The Folly of Trying to Please Men – Pt.1

The Folly of Trying to Please Men – Pt.1
  1. Remember what a multitude you have to please; and when you have pleased some, how many more will be still unpleased, and how many displeased when you have done your best. Alas! We are insufficient at once to observe all those that observe us and would be pleased by us. You are like one that hath but twelve pence in his purse, and a thousand beggars come about him for it, and everyone will be displeased if he have it not all. If you resolve to give all that you have to the poor, if you do it to please God, you may attain your end, but if you do it to please them, when you have pleased those few that you gave it to, perhaps twice as many will revile or curse you, because they had nothing. The beggar that speeds well will proclaim you liberal, and the beggar that speeds ill will proclaim you niggardly and unmerciful; and so you will have more to offend and dishonor you, than to comfort you by their praise, if that must be your comfort.
  2. Remember that all men are so selfish, that their expectations will be higher than you are able to satisfy. They will not consider your hindrances, or avocations, or what you do for others, but most of them look to have as much to themselves, as if you had nobody else to mind but them. Many and many a time, when I have had an hour or a day to spend, a multitude have everyone expected that I should have spent it with them. When I visit one, there are ten offended that I am not visiting them at the same hour: when I am discoursing with one, many more are offended that I am not speaking to them all at once: if those that I speak to account me courteous, and humble, and respectful, those that I could not speak to, or but in a word, account me discourteous and morose. How many have censured me, because I have not allowed them the time, which God and conscience commanded me to spend upon greater and more necessary work! If you have any office to give, or benefit to bestow which one only can have, every one thinketh himself the fittest; and when you have pleased one that hath it, you have displeased all that went without it, and missed of their desires.
  3. You have abundance to please that are so ignorant, unreasonable, and weak, that they take your greatest virtues for your faults, and know not when you do well or ill; and yet none more bold in censuring than those that least understand the things they censure. Many and many a time my own and others’ sermons have been censured, and openly defamed, for that which never was in them, upon the ignorance or heedlessness of a censorious hearer; yea, for that which they directly spoke against; because they were not understood: especially he that hath a close style, free from tautology, where every word must be marked by him that will not misunderstand, shall frequently be misreported.
  4. You will have many factious zealots to please, who being strangers to the love of holiness, Christianity, and unity, are ruled by the interest of an opinion or a sect; and these will never be pleased by you, unless you will be one of their side or party, and conform yourself to their opinions. If you be not against them, but set yourselves to reconcile and end the differences in the church, they will hate you as not promoting their opinions, but weakening them by some abhorred syncretism. As in civil, so in ecclesiastical wars, the firebrands cannot endure the peaceable: if you will be neutral, you shall be used as enemies. If you be never so much for Christ, and holiness, and common truth, all is nothing, unless you be also for them, and their conceits.
  5. Most of the world are haters of holiness, and have a serpentine enmity to the image of God, being not renewed by the Holy Ghost; and will not be pleased with you, unless you will sin against your Lord, and do as they do. I Pet. iv. 3-5, “Walking in lasciviousness lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries, wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you; who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” You must be counted as Lot among the Sodomites, a busy fellow that comes among them to make himself their judge, and to control them, if you tell them of their sin. You shall be called a precise, hypocritical coxcomb, (or somewhat much worse,) if you will not be as bad as they, and if by your abstinence (though you say nothing) you seem to reprehend their sensuality and contempt of God. Among insane you must play the insane, if you will escape the fangs of their revilings. And can you hope to please such men as these?

Be continued tomorrow

Leave a Reply