Donne’s Sermons


The Hague

SO EARLY, SO PRIMARY a sin is pride, as that, out of every mercy, and blessing, which God affords us, (and, His mercies are new every morning) we gather Pride; we are not the more thankful for them, and yet we are the prouder of them. Nay, we gather Pride, not onely out of those things, which mend and improve us, (Gods blessings and mercies) but out of those actions of our own, that destroy and ruine us, we gather pride; sins overthrow us, demolish us, destroy and ruine us, and yet we are proud of our sinnes. How many men have we heard boast of their sinnes, and, (as S. Augustine confesses of himselfe) belie themselves, and boast of more sinnes than ever they committed? Out of every thing, out of nothing sin grows. Therefore was this commandment in our text, Sequere, Follow, come after, well placed first, for we are come to see even children strive for place and precedency, and mothers are ready to goe to the Heralds to know how Cradles shall be ranked, which Cradle shall have the highest place; Nay, even in the wombe, there was contention for precedency, Jacob tooke hold of his brother Esaus heele, and would have been borne before him.

And as our pride begins in our Cradle, it continues in our graves and Monuments. It was a good while in the primitive Church, before any were buried in the Church, The best contented themselves with the Churchyards. After, a holy ambition, (may we call it so) a holy Pride brought them ad Limina, to the Church-threshold, to the Church-doore, because some great Martyrs were buried in the Porches, and devout men desired to lie near them, as one Prophet did to lie neare another, (Lay my bones besides his bones. ) But now, persons whom the Devill kept from Church all their lives, Separatists, Libertines, that never came to any Church, And persons, whom the Devil brought to Church all their lives, (for, such as come cheery out of the obligation of the Law, and to redeem that vexation or out of custome, or company, or curiosity or a perverse and sinister affection to the particular Preacher, though they come to Gods house, come upon the Devils invitation) Such as one Devill, that is, worldly respect, brought to Church in their lives, another Devill, that is, Pride and vain-glory, brings to Church after their deaths, in an affectation of high places, and sumptuous Monuments in the Church. And such as have given nothing at all to any pious uses, or have determined their almes and their dole which they have given, in that one day of their funeral and no farther, have given large annuities, perpetuities, for new painting their tombed and for new Flags, and scutcheons, every certaine number of yeares.

O the earlinesse! O the latenesse! how early a Spring, and no Autumne! how fast a growth, and no declination, of this branch of this sin Pride, against which, this first word of ours Sequere, Follow, come after, is opposed! this love of place, and precedency, it rocks lls in our Cradles, it lies down with us in our graves. There are diseases proper to certaine things, Rots to sheepe, Murrain to cattell. There are diseases proper to certaine places, as the Sweat was to us. There are diseases proper to certaine times, as the plague is in divers parts of the Eastern Countryes, where they know assuredly, when it will begin and end. But for this infectious disease of precedency, and love of place, it is run over all places, as well Cloysters as Courts. And over all men, as well spirituall as temporall, And over all times, as well the Apostles as ours.

Forraine crosses, other mens merits are not mine; spontaneous and voluntary crosses, contracted by mine owne sins, are not mine; neither are devious, and remote, and unnecessary crosses, my crosses. Since I am bound to take up my crosse, there must be a crosse that is mine to take up; that is, a crosse prepared for me by God, and laid in my way, which is tentations or tribulations in my calling; and I must not go out of my way to seeke a crosse; for, so it is not mine, nor laid for my taking up. I am not bound to hunt after a persecution, nor to stand it, and not flye, nor to affront a plague, and not remove, nor to open my selfe to any injury, and not defend. I am not bound to starve my selfe by inordinate fasting, nor to teare my flesh by inhumane whippings, and flagellations. I am bound to take up my Crosse, and that is onely mine which the hand of God hath laid for me, that is, in the way of my Calling, tentations and tribulations incident to that.

[LXXX. Sermons (71, 72), 1640]


Preached at Whitehall. Before the King

IT IS NOT ENOUGH to hear Sermons; it is not enough to live a morall honest life; but take it in the midst, and that extends to all; for there is no believing without hearing, nor working without believing. Be pleased to consider this great work of believing, in the matter, what it was that was to be believed: That that Jesus, whose age they knew, must be antidated so far, as that they must believe him to be elder than Abraham That that Jesus, whose Father and Mother, and Brothers and Sisters, they knew, must be believed to be of another Family and to have a Father in another place; and yet he to be as old as his Father; And to have another proceeding from him, and yet he to be no older than that person who proceeded from him: That that Jesus, whom they knew to be that Carpenters Son, and knew his work, must be believ’d to have set up a frame, that reached to heaven, out of which no man could, and in which any man might be saved: was it not as easie to believe, that those teares which they saw upon his cheeks, were Pearles; that those drops of Blood, which they saw upon his back were Rubies; That that spittle, which they saw upon his face, was ennamel: that those hands which they saw buffet him, were reached out to place him in a Throne: And that that Voyce which they heard cry, Crucifige, Crucife him, was a Vivat Rex, Long live Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jewes; As to believe that from that man, that worm, and no man, ingloriously traduced as a Conjuror, ingloriously apprehended as a Thief, ingloriously executed a Traytor; they should look for glory, and all glory, and everlasting glory? And from that melancholiek man, who was never seen to laugh in all his life, and whose soul was heavy unto death; they should look for joy, and all joy, and everlasting joy: And for salvation, and everlasting salvation from him, who could not save himself from the Ignominy, from the Torment, from the Death of the Crosse?

[XXVI. Sermons (4), 1660]


Preached at Whitehall (Part 1)

WE NEED NOT QUARRELL the words of the Poet, Tu quamcunque Deus tibi fortunaverit horam, Grata sume manu, Thanke God for any good fortune, since the Apostle sayes too, that Godlinesse hath the promise of this life; The godly man shall be fortunate, God will blesse him with good fortune here; but still it is fortune, and chance, in the sight and reason of man and therefore he hath but found, whatsoever he hath in that kinde. It is intimated in the very word which we use for all worldly things; It is Inventarium, an Inventory; we found them here, and here our successors finde them, when we are gone from hence. Jezabel had an estimation of beauty, and she thought to have drawne the King with that beauty, but she found it, she found it in her box, and in her wardrope, she was not truly fayre. Achitophel had an estimation of wisedome in Counsel I know not how he found it; he counselled by an example, which no man would follow, he hanged himselfe. Thou wilt not be drawne to confesse, that a man that hath an Office is presently wiser than thou, or a man that is Knighted, presently valianter than thou. Men have preferment for those parts which other men, equall to them in the same things, have not and therefore they doe but finde them; And to things that are but found, what is our title? Nisi reddantur, rapina est. sayes the Law, If we restore not that which we finde, it is robbery. S. Augustine hath brought it nearer, Qui alienum negat, si posset, tolleret, He that confesseth not that which he hath found of another mans, if he durst, he would have taken it by force. For that which we have found in this world, our calling is the owner, our debts are the owner, our children are the owner our lusts, our superfluities are no owners: of all the rest, God is the owner, and to this purpose, the poore is God.

[LXXX. Sermons (70), 1640]


Preached at Whitehall (Part 2)

WE KNOW THE RECEIPT, the capacity of the ventricle, the stomach of man, how much it can hold; and wee know the receipt of all the receptacles of blood, how much blood the body can have; so wee do of all the other conduits and cisterns of the body; But this infinite Hive of honey, this insatiable whirlpoole of the covetous mind, no Anatomy, no dissection hath discovered to us. When I looke into the larders, and cellars and vaults, into the vessels of our body for drink, for blood for urine, they are potties, and gallons; when I looke into the furnaces of our spirits, the ventricles of the heart and of the brainy they are not thimbles; for spiritual things, the things of the next world, we have no roome; for temporall things, the things of this world, we have no bounds. How then shall this over-eater bee filled with his honey?

[LXXX. Sermons (70), 1640]


Lincoln’s Inne. Sunday after Trinity

THE LORD THEN, the Son of God, had a Sitio in heaven, as well as upon the Crosse, He thirsted our salvation there; and in the midst of the fellowship of the Father from whom he came, and of the Holy Ghost, who came from him and the Father, and all the Angels, who came (by a lower way) from them all, be desired the conversation of Man, for Mans sake; He that was God The Lord became Christ, a man, and he that was Christ became Jesus, no man, a dead man, to save man: To save man, all wayes, in all his parts, And to save all men, in all parts of the world: To save his soule from hell, where we should have felt pains, and yet been dead, then when we felt them; and seen horrid spectacles, and yet been in darknes and blindnes then when we saw them; And suffered Insufferable torments and yet have told over innumerable ages in suffering them: To save this soule from that hell, and to fill that capacity which it hath, and give it a capacity which it hath not, to comprehend the joyes and glory of Heaven, this Christ became Jesus. To save this body from the condemnation of everlasting corruption, where the wormes that we breed are our betters, because they have a life, where the dust of dead Kings is blowne into the street, and the dust of the street blowne into the River, and the muddy River tumbled into the Sea, and the Sea remaunded into all the veynes and channels of the earth; to save this body from everlasting dissolution, dispersion, dissipation, and to make it in a glorious Resurrection, not onely a Temple of the holy Ghost, but a Companion of the holy Ghost in the kingdome of heaven, This Christ became this Jesus. To save this man, body and soule together, from the punishments due to his former sinnes, and to save him from falling into future sinnes by the assistance of his Word preached, and his Sacraments administred in the Church, which he purchased by his bloud, is this person, The Lord, the Christ, become this Jesus, this Saviour. To save so, All wayes, In soule, in body, in both; And also to save all men. For, to exclude others from that Kingdome, is a tyrannie, an usurpation; and to exclude thy selfe, is a sinful and a rebellious melancholy. But as melancholy in the body is the hardest humour to be purged, so is the melancholy in the soule, the distrust of thy salvation too. Flashes of presumption a calamity will quench, but clouds of desperation calamities thicken upon us; But even in this inordinate dejection thou exaltest thy selfe above God, and makest thy worst better than his best, thy sins- larger than his mercy.

[LXXX. Sermons (40), 1640]


At Whitehall. 1st Friday in Lent.

DOTH NOT MAN die even in his birth? The breaking of prison is death, and what is our birth, but a breaking of prison? As soon as we were clothed by God, our very apparell was an Embleme of death. In the skins of dead beasts, he covered the skins of dying men. As soon as God set us on work, our very occupation was an Embleme of death; It was to digge the earth, not to digge pitfals for other men, but graves for our selves. Hath any man here forgot to day, that yesterday is dead? And the Bell tolls for to day, and will ring out anon; and for as much of every one of us, as appertaines to this day. Quotidliè morimur, et tamen nos esse æternos putamus, sayes S. Hierome; we die every day, and we die all the day long; and because we are not absolutely dead, we call that an eternity, an eternity of dying: And is there comfort in that state? why, that is the state of hell it self, Eternall dying, and not dead.

Death hangs upon the edge of every persecutors sword; and upon the sting of every calumniators, and accusers tongue.

[LXXX, Sermons (15), 1640]


St Paul’s. Easter Day

HOW BARREN A THING is Arithmetique! (and yet Arithmetique will tell you, how many single graines of sand, will fill this hollow Vault to the Firmament) How empty a thing is Rhetorique! (and yet Rhetorique will make absent and remote things present to your understanding) How weak a thing is poetry! (and yet Poetry is a counterfait Creation, and makes things that are not, as though they were) How infirme, how impotent are all assistances, if they be put to expresse this Eternity.

[LXXX. Sermons (26), l640)]


Preached at the Spital (Part 1).

OUR GOD IS NOT out of breath, because he hath blown one tempest, and swallowed a Navy: Our God hath not burnt out his eyes, because he hath looked upon a Train of Powder: In the light of Heaven, and in the darkness of hell, he sees alike he sees not onely all Machinations of hands, when things come to action; but all Imaginations of hearts, when they are in their first Consultations; past, and present, and future, distinguish not his Quando; all is one time to him: Mountains and Tallies, Sea and Land, distinguish not his Ubi; all is one place to him: When I begin, says God to Eli, I ugly make an end; not onely that all Gods purposes shall have their certain end, but that even then, when he begins, he makes an end: from the very beginning, imprints an infallible assurance, that whom he loves, he loves to the end: as a Circle is printed all at once, so his beginning and ending is all one.

[XXVI. Sermons (25), 1660]


Preached at the Spital (Part 2).

THE DROWNING of the first world, and the repairing that again; the burning of this world, and establishing another in heaven, do not so much strain a mans Reason, as the Creation, a Creation of all out of nothing. For, for the repairing of the world after the Flood, compared to the Creation, it was eight to nothing; eight persons to begin a world upon, then; but in the Creation, none. And for the glory which we receive in the next world, it is (in some sort) as the stamping of a print upon a Coyn; the metal is there already, a body and a soul to receive glory: but at the Creation, there was no soul to receive glory, no body to receive a soul, no stuff, no matter, to Make a body of. The less any thing is, the less we know it how invisible, how [un]intelligible a thing then, is this Nothing! We say in the School, Deus cognoscibilior Angelis, we have better means to know the nature of God, than of Angels, because God hath appeared and manifested himself more in actions, than Angels have done: we know what they are, by knowing what they have done; and it is very little that is related to us what Angels have done: what then is there that can bring this Nothing to our understanding? what hath that done? A Leviathan, a Whale, from a grain of Spawn; an Oke from a buried Akehorn, is a great; but a great world from nothing, is a strange improvement. We wonder to see a man rise from nothing to a great Estate; but that Nothing is but nothing in comparison; but absolutely nothing, meerly nothing, is more incomprehensible than any thing, than all things together. It is a state (if a man may call it a state) that the Devil himself in the midst of his torments, cannot wish.

[XXVI. Sermons (25), 1660]


Preached at the Spital (Part 3).

THE LIGHT OF THE knowledge of the glory of this world, is a good, and a great peece of learning. To know, that all the glory of man, is as the flower of grass: that even the glory, and all the glory, of man, of all mankind, is but a flower, and but as a flower; somewhat less than the Proto-type, than the Original, than the flower it self; and all this but as the flower of grass neither, no very beautiful flower to the eye, no very fragrant flower to the smell: To know, that for the glory of Moab, Auferetur, it shall be contemned, consumed; and for the glory of Jacob it self, Attenuabitur, It shall be extenuated that the glory of Gods enemies shall be brought to nothing and the glory of his servants shall be brought low in this word: To know how near nothing, how near nothing, all the glory of this world is, is a good, a great degree of learning.

[XXVI. Sermons (25), 1660]


Preached at the Spital (Part 4).

SOME THING THE ANGELS do know by the dignity of their Nature, by their Creation, which we know not; as we know many things which inferior Creatures do not; and Such things all the Angels, good and bad know. Some things they know by the Grace of their confirmation, by which they have more given them, than they had by Nature in their Creation- and those things only the Angels that stood, but all they, do know Some things they know by Revelation, when God is pleased to manifest them unto them; and so some of the Angels know that, which the rest, though confirm’d, doe not know. By Creation, they know as his Subjects; by Confirmation, they know as his servants; by Revelation, they know as his Councel. Now Erimus sicut Angeli, says Christ, There we shall be as the Angels: The knowledge which I have by Nature, shall have no Clouds; here it hath: that which I have by Grace, shall have no reluctation, no resistance; here it hath: That which I have by Revelation, shall have no suspition, no jealousie; here it hath: sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a respiration from God, and a suggestion from the Devil. There our curiosity shall have this noble satisfaction, we shall know how the Angels know, by knowing as they know. We shall not pass from Author, to Author, as in a Grammar School, nor from Art to Art, as in an University; but, as that General which Knighted his whole Army, God shall Create us all Doctors in a minute That great Library, those infinite Volumes of the Books of Creatures, shall be taken away, quite away, no more Nature; those reverend Manuscripts, written with Gods own hand the Scriptures themselves, shall be taken away, quite away; no more preaching, no more reading of the Scriptures, and that great School-Mistress, Experience, and Observation shall be remov’d, no new thing to be done, and in an instant, I shall know more than they all could reveal unto me. I shall know, not only as I know already, that a Bee-hive, that an Ant-hill is the same Book in Decimo sexto as a Kingdom is in Folio, That a flower that lives but a day, is an abridgment of that King, that lives out his threescore and ten yeers; but I shall know too, that all these Ants, and Bees, and Flowers, and Kings, and Kingdoms, howsoever they may be Examples, and Comparisons to one another, yet they are all as nothing, altogether nothing, less than nothing infinitely less than nothing, to that which shall then be the subject of my knowledge, for, it is the knowledge of the glory of God.

[XXVI. Sermons (25), 1660]


Preached at “Hanworth,
to my Lord of Carlile, and his Company, etc.”

HOW MANY TIMES go we to Comedies, to Masques, to places of great and noble resort, nay even to Church onely to see the company? If I had no other errand to heaven, but the communion of Saints, the fellowship of the faithful [T]o see that flock of Lambs, Innocent, unbaptized children, recompensed with the twice-baptized Martyrs, ( baptized in water and baptized in their owne blood) and that middle sort, the children baptized in blood, and not in the water, that rescued Christ Jesus, by their death, under Herod; to see the Prophets and the Evangelists, and not know one from the other, by their writings, for they all write the same things (for prophecy is but antidated Gospell, and Gospell but postdated prophecy to see holy Matrons saved by the bearing, and bringing up of children, and holy Virgins, saved by restoring their bodies in the integrity, that they received them, sit all upon one seate; to see Princes, and Subjects crowned all with one crowne, and rich and poore inherit one portion; to see this scene, this Court, this Church, this Catholique Church, not onely Easterne and Westerne, but Militant and Triumphant Church, all in one roome together, to see this Communion of Saints, this fellowship of the faithful is worth all the paynes, that that sight costs us in this world.

[Fifty Sermons (31), 1649]


St. Paul’s. Christmas Day in the evening.

THE AIRE IS NOT so full of Moats, of Atomes, as the Church is of Mercies; and as we can suck in no part of aire, but we take in those Moats, those Atomes; so here in the Congregation we cannot suck in a word from the preacher, we cannot speak, we cannot sigh a prayer to God, but that that whole breath and aire is made of mercy. But we call not upon you from this Text, to consider Gods ordinary mercy, that which he exhibites to all in the ministery of his Church, nor his miraculous mercy, his extraordinary deliverances of States and Churches; but we call upon particular Consciences, by occasion of this Text, to call to minde Gods occasionall mercies to them; such mercies as a regenerate man will call mercies, though a naturall man would call them accidents, or occurrences, or contingencies; A man wakes at midnight full of unclean thoughts, and he heares a passing Bell; this is an occasionall mercy, if he call that his own knell, and consider how unfit he was to be called out of the world then, how unready to receive that voice, Foole, this night they shall fetch away thy soule. The adulterer, whose eye waites for the twy-light, goes forth, and casts his eyes upon forbidden houses, and would enter, and sees a Lord have mercy upon us upon the doore; this is an occasionall mercy, if this bring him to know that they who lie sick of the plague within, passe through a furnace, but by Gods grace, to heaven; and hee without, carries his own furnace to hell, his lustfull loines to everlasting perdition. What an occasionall mercy had Balaam, when his Asse Catcehized him: What an occasionall mercy had one Theefe, when the other catcehized him so, Art not thou afraid being under the same condemnation What an occasionall mercy had all they that saw that, when the Devil himself fought for the name of Jesus, and wounded the sons of Sceva for exorcising in the name of Jesus, with that indignation, with that increpation, Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are ye; If I should declare what God hath done (done occasionally) for my soule, where he instructed me for feare of falling, where he raised me when I was fallen, perchance you would rather fixe vour thoughts upon my illnesses and wonder at that, than at Gods goodnesse, and glorifie him in that; rather wonder at my sins, than at his mercies, rather consider how ill a man I was, than how good a God he is. If I should inquire upon what occasion God elected me, and writ my name in the book of Life I should-sooner be afraid that it were not so, than finde a reason why it should be so. God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons: But Cod hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies; In paradise, the fruits were ripe, the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must againe to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you. If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominion, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his Dominions, so large an extent East and West, as that he hath day and night together in his Dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together: He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.

[LXXX. Sermons (2), 1640]


St. Paul’s.
The Sunday after the Conversion of St. Paul.

I TAKE NO FARTHER occasion from this Circumstance, but to arme you with consolation, how low soever God be pleased to cast you, Though it be to the earth, yet he does not so much cast you downe, in doing that, as bring you home. Death is not a banishing of you out of this world; but it is a visitation of your kindred that lie in the earth; neither are any nearer of kin to you, than the earth it selfe, and the wormes of the earth. You heap earth upon your soules, and encumber them with more and more flesh, by a superfluous and luxuriant diet; You adde earth to earth in new purchases, and measure not by Acres, but by Manors, nor by Manors, but by Shires; And there is a little Quillet, a little Close, worth all these, A quiet Grave. And therefore, when thou readest, That God makes thy bed in thy sicknesse, rejoyce in this, not onely that he makes that bed, where thou dost lie, but that bed where thou shalt lie; That that God, that made the whole earth, is now making thy bed in the earth, a quiet grave, where thou shalt sleep in peace, till the Angels Trumpet wake thee at the Resurrection, to that Judgement where thy peace shall be, made before thou commest, and writ, and sealed, in the blood of the Lamb.

Saul falls to the earth; so farre, But he falls no lower. God brings his servants to a great lownesse here; but he brings upon no man a perverse sense, or a distrustful suspition of fading lower hereafter; His hand strikes us to the earth, by way of humiliation, But it is not his hand, that strikes us into hell, by way of desperation. Will you tell me, that you have observed and studied Gods way upon you all your life, and out of that can conclude what God meanes to doe with you after this life? That God took away your Parents in your infancy, and left you Orphanes then, That he hath crossed you in all your labours in your calling, ever since, That he hath opened you to dishonours, and calumnies, and mis-interpretations, in things well intended by you, That he hath multiplied sicknesses upon you, and given you thereby an assurance of a miserable and a short life, of few, and evill dayes, nay, That he hath suffered you to fall into sins, that you your selves have hated, To continue in sins, that you your selves have been weary of, To relapse into sins, that you your selves have repented, And will you conclude out of this that God had no good purpose upon you, that if ever he had meant to doe you good, he would never have gone thus farre, in heaping of evills upon you? Upon what doest thou ground this? upon thy selfe? Because Lou shouldest not deal thus with any man, whom thou mean’st well to? How poore, how narrow, how impious a measure of God, is this, that he must doe, as thou wouldest doe, if thou wert God! God hath not made a week without a Sabbath; no tentation, without an issue; God inflicts no calamity, no cloud, no eclipse, without light, to see ease in it, if the patient will look upon that which God hath done to him, in other cases, or to that which God hath done to others, at other times. Saul fed to the ground, but he fell no lower; God brings us to humiliation, but not to desperation.

He fell; he fell to the ground, And he fell blinde; for so it is evident in the story. Christ had said to the Pharisees, I came into the world, that they which see, might be anode blinde; And the Pharisees ask him, Have you been able to doe so upon us? Are we blinded Here Christ gives them an example, a reall, a literall, an actuall example; Saul, a Pharisee, is made blinde. He that will fill a vessell with wine, must take out the water; He that will fill a covetous mans hand with gold, must take out the silver that was there before, sayes S. Chrysostome. Christ, who is about to infuse new light into Saul, withdrawes that light that was in him before; That light, by which Saul thought he saw all before, and thought himselfe a competent Judge, which was the onely true Religion, and that all others were to be persecuted, even to death, that were not of his way. Stultus factus est omnis homo à scientia, sayes God in the Prophet, Every man that trusts in his owne wit, is a foole. But let him become a foole, that he may be wise, sayes the Apostle, Let him be so, in his own eyes and God will give him better eyes, better light, better understanding. Saul was struck blinde, but it was a blindnesse contracted from light; It was a light that struck him blinde, as you see in his story. This blindnesse which we speak of, which is a sober and temperate abstinence from the immoderate study, and curious knowledges of this world, this holy simplicity of the soule, is not a darknesse, a dimnesse, a stupidity in the understanding, contracted by living in a corner, it is not an idle retiring into a Monastery, or into a Village, or a Country solitude, it is not a lazy affectation of ignorance; not darknesse, but a greater light, must make us blinde.

The sight, and the Contemplation of God, and our present benefits by him, and our future interest in him, must make us blinde to the world so, as that we look upon no face, no pleasure, no knowledge, with such an Affection, such an Ambition, such a Devotion, as upon God, and the wayes to him. Saul had such a blindnesse, as came from light; we must affect no other simplicity, than arises from the knowledge of God, and his Religion. And then, Saul had such a blindnesse, as that he fell with it. There are birds, that when their eyes are cieled, still soare up, and up, till they have spent all their strength. Men blinded with the lights of this world, soare still into higher places, or higher knowledges, or higher opinions; but the light of heaven humbles us, and layes flat that soule, which the leaven of this world had puffed and swelled up. That powerfull light felled Saul; but after he was fallen, his owne sight was restored to him againe; Ananias saies to him, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. To those men, who imploy their naturall faculties to the glory of God, and their owne, and others edification, God shall afford an exaltation of those naturall faculties; In those, who use their learning, or their wealth, or their power, well, God shall increase that power, and that wealth, and that learning, even in this world.

[LXXX. Sermons (46), 1640]


Preached to the King’s Majestie at Whitehall

FOR THE FIRST generall sale by Adam, wee complaine now that Land will not sell; that 20. is come to 15. yeares purchase; but doe wee not take too late a Medium, too low a time to reckon by? How cheape was Land at first, how cheape were we? what was Paradise sold for? What was Heaven, what was Mankinde sold for? Immortalitie was sold, and what yeares Purchase was that worth? Immortalitie is our Eternitie, God hath another manner of eternitie in him, He hath a whole eternal day; an eternal afternoone, and an eternal forenoone too; for as he shall have no end, so hee never had beginning; we have an eternal afternoone in our immortalitie: we shall no more see an end, than God hath seene a beginning; and Millions of yeares, multiplied by Millions, make not up a Minute to this Eternitie, this Immortalitie. When Dives values a droppe of water at so high price, what would he give for a River? How poore a Clod of Earth is a Mannor! how poore an inch, a Shire! how poore a spanne, a Kingdome! how poore a pace, the whole world! And yet how prodigally we sell Paradise, Heaven, Soules, Consciences, Immortalitie, Eternitie, for a few Craines of this Dust! What had Eve for Heaven; so little, as that the Holy Ghost will not let us know, what she had, not what Kinde of Fruite; yet something Eve had. What had Adam for Heaven? but a satisfaction that hee had pleased an ill wife, as St. Hierome states his fault, that he eate that Fruite, Ne contristaretur Delicias suas, least he should cast her, whom he lov’d so much, into an inordinate dejection; but if he satisfied her, and his owne Uxoriousnesse, any satisfaction is not nothing. But what had I for Heaven? Adam sinnd, and I suffer; I forfeited before I had any Possession, or could claime any Interest; I had a Punishment, before I had a being, And God was displeased with me before I was I; I was built up scarse 50. years ago, in my Mothers womb, and I was cast down, almost 6000. years agoe, in Adams loynes; I was borne in the last Age of the world, and dyed in the first. How and how justly do we cry out against a Man, that hath sold a Towne, or sold an Army. And Adam sold the World. He sold Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, and all the Patriarchs, and all the Prophets. He sold Peter, and Paul, and both their Regiments, both the glorious Hemispheres of the World, The Jewes and the Gentiles. He sold Evangelists, and Apostles, and Disciples, and the Disciple whom the Lord loved, and the beloved Mother of the Lord, her selfe, say what they will to the contrary. And if Christ had not provided for himselfe, by a miraculous Generation, Adam had sold him: If Christ had bene conceivd in Originall sinne, hee must have dyed for himselfe, nay, he could not have dyed for himselfe, but must have needed another Saviour. It is in that Contemplation, as hee was descended from Adam, that St. Paul sayes of himselfe, Venundatus, I am carnall, sold under sinne. For though St. Augustine, and some others of the Fathers, doe sometimes take the Apostle, in that Place, to speake of himselfe, as in the person of a natural Man (that every Man considered in nature, is sold under sinne, but Supernaturall, the Sanctified Man is not so). yet St. Augustine, himselfe, in his latest, and gravest Bookes, and particularly in his Retractations, returnes to this sense of these words,

That no man, in what measure soever Sanctified, can so emancipate himselfe from that Captivitie, to which Adam hath enthralld him, but that, as hee is enwrapped in Originall sinne, hee is solde under sinne. And both S. Hierome, and S. Ambrose, (both which, seeme in other places, to goe an other way, That onely they are sold under sinne, which have abandond, and prostituted themselves to particular sinnes, ) doe yet returne to this sense, That because the Embers, the Spaune, the leaven of Originall sinne, remained by Adams sale, in the best, the best are sold under sinne.

So the Jewes were, and so were we sold by Adam, to Originall sinne, very cheape; but in the second sale, as wee are sold to actuall, and habitual sinnes, by our selves, cheaper; for so, sayes this Prophet, You have sold your selves for nothing: Our selves, that is all our selves; of o[u]r bodies to intemperance, and ryot, and licenciousnes, and our soules to a greedines of sinne; and all this for nothing, for sinne it selfe, for which wee sell our selves, is but a privation, and privations are nothing. What fruit had you of those things, whereof you are now ashamed, sayes the Apostle; here is Barrennesse and shame; Barrennesse is a privation of fruit, shame is a privation of that confidence, which a good Conscience administers, and when the Apostle tells them, they sold themselves for barrennesse and shame, it was for privation, for nothing. The Adulterer waits for the twy-light, sayes Job. The Twy-light comes, and serves his turne; and sin, to night looks like a Purchase, like a Treasure; but aske this sinner to morrow, and he hath sold himselfe for nothing; for debility in his limnes, for darknesse in his understanding, for emptinesse in his purse, for absence of grace in his Soule; and Debilitie, and Darkenes, and emptinesse, and Absence, are privations, and privations are nothing. All the name of Substance or Treasure that sinne takes, is that in the Apostle, Thesaurizastis Iram Dei, You have treasured up the wrath of God, against the day of wrath: And this is a fearefull privation, of the grace of God here, and of the Face of God hereafter; a privation so much worse than nothing, as that they upon whom it falls, would faine be nothing, and cannot.

[Published separately, 1626]


St. Paul’s.
“The first of the Prebend of Cheswick’s five Psalmes”

THE APPLAUSE OF the people is vanity, Popularity is vanity. At how deare a rate doth that man buy the peoples affections, that payes his owne head for their hats! How cheaply doth he sell his Princes favour, that hath nothing for it, but the peoples breath And what age doth not see some examples of so ill merchants of their owne honours and lives too! How many men, upon confidence of that flattering gale of winde, the breath and applause of the people, have taken in their anchors, (that is, departed from their true, and safe hold, The right of the Law, and the favour of the Prince) and as soone as they hoysed their sailes, (that is, entred into any by-action) have found the wind in their teeth, that is, Those people whom they trusted in, armed against them! And as it is in Civill, and Secular, so it is in Ecclesiasticall, and Spirituall things too. How many men, by a popular hunting after the applause of the people, in their manner of preaching, and humouring them in their distempers, have made themselves incapable of preferment in the Church where they tooke their Orders, and preached themselves into a necessity of running away into forraine parts, that are receptacles of seditious and schismaticall Separatists, and have been put there, to learne some trade, and become Artificers for their sustentation? The same people that welcommed Christ, from the Mount of Olives, into Jerusalem, upon Sunday, with their Hosannaes to the Sonne of David, upon Friday mocked him in Jerusalem, with their Haile King of the Jews, and blew him out of Jerusalem to Golgotha, with the pestilent breath, with the tempestuous whirlwind of their Crucifiges. And of them, who have called the Master Beelzebub, what shall any servant looke for? Surely men of low degree are vanity.

And then, under the same oath, and asseveration, Surely, as surely as the other, men of high degree are a lie. Doth David meane these men, whom he calls a lie, to be any lesse than those whom hee called vanity? Lesse than vanity, than emptinesse, than nothing, nothing can be; And low, and high are to this purpose, and in this consideration, (compared with God, or considered without God) equally nothing. He that hath the largest patrimony, and space of earth, in the earth, must heare me say, That all that was nothing; And if he ask, But what was this whole Kingdom, what all Europe, what all the World? It was all, not so much as another nothing, but all one and the same nothing as thy dunghill was.

[LXXX. Sermons (65), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Whitsunday (Part 1)

HEAVEN IS GLORY, and heaven is Joy; we cannot tell which most; we cannot separate them; and this comfort is joy in the Holy Ghost. This makes all Jobs states alike; as rich in the first Chapter of his Booke, where all is suddenly lost, as in the last, where all is abundantly restored. This consolation from the Holy Ghost makes my mid-night noone, mine Executioner a Physitian, a stake and pile of Fagots, a Bone-fire of triumph; this consolation makes a Satyr, and Slander, and Libell against me, a Panegyrique, and an Elogy in my praise; It makes a Tolle an Ave. a Væ an Euge, a Crucifige an Hosanna; It makes my death-bed, a mariage-bed, And my Passing-Bell, an Epithalamion.

[LXXX. Sermons (36), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Whitsunday (Part 2)

AS THE WORLD is the whole frame of the world, God hath put into it a reproofe, a rebuke, lest it should seem eternall, which is, a sensible decay and age in the whole frame of the world, and every piece thereof. The seasons of the yeare irregular and distempered; the Sun fainter, and languishing; men lesse in stature, and shorter-lived. No addition, but only every yeare, new sorts, new species of wormed and flies, and sicknesses, which argue more and more putrefaction of which they are engendred. And the Angels of heaven, which did so familiarly converse with men in the beginning of the world, though they may not be doubted to perform to us still their ministerial assistances, yet they seem so far to have deserted this world, as that they do not appeare to us, as they did to those our Fathers. S. Cyprian observed this in his time, when writing to Demetrianus, who imputed all those calamities which afflicted the world then, to the impiety of the Christians who would not joyne with them in the worship of their gods, Cyprian went no farther for the cause of these calamities, but Ad senescentem mundum, To the age and impotency of the whole world; And therefore, sayes he, Imputent senes Christianis, quòd minùs valeant in senectutem; Old men were best accuse Christians, that they are more sickly in their age, than they were in their youth; Is the fault in our religion, or in their decay? Canos in pueris videmus, nec ætas in senectute desinit, sed incipit à senectute; we see gray haires in children, and we do not die old, and yet we are borne old. Lest the world (as the world signifies the whole frame of the world) should glorifie it selfe, or flatter, and abuse us with an opinion of eternity, we may admit usefully (though we do not conclude peremptorily) this observation to be true, that there is a reproofe, a rebuke born in it, a sensible decay and mortality of the whole world.

[LXXX. Sermons (36), 1640]


St. Dunstan’s.
“The First Sermon after Our Dispersion by the Sickess” (Part 1)

MEN WHOSE LUST carried them into the jaws of infection in lewd houses, and seeking one sore perished with another; men whose rapine and covetousness broke into houses, and seeking the Wardrobes of others, found their own winding-sheet, in the infection of that house where they stole their own death; men who sought no other way to divert sadness, but strong drink in riotous houses, and there drank up Davids cup of Malediction, the cup of Condemned men, of death, in the infection of that place. For these men that died in their sins, that sinned in their dying, that sought and hunted after death so sinfully, we have little comfort of such men, in the phrase of this Text, They were dead; for they are dead still: As Moses said of that Egyptians, I am afraid we may say of these men, We shall see them no more for ever.

[XXVI. Sermons (21), l660]


St. Dunstan’s.
“The First Sermon after Our Dispersion by the Sickess” (Part 2)

AS BETWEEN TWO MEN of equal age, if one sleep, and the other wake all night, yet they rise both of an equal age in the morning; so they who shall have slept out a long night of many ages in the grave, and they who shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus in the aire, at the last day, shall enter all at once in their bodies into Heaven. No antiquity; no seniority for their bodies; neither can their souls who went before, be said to have been there a minute before ours, because we shall all be in a place that reckons not by minutes. Clocks and Sun-dials were but a late invention upon earth; but the Sun it self, and the earth it self, was but a late invention in heaven. God had been an infinite, a super-infiinite, an unimaginable space, millions of millions of unimaginable spaces in heaven, before the Creation. And our afternoon shall be as long as Gods forenoon; for, as God never saw beginning, so we shall never see end; but they whom we tread upon now, and we whom others shall tread upon hereafter, shall meet at once, where, though we were dead, dead in our several houses, dead in a sinful Egypt, dead in our family, dead in our selves, dead in the Grave, yet we shall be received, with that consolation, and glorious consolation, you were dead, but are alive. Enter ye blessed into the Kingdom, prepared for you, from the beginning. Amen.

[XXVI. Sermons (21), l660]


“Preached at the Funeral,
of Sir William Cokayne,
Knight, Alderman of London.”
Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

WHEN WE CONSIDER with a religious seriousnesse the manifold weaknesses of the strongest devotions in time of Prayer, it is a sad consideration. I throw my selfe downe in my Chamber, and I call in, and invite God, and his Angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a Flie, for the ratling of a Coach, for the whining of a doore, I talke on, in the same posture of praying; Eyes lifted up; knees bowed downe; as though I prayed to God; and, if God, or his Angels should aske me, when I thought last of God in that prayer, I cannot tell: Sometimes I finde that I had forgot what I was about, but when I began to forget it, I cannot tell. A memory of yesterdays pleasures, a feare of to morrows dangers. A straw under my knee, a noise in mine eare, a light in mine eye,. an any thing, a nothing, a fancy, a Chimera in my braine, troubles me in my prayer. So certainly is there nothing, nothing in spirituall things, perfect in this world.

[LXXX. Sermons (80), 1640]


To the King at Whitehall. The First Sunday in Lent

BUT WE ARE NOW in the work of an houre, and no more. If there be a minute of sand left, (There is not) If there be a minute of patience left, heare me say, This minute that is left, is that eternitie which we speake of; upon this minute dependeth that eternity: And this minute, God is in this Congregation, and puts his eare to every one of your hearts, and hearkens what you will bid him say to yourselves: whether he shall blesse you for your acceptation, or curse you for your refusall of him this minute: for this minute makes up your Century, your hundred yearess your eternity, because it may be your last minute.

[Fifty Sermons (26), 1649]


A Sermon of Commemoration
of the Lady Danvers, Late Wife of Sir John Danvers. July 1st, 1627

FIRST THEN, to shake the constancy of a Christian, there will alwaies be Scorners, Jesters, Scoffers, and Mockers at Religion; The Period and Consummation of the Christian Religion, the Judgement day, the second coming of Christ, will alwaies be subject to scornes. And many times a scorne cuts deeper than a sword. Lucian wounded Religion more by making Jests at it, than Arius, or Pelagius, or Nestorious, with making Arguments against it. For, against those profest Heretikes, and against their studied Arguments, which might seeme to have some weight, it well beseem’d those grave and Reverend Fathers of the Church, to call their Councels, and to take into their serious consideration those Arguments, and solemnly to conclude, and determine, and decree in the point. But it would ill have become those reverend persons, to have cal’d their Councels, or taken into their so serious considerations, Epigrams, and Satyres and Libells, and scurrill and scornful jests, against any point of Religion; Scornes and Jests are easilier apprehended, and understood by vulgar and ordinary capacities, than Arguments are; and then, learned men are not so earnest, nor so diligent to overthrow, and confute a Jest, or Scorne, as they are, an Argument; and so they passe more uncontrorl’d, and prevaile further, and live longer, than Arguments doe.

[Published separately, 1629]


St Paul’s. Easter Day. April 13th, 1628

HE THAT ASKS me what heaven is, meanes not to heare me, but to silence me; He knows I cannot tell him; … And in that place, where there are more Suns than there are Stars in the Firmament, … And more light in another S[o]n of righteousnesse, the Son of Glory, the Son of God, than in all them, in that illustration, that emanation, that effusion of beams of glory, which began not to shine 6000. yeares ago, but 6000. millions of millions ago, had been 6000. millions of millions before that, in those eternall, in those uncreated heavens, shall we see God.

[LXXX, Sermons (23), 1640]


St. Paul’s. In the Evening.
Upon the Day of St. Paul’s Conversion.
January 25, 1628/9

ALAS, they, we, men of this world, …have no minds to change. The Platonique Philosophers did not only acknowledge Animam in homine, a soule in man, but Mentem in anima, a minde in the soul of man. They meant by the minde, the superior faculties of the soule, and we never come to exercise them. Men and women call one another inconstant, and accuse one another of having changed their minds, when, God knowes, they have but changed the object of their eye, … An old man loves not the same sports that he did when he was young, nor a sicke man the same meats that hee did when hee was well: But these men have not changed their mindes; The old man hath changed his fancy, and the Sick man his taste; neither his minde.

[LXXX, Sermons (48), 1640]


Preached at St. Paul’s Crosse.
Nov. 22nd, 1629 (Part 1)

BELOVED, there is an inward Joy, there is an outward dignity and reverence, that accompanies Riches, and the Godly, the righteous man is not incapable of these; Nay, they belong rather to him, than to the ungodly: Non decent stratum drvitæ, (as the Vulgate reades that Place) Riches doe not become a fool. But because, for all that though Riches doe not become a fool, yet fools doe become rich; our Translations read that place thus: joy, pleasure, delight, is not seemly for a fool; Though the fool, the ungodly man, may bee rich, yet a right joy, a holy delight in riches, belongs onely to the wise, to the righteous. The Patriarchs in the Old Testament, many examples in the New, are testimonies to us of the compatibility of riches, and righteousnesse; that they may, that they have often met in one person. For, is fraud, and circumvention so sure a way, of attaining Gods blessings, as industry, and conscientiousnesse is? Or is God so likely to concurre with the fraudulent, the deceitfull man, as with the laborious, and religious? Was not Ananias, with his disguises, more suddenly destroyed, than Job, and more irrecoverably? And cannot a Star-chamber, or an Exchequer, leave an ungodly man as poor, as a storm at sea, in a ship-wracke, or a fire at land, in a lightning, can doe the godly? Murmure not, be not scandalized, nor offended in him, if God hath exposed the riches of this world, as well, rather to the godly, than the wicked.

[Fifty Sermons (44), 1649]


Preached at St. Paul’s Crosse.
Nov. 22nd, 1629 (Part 2)

BLESSEDNESSE IT SELF, is God himselfe; our blessednesse is our possession; our union with God. In what consists this? A great limbe of the Schoole with their Thomas, place this blessednesse, this union with God, In visione, in this, That in heaven I shall see God, see God essentially, God face to face, God as he is. We do not see one another so, in this world; In this world we see but outsides- In heaven I shall see God, and God essentially. But then another great branch of the Schoole, with their Scotus, place this blessednesse, this union with God, in Amore, in this, that in heaven, I shall love God. Now love presumes knowledge; for Amari nisi nota non possunt, we can love nothing, but that which we do, or think we do understand. There, in heaven, I shall know God, so, as that I shall be admitted, not onely to an Adoration of God, to an admiration of God, to a prosternation, and reverence before God, but to an affection, to an office, of more familiarity towards God, of more equality with God, I shall love God. But even love it selfe, as noble a passion as it is, is but a Paine, except we enjoy that we love; and therefore another branch of the Schoole, with their Aureolus, place this blessednesse, this union of our souls with God, in Gaudio, in our joy, that is, in our enjoying of God. In this world we enjoy nothing; enjoying presumes perpetuity; and here, all things are fluid, transitory: There I shall enjoy, and possesse for ever, God himself. But yet, every one of these, to see God, or to love God, or to enjoy God, have seemed to some too narrow to comprehend this blessednesse, beyond which, nothing can be proposed; and therefore another limbe of the Schoole, with their Bonaventure, place this blessednesse in all these together. And truly, if any of those did exclude any of these, so, as that I might see God, and not love him, or love God, and not enjoy him, it could not well be called blessednesse; but he that hath any one of these, hath every one, all: And Wherefore the greatest part concurre, and safely, in visione, That vision is beatification, to see God, as he is, is that blessednesse.

There then, in heaven, I shall have continuitatem Intuendi; It is not onely vision, but Intuition, not onely a seeing, but a beholding, a contemplating of God, and that in Continuitate, I shall have an un-interrupted an un-intermitted, an un-discontinued sight of God; I shall looke, and never looke off; not looke, and looke againe, as here, but looke, and looke still, for that is, Continuitas intuendi. There my soule shall have Inconcussam quietem we need owe Plato nothing; but we may thank Plato for this expression, if he meant so much by this Inconcussa quies, That in heaven my soule shall sleep, not onely without trouble, and startling, but without rocking, without any odder help, than that peace, which is in it selfe; My soule shall be thoroughly awake, and thoroughly asleep too; still busie, active, diligent, and yet still at rest. But the Apostle will exceed the Philosopher, St. Paul will exceed Plato, as he does when he sayes, I shall be unus spiritus cum Deo, I shall be still but the servant of my God, and yet I shall be the same spirit with that God. When? Dies quem tanquam supremum reformidas, æterninatal est, sayes the Morall mans Oracle, Seneca. Our last day is our first day, our Saturday is our Sunday, our Eve is our Holyday, our sun-setting is our morning, the day of our death, is the first day of our eternall life. The next day after that, which is the day of judgement, Veniet dies, quuae me mihi revelabit, comes that day that shall show me to my selfe; here I never saw my selfe, but in disguises: There, Then, I shall see my selfe and see God too. Totam lucem, et Totus lux aspiciam, I shall see the whole light; Here I see some parts of the ayre enlightned by the Sunne, but I do not see the whole light of the Sunne; There I shal see God intirely, all God, totam lucem, and totus lux, I my self shal be al light to see that light by. Here, I have one faculty enlightned, and another left in darknesse: mine understanding sometimes cleared, my will, at the same time perverted. There, I shall be all light, no shadow upon me; my soule invested with the light of joy and my body in the light of glory. How glorious is God, as he looks down upon us through the Sunne! How glorious in that glasse of his! How glorious is God, as he looks out amongst us through the King! How glorious in that Image of his! How glorious is God, as he calls up our eyes to him, in the beauty, and splendor, and service of the Church! How glorious in that spouse of his! But how glorious shall I conceive this light to be, cum suo loco viderim, when I shall see it, in his owne place. In that Spheare which though a Spheare, is a Center too- In that place, which though a place, is all, and every where. I shall see it, in the face of that God, who is all face, all manifestation, all Innotescence to me, (for, facies Dei est, qua Deus nobis innotescit, that’s Gods face to us, by which God manifests himselfe to us) I shall see this light in his face, who is all face, and yet all hand, ad application, and communication, and delivery of an himselfe to all his Saints. This is Beatitudo in Auge, blessednesse in the Meridionall height, blessednesse in the South point, in a perpetuall Summer solstice, beyond which nothing can be proposed, to see God so, Then, There. And yet the farmers of heaven and hell, the merchants of soules, the Romane Church, make this blessednesse, but an under degree, but a kinde of apprentiship; after they have beatified, declared a man to be blessed in the fruition of God in heaven, if that man, in that inferiour state doe good service to that Church, that they see much profit will rise, by the devotion, and concurrence of men, to the worship of that person, then they will proeeed to a Canonization; and so, he that in his Novitiat, and years of probation was but blessed Ignatius, and blessed Xavier, is lately beeome Saint Xavier, and Saint Ignatius. And so they pervert the right order, and method, which is first to come to Sanctification, and then to Beatification, first to holinesse, and then to blessednesse. And in this method, our blessed God bee pleased to proceed with us, by the operation of his holy Spirit, to bring us to Sanctification here. and by the merits and intercession of his glorious Sonne, to Beatification hereafter. That so not being offended in him, but resting in those meanes and sealed of reconciliation, which thou hast instituted in thy Church, wee may have life, and life more abundantly, life of grace here, and life of glory there, in that kingdome, which thy Sonne, our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible bloud. Amen.

[Fifty Sermons (44), 1649]


St. Paul’s. Christmas Day [1629] (Part 1)

GOD, WHO VOUCHSAFED to be made Man for man, for man vouchsafes also to doe all the offices of man towards man. He is our Father, for he made us: of what? Of clay; so God is Figulus, so in the Prophet; so in the Apostle, God is our Potter. God stamped his Image upon us, and so God is Statuarius, our Minter, our Statuary. God clothed us, and so is vestiarius; he hath opened his wardrobe unto us. God gave us all the fruits of the earth to eate, and so is œconom[ic]us our Steward. God poures his oyle, and his wine into our wounds, and so is Medicus, and Vicinus, that Physitian, that Neighbour, that Samaritan intended in the Parable. God plants us, and waters and weeds us, and gives the increase, and so God is Hortulanus, our Gardiner. God builds us up into a Church, and so God is Architectus, our Architect, our Builder; God watches the City when it is built; and so God is Speculator, our Sentinell. God fishes for men, (for all his Johns, and his Andrews, and his Peters, are but the nets that he fishes withall) God is the fisher of men: And here, in this Chapter, God in Christ is our Shepheard. The book of Job is a representation of God, in a Tragique-Comedy, lamentable beginnings comfortably ended: The book of the Canticles is a representation of God in Christ, as a Bridegroom in a Marriage-song, in an Epithalamion: God in Christ is represented to us, in divers formed in divers places, and this Chapter is his Pastorall. The Lord is our Shepheard, and so called, in more places, than by any other name; and in this Chapter, exhibits some of the offices of a good Shepheard. Be pleased to taste a few of them. First, he sayes, The good shepheard comes in at the doore, the right way. If he come in at the window, that is, alwayes clamber after preferment; If he come in at vaults, and cellars, that is, by clandestin, and secret contracts with his Patron, he comes not the right way: When he is in the right way, His sheep heare his voyce: first there is a voyce, He is heard; Ignorance doth not silence him, nor lazinesse, nor abundance of preferment; nor indiscreet, and distempered zeale does not silence him; (for to induce, or occasion a silencing upon our selves, is as ill as the ignorant, or the lazie silence). There is a voyce, and (sayes that Text) [it] is his voyce, not alwayes another in his roome; for (as it is added in the next verse) The sheep know his voyce, which they could not doe, if they heard it not often, if they were not used to it. And then, for the best testimony, and consummation of all, he sayes, The good Shepheard gives his life for his sheep. Every good Shepheard gives his life, that is, spends his life, weares out his life for his sheep: of which this may be one good argument, That there are not so many crazie, so many sickly men, men that so soon grow old in any profession, as in ours.

[LXXX. Sermons (7), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Christmas Day [1629] (Part 2)

WHAT EYE CAN FIXE it self upon East and West at once? And he must see more than East and West, that sees God, for God spreads infinitely beyond both: God alone is all; not onely all that is, but all that is not, all that might be, if he would have it be. God is too large, too immense, and then man is too narrow, too little to be considered, for, who can fixe his eye upon an Atome? and he must see a lesse thing than an Atome, that sees man, for man is nothing. First, for the incomprehensiblenesse of God, the understanding of man, hath a limited, a determined latitude; it is an intelligence able to move that Spheare which it is fixed to, but could not move a greater: I can comprehend naturam naturatam, created nature, but for that natura naturans, God himselfe, the understanding of man cannot comprehend. I can see the Sun in a looking-glasse, but the nature, and the whole working of the Sun I cannot see in that glasse. I can see God in the creature, but the nature, the essence, the secret purposes of God, I cannot see there. There is defatigatio in intellectualibus, sayes the saddest and soundest of the Hebrew Rabbins, the soule may be tired, as well as the body, and the understanding dazeled, as well as the eye.

[LXXX. Sermons (7), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Christmas Day [1629] (Part 3)

LET MAN BE SOMETHING; how poore, and inconsiderable a ragge of this world, is man! Man, whom Paracelsus would have undertaken to have made, in a Limbeek, in a Furnace: Man, who, if they were altogether, all the men, that ever were, and are, and shall be, would not have the power of one Angel in them all, whereas all the Angels, (who, in the Schoole are conceived to be more in number, than, not onely all the Species, but all the individualls of this lower world) have not in them all, the power of one finger of Gods hand: Man, of whom when David had said, (as the lowest diminution that he could put upon him) I am a worme and no man, He might have gone lower, and said, I am a man and no worm; for man is so much lesse than a worm, as that wormes of his own production, shall feed upon his dead body in the grave, and an immortall worm gnaw his conscience in the torments of hell.

[LXXX. Sermons (7), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Christmas Day [1629] (Part 4)

THERE IS AYRE ENOUGH in the world, to give breath to every thing, though everything doe not breathe. If a tree, or a stone doe not breathe, it is not because it wants ayre, but because it wants meanes to receive it, or to returne it. All egges are not hatched that the hen sits upon; neither could Christ himselfe get all the chickens that were hatehed to come, and to stay under his wings. That man that is blinde, or that will winke, shall see no more sunne upon S. Barnabies day, than upon S. Lucies; no more in the summer, than in the winter solstice. And therefore as there is copiosa redemptio, a plentifull redemption brought into the world by the death of Christ, so (as S. Paul found it in his particular conversion) there is copiosa lux, a great and a powerfull light exhibited to us, that we might see, and lay hold of this life, in the Ordinances of the Church, in the Confessions, and Absolutions, and Services, and Sermons, and Sacraments of the Church, Christ came ut daret that he might bring life into the world, by his death, and then he instituted his Church ut haberent, that by the meanes thereof this life might be infused into us, and infused so, as the last word of our Text delivers it, Abundantiùs, I came, that they might have life more abundantly.

Dignaris Domine, ut eis, quibus debita dimittis, te, promissionibus tuis, debitorem facias; This, O Lord, is thine abundant proceeding; First thou forgivest me my debt to thee, and then thou makest thy selfe a debter to me by thy large promises; and after all, performest those promises more largely than thou madest them. Indeed, God can doe nothing scantly, penuriously singly. Even his maledictions, (to which God is ever loth to come) his first commination was plurall, it was death and death upon death, Morte morieris. Death may be plurall; but this benediction of life cannot admit a singular, Chajim, which is the word for life, hath no singular number. This is the difference betweene Gods Mercy, and his Judgements, that sometimes his Judgements may be plurall, complicated, enwrapped in one another, but his Mercies are alwayes so, and cannot be otherwise; he gives them abundantiùs, more abundantly.

[LXXX. Sermons (7), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Christmas Day [1629] (Part 5)

HUMILIATION IS THE beginning of sanctification; and as without this, without holinesse, no man shall see God, though he pore whole nights upon the Bible; so without that without humility, no man shall heare God speake to his soule, though hee heare three two-houres Sermons every day. But if God bring thee to that humiliation of soule and body here, hee will emprove, and advance thy sanctification abundantiùs, more abundantly, and when he hath brought it to the best perfection, that this life is capable of, he will provide another abundantiùs another man[n]er of abundance in the life to come- which is the last beating of the pulse of this text, the last panting of the breath thereof, our anhelation, and panting after the joyes, and glory, and eternity of the kingdome of Heaven; of which, though, for the most part, I use to dismisse you, with saying something, yet it is alwaies little that I can say thereof; at this time, but this, that if all the joyes of all the Martyrs, from Abel to him that groanes now in the Inquisition, were condensed into one body of joy, (and certainly the joyes that the Martyrs felt at their deaths, would make up a far greater body, than their sorrowes would doe ), ( for though it bee said of our great Martyr, or great Witnesse, (as S. John calls Christ Jesus) to whom, all other Martyrs are but sub-martyrs, witnesses that testifie his testimony, Non dolor sicut dolor ejus, there was never sorrow like Unto his sorrow, it is also true, Non gaudium sicut gaudium ejus, There was never joy like unto that joy which was set before him, when he endured the crosse If I had all this joy of all these Martyrs, (which would, no doubt, be such a joy, as would worke a liquefaction, a melting of my bowels) yet I shall have it abundantiùs, a joy more abundant, than even this superlative joy, in the world to come. What a dimme vespers of a glorious festival what a poore halfe-holyday, is Methusalems nine hundred yeares, to eternity what a poore account hath that man made, that saies, this land hath beene in my name, and in my Ancestors from the Conquest! what a yesterday is that? not six hundred yeares. If I could beleeve the transmigration of soules, and thinke that my soule had beene successively in some creature or other, since the Creation, what a yesterday is that? not six thousand yeares. What a yesterday for the past, what a to morrow for the future, is any terme, that can be cornprehendred in Cyphar or Counters! But as, how abundant a life soever any man hath in this world for temporall abundances, I have life more abundantly than hee, if I have the spirituall life of grace, so what measure soever I have of this spirituall life of grace, in this world, I shall have that more abundantly in Heaven, for there, my terme shall bee a terme for three lives; for those three, that as long as the Father, and the Son, and the holy Ghost live, I shall not dye.

[LXXX. Sermons (7), 1640]


St. Paul’s. Christmas-day

THE REASON THEREFORE of Man, must first be satisfied; but the way of such satisfaction must be this to make him see, That this World, a frame of so much harmony, so much concinnitie and conveniencie, and such a correspondence, and subordination in the parts thereof, must necessarily have had a worke man for nothing can make it selfe: That no such workeman would deliver over a frame, and worke, of so much Majestie, to be governed by Fortune, casually, but would still retain the Administration thereof in his owne hands: That if he doe so, if he made the World, and sustaine it still by his watchfull Providence there belongeth a worship and service to him for doing so: That therefore he hath certainly revealed to man, what kinde of worship, and service, shall be acceptable ts him: That this manifestation of his Will, must be permanent, it must be written, there must be a Scripture, which is his Word and his Will: And that therefore, from that Scripture, from that Word of God, all Articles of our Beliefe are to bee drawne.

If then his Reason confessing all this, aske farther proofe how he shall know that these Scriptures accepted by the Christian Church, are the true Scriptures, let him bring any other Booke which pretendeth to be the Word of God, into comparison with these; It is true, we have not a Demonstration; not such an Evidence as that one and two, are three, to prove these to be Scriptures of God; God hath not proceeded in that manner, to drive our Reason into a pound, and to force it by a peremptory necessitie to accept these for Scriptures, for then, here had been no exercise of our Will, and our assent, if we could not have resisted. But yet these Scriptures have so orderly, so sweet, and so powerfull a working upon the reason, and the understanding, as if any third man, who were utterly discharged of all preconceptions and anticipations in matter of Religion, one who were altogether neutrall, disinteressed, unconcerned in either party, nothing towards a Turke, and as little toward a Christian, should heare a Christian pleade for his Bible, and a Turke for his Alcoran, and should weigh the evidence of both; the Majesty of the Style, the punctuall aecomplishment of the Prophecies, the harmony and concurrence of the foure Evangelists, the consent and unanimity of the Christian Church ever since, and many other such reasons, he would be drawne to such an Historicall, such a Gramaticall, such a Logicall beliefe of our Bible, as to preferre it before any other that could be pretended to be the Word of God. He would believe it, and he would know why he did so. For let no man thinke that God hath given him so much ease here, as to save him by believing he knoweth not what, or why. Knowledge cannot save us, but we cannot be saved without Knowledge; Faith is not on this side Knowledge, but beyond it; we must necessarily come to Knowledge first, though we must not stay at it when we are come thither. For, a regenerate Christian, being now a new Creature, hath also a new facultie of Reason: and so believeth the Mysteries of Religion, out of another Reason than as a meere natural Man, he believed naturall and morall things. He believeth them for their own sake, by Faith, though he take Knowledge of them before, by that common Reason and by those humane Arguments, which works upon other men, in naturall or morall things. Divers men may walke by the Sea side, and the same beames of the Sunne giving light to them all, one gathereth by the benefit of that light pebles, or speckled shells, for curious vanitie, and another gathers precious Pearle, or medicinall Ambar, by the same light. So the common light of reason illumins us all; but one imployes this light upon the searching of impertinent vanities, another by a better use of the same light, finds out the Mysteries of Religion: and when he hath found them, loves them, not for the lights sake, but for the naturall and true worth of the thing it self. Some men by. the benefit of this light of Reason, have found out things profitable and usefull to the whole world; As in particular, Printing, by which the learning of the whole world is communicable to one another, and our minds and Our inventions, our wits and compositions may trade and have commerce together, and we may participate of one anothers understandings, as well as of our Clothes, and Wines, and Oyles, and other Merchandize: So by the benefit of this light of reason, they have found out Artillery, by which warres come to quicker ends than heretofore, and the great expence of bloud is avoyded: for the numbers of men slain now, since the invention of Artillery, are much lesse than before, when the sword was the executioner. Others, by the benefit of this light have searched and found the secret corners of gaine, and profit. wheresoever they lie. They have found wherein the weakenesse of another man consisteth, and made their profit of that, by circumventing him in a bargain: They have found his riotous, and wastefull inclination, and they have fed and fomented that disorder, and kept open that leake, to their advantage, and the others ruine. They have found where was the easiest, and the most accessible way, to sollicite the Chastitie of a woman, whether Discourse, Musicke, or Presents, and according to that discovery, they have pursued hers, and their own eternall destruction. By the benefit of this light, men see through the darkest. and most impervious places that are, that is, Courts of Princes, and the greatest Officers in Courts; and can submit themselves to second, and to advance the humours of men in great place, and so make their profit of the weaknesses which they have discovered in these great men. All the wayes, both of Wisdome and of Craft lie open to this light, this light of naturall reason: But when they have gone all these wayes by the benefit of this light, thev have got no further, than to have walked by a tempestuous Sea, and to have gathered pebles, and speckled cockle shells. Their light seems to be great out of the same reason, that a Torch in a misty night, seemeth greater than in a clear, because it hath kindled and inflamed much thicke and grosse Ayre round about it. So the light and wisedome of worldly men, seemeth great, because he hath kindled an admiration, or an applause in Aiery flatterers, not because it is so in deed.

But, if thou canst take this light of reason that is in thee, this poore snuffe, that is almost out in thee, thy faint and dimme knowledge of God, that riseth out of this light of nature, if thou canst in those embers, those cold ashes, finde out one small coale, and wilt take the paines to kneell downe, and blow that coale with thy devout Prayers, and light thee a little candle, (a desire to reade that Booke, which they call the Scriptures, and the Gospell, and the Word of God If with that little candle thou canst creep humbly into low and poore places, if thou canst finde thy Saviour in a Mangers and in his swathing clouts, in his humiliation, and blesse God for that beginning, if thou canst finde him flying into Egypt, and finde in thy selfe a disposition to accompany him in a persecution, in a banishment, if not a bodily banishment, a locall banishment, yet a reall, a spiritual banishment a banishment from those sinnes, and that sinnefull conversation, which thou hast loved more than thy Parents, or Countrey, or thine owne body which perchance thou hast consumed, and destroyed with flat sinne; if thou canst find him contenting and containing himselfe at home in his fathers house, and not breaking out, no not about the worke of our salvation, till the due time was come, when it was to be done. And if according to that example, thou canst contain thy selfe in that station and vocation in which God hath planted thee, and not, through a hasty and precipitate zeale, breake out to an imaginary, and intempestive, and unseasonable Reformation, either in Civill or Ecclesiasticall businesse, which belong not to thee; if with this little poore light, these first degrees of Knowledge and Faith, thou canst follow him into the Garden, and gather up some of the droppes of his precious Bloud and sweat, which he shed for thy soule, if thou canst follow him to Jerusalem, and pick up some of those teares, which he shed upon that City, and upon thy soule, if thou canst follow him to the place of his scourging, and to his crucifying, and provide thee some of that balme, which must eure thy soule; if after all this, thou canst turne this little light inward, and canst thereby discerne where thy diseases, and thy wounds, and thy corruptions are, and canst apply those teares, and blood and balme to them, (all this is, That if thou attend the light of naturall reason, and cherish that, and exalt that, so that that bring thee to a love of the Scriptures, and that love to a beleefe of the truth thereof, and that historical faith to a faith of application, of appropriation, that as all those things were certainly done, so they were certainly done for thee) thou shalt never envy the lustre and glory of the great lights of worldly men, which are great by the infirmity of others, or by their own opinion, great because odhers think them great, or because they think themselves so, but thou shalt finde, that howsoever they magnifie their lights, their wit, their learning, their industry, their fortune, their favour, and sacrifice to their owne nets, yet thou shalt see, that thou by thy small light hast gathered Pearle and Amber, and they by their great lights nothing but shels and pebles; they have determined the light of nature, upon the booke of nature, this world, and thou hast carried the light of nature higher, thy naturall reason, and even humane arguments, have brought thee to reade the Scriptures, and to that love, God hath set to the seale of faith. Their light shall set at noone; even in their heighth, some heavy crosse shall cast a damp upon their soule, and cut off all their succours, and devest them of all comforts, and thy light shall grow up, from a faire hope, to a modest assurance and infallibility, that that light shall never go out, nor the works of darknesse, nor the Prince of darknesse ever prevaile upon thee, but as thy light of reason is exalted by faith here, so thy light of faith shall be exalted into the light of glory, and fruition in the Kingdome of heaven. Before the sunne was made, there was a light which did that office of distinguishing night and day; but when the sunne was created, that did all the offices of the former light, and more. Reason is that first, and primogeniall light, and goes no farther in a naturall man; but in a man regenerate by faith, that light does all that reason did, and more; and all his Morall, and Civill, and Domestique, and indifferent actions, (though they be never done without Reason) yet their principall scope, and marke is the glory of God, and though they seeme but Morall, or Civill, or domestique, yet they have a deeper tincture, a heavenly nature, a relation to God, in them.

[Fifty Sermons (36), 1649]

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