Monday, September 16, 2002

A Plea for the Poor, by John Woolman

The URL for the entire Plea is:

Chapter Ten

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” [Mt. 10:29].

The way of carrying on wars, common in the world, is so far distinguishable from the purity of Christ’s religion that many scruple to join in them. Those who are so redeemed from the love of the world as to possess nothing in a selfish spirit, their “life is hid with Christ in God” [Col. 3:3], and these he preserves in resignedness, even in times of commotion. As they possess nothing but what pertains to his family, anxious thoughts about wealth or dominion hath little or nothing in them to work upon, and they learn contentment in being disposed of according to his will who, being omnipotent and always mindful of his children, causeth all things to work for their good. But where that spirit which loves riches works, and in its working gathers wealth and cleaves to customs which have their root in selfpleasing, this spirit, thus separating from universal love, seeks help from that power which stands in the separation; and whatever name it hath, it still desires to defend the treasures thus gotten. This is like a chain where the end of one link encloses the end of another. The rising up of a desire to attain wealth is the beginning. This desire being cherished moves to action, and riches thus gotten please self, and while self hath a life in them it desires to have them defended.

Wealth is attended with power, by which bargains and proceedings contrary to universal righteousness are supported; and here oppression, carried on with worldly policy and order, clothes itself with the name of justice and becomes like a seed of discord in the soil; and as this spirit which wanders from the pure habitation prevails, so the seed of war swells and sprouts and grows and becomes strong, till much fruits are ripened. Thus cometh the harvest spoken of by the prophet, which is “a heap in the day of grief, and of desperate sorrow” [Is. 17:11].

Oh, that we who declare against wars and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the Light and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures and the furniture of our houses and the garments in which we array ourselves and try whether the seeds of war have any nourishment in these our possessions or not. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast. A day of outward distress is coming and divine love calls to prepare against it! Harken then, Oh ye children who have known the Light, and come forth! Leave everything which our Lord Jesus Christ does not own. Think not his pattern too plain or too coarse for you. Think not a small portion in this life too little, but let us live in his spirit and walk as he walked, and he will preserve us in the greatest troubles.

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