21 Reasons Demonstrating the Impossibility of Pleasing Man

I found numbers 12, 14, 19, 20, and 21 to be pretty convincing.

“‘If nothing will cure this disease, at least let the impossibility of pleasing men, and attaining your ends, suffice against so fruitless an attempt.’ And here I shall shew you how impossible it is, or, at least a thing which you cannot reasonably expect.”

  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.
  2. Remember that all men are so selfish, that their expectations will be higher than you are able to satisfy.
  3. ‘You have abundance to please that are so ignorant, unreasonable, and weak, that they take your greatest virtues for your faults,’
  4. ‘You will have many factions zealots to please, who being strangers to the love of holiness, Christianity, and unity, are ruled by the interest of an opinion or sect,’
  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 you Lord, as do as they do.’
  6. ‘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 into damnation.’
  7. ‘You will have rigorous, captious, uncharitable and unrighteous men to please who will “make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate and turn aside the just for a thing of nought, and watch for iniquity”‘ (Isaiah 29:20-21).
  8. ‘You have passionate persons to please,’ whose judgments are blinded, and are not capable of being pleased.
  9. ‘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 case, yet every one almost will be venturing to cast in his censure.’
  10. ‘You live among unpeaceable tattlers and tale-carriers, that would please others by accusing you.’
  11. ‘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.’
  12. ‘You have men of great mutability to please;’ that one hour may be ready to worship you as gods, and the next to stone you, or account you as devils, as they did by Paul, and Christ himself.
  13. ‘Every man living shall unavoidably be engaged by God himself, in some duties which are very liable to misconstruction, and will have an outside and appearance of evil, to the offence of those that know not all the inside and circumstances.’
  14. ‘The perverseness of many is so great, that they require contradictions and impossibilities of you, to tell you that they are resolved never to be pleased by you.’
  15. ‘There is among men so great a contrariety of judgments, and dispositions, and interests, that they will never agree among themselves; and if you please one, the rest will be thereby displeased.’
  16. ‘If you excel in any one virtue or duty, even that shall not excuse you from the contrary defamation, so unreasonable are malicious men.’
  17. ‘If you have a design for a name of honour when you are dead, consider what power a prevailing faction may have to corrupt the history of your life, and represent you to posterity perfectly contrary to what you are; and how impossible it is for posterity to know whose history is the product of malicious, shameless lies, and whose is the narrative of impartial truth.’
  18. ‘Remember that the holiest saints or apostles could never please the world, nor escape their censures, slanders, and cruelties; no, nor Jesus Christ himself.’
  19. ‘Godliness, virtue, and honesty themselves will not please the world, and therefore you cannot hope to please them by that which is not pleasing to them.’
  20. ‘They are not pleased with God himself; yes, no man doth displease so many and so much as he.’ And can you do more than God to please them? or can you deserve their favour more than he?
  21. ‘How can you please men that cannot please themselves?’ Their own desire and choice will please them but a little while.’

Baxter expands on these in his A Christian Directory, vol. 1 (London: Richard Edwards, 1825), pages 559-572.

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