Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXXIX.: of contempt and contumely. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXXIX.: of contempt and contumely. - 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 contempt and contumely.
Contumely hath a sting, as the saying is, and is hard to be borne either by wise or good men,‡ how mean otherwise soever. Even the worm being trodden upon will turn again: neither can any esteem, either so highly of another or so meanly of himself, as to think he deserves to be contemned by him. And therefore Jonathan, though both, wise, godly and humble-minded, being reviled by king Saul, his father, scarce kept himself within the bounds of due respect either to a father or king. 1 Sam. xx. 30—34. Many, saith one, can better endure painful stripes, than contumelious words.§ And hence it is, that poverty is more grievous unto many than other ordinary crosses, because it brings with it more contempt in the eyes of others. Now, although the fear of God in a person, should, in all equity, procure him honour, and respect from all: yet as the philosopher advised, in his time, “ Wouldst thou take up the study of wisdom, prepare thyself to become a laughingstock to many,”|| &c. So in oras, and all ages, must God's most faithful servants much more arm themselves against contemptuous and contumelious carriages by many, if against any other temptation: following therein the holy apostle, who “ approved himself to God in honour and dishonour,” 2 Cor. vi. 8; yea the Son himself, “ the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him, not only endured the cross, but also despised the shame.” Heb. xii. 2, 3. And this the more carefully we must do, because the devil will never fail to stir up his cruel instruments to ply the servants of God, with the most sharp and biting rods of contempt and vility, in the midst of their other most grievous afflictions; as is to be seen in Christ our Lord, Matt. xxvii. 43, and David his type, 2 Sam. xvi. 6, 7, 8: that, they finding themselves despised in those their calamities, which should move compassion towards them in all men's eyes, might even be broken in their hearts, and so, through despair, fall from their stedfastness; as many do, not being sufficiently rooted in God's promises by faith, whereby, to bear this sore-pressing temptation.
Many buy at a dear rate the use of a few contemptuous speeches, and that, not only at the hands of superiors, and equals, but ofttimes, of meaner persons, than themselves; with whom they lose more love and respect by one contumelious passion, than they can recover by many friendly actions. Yea men, so impatient are all of contempt, are better satisfied and contented with a respectful denial of a benefit, than with a contumelious grant of it; yea, I add further, with a plain injury of some kind, than with a favour so sauced; because in some injuries, persons are thought worthy to be minded, though not for good towards them; in the other case, worthy to be despised, even by them from whom they receive good.
“ He that despiseth the poor,” either such in estate, or naturally impotent in mind or in body, “ despiseth God that made him so,” Prov. xvii. 5: at which he is always as truly displeased in a measure, as he was at the “children upon whom he sent a she-bear to tear them in pieces, for mocking at the prophet's bald head,” 2 Kings ii. 24,though be do not so visibly manifest his anger. He that despiseth a man for the grace of God appearing in him, which is too frequent in ours, and all evil days, despiseth and almost despiteth the very Spirit of God which made him so. But he that despiseth a wicked, and vile person, in lieu of his vileness, despises the devil and sin, that made him so. And albeit the followers of Christ should not come near a proud, or disdainful spirit; yet ought they to get, and maintain in themselves a kind of spiritual highness of mind, by which, villany, and a vile person for it, may be “contemptible in their eyes,” Psa. xv. 4: and vices, as said one, not only odious, but ridiculous.*
Some have gotten the fox's cunning, in scorning the grapes for their sourness, which for their height he could not reach to; affecting the contempt of that good, which they want and cannot obtain, that so they may seem to want it, upon judgment, as a thing not worthy the having; and not of impotency. So some contemn learning, others policy, others, other things, as unworthy their having; which they are indeed unworthy to have, and unable to attain to. Others partially say, with Solomon's buyer, that things are naught, Prov. xx. 14, when they would have them easily and for nought: thus Lot said of Zoar, which he would have God spare for his cause, “ Is it not a little one?” Gen. xix. 20. Lastly, there are, who, in a cruel craft, use to vilify, and debase, what they can, such persons and things, as they either have oppressed unjustly or mean to oppress. Thus Saul purposing to oppress David, still terms him, in contempt, “ the son of Ishai,”† 1 Sam. xx.30. So did the Ephraimites term the Gileadites for like purpose, “ fugitives of Ephraim amongst the Ephraimites, and amongst the Manassites,” Judg. xii. 4: the Jews and others, Christ, a Samaritan and Galilean: and wicked men now, the faithful servants of Christ, Lutherans, Huguenots, Calvinists, and by other more contemptible names, that so they may make themselves, and others the better believe, that it matters not, what is done to, or becomes of so vile and unworthy persons. But men are men, though they be sewed in bears' skins, that dogs might worry them: and the contempt cast upon the Lord's servants, by those carnal and crafty enemies, neither makes the oppressed by them, less precious in God's sight, nor their oppressions less odious. Men, on the contrary, when they have in hand any thing hard, or grievous to another, should bethink themselves of what is good, and commendable in the person, that, thereby, they may breed in their hearts due respect of him, and not wrong him: if the grace of God, though in never so great weakness, that we wrong not it: if the image of his authority, wisdom or other honourable attribute, that we wrong not it: if nothing else, yet that he is a man, and so deserves all human respect to be given unto him, as the apostle bids, “ honour all men.” 1 Pet ii, 17.
Men say, familiarity breeds contempt; whereupon many fearing to be contemned by others, dispose themselves to contemn others by a supercilious, and overly behaviour. But as there is a mean in familiarity, as in all other things, so they most fear contempt by it, who have least worth in them to free themselves therefrom: and therefore in jealousy, and consciousness of their own wants, take up a theatrical, and affected strangeness, and stateliness, specially towards their inferiors, and equals. Such are like the ass in the lion's skin; but, by braying when they should roar, are discovered, and become more ridiculous, than if they had always showed their asses' ears.
Considering how grievous a thing and hard to be borne, contempt is, it is wisdom in a man, not easily to think himself despised by others, and that, even for his own peace. But if an injury be offered, rather, if it may be, to impute it to unadvisedness, or negligence, or almost to any other original, in the offerer, than to contempt. Besides, an aptness to conceive a contempt shows a mind uncharitable, discontented, and usually proud withal, as looking too much for respect. Lastly, he that judgeth himself despised by another, specially being troubled at it, honoureth him therein: since it cannot be, but that he desires to be respected of him, with whose contemptuous carriage towards him he is troubled.*