Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LIII.: of rewards, and punishments by men. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER LIII.: of rewards, and punishments by men. - 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 rewards, and punishments by men.
Men that are able and ready accordingly to reward the virtues of good men, and well-deserving, do therein not only give them, and God in them, their due; but do give others encouragement also to apply themselves to virtuous courses, which find so good acceptance, and reward at men's hands, specially at theirs who are of place, and ability in the world. Whereas, on the contrary, for such to favour wicked and lewd persons, is really to invite, and persuade men to evil, and little better than plainly to hire both them and others to do naughtily. The former in that, their approbation, and remuneration of goodness and virtue, bear the image of God, who plenteously rewards the well-doers: the latter plainly resemble the devil, who offered Christ the glory of the kingdoms of the earth, if he would fall down and worship him. Matt. iv. 9.
It is a known, and approved saying, that by rewards and punishments societies are preserved.* And of these two, though occasion of rewards be more to be desired, yet the execution of punishments is more diligently to be looked unto, for the preserving of human societies. The reason is; because, whereas virtue, as the philosopher said, rewards itself, or more truly, if it be true, expects its reward from God; vice and villany, on the contrary, can be restrained in the most, and worst, only by the fear of punishment.† Neither serve human laws to make men good, but to keep them from such outrages, and extremities of evil, as into which otherwise they were in danger to break. The special use of the law of God itself, where, by his Spirit, he puts it not in men's mind, and writes it not in their hearts, is to restrain lawless persons, as murderers, whoremongers, and the like, 1 Tim. i. 9, 10; how much more of men's.
There is then a merciful cruelty, when men save, by severity, the persons themselves that are punished, and others also; the punishment reaching to one, or a few: and the fear and warning to many. There is, on the other side, a cruel mercy, when men by sparing, spoil both the persons offending and others, who by their impunity take boldness to offend. This foolish pity spoils the city, if the magistrate use it: so doth the fond love of parents, the family. This love, Solomon respecting the effect more than the affection calls “hatred,” saying: “He that spareth the rod hateth his son.” Prov. xiii. 24. Notwithstanding this, and that God hath left power and charge also of punishments in all societies, family, church and commonwealth, which they that exercise, bear the image of God's justice, and holiness; the honour whereof they are to preserve, and to breed, and continue in them over whom they are set, a reverend awe of their authority for their good: yet considering both man's frailty, and proneness to offend; and misery in suffering for offences: all in. authority should still incline to the more favourable part, and rather to come short, than to exceed measure in punishing even where the offence is evident; and where it is doubtful, to forbear, at any hand. He that punisheth another, whether as judge or executioner either, must know legally, that he hath done evil, and deserved it: otherwise the authority of the whole world cannot bear him out, from being a murderer before God. The law which saith, “Thou shalt not murder,” forbids specially violence in judgment. Besides, punishments must be administered with sorrow and commiseration; as rewards with joy and gladness. It is pity men should deserve punishments; and deserving them, pity but they should have them: yet are we to pity them in their misery also; which he that doth, remembers himself to be a man. Lastly, it is worthy the observing, which one hath, that in all punishments respect is to be had to things to come, rather than past.* For howsoever the punishment be just only in lieu of the offence committed; yet is it profitable only, because it tends to prevent after offences, either in the person punished, or in others warned by it. And hereupon another, would not have a wise man punish, because an offence is committed, but lest it should be committed afterwards: of which the former renders this reason, that things past cannot be recalled; but things to come may be prevented.†
Temporary torments, specially those more great, are grievous to conceive of; how much more to undergo: yet will the sad and serious consideration of those that are eternal eat them up, as it were, and make them seem nothing in comparison. Whereupon it was, that Polycarpus told the proconsul, who threatened to burn him, if he did not renounce Christ: “Thou threatenest me with the fire, which would burn for a time, hut presently after should be extinguished: because thou art ignorant of the fire of the judgment to come, prepared for the eternal punishment of the wicked.”* “Fear not them,” then, “which kill the body; but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. x. 28.