Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXI.: of thoughts. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXI.: of thoughts. - 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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Men say, Thoughts are free, and pay no tribute: and this is true being understood of men's custom-houses, where they cannot be searched, but as they betray themselves by some outward sign, either word, or work. But so much the more watchful we had need to be in ourselves, over thoge close commodities, lest we willingly feed a filthy, though secret sink within us; which, in time, will shame us before men, as it stinks in the meanwhile, where it is, in the nostrils of God, and men, for it. Besides, if we do evil in word, or deed, men may help us, either by contrary examples, or friendly reproofs, or hateful upbraidings, or just punishments: but against sinful and unsanctified thoughts we have no help but from God alone, and ourselves, by his grace, to whom alone they are known.
Every thought of evil is not an evil thought, but only such as to which we adjoin either consent of will, or, at least, delight of affection. For besides the thoughts of, or about evil, which are either in pure speculation, or natural consideration of the thing, or with averseness of affection from the matter thought on; there are thoughts merely by suggestion from Satan, who being a spirit, and having such affinity of nature with our spirits and souls, can unite, himself, in his suggestions, with our imagination, after a manner by us inconceivable; and offer unto us thoughts of great evil, which yet we may, by grace, so resist, as that they are to be accounted his sin, and our cross only, who are constrained to bear such temptations; as we are com pelled oftentimes to hear, and bear the ill counsel of wicked men, his instruments, with sin in them, and grief in ourselves, but without our sin, if we in no way hearken unto them: yea with commendation, both in the one, and other, in the victory of faith which we obtain over them. Indeed we are too ready to receive such suggestions; as tinder is to take fire; specially being subtilely fitted by Satan to our special inclinations, and occasions: and so must be more careful either to prevent them by nourishing in ourselves an abhorring of them; or to quench them if they arise, by the stream of holy meditations running in our hearts.
They, whose words and deeds are faulty and evil, and yet plead their good hearts towards God, are like malefactors, who, being convinced of theft, or the like naughtiness, by plain evidence, to their faces, do appeal to the testimony of such persons for their purgation, as they know cannot be found. If the hearts of such men could be seen of others, as their works, and words are, they would appear worse then they; as they do to God who seeth them. There is no evil in the mouth, or hand, which was not in the heart first, Matt, xv, 19, as the stream in the fountain: neither can the flesh be corrupted, except the mind be corrupt first.*
Men judge of our thoughts by our words, and actions: but God of our words and works by our thoughts; accounting the thing whether good, or evil, as done in his sight, if once it be resolved on in the purpose of the heart. Thus “Abraham offered up Isaac by faith,” Heb. xi. 17; and Judas did that which he meant to do, John xiii. 27. And as God judgeth of us, and of our doings; so ought we to do ourselves. “The thoughts of the righteous are righteous.” Prov. xii. 5. And by these, good and evil men are best and truliest differenced one from another:† whereas all outward works lie common: and are many of them oft exercised equally by good, and bad. No outward works are so good, hut hypocrites have done them, at times: and few, or none so evil, but some godly have at some times, by temptation, fallen into them. But how alike soever the outward faces of such sinful actions be; the difference is great in the heart of the doer, and is so seen of God to be at the very time of the doing; and by after and better fruits in their time, so manifested unto men afterwards, to have been at that time, when in the outward evil act no such difference could appear. But our only comfortable course, and that by which our hearts are assured before the Lord, is, to provide, that in them may run constantly so strong a stream of holy purposes, and settled thoughts, as may both overbear the contrary current of our flesh, and lusts; and also carry with it our outward man to all good and godly practices.