Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXVIII.: of the use and abuse of things. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXVIII.: of the use and abuse of things. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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of the use and abuse of things.
WE are said to enjoy God alone, and to use the creatures:‡ because, we are not to rest in them, but in God only, to whom we are to be helped by them. And of the things which we use, some of them we must use, as though we used them not, 1 Cor. vii. 31: others, as though we used them. The world, and all things serving for this life, we ought to use with a kind of indifferency, and without setting the affections of our hearts upon it, or them, how busy soever our hands be about them: spiritual good things, on the contrary, and which concern our eternal happiness, we ought to use, as using them indeed, with all earnest bent of affection upon them; and as not suffering ourselves, at any hand, to be disappointed of the fruit of them.
“ God,” saith the wise man, “ hath made everything beautiful in his time,” Eccl. iii. 11: and indeed every thing is good for something: I mean everything that God hath made; for there are many vain and lewd devices of men, which are truly good for nothing, as, on the other side, nothing is good for everything. And, hereupon, Prometheus told the satyr, when he would have kissed the fire, upon his first seeing it, that if he did so, it would burn his lips, as not being for that use, but to minister heat, and light.* Some things always bear, as it were, their use on their backs, and cause also the right use of other things, where they are found; as the sanctifying graces of God's Spirit, which yet some use more fully, and faithfully, than others; and this is also a grace of God: whereas all other things have their good in their using, and not in their owning. And a great point of wisdom, and advantage for good it is to apply things to their right use, and end, whether great or small. He that can do this spiritually, is happy, though he have received but one pound, for others' five, or ten. As on the other side, how many were, though not happy, yet less miserable, if they altogether wanted the wit, learning, riches, and authority, which they want grace to use, according to the will of the giver ?
A man hath that, most and best, whereof he hath the lawful use. And hereupon a follower of a great lord was wont to say, that he had, in effect, as much as his lord; though he were owner of little or nothing: considering how he had the use of his gardens, and galleries, to walk in; heard his music, with as many ears as he did; hunted with him in his parks; and ate and drank of the same that he did, though a little after him; and so for the most other delights, which his lord enjoyed. And, in truth, what great difference is there, save in the proud and covetous mind of a man, whether he himself, or another be owner of the good things, whereof he with him, hath the lawful use and benefit?
Distinction must be put between the things themselves, and their casual and personal abuses: otherwise, the natures of the things can neither be rightly conceived of, nor expressed.* Neither doth the abuse of good things so take away, or make forfeiture of the use, as that the counsel of Lycurgus is to be followed, who would have the vines cut down, because men were sometimes drunken with the grapes.† Yet may the abuse of a thing be so common, and notorious; and the use so small, or needless; as better want the small use, than be in continual danger of the great abuse of it.
The best things abused become the worst, both naturally, and morally, by reason of a greater force in them than in other things, which we must not therefore superstitiously disavow, or cease to account the best, as they are; but we must, thereby, be warned to use them the more warily, that we may enjoy their full goodness, and not prejudice them by abuse: otherwise, we shall be liable to the curse of a greater than Aristippus, who wished a plague upon those wantons, who by their abusing it, had defamed a sweet ointment, wherein he took delight.‡
All evil stands in the .abuse of good.§ And good things are abused commonly, either when they are unmeasurably used; as it is said of wine, that the first cup quenches thirst, the second procures cheerfulness, the third drunkenness, and the fourth madness: or by applying them unaptly, or to wrong ends, or persons; as when one offers light to the blind, or speech to him that is deaf; or wisdom to a brutish man;|| or as when cowards fight with their tongues, and swash-bucklers¶ dispute with their swords: or in regard of their super-natural use, when we refer not all to the glory of God, and our own, and others' eternal good, and welfare; which are the utmost ends of all things.
[¶]Noisy, riotous boasters.