The Literary Remains Of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Edited By Henry Nelson Coleridge
Part 2 out of 7
Testament, and the Apocrypha, and his comment on the Apocalypse; to all
which my notes and your own previous studies will supply whatever
antidote is wanting;--these will suffice for your Biblical learning, and
teach you to attach no more than the supportable weight to these and
such like outward evidences of our holy and spiritual religion.
So having done, you will be in point of professional knowledge such a
clergyman as will make glad the heart of your loving father,
S. T. COLERIDGE.
N. B.--See Book iv Chap. 7, p. 351, both for a masterly confutation of
the Paleyo-Grotian evidences of the Gospel, and a decisive proof in what
light that system was regarded by the Church of England in its best age.
Like Grotius himself, it is half way between Popery and Socinianism.
B. i. c. 3. p. 5.
But men desired only to be like unto God in omniscience and the
general knowledge of all things which may be communicated to a
creature, as in Christ it is to his human soul.
Surely this is more than doubtful; and even the instance given is
irreconcilable with Christ's own assertion concerning the last day,
which must be understood of his human soul, by all who hold the faith
delivered from the foundation, namely, his deity. Field seems to have
excerpted this incautiously from the Schoolmen, who on this premiss
could justify the communicability of adoration, as in the case of the
saints. Omniscience, it may be proved, implies omnipotence. The fourth
of the arguments in this section, and, as closely connected with it, the
first (only somewhat differently stated) seem the strongest, or rather
the only ones. For the second is a mere anticipation of the fourth, and
all that is true in the third is involved in it.
Ib. c. 5. p. 9.
And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them
That is, I humbly apprehend, in other than the Hebrew and Syrochaldaic
languages, which (with rare and reluctant exceptions in favor of the
Greek) were appropriated to public prayer and exhortation, just as the
Latin in the Romish Church. The new converts preached and prayed, each
to his companions in his and their dialect;--they were all Jews, but had
assembled from all the different provinces of the Roman and Parthian
empires, as the Quakers among us to the yearly meeting in London; this
was a sign, not a miracle. The miracle consisted in the visible and
audible descent of the Holy Ghost, and in the fulfilment of the prophecy
of Joel, as explained by St. Peter himself. 'Acts' ii. 15.
'Aliud est etymologia nominis et aliud significatio nominis.
Etymologia attenditur secundum id it quo imponitur nomen ad
significandum: nominis vero significatio secundum id ad quod
This passage from Aquinas would be an apt motto for a critique on
Horne Tooke's Diversions of Purley. The best service of etymology is,
when the sense of a word is still unsettled, and especially when two
words have each two meanings; A=a-b, and B=a-b, instead of A=a and
B=b. Thus reason and understanding as at present popularly confounded.
Here the 'etyma,--ratio,' the relative proportion of thoughts and
things,--and understanding, as the power which substantiates
'phaenomena (substat eis)'--determine the proper sense. But most often
the 'etyma' being equivalent, we must proceed 'ex arbitrio,' as 'law
compels,' 'religion obliges;' or take up what had been begun in some
one derivative. Thus 'fanciful' and 'imaginative,' are
discriminated;--and this supplies the ground of choice for giving to
fancy and imagination, each its own sense. Cowley is a fanciful
writer, Milton an imaginative poet. Then I proceed with the
distinction, how ill fancy assorts with imagination, as instanced in
Milton's Limbo. 
I should rather express the difference between the faithful of the
Synagogue and those of the Church, thus:--That the former hoped
generally by an implicit faith;--"It shall in all things be well with
all that love the Lord; therefore it cannot but be good for us and well
with us to rest with our forefathers." But the Christian hath an assured
hope by an explicit and particular faith, a hope because its object is
future, not because it is uncertain. The one was on the road journeying
toward a friend of his father's, who had promised he would be kind to
him even to the third and fourth generation. He comforts himself on the
road, first, by means of the various places of refreshment, which that
friend had built for travellers and continued to supply; and secondly,
by anticipation of a kind reception at the friend's own mansion-house.
But the other has received an express invitation to a banquet, beholds
the preparations, and has only to wash and put on the proper robes, in
order to sit down.
Ib. p. 11.
The reason why our translators, in the beginning, did choose rather to
use the word 'congregation' than 'Church,' was not, as the adversary
maliciously imagineth, for that they feared the very name of the
Church; but because as by the name of religion and religious men,
ordinarily in former times, men understood nothing but _factitias
religiones_, as Gerson out of Anselme calleth them, that is, the
professions of monks and friars, so, &c.
For the same reason the word 'religion' for [Greek: Thraeskia] in St.
James  ought now to be altered to ceremony or ritual. The whole
version has by change of language become a dangerous mistranslation, and
furnishes a favorite text to our moral preachers, Church Socinians and
other christened pagans now so rife amongst us. What was the substance
of the ceremonial law is but the ceremonial part of the Christian
religion; but it is its solemn ceremonial law, and though not the same,
yet one with it and inseparable, even as form and substance. Such is St.
James's doctrine, destroying at one blow Antinomianism and the Popish
popular doctrine of good works.
Ib. c. 18. p. 27.
But if the Church of God remains in Corinth, where there were
'divisions, sects, emulations', &c. ... who dare deny those societies
to be the Churches of God, wherein the tenth part of these horrible
evils and abuses is not to be found?
It is rare to meet with sophistry in this sound divine; but here he
seems to border on it. For first the Corinthian Church upon admonition
repented of its negligence; and secondly, the objection of the Puritans
was, that the constitution of the Church precluded discipline.
B. II. c. 2. p. 31.
'Miscreant' is twice used in this page in its original sense of
Ib. c. 4. p. 35.
'Discourse' is here used for the discursive acts of the understanding,
even as 'discursive, is opposed to 'intuitive' by Milton  and others.
Thus understand Shakspeare's "discourse of reason" for those discursions
of mind which are peculiar to rational beings.
B. III. c. 1.p. 53.
The first publishers of the Gospel of Christ delivered a rule of faith
to the Christian Churches which they founded, comprehending all those
articles that are found in that 'epitome' of Christian religion, which
we call the Apostles' Creed.
This needs proof. I rather believe that the so called Apostles' Creed
was really the Creed of the Roman or Western church, (and possibly in
its present form, the catechismal rather than the baptismal creed),--and
that other churches in the East had Creeds equally ancient, and, from
their being earlier troubled with Anti Trinitarian heresies, more
express on the divinity of Christ than the Roman.
Ib. p. 58.
Fourthly, that it is no less absurd to say, as the Papists do, that
our satisfaction is required as a condition, without which Christ's
satisfaction is not appliable unto us, than to say, Peter hath paid
the debt of John, and he to whom it was due accepteth of the same
payment, conditionally if he pay it himself also.
This  propriation of a metaphor, namely, forgiveness of sin and
abolition of guilt through the redemptive power of Christ's love and of
his perfect obedience during his voluntary assumption of humanity,
expressed, on account of the sameness of the consequences in both cases,
by the payment of a debt for another, which debt the payer had not
himself incurred,--the propriation of this, I say, by transferring the
sameness from the consequents to the antecedents is the one point of
orthodoxy (so called, I mean) in which I still remain at issue. It seems
to me so evidently a [Greek: metabasis eis allo genos.] A metaphor is an
illustration of something less known by a more or less partial
identification of it with something better understood. Thus St. Paul
illustrates the consequences of the act of redemption by four different
metaphors drawn from things most familiar to those, for whom it was to
be illustrated, namely, sin-offerings or sacrificial expiation;
reconciliation; ransom from slavery; satisfaction of a just creditor by
vicarious payment of the debt. These all refer to the consequences of
Now, St. John without any metaphor declares the mode by and in which it
is effected; for he identifies it with a fact, not with a consequence,
and a fact too not better understood in the one case than in the other,
namely, by generation and birth. There remains, therefore, only the
redemptive act itself, and this is transcendant, ineffable, and 'a
fortiori', therefore, inexplicable. Like the act of primal apostasy, it
is in its own nature a mystery, known only through faith in the spirit.
James owes John L100, which (to prevent James's being sent to prison)
Henry pays for him; and John has no longer any claim. But James is cruel
and ungrateful to Mary, his tender mother. Henry, though no relation,
acts the part of a loving and dutiful son to Mary. But will this satisfy
the mother's claims on James, or entitle him to her esteem, approbation,
and blessing? If, indeed, by force of Henry's example or persuasion, or
any more mysterious influence, James repents and becomes himself a good
and dutiful child, then, indeed, Mary is wholly satisfied; but then the
case is no longer a question of debt in that sense in which it can be
paid by another, though the effect, of which alone St. Paul was
speaking, is the same in both cases to James as the debtor, and to James
as the undutiful son. He is in both cases liberated from the burthen,
and in both cases he has to attribute his exoneration to the act of
another; as cause simply in the payment of the debt, or as likewise
'causa causae' in James's reformation. Such is my present opinion: God
grant me increase of light either to renounce or confirm it.
Perhaps the different terms of the above position may be more clearly
1. 'agens causator'
2. 'actus causativus:'
3. 'effectus causatus:'
4. 'consequentia ab effecto.'
1. The co-eternal Son of the living God, incarnate, tempted, crucified,
resurgent, communicant of his spirit, ascendant, and obtaining for his
church the descent of the Holy Ghost.
2. A spiritual and transcendant mystery.
3. The being born anew, as before in the flesh to the world, so now in
the spirit to Christ: where the differences are, the spirit opposed to
the flesh, and Christ to the world; the 'punctum indifferens', or
combining term, remaining the same in both, namely, a birth.
4. Sanctification from sin and liberation from the consequences of sin,
with all the means and process of sanctification, being the same for the
sinner relatively to God and his own soul, as the satisfaction of a
creditor for a debt, or as the offering of an atoning sacrifice for a
transgressor of the law; as a reconciliation for a rebellious son or a
subject to his alienated parent or offended sovereign; and as a ransom
is for a slave in a heavy captivity.
Now my complaint is that our systematic divines transfer the paragraph 4
to the paragraphs 2 and 3, interpreting 'proprio sensu et ad totum 'what
is affirmed 'sensu metaphorico et ad partem', that is, 'ad consequentia
a regeneratione effecta per actum causativum primi agentis, uempe
[Greek: Logou] redemptoris', and by this interpretation substituting an
identification absolute for an equation proportional.
4th May, 1819.
Ib. p. 62.
Personality is nothing but the existence of nature itself.
God alone had his nature in himself; that is, God alone contains in
himself the ground of his own existence. But were this definition of
Field's right, we might predicate personality of a worm, or wherever we
find life. Better say,--personality is individuality existing in itself,
but with a nature as its ground.
Accursing Eutyches as a heretic.
It puzzles me to understand what sense Field gave to the word, heresy.
Surely every slight error, even though persevered in, is not to be held
a heresy, or its asserters accursed. The error ought at least to respect
some point of faith essential to the great ends of the Gospel. Thus the
phrase 'cursing Eutyches,' is to me shockingly unchristian. I could not
dare call even the opinion cursed, till I saw how it injured the faith
in Christ, weakened our confidence in him, or lessened our love and
'If ye be circumcised ye are fallen from grace, and Christ
can profit you nothing.'
It seems impossible but that these words had a relation to the
particular state of feeling and belief, out of which the anxiety to be
circumcised did in those particular persons proceed, and not absolutely,
and at all times to the act itself, seeing that St. Paul himself
circumcised Timothy from motives of charity and prudence.
Ib. c.3. p.76.
The things that pertain to the Christian faith and religion are of two
sorts; for there are some things 'explicite', some things
'implicite credenda'; that is, there are some things that must be
particularly and expressly known and believed, as that the Father is
God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost God, and yet they are not three
Gods but one God; and some other, which though all men, at all times,
be not bound upon the peril of damnation to know and believe
expressly, yet whosoever will be saved must believe them at least
'implicite', and in generality, as that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus
fled into Egypt.
Merciful Heaven! Eternal misery and the immitigable wrath of God, and
the inextinguishable fire of hell amid devils, parricides, and haters of
God and all goodness--this is the verdict which a Protestant divine
passes against the man, who though sincerely believing the whole Nicene
creed and every doctrine and precept taught in the New Testament, and
living accordingly, should yet have convinced himself that the first
chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke were not parts of the original
So in the beginning, Nestorius did not err, touching the unity of
Christ's person in the diversity of the natures of God and man; but
only disliked that Mary should be called the mother of God: which form
of speaking when some demonstrated to be very fitting and unavoidable,
if Christ were God and man in the unity of the same person, he chose
rather to deny the unity of Christ's person than to acknowledge his
temerity and rashness in reproving that form of speech, which the use
of the church had anciently received and allowed.
A false charge grounded on a misconception of the Syriac terms.
Nestorius was perfectly justifiable in his rejection of the epithet
[Greek: theotokos], as applied to the mother of Jesus. The Church was
even then only too ripe for the idolatrous 'hyper-dulia' of the
Virgin. Not less weak is Field's defence of the propriety of the term.
Set aside all reference to this holy mystery, and let me ask, I trust
without offence, whether by the same logic a mule's dam might not be
called [Greek: hippotokos], because the horse and ass were united in one
and the same subject. The difference in the perfect God and perfect man
does not remove the objection: for an epithet, which conceals half of a
truth, the power and special concerningness of which, relatively to our
redemption by Christ, depends on our knowledge of the whole, is a
deceptive and a dangerously deceptive epithet.
Ib. c.20. p.110.
Thus, then, the Fathers did sometimes, when they had particular
occasions to remember the Saints, and to speak of them, by way of
'apostrophe', turn themselves unto them, and use words of
doubtful compellation, praying them, if they have any sense of these
inferior things, to be remembrancers to God for them.
The distinct gradations of the process, by which commemoration and
rhetorical apostrophes passed finally into idolatry, supply an analogy
of mighty force against the heretical 'hypothesis 'of the modern
Unitarians. Were it true, they would have been able to have traced the
progress of the Christolatry from the lowest sort of 'Christodulia'
with the same historical distinctness against the universal Church, that
the Protestants have that of hierolatry against the Romanists. The
gentle and soft censures which our divines during the reign of the
Stuarts pass on the Roman Saint worship, or hieroduly, as an
inconvenient superstition, must needs have alarmed the faithful
adherents to the Protestantism of Edward VI. and the surviving exiles of
bloody Queen Mary's times, and their disciples.
The miracles that God wrought in times past by them made many to
attribute more to them than was fit, as if they had a generality of
presence, knowledge, and working; but the wisest and best advised
never durst attribute any such thing unto them.
To a truly pious mind awfully impressed with the surpassing excellency
of God's ineffable love to fallen man, in the revelation of himself to
the inner man through the reason and conscience by the spiritual light
and substantiality--(for the conscience is to the spirit or reason what
the understanding is to the sense, a substantiative power); this
consequence of miracles is so fearful, that it cannot but redouble his
zeal against that fashion of modern theologists which would convert
miracles from a motive to attention and solicitous examination, and at
best from a negative condition of revelation, into the positive
foundation of Christian faith.
Ib. c.22. p.116.
But if this be as vile a slander as ever Satanist devised, the Lord
reward them that have been the authors and advisers of it according
to their works.
O no! no! this the good man did not utter from his heart, but from his
passion. A vile and wicked slander it was and is. O may God have turned
the hearts of those who uttered it, or may it be among their unknown
sins done in ignorance, for which the infinite merits of Christ may
satisfy! I am most assured that if Dr. Field were now alive, or if any
one had but said this to him, he would have replied--"I thank thee,
brother, for thy Christian admonition. Add thy prayer, and pray God to
forgive me my inconsiderate zeal!"
Ib. c. 23. p. 119.
For what rectitude is due to the specifical act of hating God? or what
rectitude is it capable of?
Is this a possible act to any man understanding by the word God what we
mean by God?
Ib. p. 129.
It is this complicated dispute, as to the origin and permission of evil,
which supplies to atheism its most plausible, because its only moral,
arguments; but more especially to that species of atheism which existed
in Greece in the form of polytheism, admitting moral and intelligent
shapers and governors of the world, but denying an intelligent ground,
or self-conscious Creator of the universe; their gods being themselves
the offspring of chaos and necessity, that is, of matter and its
essential laws or properties.
The Leibnitzian distinction of the Eternal Reason, or nature of God,
[Greek: to theion](the [Greek: nous kai anagkae] of Timaeus Locrus) from
the will or personal attributes of God--([Greek: thelaema kai
boulaesis--agathou patros agathon boulaema])--planted the germ of the
only possible solution, or rather perhaps, in words less exceptionable
and more likely to be endured in the schools of modern theology, brought
forward the truth involved in Behmen's too bold distinction of God and
the ground of God;--who yet in this is to be excused, not only for his
good aim and his ignorance of scholastic terms, but likewise because
some of the Fathers expressed themselves no less crudely in the other
extreme; though it is not improbable that the meaning was the same in
At least Behmen constantly makes self-existence a positive act, so as
that by an eternal [Greek: perich_oraesis] or mysterious
intercirculation God wills himself out of the 'ground' ([Greek: to
theion--to hen kai pan],--'indifferentia absoluta realitatis infinitae et
infinitae potentialitatis')--and again by his will, as God existing,
gives being to the ground, [Greek: autogenaes--autophylaes--uhios
heautou]. 'Solus Deus est;--itaque principium, qui ex seipso dedit sibi
ipse principium. Deus ipse sui origo est, suaeque causa substantiae, id
quod est, ex se et in se continens. Ex seipso procreatus ipse se fecit',
&c., of Synesius, Jerome, Hilary, and Lactantius and others involve the
Ib. c. 27. p. 140.
The seventh is the heresy of Sabellius, which he saith was revived by
Servetus. So it was indeed, that Servetus revived in our time the
damnable heresy of Sabellius, long since condemned in the first ages
of the Church. But what is that to us? How little approbation he found
amongst us, the just and honourable proceeding against him at Geneva
will witness to all posterity.
Shocking as this act must and ought to be to all Christians at present;
yet this passage and a hundred still stronger from divines and Church
letters contemporary with Calvin, prove Servetus' death not to be
Calvin's guilt especially, but the common 'opprobrium' of all
European Christendom,--of the Romanists whose laws the Senate of Geneva
followed, and from fear of whose reproaches (as if Protestants favoured
heresy) they executed them,--and of the Protestant churches who
applauded the act and returned thanks to Calvin and the Senate for
Ib. c. 30. p. 143.
The twelfth heresy imputed to us is the heresy of Jovinian, concerning
whom we must observe, that Augustine ascribeth unto him two opinions
which Hierome mentioneth not; who yet was not likely to spare him, if
he might truly have been charged with them. The first, that Mary
ceased to be a virgin when she had borne Christ; the second, that all
sins are equal.
Neither this nor that is worthy the name of opinion; it is mere
unscriptural, nay, anti-scriptural gossiping. Are we to blame, or not
rather to praise, the anxiety manifested by the great divines of the
church of England under the Stuarts not to remove further than necessary
from the Romish doctrines? Yet one wishes a bolder method; for example,
as to Mary's private history after the conception and birth of Christ,
we neither know nor care about it.
Ib. c. 31. p. 146.
For the opinions wherewith Hierome chargeth him, this we briefly
answer. First, if he absolutely denied that the Saints departed do
pray for us, as it seemeth he did by Hierome's reprehension, we think
Yet not heretically; and if he meant only that we being wholly ignorant,
whether they do or no, ought to act as if we knew they did not, he is
perfectly right; for whatever ye do, do it in faith. As to the ubiquity
of saints, it is Jerome who is the heretic, nay, idolater, if he reduced
his opinion to practice. It perplexes me, that Field speaks so
doubtingly on a matter so plain as the incommunicability of
Ib. c. 32. p. 147.
Touching the second objection, that Bucer and Calvin deny original
sin, though not generally, as did Zuinglius, yet at least in the
children of the faithful. If he had said that these men affirm the
earth doth move, and the heavens stand still, he might have as soon
justified it against them, as this he now saith.
Very noticeable. A similar passage occurs even so late as in Sir Thomas
Brown, just at the dawn of the Newtonian system, and after Kepler. What
a lesson of diffidence! 
Ib. p. 148.
For we do not deny the distinction of venial and mortal sins; but do
think, that some sins are rightly said to be mortal and some venial;
not for that some are worthy of eternal punishment and therefore named
mortal, others of temporal only, and therefore judged venial as the
Papists imagine: but for that some exclude grace out of that man in
which they are found and so leave him in a state wherein he hath
nothing in himself that can or will procure him pardon: and other,
which though in themselves considered, and never remitted, they be
worthy of eternal punishment, yet do not so far prevail as to banish
grace, the fountain of remission of all misdoings.
Would not the necessary consequence of this be, that there are no
actions that can be pronounced mortal sins by mortals; and that what we
might fancy venial might in individual cases be mortal and 'vice
First, because every offence against God may justly be punished by him
in the strictness of his righteous judgments with eternal death, yea,
with annihilation; which appeareth to be most true, for that there is
no punishment so evil, and so much to be avoided, as the least sin
that may be imagined. So that a man should rather choose eternal
death, yea, utter annihilation, than commit the least offence in the
I admit this to be Scriptural; but what is wanted is, clearly to state
the difference between eternal death and annihilation. For who would not
prefer the latter, if the former mean everlasting misery?
Ib. c. 41. p. 62.
But he will say, Cyprian calleth the Roman Church the principal Church
whence sacerdotal unity hath her spring; hereunto we answer, that the
Roman Church, not in power of overruling all, but in order is the
first and principal; and that therefore while she continueth to hold
the truth, and encroacheth not upon the right of other Churches, she
is to have the priority; but that in either of these cases she may be
forsaken without breach of that unity, which is essentially required
in the parts of the Church.
This is too large a concession. The real ground of the priority of the
Roman see was that Rome, for the first three or perhaps four centuries,
was the metropolis of the Christian world. Afterwards for the very same
reason the Patriarch of New Rome or Constantinople claimed it; and never
ceased to assert at least a co-equality. Had the Apostolic foundation
been the cause, Jerusalem and Antioch must have had priority; not to add
that the Roman Church was not founded by either Paul or Peter as is
evident from the epistle to the Romans.
Append. B. III. p. 205.
I do not think the attack on Transubstantiation the most successful
point of the orthodox Protestant controversialists. The question is,
what is meant in Scripture, as in 'John' vi. by Christ's body or flesh
and blood. Surely not the visible, tangible, accidental body, that is, a
cycle of images and sensations in the imagination of the beholders; but
his supersensual body, the 'noumenon' of his human nature which was
united to his divine nature.
In this sense I understand the Lutheran ubiquity. But may not the
"oblations" referred to by Field in the old canon of the Mass, have
meant the alms, offerings always given at the Eucharist? If by
"substance" in the enunciation of the article be meant 'id quod vere
est', and if the divine nature be the sole 'ens vere ens', then it is
possible to give a philosophically intelligible sense to Luther's
doctrine of consubstantiation; at least to a doctrine that might bear
the same name;--at all events the mystery is not greater than, if it be
not rather the same as, the assumption of the human by the divine
Now for the possible conception of this we must accurately discriminate
the 'incompossibile negativum' from the 'incompatibile privativum'. Of
the latter are all positive imperfections, as error, vice, and evil
passions; of the former simple limitation.
Thus if '(per impossible)' human nature could make itself sinless and
perfect, it would become or pass into God; and if God should abstract
from human nature all imperfection, it might without impropriety be
affirmed, even as Scripture doth affirm, that God assumed or took up
into himself the human nature.
Thus, to use a dim similitude and merely as a faint illustration, all
materiality abstracted from a circle, it would become space, and though
not infinite, yet one with infinite space. The mystery of omnipresence
greatly aids this conception; 'totus in omni parte': and in truth this
is the divine character of all the Christian mysteries, that they aid
each other, and many incomprehensibles render each of them, in a certain
qualified sense, less incomprehensible.
Ib. p. 208.
But first, it is impious to think of destroying Christ in any sort.
For though it be true, that in sacrificing of Christ on the altar of
the cross, the destroying and killing of him was implied, and this his
death was the life of the world, yet all that concurred to the killing
of him, as the Jews, the Roman soldiers, Pilate, and Judas sinned
damnably, and so had done, though they had shed his blood with an
intention and desire, that by it the world might be redeemed.
Is not this going too far? Would it not imply almost that Christ himself
could not righteously sacrifice himself, especially when we consider
that the Romanists would have a right to say, that Christ himself had
commanded it? But Bellarmine's conceit  is so absurd that it scarce
deserves the compliment of a serious confutation. For if sacramental
being be opposed to natural or material, as 'noumenon' to 'phaenomenon',
place is no attribute or possible accident of it 'in se'; consequently,
no alteration of place relatively to us can affect, much less destroy,
it; and even were it otherwise, yet translocation is not destruction;
for the body of Christ, according to themselves, doth indeed nourish our
souls, even as a fish eaten sustains another fish, but yet with this
essential difference, that it ceases not to be and remain itself, and
instead of being converted converts; so that truly the only things
sacrificed in the strict sense are all the evil qualities or
deficiencies which divide our souls from Christ.
Ib. p. 218.
That which we do is done in remembrance of that which was then done;
for he saith, 'Do this in remembrance of me.'
This is a 'metastasis' of Scripture. 'Do this in remembrance of
me', that is, that which Christ was then doing. But Christ was not
then suffering, or dying on the cross.
That the Saints do pray for us 'in genere', desiring God to be
merciful to us, and to do unto us whatsoever in any kind he knoweth
needful for our good, there is no question made by us.
To have placed this question in its true light, so as to have allowed
the full force to the Scriptures asserting the communion of Saints and
the efficacy of their intercession without undue concessions to the
'hierolatria' of the Romish church, would have implied an
acquaintance with the science of transcendental analysis, and an insight
into the philosophy of ideas not to be expected in Field, and which was
then only dawning in the mind of Lord Bacon. The proper reply to Brerely
would be this: the communion and intercession of Saints is an idea, and
must be kept such. But the Romish church has changed it away into the
detail of particular and individual conceptions, and imaginations, into
names and fancies.
N.B. Instead of the 'Roman Catholic' read throughout in this and all
other works, and everywhere and on all occasions, unless where the
duties of formal courtesy forbid, say, the 'Romish anti-Catholic
Church;' Romish--to mark that the corruptions in discipline, doctrine
and practice do for the worst and far larger part owe both their origin
and their perpetuation to the court and local tribunals of the city of
Rome, and are not and never have been the catholic, that is, universal
faith of the Roman empire, or even of the whole Latin or Western church;
and anti-Catholic,--because no other Church acts on so narrow and
excommunicative a principle, or is characterized by such a jealous
spirit of monopoly and particularism, counterfeiting catholicity by a
negative totality and heretical self-circumscription, cutting off, or
cutting herself off from, all the other members of Christ's Body.
12th March, 1824.
It is of the utmost importance, wherever clear and distinct conceptions
are required, to make out in the first instance whether the term in
question, or the main terms of the question in dispute, represents or
represent a fact or class of facts simply, or some self-established and
previously known idea or principle, of which the facts are instances and
realizations, or which is introduced in order to explain and account for
the facts. Now the term 'merits,' as applied to Abraham and the saints,
belongs to the former. It is a mere 'nomen appellativum' of the
Ib. c. 5. p. 252.
The Papists and we agree that original sin is the privation of
original righteousness; but they suppose there was in nature without
that addition of grace, a power to do good, &c.
Nothing seems wanting to this argument but a previous definition and
explanation of the term, 'nature.' Field appears to have seen the truth,
namely, that nature itself is a peccant (I had almost said an unnatural)
state, or rather no State at all, [Greek: ou stasis all' apostasis].
Ib. c. 6. p. 269.
And surely the words of Augustine do not import that she had no sin,
but that she overcame it, which argueth a conflict; neither doth he
say he will acknowledge she was without sin, but that he will not move
any question touching her, in this dispute of sins and sinners.
Why not say at once, that this anti-Scriptural superstition had already
begun? I scarcely know whether to be pleased or grieved with that edging
on toward the Roman creed, that exceeding, almost Scriptural, tenderness
for the divines of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, which
distinguishes the Church of England dignitaries, from Elizabeth
inclusively to our Revolution in 1688, from other Protestants.
Ib. c. 10. p. 279.
Derwent! should this page chance to fall under your eye, for my sake
read, fag, subdue, and take up into your proper mind this chapter 10 of
Ib. p. 281.
Of these five kinds of liberty, the two first agree only to God, so
that in the highest degree [Greek: to autexousion], that is, freedom
of will is proper to God only; and in this sense Calvin and Luther
rightly deny that the will of any creature is or ever was free.
I add, except as in God, and God in us. Now the latter alone is will;
for it alone is 'ens super ens'. And here lies the mystery, which I dare
not openly and promiscuously reveal.
Yet doth not God's working upon the will take from it the power of
dissenting, and doing the contrary; but so inclineth it, that having
liberty to do otherwise, yet she will actually determine so.
This will not do. Were it true, then my understanding would be free in a
mathematical proportion; or the whole position amounts only to this,
that the will, though compelled, is still the will. Be it so; yet not a
free will. In short, Luther and Calvin are right so far. A creaturely
will cannot be free; but the will in a rational creature may cease to be
creaturely, and the creature, [Greek: apostasis], finally cease in
consequence; and this neither Luther nor Calvin seem to have seen. In
short, where omnipotence is on one side, what but utter impotence can
remain for the other? To make freedom possible, the 'antithesis' must be
removed. The removal of this 'antithesis' of the creature to God is the
object of the Redemption, and forms the glorious liberty of the Gospel.
More than this I am not permitted to expose.
Ib. p. 283.
It is not given, nor is it wanting, to all men to have an insight into
the mystery of the human will and its mode of inherence on the will
which is God, as the ineffable 'causa sui'; but this chapter will
suffice to convince you that the doctrines of Calvin were those of
Luther in this point;--that they are intensely metaphysical, and that
they are diverse 'toto genere' from the merely moral and psychological--
tenets of the modern Calvinists. Calvin would have exclaimed, 'fire and
fagots!' before he had gotten through a hundred pages of Dr. Williams's
Ib. c. 11. p. 296.
Neither can Vega avoid the evidence of the testimonies of the Fathers,
and the decree of the Council of Trent, so that he must be forced to
confess that no man can so collectively fulfil the law as not to sin,
and consequently, that no man can perform that the law requireth.
The paralogism of Vega as to this perplexing question seems to lurk in
the position that God gives a law which it is impossible we should obey
collectively. But the truth is, that the law which God gave, and which
from the essential holiness of his nature it is impossible he should not
have given, man deprived himself of the ability to obey. And was the law
of God therefore to be annulled? Must the sun cease to shine because the
earth has become a morass, so that even that very glory of the sun hath
become a new cause of its steaming up clouds and vapors that strangle
the rays? God forbid! 'But for the law I had not sinned'. But had I not
been sinful the law would not have occasioned me to sin, but would have
clothed me with righteousness, by the transmission of its splendour.
'Let God be just, and every man a liar'.
B. iv. c. 4. p. 346.
The Church of God is named the 'Pillar of Truth;' not as if truth did
depend on the Church, &c.
Field might have strengthened his argument, by mention of the custom of
not only affixing records and testimonials to the pillars, but books, &c.
Ib. c. 7. p. 353.
Others therefore, to avoid this absurdity, run into that other before
mentioned, that we believe the things that are divine by the mere and
absolute command of our will, not finding any sufficient motives and
reasons of persuasion.
Field, nor Count Mirandula have penetrated to the heart of this most
fundamental question. In all proper faith the will is the prime agent,
but not therefore the choice. You may call it reason if you will, but
then carefully distinguish the speculative from the practical reason,
and the reason itself from the understanding.
Ib. c. 8. p. 356.
'Illius virtute' (saith he) 'illuminati, jam non aut nostro, aut
aliorum judicio credimus a Deo esse Scripturam, sed supra humanum
judicium certo certius constituimus, non secus ac si ipsius Dei numen
illic intueremur, hominum ministerio ab ipsissimo Dei ore fluxisse.'
Greatly doth this fine passage need explanation, that knowing what it
doth mean, the reader may understand what it doth not mean, nor of
necessity imply. Without this insight, our faith may be terribly shaken
by difficulties and objections. For example; If all the Scripture, then
each component part; thence every faithful Christian infallible, and so
Ib. p. 357.
In the second the light of divine reason causeth approbation of that
they believe: in the third sort, the purity of divine understanding
apprehendeth most certainly the things believed, and causeth a
foretasting of those things that hereafter more fully shall be enjoyed.
Here too Field distinguishes the understanding from the reason, as
experience following perception of sense. But as perception through the
mere presence of the object perceived, whether to the outward or inner
sense, is not insight which belongs to the 'light of reason,' therefore
Field marks it by 'purity' that is unmixed with fleshly sensations or
the 'idola' of the bodily eye. Though Field is by no means consistent in
his 'epitheta' of the understanding, he seldom confounds the word
itself. In theological Latin, the understanding, as influenced and
combined with the affections and desires, is most frequently expressed
by 'cor', the heart. Doubtless the most convenient form of appropriating
the terms would be to consider the understanding as man's intelligential
faculty, whatever be its object, the sensible or the intelligible world;
while reason is the tri-unity, as it were, of the spiritual eye, light,
Ib. c. 10. p. 358.
Of the Papists preferring the Church's authority before the Scripture.
Field, from the nature and special purpose of his controversy, is
reluctant to admit any error in the Fathers,--too much so indeed; and
this is an instance. We all know what we mean by the Scriptures, but how
know we what they mean by the Church, which is neither thing nor person?
But this is a very difficult subject.
Ib. p. 359.
First, so as if the Church might define contrary to the Scriptures, as
she may contrary to the writings of particular men, how great soever.
Verbally, the more sober divines of the Church of Rome do not assert
this; but practically and by consequence they do. For if the Church
assign a sense contradictory to the true sense of the Scripture, none
dare gainsay it. 
This we deny, and will in due place 'improve' their error herein.
That is, prove against, detect, or confute.
Ib. c. 11. p. 360.
If the comparison be made between the Church consisting of all the
believers that are and have been since Christ appeared in the flesh,
so including the Apostles, and their blessed assistants the
Evangelists, we deny not but that the Church is of greater authority,
antiquity, and excellency than the Scriptures of the New Testament, as
the witness is better than his testimony, and the law-giver greater
than the laws made by him, as Stapleton allegeth.
The Scriptures may be and are an intelligible and real one, but the
Church on earth can in no sense be such in and through itself, that is,
its component parts, but only by their common adherence to the body of
truth made present in the Scripture. Surely you would not distinguish
the Scripture from its contents?
Ib. c. 12. p. 361.
For the better understanding whereof we must observe, as Occam fitly
noteth, that an article of faith is sometimes strictly taken only for
one of those divine verities, which are contained in the Creed of the
Apostles: sometimes generally for any catholic verity.
I am persuaded, that this division will not bear to be expanded into all
its legitimate consequences 'sine periculo vel fidei vel charitatis'. I
should substitute the following:
1. The essentials of that saving faith, which having its root and its
proper and primary seat in the moral will, that is, in the heart and
affections, is necessary for each and every individual member of the
church of Christ:--
2. Those truths which are essential and necessary in order to the
logical and rational possibility of the former, and the belief and
assertion of which are indispensable to the Church at large, as those
truths without which the body of believers, the Christian world, could
not have been and cannot be continued, though it be possible that in
this body this or that individual may be saved without the conscious
knowledge of, or an explicit belief in, them.
And therefore before and without such determination, men seeing
clearly the deduction of things of this nature from the former, and
refusing to believe them, are condemned of heretical pertinacy.
Rather, I should think, of a nondescript lunacy than of heretical
pravity. A child may explicitly know that 5 + 5 = 10, yet not see that
therefore 10 - 5 = 5; but when he has seen it how he can refrain from
believing the latter as much as the former, I have no conception.
Ib. c. 16. p. 367.
And the third of jurisdiction; and so they that have supreme power,
that is, the Bishops assembled in a general Council, may interpret the
Scriptures, and by their authority suppress all them that shall
gainsay such interpretations, and subject every man that shall disobey
such determinations as they consent upon, to excommunication and
censures of like nature.
This would be satisfactory, if only Field had cleared the point of the
communion in the Lord's Supper; whether taken spiritually, though in
consequence of excommunication not ritually, it yet sufficeth to
salvation. If so, excommunication is merely declarative, and the evil
follows not the declaration but that which is truly declared, as when
Richard says that Francis deserves the gallows, as a robber. The gallows
depends on the fact of the robbery, not on Richard's saying.
Ib. c. 29. p. 391.
In the 1 Cor. 15. the Greek, that now is, hath in all copies; 'the
first man was of the earth, earthly; the second man is the Lord from
heaven'. The latter part of this sentence Tertullian supposeth to have
been corrupted, and altered by the Marcionites. Instead of that the
Latin text hath; 'the second man was from heaven, heavenly', as
Ambrose, Hierome, and many of the Fathers read also.
There ought to be, and with any man of taste there can be, no doubt that
our version is the true one. That of Ambrose and Jerome is worthy of
mere rhetoricians; a flat formal play of 'antithesis' instead of the
weight and solemnity of the other.  According to the former the
scales are even, in the latter the scale of Christ drops down at once,
and the other flies to the beam like a feather weighed against a mass of
Append. Part. I. s. 4. p. 752.
And again he saith, that every soul, immediately upon the departure
hence, is in this appointed invisible place, having there either pain,
or ease and refreshing; that there the rich man is in pain, and the
poor in a comfortable estate. For, saith he, why should we not think,
that the souls are tormented, or refreshed in this invisible place,
appointed for them in expectation of the future judgment?
This may be adduced as an instance, specially, of the evil consequences
of introducing the 'idolon' of time as an 'ens reale' into
spiritual doctrines, thus understanding literally what St. Paul had
expressed by figure and adaptation. Hence the doctrine of a middle
state, and hence Purgatory with all its abominations; and an instance,
generally, of the incalculable possible importance of speculative errors
on the happiness and virtue of man-kind.
[Footnote 1: Folio 1628.--Ed.]
[Footnote 2: The following letter was written on, and addressed with,
the book to the Rev. Derwent Coleridge.--Ed.]
[Footnote 3: 'P. L.' III. 487.--Ed.]
[Footnote 4: i. 27. See 'Aids to Reflection'. 3d edit. p. 17. n.--Ed.]
... whence the soul
Reason receives, and reason is her being,
Discursive or intuitive.
'P. L.' v. 426.--Ed.]
[Footnote 6: The reader of the 'Aids to Reflection' will recognize in
this note the rough original of the passages p. 313, &c. of the 3d
edition of that work.--Ed.]
[Footnote 7: See 'Table Talk', 2d edit. p. 283. Melancthon's words to
'Tuo judicio prorsus assentior. Affirmu etiam vestros magistratus
juste fecisse, quod hominem blasphemum, re ordine judicata,
14th Oct. 1554.--Ed.
"But to circle the earth, 'as the heavenly bodies do',' &c. 'So we may
see that the opinion of Copernicus touching the rotation of the earth,
which astronomy itself cannot correct, because it is not repugnant to
any of the 'phaenomena', yet 'natural history may correct'."
'Advancement of Learning', B. II.--Ed.]
[Footnote 9: That Christ had a twofold being, natural and sacramental;
that the Jews destroyed and sacrificed his natural being, and that
Christian priests destroy and sacrifice in the Mass his sacramental
'Fides catholica', says Bellarmine, 'docet omnem virtutem esse bonam,
omne vitium esse malum. Si autem erraret Papa praecipiendo vitia vel
prohibendo virtutes, teneretur Ecclesia credere vitia esse bona et
virtutes malas, nisi vellet contra conscientiam peccare.'
'De Pont. Roman'. IV. 5.--Ed.]
[Footnote 11: The ordinary Greek text is:
[Greek: ho deuteros anthropos, ho Kyrios ex ouranou].
The Vulgate is:
'primus homo de terra, terrenus; secundus homo de coelis,
NOTES ON DONNE. 
There have been many, and those illustrious, divines in our Church from
Elizabeth to the present day, who, overvaluing the accident of
antiquity, and arbitrarily determining the appropriation of the words
'ancient,' 'primitive,' and the like to a certain date, as for example,
to all before the fourth, fifth, or sixth century, were resolute
protesters against the corruptions and tyranny of the Romish hierarch,
and yet lagged behind Luther and the Reformers of the first generation.
Hence I have long seen the necessity or expedience of a threefold
division of divines. There are many, whom God forbid that I should call
Papistic, or, like Laud, Montague, Heylyn, and others, longing for a
Pope at Lambeth, whom yet I dare not name Apostolic. Therefore I divide
our theologians into,
1. Apostolic or Pauline:
Even in Donne, and still more in Bishops Andrews and Hackett, there is a
strong Patristic leaven. In Jeremy Taylor this taste for the Fathers and
all the Saints and Schoolmen before the Reformation amounted to a
dislike of the divines of the continental Protestant Churches, Lutheran
or Calvinistic. But this must, in part at least, be attributed to
Taylor's keen feelings as a Carlist, and a sufferer by the Puritan
I would thus class the pentad of operative Christianity:--
Christ, the Word
'Thesis' 'Mesothesis' 'Antithesis'
The Scriptures The Holy Spirit The Church
The Papacy elevated the Church to the virtual exclusion or suppression
of the Scriptures: the modern Church of England, since Chillingworth,
has so raised up the Scriptures as to annul the Church; both alike have
quenched the Holy Spirit, as the 'mesothesis' of the two, and
substituted an alien compound for the genuine Preacher, who should be
the 'synthesis' of the Scriptures and the Church, and the sensible voice
of the Holy Spirit.
Serm. I. Coloss. i. 19, 20. p. 1.
What could God pay for me? What could God suffer? God himself could
not; and therefore God hath taken a body that could.
God forgive me,--or those who first set abroad this strange [Greek:
metabasis eis allo genos], this debtor and creditor scheme of expounding
the mystery of Redemption, or both! But I never can read the words, 'God
himself could not; and therefore took a body that could'--without being
reminded of the monkey that took the cat's paw to take the chestnuts out
of the fire, and claimed the merit of puss's sufferings. I am sure,
however, that the ludicrous images, under which this gloss of the
Calvinists embodies itself to my fancy, never disturb my recollections
of the adorable mystery itself. It is clear that a body, remaining a
body, can only suffer as a body: for no faith can enable us to believe
that the same thing can be at once A. and not A. Now that the body of
our Lord was not transelemented or transnatured by the 'pleroma'
indwelling, we are positively assured by Scripture. Therefore it would
follow from this most unscriptural doctrine, that the divine justice had
satisfaction made to it by the suffering of a body which had been
brought into existence for this special purpose, in lieu of the debt of
eternal misery due from, and leviable on, the bodies and souls of all
mankind! It is to this gross perversion of the sublime idea of the
Redemption by the cross, that we must attribute the rejection of the
doctrine of redemption by the Unitarian, and of the Gospel 'in toto' by
the more consequent Deist.
Ib. p. 2. C.
And yet, even this dwelling fullness, even in this person Christ
Jesus, by no title of merit in himself, but only 'quia complacuit',
because it pleased the Father it should be so.
This, in the intention of the preacher, may have been sound, but was it
safe, divinity? In order to the latter, methinks, a less equivocal word
than 'person' ought to have been adopted; as 'the body and soul of the
man Jesus, considered abstractedly from the divine Logos, who in it took
up humanity into deity, and was Christ Jesus.' Dare we say that there
was no self-subsistent, though we admit no self-originated, merit in the
Christ? It seems plain to me, that in this and sundry other passages of
St. Paul, 'the Father' means the total triune Godhead.
It appears to me, that dividing the Church of England into two aeras--the
first from Ridley to Field, or from Edward VI. to the commencement of
the latter third of the reign of James I, and the second ending with
Bull and Stillingfleet, we might characterize their comparative
excellences thus: That the divines of the first aera had a deeper, more
genial, and a more practical insight into the mystery of Redemption, in
the relation of man toward both the act and the author, namely, in all
the inchoative states, the regeneration and the operations of saving
grace generally;--while those of the second aera possessed clearer and
distincter views concerning the nature and necessity of Redemption, in
the relation of God toward man, and concerning the connection of
Redemption with the article of Tri-unity; and above all, that they
surpassed their predecessors in a more safe and determinate scheme of
the divine economy of the three persons in the one undivided Godhead.
This indeed, was mainly owing to Bishop Bull's masterly work 'De Fide
Nicaena',  which in the next generation Waterland so admirably
maintained, on the one hand, against the philosophy of the Arians,--the
combat ending in the death and burial of Arianism, and its descent and
'metempsychosis' into Socinianism, and thence again into modern
Unitarianism,--and on the other extreme, against the oscillatory creed
of Sherlock, now swinging to Tritheism in the recoil from Sabellianism,
and again to Sabellianism in the recoil from Tritheism.
First, we are to consider this fullness to have been in Christ, and
then, from this fullness arose his merits; we can consider no merit in
Christ himself before, whereby he should merit this fullness; for this
fullness was in him before he merited any thing; and but for this
fullness he had not so merited. 'Ille homo, ut in unitatem filii Dei
assumeretur, unde meruit'? How did that man (says St. Augustine,
speaking of Christ, as of the son of man), how did that man merit to
be united in one person with the eternal Son of God? 'Quid egit ante?
Quid credidit'? What had he done? Nay, what had he believed? Had he
either faith or works before that union of both natures?
Dr. Donne and St. Augustine said this without offence; but I much
question whether the same would be endured now. That it is, however, in
the spirit of Paul and of the Gospel, I doubt not to affirm, and that
this great truth is obscured by what in my judgment is the
post-Apostolic 'Christopaedia', I am inclined to think.
What canst thou imagine he could foresee in thee? a propensness, a
disposition to goodness, when his grace should come? Either there is
no such propensness, no such disposition in thee, or, if there be,
even that propensness and disposition to the good use of grace, is
grace; it is an effect of former grace, and his grace wrought before
he saw any such propensness, any such disposition; grace was first,
and his grace is his, it is none of thine.
One of many instances in dogmatic theology, in which the half of a
divine truth has passed into a fearful error by being mistaken for the
Ib. p. 6. D.
God's justice required blood, but that blood is not spilt, but poured
from that head to our hearts, into the veins and wounds of our own
souls: there was blood shed, but no blood lost.
It is affecting to observe how this great man's mind sways and
oscillates between his reason, which demands in the word 'blood' a
symbolic meaning, a spiritual interpretation, and the habitual awe for
the letter; so that he himself seems uncertain whether he means the
physical lymph, 'serum,' and globules that trickled from the wounds
of the nails and thorns down the sides and face of Jesus, or the blood
of the Son of Man, which he who drinketh not cannot live. Yea, it is
most affecting to see the struggles of so great a mind to preserve its
inborn fealty to the reason under the servitude to an accepted article
of belief, which was, alas! confounded with the high obligations of
faith;--faith the co-adunation of the finite individual will with the
universal reason, by the submission of the former to the latter. To
reconcile redemption by the material blood of Jesus with the mind of the
spirit, he seeks to spiritualize the material blood itself in all men!
And a deep truth lies hidden even in this. Indeed the whole is a
profound subject, the true solution of which may best, God's grace
assisting, be sought for in the collation of Paul with John, and
specially in St. Paul's assertion that we are baptized into the death of
Christ, that we may be partakers of his resurrection and life.  It
was not on the visible cross, it was not directing attention to the
blood-drops on his temples and sides, that our blessed Redeemer said,
'This is my body', and 'this is my blood!
Ib. p. 9. A.
But if we consider those who are in heaven, and have been so from the
first minute of their creation, angels, why have they, or how have
they any reconciliation? &c.
The history and successive meanings of the term 'angels' in the Old and
New Testaments, and the idea that shall reconcile all as so many several
forms, and as it were perspectives, of one and the same truth--this is
still a 'desideratum' in Christian theology.
For, at the general resurrection, (which is rooted in the resurrection
of Christ, and so hath relation to him) the creature 'shall be
delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of
the children of God; for which the whole creation groans, and travails
in pain yet'. (Rom. viii. 21.) This deliverance then from this
bondage the whole creature hath by Christ, and that is their
reconciliation. And then are we reconciled by the blood of his cross,
when having crucified ourselves by a true repentance, we receive the
real reconciliation in his blood in the sacrament. But the most proper
and most literal sense of these words, is, that all things in heaven
and earth be reconciled to God (that is, to his glory, to a fitter
disposition to glorify him) by being reconciled to another in Christ;
that in him, as head of the church, they in heaven, and we upon earth,
be united together as one body in the communion of saints.
A very meagre and inadequate interpretation of this sublime text. The
philosophy of life, which will be the 'corona et finis coronans' of the
sciences of comparative anatomy and zoology, will hereafter supply a
fuller and nobler comment.
Ib. p. 9. A. and B.
The blood of the sacrifices was brought by the high priest 'in sanctum
sanctorum', into the place of greatest holiness; but it was brought
but once, 'in festo expiationis', in the feast of expiation; but in
the other parts of the temple it was sprinkled every day. The blood of
the cross of Christ Jesus hath had this effect 'in sancto sanctorum',
&c. ... '(to)' Christ Jesus.
A truly excellent and beautiful paragraph.
If you will mingle a true religion, and a false religion, there is no
reconciling of God and Belial in this text. For the adhering of
persons born within the Church of Rome to the Church of Rome, our law
says nothing to them if they come; but for reconciling to the Church
of Rome, for persons born within the allegiance of the king, or for
persuading of men to be so reconciled, our law hath called by an
infamous and capital name of treason, and yet every tavern and
ordinary is full of such traitors, &c.
A strange transition from the Gospel to the English statute-book! But I
may observe, that if this statement could be truly made under James I,
there was abundantly ampler ground for it in the following reign. And
yet with what bitter spleen does Heylyn, Laud's creature, arraign the
Parliamentarians for making the same complaint!
Serm. II. Isaiah vii. 14. p. 11.
The fear of giving offence, especially to good men, of whose faith in
all essential points we are partakers, may reasonably induce us to be
slow and cautious in making up our minds finally on a religious
question, and may, and ought to, influence us to submit our conviction
to repeated revisals and rehearings. But there may arrive a time of such
perfect clearness of view respecting the particular point, as to
supersede all fear of man by the higher duty of declaring the whole
truth in Jesus. Therefore, having now overpassed six-sevenths of the
ordinary period allotted to human life,--resting my whole and sole hope
of salvation and immortality on the divinity of Christ, and the
redemption by his cross and passion, and holding the doctrine of the
Triune God as the very ground and foundation of the Gospel faith,--I
feel myself enforced by conscience to declare and avow, that, in my
deliberate judgment, the 'Christopaedia' prefixed to the third Gospel and
concorporated with the first, but, according to my belief, in its
present form the latest of the four, was unknown to, or not recognized
by, the Apostles Paul and John; and that, instead of supporting the
doctrine of the Trinity, and the Filial Godhead of the Incarnate Word,
as set forth by John i 1, and by Paul, it, if not altogether
irreconcilable with this faith, doth yet greatly weaken and bedim its
evidence; and that, by the too palpable contradictions between the
narrative in the first Gospel and that in the third, it has been a
fruitful magazine of doubts respecting the historic character of the
Gospels themselves. I have read most of the criticisms on this text, and
my impression is, that no learned Jew can be expected to receive the
common interpretation as the true primary sense of the words. The
severely literal Aquila renders the Hebrew word [Greek: neanis]. But
were it asked of me: Do you then believe our Lord to have been the Son
of Mary by Joseph? I reply: It is a point of religion with me to have no
belief one way or the other. I am in this way like St. Paul, more than
content not to know Christ himself [Greek: kata sarka]. It is enough for
me to know that the Son of God 'became flesh', [Greek: sarx egeneto
genomenos ek gynaikos]  and more than this, it appears to me, was
unknown to the Apostles, or, if known, not taught by them as
appertaining to a saving faith in Christ.
Note the affinity in sound of 'son' and 'sun', 'Sohn' and 'Sonne', which
is not confined to the Saxon and German, or the Gothic dialects
generally. And observe 'conciliare versoehnen=confiliare, facere esse cum
filio', one with the Son.
Ib. p. 17. B.
It is a singular testimony, how acceptable to God that state of
virginity is. He does not dishonor physic that magnifies health; nor
does he dishonor marriage, that praises virginity; let them embrace
that state that can, &c.
One of the sad relics of Patristic super-moralization, aggravated by
Papal ambition, which clung to too many divines, especially to those of
the second or third generation after Luther. Luther himself was too
spiritual, of too heroic faith, to be thus blinded by the declamations
of the Fathers, whom, with the exception of Augustine, he held in very
And Helvidius said, she had children after.
'Annon Scriptura ipsa'? And a 'heresy,' too! I think I might safely put
the question to any serious, spiritual-minded, Christian: What one
inference tending to edification, in the discipline of will, mind, or
affections, he can draw from the speculations of the last two or three
pages of this Sermon respecting Mary's pregnancy and parturition?
_Can_--I write it emphatically--_can_ such points appertain to our faith
as Christians, which every parent would decline speaking of before a
family, and which, if the questions were propounded by another in the
presence of my daughter, aye, or even of my, no less, in mind and
imagination, innocent wife, I should resent as an indecency?
Serm. III. Gal. iv. 4, 5. p. 20.
'God sent forth his Son made of a woman'.
I never can admit that [Greek: genomenon] and [Greek: egeneto] in St.
Paul and St. John are adequately, or even rightly, rendered by the
Ib. p. 21, A.
What miserable revolutions and changes, what downfalls, what
break-necks and precipitations may we justly think ourselves ordained
to, if we consider, that in our coming into this world out of our
mothers' womb, we do not make account that a child comes right, except
it come with the head forward, and thereby prefigure that headlong
falling into calamities which it must suffer after?
The taste for these forced and fantastic analogies, Donne, with the
greater number of the learned prelatic divines from James I. to the
Restoration, acquired from that too great partiality for the Fathers,
from Irenaeus to Bernard, by which they sought to distinguish themselves
from the Puritans.
That now they (the Jews,) express a kind of conditional acknowledgment
of it, by this barbarous and inhuman custom of theirs, that they
always keep in readiness the blood of some Christian, with which they
anoint the body of any that dies amongst them, with these words; "If
Jesus Christ were the Messias, then may the blood of this Christian
avail thee to salvation!"
Is it possible that Donne could have given credit to this absurd legend!
It was, I am aware, not an age of critical 'acumen'; grit, bran,
and flour, were swallowed in the unsifted mass of their erudition. Still
that a man like Donne should have imposed on himself such a set of idle
tales, as he has collected in the next paragraph for facts of history,
is scarcely credible; that he should have attempted to impose them on
others, is most melancholy.
Ib. p. 22. D. E.
He takes the name of the son of a woman, and 'wanes' the miraculous
name of the son of a virgin.--Christ 'waned' the glorious name of Son
of God, and the miraculous name of Son of a virgin too; which is not
omitted to draw into doubt the perpetual virginity of the blessed
virgin, the mother of Christ, &c.
Very ingenious; but likewise very presumptuous, this arbitrary
attribution of St. Paul's silence, and presumable ignorance of the
virginity of Mary, to Christ's own determination to have the fact passed
N.B. Is 'wane' a misprint for 'wave' or 'waive?' It occurs so often, as
to render its being an 'erratum' improbable; yet I do not remember
to have met elsewhere 'wane' used for 'decline' as a verb active.
Ib. p. 23. A.
If there were reason for it, it were no miracle.
The announcement of the first comet, that had ever been observed, might
excite doubt in the mind of an astronomer, to whom, from the place where
he lived, it had not been visible. But his reason could have been no
objection to it. Had God pleased, all women might have conceived,
[Greek: aneu tou andros], as many of the 'polypi' and 'planariae' do. Not
on any such ground do I suspend myself on this as an article of faith;
but because I doubt the evidence.
Ib. p. 25. A--E.
Though we may think thus in the law of reason, yet, &c.
It is, and has been, a misfortune, a grievous and manifold loss and
hindrance for the interests of moral and spiritual truth, that even our
best and most vigorous theologians and philosophers of the age from
Edward VI. to James II. so generally confound the terms, and so too
often confound the subjects themselves, reason and understanding; yet
the diversity, the difference in kind, was known to, and clearly
admitted by, many of them,--by Hooker for instance, and it is implied in
the whole of Bacon's 'Novum Organum'. Instead of the 'law of reason,'
Donne meant, and ought to have said, 'judging according to the ordinary
presumptions of the understanding,' that is, the faculty which,
generalizing particular experiences, judges of the future by analogy to
Taking the words, however, in their vulgar sense, I most deliberately
protest against all the paragraphs in this page, from A to E, and should
cite them, with a host of others, as sad effects of the confusion of the
reason and the understanding, and of the consequent abdication of the
former, instead of the bounden submission of the latter to a higher
light. Faith itself is but an act of the will, assenting to the reason
on its own evidence without, and even against, the understanding. This
indeed is, I fully agree, to be brought into captivity to the faith. 
Ib. p. 26. A. B.
And therefore to be 'under the Law,' signifies here thus much; to be a
debtor to the law of nature, to have a testimony in our hearts and
consciences, that there lies a law upon us, which we have no power in
ourselves to perform, &c.
This exposition of the term 'law' in the epistles of St. Paul is most
just and important. The whole should be adopted among the notes to the
epistle to the Romans, in every Bible printed with notes.
Ib. p. 27. A.
And this was his first work, 'to redeem,' to vindicate them from the
usurper, to deliver them from the intruder, to emancipate them from
the tyrant, to cancel the covenant between hell and them, and restore
them so far to their liberty, as that they might come to their first
master, if they would; this was 'redeeming.'
There is an absurdity in the notion of a finite divided from, and
superaddible to, the infinite,--of a particular 'quantum' of power
separated from, not included in, omnipotence, or all-power. But, alas!
we too generally use the terms that are meant to express the absolute,
as mere comparatives taken superlatively. In one thing only are we
permitted and bound to assert a diversity, namely, in God and 'Hades',
the good and the evil will. This awful mystery, this truth, at once
certain and incomprehensible, is at the bottom of all religion; and to
exhibit this truth free from the dark phantom of the Manicheans, or the
two co-eternal and co-ordinate principles of good and evil, is the glory
of the Christian religion.
But this mysterious dividuity of the good and the evil will, the will of
the spirit and the will of the flesh, must not be carried beyond the
terms 'good' and 'evil.' There can be but one good will--the spirit in
all;--and even so, all evil wills are one evil will, the devil or evil
spirit. But then the One exists for us as finite intelligences,
necessarily in a two-fold relation, universal and particular. The same
Spirit within us pleads to the Spirit as without us; and in like manner
is every evil mind in communion with the evil spirit. But, O comfort!
the good alone is the actual, the evil essentially potential. Hence the
devil is most appropriately named the 'tempter,' and the evil hath its
essence in the will: it cannot pass out of it. Deeds are called evil in
reference to the individual will expressed in them; but in the great
scheme of Providence they are, only as far as they are good, coerced
under the conditions of all true being; and the devil is the drudge of
Serm. IV. Luke ii. 29, 30. p. 29.
Ib. p. 30. B.
We shall consider that that preparation, and disposition, and
acquiescence, which Simeon had in his epiphany, in his visible seeing
of Christ then, is offered to us in this epiphany, in this
manifestation and application of Christ in the sacrament; and that
therefore every penitent, and devout, and reverent, and worthy
receiver hath had in that holy action his 'now'; there are all things
accomplished to him; and his 'for, for his eyes have seen his
salvation'; and so may be content, nay glad, 'to depart in peace'.
O! would that Donne, or rather that Luther before him, had carried out
this just conception to its legitimate consequences;--that as the
sacrament of the Eucharist is the epiphany for as many as receive it in
faith, so the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ himself
in the flesh, were the epiphanies, the sacramental acts and 'phaenomena'
of the 'Deus patiens', the visible words of the invisible Word that was
in the beginning, symbols in time and historic fact of the redemptive
functions, passions, and procedures of the Lamb crucified from the
foundation of the world;--the incarnation, cross, and passion,--in
short, the whole life of Christ in the flesh, dwelling a man among men,
being essential and substantive parts of the process, the total of which
they represented; and on this account proper symbols of the acts and
passions of the Christ dwelling in man, as the Spirit of truth, and for
as many as in faith have received him, in Seth and Abraham no less
effectually than in John and Paul! For this is the true definition of a
symbol, as distinguished from the thing, on the one hand, and from a
mere metaphor, or conventional exponent of a thing, on the other. Had
Luther mastered this great idea, this master-truth, he would never have
entangled himself in that most mischievous Sacramentary controversy, or
had to seek a murky hiding-hole in the figment of Consubstantiation.
Ib. B. C.
In the first part, then ... More he asks not, less he takes not for
any man, upon any pretence of any unconditional decree.
A beautiful paragraph, well worth extracting, aye, and re-preaching.
Ib. p. 34. E.
When thou comest to this seal of thy peace, the sacrament, pray that
God will give thee that light that may direct and establish thee in
necessary and fundamental things; that is, the light of faith to see
that the Body and Blood of Christ is applied to thee in that action;
but for the manner, how the Body and Blood of Christ is there, wait
his leisure, if he have not yet manifested that to thee: grieve not at
that, wonder not at that, press not for that; for he hath not
manifested that, not the way, not the manner of his presence in the
Sacrament to the Church.
O! I have ever felt, and for many years thought that this 'rem credimus,
modum nescimus,' is but a poor evasion. It seems to me an attempt so to
admit an irrational proposition as to have the credit of denying it, or
to separate an irrational proposition from its irrationality. I admit 2
+ 2 = 5; how I do not pretend to know, but in some way not in
contradiction to the multiplication table. To spiritual operations the
very term 'mode' is perhaps inapplicable, for these are immediate. To
the linking of this with that, of A. with Z. by 'intermedia,' the term
'mode,'--the question 'how?' is properly applied. The assimilation of
the spirit of a man to the Son of God, to God as the Divine
Humanity,--this spiritual transubstantiation, like every other process
of operative grace, is necessarily modeless. The whole question is
concerning the transmutation of the sensible elements. Deny this, and to
what does the 'modum nescimus' refer? We cannot ask how that is done,
which we declare not done at all. Admit this transmutation, and you
necessarily admit by implication the Romish dogma, of the separation of
a sensible thing from the sensible accidents which constitute all we
ever meant by the thing. To rationalize this figment of his church,
Bossuet has recourse to Spinosism, and dares make God the substance and
sole 'ens reale' of all body, and by this very 'hypothesis' baffles his
own end, and does away all miracle in the particular instance.
Ib. p. 35. B.
When I pray in my chamber, I build a temple there that hour; and that
minute, when I cast out a prayer in the street, I build a temple
there; and when my soul prays without any voice, my very body is then
Good; but it would be better to regard solitary, family, and templar
devotion as distinctions in sort, rather than differences in degree. All
three are necessary.
And that more fearful occasion of coming, when they came only to elude
the law, and proceeding in their treacherous and traitorous religion
in their heart, and yet communicating with us, draw God himself into
their conspiracies; and to mock us, make a mock of God, and his
What, then, was their guilt, who by terror and legal penalties tempted
their fellow Christians to this treacherous mockery? Donne should have
asked himself that question.
Serm. V. Exod. iv. 13. p. 39.
Ib. p. 39. C. D.
It hath been doubted, and disputed, and denied too, that this text,
'O my Lord, send I pray thee by the hand of him whom thou wilt
send', hath any relation to the sending of the Messiah, to the
coming of Christ, to Christmas day; yet we forbear not to wait upon
the ancient Fathers, and as they said, to say, that Moses 'at
last' determines all in this, 'O my Lord', &c. It is a work,
next to the great work of the redemption of the whole world, to redeem
Israel out of Egypt; and therefore do both works at once, put both
into one hand, and 'mitte quem missurus es, Send him whom I know
thou wilt send'; him, whom, pursuing thine own decree, 'thou
shouldest send'; send Christ, send him now, to redeem Israel from
This is one of the happier accommodations of the 'gnosis', that is,
the science of detecting the mysteries of faith in the simplest texts of
the Old Testament history, to the contempt or neglect of the literal and
contextual sense. It was, I conceive, in part at least, this
'gnosis', and not knowledge, as our translation has it, that St.
Paul warns against, and most wisely, as puffing up, inflating the heart
with self-conceit, and the head with idle fancies.
But as a thoughtful man, a pensive, a considerative man, that stands
still for a while with his eyes fixed upon the ground before his feet,
when he casts up his head, hath presently, instantly the sun or the
heavens for his object; he sees not a tree, nor a house, nor a steeple
by the way, but as soon as his eye is departed from the earth where it
was long fixed, the next thing he sees is the sun or the heavens;--so
when Moses had fixed himself long upon the consideration of his own
insufficiency for this service, when he took his eye from that low
piece of ground, himself, considered as he was then, he fell upon no
tree, no house, no steeple, no such consideration as this--God may
endow me, improve me, exalt me, enable me, qualify me with faculties
fit for this service, but his first object was that which presented an
infallibility with it, Christ Jesus himself, the Messias himself, &c.
Beautifully imagined, and happily applied.
Ib. p. 40. B.
That 'germen Jehovae', as the prophet Esay calls Christ, that offspring
of Jehova, that bud, that blossom, that fruit of God himself, the Son
of God, the Messiah, the Redeemer, Christ Jesus, grows upon every tree
in this paradise, the Scripture; for Christ was the occasion before,
and is the consummation after, of all Scripture.
If this were meant to the exclusion or neglect of the primary sense,--if
we are required to believe that the sacred writers themselves had such
thoughts present to their minds,--it would, doubtless, throw the doors
wide open to every variety of folly and fanaticism. But it may admit of
a safe, sound, and profitable use, if we consider the Bible as one work,
intended by the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Church in all
ages, and having, as such, all its parts synoptically interpreted, the
eldest by the latest, the last by the first, and the middle by both.
Moses, or David, or Jeremiah (we might in this view affirm) meant so and
so, according to the context, and the light under which, and the
immediate or proximate purposes for which, he wrote: but we, who command
the whole scheme of the great dispensation, may see a higher and deeper
sense, of which the literal meaning was a symbol or type; and this we
may justifiably call the sense of the spirit.
Ib. p. 41. B.
So in our liturgy 'we stand up at the profession of the creed'
thereby to declare to God and his Church our readiness to stand to,
and our readiness to proceed in, that profession.
Another Church might sit down, thereby denoting a resolve to abide in
this profession. These things are indifferent; but charity, love of
peace, and on indifferent points to prefer another's liking to our own,
and to observe an order once established for order's sake,--these are
Ib. p. 42. C.
This paragraph is excellent. Alas! how painfully applicable it is to
some of our day!
Ib. p. 46. C.
Howsoever all intend that this is a name that denotes essence, being:
Being is the name of God, and of God only.
Rather, I should say, 'the eternal antecedent of being;' 'I that shall
be in that I will to be'; the absolute will; the ground of being; the
self-affirming 'actus purissimus'.
Serm. VI. Isaiah liii. 1. p. 52.
A noble sermon in thought and diction.
Ib. p. 59. E.
Therefore we have a clearer light than this; 'firmiorem propheticum
sermonem', says St. Peter; 'we have a more sure word of the prophets';
that is, as St. Augustine reads that place, 'clariorem', a more
manifest, a more evident, declaration in the prophets, than in nature,
of the will of God towards man, &c.
The sense of this text, as explained by the context, seems to me
this;--that, in consequence of the fulfilment of so large a proportion
of the oracles, the Christian Church has not only the additional light
given by the teaching and miracles of Christ, but even the light
vouchsafed to the old Church (the prophetic) stronger and clearer.
Ib. p. 60. A.
He spake personally, and he spake aloud, in the declaration of
miracles; but 'quis credidit auditui Filii?' Who believed even his
report? Did they not call his preaching sedition, and call his
miracles conjuring? Therefore, we have a clearer, that is, a nearer
light than the written Gospel, that is, the Church.
True; yet he who should now venture to assert this truth, or even
contend for a co-ordinateness of the Church and the Written Word, must
bear to be thought a semi-Papist, an 'ultra' high-Churchman. Still the
truth is the truth.
Serm. VII. John x. 10. p. 62.
Since the Revolution in 1688 our Church has been chilled and starved too
generally by preachers and reasoners Stoic or Epicurean;--first, a sort
of pagan morality was substituted for the righteousness by faith, and
latterly, prudence or Paleyanism has been substituted even for morality.
A Christian preacher ought to preach Christ alone, and all things in him
and by him. If he find a dearth in this, if it seem to him a
circumscription, he does not know Christ, as the 'pleroma', the
fullness. It is not possible that there should be aught true, or seemly,
or beautiful, in thought, will, or deed, speculative or practical, which
may not, and which ought not to, be evolved out of Christ and the faith
in Christ;--no folly, no error, no evil to be exposed, or warred
against, which may not, and should not, be convicted and denounced from
its contrariancy and enmity to Christ. To the Christian preacher Christ
should be in all things, and all things in Christ: he should abjure
every argument that is not a link in the chain, of which Christ is the
staple and staple ring.
Ib. p. 64.
In this page Donne passes into rhetorical extravagance, after the manner
of too many of the Fathers from Tertullian to Bernard.
Ib. p. 66. A.
Some of the later authors in the Roman Church ... have noted ('in
several of the Fathers') some inclinations towards that opinion, that
the devil retaining still his faculty of free-will, is therefore
capable of repentance, and so of benefit by this coming of Christ.
If this be assumed,--namely, the free-will of the devil,--as a
consequence would indeed follow his capability of repenting, and the
possibility that he may repent. But then he is no longer what we mean by
the devil; he is no longer the evil spirit, but simply a wicked soul.
Ib. p. 68. C.
As though God had said 'Qui sum', my name is 'I am'; yet in truth it
is 'Qui ero', my name is 'I shall be'.
Nay, 'I will or shall be in that I will to be'. I am that only one who
is self-originant, 'causa sui', whose will must be contemplated as
antecedent in idea to or deeper than his own co-eternal being. But
'antecedent,' 'deeper,' &c. are mere 'vocabula impropria', words of
accommodation, that may suggest the idea to a mind purified from the
intrusive phantoms of space and time, but falsify and extinguish the
truth, if taken as adequate exponents.
Ib. p. 69. C.
We affirm that it is not only as impious and irreligious a thing, but
as senseless and as absurd a thing, to deny that the Son of God hath
redeemed the world, as to deny that God hath created the world.
A bold but a true saying. The man who, cannot see the redemptive agency
in the creation has but a dim apprehension of the creative power.
Ib. D. E. p. 70. A.
These paragraphs exhibit a noble instance of giving importance to the
single words of a text, each word by itself a pregnant text. Here, too,
lies the excellence, the imitable, but alas! unimitated, excellence of
our divines from Elizabeth to William III.
O, that our clergy did but know and see that their tithes and glebes
belong to them as officers and functionaries of the nationalty,--as
clerks, and not exclusively as theologians, and not at all as ministers
of the Gospel;--but that they are likewise ministers of the Church of
Christ, and that their claims and the powers of that Church are no more
alienated or affected by their being at the same time the established
clergy, than they are by the common coincidence of being justices of the
peace, or heirs to an estate, or stockholders!  The Romish divines
placed the Church above the Scriptures; our present divines give it no
place at all.
But Donne and his great contemporaries had not yet learnt to be afraid
of announcing and enforcing the claims of the Church, distinct from, and
coordinate with, the Scriptures. This is one evil consequence, though
most un-necessarily so, of the union of the Church of Christ with the
national Church, and of the claims of the Christian pastor and preacher
with the legal and constitutional rights and revenues of the officers of
the national clerisy. Our clergymen in thinking of their legal rights,
forget those rights of theirs which depend on no human law at all.
Ib. p. 71. A.
This is the difference between God's mercy and his judgments, that
sometimes his judgments may he plural, complicated, enwrapped in one
another; but his mercies are always so, and cannot be otherwise.
A just sentiment beautifully expressed.
Whereas the Christian religion is, as Gregory Nazianzen says,
'simplex et nuda, nisi prave in artem difficillimam
converteretur': it is a plain, an easy, a perspicuous truth.
A religion of ideas, spiritual truths, or truth-powers,--not of notions
and conceptions, the manufacture of the understanding,--is therefore
'simplex et nuda', that is, immediate; like the clear blue heaven of
Italy, deep and transparent, an ocean unfathomable in its depth, and yet
ground all the way. Still as meditation soars upwards, it meets the
arched firmament with all its suspended lamps of light. O, let not the
'simplex et nuda' of Gregory be perverted to the Socinian, 'plain and
easy for the meanest understandings!' The truth in Christ, like the
peace of Christ, passeth all understanding. If ever there was a
mischievous misuse of words, the confusion of the terms, 'reason' and
'understanding,' 'ideas' and 'notions,' or 'conceptions,' is most
mischievous; a Surinam toad with a swarm of toadlings sprouting out of
its back and sides.
Serm. VIII. Mat. v. 16. p. 77.
Either of the names of this day were text enough for a sermon,
Purification or Candlemas. Join we them together, and raise we only
this one note from both, that all true purification is in the light,
The illustration of the name of the day contained in the first two or
three paragraphs of this sermon would be censured as quaint by our
modern critics. Would to heaven we had but even a few preachers capable
of such quaintnesses!
Every good work hath faith for the root; but every faith hath not good
works for the fruit thereof.
Faith, that is, fidelity--the fealty of the finite will and
understanding to the reason, 'the light that lighteth every man that
cometh into the world', as one with, and representative of, the absolute
will, and to the ideas or truths of the pure reason, the supersensuous
truths, which in relation to the finite will, and as meant to determine
the will, are moral laws, the voice and dictates of the
conscience;--this faith is properly a state and disposition of the will,
or rather of the whole man, the I, or finite will, self-affirmed. It is
therefore the ground, the root, of which the actions, the works, the
believings, as acts of the will in the understanding, are the trunk and
the branches. But these must be in the light. The disposition to see
must have organs, objects, direction, and an outward light. The three
latter of these our Lord gives to his disciples in this blessed sermon
on the Mount, preparatorily, and, as Donne rightly goes on to observe,
presupposing faith as the ground and root. Indeed the whole of this and
the next page affords a noble specimen, how a minister of the Church of
England should preach the doctrine of good works, purified from the
poison of the practical Romish doctrine of works, as the mandioc is
evenomated by fire, and rendered safe, nutritious, a bread of life. To
Donne's exposition the heroic Solifidian, Martin Luther himself, would
have subscribed, hand and heart.
Ib. p. 78. C.
And therefore our latter men of the Reformation are not to be blamed,
who for the most, pursuing St. Cyril's interpretation, interpret this
universal 'light that lighteneth every man' to be the light of
The error here, and it is a grievous error, consists in the word
'nature.' There is, there can be, no light of nature: there may be a
light in or upon nature; but this is the light that shineth down into
the darkness, that is, the nature, and the darkness comprehendeth it
not. All ideas, or spiritual truths, are supernatural.
Ib. p. 79.
Throughout this page, Donne rather too much plays the rhetorician. If
the faith worketh the works, what is true of the former must be equally
affirmed of the latter;--'causa causae causa causati'. Besides, he falls
into something like a confusion of faith with belief, taken as a
conviction or assent of the judgment. The faith and the righteousness of
a Christian are both alike his, and not his--the faith of Christ in him,
the righteousness in and for him. 'I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live; yet, not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life
which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who
loved me, and gave himself for me'. 
Donne was a truly great man; but, after all, he did not possess that
full, steady, deep, and yet comprehensive, insight into the nature of
faith and works which was vouchsafed to Martin Luther. Donne had not
attained to the reconciling of distinctity with unity,--ours, yet God's;
God's, yet ours.
'Velle et nolle nostrum est', to assent, or to dis-assent, is our own.
Is not this, even with the saving afterwards, too nakedly expressed?
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