1632 By George Herbert

The Parson's Dexterity in applying of Remedies.

THe Countrey Parson knows, that there is a double state
of a Christian even in this Life, the one military, the
other peaceable. The military is, when we are assaulted
with temptations either from within or from without, The
Peaceable is, when the Divell for a time leaves us, as he did
our Saviour, and the Angels minister to us their owne food,
even joy, and peace; and comfort in the holy Ghost. These
two states were in our Saviour, not only in the beginning of
his preaching, but afterwards also, as Mat. 22. 35. He was
tempted: And Luke IO. 2I. He rejoyced in Spirit: And
they must be likewise in all that are his. Now the Parson
having a Spirituall Judgement, according as he discovers
any of his Flock to be in one or the other state, so he applies
himselfe to them. Those that he findes in the peaceable state,
he adviseth to be very vigilant, and not to let go the raines
as soon as the horse goes easie. Particularly, he counselleth
them to two things: First, to take heed, lest their quiet
betray them (as it is apt to do) to a coldnesse, and carelesnesse
in their devotions, but to labour still to be as fervent in
Christian Duties, as they remember themselves were, when
affliction did blow the Coals. Secondly, not to take the full
compasse, and liberty of their Peace: not to eate of all those
dishes at table, which even their present health otherwise
admits; nor to store their house with all those furnitures
which even their present plenty of wealth otherwise admits;
nor when they are among them that are merry, to extend
themselves to all that mirth, which the present occasion of
wit and company otherwise admits; but to put bounds, and
hoopes to their joyes: so will they last the longer, and when
they depart, returne the sooner. If we would judg ourselves,
we should not be judged; and if we would bound our selves,
we should not be bounded. But if they shall fear, that at
such, or such a time their peace and mirth have carryed
them further then this moderation, then to take Jobs admir-
able Course, who sacrificed lest his Children should have
transgressed in their mirth:1 So let them go, and find some
poore afflicted soul, and there be bountifull, and liberall; for
with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Those that the Par-
son findes in the military state, he fortifyes, and strengthens ;
with his utmost skill. Now in those that are tempted, what-
soever is unruly, falls upon two heads; either they think,
that there is none that can or will look after things, but
all goes by chance, or wit: Or else, though there be a
great Governour of all things, yet to them he is lost, as if
they said, God doth forsake and persecute them, and there
is none to deliver them. If the Parson suspect the first,
and find sparkes of such thoughts now and then to break
forth, then without opposing directly (for disputation is no
Cure for Atheisme) he scatters in his discourse three sorts
of arguments; the first taken from Nature, the second from
the Law, the third from Grace.
     For Nature, he sees not how a house could be either built
without a builder, or kept in repaire without a house-keeper.
He conceives not possibly, how the windes should blow so
much as they can, and the sea rage so much as it can, and
all things do what they can, and all, not only without dis-
solution of the whole, but also of any part, by taking away so
much as the usuall seasons of summer and winter, earing and
harvest. Let the weather be what it will, still we have bread,
though sometimes more, somtimes lesse; wherewith also a
carefull Joseph might meet. He conceives not possibly, how
he that would beleeve a Divinity, if he had been at the Crea-
tion of all things, should lesse beleeve it, seeing the Preser-.
vation of all things; For Preservation is a Creation; and more,
it is a continued Creation, and a creation every moment.
     Secondly, for the Law, there may be so evident, though
unused a proof of Divinity taken from thence, that the
Atheist, or Epicurian can have nothing to contradict. The
Jewes yet live, and are known: they have their Law and
Language bearing witnesse to them, and they to it: they are
Circumcised to this day, and expect the promises of the
Scripture; their Countrey also is known, the places, and
rivers travelled unto, and frequented by others, but to them
an unpenetrable rock, an unaccessible desert. Wherefore if
the Jewes live, all the great wonders of old live in them, and
then who can deny the stretched out arme of a mighty God?
especially since it may be a just doubt, whether, considering
the stubbornnesse of the Nation, their living then in their
Countrey under so many miracles were a stranger thing,
then their present exile, and disability to live in their Coun-
trey. And it is observable, that this very thing was intended
by God, that the Jewes should be his proof, and witnesses,
as he calls them, Isaiah 43. 12. And their very dispersion in
all Lands, was intended not only for a punishment to them;
but for an exciting of others by their sight, to the acknow-
ledging of God and his power Psalm 59. 11. And therefore
this kind of Punishment was chosen rather then any other.
     Thirdly, for Grace. Besides the continuall succession
(since the Gospell) of holy men, who have born witness to
the truth, (there being no reason, why any should distrust
Saint Luke, or Tertullian, or Chrysostome, more then Tully,
Virgill, or Livy;) There are two Prophesies in the Gospel,
which evidently argue Christs Divinity by their success: the
one concerning the woman that spent the oyntment on our
Saviour, for which he told, that it should never be forgotten,
but with the Gospel it selfe be preached to all ages, Matth.
26. 13. The other concerning the destruction of Jerusalem;
of which our Saviour said, that that generation should not
passe, till all were fulfilled, Luke 21.32. Which Josephus's
History confirmeth, and the continuance of which verdict is
yet evident. To these might be added the Preaching of the
Gospel in all Nations, Matthew 24. 14. which we see even
miraculously effected in these new discoveryes, God turning
mens Covetousnesse, and Ambitions to the effecting of his
word. Now a prophesie is a wonder sent to Posterity, least
they complaine of want of wonders. It is a letter sealed, and
sent, which to the bearer is but paper, but to the receiver,
and opener, is full of power. Hee that saw Christ open a
blind mans eyes, saw not more Divinity, then he that reads
the womans oyntment in the Gospell, or sees Jerusalem
destroyed. With some of these heads enlarged, and woven
into his discourse, at severall times and occasions, the Parson
setleth wavering minds. But if he sees them neerer despera-
tion, then Atheisme; not so much doubting a God, as that
he is theirs; then he dives unto the boundlesse Ocean of
Gods Love, and the unspeakeable riches of his loving kind-
nesse. He hath one argument unanswerable. If God hate
them, either he doth it as they are Creatures, dust and ashes;
or as they are sinfull. As Creatures, he must needs love
them; for no perfect Artist ever yet hated his owne worke.
As sinfull, he must much more love them; because notwith-
standing his infinite hate of sinne, his Love overcame that
hate; and with an exceeding great victory, which in the
Creation needed not, gave them love for love, even the son
of his love out of his bosome of love. So that man, which way
soever he turnes, hath two pledges of Gods Love, that in the
mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be estab-
lished; the one in his being, the other in his sinfull being:
and this as the more faulty in him, so the more glorious in
God. And all may certainly conclude, that God loves them,
till either they despise that Love, or despaire of his Mercy:
not any sin else, but is within his Love; but the despising
of Love must needs be without it. The thrusting away of
his arme makes us onely not embraced.

1 Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. [The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.] [Return]

For other scriptural references in Herbert's works.

Criticism: "George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and the conversion of the Jews" by Nabil I. Matar [Works cited: "The Jews," Priest to the Temple, Ch. 34, "The Parson's Dexterity in applying of Remedies", "Self-condemnation,"

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