The art of preaching, as practised by the Anglican metaphysical preachers of the 17th century, especially Lancelot Andrewes and John Donne, involved rhetorical devices which are quite foreign to modern-day preachers and their congregations. Nonetheless, in the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes we can see many elements which can enhance contemporary preaching--especially, careful attention to the text of Scripture and a concern for the intellectual and affective. This study of Andrewes illustrates both of those concerns.
John Donne, while perhaps today the best known "metaphysical" preacher of the High Church Polity, was not the most popular of his own day. Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Ely and preacher to Elizabeth and James I, held that honor, although that very style which made him so appealing then renders him almost unapproachable and alien now. Andrewes' early life seems to have lacked the color and zest of Donne's. While perhaps making him the more stable, centered man, his youth never gave him cause to be very colorful with vivid imagery in his sermons. While Donne creates powerful visual images by means of which he draws the hearers into the sermon, such as his Minute-glass, his forked "Y" or his maps, all of Andrewes' invention is verbal, textual; there are no Minute-glasses, no forked Y's, no dimensions of words and their meanings such as one encounters in the sermons of Donne. On the level of verbal invention, however, Andrewes will far exceed Donne's inventive capabilities and find more metaphorical signification in a word through his witty invention than St. Augustine would have ever imagined or possibly sanctioned. It would be this sort of treatment of a Scriptural text, not as Andrewes but as his lesser imitators would deliver, which would mortify Puritans and frustrate Anglicans such as Tillotson, necessitating a pronounced alteration of preaching style.
Andrewes, like Donne, was first a Christian in his office of Anglican priest. He has left a testimony of his faith in the Preces Privatae, a collection of devotions and prayers composed in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the three languages of his Cambridge education. Through these private prayers three factors emerge which become central to his public sermons. The first concerns his relationship to the Word of God. "The universe hath been summed up in thy Word," and so it is no wonder that Andrewes takes any one of these words which makes up the Word and "derives the world from it, squeezing and squeezing the word until it yields a full juice of meaning which we never have supposed any word to possess." For Andrewes, there are guidelines, but no limit as to how far one may pursue significations of a word.
A second factor involves Andrewes' ability and predilection to interweave texts into his own work. In his Preces he presents a table grace composed of five lines from Scripture in very distant books perfectly interwoven into one prayer:
Thou that givest food to all flesh,
which feedest the young ravens that cry unto thee
And hath nourished us from our youth up:
fill our hearts with food and gladness
and establish our heart with thy grace.
This is but the stitch-pattern for the tapestries of his sermons, interwoven not only with Scripture, but also with Patristic writings and laced all about with allusions from Classical antiquity.
More personally, these Preces Privatae reveal Andrewes concern for his work as priest and, by extension, the aims of his preaching. He prays constantly and expressively for the church, for "the restoration of the things that are wanting therein; the strengthening of the things that remain therein." He himself desires God to use him for some part of this, in an attitude which suggests receptiveness to God's direction rather than merely his own: "Grant me the power and the opportunity of well doing, that before the day of my decease I may at all adventure effect some good thing whereof the fruit remain."
Particularly, Andrewes was sensitive to doctrinal concerns and reveals throughout his sermons the desire to instruct his parishioners in the true doctrine, the doctrine of the church, for all his sermons are examples of doctrinal preaching. He responds to this concern in another prayer for the welfare of the church, that God would deliver it
from evils and troubles . . . private interpretation, innovation touching the sacred things, the teaching of a different doctrine, doting about questions and making endless strifes, from heresies, schisms, scandals public, private.
The final two lines are fruits of the preceeding three, and these are the "evils and troubles" which Andrewes sought to combat through his concentration on presenting the doctrines of the church through his "metaphysical" preaching.
Andrewes never preached without first praying with the congregation, and would never even approach the sermon without praying privately. His awareness of the responsibilities of his calling rendered him all the more sensitive to his dependence upon God in the execution of these duties:
O Thou of double nature, which in the tongs did touch the lips of the prophet and take away his iniquity: touch my lips, who am a sinner, and purge me of every stain and make me skilled to show forth thine oracles.
His prayer is a pattern for his sermons, for first he looks upon the Scripture and sees there God's work recorded, appropriates it sacramentally for himself (in the sermons, for the whole congregation), and applies it to his duty, to living the Word, not hearing only.
As a final expression of the relationship between prayer and preaching, preacher, God, and hearers, Andrewes presents this meditation recalling the advice of Cicero and Augustine:
Let the preacher labour to be heard gladly, intelligently, obediently. And let him not question that he can do better by the piety of his prayers than by the fluency of the speech. By praying for himself and for them he is going to address, let him be a bedesman or ever he be a teacher: and approaching devoutly, before he put forth a speaking tongue, let him lift up to God a thirsty soul, so that he may give out what from Him he hath drunk in, and empty out what he hath first replenished.
Andrewes, far more than Donne, referred to the contemporary problem of how a parishioner ought to hear a sermon. Where Donne seemed content that the congregation should have assembled at all, Andrewes was concerned with the reasons for their coming and the attitudes of their hearing. This concern was increased by his awareness that, while many people flocked to hear the sermons, attendance for the prayers and at the Eucharist dropped sharply in comparison. In one of his "Gunpowder" Sermons (a sermon preached on the anniversary of the discovery of the "Gunpowder Conspiracy"), he explores rather facetiously the contemporary person's relationship to the Word, always concerned that the hearers be factiores verbi, non solum auditores ("doers of the word, not hearers only"):
Let us see how we serve his Word, that part of His service which in this age--I might say in the error of this age--carries away all. For what is it "to serve God in holiness?" Why, to go to a sermon; all our holiday "holiness," yea and our working-day too, both are come to this, to hear--nay, I dare not say that, I cannot prove it--but to be at a sermon.
Andrewes was wary even from his days at Pembroke College of those among any congregaton with pruritum aurium, "itching ears,"--a desire to hear an eloquent dictation out of a pulpit; to have a period fall roundly, pleasing the ear, and doing the soul no good. So much the more was he wary of preaching with such insubstantial ends in mind. For Andrewes, "the only true praise of a sermon is, some evil left, or some good done upon the hearing of it," and so would be pleased that he would receive no other praise for his sermons from a modern reader. This one concern soundly shaped his style, for in his sermons are very few rounded periods and other ear-pleasing phenomena. As his doctrine and ascetic demands, so his style also--both precise and jarring.
A second such concern involved Andrewes' desire to elevate the other parts of the liturgy--the Prayers and Sacrament--to their original and proper place in the congregation's priorities. On this matter he is very vocal:
The Word is holy, I know, and I wish it all the honour that may be; but God forbid we should think that in hoc uno sunt omnia. All our "holiness" is in hearing, all our service "ear-service"; that were in effect as much as to say all the body were an ear.
This way is our age affected, now is the world of sermons. For proof whereof, as if all godliness were in hearing of sermons, take this very place, the house of God, which now you see meetly well-replenished; come at any other parts of the service of God (parts, I say, of the service of God no less than this) you shall find it in a manner desolate.
It was a complaint not voiced by Donne, that parishioners were foolishly moved to set the parts of the divine service "at odds together these two ways, whether is better, Praying or Preaching; the Word or the Sacraments." Andrewes placed almost equal emphasis on all the parts, even weighing the Sacrament of the Eucharist as a little greater than all the others, and affirmed that "some part, yea the chief part is wanting, if that be wanting." Acknowledging this, affirming this, Andrewes would not seek, as Donne did, to make of the sermon a complete, consummate; religious experience. It was enough that it be a complete part, an aid to the full devotion attainable only through the many parts which comprised the full service of God in preaching, prayer, and partaking of the Eucharist. For this cause, perhaps to support this cause, Andrewes never felt the need to use the sermon to create an hour of the next world on earth, to propel the congregation upward into the Kingdom of God, as Donne used the sermon. Such transference belonged to the Sacrament and the prayers. The sermon simply represented the word expounded, made plain in its meaning and applicable to the parishioners' lives. Many of Andrewes' sermons point directly and openly to the Eucharist, with an invitation to the prayers as the bridge between Word-made-plain and Word-made-flesh in the liturgy of the Eucharist. The sermon wholly concerned itself with the extrapolation of meaning from the words in the Word of God.
The sermon began with interpretation of a verse of Scripture and developed and ended as the same interpretation expanded. In this, Andrewes still followed the rules outlined by Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana, the medieval ars praedicandi, and metaphysical development, yet in his relationship to this tradition and in the end products of his sermon-making Andrewes differs greatly from Donne, who accepted uncritically the four modes of exegesis and the authority of the Church Fathers. In his Catechism, written early in his life as a fellow at Pembroke, Andrewes enumerates six viable approaches to interpreting Scripture: prayer, comparison with other Scriptures (cf. the Scholastic mode of dilation through concordant authorities and Augustine's affirmations regarding unities of meaning between Scriptures), examiniation of the text in the original language, knowledge of the specific dialect of that part of Scripture, authorial intention or scope, and illumination through context. He asserts, rather puritanically, that one cannot rely upon the Church Fathers or Councils. A person "shall not find one place of a hundred which they all expound alike, so that few of their expositions should be received." To this was bound his rejection of private interpretation, as well as his affirmation that there was only one sense of Scripture in any one place.
Andrewes moved slowly from this theory of biblical exegesis to a broader view which brought him at last to rely heavily upon the Fathers, not only for supporting references, but also for imagery and style. It is from them that he acquires his predilection for thesis-antithesis and parallel structure. Andrewes went further than even Donne, looking as well to pagan antiquity for support of his exegesis of Scripture. This practice met with considerable opposition, but Andrewes defended it staunchly, as in a sermon upon the adoration of the Magi, the very type of worldly philosophy bowing down to Christ for his service: there is no truth at all in human learning or philosophy that thwarteth any truth in Divinity, but sorteth well with it and serveth it, and all to honour Him Who saith of Himself Ego sum Veritas, "I am the Truth."
The sermons are interlaced with Augustine, Chrysostum, Basil, Gregory, Aquinas, and Bernard, but these side by side with Pliny, Herodotus, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Seneca, Juvenal, and Terence, and all bound together by Scripture.
Andrewes also became more comfortable with each of the four levels of Scriptural interpretation articulated in the ars praedicandi tradition. His four are best identified as grammatical, moral, allegorical, and typological. He exercises allegory with control, unwilling to get caught up in its tangled folds where a grammatical or moral reading would serve the souls of the congregation better. Augustine's approach to the Old Testament was largely typological, and Andrewes again follows the method of the saint, although Andrewes is more open than Augustine to perceiving its moral sense.
Concerning his six methods of interpretation from the Catechism, only two rise to prominence and common use in his sermons--correspondence of concordant Scriptures and the examination of the original language for the passage, These two were especially well suited to the word-oriented approach which dominates the entire corpus of Andrewes' sermons. A modem reader unfamiliar with the whole of Scripture would be awed by the thorough acquaintance with the Bible in all its parts which Andrewes displays, no less than by the facility and freedom with which he brings texts together to adduce the meaning of the sermon text. In a Passion sermon, Andrewes typically pieces together an argument from several diverse texts, pointing towards the uniqueness of Christ's death even in the actual details (later in the significance):
1. First, the better to specify and particularize the Person of Christ, by the kind, and most peculiar circumstance, of his death. Esay has said, "Morietur," Die He shall, and lay down His soul an offering for sin. 2. Die--what death? a natural or a violent? Daniel tells us occidetur; he shall die, not a natural, but a violent death. 3. But many are slain after many sorts, and diverse kinds there be of violent deaths. The Psalmist, the more particularly to set it down, describeth it thus: "They pierced my hands and my feet;" which is only proper to the death of the Cross. 4. Die, and be slain, and be crucified. But sundry else were crucified; and therefore the prophet here, to make up all, addeth, that he should not only be crucifixus, but transfixus [from the day's text]; not only have His hands and feet, but even his heart pierced too. Which very note severs Him from all the rest, with as great particularity as may be."
This pattern of argument, among many other such things, becomes a distinctive feature of Andrewes' prose style and reveals Andrewes' retention of that distrust for personal interpretation. The best way to uncover the meaning of Scripture, Andrewes would argue as certainly as he demonstrates, is through the rest of Scripture. This constant concordancing on every point, as the passage above indicates, shaped Andrewes' style, making it ever more terse as he balanced points or exploded antitheses. It is his style which more directly appertains to the decline of pulpit oratory which Tillotson would later remedy in his new method, as Birch, Tillotson's biographer, notes: "The great corruption of the oratory of the pulpit may be ascribed to Dr. Andrewes, whose high reputation on other accounts gave a sanction to that vicious taste introduced by him." The harshness of the criticism somewhat undermines its value, yet it is true that contemporary diaries and such records showed increasing annoyance at the Andrean style, at least as it appeared in the generation of his imitators.
A notable characteristic of Andrewes' style appears in the meticulous balancing of phrases which appears everywhere throughout the sermons. Often those periods are dialogues of questions, one set to answer the preceding, or of type with its antitype, as in this selection from a Nativity sermon:
But why this person the Son? Behold, "Adam would" have "become one of Us"--the fault; behold, one of Us will become Adam [i.e., "man"], is the satisfaction. Which of Us would he have become? Sicut dii scientes, "the Person of knowledge." He therefore shall become Adam; a Son shall be given. Desire of knowledge, our attainder; He in "Whom all the treasures of knowledge," our restoring. Flesh would have been the Word, as wise as the Word--the cause of our ruin; meet then the "Word become Flesh," that so our ruin repaired.
Closely linked with his concern for balanced phrasing is his regard for parallelism, already exemplified above in the passage arguing the uniqueness of the manner of Christ's death. The whole excerpt proceeds thus: 1. Statement from scripture, 2. question, answer from Scripture, 3. objection, resolution from Scripture; the whole presented in perfect parallel construction.
On the level of the paragraph, none may entertain complaints against Andrewes. Two other stylistic features--his sentences and his wordplay--have roused choruses of dissonance hissing at his work. Eliot notes Andrewes' mastery of the short sentence, and clearly brevity was a concern for Andrewes, as he himself asserts that "those who in fewest words comprise most matter, are most praised." Andrewes' sermons represent in a rather extreme way certain elements of the Senecan style of speaking. This appears not only in the numerous pithy, concise statements (sententiae) bespeckling his sermons, but even more in the terse, even jagged sentences comprised primarily of monosyllabic words. This style lends itself not at all to flowing periods, standing in extreme antithesis to the sweeping Ciceronian style apparent in Donne's sermons. An extreme, but not wholly atypical, example of this appears in a Resurrection Sermon preached in 1613:
Thus then it lieth. Christ is risen, then we. If we so be, then we "seek;" and that we cannot, unless we "set our minds." To "set our minds" then on what? "On things above." Which above? Not "on earth," so is the text, but "where Christ is." And why there? Because, where He is there are the things we seek for, and here cannot find. There "He is sitting;"--so at rest. And "at the right hand;"--so in glory. These Christ hath found, and so shall we, if we make this our agendum; begin this day to "set our minds" to search after them.
In this passage, ninety-four words are monosyllabic, only eleven disyllabic, and one trisyllabic. Typically he ends his period of jagged, rigorously Spartan exegesis with a concluding sentence of striking smoothness and elegance, a port of rest after a tumultuous sea-voyage. Such periods have encouraged hearers to comment upon Andrewes as exhibiting
a singular, abrupt, jagged, tangled style, in reading whom one seems to be walking through a thicket crammed with thoughts and thoughtlets, and is caught at every tenth step by some out-jutting briar.
Still, such a "tangled thicket" served Andrewes' purpose in expounding the doctrine of any given text, for, in the rigors of extended argument he would admit no digression but rather pursued the meaning of his text relentlessly until he caught his quarry and held it up triumphantly in a closing sentence for his hearers.
On account of this evident direction and rigor in Andrewes' sermons, the Scottish lord criticized him wrongly when he said that Andrewes was not learned, but played with his text as a jackanapes does, who takes up a thing, and plays with it. . . . Here's a pretty thing, and there's a pretty thing. The nobleman clearly did not follow how one "pretty thing" added to the previous "pretty thing" to form, ultimately, an intricate whole, a more than thorough excavation of the full meaning of the text. Yet still, Andrewes' modes of word-play often posed stumbling blocks in the paths of his hearers, and one might easily mistake his excavating a meaning for trivializing the words of the text, the Word of God. Where Donne's Augustinian fascination with the word as "sign" found expression in his sermons through lexicographical examination of the word in the original language (or in the Vulgate) or exploration through concordant Scriptures, Andrewes pursues his similar grammatical fascination largely through puns--usually through assonance or a change of case endings--in English or Latin, or both at once. This could work either on the level of exposition or in so central a feature as the division itself. He employs assonance, the similarity of the sounds of a word, to indicate difference in meaning. In preaching upon a text narrating Christ's reproaching the hypocrites, he notes: "It was not their doublefast, but their double face;" upon Christ's Nativity: "He that cometh here in clouts, He will come in the clouds one day;" in Latin as well: "When spes becomes res;" "where votum is totum;" in both Latin and English, against Manicheus' doctrine that Christ was not born in the flesh; "as if factum had been fictum, or making were mocking." He often condescends to the pun: "He that sits on the throne thus became thrown in a manger." Far more striking, though but a higher species of the same genus, are his expositions around extended punning, assonance, and coining:
This "immanu" is a compound again; we may take it in sunder into nobis and cum; and so then we have three pieces. 1. El, the mighty God; 2. and "anu," we, poor we, . . . 3. and "Im," which is cum . . . to couple God and us. . . . If this Child be "Immanuel, God with us," then without this Child, this Immanuel, we be without God. And if without him in this [world], without Him in the next; and if without Him there--if it be not "Immanu-el," it will be "Immanu-hell;" and that and no other place will fall, I fear me, to our share. Without Him, this we are. What with Him? Why, if we have Him, and God by Him, we need no more; "Immanu-all" and "Immanu-all."
Such witty, verbal reconstructions of a word seem to rank, as it were, with an equal number of concordant authorities for Andrewes, as this Immanuel/Immanu-hell/Immanu-all interchange provides all the support for the arguments in this passage, where each step might have been just as readily and perhaps more tastefully deduced from concordant Scriptural passages. The repititious quality of puns and assonances at some level achieves that union between two propositions, binding them together, which was but a mere reflection of Andrewes' capacity to penetrate to the unities of Scripture. This insight made his puns more than mere word-play or trifling with the sacred text, as it was through these puns that Andrewes often brought diverse but concordant texts together.
On the level of the general structure of the sermons, Andrewes, like Donne, adhered strictly to the forma praedicandi as articulated by the medieval theorists Robert of Basevorn, Richard of Thetford, and St. Bonaventura. Except for some of his Ash Wednesday sermons, Andrewes always preaches a Scriptural text of two or three verses at the most and the sermon follows the Augustinian pattern of taking up the words with their significances as they appear in the text. He begins each sermon with a proem which almost invariably explores the connection, the immediacy, of the text with-the liturgical feast day or fast day. These antethemes contain no such imagistic conceits as appear throughout Donne, but rely rather on verbal clarity and persuasion than ravishing the mind.
The divisio, which Andrewes referred to as his "partition," followed immediately. Andrewes again employs no visual conceits to deploy his division, but rather takes "partition" in its narrowest sense to divide up the text into the sections of his focus. He can be plain in this partition, as in the first Passion sermon:
The principal words are but two, and set down unto us in two points. I. The sight itself, that is, the thing to be seen; II. and the sight of it, that is, the act of seeing or looking. Quem transfixerunt is the object, or spectacle propounded. Respicient in Eum, is the act or duty enjoined.
He may often display, however, a verbal inventiveness comparable to Donne's visual conceits in the partition, especially where he affords himself a longer text. Preaching on John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, etc.," he begins the divisio with an involved partitioning of the text according to several significances, but sets forth the actual partition around alterations of the text Verbo caro factum est which will serve to display these significances:
all reducible to these three: I. Quod verbum caro; II. Quid Verbum carni; III. Quid Cato Verbo. I. 'That the Word became Flesh;' the mystery. II. 'What the Word did for the flesh;' the benefit. III. 'And what flesh is to do for the Word again;' the duty.
One encounters trouble when analyzing the dilatio of any of Andrewes' sermons. The relentlessness and rigor of Andrewes' confirmation of his theme coupled with the homogeneity of style casts a veil over the working of the eight modes of dilation which were so immediately identifiable in Donne. All are in fact present, but often submerged underneath the terse, jagged prose and the constant appeal to a verbal and not visual apprehension of the meaning of the text. Ratiocination and exposition through concordant authorities, being the most textual, appear most frequently. Subdivision surfaces ubiquitously. As part of the dilatio, in a subsection called by the theorists the amplificatio, Andrewes often depicts the Biblical scene which is the setting for the text almost in the style of an Ignatian meditation, but he never intruded upon the scene. If Andrewes had spoken of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, he would not have made himself, as John Donne did with great devotional effect, the central figure of the whole image. Such applicatio belonged to verbal, not visual, propounding.
As Donne, Andrewes often eschewed any recapitualtion where it might detract from the effect of the sermon on the hearers. Where Donne had sought to move his hearers up into the "everlasting arms" of God, Andrewes directed his efforts towards moving his hearers out, to making them factiores verbi, "doers of the Word, not hearers only." Although Andrewes would fit in the application of any given part of his text where the meaning is discussed in the dilatio, he usually fashions his conclusions to strengthen the applicatio of the meaning of a text to the lives of the parishioners or a call to some particular duty or service. Often his Ash Wednesday sermons will perorate in a call to prayer, fasting, and repentence, all of which are duties of a Christian. The Nativity Sermon on "Verbum caro factum est," etc., concludes with the third part of the divisio, viz. Quod caro Verbo, the duty of the Christian in response to the Incarnation, which Andrewes understands here to involve partaking of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, which followed in the day's service. Often, indeed, Andrewes will so devise his division that the final part will appertain to application and so serve him as a conclusion.
The third Passion sermon, preached upon the text "They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10), affords a rich example. Coming out of his explication of Respicient Eum, Andrewes concludes:
In a word, if thus causing ourselves to fix our eyes on Him we ask, How long shall we continue so doing, and when we may give over? let this be the answer; Donec totus fixus in corde, Qui totus fixus in cruce ["until he is as firmly fixed in the heart as he was on the cross"]. Or if that be too much or too hard, yet saltem, 'at the least.' 'respice in Illum donec Ille te respexerit, 'Look upon Him till he look upon you again.' For so He will. He did upon Peter, and with his look melted him into tears.
On Good Friday of 1615, Andrewes preached before the king upon the text of Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, and despised the shame; and is set at the right hand of the throne of God." He begins the antetheme with a concordant authority, Luke 23:48, which links the "looking" of his text to the "sight" of the crucified Christ, further developing the relationship through references to St. Paul (1 Cor 2:2). He explores the text in two contexts; first in the context of the liturgical occasion, then in the context of the epistle, which speaks of running the course of the Christian life and not fainting. These two points become the foci of the two parts of the division, Christ's Passion, our action. He ends the proem with a return to the first consideration, the looking towards Christ, except here not on the Cross but upon the throne. This antetheme has outlined the dimensions and levels already which will form the guidelines for Andrewes' discourse upon the text. The division follows, first expressed simply:
Let us then turn aside, to see this great sight. The principal parts thereof are two: 1. The sight itself, that is, the thing to be seen; and 2. the sight of it, that is, the act of seeing it or looking on it.
Andrewes then takes considerable pains to amplify this rather vague divisio with his first barrage of subdivisions. He begins first with the object of sight, Jesus, the "Author and Finisher of our faith," citing his work as Author as involving Passion, a matter of love, and his work as Finisher as involving His Session (enthronement) "at the right hand of . . . God," a matter of hope. He further subdivides the Passion into, first, what he suffered, enduring the cross and despising the shame, and second, what moved Him to it.
Andrewes moves then to the duty or act of looking on this sight, breaking down this part grammatically. He begins with the prepositions in the Greek, one meaning "away from" embedded in the participle and the other, meaning "towards, unto" standing at the head of a prepositional phrase, and promises to begin the section by delineating what the hearers are to "look from" and what to "look to." Andrewes then looks to the verbs, the participial form of the verb "to look upon" and the finite verbs in the preceeding and succeeding verses, first Ut Curramus, then Ne fatigemus, "to run" so as "to faint not." He argues that the participle "looking away to Jesus" can be taken as dependent upon either of these finite verbs, and interprets accordingly.
The division finished, Andrewes takes up each of its parts severally in the dilatio, beginning first with Jesus as "Author and Finisher of our faith." He develops this through many concordant authorities (Rev 1:8, 11, 17; 21:6; 21:13; John 1:1; Col. 1:16), almost playfully at first as he enumerates the titles of Jesus which pertain to a first and last, e.g. "Alpha and Omega," as "Verbum in Principio" and the "Amen." He then explores the notion of Jesus as Author in the Passion, looking first to the motives thereunto, "love first," then "hope, the hope of a rich return." Andrewes then takes up "the cross" and "the shame" jointly, showing how "his love of us triumphed over the love of His life and honour both, ending the section with one of his periods of balancing, answering each of the many aspects of our fall with some aspect of His Passion. Establishing the inseparability of cross and shame through a reference in Livy (History 1:26) to the "arborem infoelicem, et stipitem in-famem," he goes on to explore their several aspects in detail:
I take but the four things ascribed by the Holy Ghost to the Cross, answerable to the four ends or quarters of it. 1. Sanguis Crucis, 2. Doloris Crucis, 3. Scandalurn Crucis, 4. Maledictum Crucis [1. Blood of the Cross, 2. Sorrow of the Cross, 3. Offense of the Cross, 4. Curse of the Cross].
The first two appertain to the pain, the last two to the shame of the Cross. In the amplification of the first two, Andrewes unfolds little-by little but in an ever-increasing crescendo the horror and pain of Christ's death on the Cross. The first, Sanguis Crucis, he develops through ratiocination, building up his argument by positing a statement, looking for some good or acceptable shade in it, and showing how Christ was refused any goodness or nobility in His death: "It is no poor privilege to die without shedding of blood," but Christ was denied this, "Yet every untimely death is not violent," but a bloody death is: "A violent death may come . . . by valour," but "this death is . . . an execution." Andrewes develops the second, Doloris Crucis, by vivid word-painting of the extremities of Christ's sufferings, capping both with a presentation of His "inner cross," His spiritual passion. He begins his discussion of "shame," Scandalum Crucis, asserting that the shame was even worse than the pain, and continues through subdivision and argument with an ear for heightening the tone and timbre of the burning shame. He distinguishes Christ's shame in his enduring opprobities in forma servi, malefici, ludibrii, and reprobi ("in the form of a slave, a criminal, a fool, and a reprobate"), each a worse state than its precedent, and adds to this the fourth category, Maledictum Crucis, the depth ultra quod non of Christ's sufferings. Andrewes finishes the first part of the dilatio with a consideration of "quo animo, 'in what mind,' He did and suffered all this," arguing through concordant authorities for the enthusiasm and exhilaration which He demonstrated as the hour drew nigh, and for the perfection of love which made it possible.
Thus far from the division has been amplification. With the second part of the division to be taken up, the act or duty of looking towards this sight, Andrewes begins the application which will move to its own conclusion for the sermon. He explains plainly what it means to look away, why one must look away in order to look up to Christ, and moves to the third part, namely, what one is to see. He instructs his hearers to see the power of the Cross "medicinal, like that of the brazen serpent" to cleanse sin, and to see the power of the Cross "exemplary," reading there Faith, Patience, Humility, Perseverance, and Love perfected. He develops each of these through concordant authorities. Andrewes then looks back to the verse preceeding his text to find the first purpose for thus looking at the Cross, "that we may run." He develops this according to the work of Christ as "Author of our faith," to the motivation of love, and to our "looking away from sin and hindrances to the Christian life," or "at leastwise, if not to run from it, not to run to it as we have; to nail down our feet from running to sin, and our hands from committing sin," a figure singularly appropriate to the day of the sermon. Finally, Andrewes looks forward to the verse following his text to find the second part of the purpose for looking at the Cross, "that we faint not." His focus is now forward, remembering his discussion of "looking towards," of the work of Christ as "Finisher of our faith," and of the motivation of hope. This hope, for him, provides the safeguard against fainting, for
There is an ample matter of hope, as before of love, all being turned in and out. He now sits at ease that before hung in pain. Now on a throne, that before on the cross. All change; His cross into ease, His shame into glory. . . The love of His cross is to us a pledge of the hope of His throne, or whatsoever else He hath or is worth.
The sermon concludes with more of such encouragement to grasp this hope which can keep the Christian's love from fainting in the race.
Andrewes and Donne represent only the metaphysical preachers of the Arminian High Church Party. They cannot be presented as typical, but only as exemplary models of their class. Not all Anglican priests followed the metaphysical school of preaching, nor were all metaphysical preachers Arminian, yet those who occupied the positions of greatest influence--Donne at St. Paul's in London, Andrewes in his several bishoprics and at Whitehall, Taylor in his bishopric--made metaphysical preaching the predominant and most appealing form for the first third of the seventeenth century. Horton Davies in his most recent study on the metaphysical preachers delineates eleven features which make their style clearly distinct from the principal alternative, the Plain Style advocated by the Puritans of the period (and later taken up by Anglican preachers such as Tillotson and Wesley). These features are (1) wit, (2) patristic references, (3) classical, pre-Christian allusions, (4) illustrations from "unnatural" natural history, (5) quotations from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and attention to etymology, (6) peculiar principles of biblical exegesis, (7) sermon structure and divisions according to medieval theory, (8) Senecan (or Ciceronian) style, (9) use of paradoxes, emblems, and riddles, (10) speculative doctrines and arcane knowledge, and (11) attention given to relating doctrinal or devotional preaching to the appropriate day or season of the liturgical year. His inventory is complete, if only a catalog of the obvious; and there is hardly a sermon by either Andrewes or Donne which would not illustrate all eleven characteristics, although each of the two preachers displayed a pointed preference.
Conspicuously absent from this list, although certainly present in both Donne and Andrewes, are the seriousness of personal devotion and articulated aims for their sermons which inspired life into their preaching and which lent them depth and fullness of content to add to form and eloquence. Both relied heavily upon Augustinian, grammatical exegetical principles, and chose to fit their message into the especially suitable Medieval forma praedicandi. While they differed in their views of what the sermon could or should accomplish, both formed clear direction and purpose for their preaching, and suited their style to that end. In that respect they differed not at all from Tillotson or Wesley whose own forma praedicandi would later entirely supplant theirs, influenced as it was by the Puritan Plain Style and developments in rhetoric during the Renaissance which had been left unexplored by the metaphysical preachers.
While Andrewes' style of preaching remains foreign to twentieth-century parishioners and priests, his understanding of and approach to the task of preaching still provide a helpful model, all the more for those who consider imitating the soul of his preaching rather than its form. In our age, when many lament the state of preaching, such models are to be welcomed. First, Andrewes presents us with a remarkable understanding of the Word of God. On the one hand, he demonstrates his complete respect for the Word in that his sermons are completely devoted to expounding the meaning of the words of the Biblical text (which in his sermons is greatly assisted by his willingness and ability to work in the original languages), aiming to bring their power to bear on his congregations. On the other hand, his high view of Scripture does not begin to approach fundamentalism and allows even for the introduction of the insights of modem biblical criticism. That is, since truth is not only to be found at the level of the letters, the words themselves never become lapidary idols, but always remain windows into the truth of God.
Second, despite his knowledge of the Scriptures, Church Fathers, Greco-Roman literature, and the practical arts of preaching, Andrewes never relies on these alone for the task of preaching. He conceives of preaching as more than human effort, and provides a model of a more-than-competent preacher who is comfortable with his dependence on God for the preaching task. The preacher allows the power of the Word and the direction of God to flow through the sermon, which also relieves him or her of the pressure to perform week after week. Third, Andrewes presents a present-day Anglican communion seeking for doctrinal identity with a model of sensitivity to the importance of testing and teaching doctrine. In the current doctrinal pluralism--indeed, amorphism in some sectors--priests may be tempted to shun the discussion of doctrine with other priests and laypeople. Andrewes calls us to bravely enter the discussion in the collegial search for truth, and to bring our parishioners into the exchange as well.
Finally, Andrewes presents a model for conceiving of the worship service as a whole in which all parts contribute equally, and in which the several parts may engage in dialogue with each other. Andrewes peached at a time when the Sacrament of Holy Communion was in danger of being eclipsed by the service of the Word, the centerpiece of which was the sermon. Presently, many parishes are returning to a more frequent service of Holy Communion. Indeed, this movement may be greeted as a salutary return from over-intellectualized religious activity, in which the sermon was all, to a more balanced conception of Christian worship and belief as touching both mind and spirit. Andrewes demonstrates that the sermon and the service of Holy Communion are not rivals and not at odds with one another. They are, rather, two species of the same genus--the Sacrament of the Word and the Sacrament of the Meal. Indeed, Andrewes often ended his sermons with invitations to the Eucharist, providing the pattern of a service which moves from Word-made-plain to Word-made-flesh as he strove to help his parishioners see "the text in the feast, and the feast in the text."
1 Augustine's work on biblical interpretation, De Doctrina Christiana, sets out the theory of "signs" and signification which become fundamental for exegesis and preaching for centuries to come. In Book II, Augustine takes up his discussion of "signs" and "things" as they pertain to exegesis. He distinguishes between two types of signs--natural and arbitrary (or conventional). Natural signs include such things as smoke as a sign of fire, or a footprint as a sign for the sometime presence of an animal or human being. Such signs are "necessary signs"--by their very nature they refer to the thing beyond themselves which they signify. "Arbitrary" signs refer to something other than themselves by convention or mutual agreement. Language consists entirely of such conventional signs, signs which have no meaning except as linguistic and cultural context supply.
Any word is a sign. The proper signification of a word occurs when the word signifies the very thing for which it was instituted, as when the word "lion" signifies the golden-haired, carnivorous quadruped indigenous to the jungle. The transferred (or metaphorical) signification of a word occurs when the thing which the word signifies itself signifies another thing, as when the word "lion" signifies the strong, regal jungle animal and the animal itself is called upon to designate, for example, the Messiah, as in "the lion of the tribe of Judah" (Bev 5:5). Thus the exegete must first determine the proper signification of the words and then proceed to discover transferred significations in order to uncover the full meaning of the examined passage.
- 2 T.S. Eliot, Selected Essays (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1932), 305.
- 3 The Private Devotions of Lancelot Andrewes, ed. and tr. by F. E. Brightman (London, 1903), 260. The references appear to be to Ps 136:25; Lk 12:24; Sir 50:22; Acts 14:17; Heb 13:9.
- 4 Devotions, 60.
- 5 Devotions, 254.
- 6 In his recent study, Lancelot Andrewes the Preacher (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991), Nicolas Lossky develops at some length the devotion of Andrewes to reinforcing orthodox Christology and Pneumatology: "One enters into the mystery of the Person of Christ by seeing Him clearly in Chalcedonian terms. The dogma of Chalcedon is thus preached, in a more or less developed manner, at each of the feasts of the liturgical year," (p. 330-31).
- 7 Devotions, 243.
- 8 Devotions, 258.
- 9 Devotions, 257.
- 10 Lancelot Andrewes, Works (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), vol. 4, 376-77.
- 11 Works, vol. 6, 197.
- 12 Works, vol. 4, 377 and vol. 5, 186.
- 13 Works, vol. 3, 22.
- 14 Works, vol. 1, 62.
- 15 As Donne moved from words and signs upward to their broadest, deepest significations, so his sermons as entireties follow a similar motion from the text, the consideration of the temporal signs, through the dilation to the conclusion, the apprehension of the eternal significations. This sermon-type serves as a vessel to move the congregation across the Limen Ecclesiae and upwards to a foretaste of their future inheritance, their eternal possessions. He seeks to leave his auditors ever, as in his sermon on Mt 6:27, "where all tears shall be wiped from my eyes; not only tears of compunction for myself, and tears of Compassion for others; but even tears of Joy, too: for, there shall be no sudden joy, no joy unexperienced there; there I shall have all joys, altogether, always. There Abraham shall not be gladder of his own Salvation, than of mine; nor I surer of the Everlastingness of my God, than of my Everlastingness in Him. This is that Treasure. . . ."
- 16 "Thus to be re-collected at this feast by the Holy Communion into that blessed union, is the highest perfection we can in this life aspire unto. We then are at the highest pitch, at the very best we shall ever attain to on earth, what time we newly come from it; gathered to Christ, and by Christ to God; stated in all whatsoever He hath gathered and laid up against His next coming. With which gathering here in this world we must content and stay ourselves, and wait for the consummation of all at His coming again" (Works, vol. 1, 283, cited in Lossky, 99).
- 17 Augustine held that the Scriptures bore witness to one truth, and that Scriptures which were plainly understood were to be used to clarify Scriptures which were ambiguous or difficult (De Doctr. 2.9.14; 3.25.37). In this, he perpetuates the exegetical tradition of the rabbis called gezera shewa which involved appealing to a third text of Torah where two seemed to be in conflict. Augustine's practice differed, however, in that it involved appealing to many texts in order to clarify one.
- 18 Works, vol. 6, 58-59.
- 19 Works, vol. 6, 60.
- 20 Lossky, 334, notes the "vehemence with which Andrewes denounces all those who pretend, in the name of a warped Pneumatology . . . to interpret the Scriptures in the light of their individual consciences. For Andrewes, the revealed truths, the Holy Scriptures in particular, can only be interpreted in the Church, that is to say within the unity of the same Spirit who is the same throughout the ages, in accordance with all the confessors of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith."
- 21 Works, vol. 1, 245. In this practice, Andrewes stands on the authority of Augustine, who writes: "If those who are called philosophers, especially the Platonists, have said things which are indeed true and are well accommodated to our faith, they should not be feared; rather, what they have said should be taken from them as from unjust possessors and converted to our use. Just as the Egyptians had not only idols and grave burdens which the people of Israel detested and avoided, so also they had vases and ornaments of gold and silver and clothing which the Israelites took with them secretly when they fled, as if to put them to a better use" (De Doctr. 2.40.60).
- 22 The grammatical level pertains to the literal sense of the words. The allegorical reading assigns new significations to the literal actors in a narrative or parable, as in Augustine's interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which the traveler becomes Adam, the bandits Satan, the priests and Levites the Old Testament temple cultus, the Samaritan Christ, the innkeeper Paul, and so forth. An early Christian example of allegory can be found in Gal 4:22-31. The moral reading looks for the ethical fruit of a passage, such as one regularly reads in the fables of Aesop. The typological reading relates events, persons, or institutions of the Old Testament to the events, persons, or institutions of the New Testament as shadow to reality or promise to fulfillment. The Epistle to the Hebrews affords an early example of such a reading in its treatment of the earthly temple cult, where the Levites serve, and the Heavenly Temple, where Christ serves. Some lists of the four levels will replace the typological reading with the anagogical reading, which relates the text forward to the end times or to the life of the world to come.
- 23 Works, vol. 2, 121.
- 24 North, The Classic Preachers of the English Church (London, 1878), 172.
- 25 Works, vol. 1, 22.
- 26 Works, vol. 2, 310.
- 27 North, 173.
- 28 Works, vol. 9, lxix.
- 29 Works, vol. l, 145. This much-quoted passage highlights for Lossky; 326; "the extremely important place occupied by the Incarnation." In his discussion of this passage, he writes that "the equation 'El/All' manifests the whole plan of salvation which the Incarnation implies and which is contained, to 'Andrewes's eyes, in the whole word Immanuel" (Lossky, 60). The pun serves as a "recapitualtion of the dogma of salvation."
- 30 The medieval artes praedicandi were preaching manuals laying out a practical guide for development of a sermon. The basic pattern was the selection of a thema, or Scriptural text (normally only a verse or two), divisio, or division of the text into small units, and dilatio, or exposition of each of the parts of the division according to a set of prescribed rules of interpretation.
- 31 For example, in Donne's sermon on Mt 6:21, "Where your treasure is, there shall be your heart also," Donne captures his auditors' attention with the figure of a minute-glass:
I have seen Minute-glasses; Glasses so short lived. If I were to preach upon this text, to such a glass, it were enough for half the sermon; enough to show the worldly man his Treasure, and the Object of his heart, to call his eye to that Minute-glass, and to tell him, there flows, there flies your Treasure, and your Heart with it. But if I had a Secular Glass, a Glass that would run an age; if the two hemispheres of the World were composed in the form of such a Glass, and all the World calcin'd and burnt to ashes, and all the ashes, and sands, and atoms of the World put into that Glass, it would not be enough to tell the godly man what his Treasure, and the Object of his heart is.
As a further aid to their visual conceptualization of the text and the sermon itself, Donne uses the printed letter "Y" as a means both of outlining the text and the sermon:
Our text therefore stands as that proverbial, that Hieroglyphical letter, Pythagoras his Y; that hath first a stalk, a stem to fix itself, and then spreads into two Beams. The stem, the stalk of this letter, this Y, is in the first word of the text, that particle of argumentation, "For": Take heed where you place your Treasure: for it concerns you much where your heart be placed; . . . and then opens this Symbolical, this Catechistical letter, this Y, into two Horns, two Beams, two Branches; one broader, but on the left hand, denoting the Treasures of this World; the other narrower, but on the right hand, Treasure laid up for the World to come. Be sure ye turn the fight way; "for where your Treasure is, there will your heart be also."
In another sermon, Donne uses the figure of a map in order to assist the hearers in grasping the outline of the text and sermon, and thus providing them with an outline by which to guide their hearing:
For this discovery let this text be our Map. First we see land, we see mercy in that gracious compellation, Children, then we see Sea, then comes a . . . Judgment that shall last some time, but there we see land, too, another mercy, that they shall not . . . be left in darkness in their Judgments; then the text opens into a deep ocean . . . but even from this sea, this Sea of Devastation, we see land . . . and beyond this land there is no more Sea; beyond this mercy, no more Judgment. Be pleased to make those the points of your compasse, and your landmarks by the way, in those, the two parts of this exercise.
- 32 Works, vol. 2, 154.
- 33 Works, vol. 2, 155.
- 34 These modes of dilation (or exposition) are outlined in Robert of Basevorn's Forma praedicandi as follows: (1) defining, describing, or explaining (e.g. etymology); (2) subdivision; (3) inference, accomplished by praise or censure, reasoning by question and answer, and examples; (4) concordant Scriptures; (5) changing the degrees of comparison of the adjective or adverb in the part of the division under examination, and developing the significance of the different degrees thus created; (6) explanation of metaphors through the qualities or characteristics of the signifying things (e.g., from the lion to the concept of bravery or royalty and thence to the person of the Messiah); (7) examination of the four senses of the Scripture; (8) cause and effect.
- 35 In a wedding sermon preached on Hosea 2:19, "and I will marry thee to me forever," Donne concludes with this portrayal of the eschatological marriage of the Lamb and his bride, the Church: "This is a marriage in that great and glorious Congregation, where . . . all the Virgins shall see my uncleanness, and all the martyrs see my tergiversations, and all the Confessors shall see all my double-dealings in God's cause; where Abraham shall see my unfaithfulness in God's promises; Job my impatience in God's corrections; and Lazarus my hardness of heart in distributing God's blessings to the poor; and all that Congregation shall look upon the Lamb and upon me, and say to one another, 'Will this Lamb have anything to do with this soul?' And yet there and then this Lamb shall marry me, and marry me in aeternam, forever."
- 36 Works, vol. 2, 136.
- 37 Works, vol. 2, 160.
- 38 Works, vol. 2, 167-68.
- 39 Works, vol. 2, 183-84.
- 40 Horton Davies, Like Angels from a Cloud (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1986), 49.
- 41 Works, vol. 2, 292.
By DAVID A. DESILVA
David deSilva is a graduate student in biblical studies at Emory University. He has published articles on biblical questions in several scholarly journals and periodicals.