- A Just and Necessary Apology.
- Chapter I.: Of the Largeness of Churches.
- Chapter II.: Of the Administration of Baptism.
- Chapter III.: Of Written Liturgies.
- Chapter IV.: Of the Ecclesiastical Presbytery.
- Chapter V.: Of Holy Days.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Celebration of Marriage By the Pastors of the Church.
- Chapter VII.: Of the Sanctification of the Lord's Day.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Exercise of Prophecy.
- Chapter IX.: Of Temples.
- Chapter X.: Of Things Indifferent.
- Chapter XI.: Of Civil Magistrates.
- Chapter XII.: Of the Church of England,
- Notice Respecting the Two Letters.
- On Religious Communion
- The Preface.
- Chapter I.: Of Private Communion.
- Chapter II.: Of Public Communion.
- Chapter III.: Of Flight In Persecution.
- Chapter IV.: The Outward Baptism Received In England Is Lawfully Retained.
- Chapter V.: Of the Baptism of Infants.
- Chapter VI.: A Survey of the Confession of Faith Published In Certain Conclusions By the Remainders of Mr. Smyth's Company After His Death. *
- The People’s Plea For the Exercise of Prophecy
- An Answer to the Arguments Laid Down By Mr. John Yates, Preacher In Norwich , to Prove Ordinary Prophecy In Public, Out of Office, Unlawful; Answered By John Robinson.
- A Treatise On the Lawfulness of Hearing Ministers In the Church of England
- On the Lawfulness of Hearing the Ministers of the Church of England. By John Robinson.
- A Letter to the Congregational Church In London
- An Appeal On Truth's Behalf.
- To Our Beloved, the Elders and Church At Amsterdam , Grace and Peace From God the Giver Thereof, and In Him Our Salutations .
- An Answer to a Censorius People
- Letter By Rev. Joseph Hall, B.d., Rector of Halstead, Called By Mr. Robinson “a Censorious Epistle.”
- An Answer to “a Censorious Epistle.”
- A Catechism
- An Appendix to Mr. Perkins’ Six Principles of Christian Religion.
- No I.: The Church In Southwark.
- No. II.: The Exiles and Their Churches In Holland.
- Chronological Index of Mr. Robinson's Works.
- Index of Subjects.
- Index of Authors Referred to Or Quoted, With Occasional Brief Notices of Their Works and Lives.
- Index of Important Texts of Scripture Illustrated Or Quoted.
To Our Beloved In The Lord,
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN LONDON,
Grace and peace from God the giver thereof; and in him our loving salutations.
It may seem strange unto you, brethren, and that not without cause, that we should have deferred thus long our answer unto your letter, and as unseasonable, that after so long delay, we should now frame an answer. Our defence in the former case, is, partly, the other church's keeping the same so long in their hands, before they sent it unto us, and partly, their contentions arising about it, of which, we both desired to see some issue, and hoped withal that by occasion thereof, we might come to communicate our counsels together, as we conceive by your joint letter, your desire to have been. But both in vain. For the letters then (partly, fearing lest we should seem to neglect you, and partly, hoping that some use might be made thereof for after times and oceasions), we thought it better late than, never to address this our answer: yet, so as you are, in the first place, to be entreated by the pastor of the church here, to take knowledge that he was not very willing to read publicly that, your letter, for two reasons. The one a lothness, that either strangers or brethren should take knowledge of that inordinate and lawless course held by such there, as both in regard of their years and learning, and especially of their place in the church, should have been an example to the rest in wisdom, sobriety, and Christian forbearance; especially in a case threatening division and dissipation; following therein Christ, our Great High-priest, who being touched with the feeling of our infirmities, can have compassion on the ignorant. Heb. iv. 14; v. 1, 2. The true natural mother would not consent to have the living child divided, but the counterfeit was easily moved thereunto, how earnest soever she seemed to have it accounted hers.
Secondly, For that he conceives it not orderly that the bodies of churches should be sent to for counsel, but some choice persons. Power and authority are in the body for elections and censures, but counsel for direction in all affairs, in some few; in which regard every particular church has appointed its eldership for ordinary counsellors, to direct it and the members thereof in all difficulties; with whom others are also to advise upon occasions, specially ordinary. The priest's lips should preserve knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts. Mal. ii. 7.
These things premised, our general answer to the questions propounded by you followeth. You demand,—
1st. Whether you have done well in retaining her, (to wit, the maid about whom the difference was), she leaving practice according to her promise? Answer. We judge, that therein you did well, yea, though she had continued her practice upon occasion, and without neglect of the church. whereof she was a member, how much more leaving it, as she did. Considering the action itself, the hearing of the Word of God, the great provocation she had thereunto, the state of the other church about which your next question is moved, and with all these, that excommunication is the heaviest censure which the church can inflict for the most heinous offence, most obstinately stood in, we deem it against that brotherly forbearance which the stronger owes to the weaker, so severely to censure a failing (so supposed) of that kind.
To their assertion that she was an idolater, having broken the second commandment, for that Mr. Jacob's people were judged idolaters in their going to the assemblies, and therefore from 1 Cor. v. 1, “If any called a brother, be an idolater,” &c.; we answer, that here are divers consequences and collections, mad(e) without rule of charity, or ground of truth.
To grant, as the truth is, that many things in the assemblies are against the second commandment, which forbids nothing but idolatry expressly, and by consequence whatsoever tends thereunto; and withal that Mr. Jacob's people did partake with divers of these evils, yet we deny to agree either with Christianity, or civility, in common course of speech, to challenge every such practice as the committing of idolatry, or such persons, as idolaters. The Lord Jesus teacheth, Matt. v. 21, 22, that all unadvised anger is against the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt do no murder;” is therefore every man that manifests upon occasion, any the least unadvised anger, to be challenged as a committer of murder or murderer? So by proportion, every less modest word, gesture, or fashion of apparel, is against the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery;” every wronging of another by negligence, improvidence, or partial affections, which every one, less or more, bears to himself, though but in a halfpenny, is against the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal;” are all, therefore, so doing, to be pronounced and prosecuted, as thieves and adulterers? By these vain collections, and bold challenges, scarce any so good and godly, but might be branded as idolaters, thieves, murderers, adulterers and what not. For who can understand his errors and secret faults? Words are unto things, as clothes unto the body. And as it were a vain course to put upon a child a man's coat, though never so costly, to make him seem a man; so is it not only vain, hut also injurious to put upon the things which we dislike, odious phrases, though taken out of the very Scriptures, to make them seem worse than hi truth. they are.
Indeed, he that is under the law, and judgment thereof, doing the least evil against the first or second commandment, is an idolater, and against the sixth a murderer, and so for the rest in regard of God, and the rigour of justice. Whom yet for men so to call and prosecute, were rash and rude at the least: but now if the person can in respect of other good things, by the Word of God, and utmost extent of charity, be deemed to have any the least interest in the grace of the gospel, to censure such an one as an idolater, thief, murderer, and the like, is against both charity and godliness. The apostle, 2 Cor. vi., teacheth us to judge and speak otherwise, where he calls such of the Christian Corinthians, as by occasion of friends and corruptions of times were drawn to partake hi the idol feasts, and tables of devils, of which they had also before been by him most seriously admonished, 1 Cor. 8–10, righteousness, light, Christ, believers, and the temple of God, opposed to unbelievers, unrighteousness, &c. As it is one thing to have sin, which if we say we have not, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; and another thing, to be sinners in the Scripture phrase, 1 John i. 8, 10; Psa. i. 5; John ix. 3, 29; so all that practise through ignorance or infirmity, some acts, less discernible, of idolatry, are not idolaters: but such in whom it reigneth in action or disposition; lastly, if all in the Church of England, and of Mr. Jacob's church be idolaters as the apostle there speaks, then are they all excluded from the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, and are under the curse and condemnation of the law, which censure the most rigid this way have disclaimed as rash and unjust.
2nd. Whether Mr. Jacob's congregation be a true church or no. We have so judged, and the elders of the church at Amsterdam, and the body of the church with them as we conceive; and so do we judge still, having sent you with our letter, a copy of certain papers, in which that matter is handled.
3rd. Whether Mr. Staresmore and his wife are received and retained in our churches by that covenant which they made with God in Mr. Jacob's church, or whether they have renounced it as false and made another?
Answer. Their receiving here was only by that covenant made with God, and the church there continued, and none otherwise. The persons having testimony, and dismission from the church there, and so were in the virtue of the same covenant by us commended and conveyed to that other church in Amsterdam.
4th. To your fourth demand about your carriage towards your teacher, and other brethren renouncing communion with you, it is both unseasonable now to answer, and difficult for us who are ignorant of such circumstances, and manners of carriage by them, as by which, offences are much aggravated or extenuated.
5th. Whether their pretence of having the truth be sufficient to make them the church, and to warrant their above-mentioned dealing?
Answer. Neither the pretence of having, nor the having of the truth indeed makes the church in the sense in hand, no more than the having some other particular commendable virtue by some, makes them the church, excluding them that want it; as Revelation ii., iii. the visible and ministerial church is the whole body and every member thereof. Not some parts, of which, some of these members have more comeliness, and some less. Acts xx. 28;1 Cor. xiv. 23; Rom. xii.; 1 Cor. xii. The church is a state, spiritual; and political, not personal error thereof or other sin, makes any cease to be a member thereof. And if the greater number be members still, though in error, the smaller cannot be the body: besides, if some particular sin or error make the greatest part not to be members, then much more two or three particulars. Which thereupon, the church might not censure for any error or other sin, to wit, if they were not members. Lastly, this confirms that popish and presumptuous ground, that “the church cannot err.”
6th. Whether women have voices with men in the judgments of the churches?
Answer. The apostle teacheth plainly the contrary, 1 Cor. xiv. 34; 1 Tim. ii. 12, 14. And though he speak particularly of prophesying and teaching, yet lays he down a more general rule, forbidding all such speaking, as in which authority is used that is usurped over the man, which is done specially in judgments. And if a woman may not so much as move a question in the church for her instruction, how much less may she give a voice or utter a reproof for censure?
And this answer we return at the length, brethren, to your letter and demands, and therewith our loving salutations in the Lord. In whom, wishing your peace and welfare, we rest, your loving brethren,
John Robinsz, and Church with him.
5 April, 1624.