Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XL.: of envy. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XL.: of envy. - 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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Envy is a grief conceived at the good of another;† specially, by him that wants it himself:‡ whereof the highest degree ia, so to envy it to him, as we desire it ourselves.§ It is a very shameful affection, and which no man will own, how many soever use it. Some will confess and profess, upon occasion, that they hate, or fear, or scorn others; but none that they envy any.* And no marvel; for though many deserve to be hated, feared and despised, yet none, to be envied. Good and wise men are to be honoured in, and for all the good things that God hath given them; foolish and corrupt to be pitied in their greatest jollity, considering what their end shall be. And though there be cause to grieve, in a sort, at the prosperity and power of unworthy persons; yet this is not because those things, good in themselves, are good to them; but because they abuse them to their own and others' hurt.
It is like a fire,† ascending upwards, still aiming at that which is above it: for though superiors often grudge at the good of inferiors, yet rather this is indignation than envy. Or rather it is like smoke, not only in the former respect, but also for that, as smoke is greatest at first, and before the fire burn clear, but after the flame bursts out, vanisheth away: so is envy greatest in the first rising of any‡ in virtue or honour or other eminent good; but, by continuance of time and virtue in the envied, is tired out, and gives over.
He that envieth, maketh another man's virtue, his vice, as Bernard confesseth of himself;§ and another man's happiness, his torment:|| whereas, he that rejoiceth at the prosperity of another, even thereby, if no other way, is partaker of the same.¶ Yet were this vice the more tolerable, if, besides men, ourselves, and others, we in it did not so directly wrong the Lord; and that, which is worst, even, in his goodness, which it not only perverts, as other vices do, but abolishes, as much as it can. It is, and worthily, accounted in some, horrible impiety, to complain of God, that he made the world no better: but what is it than to quarrel with him for making it so good? as in truth, an envious person doth, saying unto God, in effect, Why hast thou bestowed this virtue, this knowledge, this honour, these riches, or the like good upon this man, or woman? So the “ first labourers in the vineyard said of the last, to him which hired them; Why givest thou so much unto them? Matt. xx. 10—12. How injurious soever, notwithstanding, this cankerworm is both to God and men; yet is it, in this point, most just, that it punisheth and tormenteth, with no small torment, him in whom it beareth sway, consuming his heart, as rust doth the iron, whereon it groweth,* and “ rotting his very bones,” Prov. xiv. 30, while he liveth.
The good gifts of God, as riches, honour, wit, learning, &c., in any eminency often endanger their owners by puffing them up with pride in themselves: and if they have the grace, and modesty to use them aright, yet are they dangerous to others, becoming often fuel to kindle their fire of envy withal. And so it fell out between Joseph and his brethren, David and king Saul, and many more; verifying that of the wise man—“Every perfection of work is the envy of a man from his neighbour.” Eccl. iv. 4. By means whereof it also hurts its owner, many times, by a kind of unnatural rebound, as it were, from the envious; and that so violent, as none, but God in heaven, “can stand against it.” Prov. xxvii. 4. Not Adam in paradise against the devil's envy; nor David against Saul's; nor Christ against the Pharisees.' And in this regard, a mediocrity in any good is the more thankfully to be accepted from God; considering unto what danger this way, all eminency exposeth a man. The highest trees are soonest and sorest shaken with tempests.
The best remedy for preventing envy by others, is to carry a low sail in the most prosperous gale that can blow: and to ascribe the good a man hath rather to any other cause, than to himself, or his own wit, industry, or worth any way. Therein he least disparageth others that want it, and so frees himself best from their envy at him.