Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER L.: of zeal. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER L.: of zeal. - 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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Zeal is by some well defined the heat, and intention of all affections; and not either any one simple affection, or composition of divers; I add, of the understanding also. So men meditate zealously, and love zealously, and hate zealously, and rejoice zealously, and mourn zealously, and with great intention of heart. The like is to be said of all the rest of the affections. As nothing lives without natural heat; so neither lives he the life of Christ indeed, who is destitute of Christian zeal to warm him in his affections and actions, specially in matter of God's worship and service; in which whether wrong or right, lukewarmness is odious and loathsome. “The Lord will spue out of his mouth the lukewarm,” Rev. iii. 16, whether wine or water.
Worldly-wise men despise zeal, as prejudicial to wisdom and discretion. So Festus judged Paul, mad; and Michal accounted David, as one of the fools, for the singular zeal of God which they manifested. But even this “foolishness of God is wiser than men.” 1 Cor. i. 25. Yet is it certain, that men of great knowledge and judgment do seldom make that manifestation of zeal, which weaker persons do. The former have their spirits most in their brains, and are exercised specially in the disquisition and discerning of truth from falsehood, and of good from evil: the latter have them most in their hearts, and accordingly give themselves to the affectionate pursuit of that, which they conceive to be tea”, and good; and alike to the avoiding, and impugning of the contrary.
Some deceive others by the pretence of zeal, which they put on for their advantage, as stage-players do visors, till their part be played. And thus Ishmael deceived the forty men of Samaria, Jer. xli. 6, with his crocodile tears. Also there are not a few, who deceive both others, and themselves, by seeming to both, either to have the zeal of God, which they wholly want, or much more, than they have. And of this number was Jehu, how loud soever he cried to Jehonadab, “Behold the zeal, which I have for the house of the Lord,” 2 Kings x. 16: whereas in truth, that, which most set him a-work, was zeal for his own house; though it may be, he thought not so. Besides craftiness in this Jehu's zeal, there are two other properties: the one suspicious, where it is found; and the other odious. The former is a furious march against evil, without an answerable pursuit of, and affection unto the contrary good. Many are vehemently carried against anti-Christian devices in truth, or so appearing unto them; in whom yet appears little love and affection to that which is of Christ in their own judgment. Such are rather carried by their own flesh, than led by the Spirit of God. The other is cruelty. To be aright and truly zealous cannot but be good; seeing so many, and those wise men, desire, at times, to seem so, though they be not.
True zeal must be for God, and from God, and according to God: and having God both for beginning and end, and rule of direction, it cannot but itself be good and godly. It must be for the Lord, and for the furtherance of his glory in the obedience of his will, and in man's salvation; and not for our own, or other men's, by purposes. And if it so fall out, that by one and the same thing God's cause, and our own profit, credit, or other worldly advantage be promoted; we had need keep a jealous eye over ourselves, that we serve not our turn on God, by making his ends, as it were, a bridge to our own, as Jehu did. Secondly, as the fire of the altar came from heaven; so must our coal of zeal be fetched thence, as being the work of God's Spirit in our hearts, in the use of prayer, meditation upon the Word of God read and heard, the examples of others godly, as it were, riding in the fiery chariot of Elijah, and the like holy means; by which this Divine fire is kindled, and nourished in men's breasts. Thirdly, it must be according to God, both for the quality of the matter, and quantity of the intention of affection. For the former, “it is good always,” even then, and then only, “to be zealous in a good matter,” Gal. iv. 18; and that neither lightly presumed, nor partially conceited so to be, but certainly known; else we burn not sweet incense with holy fire, but dirt and dung instead thereof. Our zeal also must be apportioned to the object, and that not only considered in itself, but also in the circumstances attending upon it: in regard whereof, things not always the most good, or evil in themselves, may justly deserve at our hands, a great bent either of love to them, or hatred against them. And amongst other circumstances we must be careful so far to have respect to that of persons, as to hate evil most in them whose persons we most love; and so in our wives, children, and friends, more than in strangers; and in ourselves most of all. And he that hath not learned to bear things amiss in others, which he will not bear in himself, hath either too much fleshly zeal, or too little spiritual, or both: which two, often lodge in one breast: by which it comes to pass, that many are earnest to “pluck the mote out of their brother's eye, that perceive not the beam in their own.” Matt. vii. 3. Notwithstanding, as it doth not detract either from the dignity, or necessity of natural heat in our bodies, that there is found in some, an aguish and unnatural heat far greater than the natural: so neither, in truth, and just valuation of things, doth it derogate from the excellency and necessity of the heat of true zeal, and life of grace in the godly, consisting therein, that many are zealous amiss, whether knowing, and so deceiving others; or not knowing, and so deceiving themselves, “of what spirit they are,” Luke ix. 55.