Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLI.: of slander. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XLI.: of slander. - 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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He is a slanderer, who wrongs his neighbour's credit, either by unjust raising or upholding an evil report against him* . Of which two, viz., the raising, or receiving a false reports seeing that if there were no receivers, there would be no thieves, one of good skill in discerning, doubteth whether is more damnable. We must then get amongst others, this mark of him that shall sojourn in jthe Lord's tabernacle, and dwell in his holy mountain, that we neither raise, nor take, or hold up a reproach against our neighbour. Psa. xv. 1—5. Though the north wind be not always to be wished, because it driveth away rain, yet is an “angry countenance to drive away a backbiting tongue.” Prov. xxv. 23. As a man may be wounded in his body with the sword taken out of his own hand; so may he in his credit, by the injurious relation of the very thing, which his hand hath done, or tongue spoken. And the same also, sometimes, being good in itself, and either wrested to some other sense than he intended; as were the words of Christ by false witnesses, Mark xiv. 58, 59: or craftily made an opportunity whereupon to build some false, but colourable insinuation of evil; as was David's being at Nob with the High-priest, by Doeg, 2 Sam. xxi. 1; xxii. 9. Sometimes, also being evil; as when men without just and necessary occasion blaze abroad the faults of others; either in idleness, for want of other talk; or of hatred, by way of revenge; or in flattery, to please other men; or in envy, as grudging at their good name. And it may well be thought, that persons oftener calumniate others of love to themselves, than of hatred to them; thinking therein to build their own credit, upon the ruins of other men's; which is, as if one, to make his own garment seem the fairer, should cast mire upon his neighbour's.
Some slanders are such as confute themselves in the eyes of all reasonable men, as either being so great, or so senseless, as are incredible;† or when the known quality of the person accused, fastens a slander upon the accusation; as did Plato's with Diogenes, when he heard one accuse him of evil. Some also there are, which turn to the advantage of the slandered's credit afterwards, namely such, as a little time will plainly manifest to have been false, and feigned. For then they, who before have wronged them, through credulity, will hold themselves their debtors for amends afterwards; which also it may come to pass they may make them, by not believing some ill, though just, report of them, in after time.
Slanderers of any others may rightliest be called devilish, seeing the devil hath his name of slandering.* He sometimes slanders God to men; as to Eve, of envy, in the beginning, Gen. iii. 1—6: sometimes, men to God; as Job of hypocrisy, Job i. 9—12; and, continually, man to man, by his venomous instruments thus anatomised in their parts, by the apostle. “ Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongue they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” Rom. iii. 13. And truly it may be, he should not much miss the mark, that affirmed, slanders and false reports to have raised as great, and many quarrels amongst equals; conspiracies, from inferiors; and from superiors, violent oppressions: as all injuries in truth offered, or other provocations whatsoever.
Men commonly with one stroke wound, or kill but one, whereas a slanderous blow reacheth to many. Ha wounds himself with his own slanderous tongue; his mouth, making his flesh to sin: he wounds him in the ear, to whom he slandereth, specially if credulous, as the most are, in receiving false reports. And as for him, whom he slandereth, he wounds him in his good name, though him only by suffering evil, the former two as workers of it,† and withal, often makes way by so doing for further wrong to be offered him, either by himself or others. Thus Maximinus the tyrant set a-work certain vile persons to accuse the Christians of heinous evils, that so he might persecute them with more show of reason;‡ like as men, when they would have their dogs killed, give out, that they are mad.
David never complains of the sharpness of the swords of the Philistines, or other enemies; but of the sharp swords of the tongue of slanderers, he oft, and piteously complains in the book of the Psalms, as piercing deeper than the former. Psa. 3, 57, 58, 64, &c. And yet, for fence against those sharp swords, God hath put into the hands of his innocent servants two bucklers; the one inward, viz. a conscience, upon due knowledge, and examination, excusing before God, and this is of proof: the other, such a conversation before men, as may ward our credit and good name from being wounded in the eyes of such as know us, and are equally minded, and such, as are not apt either greedily to devour, or lightly to admit slanders, and vituperies raised against us.* Yet, if the devil could by the serpent's slanders impeach the credit of God himself with our first parents, in their state of innocency, no marvel, if his serpentlike instruments can prevail with sinful men and women this way, even against God's faithful servants. We must therefore prevent slanders what we can; bear what we cannot avoid; and always be mindful by earnest prayer, as well to commend our good name to God, that he may take charge of it, as our persons and estates.
Better never accused, than quit, though after the clearest, and most honourable manner, that may be; seeing after a bold slander something ever will stick behind, by which the ignorant of the truth will be abused, and adversaries take advantage to upbraid. But how great soever matter of grief or shame unjust slander causeth; yet he that is “reproached for well-doing, hath the spirit of glory resting upon him,” 2 Pet. iv.14, and being innocent, may say, that the evil is not against him, but against another, whom the slanderer takes him to be.† The advised consideration partly of the cause, and partly of the end, which the Lord will make, abundantly sweetens all the sourness of the reproaches which he suffers: and such a one may know himself to have attained to the highest pitch of Christianity, and conformity with Christ; when for well-doing he is ill dealt with. It is kingly, saith one, say we, Christian-like, to do well, and to be ill spoken of.‡ Yet is it not enough, that when we are slandered, we be from under the desert of it directly; but we must withal consider, whether we have not drawn it upon ourselves deservedly, in regard of God, by slandering others, and that so God pays us home in our kind : or by some other scandalous sin, which the Lord will punish in as by slanderous tongues; as he did David by Shimei: or whether we have not given vehement occasion of men's suspecting us; and so accusing ourselves, as one saith, of suspicion, what marvel, if others think, and speak evil of us?