Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LVIII.: of modesty. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER LVIII.: of modesty. - 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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Modesty adorns other virtues, and good things in a person; as blushing doth a comely countenance.‡ And though many virtues, of which it is a very imperfect one, as some call it; and as others, the keeper of other virtues, be more serviceable; yet none is more graceful, in the eyes of others, than this maiden, and sweet grace, modesty.§ For this, some have thought our Saviour bare that singular affection to the beloved disciple. And what a loadstone it is to draw men's affections, we all find in our own experience; as being prone, in matters of comparison and controversy between others, rather to favour the more modest, than the more able, or more worthy either otherwise. Where it is, it covers many faults and inabilities from being seen: and where they do appear, procures, sometimes, excuse, and always, commiseration. It commends a man not only for that which he hath, but often even for that which he hath not. For as some by arrogating to themselves something which they have not, or know not, give others occasion to think them destitute of that which they have, or know indeed; so others' modesty in the things, which they have received, procures unto them oftentimes, the opinion, from other men, of having that which in truth they want. “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace,” which modesty will teach him to do, “is accounted wise.” Prov. xvii. 28.
It is an odious thing to see men, deserving little, to arrogate much to themselves: which yet is as usual, as for a windy stomach to swell; and that specially, in vain confidence, and conceit of knowledge: whereas men of understanding indeed, are more modestly minded. The former's brain, by straitness of apprehension,'' can hold but one thing at once: whereas, men of larger discourse so apprehend this or that reason for, or against a matter, as that at the same instant, other things also offer themselves to their consideration, which may justly occasion modest doubting about it. And as an advised person by the reflection of his understanding, knows his knowledge, so doth he his ignorance; as we see a shadow by the light about it, without which, all would be black darkness. So Menedemus was wont to say, that men coming to study in Athens, were at first wise men; after that, very punies and ignorants: for that, as leather vessels or bags, being empty, are stiff, and hard; but being filled with liquor, are soft and pliable:* so is it with men commonly, as they have less or more knowledge.
This tincture of virtue, as Diogenes calls it, though it be more useful for the young, than old; and for women, than men, for the covering of their infirmities, which through immodest boldness, irrespectiveness, and want of fear of shame and reproof, in which modesty consists,* they proclaim to the world; yet is it necessary for all states, sexes, and persons, at all times; whether alone or in company with others; whether conversing with God or men. The apostle testifies of himself, that he “served God amongst the Ephesians in modesty of mind, and many tears,” Acts xx. 19: giving therein an ensample to all, how far they ought to put from them a secure, and impudent heart, and countenance. And though that monster of men, Caligula, accounted it the most commendable thing in his nature, that he was ashamed of nothing:† yet doth both nature and grace teach it to be a most odious thing for a man to have a dog's face, as the proverb is: or as the prophet speaks, “a whore's forehead, that refuses to be ashamed.” Jer. iii. 4.
It is pity any should speed so well, by mere boldness, without reason or other defect, as many do: who become thereby of audacious, impudent, having once broken the bounds of modesty,‡ specially to their advantage. Towards men of such foreheads the proverb must be put in practice, “A bold beggar must have a bold nay-sayer.” It was the unrighteous judge, that did that for the widow's importunity, Luke xviii. 5, which conscience would have had him done for the goodness of her cause, and poverty of her person. Though to speak, as the thing is; to be overcome by importunity argues not so properly injustice, in what case soever, as impotency of mind to resist.
Peter and John with the other apostles prayed to the Lord “for boldness in the speaking of his word,” Acts iv. 29. Many others also pray for boldness, as they did; but forget, that they are not apostles, nor infallibly directed, as they were. Who, if they knew themselves aright, and how prone they are to speak their own word instead of God's, would rather pray for modesty and ad visedness, that they rush not upon the rock of error. Besides, they so prayed in regard of the threatenings of unbelievers, with whom they had to do. But amongst brethren, and Christians, let us rather affect the lamb's bleat, than the lion's roar.