Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER I.: of man's knowledge of God . - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER I.: of man's knowledge of God . - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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of man's knowledge of God.
“The Lord giveth wisdom, and out of his mouth cometh knowledge, and understanding,” saith Solomon, Prov. ii. 6: and therein warneth us, to lay our ear close to the mouth of God, and when he speaketh once, Psa. lxii. 11, we may hear twice, and having our closed hearts opened by bis Spirit, may attend to the words of grace, and wisdom, which proceed from him, and are able to make us wise to salvation.
as all our wisdom to happiness consists, summarily, in the knowledge of God, and of ourselves;* so is it not easy to determine, whether of the two goes before the other. But, as neither can be without other, in any competent, or profitable measure, or manner; and as in vain the eye of the mind is lifted up to see God, which is not fit to see itself;† so seem the reasons of most weight, which prefer the knowledge of God to the first place. For, first, God in his Word and works is the rule and measure of man's goodness, and man, at his best, but formed, and reformed after God's image. As in nature, the rule is before that which is to be ruled by it, so must it be in our knowledge. Secondly, such is our inbred pride, and hypocrisy, as that, whilst we look only upon ourselves, and upon other creatures here below, we think we are somebody for goodness, and virtue; but are then brought to that confusion in ourselves, which is requisite for our humiliation, when we come to take some knowledge of the super-excellency of God: even as our bodily eye forthwith dazzleth being cast upon the bright sun; how quick, and strong-sighted soever it seem, whilst it is set only upon earthly objects. Thirdly, so absolutely necessary is the knowledge of God, as that we can ascribe nothing, as is meet, unto him, of whom, and for whom, we and all things are, till we first know him in his Word and works, but, even in our best devotions, with the superstitious Athenians, shall build our altars “to the unknown God,” Acts xvii. 23, and with the blind Samaritans, worship we “know not what,” John iv. 22. To conclude: he that pretends the service of God, and yet knows him not in his Word, and works of creation, and redemption also, wherein his face is seen, is like him that counterfeits himself to be the household servant of some great lord, whose face he never saw, nor once came within his court gates.
Some ambitious and curious wits, but not able, and no marvel, to raise up, and advance their notions to God's infiniteness, for the comprehending of it, have laboured to depress, and pull him down to their dwarfish conceptions of him; and have, indeed, rather made him some great and giant-like man, or angel, than, as he is in truth, an infinite God; allowing him an essence, power, and wisdom hugely great, but not properly infinite and immense: as though God could not be that, which they cannot conceive of him.
The essence of God is known only to himself, but is undiscernible to all men, and angels: partly by reason of its infiniteness, which therefore no finite understanding can comprehend; and partly, for that no voice, sign, or form can sufficiently express it either to sense or reason. And if God have placed such light and glory in some created bodies, as that we cannot intentively fix our bodily eye upon them, without dazzling; what marvel is it, though the eye of the understanding of all men, and angels dazzle, in the too curious, and intentive contemplation of his infinite, and infinitely glorious majesty itself? So as, if the most wise and learned Christians should, with the heathen philosopher,* undertake to descry God's being; they would be compelled, as he was, after one day's respite, to crave two; and after two, four; and so still to double the time, with acknowledgment, that the more they searched into it, the more unsearchable it appeared.
Albeit the understanding of man, though glorified, cannot possibly comprehend God's infinite being, yet shall we, coming to enjoy the blessed vision of God, whereof the angels, and “spirits of just men perfect,” are made partakers, know in a far both greater measure, and more excellent, and immediate manner, than now we do. “We now walk by faith, and not by sight,” 2 Cor. v. 7, as we then shall do: “We now see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: knowing him even as we are known of him.” 1 Cor. xiii. 12. And for the present, we are by the means of revelation vouchsafed us in his Word and works, partly within and partly without us, to be led in our prayers, praises, and meditations of God, to such a being for the object thereof, as in which, first, there is nothing which hath the least affinity with the imperfection found in any creature;* for the expressing whereof those attributes serve, which we call negative; as immortal, invisible, a spirit, that is, no body, and the like; showing what God is not, though not what he is. Secondly, Which is that eminently, infinitely, and essentially, which we, in the creature, call power, wisdom, goodness, and whatsoever else imports any perfection: and thirdly, which is that first fountain, and original of all goodness in all creatures. And by these three stairs doth our understanding raise up itself from created things to the knowledge of God. This knowledge we must seek with all earnest diligence, and store it up carefully in the treasury of our hearts: that knowing God, we may love him, and trust to him, and fear him, and honour him; that as the daughters of Jerusalem, Cant. v. 8, though before marvelling what ailed the spouse of Christ to be so affectioned towards her beloved, and so earnestly to seek after him, as she did, when they once came to take knowledge of his perfect beauty, would then seek him with her: so we knowing God, specially in the face of Christ Jesus, may so be ravished with love of his Majesty, as to have our whole heart set to seek, and find him, in whose presence is satiety of joys evermore.