John Donne

Evelyn Simpson, Helen Gardner, and T. S. Healy (eds), Selected Prose

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5. A Sermon of Valediction at my going into Germany, at Lincolns-Inne, April 18. 16191

Wee may consider two great virtues, one for the society of this life, Thankfulness, and the other for attaining the next life, Repentance; as the two pretious Mettles, Silver and Gold: Of Silver (of the virtue of thankfulness) there are whole Mines, books written by Philosophers, and a man may grow rich in that mettle, in that virtue, by digging in that Mine, in the Precepts of moral men; of this Gold (this virtue of Repentance) there is no Mine in the Earth; in the books of Philosophers, no doctrine of Repentance; this Gold is for the most part in the washes; this Repentance in matters of tribulation; but God directs thee to it in this Text, before thou come to those waters of Tribulation, remember now thy Creator before those evill dayes come, and then thou wilt pg 186repent the not remembring him till now. Here then the holy-Ghost takes the neerest way to bring a man to God, by awaking his memory; for, for the understanding, that requires long and cleer instruction; and the will requires an instructed understanding before, and is in it self the blindest and boldest faculty; but if the memory doe but fasten upon any of those things which God hath done for us, it is the neerest way to him. Remember therefore, and remember now, though the Memory be placed in the hindermost part of the brain, defer not thou thy remembring to the hindermost part of thy life, but doe that now in die, in the day, whil'st thou hast light, now in diebus, in the days, whilst God presents thee many lights, many means; and in diebus juventutis, in the days of thy youth, of strength, whilst thou art able to doe that which thou purposest to thy self; And as the word imports, Bechurotheica, in diebus Electionum tuarum, in the dayes of thy choice, whilst thou art able to make thy choyce, whilst the Grace of God shines so brightly upon thee, as that thou maist choose the way, and so powerfully upon thee, as that thou maist walke in that way. Now, in this day, and in these dayes Remember first the Creator, That all these things which thou laborest for, and delightest in, were created, made of nothing; and therfore thy memory looks not far enough back, if it stick only upon the Creature, and reach not to the Creator, Remember the Creator, and remember thy Creator; and in that, first that he made thee, and then what he made thee; He made thee of nothing, but of that nothing he hath made thee such a thing as cannot return to nothing, but must remain for ever; whether happy or miserable, that depends upon thy Remembring thy Creator now in the dayes of thy youth.

First remember; which word is often used in the Scripture for considering and taking care: for, God remembred Noah and every beast with him in the Ark; as the word which is contrary to that, forgetting, is also for the affection contrary to it, it is neglecting, Can a woman forget her child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? But here we take not remembring so largly, but restrain it to the exercise of that one faculty, the memory; for it is Stomachus animæ. The memory, sayes St. Bernard, is the stomach of the soul, it receives and digests, and turns into good blood, all the benefits pg 187formerly exhibited to us in particular, and exhibited to the whole Church of God: present that which belongs to the understanding, to that faculty, and the understanding is not presently setled in it; present any of the prophecies made in the captivity, and a Jews understanding takes them for deliverances from Babylon, and a Christians understanding takes them for deliverances from sin and death, by the Messias Christ Jesus; present any of the prophecies of the Revelation concerning Antichrist, and a Papist will understand it of a single, and momentane, and transitory man, that must last but three yeer and a half; and a Protestant may understand it of a succession of men, that have lasted so 1000. yeers already: present but the name of Bishop or of elder, out of the Acts of the Apostle[s], or their Epistles, and other men will take it for a name of equality, and parity, and we for a name and office of distinction in the Hierarchy of Gods Church. Thus it is in the understanding that's often perplexed; consider the other faculty, the will of man, by those bitternesses which have passed between the Jesuits and the Dominicans, (amongst other things belonging to the will) whether the same proportion of grace, offered to men alike disposed, must necessarily work alike upon both their wills? And amongst persons neerer to us, whether that proportion of grace, which doth convert a man, might not have been resisted by perversness of his will? By all these difficulties we may see, how untractable, and untameable a faculty the wil of man is. But come not with matter of law, but matter of fact, Let God make his wonderful works to be had in remembrance: present the history of Gods protection of his children, from the beginning, in the ark, in both captivities, in infinite dangers; present this to the memory, and howsoever the understanding be beclouded, or the will perverted, yet both Jew and Christian, Papist and Protestant, Puritan and Protestant, are affected with a thankfull acknowledgment of his former mercies and benefits, this issue of that faculty of their memory is alike in them all: And therefore God in giving the law, works upon no other faculty but this, I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt; He only presents to their memory what he had done for them. And so in delivering the Gospel in one principal seal thereof, the sacrament of his body, he recommended it only to their memory, pg 188Do this in remembrance of me. This is the faculty that God desires to work upon; And therefore if thine understanding cannot reconcile differences in all Churches, if thy will cannot submit it self to the ordinances of thine own Church, go to thine own memory; for as St. Bernard calls that the stomach of the soul, we may be bold to call it the Gallery of the soul, hang'd with so many, and so lively pictures of the goodness and mercies of thy God to thee, as that every one of them shall be a catachism to thee, to instruct thee in all thy duties to him for those mercies: And as a well made, and well plac'd picture, looks alwayes upon him that looks upon it; so shall thy God look upon thee, whose memory is thus contemplating him, and shine upon thine understanding, and rectifie thy will too. If thy memory cannot comprehend his mercy at large shewed to his whole Church, (as it is almost an incomprehensible thing, that in so few yeers he made us of the Reformation, equall even in number to our adversaries of the Roman Church,) If thy memory have not held that picture of our general deliverance from the Navy; (if that mercy be written in the water and in the sands, where it was perform'd, and not in thy heart) if thou remember not our deliverance from that artificiall Hell, the Vault, (in which, though his instruments failed of their plot, they did not blow us up; yet the Devil goes forward with his plot, if ever he can blow out; if he can get that deliverance to be forgotten.) If these be too large pictures for thy gallery, for thy memory, yet every man hath a pocket picture about him, a manuall, a bosome book, and if he will turn over but one leaf, and remember what God hath done for him even since yesterday, he shall find even by that little branch a navigable river, to sail into that great and endless Sea of Gods mercies towards him, from the beginning of his being.

Do but remember, but remember now: Of his own wil begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be as the first fruits of his creatures: That as we consecrate all his creatures to him, in a sober, and religious use of them, so as the first fruits of all, we should principally consecrate our selves to his service betimes. Now there were three payments of first fruits appointed by God to the Jews: The first was, Primitiæ Spicarum, of their Ears of Corn, pg 189and this was early about Easter; The second was Primitiæ panum, of Loaves of Bread, after their corn was converted to that use; and this, though it were not so soon, yet it was early too, about Whitsontide; The third was Primitiæ frugum, of all their Fruits and Revenues; but this was very late in Autumn, at the fall of the leaf, in the end of the yeer. The two first of these, which were offered early, were offered partly to God, and partly to Man, to the Priest; but in the last, which came late, God had no part: He had his part in the corn, and in the loaves, but none in the latter fruits. Offer thy self to God; first, as Primitias spicarum, (whether thou glean in the world, or bind up whole sheaves, whether thy increase be by little and little, or apace;) And offer thy self, as primitias panum, (when thou hast kneaded up riches, and honor, and favour in a setled and established fortune) offer at thy Easter, whensoever thou hast any resurrection, any sense of raising thy soul from the shadow of death; offer at thy Pentecost, when the holy Ghost visits thee, and descends upon thee in a fiery tongue, and melts thy bowels by the power of his word; for if thou defer thy offering til thy fal, til thy winter, til thy death, howsoever they may be thy first fruits, because they be the first that ever thou gavest, yet they are such, as are not acceptable to God; God hath no portion in them, if they be not offered til then; offer thy self now; for that's an easie request; yea offer to thy self now, that's more easie; Viximus mundo; vivamus reliquum nobis ipsis; Thus long we have served the world; let us serve our selves the rest of our time, that is, the best part of our selves, our souls. Expectas ut febris te vocet ad pœnitentiam? Hadst thou rather a sickness should bring thee to God, than a sermon? hadst thou rather be beholden to a Physitian for thy salvation, than to a Preacher? thy business is to remember; stay not for thy last sickness, which may be a Lethargy in which thou mayest forget thine own name, and his that gave thee the name of a Christian, Christ Jesus himself: thy business is to remember, and thy time is now; stay not till that Angel come which shall say and swear, that time shall be no more.

Remember then, and remember now; In Die, in the day; The Lord will hear us In die qua invocaverimus, in the day that we shall call upon him; and in quacunque die, in what day soever we call, and pg 190in quacunque die velociter exau diei, as soon as we call in any day. But all this is Opus diet, a work for the day; for in the night, in our last night, those thoughts that fall upon us, they are rather dreams, than true remembrings; we do rather dream that we repent, than repent indeed, upon our death-bed. To him that travails by night a bush seems a tree, and a tree seems a man, and a man a spirit; nothing hath the true shape to him; to him that repents by night, on his death-bed, neither his own sins, nor the mercies of God have their true proportion. Fool, saies Christ, this night they will fetch away thy soul; but he neither tels him, who they be that shall fetch it, nor whither they shall carry it; he hath no light but lightnings; a sodain flash of horror first, and then he goes into fire without light. Numquid Deus nobis ignem paravit? non, sed Diabolo, et Angelis: did God ordain hell fire for us? no, but for the Devil, and his Angels. And yet we that are vessels so broken, as that there is not a sheard left, to fetch water at the pit, that is, no means in our selves, to derive one drop of Christs blood upon us, nor to wring out one tear of true repentance from us, have plung'd our selves into this everlasting, and this dark fire, which was not prepared for us: A wretched covetousness, to be intruders upon the Devil; a wretched ambition, to be usurpers upon damnation. God did not make the fire for us; but much less did he make us for that fire; that is, make us to damn us. But now the Judgment is given, Ite maledicti, go ye accursed; but yet this is the way of Gods justice, and his proceeding, that his Judgments are not alwaies executed, though they be given. The Judgments and Sentences of Medes and Persians are irrevocable, but the Judgments and Sentences of God, if they be given, if they be published, they are not executed. The Ninevites had perished, if the sentence of their destruction had not been given; and the sentence preserv'd them; so even in this cloud of Ite maledicti, go ye accursed, we may see the day break, and discern beams of saving light, even in this Judgment of eternal darkness; if the contemplation of his Judgment brings us to remember him in that day, in the light and apprehension of his anger and correction.

For this circumstance is enlarged; it is not in die, but in diebus, not in one, but in many dayes; for God affords us many dayes, many lights to see and remember him by. This remembrance of God is pg 191our regeneration, by which we are new creatures; and therefore we may consider as many dayes in it, as in the first creation. The first day was the making of light; and our first day is the knowledg of him, who saies of himself, ego sum lux mundi, I am the light of the world, and of whom St. John testifies, Erat lux vera, he was the true light, that lighteth every man into the world. This is then our first day the true profession of Christ Jesus. God made light first, that the other creatures might be seen; Frustra essent si non viderentur, It had been to no purpose to have made creatures, if there had been no light to manifest them. Our first day is the light and love of the Gospel; for the noblest creatures of Princes, (that is, the noblest actions of Princes, war, and peace, and treaties) frustra sunt, they are good for nothing, they are nothing, if they be not shew'd and tried by this light, by the love and preservation of the Gospel of Christ Jesus: God made light first, that his other works might appear, and he made light first, that himself (for our example) might do all his other works in the light: that we also, as we had that light shed upon us in our baptism, so we might make all our future actions justifiable by that light, and not Erubescere Evangelium, not be ashamed of being too jealous in this profession of his truth. Then God saw that the light was good: the seeing implies a consideration; that so a religion be not accepted blindly, nor implicitly; and the seeing it to be good implies an election of that religion, which is simply good in it self, and not good by reason of advantage, or conveniency, or other collateral and by-respects. And when God had seen the light, and seen that it was good, then he severed light from darkness; and he severed them, non tanquam duo positiva, not as two essential, and positive, and equal things; not so, as that a brighter and a darker religion, (a good and a bad) should both have a beeing together, but tanquam positivum et primitivum, light and darkness are primitive, and positive, and figure this rather, that a true religion should be established, and continue, and darkness utterly removed; and then, and not till then, (till this was done, light severed from darkness) there was a day; And since God hath given us this day, the brightness of his Gospel, that this light is first presented, that is, all great actions begun with this consideration of the Gospel; since all other things are made by this light, pg 192that is, all have relation to the continuance of the Gospel, since God hath given us such a head, as is sharp-sighted in seeing the several lights, wise in discerning the true light, powerful in resisting forraign darkness; since God hath given us this day, qui non humiliabit animam suam in die hac, as Moses speaks of the dayes of Gods institution, he that will not remember God now in this day, is impious to him, and unthankful to that great instrument of his, by whom this day spring from on high hath visited us.

To make shorter dayes of the rest, (for we must pass through all the six dayes in a few minuts) God in the second day made the firmament to divide between the waters above, and the waters below; and this firmament in us, is terminus cognoscibilium, the limits of those things which God hath given man means and faculties to conceive, and understand: he hath limited our eyes with a firmament beset with stars, our eyes can see no farther: he hath limited our understanding in matters of religion with a starry firmament too; that is, with the knowledg of those things, quæ ubique, quæ semper, which those stars which he hath kindled in his Church, the Fathers and Doctors, have ever from the beginning proposed as things necessary to be explicitely believ'd, for the salvation of our souls; for the eternal decrees of God, and his unreveal'd mysteries, and the inextricable perplexities of the School, they are waters above the firmament: here Paul plants, and here Apollo waters; here God raises up men to convey to us the dew of his grace, by waters under the firmament; by visible sacraments, and by the word so preach'd, and so interpreted, as it hath been constantly, and unanimously from the beginning of the Church. And therefore this second day is perfited in the third, in the congregentur aquæ, let the waters be gathered together; God hath gathered all the waters, all the waters of life in one place; that is, all the doctrine necessary for the life to come, into his Church: And then producet terra, here in this world are produced to us all herbs and fruits, all that is necessary for the soul to feed upon. And in this third daies work God repeats here that testimony, vidit quod bonum, he saw that it was good; good, that here should be a gathering of waters in one place, that is, no doctrine, receiv'd that had not been taught in the Church; and vidit quod bonum, he saw it was good, that all herbs pg 193and trees should be produced that bore seed; all doctrines that were to be proseminated and propagated, and to be continued to the end, should be taught in the Church: but for doctrines which were but to vent the passion of vehement men, or to serve the turns of great men for a time, which were not seminal doctrines, doctrines that bore seed, and were to last from the beginning to the end; for these interlineary doctrines, and marginal, which were no part of the first text, here's no testimony that God sees that they are good. And, In diebus istis, if in these two daies, the day when God makes thee a firmament, shewes thee what thou art, to limit thine understanding and thy faith upon, and the day where God makes thee a sea, a collection of the waters, (showes thee where these necessary things must be taught in the Church) if in those daies thou wilt not remember thy Creator, it is an irrecoverable Lethargy.

In the fourth daies work, let the making of the Sun to rule the day be the testimony of Gods love to thee, in the sunshine of temporal prosperity, and the making of the Moon to shine by night, be the refreshing of his comfortable promises in the darkness of adversity; and then remember that he can make thy sun to set at noon, he can blow out thy taper of prosperity when it burns brightest, and he can turn the Moon into blood, he can make all the promises of the Gospel, which should comfort thee in adversity, turn into despair and obduration. Let the fift daies work, which was the creation Omnium reptibilium, and omnium volatilium, of all creeping things, and of all flying things, produc'd out of water, signifie and denote to thee, either thy humble devotion, in which thou saist of thy self to God, vermis ego et non homo, I am a worm and no man; or let it be the raising of thy soul in that, pennas columbæ dedisti, that God hath given thee the wings of a dove to fly to the wilderness, in a retiring from, or a resisting of tentations of this world; remember still that God can suffer even thy humility to stray, and degenerate into an uncomly dejection and stupidity, and senselesness of the true dignity and true liberty of a Christian: and he can suffer this retiring thy self from the world, to degenerate into a contempt and despising of others, and an overvaluing of thine own perfections. Let the last day in which both man and beasts were made out of the earth, but yet a living soul breath'd into man, remember thee that pg 194this earth which treads upon thee, must return to that earth which thou treadst upon; thy body, that loads thee, and oppresses thee to the grave, and thy spirit to him that gave it. And when the Sabbath day hath also remembered thee, that God hath given thee a temporal Sabbath, plac'd thee in a land of peace, and an ecclesiastical Sabbath, plac'd in a Church of peace, perfect all in a spirituall Sabbath, a conscience of peace, by remembring now thy Creator, at least in one of these daies of the week of thy regeneration, either as thou hast light created in thee, in the first day, that is, thy knowledg of Christ; or as thou hast a firmament created in thee the second day, that is, thy knowledg what to seek concerning Christ, things appertaining to faith and salvation; or as thou hast a sea created in thee the third day, that is, a Church where all the knowledg is reserv'd and presented to thee; or as thou hast a sun and moon in the fourth day, thankfulness in prosperity, comfort in adversity, or as thou hast reptilem humilitatem, or volatilem fiduciam, a humiliation in thy self, or an exaltation in Christ in thy fift day, or as thou hast a contemplation of thy mortality and immortality in the sixth day, or a desire of a spiritual Sabbath in the seaventh, In those daies remember thou thy Creator.

Now all these daies are contracted into less room in this text, In diebus Bechurotheica, is either, in the daies of thy youth, or electionum tuarum, in the daies of thy hearts desire, when thou enjoyest all that thou couldest wish. First, therefore if thou wouldest be heard in Davids prayer; Delicta juventutis; O Lord remember not the sins of my youth; remember to come to this prayer, In diebus juventutis, in the dayes of thy youth. Job remembers with much sorrow, how he was in the dayes of his youth, when Gods providence was upon his Tabernacle: and it is a late, but a sad consideration, to remember with what tenderness of conscience, what scruples, what remorces we entred into sins in our youth, how much we were afraid of all degrees and circumstances of sin for a little while, and how indifferent things they are grown to us, and how obdurate we are grown in them now. This was Jobs sorrow, and this was Tobias comfort, when I was but young, all my Tribes fell away; but I alone went after to Jerusalem. Though he lacked the counsail, and the example of his Elders, yet he served God; for it is good for a man, pg 195that he bear his yoke in his youth: For even when God had delivered over his people purposely to be afflicted, yet himself complains in their behalf, That the persecutor laid the very heaviest yoke upon the ancient: It is a lamentable thing to fall under a necessity of suffering in our age. Labore fracta instrumenta, ad Deum ducis, quorum nullus usus? wouldest thou consecrate a Chalice to God that is broken? no man would present a lame horse, a disordered clock, a torn book to the King. Caro jumentum, thy body is thy beast; and wilt thou present that to God, when it is lam'd and tir'd with excesse of wantonness? when thy clock, (the whole course of thy time) is disordered with passions, and perturbations; when thy book (the history of thy life,) is torn, 1000. sins of thine own torn out of thy memory, wilt thou then present thy self thus defac'd and mangled to almighty God? Temperantia non est temperantia in senectute, sed impotentia incontinentiæ, chastity is not chastity in an old man, but a disability to be unchast; and therefore thou dost not give God that which thou pretendest to give, for thou hast no chastity to give him. Senex bis puer, but it is not bis juvenis; an old man comes to the infirmities of childhood again; but he comes not to the strength of youth again.

Do this then In diebus juventutis, in thy best strength, and when thy natural faculties are best able to concur with grace; but do it In diebus electionum, in the dayes when thou hast thy hearts desire; for if thou have worn out this word, in one sense, that it be too late now, to remember him in the dayes of youth, (that's spent forgetfully) yet as long as thou art able to make a new choise, to chuse a new sin, that when thy heats of youth are not overcome, but burnt out, then thy middle age chooses ambition, and thy old age chooses covetousness; as long as thou art able to make thy choice thou art able to make a better than this; God testifies that power, that he hath given thee; I call heaven and earth to record this day, that I have set before you life and death; choose life: If this choice like you not, If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, saith Josuah then, choose ye this day whom ye will serve. Here's the election day; bring that which ye would have, into comparison with that which ye should have; that is, all that this world keeps from you, with that which God offers to you; and what will ye choose to prefer before him? for honor, pg 196and favor, and health, and riches, perchance you cannot have them though you choose them; but can you have more of them than they have had, to whom those very things have been occasions of ruin? The Market is open till the bell ring; till thy last bell ring the Church is open, grace is to be had there: but trust not upon that rule, that men buy cheapest at the end of the market, that heaven may be had for a breath at last, when they that hear it cannot tel whether it be a sigh or a gasp, a religious breathing and anhelation after the next life, or natural breathing out, and exhalation of this; but find a spiritual good husbandry in that other rule, that the prime of the market is to be had at first: for howsoever, in thine age, there may be by Gods strong working, Dies juventutis, A day of youth, in making thee then a new creature; (for as God is antiquissimus dierum, so in his school no man is super-annated,) yet when age hath made a man impotent to sin, this is not Dies electionum, it is not a day of choice; but remember God now, when thou hast a choice, that is, a power to advance thy self, or to oppress others by evil means; now in die electionum, in those thy happy and sun-shine dayes, remember him.

This is then the faculty that is excited, the memory; and this is the time, now, now whilest ye have power of election: The object is, the Creator, Remember the Creator: First, because the memory can go no farther than the creation; and therefore we have no means to conceive, or apprehend any thing of God before that. When men therefore speak of decrees of reprobation, decrees of condemnation, before decrees of creation; this is beyond the counsail of the holy Ghost here, Memento creatoris, Remember the Creator, for this is to remember God a condemner before he was a creator: This is to put a preface to Moses his Genesis, not to be content with his in principio, to know that in the beginning God created heaven and earth, but we must remember what he did ante principlum, before any such beginning was. Moses his in principio, that beginning, the creation we can remember; but St. Johns in principio, that beginning, eternity, we cannot; we can remember Gods fiat in Moses, but not Gods erat in St. John: what God hath done for us, is the object of our memory, not what he did before we were: and thou hast a good and perfect memory, if it remember all that the holy Ghost proposes in the pg 197Bible; and it determines in the memento Creatoris: There begins the Bible, and there begins the Creed, I believe in God the Father, maker of Heaven and Earth; for when it is said, The holy Ghost was not given, because Jesus was not glorified, it is not truly Non erat datus, but non erat; for, non erat nobis antequam operaretur; It is not said there, the holy Ghost was not given, but it is the holy Ghost was not: for he is not, that is, he hath no being to us ward, till he works in us, which was first in the creation: Remember the Creator then, because thou canst remember nothing backward beyond him, and remember him so too, that thou maist stick upon nothing on this side of him, That so neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature may separate thee from God; not only not separate thee finally, but not separate so, as to stop upon the creature, but to make the best of them, thy way to the Creator; We see ships in the river; but all their use is gone, if they go not to sea; we see men fraighted with honor, and riches, but all their use is gone, if their respect be not upon the honor and glory of the Creator; and therefore sayes the Apostle, Let them that suffer, commit their souls to God, as to a faithful Creator; that is, He made them, and therefore will have care of them. This is the true contracting, and the true extending of the memory, to Remember the Creator, and stay there, because there is no prospect farther, and to Remember the Creator, and get thither, because there is no safe footing upon the creature, til we come so far.

Remember then the Creator, and remember thy Creator, for, Quis magis fidelis Deo? who is so faithful a Counsailor as God? Quis prudentior Sapiente? who can be wiser than wisdome? Quis utilior bono? or better than goodness? Quis conjunctior Creatore? or nearer than our Maker? and therefore remember him. What purposes soever thy parents or thy Prince have to make thee great, how had all those purposes been frustrated, and evacuated if God had not made thee before? this very being is thy greatest degree; as in Arithmatick how great a number soever a man expresse in many figures, yet when we come to number all, the very first figure is the greatest and most of all; so what degrees or titles soever a man have in this world, the greatest and the foundation of all, is, that he had a being by creation: For the distance from nothing to a little, is ten thousand times more, than from it to the highest degree in this life: and pg 198therefore remember thy Creator, as by being so, he hath done more for thee than all the world besides ; and remember him also, with this consideration, that whatsoever thou art now, yet once thou wast nothing.

He created thee, ex nihilo, he gave thee a being, there's matter of exaltation, and yet all this from nothing; thou wast worse than a worm, there's matter of humiliation; but he did not create thee ad nihilum, to return to nothing again, and there's matter for thy consideration, and study, how to make thine immortality profitable unto thee; for it is a deadly immortality, if thy immortality must serve thee for nothing but to hold thee in immortal torment. To end all, that being which we have from God shall not return to nothing, nor the being which we have from men neither. As St. Bernard sayes of the Image of God in mans soul, uri potest in gehenna, non exuri, That soul that descends to hell, carries the Image [of] God in the faculties of that soul thither, but there that Image can never be burnt out, so those Images and those impressions, which we have received from men, from nature, from the world, the image of a Lord, the image of a Counsailor, the image of a Bishop, shall all burn in Hell, and never burn out; not only these men, but these offices are not to return to nothing; but as their being from God, so their being from man, shal have an everlasting being, to the aggravating of their condemnation. And therefore remember thy Creator, who, as he is so, by making thee of nothing, so he will ever be so, by holding thee to his glory, though to thy confusion, from returning to nothing; for the Court of Heaven is not like other Courts, that after a surfet of pleasure or greatness, a man may retire; after a surfet of sin there's no such retiring, as a dissolving of the soul into nothing; but God is from the beginning the Creator, he gave all things their being, and he is still thy Creator, thou shalt evermore have that being, to be capable of his Judgments.

Now to make up a circle, by returning to our first word, remember: As we remember God, so for his sake, let us remember one another. In my long absence, and far distance from hence, remember me, as I shall do you in the ears of that God, to whom the farthest East, and the farthest West are but as the right and left ear in one of us; we hear with both at once, and he hears in both at once; remember me, not my abilities; for when I consider my Apostleship pg 199that I was sent to you, I am in St. Pauls quorum, quorum ego sum minimus, the least of them that have been sent; and when I consider my infirmities, I am in his quorum, in another commission, another way, Quorum ego maximus; the greatest of them; but remember my labors, and endeavors, at least my desire, to make sure your salvation. And I shall remember your religious cheerfulness in hearing the word, and your christianly respect towards all them that bring that word unto you, and towards myself in particular far [a]bove my merit. And so as your eyes that stay here, and mine that must be far of, for all that distance shall meet every morning, in looking upon that same Sun, and meet every night, in looking upon that same Moon; so our hearts may meet morning and evening in that God, which sees and hears every where; that you may come thither to him with your prayers, that I, (if I may be of use for his glory, and your edification in this place) may be restored to you again; and may come to him with my prayer that what Paul soever plant amongst you, or what Apollos soever water, God himself will give the increase: That if I never meet you again till we have all passed the gate of death, yet in the gates of heaven, I may meet you all, and there say to my Saviour and your Saviour, that which he said to his Father and our Father, Of those whom thou hast given me, have I not lost one. Remember me thus, you that stay in this Kingdome of peace, where no sword is drawn, but the sword of Justice, as I shal remember you in those Kingdomes, where ambition on one side, and a necessary defence from unjust persecution on the other side hath drawn many swords; and Christ Jesus remember us all in his Kingdome, to which, though we must sail through a sea, it is the sea of his blood, where no soul suffers shipwrack; though we must be blown with strange winds, with sighs and groans for our sins, yet it is the Spirit of God that blows all this wind, and shall blow away all contrary winds of diffidence or distrust in Gods mercy; where we shall be all Souldiers of one Army, the Lord of Hostes, and Children of one Quire, the God of Harmony and consent: where all Clients shall retain but one Counsellor, our Advocate Christ Jesus, nor present him any other fee but his own blood, and yet every Client have a Judgment on his side, not only in a not guilty, in the remission of his sins, but in a Venite benedicti, in being pg 200called to the participation of an immortal Crown of glory: where there shall be no difference in affection, nor in mind, but we shall agree as fully and perfectly in our Allelujah, and gloria in excelsis, as God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost agreed in the faciamus hominem at first; where we shall end, and yet begin but then; where we shall have continuall rest, and yet never grow lazie; where we shall be stronger to resist, and yet have no enemy; where we shall live and never die, where we shall meet and never part.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 On the text: 'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth' (Eccles. xii. 1).
Donne left England, as chaplain to Lord Doncaster on his mission of mediation to the German Princes, on 12 May 1619, and was abroad until January 1620. An earlier version of this sermon is extant in several manuscript copies. It was printed by Evelyn Simpson (Nonesuch Press, 1932) and can also be found in an appendix to vol. ii of the Sermons.
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