The Folly of Trying to Please Men – Pt.2

The Folly of Trying to Please Men – Pt.2
  1. You shall have satanical God-haters, and men of seared and desperate consciences to please, that are malicious and cruel, and will be pleased with nothing but some horrid iniquity, and the damning of your own souls, and drawing others to damnation. Like that monster of Milan, that when he had got down his enemy, made him blaspheme God in hope to save his life, and then stabbed him, calling it a noble revenge, that killed the body and damned the soul at once. There are such in the world, that will so visibly act the devil’s part, that they would debauch your consciences with the most horrid perjuries, perfidiousness, and impiety, that they may triumph over your miserable souls. And if you think it worth the willful damning of your souls, it is possible they may be pleased. If you tell them, we cannot please you, unless we will be dishonest, and displease God, and sin against our knowledge and consciences, and hazard our salvation, they will make but a jest of such arguments as these, and expect you should venture your souls and all upon their opinions, and care as little for God and your souls as they do. Desperate sinners are loath to go to hell alone; it is a torment to them to see others better than themselves. They that are cruel and unmerciful to themselves, and have no pity on their own souls, but will sell them for a whore, or for preferment, and honor, or sensual delights, will scarce have mercy on the souls of others: Matt. xxvii. 25, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”
  2. You will have rigorous, captious, uncharitable, and unrighteous men to please, who will “make a man offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught, and watch for iniquity,” Isa. xxix. 20, 21. That have none of that charity which covereth faults, and interpreted words and actions favourably, nor none of that justice which causeth men to do as they would be done by, and judge as they would be judged; but judging without mercy, are like to have judgment without mercy. And are glad when they can find any matter to reproach you: and if once they meet with it (true or false) they will never forget it, but dwell as the fly on the ulcerated place.
  3. You will have passionate persons to please, whose judgments are blinded, and are not capable of being pleased. Like the sick and sore that are hurt with every touch; and at last, saith Seneca, with the very conceit that you touched them. How can you please them, when displeasedness is their disease, that abideth within them, at the very heart?
  4. You will find that censoriousness is a common vice, and though few are competent judges of your actions, as not being acquainted with all the ease, yet every one almost will be venturing to cast in his censure. A proud, presumptuous understanding is a very common vice; which thinks itself presently capable of judging, as soon as it heareth but a piece of the ease, and is not conscious of its own fallibility, though it have daily experience of it. Few are at your elbow, and none in your heart, and therefore know not the circumstances and reasons of all that you do, nor hear what you have to say for yourselves, and yet they will presume to censure you, who would have absolved you, if they had but heard you speak. It is rare to meet even with professors of greatest sincerity, that are very tender and fearful of sinning, in this point of rash, ungrounded judging, without capacity or call.
  5. You live among unpeaceable tattlers and tale carriers, that would please others by accusing you. Who is it that hath ears that hath not such vermin as these earwigs busy at them? Except here and there an upright man, whose angry countenance hath still driven away such backbiting tongues. And all shall be said behind your backs, when you are incapable of answering for yourselves. And if it be a man that the hearers think well of, that accuseth or backbiteth you, they think it lawful then to believe them: and most that are their friends, and of their party, and for their interest, shall be sure to be thought so honest as to be credible. And it is not strange, for a learned, ingenious, yea, a godly person to be too forward in uttering, from the mouth of others an evil report, and then the hearer thinks he is fully justified for believing it, and reporting it again to others. David himself by the temptation of a Ziba, is drawn to wrong Mephibosheth the son of his great deserving friend, 2 Sam. xvi. 3. No wonder then if Saul do hearken to a Doeg, to the wrong of David, and murder of the priests. Prov. xviii. 8, “The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds.” Prov. xxvi. 20, “Where no wood is, the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer the strife ceaseth.” And when these are still near men, and you far off, it is easy for them to continue the most odious representation of the most laudable person’s actions in the world.
  6. The imperfection of all men’s understandings and godliness is so great, that the differences of judgment that are among the best, will tend to the injury and undervaluing of their brethren. One is confident that his way is right, and another is confident of the contrary: and to how great contending’s and injuries such differences may proceed, he that knoweth not in this age, shall not know for me. We need not go to Paul and Barnabas for an instance (that was a far lighter case); nor to Epiphanius, Jerome, and Chrysostom; nor to those ages and tragedies of contending bishops, that in the eastern and western churches have been before us: every one thinking his cause so plain, as to justify himself, in all that he saith and doth against those that presume to differ from him. And surely you may well expect some displeasure, even from good and learned men, when the church have felt such dreadful concussions, and bleedeth to this day, by so horrid divisions, through the remnants of that pride and ignorance which her reverend guides have still been guilty of.

Be continued tomorrow

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