1632 By George Herbert

The Parson's Library.

He Countrey Parson's Library is a holy Life: for
besides the blessing that that brings upon it, there being
a promise, that if the Kingdome of God be first sought, all
other things shall be added, even it selfe is a Sermon. For
the temptations with which a good man is beset, and the
ways which he used to overcome them, being told to another,
whether in private conference, or in the Church, are a
Sermon. Hee that hath considered how to carry himself at
table about his appetite, if he tell this to another, preacheth;
and much more feelingly, and judiciously, then he writes
his rules of temperance out of bookes. So that the Parson
having studied, and mastered all his lusts and affections
within, and the whole Army of Temptations without, hath
ever so many sermons ready penn'd, as he hath victories.
And it fares in this as it doth in Physick: He that hath been
sick of a Consumption, and knows what recovered him, is
a Physitian so far as he meetes with the same disease, and
temper; and can much better, and particularly do it, then
he that is generally learned, and was never sick. And if the
same person had been sick of all diseases, and were recovered
of all by things that he knew; there were no such Physician
as he, both for skill and tendernesse. Just so it is in Divinity,
and that not without manifest reason: for though the tempta-
tions may be diverse in divers Christians, yet the victory is
alike in all, being by the self-same Spirit. Neither is this true
onely in the military state of a Christian life, but even in the
peaceable also; when the servant of God, freed for a while
from temptation, in a quiet sweetnesse seeks how to please
his God. Thus the Parson considering that repentance is
the great vertue of the Gospel, and one of the first steps of
pleasing God, having for his owne use examined the nature
of it, is able to explaine it after to others. And particularly,
having doubted sometimes, whether his repentance were
true, or at least in that degree it ought to be, since he found
himselfe sometimes to weepe more for the losse of some tem-
porall things, then for offending God, he came at length
to this resolution, that repentance is an act of the mind, not
of the Body, even as the Originall signifies; and that the
chiefe thing, which God in Scriptures requires, is the heart,
and the spirit, and to worship him in truth, and spirit.
Wherefore in case a Christian endeavour to weep, and cannot,
since we are not Masters of our bodies, this sufficeth. And
consequently he found, that the essence of repentance, that
it may be alike in all Gods children (which as concerning
weeping it cannot be, some being of a more melting temper
then others) consisteth in a true detestation of the soul, ab-
horring, and renouncing sin, and turning unto God in truth
of heart, and newnesse of life: Which acts of repentance
are and must be found in all Gods servants: Not that weeping
is not usefull, where it can be, that so the body may joyn in
the grief, as it did in the sin; but that, so the other acts be,
that is not necessary: so that he as truly repents, who per-
formes the other acts of repentance, when he cannot more,
as he that weeps a floud of tears. This Instruction and com-
fort the Parson getting for himself, when he tels it to others,
becomes a Sermon. The like he doth in other Christian
vertues, as of Faith, and Love, and the Cases of Conscience
belonging thereto, wherein (as Saint Paul implyes that he
ought, Romans 2.[21]) hee first preacheth to himselfe, and then
to others.

Next Chapter Table of Chapter Contents Bible Refenence Table George Herbert & The Temple Home Page