Jump to Content
Jump to chapter

John Donne

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

Find Location in text

Main Text

62. From a Sermon Preached to the King, at the Court in April. 16291


We shall pursue our great examples; God in doing, Moses in saying; and so make hast in applying the parts. But first receive them. And since we have the whole world in contemplation, consider in these words, the foure quarters of the world, by application, by fair, and just accommodation of the words. First, in the first word, that God speaks here, Faciamus, Let us, us in the plurall, (a denota tion of divers Persons in one Godhead) we consider our East where we must beginne, at the knowledge and confession of the Trinity. For, though in the way to heaven, we be travelled beyond the Gentiles, when we come to confess but one God, (The Gentiles could not do that) yet we are still among the Jews, if we thinke that one God to be but one Person. Christs name is Oriens, the East; if we will be named by him, (called Christians) we must look to this pg 349East, the confession of the Trinity. There's then our East, in the Faciamus; Let us, us make man: And then our West is in the next word, Faciamus Hominem. Though we be thus made, made by the counsell, made by the concurrence, made by the hand of the whole Trinity; yet we are made but men: And man, but in the appellation, in this text: and man there, is but Adam: and Adam is but earth, but red earth, earth dyed red in bloud, in Soul-bloud, the bloud of our own soules. To that west we must all come, to the earth. The Sunne knoweth his going down: Even the Sun for all his glory, and heighth, hath a going down, and he knowes it. The highest cannot devest mortality, nor the discomfort of mortality. When you see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway you say there commeth a storm, says Christ. When out of the region of your west, that is, your later days, there comes a cloud, a sicknesse, you feele a storme, even the best morall constancy is shaked. But this cloud, and this storme, and this west there must be; And that's our second consideration. But then the next words designe a North, a strong, and powerfull North, to scatter, and dissipate these clouds: Ad imaginem,& similitudinem; That we are made according to a pattern, to an image, to a like nesse, which God proposed to himselfe for the making of man. This consideration, that God did not rest in that præexistent matter, out of which he made all other creatures, and produced their formes, out of their matter, for the making of man; but took a forme, a patterne, a modell for that work: This is the North winde, that is called upon to carry out the perfumes of the garden, to spread the goodnesse of God abroad. This is that which is intended in Job; Fair weather commeth out of the North. Our West, our declination is in this, that we are but earth; our North, our dissipation of that dark nesse, is in this, that we are not all earth: though we be of that matter, we have another forme, another image, another likenesse. And then, whose image and likenesse it is, is our Meridionall height, our noon, our south point, our highest elevation; In Imagine nostra, Let us make man in our Image. Though our Sun set at noon, as the Prophet Amos speakes; though we die in our youth, or fall in our height: yet even in that Sunset, we shall have a Noon. For this Image of God shall never depart from our soule; no, not when that soule departs from our body. And that's our South, our Meridionall pg 350height and glory. And when we have thus seen this East, in the faciamus, That I am the workmanship and care of the whole Trinity; And this West in the Hominem, That for all that, my matter, my substance, is but earth: But then a North, a power of overcomming that low and miserable state, In Imagine; That though in my matter, the earth, I must die; yet in my forme, in that Image which I am made by, I cannot die: and after all, a South, a knowledge, That this Image is not the Image of Angels, to whom we shall be like, but it is by the same life, by which those Angels themselves were made; the Image of God himselfe. When I am gone over this east, and west, and north, and south, here in this world, I should be as sorry as Alexander was, if there were no more worlds. But there is another world, which these considerations will discover, and lead us to, in which our joy, and our glory shall be, to see that God essentially, and face to face, after whose Image, and likenesse we were made before.


Now God did not say of man, as of other creatures, Let the earth bring forth hearbs, and fruits, and trees, as upon the third day; nor let the earth bring forth cattell, and wormes, as upon the sixth day, the same day that he made man; Non imperiall verbo, sed familiari manu, sayes Tertullian, God calls not man out with an imperious Command, but he leads him out, with a familiar, with his own hand. And it is not: Fiat homo, but Faciamus; not, Let there be, but Let us make man. Man is but an earthen vessell. 'Tis true, but when we are upon that consideration, God is the Potter: if God will be that, I am well content to be this: let me be any thing, so that that I am be from my God. I am as well content to be a sheep, as a Lion, so God will be my Shepheard: and the Lord is my shepheard: To be a Cottage, as a Castle, so God will be the builder; And the Lord builds, and watches the City, the house, this house, this City, mee: To be Rye, as Wheate, so God will be the husbandman; And the Lord plants me, and waters, and weeds, and gives the encrease: and to be clothed in leather, as well as in silke, so God will be the Merchant; and he cloathed me in Adam, and assures me of clothing, in clothing the Lillies of the field, and is fitting the robe of Christs pg 351righteousness to me now, this minute. Adam is as good to me as Gheber, a clod of earth, as a hill of earth; so God be the Potter.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 On the text: 'And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness' (Gen. i. 26).
logo-footer Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Access is brought to you by Log out