1632 By George Herbert

The Parson in Liberty.

THe Countrey Parson observing the manifold wiles of
Satan (who playes his part sometimes in drawing Gods
Servants from him, sometimes in perplexing them in the
service of God) stands fast in the Liberty wherewith Christ
hath made us free. This Liberty he compasseth by one
distinction, and that is, of what is Necessary, and what is
Additionary. As for example: It is necessary, that all Chris-
tians should pray twice a day, every day of the week, and four
times on Sunday, if they be well. This is so necessary, and
essentiall to a Christian, that he cannot without this maintain
himself in a Christian state. Besides this, the Godly have ever
added some houres of prayer, as at nine, or at three, or at
midnight, or as they think fit, & see cause, or rather as Gods
spirit leads them. But these prayers are not necessary, but
additionary. Now it so happens, that the godly petitioner
upon some emergent interruption in the day, or by over-
sleeping himself at night, omits his additionary prayer.
Upon this his mind begins to be perplexed, and troubled,
and Satan, who knows the exigent, blows the fire, endeavour-
ing to disorder the Christian, and put him out of his station,
and to inlarge the perplexity, untill it spread, and taint his
other duties or piety, which none can perform so wel in
trouble, as in calmness. Here the Parson interposeth with
his distinction, and shews the perplexed Christian, that this
prayer being additionary, not necessary; taken in, not corn-
manded, the omission thereof upon just occasion ought by
no means to trouble him. God knows the occasion as wel
as he, and He is as a gracious Father, who more accepts a
common course of devotion, then dislikes an occasionall
interruption. And of this he is so to assure himself, as to
admit no scruple, but to go on as cheerfully, as if he had not
been interrupted. By this it is evident, that the distinction
is of singular use and comfort, especially to pious minds,
which are ever tender, and delicate. But here there are two
Cautions to be added. First, that this interruption proceed
not out of slacknes, or coldness, which will appear if the
Pious soul foresee and prevent such interruptions, what he
may, before they come, and when for all that they do come,
he be a little affected therewith, but not afflicted, or troubled;
if he resent it to a mislike, but not a griefe. Secondly, that
this interruption proceede not out of shame. As for example:
A godly man, not out of superstition, but of reverence to
Gods house, resolves whenever he enters into a Church,
to kneel down, and pray, either blessing God, that he will be
pleased to dwell among men; or beseeching him, that when-
ever he repaires to his house, he may behave himself so as
befits so great a presence; and this briefly. But it happens,
that neer the place where he is to pray, he spyes some
scoffing ruffian, who is likely to deride him for his paines: if
he now, shall either for fear or shame, break his custome, he
shall do passing ill: so much the rather ought he to proceed,
as that by this he may take into his Prayer humiliation also.
On the other side, if I am to visit the sick in haste, and my
neerest way ly through the Church, I will not doubt to go
without staying to pray there (but onely, as I passe, in my
heart) because this kinde of Prayer is additionary, not neces-
sary, and the other duty overweighs it: So that if any scruple
arise, I will throw it away, and be most confident, that God
is not displeased. This distinction may runne through all
Christian duties, and it is a great stay and setling to religious

Editor's Note: And this is before Immanuel Kant mandated his Absolute Imperative.

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