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Of Honour and Reputation.


A Fifth thing conducive to the happiness of the outward Man is Honour and Reputation a Blessing highly to be valued, and much to be preferred before Riches or Pleasures, or even Life it self. Prov. 22. 1. A good name is rather to be chosen than great Riches, and loving favour rather than Silver and Gold. Eccles. 7. 1. A good name is better than precious Ointment. It is a Proverb among the Vulgar, Take away my good name, and take away my life: Intimating, that it is as dear to them as their Lives. Much more then will a generous person chuse rather to die, than to do any unworthy thing, that may expose him to Infamy, or Mali his Reputation. And because it is a thing of so great excellency, therefore we do pay it as the best service we can do, and return we can make to God. and his Deputies, Magistrates and Parents. Honour is a good thing, whereby we not only reap many advantages 80while we live, but that doth also survive us, and abide after us when we are gone out of the World, Psal. 112. 6. The Righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. There is in Man a natural desire to have a good Name perpetuated and mentioned with honour when, he is dead and gone; which (as a learned 99   A. Bp. Tillotson.Prelate saith) is a sign that there is in Humane Nature some presage of a Life after Death, in which they hope, among other Rewards of well doing, to meet with this also, to be well spoken of to Posterity. And another 1010   Bishop Lloyd.Man among many tokens of immortality, hath by secret instinct a natural desire to be thought of and spoken of in after-times. Honour is a great spur and encouragement to virtuous Actions: Every Man (saith the forementioned Author) that hath any spark of generosity in him, is desirous of fame; and though Men care not how soon it comes, yet they will be glad to have it after Death, rather than not at all. And (Bishop Wilkms faith) The more wise and virtuous any Man is, the more care will he take to transmit a grateful Memory of himself to future times, that 81he be well spoken of, that his Name may be as a precious Ointment, leaving a Perfume behind it; that Men may rise up at the mention of it, and call him blessed. Nor (saith he) can any Man despise Honour; but he that doth either despair of it, or resolve against doing any thing that may deserve it. And certainly (saith the Arch-Bishop) he that hath no regard to his Fame, is lost to all purposes of Virtue and Goodness. When a Man is once come to this, not to care what others say of him; the next step is to have no care what he himself does. Quod Conscientia est apud Deum, id fama est apud Homines: What Conscience is in respect of God, that Fame is in respect of Men. Next to a good Conscience, a clear Reputation ought to be to every Man the dearest thing in the World.

You’ll say, What is Honour?

It is very Well defined by the 1111   Dr. Wilkins.Bishop of Chester, often mentioned, to be, The esteem and good opinion Men have concerning the person or actions of another, together with such external Expressions of respect as are suitable thereunto.


Now this so valuable a good is the peculiar reward of Virtue and Piety, 1 Sam. 2. 30. Them that honour me, 1 will honour, and them that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed, Prov. 4. 8, 9. Solomon saith of Wisdom, that is the fear of God, Exalt her, and she shall promote thee, and bring thee to honour. She shall give to thy head an Ornament of grace, and a crown of glory, Prov. 10. 7. The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot, Prov. 3. 35. The wise shall inherit glory: But shame shall be the promotion of fools. Piety and Virtue command a respect from all sorts of Men. Good Men hold themselves obliged to give it, by the Command of God, and the excellency of the thing, it being a gift of God; and wicked Men though they may deny that outward respect that is due to good and righteous persons; yet even these cannot but have an inward veneration for Goodness and Religion. It is very remarkable, that even the rude and licentious Vulgar at Rome had such a reverence of the Person of Cato, that though such lewdness was permitted by the Law in the Festival of Flora, yet so long as he was present in the Theatre, they could not go on with their obscene sports, nor have 83the confidence to demand those: Florales joci nudandarum meretricum, as Seneca calls them. The wicked indeed hate the righteous, because his life is a reproof to them, and gives them some check in their vicious courses, taking from them their great excuse of the impossibility of God’s Commandments; and demonstrating, that through the assistance of Divine Grace, which is always granted to them who do what in them lies, and pray for it; it is possible to obey them to such a degree as will be accepted by God: Wicked Men though they hate Virtue in the Subject, yet simply and abstractedly they acknowledge it to be good; though in their practice they prefer Vice before Virtue; yet never any arrived to to that degree of sottishness, as to say, it was better than Virtue: For example; better to be a glutton, and a drunkard than a temperate Person; to cheat and defraud, than to be just and righteous in our dealings: And therefore, though they hate and persecute Men for being religious, yet they disguise the Subject of their hatred, pretending it to be Hypocrisie, Heresie, Superstition, or the like, that they hate them for. Whence it appears, that they are self condemned Persons. Seneca in his Fourth 84Book, De Beneficiis cap. 17. hath much to this purpose, Adeò gratiosa est virtus (saith he) ut insitum etiam malis sit probare meliora: Virtue is so gracious, that it is naturally ingrafted even in bad Men to approve that which is good. And again. Nec quisquam tantum à naturalis lege descivit & hominem exuit, ut animi causâ malus sit. Neither hath any Man so far degenerated from the natural Law, and put off Man, as to be wicked for his minds sake, or only because it is his pleasure to be so. And again, Maximum hoc habemus à naturâ meritum, quod virtus in omnium animos lumen suum permittit, etiam qui non sequuntur, illam vident: Nature hath herein deserved exceeding well of us, That Virtue sends its light into all Mens Minds, even they that do not follow it, yet see it.

Against what is generally said, That there is nothing truly honourable but Virtue, it may be objected, that Learning and Knowledge is honourable, and yet it is not always accompanied with Virtue, there being some learned Men vicious, as St. Augustine also supposes in that Saying, Quid prodest esse peritum & periturum? I answer, That the acquisition of Learning and Knowledge is by something virtuous and commendable, viz. Labour 85and Industry in a Calling; nay, Knowledge it self being that which all Men naturally desire, and being some participation of a divine Perfection, viz. Omniscience; and being that which distinguishes us from and advances us above brute Beasts, and makes us capable of Virtue and Happiness, a higher degree of it, exalting our Faculties, enabling us to ad in a larger Sphere, and to do more good, must be acknowledged to be an excellent quality, and to merit some honour and respect; and all Men generally think so, and give it accordingly.

That it doth so, appears further from the contrary, that is, Ignorance and Folly, which is among all Men very dishonourable and reproachful; insomuch, that Men abhor nothing more than the imputation of Folly; esteeming it a greater disgrace to be accounted Fools, than to be accounted vicious; though indeed wicked Men be the greatest Fools, and on the contrary, godly Men the only wise Men.

Here I cannot but wonder, that there should be such an unsatiable thirst after Honour, implanted in the nature of Man: Why Men should be so jealous of losing the reputation of any new Invention; so troubled 86and disturbed at having any of their Observations or Discoveries, though by themselves communicated to others, published without an honourable mention of them; so nettled at the discovery of any mistaken in their Writings, though but Grammatical; and being upbraided with it, why they should be willing to accept of false honour and undue Praises: Why they should think it a great matter to be praised by ignorant Persons, and incompetent Judges for such Abilities and Gifts, as they are not conscious to themselves of; Doth praise add any thing to them of real good besides conceit?

I cannot conceive any other reason than what I intimated before, that it might be a powerful spur to incite them to the practice and exercise of religious and virtuous Actions; If it be objected that Men are as jealous of their Reputation in point of Knowledge, as they are in point of Virtue; I answer, It is an error, and a fault, and they ought not to be so; though for the reasons before alledged, I deny not Knowledge to be an excellent quality, which enlarges and advances the Understanding, and renders a Man capable of greater Employments, and doing more good than 87others of inferior Abilities, and Improvements.

And further, that it is not Virtue alone to which Honour is due; as appears in that we are commanded to honour Parents, Magistrates, Ministers in general, as such, without any restriction or exception of those that are vicious. It is enough that they have an Authority derived from God, and a kind of divine Impress and Character upon them, to make them venerable.

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