A Christian Champion that backslid
Robert Robinson was born in Norfolk, England, on October 8, 1735. Robert was apprenticed to a craftsman when he was 14 after his father died.
One night, when he was 17, Robert went to one of George Whitefield’s meetings. So far, Robert had always lived a decent life, and thought himself a Christian. That night Whitefield spoke about Sadducees and Pharisees; about platters being clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside. This message shook Robert up, and bothered him for weeks. On December 10, 1755, Robert received Salvation.
After he was saved, many friends thought Robert should preach, and told him so. He was drawn to the ministry, but didn’t think he would be very good at it.
While visiting his family in Norwich in 1758, he noticed that there were many Christians in the area that wanted leadership, but could only get a preacher once in a while. After hearing Robert speak at an evening service of singing and praying, the people asked Robert to become pastor of their church.
At this point in time, Robert was connected to the Established Church of England. His future looked very promising if he would stay with it, and become an Established Church minister.
At a christening ceremony, someone expressed doubt of the benefit of infant baptism. This caused Robert to investigate the Biblicism of infant baptism. He found that Scripture only supports the baptism of believers. In 1759, he left the Norwich church, and joined a Baptist Church. Two years later, he was ordained, and became the pastor of the Baptist church in Cambridge. Besides pastoring the Cambridge church, he also preached at churches in the surrounding countryside. Despite his very busy schedule, he still found time to write, and there were very few years he did not publish something.
One publication he is well known for is the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” A history of Baptists was something he worked on for many years. It was published after his death in two volumes: Ecclesiastical Researches and History of Baptism.
Later in life, he endured several private sorrows, and became friends with skeptical people, which led to his wandering into sin. Feeling troubled in spirit, he decided to travel. On one of his journeys, he met a young woman who began telling him about a hymn she had been reading, and questioning him about it. Realizing it was a hymn he wrote, he tried to evade her, but was unsuccessful. Finally, he broke into tears and told her he had written the song, and he would give anything to feel the joy he had felt when he wrote it. Surprised, the woman reassured him that God’s streams of mercy still flowed. Robert was touched, and turned back to the Lord.
Robert Robinson died on June 8, 1790 at the age of 55
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 236 -237.