Fifty Sermons

Late Deane of the Cathedrall
Church of S. PAULS London.
The Second Volume.

Printed by Ja. Flesher for M.F. J. Marriot, and R. Royston.


Preached at the Churching of the Cointesse of Bridgewater.

[Page 76]

For Covetousnesse, that is expresly called Idolatry by the Apostle: and so is voluptuousnesse too, in those men, whose belly is their God. We fall then into that desperate precipitation of Idolatry, by lust, when by fornication, we profane the temple of the Holy Ghost, and make even his temple, our bodies, a Stewes: And we fall into Idolatry by Covetousnesse,Basal. when we come to be, tam putidi minutíque animi, of so narrow, and contracted a soule; and of so sick, and dead, and buried, and putrefied a soule, as to lock up our soule, in a Cabinet where we lock up our money, to ty our soul in the corner of a handkerchiefe, where we ty our money, to imprison our soule, in the imprisonment of those things, Idem.Qua te ad gloriam [...], the dispensation, and distribution whereof, would carry thy soul to eternall glory. And when by our voluptuousnesse, we raise the prices of necessary things, Et eorum vulnera, qui à Deo flagris caeduntur, adangemus; and thereby scourge them with deeper lashes of famine, whom God hath scourged with poverty before, we fall into Idolatry by voluptuousnesse; Idem.Numismatis inscriptiones inspicuis, & non Christi in sratre, thou takest a pleasure, to look upon the figures, and Images of Kings in their severall coyns; and thou despisest thine own Image in thy poore brother, and Gods Image in thy ruinous, and defaced soule, and in his Temple, thy body, demolished by thy Licentiousnesse, and by all these Idolatries. This is the fall, when we fall so farre into those sins, which have naturally a tyranny in them, and that that sinne becomes an Idoll to us; which fall of ours, God intimates unto us, and rebukes us for, by so mild a way, as to bid us rise from it.

Preached at Lincolns Inne.

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2. Part.David in a rectified conscience findes that he may be admitted to present reasons against farther corrections, And that this may be received as a reason, That Gods Arrows are upon him; for this is phrase or a Metaphore, in which Gods indignation is often expressed in the Scripture. Ps. 18.14.He sent out his Arrows, and scattered them; sayes David; magnifying Gods goodness in his behalf, against his enemies. And so again,Ps. 7.13. God will ordaine his Arrrowes for them that persecute me. Complebo sagittas, says God, I will heap mischiefs upon them, and I will spend mine arrows upon them: yea, Deut.32.23.v.42.Inebriabo sanguine, I will make mine Arrows drunk in their bloud. It is Idiotismus Spiritus sancti, a peculiar character of the holy Ghosts expressing Gods anger, in that Metaphore of shooting Arrows. In this place, some understand by these Arrows, foul and infectious diseases, in his body, derived by his incontinence. Others, the sting of Conscience, and that fearfull choice, which the Prophet offered him, war, famine, and pestilence. Others, his passionate sorrow in the death of Bethsheba's first childe; or in the Incest of Amnon upon his sister, or in the murder upon Amnon by Absolon; or in the death of Absolen by Joab; or in many other occasions of sorrow, that surrounded David and his family, more, perchance, then any such family in the body of story. But these Psalmes were made, not onely to vent Davids present holy passion, but to serve the Church of God, to the worlds end. And therefore, change the person, and wee shall finde a whole quiver of arrows. Extend this Man, to all Mankind; carry Davids History up to Adams History, and consider us in that state, which wee inherit from him, and we shall see arrows fly about our ears, A Deo prosequente, the anger of God hanging over our heads, in a cloud of arrows; and à conscientia remordente, our own consciences shooting poisoned arrows of desperation into our souls; and ab Homine Contemnente, Men multiplying arrows of Detraction, and Calumny, and Contumely [Page 155] upon our good name, and estimation. Briefly, in that wound, as wee were all shot in Adam, we bled out Impassibilitatem, and we sucked in Impossibilitatem; There we lost our Immortality, our Impassibility, our assurance of Paradise, and then we lost Possibilitatem boni, says S. August: all possibility of recovering any of this by our selves. So that these arrows which are lamented here, are all those miseries, which sinne hath cast upon us; Labor, and the childe of that, Sicknesse, and the offspring of that, Death; And the security of conscience, and the terrour of conscience; the searing of the conscience, and the over-tendernesse of the conscience; Gods quiver, and the Devils quiver, and our own quiver, and our neighbours quiver, afford, and furnish arrows to gall, and wound us. These arrows then in our Text, proceeding from sin, and sin proceeding from tentations, and inducing tribulations, it shall advance your spirituall edification most, to fixe your consideration upon those Eph.16.fiery darts, as they are tentations, and as they are tribulations. Origen says, he would wish no more, for the recovery of any soul, but that she were able to see Cicatrices suas, those scars which these fiery darts have left in her, the deformity which every sinne imprints upon the soul, and Contritiones suas, the attenuating and wearing out, and consumption of the soul, by a continuall succession of more, and men wound, upon the same place. An ugly thing in a Consumption, were a fearfull spectacle, And such Origen imagins a soul to be, if she could see Cicatrices, and Contritiones, her ill-favourednesse, and her leannesse in the deformity, and consumption of sin. How provident, how diligent a patience did our blessed Saviour bring to his Passion, who foreseeing that that would be our case, our sicknesse, to be first wounded with single tentations, and then to have even the wounds of our soul wounded again, by a daily reiterating of tentations in the same kinde, would provide us physick agreeable to our Disease, Chyrurgery conformable to our wound, first to be scourged so, as that his holy body was torn with wounds, and then to have those wounded again, and often, with more violatings. So then these arrows, are those tentations and those tribulations, which are accompanied with these qualities of arrows shot at us, that they are alienae, shot from others, not in our power; And veloces, swift and sudden, soon upon us; And vix visibiles, not discernible in their coming, but by an exact diligence.

Aliena.First then, these tentations are dangerous arrows, as they are alienae, shot from others, and not in our own power. It was the Embleme, and Inscription, which Darius took for his coin, Insculpere sagittarium, to shew his greatnesse, that he could wound afar off, as an Archer does. And it was the way, by which God declared the deliverance of Israel from Syria; 2 Reg.13.17.Elisha bids the King open the window Eastward, and shoot an arrow out. The King does shoot: And the Prophet says, Sagitta salutis Domini, The arrow of the Lords deliverance: He would deliver Israel, by shooting vengeance into Syria. One danger in our arrows, as they are tentations, is, that they come unsuspectedly; they come, we know not, from whence; from others; that's a danger; But in our tentations, there is a greater danger then that, for a man cannot shoot an arrow at himself; but we can direct tentations upon our selves; If we were in a wildernesse, we could sin; and where we are, we tempt temptations, and wake the Devil, when for any thing that appears, he would sleep. 1 Reg.11. 34.A certain man drew a bow at a venture, says that story; He had no determinate mark, no expresse aime, upon any one man; He drew his bow at a venture, and he hit, and he slew the King Ahab. A woman of tentation, Tendit areum in incertum, as that story speaks; shee paints, she curls, she sings, she gazes, and is gazed upon; There's an arrow shot at randon; shee aim'd at no particular mark; And thou puttest thy self within shot, and meetest the arrow; Thou soughtest the tentation, the tentation sought not thee. A man is able to oppresse others; Ps.52.1Et gloriatur in mal quia potens, He boasts himselfe because he is able to doe mischief; and tendit arcum in incertum, he shoots his arrow at randon, he lets it be known, that he can prefer them, that second his purposes, and thou putt'st thy self within shot, and meet'st the arrow, and mak'st thy self his instrument; Thou sought'st the tentation, the tentation sought not thee; when we expose our selves to tentations, tentations hit us, that were not expresly directed, nor meant to us. And even then, when we begin to flie from tentations, the arrow overtakes us. 2 Reg 9.13Jehoram fled from Jehu, and Jehu shot after him, and shot him through the heart. But this was after Jehoram had talk'd with him. After wee have parled [Page 156] with a tentation, debated whether we should embrace it or no, and entertain'd some discourse with it, though some tendernesse, some remorse, make us turn our back upon it, and depart a little from it, yet the arrow overtakes us; some reclinations, some retrospects we have, a little of Lots wife is in us, a little sociablenesse, and conversation, a little point of honour, not to be false to former promises, a little false gratitude, and thankfulnesse, in respect of former obligations, a little of the compassion and charity of Hell, that another should not be miserable, for want of us, a little of this, which is but the good nature of the Devill, arrests us, stops us, fixes us, till the arrow, the tentation shoot us in the back, even when wee had a purpose of departing from that sin, and kils us over again. Thus it is, when we meet a tentation, and put our selves in the arrows way; And thus it is when we fly not fast enough, nor farre enough from a tentation. But when we doe all that, and provide as safely as we can to get, and doe get quickly out of distance, yet, Ps. 11.2.The wicked bend their bowes, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart; In occulto; It is a work of Darknesse, Detraction; and they can shoot in the dark; they can wound, and not be known. They can whisper Thunder, and passe an arrow through another mans eare, into mine heart; Let a man be zealous, and fervent in reprehension of sin, and there flies out an arrow, that gives him the wound of a Puritan. Let a man be zealous of the house of God, and say any thing by way of moderation, for the repairing of the ruines of that house, and making up the differences of the Church of God, and there flies out an arrow, that gives him the wound of a Papist. One shoots East, and another West, but both these arrows meet in him, that means well, to defame him. And this is the first misery in these arrows, these tentations, Quia alienae, they are shot from others, they are not in our own quiver, not in our own government.

Velocet.Another quality that tentations receive from the holy Ghosts Metaphore of arrows is, Quia veloces, because this captivity to sin, comes so swiftly, so impetuously upon us. Consider it first in our making; In the generation of our parents, we were conceiv'd in sin; that is, they sinn'd in that action; so we were conceiv'd in sinne; in their sin. And in our selves, we were submitted to sin, in that very act of generation, because then we became in part the subject of Originall sin. Yet, there was no arrow shot into us then; there was no sinne in that substance of which we were made; for if there had been sin in that substance, that substance might be damn'd, though God should never infuse a soul into it; and that cannot be said well then; God, whose goodnesse, and wisdome will have that substance to become a Man, he creates a soul for it, or creates a soul in it, (I dispute not that) he sends a light, or hee kindles a light, in that lanthorn; and here's no arrow shot neither; here's no sin in that soul, that God creates; for there God should create something that were evill; and that cannot be said; Here's no arrow shot from the body, no sin in the body alone; None from the soul, no sin in the soul alone; And yet, the union of this soul and body is so accompanied with Gods malediction for our first transgression, that in the instant of that union of life, as certainly as that body must die, so certainly the whole Man must be guilty of Originall sin. No man can tell me out of what Quiver, yet here is an arrow comes so swiftly, as that in the very first minute of our life, in our quickning in our mothers womb, wee become guilty of Adams sin done 6000 years before, and subject to all those arrows, Hunger, Labour, Grief, Sicknesse, and Death, which have been shot after it. This is the fearfull swiftnesse of this arrow, that God himself cannot get before it. In the first minute that my soul is infus'd, the Image of God is imprinted in my soul; so forward is God in my behalf, and so early does he visit me. But yet Originall sin is there, as soon as that Image of God is there. My soul is capable of God, as soon as it is capable of sin; and though sin doe not get the start of God, God does not get the start of sin neither. Powers, that dwell so far asunder, as Heaven, and Hell, God and the Devill, meet in an instant in my soul, in the minute of my quickning, and the Image of God, and the Image of Adam, Originall sin, enter into me at once, in one, and the same act. So swift is this arrow, Originall sin, from which, all arrows of subsequent tentations, are shot, as that God, who comes to my first minute of life, cannot come before death.

Invisibles.And then, a third, and last danger, which we noted in our tentations, as they are represented by the holy Ghost, in this Metaphore of arrows, is, that they are vix [Page 157] visibiles, hardly discernible. 'Tis true, that tentations doe not light upon us, as bullets, that we cannot see them, till we feel them. An arrow comes not altogether so: but an arrow comes so, as that it is not discern'd, except we consider which way it comes, and watch it all the way. An arrow, that findes a man asleep, does not wake him first, and wound him after; A tentation that findes a man negligent, possesses him, before be sees it. Ambros.In grautssimis criminibus, confinia virtutum ladunt; This is it that undoes us, that vertues and vices are contiguous, and borderers upon one another; and very often, we can hardly tell, to which action the name of vice, and to which the name of vertue appertains. Many times, that which comes within an inch of a noble action, fals under the infamy of an odious treason; At many executions, half the company will call a man an Heretique, and half, a Martyr. How often, an excesse, makes a naturall affection, an unnaturall disorder? Idem.Utinam aut sororem non amasset, Hamon, aut non vindicasset Absolon; Hamon lov'd his sister Tamar; but a little too well; Absolon hated his brothers incest, but a little too ill. Though love be good, and hate be good, respectively, yet, says S. Ambrose, I would neither that love, nor that hate had gone so far. The contract between Jonathan and David, was, 1 Sam. 10If I say, The arrow on this side of thee, all is wel; If I say, The arrow is beyond thee, thou art in an ill case. If the arrow, the tentation, be yet on this side of thee, if it have not lighted upon thee, thou art well; God hath directed thy face to it, and thou may'st, if thou wilt, continue thy diligence, watch it, and avoid it. But if the arrow be beyond thee, and thou have cast it at thy back, in a forgetfulnesse, in a security of thy sin, thy case is dangerous. In all these respects, are these arrows, these infirmities, deriv'd from the sin of Adam, dangerous, as they are alienae, in the hand of others, as they are veloces, swift in seising us, and as they are vix visibiles, hardly discern'd to be such; And these considerations fell within this first branch of this second part, Thine arrows, tentations, as they are arrows, stick fast in me.

Plures.These dangers are in them, as they are sagittae, arrows; and would be so, if they were but single arrows; any one tentation would endanger us, any one tribulation would encumber us; but they are plurall, arrows, and many arrows. A man is not safe, because one arrow hath mist him; nor though he be free from one sin. Jos.7.15In the execution of Achan, all Israel threw stones at him, and stoned him. If Achan had had some brother, or cousin amongst them, that would have flung over, or short, or weakly, what good had that done him, when he must stand the mark for all the rest? All Israel must stone him. A little disposition towards some one vertue, may keep thee from some one tentation; Thou mayst think it pity to corrupt a chast soul, and forbear soliciting her; pity to oppresse a submitting wretch, and forbear to vex him; and yet practise, and that with hunger and thirst, other sins, or those sins upon other persons. But all Israel stones thee; arrows flie from every corner; and thy measure is not, to thank God, that thou art not as the Publican, as some other man, but thy measure is, to be pure and holy, as thy father in heaven is pure, and holy, and to conform thy self in some measure, to thy pattern, Christ Jesus. Against him it is noted, that the Jews took up stones twice to stone him. Once, when they did it, Job.8.59.He went away and hid himself. Our way to scape these arrows, these tentations, is to goe out of the way, to abandon all occasions, and conversation, that may lead into tentation. In the other place, Christ stands to it, and disputes it out with them, and puts them from it by the scriptum est; and that's our safe shield, since we must necessarily live in the way of tentations, (for coluber in via, there is a snake in every path, tentation in every calling) still to receive all these arrowes, upon the shield of faith, still to oppose the scriptum est, the faithfull promises of God, that he will give us the issue with the tentation, when we cannot avoid the tentation it self. Otherwise, these arrows are so many, as would tire, and wear out, all the diligence, and all the constancy of the best morall man. Wee finde many mentions in the Scriptures of filling of quivers, and emptying of quivers, and arrows, and arrows, still in the plurall, many arrows. But in all the Bible, I think, we finde not this word, (as it signifies tentation, or tribulation) in the singular, one arrow, any where, but once, where David cals it, Psal.91.5The arrow that flies by day; And is seen, that is, known by every man; for, for that, the Fathers, and Ancients runne upon that Exposition, that that one arrow common to all, that dayarrow visible to all, is the naturall death; (so the Chalde paraphrase calls it there expresly, Sagitta mortis, The [Page 158] arrow of death) which every man knows to belong to every man; (for, as clearly as he sees the Sunne set, he sees his death before his eyes.) Therefore it is such an arrow, as the Prophet does not say, Thou shalt not feel, but, Thou shalt not feare the arrow that flies by day. The arrow, the singular arrow that flies by day, is that arrow that fals upon every man, death. But every where in the Scriptures, but this one place, they are plurall, many, so many, as that we know not whence, nor what they are. Nor ever does any man receive one arrow alone, any one tentation, but that he receives another tentation, to hide that, though with another, and another sin. And the use of arrows in the war, was not so much to kill, as to rout, and disorder a battail; and upon that routing, followed execution. Every tentation, every tribulation is not deadly. But their multiplicity disorders us, discomposes us, unsettles us, and so hazards us. Not onely every periodicall variation of our years, youth and age, but every day hath a divers arrow, every houre of the day, a divers tentation. An old man wonders then, how an arrow from an eye could wound him, when he was young, and how love could make him doe those things which hee did then; And an arrow from the tongue of inferiour people, that which we make shift to call honour, wounds him deeper now; and ambition makes him doe as strange things now, as love did then; A fair day shoots arrows of visits, and comedies, and conversation, and so wee goe abroad: and a foul day shoots arrows of gaming, or chambering, and wantonnesse, and so we stay at home. Nay, the same sin shoots arrows of presumption in God, before it be committed, and of distrust and diffidence in God after; we doe not fear before, and we cannot hope after: And this is that misery from this plurality, and multiplacity of these arrows, these manifold tentations, which David intends here, and as often as he speaks in the same phrase of plurality, vituli multi, many buls, canes multi, many dogs, and bellantes multi, many warlike enemies, and aquae multae, many deep waters compasse me. For as it is said of the spirit of wisdome, that it is unicus multiplex, manifoldly one, plurally singular: so the spirit of tentation in every soul is unicus multiplex, singularly plurall, rooted in some one beloved sin, but derived into infinite branches of tentation.

And then, these arrows stick in us; the raine fals, but that cold sweat hangs not upon us; Hail beats us, but it leaves no pockholes in our skin. These arrows doe not so fall about us, as that they misse us; nor so hit us, as they rebound back without hurting us: But we complain with Jeremy, The sons of his quiver are entred into our reins. The Roman Translation reads that filias, The daughters of his quiver; If it were but so, daughters, we might limit these arrows in the signification of tentations, by the many occasions of tentation; arising from that sex. But the Originall hath it filios, the sons of his quiver, and therefore we consider these arrows in a stronger signification, tribulations, as well as tentations; They stick in us; Consider it but in one kinde, diseases, sicknesses. They stick to us so, as that we are not sure, that any old diseases mentioned in Physicians books are worn out, but that every year produces new, of which they have no mention, we are sure. We can scarce expresse the number, scarce sound the names of the diseases of mans body; 6000 year hath scarce taught us what they are, how they affect us, how they shall be cur'd in us, nothing, on this side the Resurrection, can teach us. They stick to us so, as that they passe by inheritance, and last more generations in families, then the inheritance it self does; and when no land, no Manor, when no title, no honour descends upon the heir, the stone, or the gout descends upon him. And as though our bodies had not naturally diseases, and infirmities enow, we contract more, inflict more, (and that, out of necessity too) in mortifications, and macerations, and Disciplines of this rebellious flesh. I must have this body with me to heaven, or else salvation it self is not perfect; And yet I cannot have this body thither, except as S. Paul did his, I beat down this body, attenuate this body by mortification; Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? I have not body enough for my body, and I have too much body for my soul; not body enough, not bloud enough, not strength enough, to sustain my self in health, and yet body enough to destroy my soul, and frustrate the grace of God in that miserable, perplexed, riddling condition of man; sin makes the body of man miserable, and the remedy of sin, mortification, makes it miserable too; If we enjoy the good things of this world, Duriorem carcerem praeparamus, wee doe but carry an other wall about our prison, an other story of unwieldy flesh about our souls; and if wee give [Page 159] our selves as much mortification as our body needs, we live a life of fridays, and see no Sabbath, we make up our years of Lents, and see no other Easters, and whereas God meant us Paradise, we make all the world a wildernesse. Sin hath cast a curse upon all the creatures of the world, they are all worse then they were at first, and yet we dare not receive so much blessing, as is left in the creature, we dare not eat or drink, and enjoy them. The daughters of Gods quiver, and the sons of his quiver, the arrows of tentation, and the arrows of tribulation, doe so stick in us, that as he lives miserably, that lives in sicknes, and he as miserably, that lives in physick: so plenty is a misery, and mortification is a misery too; plenty, if we consider it in the effects, is a disease, a continuall sicknes, for it breeds diseases; And mortification, if we should consider it without the effects, is a disease too, a continuall hunger, and fasting; and if we consider it at best, and in the effects, mortification is but a continuall physick, which is misery enough.

They stick, and they stick fast; altè infixae; every syllable aggravates our misery. Now for the most part, experimentally, we know not whether they stick fast or no, for we never goe about to pull them out: these arrows, these tentations, come, and welcome: we are so far from offering to pull them out, that we fix them faster and faster in us; we assist our tentations: yea, we take preparatives and fomentations, we supple our selves by provocations, lest our flesh should be of proof against these arrows, that death may enter the surer, and the deeper into us by them. And he that does in some measure, soberly and religiously, goe about to draw out these arrows, yet never consummates, never perfects his own work; He pulls back the arrow a little way, and he sees blood, and he feels spirit to goe out with it, and he lets it alone: He forbears his sinfull companions, a little while, and he feels a melancholy take hold of him, the spirit and life of his life decays, and he falls to those companions again. Perchance he rushes out the arrow with a sudden, and a resolved vehemence, and he leaves the head in his body: He forces a divorce from that sinne, he removes himself out of distance of that tentation; and yet he surfets upon cold meat, upon the sinfull remembrance of former sins, which is a dangerous rumination, and an unwholesome chawing of the cud; It is not an ill derivation of repentance, that poenitere is poenam tenere; that's true repentance, when we continue in those means, which may advance our repentance. When Joash the King of Israel came to visit Elisha upon his sick bed, and to consult with him about his war, Elisha bids the King smite the ground, and he smites it thrice, and ceases: Then the man of God was angry, and said, Thou shouldst have smitten five or sixe times, and so thou shouldst have smitten thine enemies, till thou hadst consumed them. Now, how much hast thou to doe, that hast not pull'd at this arrow at all yet? Thou must pull thrice and more, before thou get it out; Thou must doe, and leave undone many things, before thou deliver thy selfe of that arrow, that sinne that transports thee. One of these arrows was shot into Saint Paul himselfe, and it stuck, and stuck fast; whether an arrow of tentation, or an arrow of tribulation, the Fathers cannot tell; And therefore, wee doe now, (not inconveniently) all our way, in this exercise, mingle these two considerations, of tentation, and tribulation. Howsoever Saint Paul pull'd thrice at this arrow, and could not get it out; I besought the Lord thrice, says he, that it might depart from mee. But yet, Joash his thrice striking of the ground, brought him some victory; Saint Pauls thrice praying, brought him in that provision of Grace, which God cals sufficient for him. Once pulling at these arrows, a slight consideration of thy sins will doe no good. Do it thrice; testifie some true desire by such a diligence; Doe it now as thou sitt'st, doe it again at the Table, doe it again in thy bed; Doe it thrice, doe it in thy purpose, do it in thine actions, doe it in thy constancy; Doe it thrice, within the wals of thy flesh, in thy self, within the wals of thy house in thy family, and in a holy and exemplar conversation abroad, and God will accomplish thy work, which is his work in thee; And though the arrow be not utterly pull'd out, yet it shall not fester, it shall not gangrene; Thou shalt not be cut off from the body of Christ, in his Church here, nor in the Triumphant Church hereafter, how fast soever these arrows did stick upon thee before. God did not refuse Israel for her wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores, though from the sole of the foot, to the crown of the head, but because those wounds were not closed, nor bound up, nor suppled with ointments, therefore he refused her. God shall not refuse any soul, because it hath been shot with these arrows; Alas, God himself hath set us up for a [Page 160] mark says Job, and so says Jeremy, against these arrows. But that soul that can pour out flouds of tears, for the losse, or for the absence, or for the unkindnes, or imagination of an unkindness of a friend, misbeloved, beloved a wrong way, and not afford one drop, one tear, to wash the wounds of these arrows, that soul that can squeaze the wound of Christ Jesus, and spit out his bloud in these blasphemous execrations, & shed no drop of this bloud upon the wounds of these arrows, that soul, and only that soul, that refuses a cure, does God refuse; not because they fell upon it, and stook, and stook fast, and stook long, but because they never, never went about to pull them out; never resisted a tentation, never lamented a transgression, never repented a recidivation.

Now this is more put home to us in the next addition, Infixae mihi, they stick, and stick fast, in mee, that is, in all mee. That that sin must be sav'd or damn'd; That's not the soul alone, nor body alone, but all, the whole man. God is the God of Abraham, as he is the God of the living; Therefore Abraham is alive; And Abraham is not alive, if his body be not alive; Alive actually in the person of Christ; alive in an infallible assurance of a particular resurrection. Whatsoever belongs to thee, belongs to thy body and soul; and these arrows stick fast in thee; In both. Consider it in both; in things belonging to the body and to the soul; We need clothing; Baptisme is Gods Wardrobe; there Induimur Christo; In Baptisme we put on Christ; there we are invested, apparell'd in Christ; And there comes an arrow, that cuts off half our garment, (as Hammon did Davids servants) A tentation that makes us think, it is enough to be baptized, to professe the name of Christ; for Papist, or Protestant, it is but the train of the garment, matter of civility, and policy, and government, and may be cut off, and the garment remain still. So we need meat, sustenance, and then an arrow comes, a tentation meets us, Edite, & bibite, Eat and drink, tomorrow you shall die; That there is no life, but this life, no blessednesse but in worldly abundances. If we need physick, and God offer us his physick, medicinall corrections, there flies an arrow, a tentation, Medice cura teipsum, that hee whom wee make our Physician, died himselfe, of an infamous disease, that Christ Jesus from whom we attend our salvation, could not save himself. In our clothing, in our diet, in our physick, things which carry our consideration upon the body, these arrowes stick fast in us, in that part of us. So in the more spirituall actions of our souls too. In our alms there are trumpets blowne, there's an arrow of vaineglory; In our fastings, there are disfigurings, there's an arrow of Hypocrisie; In our purity, there is contempt of others; there's an arrow of pride; In our coming to Church, there is custome and formality; In hearing Sermons, there is affection to the parts of the Preacher. In our sinfull actions these arrows abound; In our best actions they lie hid; And as thy soul is in every part of thy body, so these arrows are in every part of thee, body, and soul; they stick, and stick fast, in thee, in all thee.

And yet there is another weight upon us, in the Text, there is still a Hand that follows the blow, and presse it, Thy hand presses me sore; so the Vulgat read it, Confirmasti super me manum tuam, Thy hand is settled upon mee; and the Chalde paraphrase carries it farther then to man, Sit super me vulnus manus tua; Thy hand hath wounded mee, and that hand keeps the wound open. And in this sense the Apostle says, It is a fearfull thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But as God leaves not his children without correction, so he leaves them not without comfort, and therefore it behoves us to consider his hand upon these arrows, more then one way.

First, because his hand is upon the arrow, it shall certainly hit the mark; Gods purpose cannot be disappointed. If men, and such men, lefthanded men, and so many 700 left-handed men, and so many of one Tribe, 700 Benjamites, could sling stones at a hairs breadth, and not fail, God is a better Mark-man then the lefthanded Benjamites; his arrows alwayes hit as he intends them. Take them then for tribulation, his hand is upon them; Though they come from the malice of men, his hand is upon them. S. Ambrose observes, that in afflictions, Gods hand, and the Devils are but one hand. Stretch out thy hand, says Satan to God, concerning Job; And, all that he hath is in thy hand, says God to Satan. Stretch out thy hand, and touch his bones, says Satan again to God; And again, God to Satan, He is in thy hand, but touch not his life. A difference may be, that when Gods purpose is but to punish, as he did Pharaoh, in those [Page 161] severall premonitory plagues, there it is Digitus Dei; It was but a finger, and Gods finger. When Balshazzar was absolutely to be destroyed, there were Digiti, and Manus hominis, mens fingers, and upon a mans hand. The arrows of men are ordinary, more venimous, and more piercing, then the arrows of God. But as it is in that story of Elisha, and Joash, The Prophet bade the King shoot, but Elisha laid his hand upon the Kings hand; So from what instrument of Satan soever, thy affliction come, Gods hand is upon their hand that shoot it, and though it may hit the mark according to their purpose, yet it hath the effect, and it works according to his.

Yea, let this arrow be considered as a tentation, yet his hand is upon it; at least God sees the shooting of it, and yet lets it flie. Either hee tries us by these arrows, what proof we are; Or he punishes us by those arrows of new sins, for our former sins; and so, when he hath lost one arrow, he shoots another. He shoots a sermon, and that arrow is lost; He shoots a sicknesse, and that arrow is lost; He shoots a sin; not that he is authour of any sin, as sin; but as sin is a punishment of sin, he concurs with it. And so he shoots arrow after arrow, permits sin after sin, that at last some sin, that draws affliction with it, might bring us to understanding; for that word, in which the Prophet here expresses this sticking, and this fast sticking of these arrows, which is Nachath, is here, (as the Grammarians in that language call it) in Niphal, figere factae, they were made to stick; Gods hand is upon them, the work is his, the arrows are his, and the sticking of them is his, whatsoever, and whosesoever they be.

His hand shoots the arrow, as it is a tribulation, he limits it, whosoever inflict it. His hand shoots it, as it is a tentation; He permits it, & he orders it, whosoever offer it. But it is especially from his hand, as it hath a medicinall nature in it; for in every tentation, and every tribulation, there is a Catechisme, and Instruction; nay, there is a Canticle, a love-song, an Epithalamion, a mariage song of God, to our souls, wrapped up, if wee would open it, and read it, and learn that new tune, that musique of God; So when thou hear st Nathans words to David, The child that is born unto thee, shall surely die, (let that signifie, the children of thy labour, and industry, thy fortune, thy state shall perish) so when thou hear'st Gods word to David, Choose famine, or war, or pestilence, for the people, (let that signifie, those that depend upon thee, shal perish) so when thou hear'st Esays words to Hezekiah, Put thy house in order, for thou shalt die; (let that signifie, thou thy self in person shalt perish) so when thou hear'st all the judgements of God, as they lie in the body of the Scriptures, so the applications of those judgements, by Gods Ministers, in these services, upon emergent occasions, all these are arrows shot by the hand of God, and that child of God, that is accustomed to the voice, and to the ear of God, to speak with him in prayer, when God speaks to him, in any such voice here, as that to David, or Hezekiah, though this be a shooting of arrows, Non sugabit eum vir sagittarius, The arrow, (as we read it) The Archer, (as the Romane Edition reades it) cannot make that child of God afraid, afraid with a distrustfull fear, or make him loth to come hither again to hear more, how close soever Gods arrow, and Gods archer, that is, his word in his servants mouth, come to that Conscience now, nor make him misinterpret that which he does hear, or call that passion in the Preacher, in which the Preacher is but sagittarius Dei, the deliverer of Gods arrows; for Gods arrows, are sagitta Compunctionis, arrows that draw bloud from the eyes; Tears of repentance from Mary Magdalen, and from Peter; And when from thee? There is a probatum est in S. Aug. Sagittaveras cor meum, Thou hast shot at my heart; and how wrought that? To the withdrawing of his tongue, à nundinis loquacitatis, from that market in which I sold my self, (for S. Aug. at that time taught Rhetorique) to turn the stream of his eloquence, and all his other good parts, upon the service of God in his Church. You may have read, or heard that answer of a Generall, who was threatned with that danger; that his enemies arrows were so many, as that they would cover the Sun from him; In umbra pugnabimus; All the better, says he, for then we shall fight in the shadow. Consider all the arrows of tribulation, even of tentation, to be directed by the hand of God, and never doubt to fight it out with God, to lay violent hands upon heaven, to wrastle with God for a blessing, to charge and presse God upon his contracts and promises, for in umbra pugnabis, though the clouds of these arrows may hide all suns of worldly comforts from thee, yet thou art still under the shadow of his wings. Nay, thou art still, for all this shadow, in the light of his countenance. To [Page 162] which purpose there is an excellent use of this Metaphor of arrows, Habak. 3. 11. where it is said, that Gods servants shall have the light of his arrows, and the shining of his glittering spear: that is, the light of his presence, in all the instruments, and actions of his corrections.

Preached at Lincolns Inne.

[Page 191]

And because some of those woes, those Judgements, those burdens, did not always fall upon that people presently, they came to mock the Prophets, and say to them, Jer. 13. 23.Now, what is the burden of she Lord, What Burden have you to preach to us, and to talke of now Say unto them, says God to the Prophet there; This is the Burden of the Lord, I will even forsake you. And, as it is elegantly, emphatically, vehemently added, Every mans word shall be his burden; That which he says, shall be that that shall be laid to his charge; His scorning, his idle questioning of the Prophet, What burden now, what plague, what famine, what warre now? Is not all well for all your crying The burden of the Lord? Every mans word shall be his burden,ver. 36. the deriding of Gods Ordinance, and of the denouncing of his Judgements in that Ordinance shall be their burden, that is, aggravate those Judgements upon them, Nay, there is a heavyer weight then that, added; ver. 38.Ye shall say no more (says God to the Prophet) the burden of the Lord, that is, you shall not bestow so much care upon this people, as to tell them, that the Lord threatens them. Gods presence in anger, and in punishments, is a heavy, but Gods absence, and dereliction, a much heavyer burden; As (if extremes will admit comparison) the everlasting losse of the fight of God in hell, is a greater torment, then any lakes of inextinguishable Brimstone, then any gnawing of the incessant worme, then any gnashing of teeth can present unto us.

This is a selection from the original text


camp, death, history, pestilence, remedy, thief

Source text

Title: Fifty Sermons

Author: John Donne

Publisher: Ja. Flesher

Publication date: 1649

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: Wing / D1862 Physical description: [8], 474 p. Copy from: Harvard University Library Reel position: Wing / 1526:04

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Donne

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) : tp, sermons X (p.76 – for covetousness ... rise from it), XIX (image 83-7, David in a rectified conscience ... his corrections), XXII (image 101 – And because some of those woes ... present to us)


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > non-fiction prose > religion: sermons

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.