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and how earnestly he had cried, “Succor us, O God of our welfare, for the glory of Thine own name" (Psalm lxxix. 9); and feeling that their sore was still increased: the conceit of repugnancy between this which was object to his eyes, and that which faith upon promise of the law did look for, made so deep an impression and so strong, that he disputeth not the matter; but without any further inquiry or search inferreth, as we see, “The law doth fail.” Of us, who is here which cannot very soberly advise his brother? Sir, you must learn to strengthen your faith by that experience which heretofore you have had of God's great goodness towards you: “Per ea quae agnoscas praestita, discas sperare promissa’—“By those things which you have known performed, learn to hope for those things which are promised.” Do you acknowledge to have received much? Let that make you certain to receive more: “Habenti dabitur”—“To him that hath, more shall be given.” When you doubt what you shall have, search what you have had at God's hands. Make this reckoning, that the benefits which He hath bestowed are bills obligatory, and sufficient sureties that He will bestow further. His present mercy is still a warrant of His future love, because, “whom He loveth, He loveth unto the end" (John xiii. 1). Is it not thus? Yet if we could reckon up as many evident, clear, undoubted signs of God's reconciled love towards us as there are years, yea days, yeahours, past over our heads; all these set together have not such force to confirm our faith as the loss, and sometimes the only fear of losing a little transitory goods, credit, honor, or favor of men—a small calamity, a matter of nothing—to breed a conceit, and such a conceit as is not easily again removed, that we are clean crossed out of God's book, that He regards us not, that He looketh upon others, but passeth by us like a stranger to whom we are not known. Then we think, looking upon others, and comparing them with ourselves, “Their tables are furnished day by day; earth and ashes are our bread: they sing to the lute, and they see their children dance before them; our hearts are heavy in our bodies as lead, our sighs beat as thick as a swift pulse, our tears do wash the beds wherein we lie: the sun shineth fair upon their foreheads; we are hanged up like bottles in the smoke, cast into corners like the sherds of a broken pot: tell not us of the promises of God's favor, tell such as do reap the fruit of them; they belong not to us, they are made to others.” The Lord be merciful to our weakness, but thus it is. Well, let the frailty of our nature, the subtlety of Satan, the force of our deceivable imaginations be, as we cannot dony but they are, things that threaten every moment the utter subversion of our faith; faith notwithstanding is not hazarded by these things. That which one sometimes told the senators of Rome (Sallust, Jugurth. c. 14), “Ego sic eristimabam, P. C. uti patrem sarpe meum praedicantem audiveram, qui vestram amicitiam diligenter colerent, eos multum laborem suscipere, carterum er omnibus marime tutos esse’—“As I have often heard my father acknowledge, so I myself did ever think, that the friends and favorers of this state charged themselves with great labor, but no man's condition so safe as theirs; ” the same we may say a great deal more justly in this case: our fathers and prophets, our Lord and Master, hath full often spoken, by long experience we have found it true, as many as have entered their names in the mystical Book of Life, Eos marimum laborem suscipere, they have taken upon them a laborsome, a toilsome, a painful profession, sed omnium marime tutos esse, but no man's security like to theirs. “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to winnow thee as wheat” (Luke xxii. 31, 32); here is our toil: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith. fail not; this is our safety. No man's condition so sure as ours: the prayer of Christ is more than sufficient both to strengthen us, be we never so weak, and to overthrow all adversary power, be it never so strong and potent. His prayer must not exclude our labor: their thoughts are vain who think that their watching can preserve the city which God himself is not willing to keep: and are not theirs as vain who think that God will keep the city for which they themselves are not careful to watch? The husbandman may not therefore burn his plough, nor the merchant forsake his trade, because God hath promised, “I will not forsake thee.” And do the promises of God concerning our stability, think you, make it a matter indifferent for us to use or not to use the means whereby to attend or not to attend to reading? to pray or not to pray that we “fall not into temptations”? Surely if we look to stand in the faith of the sons of God, we must hourly, continually, be providing and setting ourselves to strive. It was not the meaning of our Lord and Saviour in saying, “Father, keep them in Thy name" (John xvii. 11), that we should be careless to keep ourselves. To our own safety, our own sedulity is required. And then blessed forever and ever be that mother's child whose faith hath made him the child of God. The earth may shake, the pillars of the world may tremble under us, the countenance of the heaven may be appalled, the sun may lose his light, the moon her beauty, the stars their glory; but concerning the man that trusteth in God, if the fire have proclaimed itself unable as much as to singe a hair of his head, if lions, beasts ravenous by nature, and keen with hunger, being set to devour, have, as it were, religiously adored the very flesh of the faithful man; what is there in the world that shall change his heart, overthrow his faith, alter his affection towards God, or the affection of God to him? If I be of this note, who shall make a separation between me and my God? “Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. viii. 35, 38,39). No; “I am persuaded that neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, nor death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,” shall ever prevail so far over me. “I know in whom I have believed; ”I am not ignorant whose precious blood hath been shed for me; I have a Shepherd full of kindness, full of care, and full of power: unto Him I commit myself; His own finger hath engraven this sentence in the tables of my heart, “Satan hath desired to winnow thee as wheat, but I have prayed that thy faith fail not:” therefore the assurance of my hope I will labor to keep as a jewel unto the end; and by labor, through the gracious mediation of His prayer, I shall keep it.

SIN

BY

JOHN DO N N E

JOHN DONNE
1573–1631

John Donne must be considered, both in verse and prose, as one of the foremost writers of the seventeenth century. Though excessively admired by his own contemporaries, held in high esteem by Pope and Dryden, his works were almost neglected and forgotten for a whole century. Donne was born of Catholic parents in London in 1573. His religious scruples did not permit him, after the completion of his studies, to take holy orders in the Church of England, and it was not till 1614, though he had some twenty years before changed his faith, that he took this step, being strongly urged by influential friends. In 1621, King James I appointed him to the deanery of St. Paul's. Donne laid the foundation of his poetical reputation by his famous satires, three of which exist in manuscript dated 1593. The others appear to have been composed at various times before 1601. By his clandestine marriage to the niece of Lord Ellesmere, whose rotégé he had been for five years, he lost the favor of his patron. t is unnecessary to enter into the details of his life, which, after his marriage, was largely affected by the ups and downs of an uncertain livelihood, though owing to his personal worth he seems never to have been lacking in powerful and influential friends. His best lyrical poems were written during his married life, inspired by the love of his wife, to whom he was ardently devoted. Her death in 1617 was a great blow to him. Of his prose works “Juvenilia” appeared in 1633, his sermons in 1640, “Essays in Divinity” in 1650, “Letters to Several Persons of Honor” in 1651. His poems were collected and edited several times between the years 1633 and 1639. Very few of his writings were published during his lifetime. Donne's works must be judged in the spirit of his time, though harsh in thought and odd in expression and choosing occult themes, there often is behind this fantastic garb, a vigorous and earnest mind and not seldom a startling insight into spiritual life. Donne preached his last sermon before Lent in 1630, a sermon called by the King “the dean's own funeral sermon.” He died on the thirty-first of March of the following year. His discourse on “Sin” shows us Donne as a profound theologian, a great scholar, and reveals all the traits that made him one of the most powerful pulpit orators of his time.

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