John Donne, Dean of St Paul's, London




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]

Fr. Lance Mc Adam

The Study has been prepared by Father Lance McAdam

who entered into rest July 14, 2003

May his soul, and the souls of all the departed rest in peace.

And light perpetual shine upon him.

Anglicanism | Ashes to Easter | John Donne