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CHAPTER XI.: of atheism and idolatry. - 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 atheism and idolatry.
Some are Atheists in opinion; others in affection; but many more in conversation of life. There are but few of the first coat, and which can so wholly blot out the remainders of God's image written by creation in their hearts, as to leave them altogether empty, and devoid of the knowledge, conscience and reverence of a Divine Majesty; and which come to conclude roundly in their hearts, that there is no God. Yet, some, without doubt, in time, and by degrees, proceed from Atheism in conversation, to Atheism in affection; and from Atheism in affection, to Atheism in opinion and judgment. Men civilly honest, seldom or never become Atheists in persuasion; but lewd and flagitious persons do; who being pursued by the fury of an accusing conscience for heinous evils, wish, and no marvel, that there were no Judge in heaven to condemn them: and so come at last to be persuaded in themselves of that, which they gladly would have true; and are justly left of God to such horrible delusion, that so sinning without fear, they may perish without remedy. And this is the reason, why there are more Atheists in opinion, in our days, than of old; even because so many are more bent upon mischief: and living wickedly in this world, bear themselves in hand, and so get to believe, that there is no justice in the world to come.* Another reason is the proportion of wit to which our age is come, above the former. In regard hereof it is, that Atheism, though dissembled, and concealed by the same ungracious wit, which begets it, is a thousand times more to be feared in the land, than Papism. Men have too much wit to become Papists, in any generality: and just enough to fit them for Atheists, if God's powerful hand restrain them not. The very simple dare not become Atheists, but are more in danger to prove superstitious, and to “believe everything,” Prov. xiv. 15: the very understanding hardly can but have, by sound reason and sad thoughts, will they, nill they, some acknowledgment of a Divine Majesty forced upon them: but persons of frothy wit and vicious life, are fitly tempered for the impression of Atheism for the devil.
Atheism is incomparably worse, and more odious, than idolatry; as it is more intolerable in a state, or kingdom, to enterprize the overthrow of all kingly power and sovereignty, than to detract how much soever, from the lawful king's, or magistrate's due honour, and to give it to a stranger. Besides, whereas idolaters, and superstitious persons, having in them some reverence of a Divine power, are thereby both restrained from many mischiefs, and provoked to many good actions: the Atheist wanting both this Divine restraint and motive, both runs riot in wickedness and villany, and is barren of all good things; neither doing good, nor forbearing evil, further than for mere fear, or shame of men.
Atheists used to be very confident in their assertions, as the orator observes in Velleius:* partly, lest they should seem unto others to doubt, or fear, that there is a God, who will punish their impieties; and partly to “encourage themselves in their wickedness,” Psa. Ixiv. 5, as fearing lest they should be drawn into some conscience and awe of God's Majesty. It is oft true in this case amongst others, that the most cowards are the greatest boasters.
Idolatry either makes that to be God, which is not; or God to be that, which he is not. It is exercised either in intending Divine worship, so known to be, to that which is not God: or in intending a devised worship to the true God; wherein men make a will of God, which is not, and so a God willing, “which is not: or else in an act of worship in itself, though neither professed nor judged such by him that performs it. Rom. i. 23; Acts xvii. 23; Exod. xxxii. 4; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 3* —7. Such men's actions reprove both their intention in heart and profession in word, and cannot be excused by either from idolatrous.
This sin in God's people is usually compared by the Holy Ghost to the whoredom of a wife; and God's anger at it to the husband's jealousy, in that case. And as adultery most directly impeacheth the marriage bond, and so procures the bill of divorce: so doth idolatry, the church's covenant with the Lord, and provokes to sequestration from him. Yet herein two rules must he held. The former, that not only special idolatry, hut even all, or any other wickedness with profane obstinacy adjoined, separates from God. Secondly, that all sin whatsoever is founded upon a kind of idolatry. In sins of omission we acknowledge not God, for our God, as we ought, in doing what he commands: in sins of commission we make some other thing our God; as our riches, if we trust to them, as to God; or our belly, if for it we do what God forbids the doing of. Col. iii. 5; Phil. iii. 19.