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ [1 Pet 2:5].
And so, my dear friends, my desire is, that in Jesus Christ ye may all live and walk, who is the seed of the woman, ‘that bruises the serpent's head [Gen 3:15];’ that is, the head of all wickedness and strife; and in this seed, Christ, all nations are blessed, as they live and walk in him: and the blessings from above, and the blessings beneath [Gen 49:25], rest upon them: and in this seed Christ all have rest and peace, who is the first and the last [Rev 22:13], over all blessed for ever. Amen. In him is my love to you all, as though I named you.
G. F. Top
Read this in your Quarterly Meeting at York.
Dear friends,—In Christ in whom we have peace, purity, holiness, and righteousness, you must be kept holy and righteous to the glory of God, and righteousness, and holiness, and purity, must wear and outlive all that is contrary to it; and patience, and meekness, and humility, and kindness, and sobriety, must wear out passion, envy, strife, and wrath, high mindedness, and loftiness, and wilfulness. And therefore consider, the holy men and women of God must not strive, but be gentle to all; and in that alone keep their dominion: for truly, friends, love gathereth into love, and edifies the body of Christ [Eph 4:16/12]. And let nothing be done with strife [Phil 2:3], but in love, to the glory of God [1 Cor 10:31], in the name of Christ, and in his power; so that you may all see and feel Christ among you, ordering you all to his glory with his wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated [Jas 3:17]; so that none may be burdened nor oppressed in your meetings, but that the life and seed may reign in you all; and so the Lord may have the glory of all, and ye may all have comfort in him your head. And do not much strive with unruly talkers [Tit 1:10], but keep your peace in the spirit and power of Christ, that will overcome and wear out all that is contrary to it. So that all may keep their own habitation [Jude 1:6] in Christ Jesus, who is over all, the first and last [Rev 22:13]; <232> and in his power and spirit live and walk, so that you all may be trees with fruits [Jude 1:12], and wells with water [2 Pet 2:17], and have bread in your own tabernacles [Exo 29:32], and your own lamps trimmed and burning [Mat 25:1-10], and that there may be no strife among you, but dwell in love; for he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God [1 Jn 4:16]; so, God who is love, is to be your salvation. And condescend to the meek [Rom 12:16], and to every appearance of the Lord God, and make every one's condition in the truth your own; in that you will deny yourselves, and become all to all in the truth, so that none may be hurt in the truth, nor made to stumble [Rom 14:13], nor the blind caused to wander [Deut 27:18], but be directed into the right way, and all as the tender plants may grow together, as the Lord's planting [Isa 61:3], and he watering them, and giving the increase [1 Cor 3:7] and growth to his glory; so that the Lord may have the praise and glory of all his works. Amen.
And be careful in all your meetings, that they may be kept peaceable in the wisdom of God, that is pure and peaceable, and easy to be entreated [Jas 3:17]; so that ‘wisdom may be justified of her children [Mat 11:19].’ That there be no harshness or fierceness, but meekness and mildness, and gracious language, which will edify and season the hearers, and be of a good savour. And this will honour the seed Christ, from whence grace and truth cometh [John 1:17], and will be to your comfort, and show forth whose children you are; for, as Christ said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, they are children of God [Mat 5:9].’ And therefore all do this work, that you may have this blessing. And so, with my love to you all, that are convinced of God's truth, as though I named you all; and all to dwell in love; then you all do dwell in God, as I said before; and so the Lord God Almighty preserve you all in Christ your sanctuary. Amen.
G. F. Top
You may read this in your Monthly or Quarterly Meetings. Kingston, the 7th of the 9th month, 1683.
Dear friends,—With my love to all the prisoners and the faithful, as though I named them. It is the time now for all the faithful to keep in Christ their sanctuary, in whom you have all peace, rest, life, and salvation, and by the testimony of Jesus, and the blood of the Lamb [Rev 12:11], whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, before the foundation of the world [Rev 21:27/17:18], they were they that did overcome [Rev 12:11], and did eat of the hidden manna, and had the new name [Rev 2:17]. And therefore now is the time to keep the word of patience , and the testimony of Jesus; for they that keep the word of patience, the Lord will keep them in the hour of temptation, which will come upon the whole world, to try them which dwell upon the earth [Rev 3:10]; for the word was before the world was, and the <233> tempter; for all things were made by the word [John 1:3]. And it is also the word of reconciliation [2 Cor 5:17], the word of power [Heb 1:3], the word of wisdom [1 Cor 12:8], and the word of life [1 Jn 1:1], and the word of salvation [Acts 13:26], by which people are reconciled to God, that are born again of the incorruptible seed by the word of God [1 Pet 1:23]; and they feed and grow by the milk of the word [1 Pet 2:2], which lives, and abides, and endures for ever [1 Pet 1:23], which strengthens all the faithful, in all ages, in all their afflictions, imprisonments, and sufferings; and it is the same to God's people now in this day of trial, to preserve all his people every where, in his spirit and power, faithful to himself; for, he that endures faithful to the end shall be saved [Mat 10:22]. And Christ saith, ‘He that is ashamed of me before men, him will I be ashamed of before my Father, and his angels which are in heaven [Mat 10:33/Luke 9:26].’ And therefore it is good to confess Christ before men [Mat 10:32], to be your priest, prophet, your shepherd, your bishop [1 Pet 2:25], your way, your mediator, that makes your peace betwixt God and you; and be valiant for his glorious name and truth upon the earth [Jer 9:3]. And so with my love in the seed, in which you and all nations are blessed [Gen 22:18].
G. F. Top
From Dolston, the 6th of the 10th month, 1683.
Dear friends, of the Monthly Meeting of Charleston, in Ashley Cooper River, in Carolina, I received your letter, dated the sixth day of the Eighth-month, 1683. Wherein you give an account of your meeting, and of the country, and of your liberty in that province, which I am glad to hear of, though your meeting is but small; but, however, stand all faithful in truth and righteousness, that your fruits may be unto holiness [Rom 6:22]; and your end will be everlasting life. And that you may be patterns [Tit 2:7] of virtue, modesty, chastity, and sobriety, showing forth the fruits and life of christianity in your lives and conversations, that they may preach righteousness, truth, and holiness to all people in that dark wilderness, that you may answer the truth both in them that are called christians, and in the Indians. And my desire is, that you may prize your liberty, both natural and spiritual, and the favour that the Lord hath given you, that your yea is taken instead of an oath [Mat 5:33-37]; and that you do serve both in assemblies, juries, and other offices, without swearing, according to the doctrine of Christ: which is a great thing, worth prizing. And take heed of abusing that liberty, or losing the savour of the heavenly salt, which seasons your lives and conversations in truth, holiness, and righteousness. For you know, when the salt hath lost its savour, it is good for nothing but to be trodden under the foot of men [Mat 5:13]. For we here are under great persecution, betwixt thirteen and fourteen hundred in prison; an account of which hath <234> lately been delivered to the king. . . .
But in Ireland, Scotland, Holland, Germany and Dantzick, we hear that Friends are in peace and quietness; and therefore you that have great liberty, both natural and spiritual, (as aforesaid,) be valiant for God's truth upon the earth [Jer 9:3], and spread it abroad, both among them that are called Christians and Indians, turning them from darkness to light [Acts 26:18], Christ Jesus, the saviour, whom God hath set up for an ensign among the Gentiles or heathen [Isa 11:10], and to be his salvation unto the ends of the earth [Isa 49:6]: so seek the good of all, and the profit of all, and the salvation, and the glory of God above all, and the exalting of his name and truth in your day and generation; and live in love, and in the truth, and the love of it; and overcome evil with good [Rom 12:21]; and hold fast that which is good, then you can try all things [1 Th 5:21]. . . .
G. F. Top
London, the 23d of the 12th month, 1683.
[CCCLXXXVII. (387) — To the Monthly and Quarterly Meeting in England, &c.]
Dear friends, who are captives in Algiers, whom the Lord hath enlightened with his day spring from on high [Luke 1:78], and visited you with his tender mercies in your slavery and captivity, that you may know his will, and do it in his light, grace, truth, and spirit, that you may serve and worship the holy, eternal, and invisible God [1 Tim 1:16] that made you.
Now, dear friends, to you is my love, and to all the rest that fear God, that meet with you; my desires are, that you may all keep low in humility, in the fear of God, there is no danger; for God dwells with the humble, and teaches the humble the way they should walk [Psa 25:9]. And therefore be careful of God's glory, you who profess the name of God, and his son, that your lives, and words, and conversations may preach godliness, righteousness, holiness, virtue, sobriety, and modesty, both to Turks, Moors, Jews, and to your patrons, and to the families where you live; for Christ hath enlightened every man that comes into the world [John 1:9], he hath enlightened the Turks, Jews, and Moors, with the light, (which is the life in him the word [John 1:4],) that all in the light might know God and Christ; and ‘the grace of God which brings salvation hath appeared unto all men [Tit 2:11];’ so to the Turks, Jews, and Moors, yea, to all nations; so that with the grace of God they may be taught to deny ungodliness and unrighteousness, and live righteously and godly [Tit 2:12]; and therefore all must come to this grace of God in their hearts, which brings their salvation, (if they have salvation,) and come to the throne of grace [Heb 4:16]; and this is the covenant of grace, in which is the election; and God, who made all, pours out of his spirit upon all men and women in the world [Joel 2:28], in the days of his new covenant, yea, upon whites and blacks, Moors, and Turks, and Indians, Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, that all with the spirit of God, might know God and the things of God [1 Cor 2:12], and serve and worship him in his spirit and truth [John 4:24], that he hath given them. But they that do resist the truth [2 Tim 3:8], and quench, and vex, and grieve, and rebel against the spirit [1 Th 5:19/Isa 63:10/Eph 4:30] that God hath given them, such are not like to serve and worship God in his spirit and truth; but he that endures to the end in God's grace, spirit, light, and truth, shall be saved [Mat 10:22]. And the gospel of salvation is preached to every creature under heaven; which gospel is the power of God [Col 1:23/Rom 1:16], and the gospel of peace; and so it is glad <236> tidings [Rom 10:16] to every creature under heaven, and to all nations, to the Turks, Jews, Indians, Moors, Christians, and Gentiles, if they receive and obey the gospel of salvation, it is glad tidings to them all. Now, this is the day of God's gathering: and therefore all must come to the light, grace, truth, power, and spirit of God in their own particulars, which they have from God and Christ, that by it they might be built upon Christ, their heavenly rock and foundation [Mat 7:24f], who is their way to God [John 14:6], who bruises the serpent's head [Gen 3:15], and through death destroyed death, and the devil the power of death, and so destroys death, and so destroys the devil [Heb 2:14] and his works [1 Jn 3:8]; for sin brought death [Rom 5:12]; and now Christ, who destroys death that sin brought, and makes an end of sin, is the sanctuary for all his believers in all storms and tempests, trials, and troubles, and sufferings, to rest upon, in whom they have peace; yea, life and salvation.
Now there is a common saying among the Turks to the Christians, ‘Your crucified God,’ meaning Christ. Now this is their mistake; though God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself [2 Cor 5:19], it was not the eternal God that died, and was crucified, that was in Christ; for Christ said, when he was about to suffer, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [Mat 27:46]’ So Christ suffered in the flesh [1 Pet 4:1], and died, and was crucified, as he was man, not as he was God, the word, which was in the beginning [John 1:1]; but as he was man, who bore the sins and iniquities of all mankind, and was an offering for the sins of the whole world [1 Jn 2:2], who through death tasted death for every man [Heb 2:9]; all being in death in Adam [1 Cor 15:22]. So that they might have life through Christ the second Adam [1 Cor 15:45]: so, I say again, that Christ did not die as he was God, but as man. ‘He was crucified and buried, and rose again the third day [1 Cor 15:4], and ascended, and is at the right hand of God;’ this he did by the power of God, as he was man. So the Turks are mistaken, to say, or to think, that the eternal God could be crucified or die.
Dear friends, I thought it needful to write a letter to you concerning this their mistake, which you may be wise in making use of; and my desires are, that you may be preserved, and exalt God's name [Psa 34:3] in your places of captivity, and in your lives, words, and conversations, answering God's witness [Col 4:6/1 Jn 5:9] in the Turks, Jews, Moors, and your patrons. And keep low, and walk wisely [Prov 28:26], that you may be a good savour in the hearts of all there-aways; and then the blessings of the Lord, and his presence, will rest upon you, and be in you. . . .<237> . . . .
G. F. Top
Gousey in Essex, the 10th of the 2nd month, 1683.
The apostle saith to the church of Christ, ‘I wrote unto you an epistle, not to keep company with fornicators; yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, nor with the covetous, extortioners, idolaters, &c. For then ye must needs go out of the world [1 Cor 5:9f].’ 1 Cor. v. ‘But now I have written unto you, not to keep company; if any man that is called a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, &c. with such an one, no not to eat [1 Cor 5:11].’ Therefore you see all such are to be avoided, as knowing, ‘neither fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, and abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God [1 Cor 6:9f].’ So ye may see, all such workers you are not to keep company with, nor so much as to eat with them, though they have gone under the notion of brothers and sisters. So the camp of God must be kept clean of such [Deut 23:14]; for the feast must be kept with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth [1 Cor 5:8]. So the old leaven must be purged out [1 Cor 5:7]; ‘For a little leaven leavens the whole lump [1 Cor 5:6].’ And therefore ye must be a new lump, as ye are leavened by it; ‘For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us [1 Cor 5:7].’ Therefore, (as I said before,) let us keep the feast with sincerity and truth.
And the apostle saith, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? And what part hath he that believeth <238> with an infidel? (mark, part,) and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a father unto you, (that is, take care for you,) and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty [2 Cor 6:14-18].’
And therefore if God's sons and daughters, must be separated from all such things without, and not to touch them, neither to have an agreement of unity with them, nor be yoked with such actions and actors without, and not touch such as act such things. Then, are they not to be separated from all such actions and actors within, and not to touch such as act such things, though he be called a brother or sister, seeing such actions make them infidels, and like Belial, and bring them into darkness? And if there be no fellowship, communion, yoking or agreement with such actions and actors without, then what yoking, communion, or fellowship and agreement, (mark, agreement,) can there be with such as act such things within, that is called a brother or sister, or keep company with such, or eat with such, ‘that have a form of godliness, but deny the power [2 Tim 3:5]?’
Therefore such lepers that defy the camp of God ought to be turned out of it [Num 5:2], till they be healed and cleansed from such leprosies [Lev 14]; as knowing that such actions and actors are out of the kingdom of God, and out of the holy city, new and heavenly Jerusalem [Rev 21:2]. And no unclean thing comes into the kingdom of God, nor enters the kingdom, the holy city [Rev 21:27]. And none come into the holy city, but by repentance, and being turned and changed from all manner of evil and uncleanness whatsoever.
The adulterer is brought to a morsel of bread [Prov 6:26], and the slothful goes in rags [Prov 23:21]. But the virtuous are happy, and the diligent are rich [Prov 10:4] that serve the Lord. Therefore have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them [Eph 5:11]. For the church of Christ's fellowship, (that are the believers,) is in the light, which is the life in Christ. And so their fellowship is with the Father and the son [1 Jn 1:3], and their communion is in the holy ghost [2 Cor 13:14], which proceeds from the Father [John 15:26] and the son. And therefore the church of Christ is to abstain from every appearance of evil [1 Th 5:22]. And if they are to abstain from every appearance of evil, then they cannot join or have unity with them, where evil appears.
And again, the apostle saith to the church of the Thessalonians, that they were to ‘study to be quiet, and to do their own business, and to work with their own hands, and to walk honestly towards them that are without; and that ye may have lack of nothing [1 Th 4:11f].’ So here you may see the diligence in the truth that the apostle exhorted the church to practise. First, they are all to study to be quiet. Secondly, they are <239> all to do their own business, and work with their own hands, that they may lack nothing. And thirdly, to walk honestly towards them that are without. And if they walk honestly towards them that are without, they must walk honestly to them that are within. For the apostle had some occasion to write to the Thessalonians upon the matter. For saith he, ‘We hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread [1 Th 3:11f]. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, &c. and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother [1 Th 3:14f].’ You may see there were not those gross evils charged upon him as were upon some among the Corinthians. So you may see the apostle's care in the church of Christ was to keep all things clean and pure, and all diligent in their places, serving the Lord, and not to be busy bodies, and talkers about other men's business; but to be quiet, and not idle, but doing their own business, that they may lack nothing; and so eat their own bread natural and spiritual.
Now the apostle speaks of widows, in his first Epistle to Timothy, chap. v. what sort of widows they were to receive. And ye may see first the decent and lovely practice in the church of Christ: ‘Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and younger men as brethren; and the elder women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, with all purity [1 Tim 5:1f].’ So are these to be entreated; ‘and honour widows, that are widows indeed. And if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn, (mark, learn,) first to show piety at home, and requite their parents; for that is good and acceptable before God [1 Tim 5:3f].’ So this piety must be learned and showed at home; and these the widows must learn to look to. Here these widow women have a service; and in the first place they must ‘learn to show piety at home, and to their parents and nephews, and to show it abroad then in the church of Christ.’ So all must learn this lesson, to show piety to their children and nephews, and to requite their parents. For this practice and service is good and acceptable before God.
Now the state of desolate widows, she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. These things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [1 Tim 5:5-8], (mark! that is worse than the world.) For the faith brings every man and every widow to be diligent, and to provide for their own; that is, their children and nephews, or kindred and parents, as before. But the apostle says, especially <240> those of his own house. And so here is piety to be shown still two ways; ‘for his own, and especially to those of his own house or family;’ and here are nephews and parents, as before mentioned.
Again the apostle saith, ‘Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old [1 Tim 5:9],’ &c. Mark, here was a number that the widow was to be taken into; and the widow that was to be taken into this number, see her qualifications before she come into the number. She must be well reported of for good works: ‘If she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work [1 Tim 5:10],’ &c. These are the qualified widows that are to be taken into the number. So here was a great practice, and a diligence in piety for this woman to do, before she was received into the number of the faithful. ‘But,’ says the apostle, ‘the younger refuse; for when they begin to wax wanton against Christ, &c. they cast off their first faith [1 Tim 5:11f], and withal, they learn to be idle;’ so they forsake to learn and show piety, and to live in that; and so do not learn to be diligent; and wander about from house to house, and not only idle, but tattlers and busy bodies, speaking things they ought not [1 Tim 5:13]. And therefore such things were, and are to be reproved; such as these were not to be received, and taken into the number of the faithful, but to be refused.
And again the apostle saith, ‘I will therefore, that ye younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully [1 Tim 5:14].’
And the apostle says, ‘If any man or woman that believeth, have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve those that are widows indeed [1 Tim 5:16].’ So here you may see the care, piety, and duty; if either man or woman that believes, have widows, they are to relieve them, and not let the church of Christ be charged with them. So let men and women learn to show piety to widows, to nephews, and to parents.
And the apostle saith to Timothy, ‘I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another; do nothing by partiality [1 Tim 5:21], lay hands suddenly on no man [1 Tim 5:22].’ So here you may see the apostle's care in the church of Christ, who would have all to be exercised in truth and piety, and be diligent in their service, that truth requireth of them.
And then again, the apostle speaks of such as are lovers of themselves, covetous, proud, boasters, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy [2 Tim 3:2], without natural affections, (to wit, to husband, or wife, children, parents, or others,) and likewise, truce-breakers, which break their covenant or promises in their marriages, with God and with man; <241> and so likewise, break their truce and covenant with men in outward things; and also, such as are false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of them that are good [2 Tim 3:3], such are not like to be subject to the good spirit of God in themselves; and traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures, more than lovers of God [2 Tim 3:4], having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away [2 Tim 3:5], says the apostle. Now if they were to turn away from them, they were not to be heeded, though they had the form of godliness, and of christianity; if they were to turn away from them, they were not to receive them into the camp; for such are as lepers are to be turned away from. And therefore the camp of God must be kept clean [Num 5:2]. And Christ hath given authority to his church to admonish and exhort, and to reprove and rebuke all such things with authority [2 Tim 4:2/Tit 2:15].
& #160; ; 0; 60;
Now, friends, concerning putting on of apparel. The apostle in the spirit and power of Christ had a care in the church of God, that they should adorn themselves as becomes the gospel, with chaste lives and conversations [1 Pet 3:2], and with the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; which is in the sight of God of a great price [1 Pet 3:4]. This is that which arrays and beautifies God's church; and not the outward adorning and plaiting the hair [1 Pet 3:3], and every new fashion that comes up into the world. 1 Pet. iii. And also the apostle writes to Timothy, and gives him that exhortation to the church, ‘That women adorn themselves with modest apparel, (mark, modest,) with shamefacedness and sobriety, (mark, sobriety,) not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array [1 Tim 2:9]. For that was the practice of the Jew outward, and is to this day; but with that which becomes women professing godliness, with good works [1 Tim 2:10]. So this is the adorning that all that profess godliness must be arrayed withal. 1 Tim. ii. 9. So that all may be in that good behaviour, as becomes godliness and holiness. And likewise chaste and discreet, teachers of good things; that the word of God may not be blasphemed [Tit 2:3/5], which they profess; as in Tit. ii.
And it is desired, that all Friends, that have children, families, and servants, may train them up in the pure and unspotted religion [Jas 1:27], and in the nurture and fear of God; and that frequently they read the holy scriptures, which is much better than to be gadding abroad. And exhort and admonish them; that every family apart may serve and worship the Lord, as well as in public. And that when they go to meetings, they may take their servants and families with them, that they may not go wandering up and down in the fields, or to ale-houses, as many have done, to the dishonour of God [Rom 2:23], and to the dishonour of their masters' and mistresses' families, and to their own ruin and destruction. And therefore, for Christ's sake and his pure religion, let there <242> be care taken, to prevent all these things. For such an one as cannot rule well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity, how can he take care of the church of God [1 Tim 3:4f]. 1 Tim. iii.
And now, friends, concerning marriages, of which very many things have been written, it is desired that all may be careful in that thing, of running hastily together. And consider it first; that first, as it is God's joining [Mat 19:6], so it is his ordinance, and it is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled [Heb 13:4]. And again, such men as draw out young women's affections, and run from one to another; and leave them, and run to others. And such women as draw out men's affections, and then leave them, and draw out other men's affections: . . . . such actions are to be reproved, that they may be brought into chastity, virtue, and piety, and to the adorning the hidden man of the heart, which is not corruptible, and the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit [1 Pet 3:4]; which ornament or adorning is acceptable with the Lord. For after this manner, in old time, the holy women, who trusted in God, adorned themselves [1 Pet 3:5].
And likewise such, as after they are married break their covenant in marriage, such go from the spirit of God, and his joining, and from the spiritual society of God's people, and their unity and fellowship. Such are to be reproved by the spirit of God. And if they do not return after reproof, Friends cannot have unity or fellowship with them, but turn away from them; though they may have the form of godliness, and have been called a sister or a brother, but have denied the power of godliness [2 Tim 3:5]. Therefore all must abide in Christ the vine, if they bring forth fruit [John 15:4f] to the glory and praise of God. Amen.
The apostle says, ‘Now, we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly [2 Th 3:6],’ &c. 2 Thess. iii.
Now, dear friends, consider old Eli's case, who did admonish his children [1 Sam 2:22-25]; <243> but because he did not restrain them from the follies and the evils they run into, therefore the Lord brought his judgments upon him, that he lost his children's lives, and his priesthood, and his own life [1 Sam 3:12-14, 4:11-18]. And do you think, that this was not written for an example, that others should be warned, hear, and fear? And was not the gospel and the law given forth to restrain people from sin and evil, and such things as dishonour God?