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CHAPTER XXXIV.: of injuries. - 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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An injury, say the lawyers, is whatever is not done justly.* In one and the same act may be found both sin against God, and injury against man. And therefore in cases of wrong done either by violence or deceit, the offender, under the law, was bound both to make restitution to the wronged, and also to bring his trespass offering to the priest, to make an atonement for him before the Lord. Lev. vi. 5—7. Sometimes, the sin is taken away, and the injury remains; as when the person which hath wronged another, truly repents, but is not able to make satisfaction. Sometimes, on the other side, the injury is taken away, and the sin remains; viz. when the offender makes satisfaction by compulsion, or for shame, but repents not before God. Sometimes, both are taken away, and sometimes, neither; as both or neither satisfaction to men, and repentance towards God is performed.
Between the injuring and offending of a man there is this difference; that we may injure him that is altogether ignorant of it, but can offend only him that takes knowledge of some evil in truth, or appearance, done by us,: whether with injury, or not.
The more power any hath to do hurt, without worldly prejudice to himself therein, the more careful had he need be, that, he take not to himself any lawless liberty that way; remembering always that he hath also a “Master in heaven,” Col. iv. 1; and that “He who is higher than the highest regardeth,” Eccl. v. 8; who also may with more right and reason destroy him for ever, than he, how great soever, do the least hurt to the silliest worm, that crawls upon the face of the earth.
They, who use injurious dealings themselves, hate them in others and them that offer them;* as do they also who take knowledge of them. For whom men fear, they hate. Now there is cause for all to fear him, to his power, that hurts any; seeing in wronging one, he threatens all that he hath power to hurt. Yet, if we will look upon things a little spiritually, such persons are more to he pitied, than either hated or feared; as being, though cruel to others, yet more to themselves, hurting others in their bodies, and bodily states; themselves in their hearts,† and consciences before the Lord, which is far the greatest damage. And upon this ground it was, that the ancient father desired Scapula, that he would pity himself, if he would not pity the Christians, whom he cruelly persecuted, seeing the most hurt came to himself thereby.‡ When, therefore, we thus suffer any heinous injuries of any kind by any, we must pray the Lord both to deliver us out of their hands, and them out of the devil's, whose instruments they are, in so doing.
For any one man, whosoever, to offer injury to any other whomsoever, is unnatural and inhuman, but especially odious in these four sorts of persons: The first is magistrates, and men in authority, whom God hath, therefore, furnished therewith, that they might prevent, and redress injuries by others, and “execute wrath upon evil doers,” Rom. xiii. 4: which if they become themselves, they transform the image of the Lord's power and justice, which they sustain, into the image of God's enemy, Satan, whom, therein, they resemble; and become, after a sort, wickednesses in high places, as the devils are. The second, are friends, whose office it is by help, counsel, riches, or otherwise, to succour their wronged friends;§ and if no other way, at least, by condoling with them, and comforting them. A man that hath friends should show himself friendly, saith the wise man, Prov. xviii, 24, and for such an one to show himself enemy like, is very grievous; as we may see in Job's and David's case. Now, if it be here demanded, whether the injuries offered by friends, or by others, be less tolerable, answer must be made with distinction; that some injuries are such, and so notorious, as cannot stand with a true friendly heart, but do plainly discover an evil, and enimious affection: and of these, by false friends David, and worthily, complains, as more grievous than by strangers, Psa. Iv. 12—14. Some again, are such, as may escape him that truly loveth, through negligence, rashness, or other infirmity. Such the heat of love should digest. And they, who, in this kind will bear more at the hands of others, than of friends, are unworthy of them. A third sort are men religious, whose professed piety towards God promiseth honest dealing with men: as on the contrary, Abraham looked for all injurious dealing in that place, where the fear of God was not. Gen. xx. 11. The fourth, and last, are men themselves oppressed by others, specially lying under the injuries of the times. When one poor man oppresseth another, “it is like a sweeping rain, which leaveth no food.” Prov. xxviii. 3. Yet is it found, by certain experience, that it oft rains from this coast, and that the poor by oppressing one another, teach the rich to oppress both; and this, not only in bodily things, but in spiritual also: none being found more injurious, and unmerciful, than are some, out of the favours of the times themselves, to others, that are a little more in their disgrace than they. None of the heathens were so cruelly bent against the Christians as the Jews, though themselves but scattered amongst the heathens, to be tolerated by them. Such should think of the brethren of Joseph, who being themselves in danger to be violently oppressed, remembered, and bewailed the violence and wrong which they had formerly offered to their brother Joseph. Gen. xlii. 9.
There are two things causing inordinate stirring and indignation at injuries offered: the one natural, the other moral. The natural is the abundance of hot choler boiling in their veins, by which the blood and spirits are attenuated, and so apt to be inordinately stirred, and inflamed, upon apprehension of a wrong done. This cause may something be helped, by natural means and medicines; and the effect, by true wisdom and government, which represseth all inordinate motions in the mind. The moral cause is pride and self-love; for men having themselves in high estimation, make account, that if they be a little wronged, some great and heinous offence is committed, and that, at which there is just cause of high indignation. The injury, to such, seems great, because they seem great to themselves: whereas to him that is little and lowly in his own eyes, injuries and wrongs seem less; specially, if he set this low price and valuation upon himself, in conscience of his sins against God, as it was with David. 2 Sam. xvi. 10,11. What strange thing is it, if an earthen pot get a crack ? or if a silly worm be trodden upon ? or that he, who is little, be little set by ?
It is wisdom, in cases, not to seem to take knowledge of an injury; as, either, when it is small, and scarce worthy the minding; and such the stately gravity of some persons make many to be, which to others seem intolerable; witness Cato, who being asked pardon of him that had given him a bob on the mouth, answered, that there was no injury done, and so no pardon needful:* or when the greatness, and malice withal, of the injurious is such, as that to expostulate a wrong is to provoke to the doubling of it; to which purpose his answer fitted well, that said, “he had grown old in a tyrant's court, by thanking men, when he had received an injury from them.” Sometimes, again, it is wisdom to let persons know, that we account ourselves ill used by them, and that chiefly, when our expostulation is like to prove their warning, by working either fear or shame in them.
If the commendation given of Cæsar had not been by him, who was too good a courtier, that he was wont to orget nothing but injuries;† he, though a pagan, might therein have been a mirror to all Christians; considering the mischievousness of our corrupt nature this way, which is apter to remember a wrong done, than anything else, specially than a benefit; because, as one saith, we account thanks a burden and revenge an ease.‡ In regard whereof it was not without cause, that Christ our Lord in our directory of prayer, which we must daily use, reenforceth nothing but the condition of the fifth petition: “as we forgive them that trespass against us;” the petition, being, “forgive us our trespasses;” adding therein, that “if we forgive not them, that trespass against us, neither will our heavenly Father forgive us.” Matt. vi. 12. And this exhortation, saith one, if we be not more hard than iron and steel, cannot but soften us, and make us appeasable, and ready to remit offences,* considering how many, and great our offences are against the Lord; for which he both so justly might, and so easily could, take revengement upon us. And since vengeance is the Lord's, and that he will repay, Rom. xii. 19, we must beware we take it not further into our hands, than God gives it us: lest meddling with edged-tools, in God's shop, we surely cut ourselves deep, howsoever they escape, against whom we use them. And, besides, the conscience of offending God by revenge, in wish, word, or deed, we may take instances of inducement to forgiveness, from circumstances of all the persons that injure us. If it be a meaner person than ourselves that wrong us, let us forgive him, in pity of his weakness: if our superior, let us pity, and forgive ourselves:† the former in charity; the latter in wisdom. Is he a malicious and unmerited enemy ? why should we marvel, if he do his kind.? Have we hurt him before? he but gives us our due, and why should we not take it at his hands ? Is he a good man ? let us be ready to forgive him, whom God forgives. Is he wicked ? Alas! we may well forgive him, considering how fearful vengeance, if he repent not, God will take on him for that and other his sins.
Many who think it devilish, as indeed it is, to offer an injury, think it but manly to requite it. But it is, saith one, evil as well to requite, as to offer; since God forbids both.‡ And there is, saith another, only this difference between them, that he who offers the injury, is before in mischief, and he that requites it, comes after therein, “as fast as he can.§ With which two join a third witness, saying, that to render evil for evil, is to make two devils for one.||
Not to be revenged for an injury done is not always to forgive it. For this may be through want of power, or of courage, or in a kind of haughtiness of mind, when a man esteems himself above the wrong done, or scorns to soil his fingers with his adversary. Neither yet is it sufficient, though it be a great thing that we wish him no hurt who hath wronged us; but we ought, further, also to keep our hearts, that they rejoice not at his fall, or stumbling, by any other means, lest the Lord see, and it displease Him, .and he turn his wrath from him, upon us. Prov. xxiv. 18. All the other ways we may be accessary before; this way, after the fact. Notwithstanding, we may, and have cause to be glad, if the injurious and oppressors be restrained by some work of God's overruling providence, that the fox being chained up may no more worry the lambs; but this is not to rejoice for his hurt but for his good. Lastly, as God forgives injuries against him, which all sins are, if for the same he hate not the person so sinning, though he both be angry at him, and correct him, and therein provide for the repairing of the honour of his majesty impeached by him: so may men forgive injuries done against them, 2 Sam. xii.13, in spiritual sense, and holy manner; if therefore they hate not, nor wish hurt to the person that hath wronged them; though in cases, they provide for his due correction, and also for the repairing the damage sustained by him in their body, goods, or good name, by lawful means.