Humility of Soule and Body
HUMILITY OF SOULE AND BODY
“Venite,” saies David, “Let us come” hither, let us be here; what to doe? VENITE ADOREMUS, “Let us come and worship”; How? will not the heart serve? no; ADOREMUS & PROCIDAMUS, “Let us fall downe, and kneele before the Lord our Maker.” Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification; and as without this, without holinesse, no man shall see God, though he pore whole nights upon the Bible; so without that, without humility, no man shall heare God speake to his soule, though hee heare three two-houres Sermons every day. But if God bring thee to that humiliation of soule and body here, hee will emprove, and advance thy sanctification ABUNDANTIUS, more abundantly, and when he hath brought it to the best perfection, that this life is capable of, he will provide another ABUNTANTIUS, another maner of abundance in the life to come; which is the last beating of the pulse of this text [John 10:10], the last panting of the breath thereof, our anhelation, and panting after the joyes, and glory and eternity of the kingdome of Heaven.
—John Donne (1573-1631), Sermon 7 in the posthumously published (1640) collection of Eighty Sermons. This message was preached on Christmas Day (c. 1629) on the text John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” My hearty thanks go to Paul Roberts, reference librarian at the James P. Boyce Library on our campus for helping me locate the source of this quotation. The entire sermon is available at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (www.ccel.org/index/author-D.html), an amazing resource for old books and sermons.
[I was drawn to this quotation for two reasons—the emphasis on humility and Donne’s charming and probably pejorative reference to two-hour sermons. This particular sermon on John 10:10 is not short. In fact, I estimate that it would take roughly eighty or ninety minutes to deliver in an orator’s voice at a moderate speed. His point, obviously, is that it is the condition of the worshiper’s heart that makes the soil ready for the seed (God's Word). I suppose that Donne is saying that the humility of body (kneeling) is the posture that best reflects the humility of the worshiper’s soule. Why don’t we kneel more?]
Have a great week.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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