Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LVII.: of humility and meekness. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER LVII.: of humility and meekness. - 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 humility and meekness.
Humility is that virtue by which we are taught to value according to, and not above the worth, ourselves, and all the good things, which God hath given us. I say, according to the worth; for men may, as one saith, not subject, but abject themselves:§ and sometimes, we see men, specially pressed with great burdens of temptations, in a kind of abjectness of mind, to moulder away, and make their gold little better than dross, by undervaluing God's goodness towards them. Such are unthankful to God, uncomfortable in themselves, and unprofitable unto others, in comparison. Besides, there is an humble hypocrisy, when men so subject themselves to others, specially superiors, as they reverence their vices;|| or suffer their reason, more, if their faith, and consciences, to be eaptive to their lusts. And, hence, comes the worshipping of angels, and other points of will-worship, Col, ii. 18; in which the show of wisdom in the inventors and imposers, and of humility in the followers bear sway. Lastly, there is a desperate humility, when out of an evil and accusing conscience, a man knows and judges himself out of God's favour and a vile person. But now the most of this humility hath joined with it no small pride. That of the first kind is very rare: and the infinitely more common and dangerous disease is the overswelling of the heart, through excess of self-love, and presumption. Self-love disposeth a person to think himself, and to desire to be thought of others, to have the excellency, which he hath not. Herewith the mind is easily corrupted, and vain man induced to presume of that goodness in himself, which he wants, and to be lifted up with that, which he hath. Many by stooping lose of their bodily height; but few stoop too low, in conceit of themselves. Yet as Christ Jesus ceased not to be God, though he humbled himself to the taking upon him the form of a servant, Phil. ii. 7: so neither is any man either in truth, or account of God, or good men, the less, but much the more excellent for his lowly appearance to himself or others. Yea, as the same Christ our Lord stepped from the shameful cross to the height of his glory, and exaltation: so he that will make any high building in Christianity, must first think of, and lay this low foundation of humility.*
This lowliness of mind is the mother of meekness, as Christ insinuates, saying, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly,” Matt. xi. 29. The humble-minded, if a cross come or injury “be offered, bears them moderately, as thinking moderately of himself, yea meanly in regard of his sins, and the misery to which they expose him. The proud through want of consciousness hereof, if he be a little crossed is fierce and violent: Jove dignas concipit iras. What? He ! A man of his worth so to be used ? specially by such a one ? And as the boar whets and sharpens his tusks in his own foam; so doth a proud person whet and sharpen his heart, hands, and tongue to indignation and revenge, in the frothy and foamish imagination of his own worth.
Seeing that in evil days the meek and mild in spirit following Christ's example, who “was as a lamb dumb before the shearer, not opening his mouth,” Isa. liii. 7, are in danger not only to be shorn, but to be flayed also; the most in the wisdom and lust of the flesh, think it better to howl with the wolves,* and to bite too, than by departing from evil, Isa. lix. 15, specially by bearing wrongs patiently, to make themselves a prey. But here faith steps in and leads the meek to God's promises, that he “shall inherit the earth,” Matt. v. 5: and that “God will arise to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth,” Psa. Ixxvi. 9: and that he will see and hear, and in due time right the wrongs of meek Moses, though he pass them by, and as a deaf man hears not, Numb. xi. 3; Psa. xxxviii. 13: but for the violent and self-avenger, he puts himself out of God's protection, and goes upon his own hazard.
As the stomach swells either with good meat excessively used, or with wind and ill humours: so there is scarce anything either so good or so evil, but man's corrupt heart takes occasion of priding and puffing up itself by it. The prophet speaks of some, who boasted in evil, Psa. lii. 1: and the apostle of others, whose glorying was in their shame. Phil. iii. 19. If former ages have been bold, ours is impudent this way: in which it is hard to say, whether the pride which persons take in good or in evil be greater. Many shame not to boast of the evils practised by them, which modest men are ashamed to hear of; and some of the evils which they never did, nor dare, nor can do, thereby to get credit with vain persons. If pride, in good, be hateful, it is abominable, in evil: specially when men belie themselves to get matter of glorying in mischief; as Austin con-fesseth he in his youth had done.† Fools glory in their motley coats, and therein show why they wear them: but worse than mad are they who glory in sin, and are lift up for that, which cast the angels from heaven: Adam out of Paradise; and Nebuchadnezzar out of his kingdom amongst the beasts of the field: and which will cast all into hell, that delight in it.
As wicked men pride themselves in their evils: so are the good in danger to be enamoured of their goodness. And, as he that besiegeth a city, if he can neither obtain it by composition, nor take it by assault, nor constrain it by hunger, will, in the last place, if he can, undermine, and blow it up with gunpowder: so our, and God's enemy, Satan, when he cannot corrupt or destroy God's servants, otherwise attempts, and that oft successfully, the lifting them up with vain conceitedness of themselves, and their own worth. The holy apostle was in danger to be exalted, above measure with the number of revelations, for the preventing whereof he needed a messenger of Satan to buffet him. 2 Cor. xii. 7. So God for the keeping and driving of pride from his servants, sometimes brings great afflictions upon them, and humbles them thereby; and sometimes, he doth this, by suffering ‘them to fall into other sins, to remedy that greater sin of pride: as men use to drive out a greater pin with another somewhat smaller. How close doth this corruption cleave unto us, and how dangerous is it withal; for the purging out of which, the Lord useth such a medicine !
There are in this pride many strange touches: some being proud in, and some of their humility. Of the first sort were they, who being vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind, in voluntary humbleness worshipped angels, Col. ii. 18; from a touch of this kind Peter was not free, when he so refractorily refused to suffer Christ to wash his feet.* There is also danger of being proud of not being proud, nor lofty in carriage, apparel, or contempt of inferiors: and of being called rather good-man, than master; and rather master than sir knight. Besides all these, many will go on their tiptoes, though barefoot, being proud of, no man knows what, either within or without them: and none more than they. There want not also amongst the rest, who put out pride to usury, that by forbearing it awhile, and using for it, humble and submissive appearances, they might after receive it with advantage. Of this sort are they, who use to dispraise themselves, that others may the more commend them:† and, who, forsooth, will always come the hindmost, and sit the lowest, that they may be the more solemnly preferred to the first place. Others also, their craftsmasters in this trade, will be very submissive to their superiors, which are but a few, that their inferiors, being many, may learn thereby to honour them the more. So Herod showed how desirous he was of honour from his subjects, by the honour which he gave to Cæsar and Agrippa.* Lastly, there are who put on pride, by strutting and looking and speaking stately, and other affected forth-puttings, to free themselves from contempt. Such are like .Æsop's ass, in the lion's skin: and have like success with him, in the end.
The proud so loves himself, as none other can endure him. Not God, for to him he is abominable, Prov. xvi. 5: nor humble men, because he is not as they are, and as he should be: nor other prouds, because he is as they are, who would be singular, and have none other like them. And as God hates the proud, so he resists them, James iv. 6: and no marvel, for they in a singular manner resist him. Some sinners are most directly and immediately against themselves; as the slothful, prodigal, &c.; some against other men, as the covetous, slanderer, cruel, &c. ”But the proud exalts himself most directly against and above God, 2 Thess. ii. 4, whom alone all creatures should exalt and magnify. And he, whom God resists, must needs fall, though the whole world would take his part.
Persons are vulgarly most noted for proud by their apparel. And indeed by it, if either too costly for stuff or affected for fashion or curiously put on, not only the flag of pride, as Augustine called it, is displayed, but the vice nourished. Many say to their fine clothes, in effect, as Saul said to Samuel, “Honour me before the people.” And this also they may effect with them that know them not, nor their estates, and may get them more credit with such than they deserve; for which they are to answer to God. But to them that know them, and their condition, they thereby make themselves a by word, and ridiculous for their pride and vanity. A second mark of pride may be taken from men's lofty eyes, stretched-forth necks, Psa. cxxxi. 1, and other the like strutting gestures. A third, contempt of mean persons and things. A fourth, excessive care not to be neglected or contemned by others, and trouble if so it fall out. A fifth, continual strivings and janglings with others. A sixth, cruelty in word or deed towards feeble adversaries. A seventh, affectation of singularity, and being unlike to others. Good men in evil days are compelled to be singular in many things, as Lot was in Sodom; but never affect it. An eighth, an aptness to observe, and task others, as proud. Lastly, a readiness to speak of one's own worth, or of his great acceptance with others of worth, Thraso like.
The special remedies against pride are, first, consideration how God forbids, hates, and resists the proud: who will, therefore, have a fall, if not upon earth, into hell. Secondly, meditation upon our sins, and misery for the same. Thirdly, thinking rather what good we have not, than what we have.* Fourthly, that, if in any good thing we go before others, we remember, that it is God that hath differenced us: and that having received it, we should not glory, as if we had not received it. 1 Cor. iv. 7. Fifthly, a serious forecasting with ourselves, that the more our receipts are, the greater our account to the Lord must be: which, if we consider as we ought, will rather make them matter of humiliation unto us, than of arrogancy. Lastly, it will something help to keep the heart down, if we consider, that others are instruments of God's glory, and of good to men, as well as we.†