Imágenes de páginas
PDF

LIFE OF DII. DONNE. XXt

in drawing the arguments into a method, and then write his answers to them; and having done that, not to send, but be his own messenger, and bring them to him. To this he presently applied himself, and within six weeks brought them to him under his own hand-writing, as they be now printed, the book bearing tire name of Pseudo Martyr.

When the King had read and considered that book, he persuaded Mr. Donne to enter into the ministry, to which at that time he was and appeared very unwilling, apprehending it (such was his mistaking modesty) to be too weighty for his abilities; and though his Majesty had promised him a favour, and many persons of worth mediated with his Majesty for some secular employment for him, to which his education had apted him, ar.d particularly the Earl of Somerset, when in his height of favour, who being then at Theobald's with the King, where one of the Clerks of the Council died that night, and the Earl having sent for Mr. Donne to come to him immediately, said, "Mr. Donne, to testify the reality of "my affection, and my purpose to prefer you, stay "in this garden till I go up to the King and bring you "word that you are Clerk of the Council: doubt not "my doing this, for I know the King loves you, and "will not deny me." But the King gave a positive de"nial to all requests; and, having a discerning spirit, replied, "I know Mr. Donne is a learned man, has the Vdm I. C

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

*' abilities ofalearneddivine, and will prove a powerful "preacher, and my desire is to prefer him that way." After that time, as he professeth, * the King descended to a persuasion, almost to a solicitation, of him to enter into sacred orders; which, though he then denied not, yet he deferred it for almost three years; all which time he applied himself to an incessant study of textual divinity, and to the attainment of a greater perfection in the learned languages, Greek and Hebrew.

In the first and most blessed times of Christianity, when the clergy were looked upon with reverence, and deserved it; when they overcame their opposers by high examples of virtue, by a blessed patience and long suffering, those only were then judged worthy the ministry whose quiet and meek spirits did make them look upon that sacred calling with an humble adoration, and fear to undertake it, which indeed requires such great degrees of humility, and labour, and rare, that none but such were then thought worthy of that celestial dignity; and such only were then sought out, and solicited to undertake it: this I have mentioned, because forwardness and inconsideratioh could not in Mr. ponne, as in many others, bean argument of insufficiency or unfitness; for lie had considered long, and had many strifes within himself concerning the strictness of life and competency of learning required in such as enter into sacred orders; and',

•In his book of Devotions, .... ..

Life or on. Bsimr. xxvii

doubtless, considering his own demerits, did humbly ask God, with St. Paul, " Lord, who is sufficient for "these things i" and, with meek Moses, " Lord, who ** am I f" And sure if he had consulted with flesh and blood, lie had not put his hand to that holy plough. But God, who is able to prevail, wrestled with him, as the angel did with Jacob, and marked him; marked him for his own; marked him with ablessing; abless. ing of obedience to the motions of his blessed Spirit; and then, as he had formerly asked God, with Moses, *' Who am I?" so now, being inspired with an apprer hension of God's particular mercy to him, in the King's and others' solicitations of him, he came tp ask King David's thankful question, " Lord, who am "I, that thou art so mindful of me?" so mindful of me, as to lead me for more than forty years through this wilderness of the many temptations and various turnings of a dangerous life; so merciful to me, as tp move the learnedest of kings to descend to move me to serve at thy altar; so merciful to me, as at last to move my heart to embrace this holy motion: thy motions I will and do embrace; and I now say, with the blesved Virgin, " Be it wilhthy servant as seem"eth best in thy sight:" and so, blessed Jesus, 1 dp take the cup of salvation, and will call upon thy name, and will preach thy gospel,

Such strifes as these St. Austin had when St. An. brote endeavoured his conversion to Christianity, with whirh he confesseth he acquainted his friend Alipius. Our learned author (a man fit to write after no mean copy) did the like; and declaring his intentions to his dear friend, Dr. King, then Bishop of London, a man famous in his generation, and no stranger to Mr. Donne's abilities, (for he had been chaplain to the Lord Chancellor at the time of MrDonne's being his Lordship's Secretary) that reverend man did receive the news with much gladness; and after some expressions of joy, and a persuasion to be constant in his pious purpose, he proceeded with all convenient speed to ordain him both Deacon and Priest.

Now the English church had gained a second St. Austin, for I think none was so like him before his conversion; none so like St. Ambrose af.er it;, and if his youth had the infirmities of the one, his age had the excellencies of the other, the learning and holiness of both.

And now all his studies, which had been occasionally diffused, were all concentred" in divinity: now he had a new galling, new thoughts, and a new employment for his wit and eloquence: now all his earthly affections were changed into divine love, and .all the faculties of his own soul were engaged in the conversion of others, in preaching the glad tidings of remission to repenting sinners, and peace to each troubled soul: to these he applied himself with ail 11; r. or Bit. Bonke. ixi.t

care and diligence: and now such a change was wrought in him, that he could, say with Paviffc ''Ofe! "how amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lftrd God of "hosts!" Now he declared openly, that when he required a temporal, God gave htm ft spiritual blessing; and that he was now gladder to be a doorkeeper in the bouse of God thai) he couId be to enjoy the noblest of all temporal employments.

Presently after he entered into his holy profession the King sent for him, and mads him his chaplain in ordinary, and promised to take a particular caie for his preferment. . . • . . .. .,

And though his long familiarity with scholars, and persons of greatest quality, was such as. might have given some men boldness enough to have preached to any eminent auditory, yet his modesty in this employment was such, that he could not be persuaded to it, but went usually accompanied with some one friend, to preach privately in some village not far from London, his first sermon being preached at Paddington: this he did till bis Majesty sent and appointed him a day to preach to him at Whitehall, and though much were expected from him, both by his Majesty and others, yet he was so happy, which few are, as to satisfy and exceed their expectations, preaching the word so as shewed his own heart was. possessed with those very thoughts and joys that he laboured to instill into others: a preacher in earnest, weeping sometimes for

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »