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John Donne, divine and poet, was born ia London in 1573. He was educated by a private preceptor till his eleventh year, when be was sent to Oxford, where he entered as commoner in Ilart Ilall. Having remained here three years, he removed to Cambridge, where he attained to considerable proficiency in the law, and other sciences; and entered with warmth upon the consideration of the con. troversy between the Romish and reformed churches; the result of which examination was, his conversion to the protestant faith.
In 1596 and 1597, he accompanied the ear! of Essex in his expeditions against Cadiz and the Azores; and during his absence, spent several years in Italy and Spain. Soon after his return to England, he was made secretary to the lord chancellor Egerton, in which em. ployment he continued five years,
Having taken his degree of master of arts at Cambridge, he was incorporated in the same at Oxford in 1610. About two years after, he accompanied sir Robert Drury to Paris.
James I. had a high opinion of his talents for theology, and would consent to promote him in no other line, Accordingly, at the particular instance of the king, he took orders in 1613, and was soon after appointed one of his majesty's chaplains in ordinary. About the same time he was created doctor in divinity by the university of Cambridge, also at the particular recommendation of the king. In 1620-1, he was advanced to the deanery of St. Paul's. He died in 1631.
1. His first prose work, and probably his best, was the Pseudo-Martyr, Lond. 1610, 4to. This was written at the express coin: mand of James; and is on the subject of the disputes concerning the oaths of allegiance and supremacy then agitated. The full title is, “Pseudo-Martyr; wherein, out of certain Propositions and Gradations, this Conclusion is evicted; that those which are of the Roman Religion, in this Kingdom, may and ought to take the Oath of Allegiance.” 2,“ Paradoxes, Problems, Essays, Characters, &c. to which is added, a book of Epigrams, written in Latin by the same author, translated into English by J. Maine, D. D. and also Ignatius's Conclave, a satire, translated out of the original copy, written in Latin by the same author;, found lately amongst his own papers.” Lond. 1653, 12mo. Parts of this collection were published at different times before.
3. Three volumes of Sermons, in folio: the first printed in 1640; the second in 1649; the third in 1660.-In rummaging these large volumes, I have not succeeded quite to my wish in the extracts I have chosen. These sermons are celebrated for their wit and humour. The reader, I am afraid, will detect few of these distinctive marks in the specimens I have to offer. The first, in particular, is characteristic of the stile of preaching at the period, rather than of Donne's peculiar manner. From the following passage, from his fourth Sermon, one would be inclined to think that the doctor was preaching against christianity, instead of for it. Nothing, however, could be farther from his thoughts. This style of preaching very much resembles that of the methodistical preachers of modern times,
The merit of belief in Christ's Contemporaries.
Be pleased to consider this great work of believing, in the matter, what it was that was to be believed: that that Jesus, whose age they knew, must be antedated so far as that they must believe him to be older than Abraham : that that Jesus, whom they knew to be that carpenter's son, and knew his work, must be believed to have set up a frame that reached to heaven, out of which no man could, and in which any man might be saved: was it not as easy to believe, that those tears, which they saw upon his cheeks, were pearls? That those drops of blood, which they saw upon his back, were rubies? That that spittle, which they saw upon his face, was enamel ? That those hands which they saw buffet him, were reached out to place him in a throne? And that that voice which they heard cry, crucifige, crucify him, was a vivat rer, long live Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews; as to believe, that from that man, that worm, and no man, ingloriously traduced as a conjurer, ingloriously apprehended as a thief, ingloriously executed as a traitor; they should look for glory, and all glory, and everlasting glory? And from that melancholick man, who was never seen to laugh in all his life, and “whose soul was heavy unto death;” they should look for joy, and all joy, and everlasting joy: and for salva
site: not only of Esay, and his countrymen the Jews; it is of a larger extent. The angel so interpreteth it, this day to the shepherds : Gaudium, quod erit omni populo, joy that shall be to all people; not the people of the Jews, or the people of the Gentiles; but simply to all people. His name is Jesus Christ, half Hebrew, half Greek: Jesus, Hebrew, Christ, Greek: so sorted of purpose, to shew, Jews and Greeks have equal interest in him. And now, so is his father's name too, Abba, Father, to shew the benefit equally intended by him, to them that call him Abba, that is, the Jews; to us that call him Father, that is, the Gentiles.
God with us, Immanuel-why? to what end? To save us from our sins, and from perishing by them.
And now to look into the name. It is compounded, and to be taken in pieces. First, into Immanu and El: of which E1, (the latter) is the more principal by far: for El is God. Now, for any thing yet said in concipiet and puriet, all is but man with us : not God with us, till now. By the name, we take our first notice, that this child is God: and this is a great addition; and here (lo!) is the wonder! For, as for any child of a woman, to eat butter and honey, (the words that next follow) where is the ecce? But, for El, for God, to do it; that is worth an ecce indeed! El is God: and not God every way; but (as the force of the word is) God, in his full