John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's, London

 

 

 

 

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 abundanti¨s, more abundantly, and when he hath brought it to the best perfection, that this life is capable of, he will provide another abundanti¨s 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 abundanti¨s, 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]

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.

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