Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXV.: of means. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXV.: of means. - 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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Means are so called of the middle place which they hold, between the efficient and final causes; serving the one for the furthering and achieving of the other. And so, all creatures, whether persons, or things, come under this account, in respect of him, from whom, and for whom all things are.
God is able without means to do whatsoever work of power he doth, or can do by them: and the reason is plain, for that he both creates, and provides the means; and also gives the blessing upon them, by which they are available. Neither, if we mind it, hath the Lord ever done greater works than those, which the hand of his power hath wrought either immediately; or, by means, very weak, and feeble; which being improved by God's omnipotency have produced wonderful effects. Thus God and frogs could plague Pharaoh and all Egypt. Exod. viii. 6, 7, 14. So can the Holy Ghost and simple preaching make men wise unto salvation. 1 Cor. i. 18—21.
God often useth means very weak and base, not because he wants better; but, partly, for his own glory: as first for the glory of his goodness, that being so mighty, and excellent in majesty, he will vouchsafe to employ them: and, secondly, of his greatness, in bringing to pass what he will by them, as he told Gideon “the people were too many for him to save Israel by.” Judg. vii. 2—7. When men make wars they get the powerfullest helps they can, therein betraying their own weakness:* whereas God, on the contrary wanting no man's help, ofttimes makes choice of weak means, as needing none. Partly, the Lord doth this for the means themselves, that they which God so far honours, specially for good to men, should not be despised: and partly, for others; that none should be overmuch affected with, or to them.
To trust to means is idolatry: to abuse them, want of wisdom, or of conscience, or both: to neglect them, either desperateness, when a man is without hope of good by them; or presumptuous tempting of God, when he expects good without them; or sloth, when he will not trouble himself with them. With all which, unthankfulness to the Lord is joined, who provides them as helps against our infirmities: and, therewith, profane sauciness also, if with the contempt of the means which we have, we long after such as we have not; as did the Israelites in the wilderness, in loathing manna, and lusting after flesh, Num. xi. 4, 5, 6; and the Jews in despising Christ's miracles upon earth, and desiring to see a sign from heaven of him. Matt, xvi. 1—4. We must then, as one saith, mingle our own sweat with faith to make a sweet odour withal to God. For though his power be not bound to means, yet his will binds us to such, as he in mercy affordeth; partly, as helps of our faith, which need such glasses wherein to see God's helping hand; and partly, to exercise our obedience; and partly, to stir up our diligence. And this we must do the rather, for that when God purposeth good to, or by a man either, he commonly provides him means accordingly; which when opportunity serves, he expecteth he should use, in good conscience, for attaining to the good unto which they, as it were, lead him; which to neglect is to disobey a kind of real calling from God. In the careful use of natural means we show most wisdom, and that we are not like beasts without understanding: and of supernatural means, prayer, and the like, the most grace: and that we are not as men which know not God.
A man must be sure in his most careful use of means always to bear in mind the end for which he useth them; that he be not like the messenger, who so minds his way, as he forgets his errand; to sever the means, and end to which they lead ordinately, is vanity, in all courses: in Divine matters, mere madness. He that sinning without repentance, looks to escape hell, separates the ends from the means: he that without faith and obedience looks for heaven, separates the means from the end which he aims at. Both would pervert God's word, and work of providence.