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William Penn. (1644–1718). Fruits of Solitude.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Part I


454. Religion is the Fear of God, and its Demonstration on good Works; and Faith is the Root of both: For without Faith we cannot please God, nor can we fear what we do not believe.

455. The Devils also believe and know abundance: But in this is the Difference, their Faith works not by Love, nor their Knowledge by Obedience; and therefore they are never the better for them. And if ours be such, we shall be of their Church, not of Christ’s: For as the Head is, so must the Body be.

456. He was Holy, Humble, Harmless, Meek, Merciful, &c. when among us; to teach us what we should be, when he was gone. And yet he is among us still, and in us too, a living and perpetual Preacher of the same Grace, by his Spirit in our Consciences.

457. A Minister of the Gospel ought to be one of Christ’s making, if he would pass for one of Christ’s Ministers.

458. And if he be one of his making, he Knows and Does as well as Believes.

459. That Minister whose Life is not the Model of his Doctrine, is a Babler rather than a Preacher; a Quack rather than a Physician of Value.

460. Of old Time they were made Ministers by the Holy Ghost: And the more that is an Ingredient now, the fitter they are for that Work.

461. Running Streams are not so apt to corrupt; nor Itinerant, as settled Preachers: But they are not to run before they are sent.

462. As they freely receive from Christ, so they give.

463. They will not make that a Trade, which they know ought not, in Conscience, to be one.

464. Yet there is no fear of their Living that design not to live by it.

465. The humble and true Teacher meets with more than he expects.

466. He accounts Content with Godliness great Gain, and therefore seeks not to make a Gain of Godliness.

467. As the Ministers of Christ are made by him, and are like him, so they beget People into the same Likeness.

468. To be like Christ then, is to be a Christian. And Regeneration is the only way to the Kingdom of God, which we pray for.

469. Let us to Day, therefore, hear his Voice, and not harden our Hearts; who speaks to us many ways. In the Scriptures, in our Hearts, by his Servants and his Providences: And the Sum of all is HOLINESS and CHARITY.

470. St. James gives a short Draught of this Matter, but very full and reaching, Pure Religion and undefiled before God the Father, is this, to visit the Fatherless and the Widows in their Affliction, and to keep our selves unspotted from the World. Which is compriz’d in these Two Words, CHARITY and PIETY.

471. They that truly make these their Aim, will find them their Attainment; and with them, the Peace that follows so excellent a Condition.

472. Amuse not thy self therefore with the numerous Opinions of the World, nor value thy self upon verbal Orthodoxy, Philosophy, or thy Skill in Tongues, or Knowledge of the Fathers: (too much the Business and Vanity of the World). But in this rejoyce, That thou knowest God, that is the Lord, who exerciseth loving Kindness, and Judgment, and Righteousness in the Earth.

473. Publick Worship is very commendable, if well performed. We owe it to God and good Example. But we must know, that God is not tyed to Time or Place, who is every where at the same Time: And this we shall know, as far as we are capable, if where ever we are, our Desires are to be with him.

474. Serving God, People generally confine to the Acts of Publick and Private Worship: And those, the more zealous do oftener repeat, in hopes of Acceptance.

475. But if we consider that God is an Infinite Spirit, and, as such, every where; and that our Saviour has taught us, That he will be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth; we shall see the shortness of such a Notion.

476. For serving God concerns the Frame of our Spirits, in the whole Course of our Lives; in every Occasion we have, in which we may shew our Love to his Law.

477. For as Men in Battle are continually in the way of shot, so we, in this World, are ever within the Reach of Temptation. And herein do we serve God, if we avoid what we are forbid, as well as do what he commands.

478. God is better served in resisting a Temptation to Evil, than in many formal Prayers.

479. This is but Twice or Thrice a Day; but That every Hour and Moment of the Day. So much more is our continual Watch, than our Evening and Morning Devotion.

480. Wouldst thou then serve God? Do not that alone, which thou wouldest not that another should see thee do.

481. Don’t take God’s Name in vain, or disobey thy Parents, or wrong thy Neighbor, or commit Adultery even in thine Heart.

482. Neither be vain, Lascivious, Proud, Drunken, Revengeful or Angry: Nor Lye, Detract, Backbite, Overreach, Oppress, Deceive or Betray: But watch vigorously against all Temptations to these Things; as knowing that God is present, the Overseer of all thy Ways and most inward Thoughts, and the Avenger of his own Law upon the Disobedient, and thou wilt acceptably serve God.

483. Is it not reason, if we expect the Acknowledgments of those to whom we are bountiful, that we should reverently pay ours to God, our most magnificent and constant Benefactor?

484. The World represents a Rare and Sumptuous Palace, Mankind the great Family in it, and God the mighty Lord and Master of it.

485. We are all sensible what a stately Seat it is: The Heavens adorned with so many glorious Luminaries; and the Earth with Groves, Plains, Valleys, Hills, Fountains, Ponds, Lakes and Rivers; and Variety of Fruits, and Creatures for Food, Pleasure and Profit. In short, how Noble an House he keeps, and the Plenty and Variety and Excellency of his Table; his Orders, Seasons and Suitableness of every Time and Thing. But we must be as sensible, or at least ought to be, what Careless and Idle Servants we are, and how short and disproportionable our Behavior is to his Bounty and Goodness: How long he bears, and often he reprieves and forgives us: Who, notwithstanding our Breach of Promises, and repeated Neglects, has not yet been provok’d to break up House, and send us to shift for our selves. Should not this great Goodness raise a due Sense in us of our Undutifulness, and a Resolution to alter our Course and mend our Manners; that we may be for the future more worthy Communicants at our Master’s good and great Table? Especially since it is not more certain that we deserve his Displeasure than that we should feel it, if we continue to be unprofitable Servants.

486. But tho’ God has replenisht this World with abundance of good Things for Man’s Life and Comfort, yet they are all but Imperfect Goods. He only is the Perfect Good to whom they point. But alas! Men cannot see him for them; tho’ they should always see him In them.

487. I have often wondered at the unaccountableness of Man in this, among other things; that tho’ he loves Changes so well, he should care so little to hear or think of his last, great, and best Change too, if he pleases.

488. Being, as to our Bodies, composed of changeable Elements, we with the World, are made up of, and subsist by Revolution: But our Souls being of another and nobler Nature, we should seek our Rest in a more induring Habitation.

489. The truest end of Life, is, to know the Life that never ends.

490. He that makes this his Care, will find it his Crown at last.

491. Life else, were a Misery rather than a Pleasure, a Judgment, not a Blessing.

492. For to Know, Regret and Resent; to Desire, Hope and Fear, more than a Beast, and not live beyond him, is to make a Man less than a Beast.

493. It is the Amends of a short and troublesome Life, that Doing well, and Suffering ill, Entitles Man to One Longer and Better.

494. This ever raises the Good Man’s Hope, and gives him Tastes beyond the other World.

495. As ’t is his Aim, so none else can hit the Mark.

496. Many make it their Speculation, but ’t is the Good Man’s Practice.

497. His Work keeps Pace with his Life, and so leaves nothing to be done when he Dies.

498. And he that lives to live ever, never fears dying.

499. Nor can the Means be terrible to him that heartily believes the End.

500. For tho’ Death be a Dark Passage, it leads to Immortality, and that ’s Recompence enough for Suffering of it.

501. And yet Faith Lights us, even through the Grave, being the Evidence of Things not seen.

502. And this is the Comfort of the Good, that the Grave cannot hold them, and that they live as soon as they die.

503. For Death is no more than a Turning of us over from Time to Eternity.

504. Nor can there be a Revolution without it; for it supposes the Dissolution of one form, in order to the Succession of another.

505. Death then, being the Way and Condition of Life, we cannot love to live, if we cannot bear to die.

506. Let us then not cozen our selves with the Shells and Husks of things; nor prefer Form to Power, nor Shadows to Substance: Pictures of Bread will not satisfie Hunger, nor those of Devotion please God.

507. This World is a Form; our Bodies are Forms; and no visible Acts of Devotion can be without Forms. But yet the less Form in Religion the better, since God is a Spirit: For the more mental our Worship, the more adequate to the Nature of God; the more silent, the more suitable to the Language of a Spirit.

508. Words are for others, not for our selves: Nor for God, who hears not as Bodies do; but as Spirits should.

509. If we would know this Dialect; we must learn of the Divine Principle in us. As we hear the Dictates of that, so God hears us.

510. There we may see him too in all his Attributes; Tho’ but in little, yet as much as we can apprehend or bear: for as he is in himself, he is incomprehensible, and dwelleth in that Light which no Eye can approach. But in his Image we may behold his Glory; enough to exalt our Apprehensions of God, and to instruct us in that Worship which pleaseth him.

511. Men may Tire themselves in a Labyrinth of Search, and talk of God: But if we would know him indeed, it must be from the Impressions we receive of him; and the softer our Hearts are, the deeper and livelier those will be upon us.

512. If he has made us sensible of his Justice, by his Reproof; of his Patience, by his Forbearance; of his Mercy, by his Forgiveness; of his Holiness, by the Sanctification of our Hearts through his Spirit; we have a grounded Knowledge of God. This is Experience, that Speculation; This Enjoyment, that Report. In short, this is undeniable Evidence, with the realities of Religion, and will stand all Winds and Weathers.

513. As our Faith, so our Devotion should be lively. Cold Meat won’t serve at those Repasts.

514. It ’s a Coal from God’s Altar must kindle our Fire: And without Fire, true Fire, no acceptable Sacrifice.

515. Open thou my Lips, and then, said the Royal Prophet, My Mouth shall praise God. But not ’till then.

516. The Preparation of the Heart, as well as Answer of the Tongue, is of the Lord: And to have it, our Prayers must be powerful, and our Worship grateful.

517. Let us chuse, therefore, to commune where there is the warmest Sense of Religion; where Devotion exceeds Formality, and Practice most corresponds with Profession; and where there is at least as much Charity as Zeal: For where this Society is to be found, there shall we find the Church of God.

518. As Good, so Ill Men are all of a Church; and every Body knows who must be Head of it.

519. The Humble, Meek, Merciful, Just, Pious and Devout Souls, are everywhere of one Religion; and when Death has taken off the Mask, they will know one another, tho’ the divers Liveries they wear here make them Strangers.

520. Great Allowances are to be made of Education, and personal Weaknesses: But ’t is a Rule with me, that Man is truly Religious, that loves the Persuasion he is of, for the Piety rather than Ceremony of it.

521. They that have one End, can hardly disagree when they meet. At least their concern is in the Greater, moderates the value and difference about the lesser things.

522. It is a sad Reflection, that many Men hardly have any Religion at all; and most Men have none of their own: For that which is the Religion of their Education, and not of their Judgment, is the Religion of Another, and not Theirs.

523. To have Religion upon Authority, and not upon Conviction, is like a Finger Watch, to be set forwards or backwards, as he pleases that has it in keeping.

524. It is a Preposterous thing, that Men can venture their Souls where they will not venture their Money: For they will take their Religion upon trust, but not trust a Synod about the Goodness of Half a Crown.

525. They will follow their own Judgment when their Money is concerned, whatever they do for their Souls.

526. But to be sure, that Religion cannot be right, that a Man is the worse for having.

527. No Religion is better than an Unnatural One.

528. Grace perfects, but never sours or spoils Nature.

529. To be Unnatural in Defence of Grace, is a Contradiction.

530. Hardly any thing looks worse, than to defend Religion by ways that shew it has no Credit with us.

531. A Devout Man is one thing, a Stickler is quite another.

532. When our Maids exceed their just Bounds, we must needs discredit what we would recommend.

533. To be Furious in Religion, is to be Irreligiously Religious.

534. If he that is without Bowels, is not a Man; How then can he be a Christian?

535. It were better to be of no Church, than to be bitter for any.

536. Bitterness comes very near to Enmity, and that is Beelzebub; because the Perfection of Wickedness.

537. A good End cannot sanctifie evil Means; nor must we ever do Evil, that Good may come of it.

538. Some Folks think they may Scold, Rail, Hate, Rob and Kill too; so it be but for God’s sake.

539. But nothing in us unlike him, can please him.

540. It is as great Presumption to send our Passions upon God’s Errands, as it is to palliate them with God’s Name.

541. Zeal dropped in Charity, is good, without it good for nothing: For it devours all it comes near.

542. They must first judge themselves, that presume to censure others: And such will not be apt to overshoot the Mark.

543. We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive, or gain by Love and Information.

544. And yet we could hurt no Man that we believe loves us.

545. Let us then try what Love will do: For if Men did once see we Love them, we should soon find they would not harm us.

546. Force may subdue, but Love gains: And he that forgives first, wins the Lawrel.

547. If I am even with my Enemy, the Debt is paid; but if I forgive it, I oblige him for ever.

548. Love is the hardest Lesson in Christianity; but, for that reason, it should be most our care to learn it. Difficilia quæ Pulchra.

549. It is a severe Rebuke upon us, that God makes us so many Allowances, and we make so few to our Neighbor: As if Charity had nothing to do with Religion; Or Love with Faith, that ought to work by it.

550. I find all sorts of People agree, whatsoever were their Animosities, when humbled by the Approaches of Death: Then they forgive, then they pray for, and love one another: Which shews us, that it is not our Reason, but our Passion, that makes and holds up the Feuds that reign among men in their Health and Fulness. They, therefore, that live nearest to that which they should die, must certainly live best.

551. Did we believe a final Reckoning and Judgment; or did we think enough of what we do believe, we would allow more Love in Religion than we do; since Religion it self is nothing else but Love to God and Man.

552. He that lives in Love lives in God, says the Beloved Disciple: And to be sure a Man can live no where better.

553. It is most reasonable Men should value that Benefit, which is most durable. Now Tongues shall cease, and Prophecy fail, and Faith shall be consummated in Sight, and Hope in Enjoyment; but Love remains.

554. Love is indeed Heaven upon Earth; since Heaven above would not be Heaven without it: For where there is not Love; there is Fear: But perfect Love casts out Fear. And yet we naturally fear most to offend what we most Love.

555. What we Love, we ’ll Hear; what we Love, we ’ll Trust; and what we Love, we ’ll serve, ay, and suffer for too. If you love me (says our Blessed Redeemer) keep my Commandments. Why? Why then he ’ll Love us; then we shall be his Friends; then he ’ll send us the Comforter; then whatsoever we ask, we shall receive; and then where he is we shall be also, and that for ever. Behold the Fruits of Love; the Power, Vertue, Benefit and Beauty of Love!

556. Love is above all; and when it prevails in us all, we shall all be Lovely, and in Love with God and one with another.