Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXXVIII.: of credit and good name. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXXVIII.: of credit and good name. - 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 credit and good name.
Credit and good name, with men, so follow virtue, and good deserts, like the shadow the body, as it remains notwithstanding God's good gift, sundry ways. First, in bestowing upon men virtue and goodness to deserve it; for which also the gifts of God are to be the more welcome.|| Secondly, in guiding them to manifest, and improve their endowments to the advantage of their good name, not as stage-players, but as good stewards of the gift of God that way. Thirdly, by moving the hearts of other men to have them in due respect and estimation: to which purpose it is said of Joseph, and others, though of most singular desert in regard of men, that “ God gave them favour in their eyes.” Gen. xxxix. 4.
Many, rather desire a great name, than a good;, and, therefore, rather enterprise great, than good matters. Some, matters greatly great; as they “ in the East, who to get them a name, would build a tower, whose top should reach heaven.” -Gen. xi. 4. Such also was the level of the huge and high pyramids built by the Egyptian kings. Some, things greatly strange, though mean, as Parmeno in his artificial imitation of the grunting of a sow.* Some, greatly dangerous; as those Funambuli.† who rather will venture their necks, than want a name. Some again, things, if not otherwise, yet greatly odious; as Herostratus, in burning the temple of Diana, in Ephesus, with wild fire. And so Pilate is famous for crucifying Christ; and Judas for betraying him: so is Jeroboam known by this brand, “ he that made Israel to sin.” But a great name so got, and left to posterity, is like to the great stink of a lamp or candle, when it is gone out: whereas “ the memorial of the righteous is blessed,” Prov. x. 7; and like “the smell of the costly ointment of spikenard, wherewith Mary anointed our Lord's feet: the sweet scent whereof filled the whole house.” John xii. 3. And this good name of the godly, and virtuous, living amongst good men upon earth, when they are dead, is a kind of pledge of their souls living for ever with God in heaven. This none neglect, but they, who mean to do nothing to deserve it; nor despise, but with endangering their own hardening in evil, both against the fear of God, and shame of the world.
This “ good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,” Prov. xxii. 1, saith he, who could well discern what was best. Which shows, both that he, who impairs another's credit by slander is worse than a thief, and steals a more precious thing; as also that he, who seeks, and gets it to himself undeservedly, is as well to answer to God for his undeserved credit with men, as is a thief for his stolen goods.
This credit, and good name we may desire, as a good, pleasing, natural thing, and for our more comfortable living amongst men: and so David prayed sundry times in one Psalm, that God would “ turn away reproach from him, which he so feared.” Psa. cxix. 39. But this good name, and note with men, we are specially to desire, to honour God withal, and to further and prefer goodness with others: as otherwise, so chiefly, by the good regard, and respect, wherein they have us, to advantage the example, and other provocations of virtue, and godliness proceeding from us, for more ready imitation by, and better acceptance with them. And them, who thus labour to honour God with the honour, and respect, which he vouchsafes them from others, he will surely honour with men, so far as is meet, and with himself for ever. Whereas, the vainglorious and ambitious, that either seek honour above their desert, or only thereby to advance themselves, and theirs, above other men, they lift up themselves against God, and climb higher, than that the bough will bear them: and God, first or last, will throw them down into perdition.
And whereas God would have us seek good name and fame by well doing; if any seek it by evil, as in evil times and companies too many do, (as Austin confesseth of himself, that in the days of his vanity, he oft did evil, not only in lust of the thing, but for praise by it, amongst his consorts; and sometimes also slandered himself with the evils, which he had not done, lest seeming more chaste he should be more contemptible than the rest;)* such do no better than set the devil in God's place, and “ glory in their shame, whose end, without repentance, is damnation.” Phil. iii. 18, 19. For God will keep his place in heaven, and from him shall men at length, and for ever, receive praise for well doing, and not from the devil for evil. Neither yet is credit always gotten with men, by following it, no more than a man's shadow is: but he that seeks to honour God in his main intention, God will cause some sprinkling of his own praise to reach unto him; and covering his sins from his divine eyes, will so far, as it is meet, cover them from the eyes of men also; and therewith, as it were, commend his virtues to their acceptation; specially, if withal, such a man join with his zealous heart towards God, good thoughts, and speeches of other men, and good doings unto them. God will provide, that others shall “ mete the like measure to him again, in thinking, and speaking well of him.” Matt. vii. 2.
As the whiteness of the Ethiopian's teeth is the more remarkable by reason of the blackness of his whole body: so are the few virtuous doings of some persons the more noted, and they the more famous for the same, by reason of their contrary course in evil. Things either rare in themselves, or not expected from such or such persons, are most observed: so are the commendable actions, in them, whose ordinary course in evil gives men little cause to look for better. And, by this means, it comes to pass, that divers, specially great men, who have many trumpeters of their few virtues, and scarce any, that dare so much as see their vices, get often times a greater name of just, merciful and pious, for some one, or a few works of those kinds, like the Ethiopian's teeth, though in a course of injustice and impiety, than many others do by the constant practice of those, and other virtues.
Seeing honour and respect is in the hand of the honouring and not of the honoured;* we are for the right valuation of men's credits in the world, to have special regard to the persons that honour others, whether by praising them, or otherwise. For fools will praise men lightly and at venture: flatterers, having linguas venales, for their own advantage: vain and lewd persons, such as are like themselves, in praising of whom, they praise themselves by reflection: but to be praised by them, who themselves are praiseworthy, is both a reward of virtue, and a blessing of God. But above all things, we must remember, that whatsoever either we think or speak of ourselves, or others of us, only “ he, whom the Lord commendeth, is approved,” 2 Cor. x. 18: without, or against whom, he that would be commended of men, shall not be defended of men, when God judgeth him; nor delivered by men, when God condemneth him.† And what doth it advantage him, that runs a race, that the* standers by approve of his running, if the agonothetes, or judges of the course disallow him ? And what will it avail any, if all men, and angels should extol him nevcr so highly, and even clap their hands at him, in admiration of his excellence, if God the judge of all, and by whose sentence he is “eternally happy, or miserable, should condemn him, and cast him off, as unworthy ? Let our main care then be, “ that we may always be accepted of God, ”2 Cor. v. 11,12: and for acceptance with men, let us not neglect it, for that were desperateness; nor yet set our minds too much upon it, lest to procure or keep it, we lose favour in a better place. Let us rather fear, with the apostle, “ lest any think of us above that which indeed there is cause,” 2 Cor. xii. 6; and if we be approved, or happen to be praised by any, let us with the godly father, considering both our wants, and other things amiss, take, thereby, occasion of blushing in ourselves:* and, with another, of begging at God's hands, that he, would make us answerable to the good, that any think, or speak of us.†