- Memoir of Rev. John Robinson.
- Section I.: Mr. Robinson, a Puritan In Norfolk. (1575—1604.)
- Section II.: Mr. Robinson a Separatist At Scrooby. (1604—1608.)
- Section III.: Mr. Robinson an Exile At Amsterdam. (1608, 1609.)
- Section IV.: Mr. Robinson a Pastor At Leyden. (1609—1625.)
- Section V.: Mr. Robinson, His Character and Writings.
- The Preface.
- Prefatory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Man's Knowledge of God .
- Chapter II.: Of God's Love.
- Chapter III.: Of God's Promises.
- Chapter IV: Of the Works of God, and His Power, Wisdom, Will, Goodness, Etc., Shining In Them.
- Chapter V.: Of Created Goodness.
- Chapter VI.: Of Equability, and Perseverance In Well-doing.
- Chapter VII.: Of Religion, and the Differences and Disputations Thereabout.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Holy Scriptures.
- Chapter IX.: Of Authority and Reason.
- Chapter X.: Op Faith, Hope, and Love: Reason, and Sense.
- Chapter XI.: Of Atheism and Idolatry.
- Chapter XII.: Of Heresy and Schism.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Truth and Falsehood.
- Chapter XIV.: Of Knowledge and Ignorance.
- Chapter XV.: Of Simplicity and Craftiness.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Wisdom and Folly.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Discretion.
- Chapter XVIII.: Of Experience.
- Chapter XIX.: Of Examples.
- Chapter XX.: Of Counsel.
- Chapter XXI.: Of Thoughts.
- Chapter XXII.: Of Speech and Silence.
- Chapter XXIII.: Of Books and Writings.
- Chapter XXIV.: Of Good Intentions.
- Chapter XXV.: Of Means.
- Chapter XXVI.: Of Labour, and Idleness.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of Callings.
- Chapter XXVIII.: Of the Use and Abuse of Things.
- Chapter XXIX.: Of Riches and Poverty.
- Chapter XXX.: Of Sobriety.
- Chapter XXXI.: Of Liberality and Its Contraries.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of Health and Physic.
- Chapter XXXIII.: Of Afflictions.
- Chapter XXXIV.: Of Injuries.
- Chapter XXXV.: Of Patience.
- Chapter XXXVI.: Of Peace.
- Chapter XXXVII.: Of Society and Friendship.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: Of Credit and Good Name.
- Chapter XXXIX.: Of Contempt and Contumely.
- Chapter Xl.: of Envy.
- Chapter Xli.: of Slander.
- Chapter Xlii.: of Flattery.
- Chapter Xliii.: of Suspicion.
- Chapter Xliv.: of Appearances.
- Chapter Xlv.: of Offences.
- Chapter Xlvi.: of Temptations.
- Chapter Xlvii.: of Conscience.
- Chapter Xlviii.: of Prayer.
- Chapter Xlix.: of Oaths and Lots.
- Chapter L.: of Zeal.
- Chapter Li.: of Hypocrisy.
- Chapter Lii.: of Sin, and Punishment From God.
- Chapter Liii.: of Rewards, and Punishments By Men.
- Chapter Liv.: of the Affections of the Mind.
- Chapter Lv.: of Fear.
- Chapter Lvi.: of Anger.
- Chapter Lvii.: of Humility and Meekness.
- Chapter Lviii.: of Modesty.
- Chapter Lix.: of Marriage.
- Chapter Lx.: of Children and Their Education.
- Chapter Lxi.: of Youth and Old Age.
- Chapter Lxii.: of Death.
- Introductory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Predestination.
- Chapter II.: Of Election.
- Chapter III.: Of Falling Away. Adversaries. (page 78.)
- Chapter IV.: Of Free-will.
- Chapter V.: Of the Original State of Mankind.
- Chapter VI.: Of Baptism. (pages 129—176.)
After a loud blast in the beginning, as formerly, of their full and sufficient dealing in the former point, our adversaries begin this with a false, and foul accusation.
are men compelled to sin?
The Calvinists hold, that wicked men “are compelled to sin by God's power,” and again, that men “are compelled by the power, force and compulsion of God's predestination to all wicked, and cruel crimes.” Against which they allege out of “Bastingius,” and “Thes. Genev.,” that “man by evil was spoiled not of his will, but of the soundness of his will, therefore that which in nature was good, in quality became evil:” and that, as Bernard teacheth, “there is in us all power to will, but to will well, we had need to profit better; to will evil we are able already by reason of our fall:” as also, that there remains freedom “in all good, natural, civil, moral, and judicial things, but not in spiritual.” These things, they say, “if we will stand unto, they require no more.”
Both we will stand to them, and they must fall by them, as they might evidently see, if they considered, that all our question is about freedom of will in spiritual things; which alone we deny.
The ground of their error here is, that they unskilfully confound necessity and compulsion; and conceive not how a thing, both free and casual in itself, may by the overruling hand of God's providence be determined necessarily this way, or that. The difference between necessity and compulsion I have formerly both proved and opened at large: showing how man's free-will in choosing that which is evil, and God's powerful hand in governing him in that his choice, according to his wise counsel, to his holy ends, may well stand together. And for that which is good, God works it by inclination, by his Word and Spirit; which inclination cannot be compulsion, seeing compulsion and violence is only against the inclination of the thing, and not the inclining of it. God herein first takes away the former corrupt inclination, that it reign not, which is the cord wherewith a man is tied, as they speak, and then gives a new inclination contrary to the former, not hauling up a man by main force, as they mis-shape a similitude for us, but giving inward will and strength of grace for the man to raise up himself by. And if all kind of necessity abolish all kind of freedom, then in truth a man doth nothing freely; for whatsoever he doth, he doth it necessarily, when he doth it.
They do here in vain heap up scriptures like medicines upon a sound stomach, to prove that election, and choice cannot be but in, or rather with liberty. We acknowledge that whatsoever good or evil a man doth outwardly, or inwardly, where the will comes to work (for there may be acts of the understanding, and motions of the affections before and without the will's working), he useth liberty and freedom in choosing, or refusing: that is, he doth it not by any violence or compulsion, but from the inward principles of his mind; the understanding directing, and the will consenting; though yet the wicked, being left of God, cannot but do wickedly, any more than the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots, Jer. xiii. 23; nor the godly but do godlily, by the grace of God effectually inclining him thereunto. Neither doth our affirmation make void, or unmoving the threatenings of God; but makes both threatenings, and promises, and precepts, and all, most effectual; God by the inward work of his Spirit giving an increase to the outward preaching, and opening the heart to receive the same. One can move another by outward motives, works, and the like. Will these men afford God no more, or other work ? Will they deny any inward work of God's Spirit at all, above the Word's work, though in and by it ? Numb. xi. 25, 26; Judges xiv. 5, 19 ? What mean then the Holy Scriptures, speaking so frequently of this Spirit's work in men, with means, without means; for ordinary, and extraordinary operations, both gifts and graces? Or if there be such a Spirit of God dwelling, and working in men, why do they deny unto it, a prevailing power, wheresoever it pleaseth God to bestow it ? And for those that cannot repent, as they plead for some; God, and their consciences will plead against them, that they will not repent: and so are not tied with a cord by others, and violently withheld, as they plead for them, but do willingly cast, and keep the cords of iniquity, and rebellion upon themselves. Psa. li. 11, 12; Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26, 27; Luke i. 15; Acts i. 8, ii. 17, 18; Rom. viii. 9, 18, 26, 27.
We acknowledge also, and they therefore prove in vain, that to whomsoever the Word comes, them “God would have gathered unto him, hearken unto his voice, repent that they might live and not die,” to wit, in that degree of willing, which stands in commanding those things, and approving them if they follow; and “that the fault is only in men's obstinacy, if they repent not.”
Neither do the Calvinists, as they surmise, make either God's decree, or the defect of his grace in fault, if men repent not; because they affirm that God decreed not to give them the grace to repent, nor doth give it them; except either God may not require repentance at all, or be bound to give it to all. It is not my fault, that a drunkard falls and lies in the street, though he cannot but both fall and lie there, except I hold, and help him. up; except withal I be bound so to help him: nor my fault that a prodigal spendthrift comes into debt, and is cast into prison, and cannot escape the one, or other, unless I pay his debts; except withal I be bound to pay them: so neither is it God's fault that men remain and perish in that impenitency, out of which they neither will, nor can come without God's special gift of repentance, except it be God's bounden duty, as these men seem to make it, to bestow that grace upon them.
The two places, Isa. v. 1, 2, 3, &c., and Matt. xi. 21, 22, we will a little more particularly examine. In the former where God saith, he could do no more to his vineyard than he had done, he speaks only of outward means, as the text makes it plain, “I fenced it,” &c. I would ask these men, whether there be not requisite, that the natural vineyard may bring forth fruit, something besides the fencing, gathering out of the stones, and the rest there mentioned ? It cannot be denied, that, except besides, and above all these, God gives the increase by an inward blessing, all planting, and watering, and outward dressing whatsoever is nothing: so is it in the spiritual vineyard much more though planted by Paul himself, yea by Christ himself in the outward ministry. And where God saith, He expected sweet grapes, but it brought forth wild, ver. 4, we must not imagine, as our adversaries seem to do, that God is deceived in his expectation, as men often are: but only, that the Israelites did not perform that which God required, and they ought.
Touching the repentance of Tyre and Sidon. First I would know how they prove that Christ speaks of other than legal repentance, such as Ahab manifested in sackcloth ? 1 Kings xxi. 26: which was not from a godly sorrow for sin; but from a servile fear of punishment. Secondly, either this repentance should have been wrought by those mighty works alone, or by them with other helps. Mighty works alone cannot work faith, and repentance, which must come by hearing, and instructions of the Word, which they serve to confirm unto men. Mark xvi. 20; Rom. x. 17; 2 Tim. ii. 35. If Christ speak of his mighty works, as means though not sufficient of themselves, yet available, with other requisite helps, he excludes not the Spirit's work, but includes it. But, in truth, the meaning of Christ seems to be no more, but to reprove the obstinacy of Chorazin. in a form of speech like that unto Luke xix. 40: “If these should hold their tongue, the stones would immediately cry out.” And as it were a vain thing hence to dispute about the speaking of stones; so is it, to gather anything thence of the Tyrians' repentance. The meaning of the Lord here is not to commend the Tyrians at all, but to upbraid the Chorazites, and to show their hardness of heart to be greater than the others. The like form of speech we have to the like purpose, Ezek. iii. 6. And if so be there were in these Tyrians this proneness to repentance, if they had enjoyed the means which the others did, but they wanted; and withal, that God so desires the repentance and salvation of all; how came it to pass, that God did not afford those helps unto them that were so prone and willing to have used them aright ? It seems the former case is now altered, and that men might say to God, that they would, but he would not.
can man change his own heaet ?
Their invincible argument serves only to betray their incurable disease in heaping together many scriptures to prove that, which no man doubts of; namely, that the “works wrought in us by God are attributed to us also;” as the cleansing of our hearts, &c.; wherein yet they mingle with God's truth their own errors, and that in particular, hi affirming, that God takes it to himself “as a proper title,” to justify a sinner: and yet that David saith, he justified his heart. Psa. Ixxiii. 13.
First, if it be proper to God to justify a sinner, how is it common to David with him ? Secondly, they slander David in making him say, he justified his heart. Could David forgive the sin of his heart, which God doth in justifying a sinner? David, Psa. Ixxiii. 13, speaks of sanctification, not of justification.
They ignorantly apply the scriptures, Psa. cviii. 12, and Psa. cxviii. 13, to God's working grace in men, being meant only of his working deliverance for them.
They vainly, and deceitfully affirm, from Acts vii. 51, and-xiii. 46, that man may resist the grace of God, wrought by his Word and Spirit. The places speak not of any grace wrought by either of them. The former speaks only of resisting the Spirit; as the author of the Word in the prophets and others. The latter of resisting the Word of God; not working, but offering grace only. Besides, they notably abuse those scriptures cited, in making them plainly to show that man hath free choice, to wit alike, to work with God, or against God in the work of his grace. It is true, that men whether receiving or refusing grace, do it freely, and without compulsion: but the latter freely of themselves, being left of God to themselves; the former freely, by God's special grace, and Spirit, giving them, and effectually drawing them to Christ. John vi. 44. I say more effectually, though not violently, than any one creature can by violence draw another. Oh, that any made partakers of this free grace of God's Spirit dwelling in them, should deny the powerful work of it, to establish their own free-will !
After scriptures, they come to experience. And first, they err in thinking, that liberty and necessity of sinning in wicked men cannot stand together. It is certain, that the more wicked either man or devil is, he sinneth both the more freely and the more necessarily. Their similitude, of a man's drinking poison, is against themselves, so far as it is pertinent. I would know of them how the drinking of poison by any is unavoidable ? If they say, because he knows it not to be in his drink, therein they grant that sins of ignorance are done unavoidably, and yet not by compulsion, as they conclude. Secondly, who would think that any, after the profession of the knowledge, and obedience of the gospel, which these men have made, so many years, both in the Church of England, and elsewhere, should so far apostate therefrom to popery, and Pharisaism, as to think it as easy a thing, for a man, yea, though never so wicked, to keep himself from all sin, as from drinking of poison, which he knew to be in his cup ? For he that knows it not cannot avoid it. How grievously err they, in affirming, that all men are able to keep the law, to wit, without the least failing, all their life long, in thought, word, or deed! For this they plead in this whole section, that except it be possible for every man thus to keep the law, neither his conscience can accuse him, nor God justly punish him for breaking it.
Neither do the Calvinists hold, as they barbarously speak, and unjustly slander, that men commit evil “by force of God's providence,” or are decreed to do evil, or “compelled to sin by power.” But they believe, as the Scriptures teach, that all men in Adam have sinned, Rom. v. 12—15; and by sin lost the image of God in which they were made; so as the law is impossible, Rom. viii. 3; unto them by reason of the flesh, and so cannot possibly but sin, by reason of the same flesh reigning in the unregene rate, and dwelling in all: which these light persons, expressly confess in the sequel of this book: and that this so comes to pass by God's holy decree, and work of providence answerable, not forcing evil upon any, but ordering all persons in all actions, as the Supreme Governor of all: and that the wicked, being left of God, some, destitute of the outward means, the gospel; all of them, of the effectual work of the Spirit, from that weak flesh, and natural corruption, daily increased in them, sin both necessarily as unable to keep the law, and willingly, as having in themselves the beginning and cause thereof, the blindness of their own minds, and perverseness of their will and affections; and so are inexcusable in God's sight.
Here with the loud boasts of their “large and undeniable proofs,” they join sundry errors. As first, in making the good things of creation to come from God's grace, viz., for salvation, of which our question is. The good things of creation the Scriptures account our own, and of ourselves, ever opposing them to the good things of grace, to salvation. Gal. v. 4; Eph. ii. 8; Rom. vii. 5. Secondly, they err egregiously, in saying, that what Adam had in creation, and lost in transgression for himself and his posterity, that is restored through Christ, to wit, to all; for so the question is. By this, all should be restored actually into God's favour, have his image repaired in them, and be wholly free from that weak flesh making the law impossible unto them. With like perverseness do they misapply to all Adam's posterity without difference, that which the apostle speaks of himself, and other godly ministers, and Christians only, Rom. viii. 3, 4; 2 Cor. iii. 5; Phil. iv. 13; as any that pleaseth to peruse the places, may see. Lastly, they most absurdly affirm, that the flesh through Christ is able to fulfil the law; whereas we fulfil the law no further, than as we kill, crucify, and destroy the flesh and lusts thereof by the Spirit. Rom. vi. 15, viii. 1, 8, 12, 13; Gal. v.17, 24.
divine influence in conversion.
To the question, “Whether a man can do anything in the work of his regeneration,” they answer, after much froth of words, “that faith and repentance is regeneration, and that it is most plain” (as what is not to their piercing eye) “that even in the work of regeneration, man may submit to it, or hinder it.”
An ignorant assertion, showing the ground of their error is not putting difference between God's work and man's. They may as rightly say, that the life and motion of the child is its begetting. To regenerate is nothing else, but to beget anew. Doth the child beget itself? Or doth not the parent only beget it? So God begets by the ministry of the Word, and man is begotten by him: according to that of the apostle, “Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.” 1 John v. 1. So James i. 18, “Of his own will begat he us, by the word of the truth.” By these men's doctrine we should beget ourselves of our own will. Begetting in creatures, is both in nature and time, before the being of the begotten. Men then before they be, must beget themselves, (by their saying.) And as God regenerates, and not man; so doth man, being regenerated, believe and obey, and not God. Whereas, if faith and obedience be regeneration, then God believes and repents; seeing God regenerates. Besides, as the outward means of regeneration may be, and are, by too many hindered from working, and made unprofitable: so where God pleaseth to add to the outward means, and motives of the gospel, the inward work of the Spirit, of which Spirit, we are born or begot anew, John iii. 5, 6, 8; 1 Pet. i. 23; of the Spirit, I say, though by the Word; by the same Spirit which he puts within him. He takes away first what might hinder their regeneration, even their “stony heart; and giving them a heart of flesh,” Ezek. xi. 19; “a heart to know God, and putting his fear in their hearts,” Jer xxiv. 7, xxxi. 33; and by “putting his Spirit in them, causing them to walk in his statutes,” Ezek. xxxvi. 27; he thereby regenerates them, or “gives them faith, and repentance,” Eph. ii. 8; 2 Tim. ii. 25; which they must have before they can believe or repent: as the child must have life before it can live, or do acts of life, and must be generated, or begotten, before it have life, or being. Regeneration, therefore, goes before faith and repentance.
This head they shut with answering three scriptures. The first, Matt. xxii. 9, but mistaken for Luke xiv. 23, which, as it is frivolously objected (if by any) so is it easily answered.
The second is, John vi. 44, “No man can come to me except the Father draw him.” This is not meant (say they) of violent compulsion. True, nor yet only, as they would have it, of outward teaching by heavenly doctrine: for thus the Father drew many that came not to Christ: whereas he speaks here, of such a drawing as is peculiar to them that come to him; who shall never hunger, v. 35, and whom he will in no wise cast out, v. 37. He speaks not, therefore, of the outward teaching only, but withal, and principally, of the inward teaching of the Spirit, as Isa. 13; Jer. xxxi. 33, 34; 1 John ii. 27. The most of them whom the Father drew by heavenly doctrine, that is, to whom Christ preached, murmured at him, v. 41: this he reproves, v. 43 and v. 44, takes away the offence which might arise, at the consideration of the small effect which his words had with many, considering what he testified of himself, v. 39, 40, showing that such was man's perverseness in spiritual things, as that except God, to the outward word, adjoined the inward work of the Spirit, thereby drawing him, his obstinacy could not nor would not be tamed, nor he turned to God.
Lastly, to Phil. ii. 13, “It is God that works in you both the will and deed,” after much impertinent discourse, and many errors mingled among, they answer, that God doth this in men by reasons and persuasions, that they would choose life, and avoid death.
And first they conclude without and against reason, that if the unregenerate have power to resist, they have power not to resist: which is, as if a man should say, if a fool can do foolishly, then he can do wisely, or the like.
Secondly, it is a slander upon the Calvinists, that they are divided in this point; or that any of them affirms, that the elect, though unregenerate, cannot resist good. Whilst they are unregenerate they can do nothing else but resist in spiritual things: but God in time, as he hath decreed, by the Spirit of regeneration, overcomes their corruption, and works in them, not to resist, but willingly to follow him, that calleth them.
Thirdly, I would know what they mean by these phrases, of God's sending his word and Spirit to work our regeneration: and again, of God by the power of his word and Spirit showing man the benefit of life, &c. If they consider the Spirit only as the Author of the word, speaking in the men of God, why do they not say the Spirit and the word, rather than, as they do, the word and the Spirit ? Or how doth God send the Spirit, thus understood, to work regeneration in men ? If they answer, that God is ready to give the Spirit, and so doth, to them that will receive it: first, to be ready to give, is not to give or send: secondly, they should understand, that to be willing to receive spiritual things, is a main fruit and effect of regeneration, and therefore not a cause, as they mistake. For the will, thus holily bent, presupposeth the understanding divinely enlightened, whose direction it follows, and without which going before, it is blind and brutish. Neither can a man possibly will a thing, but as he understands it to be good for him. If the understanding be divinely enlightened, and the will holily bent, then the whole man is before regenerated; that is, begotten before of God by the Spirit of regeneration. In truth, they but speak of “God's sending his Spirit to work in man's regeneration, as Sennacherib by Rabshakeh spake of God's sending him against Jerusalem,” 2 Kings, xviii. 25: he, to cover the pride of violence; and they, to cover the pride of free-will, in bending itself, of itself, to receive grace offered.
To conclude this head, referring the reader to the arguments of conviction formerly laid down, I only add thus much: that if “God only bend the will by persuasions of promises and threatenings,” and works not otherwise than by “force of reasons,” and “by using strong arguments and persuasions,” as they expressly affirm, then that, whose contrary, both the Scriptures and experience confirms, would ordinarily come to pass; namely, that the wise and prudent should have heavenly things revealed unto them, Matt. xi. 25, and discern them much more easily and effectually, than babes and weak persons, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27; and so should be converted sooner than they: specially sooner than harlots and light persons, considering how much better they mind and understand arguments and reasons of all sorts, than the other. We therefore conclude with the apostle, that God works in us both the will and the deed: not only by his word working on us, but by his Spirit working in us: not only by sending Paul to plant, by propounding strong arguments of persuasion, but also by giving the increase by the most effectual work of his Spirit, enlightening the eyes of the understanding to see the force of those arguments, opening the heart to attend unto them, and so writing them in the same heart, and most inward parts, as they cannot be blotted out. Eph. i. 18; Acts xvi. 14; Jer. xxxi. 34.