Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXVII.: of callings. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXVII.: of callings. - 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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The effectual calling of a Christian is that by which the Lord first differenceth actually, and in the person himself, the elect from the reprobate: and by which the called approacheth, and draweth nigh unto God that calleth him: and that takes away his sin, which separated between the Lord, and him, both by justifying, and sanctifying him.
This general calling of a Christian is incomparably more excellent, and honourable, than any particular calling and state whatsoever. By it we are “ blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things,” Eph. i. 3, both for grace, and glory. It alone is properly an holy calling, 1 Cor. vii. 20—'24, hallowing all other callings: which also are so far lawful, and lawfully used, as they further it, and not otherwise. If the excellency of it were well weighed, and rightly prized, no man honoured therewith should be thought worthy to be despised for any other meanness, nor without it to be envied for any other excellency how glorious soever in the world's eye.
These two main privileges of God's providence the elect before their effectual calling are made partakers of, above others. The former that into what other, or howsoever otherwise grievous sins they fall, yet they are kept by the power of the Lord, from sinning against the Holy Ghost, of which there is no forgiveness. And this the apostle insinuates, where he testifies of himself, that before his calling by grace, he “ was a blasphemer, and persecutor; but doing it of ignorance, in unbelief, he obtained mercy,”1 Tim. i. 13; which if he had done of malicious knowledge, he could not possibly have done. The second privilege is, that, though such a man may fall into great dangers, so as there is oft but a step between him and death, yet still God will rescue, and keep him alive, till he be effectually called to the participation of his grace in Christ: witness the jailor in Philippi. Acts xvi. 27. God calls a man actually in time, as he hath chosen him in his eternal decree; that is, as he hath purposed to call, and save him in due time. And if there be a particular, and effectual calling of some above others, then was there undoubtedly a particular election, or purpose from eternity in God so to do: except we will say, that God doth that in time, which he did hot from eternity purpose to do. And if the Lord work no otherwise in calling of any to the grace of Christ, than by outward means, and motives, so leaving them as some say, to the freedom of their will to determine itself by choosing, or refusing the grace offered in the gospel; then are many wicked men, so living and dying, more bound to the Lord for his work of grace towards them, than are divers his holy and faithful servants. The reason is, because many of the former have been made partakers of the outward means, and motives of grace, in preaching of the gospel, godly examples, and education, in far greater measure, and more ample, and excellent, than many of the latter have been. Neither are the true servants of God, by this doctrine, to go so far in humble thankfulness to God, as did the proud pharisee in the gospel; who thanked God, that he was not like the publican, and other sinners. Luke xviii. 11. For whatsoever else they have cause to thank God for; by these men's gospel, they have cause to thank themselves, and not God, that they are not like other men, who have been made partakers of as great, and ample outward means, and provocations of grace, as they have been.
A lawful calling is necessary for every lawful work: the general calling of a Christian, before we can perform any Christian work aright: and so a particular calling to this or that state of life, before we perform the works thereof. The inward calling is requisite, in regard of God, who knows the inwards of the man, and with what heart and affection he undertakes any state or action: so is the outward also, because God is the God of order. Also, when a man knows himself to be orderly called to a condition of life, he both sets himself more cheerfully and roundly to the works thereof, wherein he is assured he serves God's providence by his order, and appointment; and with faith expects a blessing from God upon his endeavours in that course of life, in which his hand hath set him; and, withal, bears with comfort the crosses befalling him therein; as we see in David, whose shield of comfort against all darts of danger was, that God had selected him unto himself, and anointed him his king upon Zion, the mountain of his holiness. Psa. ii. 6; iii. 4.
Little account is made by many of a lawful outward calling: whereas indeed it is that alone, by which all states, save those that are natural, and so are subject neither to election nor change, are both constituted and continued. For what makes him, who yesterday was none, to day to be a magistrate in the commonwealth, minister in the church, steward in the family, or any other officer or member in any orderly society, but an orderly outward calling by them who have lawful authority to confer that state upon him ? This being neglected opens a gap to all confusion in all states. The gifts of a man enable him to his office; his grace sanctifies both the gifts and office to the person; his inward calling persuades his heart to undertake the outward in desire to glorify God, and in love to men; his execution of it in the works thereof presuppose it, and testify his faithfulness in it: but only the outward orderly calling confers the outward state and condition of life.*
Ability for a man's calling is greatly to be desired for many reasons. For, first, it is a thing well-pleasing in God's sight, especially in the most serviceable courses of life; as we may see in Solomon, who being called to the state of a king, desired above all other things, kingly endowments, and therein pleased God greatly. 1 Kings iii. 9. Secondly, he whom God calls to a place, or sets over a business, he enables accordingly; as he did the same Solomon, being set over a people many in number, as the sand by the sea shore, with wisdom, and largeness of heart, as the sand by the sea shore, I Kings iv. 29. Thirdly, it is great ease to a man, when he is master of his place, and course, and able to play with it: otherwise, if he be compelled to strive continually with it, it will both make his life burdensome, and force him at some time, or other, to let fall the works thereof, as unable to wield it. Yet if such a one be willing, and able to bear it out, it is a good way for him to grow to great perfection, by daily improving his ability to the full: as Milo, by using to bear a calf every day, proved able to bear him, when he was grown an ox. Fourthly, it is an honour to a man to be excellent in his faculty, yea though it be mean in itself. And so men excelling in mean trades, or callings are more regarded, than those who are mean in more excellent faculties. One saith truly, that even ploughmen and shepherds being excellent are applauded.* Lastly, the unskilfulness of the artisan dishonours the art itself, how excellent soever in the eyes of many: although in reason it should not so be, seeing that the more excellent any profession is, it finds the fewer, whose worth can answer its excellence.†
Although callings most useful, and necessary, are most despised by proud folks; both because they are ordinary and common; and followed by mean and ordinary persons: yet it stands with a good conscience to provide, that our course of life be such, as in which we benefit human societies. And an uncomfortable thing it is to him, that hath any either fear of God. or love to men, to spend his days, and labour in such a course, as by which more hurt than good comes to the world.
It is a good and godly course for a person diligently to read, and seriously to meditate upon such places of Holy Scripture, as concern his, or her special calling: as, for the magistrate diligently to read Deut. i. 16, &c., the minister 1 Tim. iii.; and so for husband and wife, father and child, master and servant, and the rest; that by so doing we may both more fully learn, and better remember, and conscionably practise the particular duties, in which God would have us exercise our general Christian graces.