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John Robinson, 1576-1625
[Mentioned in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 183]
John Robinson , pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, never came to America, but his influence on the Plymouth Colony was far-reaching. Educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he was familiar with syllogistic methods of reasoning and utilized them when defending his Separatist position. He may have been a preaching elder at St. Andrew's Church, Norwich; records show that he preached there and that he had some official connection with the Church of England.
It was the enforcing in public worship of certain ordinances and ceremonies which Robinson deemed unessential, even inconsistent with the Word of God, that finally made him leave the Established Church. Not being an extremist, he at first tried to worship with his people privately, but the ecclesiastical courts made this impossible. At last he and his followers went to Amsterdam, Holland. The next year, in order to avoid political controversies, they moved to Leyden. Here Robinson took a course of theology at the university, and here also he was active in defending the Separatist movement.
Under Robinson's guidance his followers prospered and increased. However, they became afraid lest their children should be absorbed by the Dutch. That they might seek God's direction as to whether or not they should go to America, a day of fasting and praying was proclaimed. To calm their fears and encourage them, Robinson chose for his text I Samuel 23:3, 4. When the resolution was taken to embark and all was ready, Robinson preached on Ezra 8:21. Again at Southampton, where they stopped to pick up other friends, the company was called together to hear a letter from Robinson, who wrote: "I beseech you ... that you be reach' to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the written word of God." His church in Leyden is considered the parent of Congregationalism in America.
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