- Memoir of Rev. John Robinson.
- Section I.: Mr. Robinson, a Puritan In Norfolk. (1575—1604.)
- Section II.: Mr. Robinson a Separatist At Scrooby. (1604—1608.)
- Section III.: Mr. Robinson an Exile At Amsterdam. (1608, 1609.)
- Section IV.: Mr. Robinson a Pastor At Leyden. (1609—1625.)
- Section V.: Mr. Robinson, His Character and Writings.
- The Preface.
- Prefatory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Man's Knowledge of God .
- Chapter II.: Of God's Love.
- Chapter III.: Of God's Promises.
- Chapter IV: Of the Works of God, and His Power, Wisdom, Will, Goodness, Etc., Shining In Them.
- Chapter V.: Of Created Goodness.
- Chapter VI.: Of Equability, and Perseverance In Well-doing.
- Chapter VII.: Of Religion, and the Differences and Disputations Thereabout.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Holy Scriptures.
- Chapter IX.: Of Authority and Reason.
- Chapter X.: Op Faith, Hope, and Love: Reason, and Sense.
- Chapter XI.: Of Atheism and Idolatry.
- Chapter XII.: Of Heresy and Schism.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Truth and Falsehood.
- Chapter XIV.: Of Knowledge and Ignorance.
- Chapter XV.: Of Simplicity and Craftiness.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Wisdom and Folly.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Discretion.
- Chapter XVIII.: Of Experience.
- Chapter XIX.: Of Examples.
- Chapter XX.: Of Counsel.
- Chapter XXI.: Of Thoughts.
- Chapter XXII.: Of Speech and Silence.
- Chapter XXIII.: Of Books and Writings.
- Chapter XXIV.: Of Good Intentions.
- Chapter XXV.: Of Means.
- Chapter XXVI.: Of Labour, and Idleness.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of Callings.
- Chapter XXVIII.: Of the Use and Abuse of Things.
- Chapter XXIX.: Of Riches and Poverty.
- Chapter XXX.: Of Sobriety.
- Chapter XXXI.: Of Liberality and Its Contraries.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of Health and Physic.
- Chapter XXXIII.: Of Afflictions.
- Chapter XXXIV.: Of Injuries.
- Chapter XXXV.: Of Patience.
- Chapter XXXVI.: Of Peace.
- Chapter XXXVII.: Of Society and Friendship.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: Of Credit and Good Name.
- Chapter XXXIX.: Of Contempt and Contumely.
- Chapter Xl.: of Envy.
- Chapter Xli.: of Slander.
- Chapter Xlii.: of Flattery.
- Chapter Xliii.: of Suspicion.
- Chapter Xliv.: of Appearances.
- Chapter Xlv.: of Offences.
- Chapter Xlvi.: of Temptations.
- Chapter Xlvii.: of Conscience.
- Chapter Xlviii.: of Prayer.
- Chapter Xlix.: of Oaths and Lots.
- Chapter L.: of Zeal.
- Chapter Li.: of Hypocrisy.
- Chapter Lii.: of Sin, and Punishment From God.
- Chapter Liii.: of Rewards, and Punishments By Men.
- Chapter Liv.: of the Affections of the Mind.
- Chapter Lv.: of Fear.
- Chapter Lvi.: of Anger.
- Chapter Lvii.: of Humility and Meekness.
- Chapter Lviii.: of Modesty.
- Chapter Lix.: of Marriage.
- Chapter Lx.: of Children and Their Education.
- Chapter Lxi.: of Youth and Old Age.
- Chapter Lxii.: of Death.
- Introductory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Predestination.
- Chapter II.: Of Election.
- Chapter III.: Of Falling Away. Adversaries. (page 78.)
- Chapter IV.: Of Free-will.
- Chapter V.: Of the Original State of Mankind.
- Chapter VI.: Of Baptism. (pages 129—176.)
mb. bobinson, a puritan in norfolk.
No complete Life of Mr. Robinson was written by any of his contemporaries. Numerous references are made to his history and character in the writings both of friends and foes. To collect, compare, and harmonize these scattered statements and allusions have occasioned his modern biographers no little difficulty. The means of furnishing a perfect Life are not extant. The present Memoir contains all that can be learned respecting Mr. Robinson: it elucidates some points hitherto left in obscurity, and supplies some additional information inaccessible to former historians.
The parentage, education, youthful predilections, and exploits of a distinguished man, are important to be known. They give an interest and specificness to his biography, and take it out of the mere generalizations of an every-day Memoir. Unhappily none of these things can be learned respecting Mr. Robinson. He was born in 1575. He first appears to our view as a youth of seventeen, having finished his home-studies, and about to matriculate at Cambridge. He came hither out of the Midland Counties: whether from Lincolnshire or Nottinghamshire is undetermined; the preponderance of evidence is in favour of the former. Joseph Hall, afterwards Bishop of Norwich, who appears to have known him intimately, having teen his contemporary at college, and who became the antagonist of Robinson, states that “Lincolnshire was his county.” He graduated at Cambridge. Two colleges in the University present nearly equal claims to have been his alma mater.
Emanuel College is generally considered to have been the home of his student life. The following entry occurs in the register of the college:—
“John Robinson, entered as sizar, March 2nd, 1592; took his M.A. 1600, and B.D. 1607.”
This latter date renders his connexion with Emanuel College more than doubtful. He had become a Separatist before 1607, and was then the pastor of the mother Church of the Pilgrims in Nottinghamshire. Having renounced the Established Church, he disclaimed her honours as well as her emoluments; and it is not probable that he would seek literary distinction at her hands, even if it were possible to obtain it under such circumstances.
The CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE register exhibits a record which appears to identify Mr. Robinson, of Leyden, with her alumni:—
”John Robinson, F. Lincsh., admitted 1592. Fell. 1598.”
The Rev. Richard Masters published in 1749, a history of this college, and gives a list of all its members from its foundation, in which a similar entry to the above also occurs, and to which he appends a note, intimating his belief that this was the Robinson who had been beneficed near Yarmouth, but on being prosecuted by the Ecclesiastical Courts, had fled to Leyden and set up a congregation upon the model of the Brownists.
Entering the University at the early age of seventeen, his religious opinions could scarcely have been formed, nor could he have had very definite views respecting the work of the ministry. The time he was at Cambridge was one of considerable religious excitement. Several zealous Puritan clergymen preached at St. Mary's and other churches. Their evangelical preaching gave great offence to the authorities of the University. But the most distinguished Puritan there was the Rev. William Perkins, who was public catechist of Corpus Christi, and whose duty it was “to read a lecture every Thursday in the term, on some useful subject of Divinity; “he preached also at St. Andrew's Church, and attracted multitudes of persons from the town, the University, and surrounding neighbourhood, by his faithful, earnest, and spirit-stirring discourses. As Mr. Robinson states that his “personal conversion” was effected in the Church of England, it is no improbable supposition that the faithful and zealous labours of Mr. Perkins, the catechist of his College, and under whose ministry he sat, were the means of his spiritual illumination and conversion. His subsequent writings testify that he held Mr. Perkins in the highest esteem; he used his tutor's “Catechism on the Foundation of Religion,” in the instruction of the youth of his own congregation: he moreover published another catechism on Church. Principles, as an appendix to that of his venerable friend.
Having completed his terms at the University, Mr. Robinson proceeded to Norfolk, and in the neighbourhood of Norwich began his ministerial labours. He was at first a Puritan only, and hence officiated awhile in the Nàtional Church. His scruples respecting the ceremonies and the vestments were strong and lasting; and, omitting or modifying them in his services, he was subject to annoyances and persecution from the Ecclesiastical authorities, and was temporarily suspended from his clerical functions. The parish in which he laboured has not been ascertained.
It is doubtful, from Joseph Hall's testimony, in his “Common Apology for the Church of England,” whether Mr. Robinson was ever fully inducted into a “living;” his conscientious scruples preventing his submission to the regulations necessary for “full orders.” On being suspended by the Bishop, he retired to Norwich, where he collected a congregation of Puritan worshippers in that city and from the surrounding neighbourhood, many of whom were subject to fines and imprisonment for attending his faithful and affectionate instructions.
His attachment to his Norwich friends remained unabated through life. After the lapse of twenty years, when residing at Leyden. on learning that the Rev. Mr. Yates of that city, a good man, but Puritan Conformist, had circulated a tract, denouncing lay-preaching, he wrote a treatise in refutation, for their special benefit, entitled “The People's Plea for the Exercise of Prophecy,” the preface to which evinces his undiminished regard for his former charge, and his deep solicitude for their spiritual benefit.
During his residence at Norwich, his mind was still agitated and perplexed respecting his duty in relation to the church. A passage in his reply to Mr. Bernard, exhibits the mental struggles through which he passed at this eventful period of his history.
“I do indeed confess, to the glory of God and my own shame, that a long time before I entered this way [of separation,] I took some taste of the truth in it by some treatises published in justification of it, which, the Lord knoweth, were sweet as honey to my mouth; and the very principal thing which, for the time, quenched all further appetite in me, was the over-valuation which I made of the learning and holiness of these and the like persons, [the Evangelical Puritans], blushing in myself to have a thought of pressing one hair-breadth before them in this thing, behind whom I knew myself to come so many miles in all other things. Yea, and even of late times, when I had entered into a more serious consideration of these things, and, according to the measure of the grace received, searched the Scriptures whether they were so or not, and by searching found much light of truth, yet was the same so dimmed and overclouded with the contradictions of these men, and others of the like note, that, had not the truth been in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, Jeremiah xx. 9,I had never broken those bonds of flesh and blood, wherein I was so straitly tied, but had suffered the light of God to have been put out in mine own unthankful heart by other men's darkness.”
Though suspended, he still wished to retain his position in connexion with the Establishment. He trusted that some modification of the rigours of conformity might be adopted, and that, in some chaplainship to a public institution, or in some private chapel duly licensed, he might conduct public worship according to his own views of Christian simplicity. For this purpose he applied to the corporation of Norwich for the Mastership of the Great Hospital, then generally held by a clergyman, or for a building to be secured to him by lease, in which he might officiate. In both objects he failed. Hopeless with respect to further ecclesiastical reformation, and convinced that all attempts at harmonizing his scriptural views with canonical law, and subject to the suspicions, informations, and oppressions by the dominant party, he solemnly resolved and “on most sound and unresistible convictions,” to carry out his puritanical principles to their just consequences, and to separate himself altogether from the church of his youth and his affections.
The circumstances now detailed throw light on his ecclesiastical position and struggles, and furnish a satisfactory answer to JosephHall's ungenerous insinuation, that he was the victim of disappointment and chagrin, and hence suddenly abandoned his clerical profession and resolved on becoming a Separatist.