The GOSPEL TRUTH
NO CROSS, NO CROWN
A Discourse showing the Nature and Discipline of the Holy Cross of Christ, and that, the Denial of Self, and Daily Bearing of Christ's Cross, is the alone Way to the Rest and Kingdom of God.
By William Penn
Founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania
INDEX OF CHAPTERS
THE great business of man's life is to answer the end for which he lives, and that is to glorify God and save his own soul
THOUGH the knowledge and obedience of the doctrine of the Cross of Christ be of infinite moment to the souls of men, for that is the only door to true Christianity, and that path the ancients ever trod to blessedness; yet, with extreme affliction let me say, it is so little understood, so much neglected, and, what is worse, so bitterly contradicted by the vanity, superstition, and intemperance of professed Christians, that we must either renounce to believe what the Lord Jesus hath told us, that whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Him, cannot be his disciple (Luke 24: 27); or, admitting that for truth, conclude, that the generality of Christendom do miserably deceive and disappoint themselves in the great business of Christianity, and their own salvation.
BY all which has been said, O Christendom! and by that hotter help, if thou wouldst use it, the lamp the Lord has lighted in thee, not utterly extinct, it may evidently appear, first, how great and full thy backsliding has been, who, from the temple of the Lord, art become a cage of unclean birds; and of a house of prayer, a den of thieves, a synagogue of Satan, and the receptacle of every defiled spirit.
THE daily cross being then, and still, O Christendom! the way to glory, that the succeeding matter, which wholly relates to the doctrine of it, may come with most evidence and advantage upon thy conscience, it is most seriously to be considered by thee,--
First, What is the Cross of Christ?
Secondly, Where is the Cross of Christ to be taken up?
Thirdly, How and after what manner is it to be borne?
BUT fourthly, What is the great work and business of the cross respecting man?
Fifthly and lastly, I shall add many testimonies from living and dying persons of great reputation, either for their quality, learning, or piety, as a general confirmation of the whole tract.
I AM now come to unlawful self, which, more or less, is the immediate concern of much the greater part of mankind. This unlawful self is two-fold. First, that which relates to religious worship: secondly, that which concerns moral and civil conversation in the world. And they are both of infinite consequence to be considered by us. In which I shall be as brief as I may, with ease to my conscience, and no injury to the matter.
But true worship can only come from a heart prepared by the Lord
HAVING thus discharged my conscience against that part of unlawful self,... I shall now, the same Lord assisting me, more largely prosecute that other part of unlawful self, which fills the study, care, and conversation of the world, presented to us in these three capital lusts, that is to say, pride, avarice and luxury;
BUT let us see the next most common, eminent, and mischievous effect of this evil. Pride does extremely crave power, than which not one thing has proved more troublesome and destructive to mankind. I need not labour myself much in evidence of this, since most of the wars of nations, depopulation of kingdoms, ruin of cities, with the slavery and misery that have followed, both our own experience and unquestionable histories acquaint us to have been the effect of ambition, which is the lust of pride after power.
THE third evil effect of pride is an excessive desire of personal honour and respect.
THERE is another piece of our nonconformity to the world that renders us very clownish to the breeding of it, and that is, thou for you, and that without difference or respect to persons;
BUT pride stops not here; she excites people to an excessive value and care of their persons: they must have great and punctual attendance, stately furniture, rich and exact apparel.
TO conclude this great head of pride, let us briefly see, upon the whole matter, what is the character of a proud man in himself, and in divers relations and capacities
I AM come to the second part of this discourse, which is avarice or covetousness.
I AM now come to the other extreme, and that is luxury, which is an excessive indulgence of self, in ease and pleasure.
BUT such excess in apparel and pleasure was not only forbidden in Scripture, but it was the ground of that lamentable message by the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel:
BUT the luxury opposed in this discourse should not be allowed among Christians, because both that which invents it, delights in it, and pleads so strongly for it, is inconsistent with the true spirit of Christianity; nor doth the very nature of the Christian religion admit thereof.
NEXT, those customs and fashions, which make up the common attire and conversation of the times, do eminently obstruct the inward retirement of people's minds, by which they may come to behold the glories of immortality:
BUT should these things be as indifferent, as they are proved perniciously unlawful; for I never heard any advance their plea beyond the bounds of mere indifferency...
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