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"TH' action fine": the good of works in George Herbert's poetry and prose.

It is a good work, if it be sprinkled with the blond of Christ.

--Nicholas Ferrar, quoting Herbert's words spoken on his death bed (WGH 4) (1)

This paper will examine George Herbert's treatment in his poetry and prose of human merit or demerit and good works, as these doctrines relate to God's grace. In Herbert's poem "Judgement," which belongs within the eschatological sequence with which The Church reaches its climax, the lyric's speaker attributes all he is and has been, and all that he does and has done, warts and all, to Christ's saving imputation of righteousness. (2) The poem's setting derives from the account of Judgment Day at Revelation 20:12: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." The speaker asks his "Almightie Judge" (1) how he should behave at that time when each human must present an account of each life's conduct and will be found either to merit or not to merit a place in the Book of Life. The sting in the poem's tail is that the speaker decides that he will "decline" (12) to present a ledger recording his own good works and will instead place a "Testament" (13) in God's hand, namely the New Testament in which Christ's imputed righteousness enables all sinners, despite their lack of merit, to be deemed by God as at once just and a sinner. The speaker of "Judgement" boldly explains to God that, since Christ took sin upon himself and "bore the blame" ("Love (3)" 15), "There thou shalt linde my faults are thine" (15). It is noteworthy that the poem's speaker singles out one particular group standing before the Great Tribunal, whom he distinguishes from himself in believing "That they in merit shall excell" (10). Helen Wilcox has identified "[t]his unspecified group who plan to face judgement relying on their own achievements" as, in all probability, members of the Roman Catholic Church, "who traditionally place more emphasis on good works" (Herbert English Poems 655). Yet the lyric's distinction in theological attitude between those who wholly trust to their own merit and those who entirely rely upon Christ's merit should not obscure the importance that many Protestants, Herbert included, attribute to good works.

A consideration of the twelfth and thirteenth articles of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion is a suitable place to begin:

12. Of good Works. Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of Gods judgment, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit.

13. Of Works before Justification. Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of Faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin. (Book of Common Prayer 677)

The crucial points in these two articles are that good works proceed from a state of justification and a soul made right in Christ. Although works possess no efficacy in themselves, a good Protestant and a justified sinner will not sit idly by and wait until Judgment Day, but will commit to good works, because, as in Jesus's parable, a tree is known by the sweetness or the rottenness of its fruit. (3) Good works undertaken before justification are invalid, because "they spring not of Faith in Jesus Christ." In light of these two articles, it becomes clear why the lyrics in The Church section of Herbert's The Temple so frequently emphasize the condition of the human heart--the softening of the stony heart once hardened by sin and now made right with Christ. (4) As Barbara Lewalski has pointed out, the overarching design of The Church is to portray "the intimate spiritual experience of the regenerate heart" (289). A justified relationship with Christ is the pre-condition to sanctification; that is, it is requisite to the ability to do good works in Christ. Herbert's Trinitarian formula in "Trinitie Sunday" spells out this process:
   Lord, who hast form'd me out of mud.
   And hast redeem'd me through thy bloud,
   And sanctifi'd me to do good. (1-3)

The order of salvation is, first, creation by the Father; second, justification in Christ; and, third, sanctification by the Holy Spirit. This is standard, orthodox Protestant theology. Herbert delineates this salvific sequence again in The Country Parson in "A Prayer after Sermon": "Thou hast elected us, thou hast called us, thou hast justified us, sanctified, and glorified us" (WGH 290). A justified sinner should do good or rather, without compulsion and willingly, would do good.

Charles and Katherine George, in setting forth their anatomy of the mind of the early modern Reformed English Protestant, assemble a mosaic of illuminating proof texts from Herbert's contemporary divines that reinforce the necessity of doing good works as an appropriate response to inner regeneration:

[William] Perkins states it briefly: "A good worke is a worke commanded of God, and done by a man regenerate in faith, for the glorie of God in man's good." The works of the Papists, he continues, are "sinnes before God," not through any failure of the acts as such but through a misdirection of their proper purposes; they are performed to satisfy God's justice and to merit heaven for the benefit of the perpetrators, rather than broadly and impersonally to glorify God in the general good of men. Good works, therefore, are absolutely essential to salvation. "Are good workes so needful," [James] Ussher inquires, "that without them we cannot be assured of salvation?" "Yes," he answers himself, "for though good workes doe not worke our salvation in any part; yet because they that are justified are also sanctified, they that doe no good workes, doe declare that they neither are justified nor sanctified, and ... cannot be saved." "We hold good works necessary to Salvation," [Lancelot] Andrewes states, "and that faith without them saveth not." "We teach a necessity," William Gouge concurs, "of practicing, of doing good workes, ... And we acknowledge them to be so necessary, as without them we cannot be saved." ... "This is the reason that few are saved," [Richard] Sibbes writes, "because they content themselves with easie, dull and drowsie performances." (George 47-48)

A sanctified Christian must be justified, and sanctification presupposes justification. Regeneration within the Christian believer comes before and motivates works and outward shows. Any conscientious Protestant, by doing good, declares that he is justified and sanctified by and to the glory of God, and not by his own powers. "For Herbert," too, as Gene Edward Veith observes, "the inner reality is prior" (229).

In the Latin poem "Martha: Maria," which was included within the collection Lucus or "A Sacred Grove," Herbert illustrates that the good works of a heart that is not justified in Christ come to dust. His inspiration is the account from the gospel of Luke of Mary and Martha's reception of Jesus into their home:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus's feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10: 38-42)

Martha and Mary are embodiments of the vita activa and the vita contemplativa, respectively. In Herbert's poem there are two voices, the feverish, insistent, overpowering tones of the "cumbered," flustered Martha and the still, calm, reasonable voice of Mary:
   Christus adest: crebris aedes percurrite scopis,
   Excutite aulaea, & luceat igne focus.
   Omnia purgentur, niteat mihi tota supellex,
   Parcite luminibus, sitque lucerna domus:
   O cessatrices! eccum pulvisculus illic!
   Corde tuoforsan, caetera munda, Soror.
   (Lucus XV "Martha: Maria") (5)

   ["Christ is coming: run through the house with close-packed brooms,
   Shake out the tapestries, and let the hearth with fire shine.
   Let all be made clean, and let all the household utensils gleam,
   Spare the torches, and let the home be a lamp:
   O dilly-dalliers! Look there, a little bit of dust!"
   "Perhaps in your breast, the rest is clean, O Sister."]

The first voice, which takes up the bulk of the poem, five of its six lines, is that of Martha as she hustles and bustles about the house. After her starting-pistol-shot exclamation of surprise, "Christ is here!," she sets about barking out orders with three imperatives and four iussive and hortatory subjunctives. The broken, choppy clauses and irregular caesuras indicate her rising distress until, in the fifth line, in two shrill outcries, punctuated for maximal effect by exclamation marks, she directs her stress outwards, lashing out and carping at the world around her for its slackness. Like the intervening divine voice that pacifies many a lyric by Herbert, Mary gently counsels her sister to look within first and attend to her justification, making right the state of her heart and soul with God, before she seeks to improve the world around her through good works.

In the English lyrics of The Temple, "The Familie" reconfigures this idea. The poem is an allegory of the inner state of a human soul figured as an unruly household. The speaker imagines Christ temporarily dwelling in the troubled human heart, putting to rest its "noise of thoughts" (1), its "loud complaints and puling fears" (3), "For where thou dwellest all is neat" (8). Vividly rendered allegorical figures make up the servant body of the estate and are the powers that regulate it. Peace, Silence, and Order arrange the house's schedule and tame and landscape the grounds, "[making] of wilde woods sweet walks and bowers" (12). Obedience the doorwoman may look undutiful and sluggish, but though "in waiting nothing seems more slow, / Nothing [is] more quick when she doth go" (15-16). Obedience also stands and waits. Yet, finally, the inner self in this poem is not at peace; and, like Jesus paying his brief visit to Martha's house, Christ his "Lord" (5) cannot dwell within this unsettled soul for long: "thou com'st sometimes, and for a day; / But not to make a constant stay" (23-24). Martha should not focus on externals, but should look within herself to her own spiritual health; likewise, the restless heart of "The Familie" must first be willing to look to himself and allow his Lord to put in order his own chaotic household within before he can expect to do good for others.

The speaker of "The Thanksgiving" is, like Martha, a task-oriented perfectionist. Everything he wants to do looks conscientious, correct, and seemly. His intended acts of faith and works of charity seem to be boundless: unlike the rich young man of the gospels, he would give everything he has to the poor (19-20); he would restore to God anything he achieves of glory or honor in his life (21-22); he would entrust his wife and children to God's governance (23-24); he would break off amity with friends should they dare to blaspheme God's name (25-26); in the event of the loss of his wife or children, he would donate money to the construction of a chapel (27-28); he would build a hospital and repair public roads (33-34). Yet, despite the best of intentions, the attitude with which he sets about doing good is wrong-headed, because his major motive, around which he keeps circling (1-19, 29-30, 49-50), is to "imitate" (15), even compete with, or worse, "revenge" himself (17) upon Christ's love for him and "trie who shall victorious prove" (18). Edmund Miller succinctly addresses the trouble with the speaker's situation in which "He is going to engage in a battle with God Himself for the salvation of his own soul" (32). By striving to attain a state of total merit for himself through charitable activities, the speaker intends to supersede or even annul the need for justification. His good works and shows of holiness take priority over inner holiness. He wants to boast about his merit and pluck, while boasting about plucking, the fruits of his actions, thereby effectively sanctifying himself, and all the while he will forget about the tree on which those fruits grew--the cross on which his Savior redeemed and justified him.

As Paul Cefalu has demonstrated, the love of neighbor is essential to Herbert's understanding of how humans express their love of God (134-56). Herbert enjoins in The Country Parson that the "two great and admirable Rules" for a holy life "comprize and include the double object of our duty, God, and our neighbour; the first being for the honour of God; the second for the benefit of our neighbor" (WGH 246). Works of charity are the fruits of a faith made right in Christ. For Herbert, all humans are precious because they are made in the image of God:
   Unicus est nummus, caelo Christoque petitus,
   Nempe in quo dare lucet Imago Dei.

   (Lucus 4 "On Simon Magus" 9-10)

   [There's one singular coin, hunted by heaven and Christ,
   Surely the one in which God's Image shines.]

By extension, because God took on flesh at the Incarnation, to do good to your fellow human is to give thanks to God. In soteriological terms, doing good is the natural way for sinners justified in Christ to make discernible the signs that they have been sanctified:
   Man is Gods image; but a poore man is
   Christs stamp to boot: both images regard.

   ("The Church-porch" 379-80)

   ... ev'ry man may revell at his doore,
   Not in his parlour; banquetting the poore,

   And among those his soul. ("Lent" 46-48)

In fact, some of Herbert's speakers come to realize that they have not gone far enough in their charity. The speaker of "Unkindness" confesses that it is not sufficient merely to love and aid your friends and loved ones. To love God and neighbor fully, the speaker must grasp what true kindness means, namely that all humans, shaped in God's image, are of one kind or family in the common, kindred flesh of humanity that God assumed at the Incarnation. The speaker learns the seemingly impossible lesson that, in order to love Christ, you must love all.

Herbert's position on good works as a natural efflorescence of justification does not square with the presence of what Debora Shuger terms "the pneumatic self" in Herbert's poetry and prose, that is, a self that lacks autonomy, is passive, and is neither ethical nor social (91-119). According to Shuger, for Herbert's pneumatic self, "[i]n both the poetry and prose, the locus of the sacred shrinks to the private spaces of the psyche" (118). Shuger relates this acute interiorization and restrictedness of sacred experience to "[t]he failure of the Reformation to renew history), which] likewise intensified the privatization of the sacred" (119). I would argue that Shuger's eloquent thesis of the pneumatic self in Herbert's works risks verging upon representing an extreme case, if not a caricature, of Protestant religious experience as radically helpless, internalized, and self-focused. Herbert's poetry and prose suggest that his soteriology moves expansively outward, rather than moving into further, relentlessly confined and stifling states of inwardness. It moves from the soul's spiritual self-examination and intimate conversation with God to the efficacy of attempting good works in the world for the sake of others and for the glory of God. Admittedly, Herbert's theology does not hold that humans are able to love God and neighbor perfectly. Christ had already accomplished this feat and had fulfilled the double love of God and neighbor in his ministry and on the cross; humans are, after all, fallen creatures. But the human inability to replicate Christ's work should not deter humans from attempting to imitate his exemplary life. Thus in "Lent," in a notable instance of Herbert's many images of handedness, Herbert urges his reader to follow Jesus's path, here in the paradigm of Jesus's fasting while he was being tempted in the wilderness:
   It's true, we cannot reach Christ's forti'th day:
   Yet to go part of that religious way,
   Is better then to rest:
   We cannot reach our Saviours puritie;
   Yet we are bid, Be holy ev'n as he.
   In both let's do our best.

   Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
   Is much more sure to meet with him, then one
   That travelleth by-wayes:
   Perhaps my God, though he be farre before,
   May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
   May strengthen my decayes. (31-42)

Herbert enjoins his readers to follow Jesus's way of holiness, even with the prospect of failure before them, rather than, like one of John Bunyan's erring pilgrims, travel "by-wayes" (39) of confusion. In the face of failure, Jesus's example can always strengthen the believer. So in "Marie Magdalene" the titular saintly heroine, washing her Savior's feet, discerns "his steps should be the street, / Wherein she thenceforth evermore / With pensive humblenesse would live and tread" (4-6). The Magdalene resolves to amend her errant life and make Christ's way her own by following in his footsteps and abiding by his "precepts" (2).

In Herbert's life, his vocation as parson of Bemerton was his witness to a practical life of holiness arising from his inner holiness, regenerated in Christ. As Herbert writes in The Country Parson, a priest must ensure that, before any other quality, he is "holy" (WGH 227) and shows "a holy Life" (WGH 228); "the character of his Sermon is Holiness; he is not witty, or learned, or eloquent, but Holy" (WGH 233). Herbert's English poem "Aaron" dramatizes the doctrine of justification expressed in Pauline texts, with the sinner being made holy and fit for his priestly vocation by sloughing off the old man of sin and putting on the new man in Christ: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17); and again, "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24). The first gift that the speaker seeks, announced in the first word on the first line of "Aaron," is "Holinesse on the head" (1). The old man of sin is justified and clothed in Christ's holiness and "the individual priest is transformed and renewed--'new drest'--in the image of Christ" (Wilcox 94). Thus the man under the priestly vestments is metamorphosed into a Christ-like state from the spiritually sorry and derelict condition described in the second stanza:
   Profaneness in my head,
   Defects and darknesse in my breast,
   A noise of passions ringing me for dead
   Unto a place where is no rest:
   Poore priest thus am I drest (6-10)

Having received Christ, "my onely head, / My alone onely heart and breast, / My onely musick" (16-18), the priest's internal transformation equips and empowers him to lead his flock. The lyric's fifth and final stanza celebrates this justified, regenerate state, trim, clean, and neat (to borrow three of Herbert's favorite adjectives), a state allowing for the priest to commit to good works and shepherd the flock of his congregation:
   So holy in my head,
   Perfect and light in my deare breast,
   My doctrine tun'd by Christ, (who is not dead,
   But lives in me while I do rest)
   Come people; Aaron's drest. (21-25)

This invocation from a priest to his congregation, a rare occurrence in Herbert's verse, conveys the priest's internal fitness for pastoral service as he welcomes his parish with open arms. Veith aptly calls this poem "Herbert's most comprehensive treatment of the theme of justification by faith" (79). The good works that are to flow from the priest's vocation "come not from self-oriented activity, but from surrender of the human will to the will of Christ, which is accomplished not by striving, but by submission" (Veith 81).

The spiritual ups and downs, peaks and troughs, rises and falls within, between, and across the one-hundred-and-sixty-two lyrics of The Church would appear to have as their end in view the justification or making right of a sinner by faith so that the soul might finally, in gratitude, "sit and eat" ("Love (3)" 18). According to Izaak Walton, Herbert originally composed his poetry for himself as a personal "picture of the many spiritual Conflicts that have past betwixt God and my Soul" (127); and those Private Ejaculations belonging to The Temple's complete title, although an infelicitous phrase to fall on a twenty-first-century ear, would intimate as much. (6) If "Aaron" is any indication, the process of composing The Temple led Herbert towards an affirmation of his priestly vocation, towards a justified state "before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus my Master" (Walton 127). Walton adds that Herbert entrusted his collection of lyrics to Ferrar to be published if Ferrar thought "it may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor Soul" (Walton 127), so that Herbert envisioned that the poetic record of him making his soul right with God might itself become a good work. Herbert seems to have intended The Temple, then, to be a good work, much as Herbert supported the rebuilding or renovation of three churches and the substantial repairs to the Bemerton rectory. (7) As the inscribed tablet Herbert left to his successor above the fireside of the rectory hall makes clear, Herbert intended the goodness from his charity to be passed on to others:
   To my Successor.
   If thou chance for to find
   A new House to thy mind,
   And built without thy Cost;
   Be good to the Poor,
   As God gives thee store,
   And then, my Labour's not lost. (Walton 113)

No account of sanctification and the nature of good works in Herbert's thought can ignore The Country Parson, a pastoral handbook outlining a rule of life within the priestly vocation and a projected scheme of realized charity. The volume plausibly stands as a complement to The Temple. In this regard, Samuel Taylor Coleridge places his finger on the pulse when he observes that "Herbert is a true Poet; but a Poet sui generis" (Marginalia 2: 1034). Coleridge appreciates that a just evaluation of Herbert's works requires not merely classical training but a steeping in Anglican theology, forms, and ceremonies, "For Religion is the Element in which he lives, and the Region in which he moves" (Marginalia 2: 1034). (8) To follow Coleridge's advice and apply Herbert's Anglican theology to the design of Herbert's major works, if The Temple is a map with justification as its destination, then The Country Parson is the other side of the coin, a work of "practical piety" with the process of sanctification, the grateful enacting of good works by a justified sinner, as its primary goal. (9)

I am persuaded by Kristine Wolberg's conclusion that "Taken together, The Country Parson and The Temple ... may constitute a single work of art, which Herbert, Pygmalion-like, prayed would come to life" (134). That ours is an age where pastoral manuals do not tend to rocket up the Bestseller List of The New York Times may have helped to contribute to the clouding of our perception that these two works of Herbert's are twin books. The Temple and The Country Parson make up Herbert's vision of the complete Christian, justified and undergoing sanctification. Once the temple within has been built, the edified soul has to know how to do good in the world. In this regard, a more appropriate alternative title to The Country Parson than A Priest to the Temple might have been A Priest from the Temple. To comprehend Herbert's conception of gratefulness towards God as Herbert intended it to be lived within the world as well as within the soul, it is necessary that I turn from an analysis of The Temple to a consideration of The Country Parson.

One recent trend among readers of The Country Parson has been to find sinister and untoward goings-on at the parsonage and to discover in the character of Herbert's vicar an unholy wolf in sheep's clothing. Michael C. Schoenfeldt locates a witty fusion of "Machiavellian cunning with Christian virtue" (98), while Stanley Fish speaks of "the darkness and terror of Herbert's [pastoral] vision" (47). The rakish duelist Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, remembers his brother George's life as "most holy and exemplary" and recollects a man who, in his reputation as a parson, was "little less than sainted" by his parishioners (22). Whether Edward Herbert was writing the stuff of history or of legend, George Herbert's stated intention in writing his pastoral manual was to describe the pattern of a parson that would be better than life. In Herbert's prefatory matter, "The Authour to the Reader," he recognizes that it is always more prudent to aim at depicting the ideal and, even if the attempt means running the risk of falling short, to strive to render a model worthy of emulation rather than represent anything less: "I have resolved to set down the Form and Character of a true Pastour, that I may have a Mark to aim at: which also I will set as high as I can, since hee shoots higher that threatens the Moon, then hee that aims at a Tree" (WGH 224). Barnabas Oley, one of Herbert's earliest editors, read the pastoral in this way, as a "mirror for priests": "[A] strange Speculum Sacerdotale ... as if this good Bezaleel had invented a living, pure looking-Glasse, in most exact proportions of Beauty, that should both present it self as a Body of unblemished perfections, and shew all the beholders deformities at once" (Herbert, Herbert's Remains a1-a2). In seventeenth-century England, where the abuses of clergymen who enjoyed multiple livings were not uncommon, Herbert likely saw the function of such a Speculum Sacerdotale, a "sacerdotal" or "priestly mirror," as beneficial in pointing up ecclesiastical blemishes and deformities by force of contrast with the idea of a model priest. The pastoral was equally, as Harold Kollmeier notes, "an ideal guide for others, not taken from what he was, but from what he aimed to be" (194). At the time of Herbert's death from consumption, just one month shy of his fortieth birthday, he had served his parish for barely three years. It stands to reason that Herbert's pastoral was, in part, composed to serve as a template for the years that lay ahead of him in clerical office.

Recent readers of Herbert's pastoral have been less admiring. For Fish, Herbert's parson is a hollow man, a mountebank, and a sham. His "holiness" is "wholly made up of external marks, of signs," and his preaching and counseling are "taken from a stock inventory of pious-sounding phrases" ("Void" 39,40). Fish's parson is a parochial potentate sickeningly snug and smug at the center of his Benthamist panopticon, who practices "a massive insincerity" ("Void" 40) to ensure that he is master of all he surveys. Wolberg's interpretation of Herbert's pastoral is sympathetic towards his portrayal of the ideal parson; however, like Fish, although to markedly different ends, she emphasizes the parson's use of show, surface, and externals. Where Fish sees a dark, insincere shadow-side to the parson's theatricality and artifice, an unwholesome underbelly that conceals the "nothing within" ("Void" 50), Wolberg concedes Herbert's self-fashioning of a public image constructed upon the courtesy-book tradition, but she locates the text's emphasis on appearance and good works within a theological framework that is exactly the opposite of Herbert's own. By Wolberg's account, "in The Country Parson Herbert emphasizes life over doctrine, the outer man over the inner, and works over faith" (36-37). Making a habit of a good life, she argues, can improve the soul: "inner spiritual realities often follow the lead of outer actions [and] artful appearances can be used to transform one's inner self as well as the inner selves of others" (130). According to Wolberg, good works inspire, shape, and are responsible for soul-making. Her model for how good habits, good appearances, and good behavior can create an essentially good character comes close to Aristotle's understanding of ethos or Thomas Aquinas's teachings on habitus: habituating goodness within our existence can make us good in essence. (10) Wolberg's thesis leaves out the theological stress on justification running throughout The Temple, which I would argue is the preparatory text for The Country Parson. In fact, Herbert's pastoral instructs that the parson, justified within by the Word, is only then made fit to undertake good works in the world by means of his vocation. Regeneration precedes and causes works and outward shows of holiness. Like Wolberg, Ramie Targoff gives us a Herbert who troubles the relation between inner condition and outer behavior by an implied inversion of the "order of salvation," with a spirituality being formed from the outside in. Targoff's Herbert seeks to "ensure that the practices of public worship will be effective in both reaching and ultimately shaping the worshippers' private selves" (97). She finds that "Herbert, like so many established churchmen, seems to affirm the causal relation between external behavior and internal change" (97) and concludes that, "for Herbert, the knowledge of 'how to behave thyself in church' was by no means separable from the shaping of the inner soul" (98).

But, as we have seen, this sequencing of Herbert's formulation of the causal nexus between the believer's inward and outward states is arsy-versy. In The Country Parson, Herbert takes care to stress that the parson's ability to do good begins from within and that the formation of his good character operates not from outside, working in, but from inside, working out. Before the parson can serve his parish, he must be equipped "in a preparatory way, whose aim and labour must be not only to get knowledg, but to subdue and mortifie all lusts and affections.... The greatest and hardest preparation is within" (WGH 226). The order and decency of his appearance, carriage, and manners are an extension of "the purity of his mind breaking out, and dilating it selfe even to his body, cloaths, and habitation" (WGH 228). So concertedly should Herbert's parson strive to be holy, inside and then out, that whether he is residing within his parish or journeying abroad he "is himselfe where ever he is" (WGH 251). In the opening chapter of The Country' Parson, "Of a Pastor," Herbert explains that, as Christ's deputy, the parson must do what Christ did in dignity and in duty, "after [Christ's] manner, both for Doctrine and Life" (WGH 225). Critics typically note the correspondence here with Herbert's poem "The Windows," where, without the "Doctrine and life, colours and light" (11) of God's grace working through him, the preacher's speech has no power but is "a flaring thing" (14). Only "through thy grace" (5), with Christ's righteousness shining through him, can the justified preacher be as "glorious and transcendent" (4) as a stained glass window. The outer words and deeds only have virtue insofar as they are the expressions of a justified sinner, made holy within and consequently able to "shew very Holy" without (WGH 234). Joseph Summers corroborates this view: "we, rather than Herbert, may divorce appearance from reality: [Herbert] recommended devices for gaining the appearance of holiness on the assumption that appearance should correspond with reality" (101). Internal justification or righteousness secures, undergirds, and provides for the process of sanctification.

The parson's ability to sanctify, then, to make good, is predicated upon his inner holiness. Cristina Malcolmson also attends to the "outside" of the parson in an important article that makes sense of Herbert's pastoral through the self-fashioning of the "character" genre. Malcolmson, however, nevertheless grants a core of holiness, a subsistent and foundational holy "inside" to Herbert's parson: "Herbert is both coolly aware of the need to perform and insistent on countering the potential for hypocrisy and the fragility of appearance by grounding authority on an internal holiness adamantly sincere and genuine" (251-52). And the Herbertian Christopher Hodgkins, drawing upon the early modern preaching tradition, makes a compelling case for the priority of the parson's inner holiness, since "[t]his tradition assumed that inner reality preceded outward 'show' and militated against pulpit hypocrisy by insisting that words be matched by everyday deeds" (90). (11) The charity, holiness, and goodness within the parson's parish can only begin from the action of God's grace working upon the parson, and, as I hope to show, the character of that holiness and charity can only be spread throughout the parish by the transparency, completeness, and integrity of a sincere heart, by russet yeas and honest kersey noes, and not by feigning or artifice or flashy theatricality.

The young John Milton, during one of his characteristic digressions in his prose tracts, leaves off roasting the prelates and enthuses that "he who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought him selfe to bee a true Poem, that is, a composition, and patterne of the best and honourablest things" (CPW 1.890). Herbert, in kind, holds that a parson capable of preaching and doing laudable things ought himself to be a true Sermon. In matters of doctrine, the "hart-deep" sermons the parson should preach are the profoundest expressions of his character and proceed from his soul's marrow, not from artificial display: "by dipping, and seasoning all our words and sentences in our hearts, before they come into our mouths, truly affecting, and cordially expressing all that we say; so that the auditors may plainly perceive that every word is hart-deep" (WGH 233). In Herbert's Latinate wordplay, the parson's words as he preaches are ever "cordially expressing," that is, an expression proceeding directly from the "heart" (Latin cor; "Of or belonging to the heart," OED "cordial" definition 1) and at one with the parson's spiritual and moral integrity. The best sort of parson is humble, not proud. He learns from and is himself edified by his own sermons, just as he edifies his parish through his sermons, so that, "in preaching to others, he forgets not himself, but is first a Sermon to himself, and then to others" (WGH 255).

In matters of holy living, though, in deed as well as in word, the parson himself, by living and breathing example, is a sermon to his parishioners, and here Herbert draws on the root meaning of our English word "sermon," the Latin noun sermo, as not merely the Word of God or a monologic act of preaching, but a living "Conversation," "talk," "speech," or dialogue with others (OED etymology; Lewis and Short sermo 1). (12) In the thirty-third chapter on "The Parson's Library," Herbert continues to surprise his readers by preferring, over the enumeration of the contents of the parson's well-stocked shelves, the definition that "The Countrey Parson's Library is a holy Life" (WGH 278). The parson's holy life consists of the ways in which he has formerly overcome temptations and learned to repent, and this life well lived "even it selfe is a Sermon" (WGH 278). "This Instruction and comfort the Parson getting for himself, when he tells it to others, becomes a Sermon" (WGH 279; emphasis added), so that the parson's sharing of the various spiritual mistakes and corrections, defeats and eventual victories in his life improves others through dialogue and conversation. His openness and candor regarding the most intimate spiritual encounters of his life and his willingness to participate in meaningful interpersonal relationships among his parishioners are what make him, in his own person, a sermon. And in the chapter "The Parson's Charity," the parson's sermon enlarges from being about instruction to encompass active charity. Herbert explains that the parson is motivated by charity for others: he "is full of Charity; it is his predominant element" (WGH 244), he should "be charitable, then wise" (WGH 245), and "his charity [is] in effect a sermon" (WGH 245). In "The Authour's Prayer before Sermon," with which Herbert closes his pastoral, the prayer asks for God's Word to be alive not just in the pulpit, limited to the confines of the church's four walls, but at large in the world, too, so that the sermon comes alive in the conversation possible with and between the parson's fellow parishioners as the parish lives its corporate life: "O make thy word a swift word, passing from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the life and conversation." Like the biblical Adam stewarding Creation, or the "Secretarie of [God's] praise" (8) celebrating the miracle of God's creative dispensation as "the worlds high Priest" (13) in Herbert's lyric "Providence," the parson is God's vicar, standing in for, encouraging, and supporting his parish to be holy within and then "show holy" and give thanks to God, from the justified heart to the sanctified life and conversation.

Herbert structures his pastoral to witness to the centrifugal outpouring of grace and charity that emanates from the parson's inner holiness and his vocational activity. As the reader progresses through the pastoral's thirty-seven chapters, Herbert describes a widening gyre of gracious influences that radiate from the parson's initiative. The parson finds his center in God's grace and, responsive to God's will, he first allows "the purity of his mind" to break out and "dilat[e] it selfe even to his body, cloaths, and habitation" (WGH 228). Herbert tells his readers that the parson "is very exact in the governing of his house," not so as to win the approbation of his parish, but so that they too may learn by example, "making [his household! a copy and modell for his Parish" (WGH 239). Once the parson has set his soul, person, and household in order, he is able to turn his attention to doing good in a widening series of concentric circles of charitable influence. His beneficent influence enlarges from his parsonage, to his church, to his parish, and even, "[a]fter the consideration of his own Parish, he in largeth himself, if he be able, to the neighbour-hood" (WGH 245). Herbert's parson is not Fish's malefic supervisor and sentinel enthroned at the center of his parochial panopticon, surveying, judging, and chastising others, nor is he a sanctimonious hypocrite. He is the foremost observed of all observers, the one most conspicuously under scrutiny and in the line of fire, and, depending upon his ability to be justified and then sanctified to do good works, to be and subsequently "show holy," his parish stands or falls. As Hodgkins does well to insist, the parson's larding his vile nature with a specious surface of mock humility and piety, however thick, would never be acceptable to English country folk: "Herbert drives home the point that ultimately the parson's authority depends not on his official status, but on his personal integrity; and in the enforced intimacy of a rural village, integrity cannot be put on with a preacher's robes" (99). The parson's project is not to stick his tyrannical talons deeper into the fabric of his community, but rather to extend his charity and good influence as far as he is able by fostering holiness and the impulse to do good works in others, as we are reminded yet again towards the end of the manual: "Now Love is his business, and aime" (WGH 284). In an arresting sentence, Herbert asserts that the parson, in addition to being "a father to his flock," behaves "as if he had begot his whole Parish" (WGH 250). The parson works hard to drive the best of himself to inspire and motivate his parish to do good; more than this, he also looks upon his parishioners as if they were an essential part of his household, flesh of his flesh and as familiar to him as if they were extensions of his very being. The parson is more than avuncular: he is paternal. Because the parish is his family, there must not be a single "begger" within it (WGH 244), and those he punishes for any form of delinquency he must always cherish and hold close "as a brother still" (WGH 263). Within his parsonage, he refuses to disdain and misuse his servants as many others of his rank, or of higher rank, do, treating them "as a piece of wood, which they may cut, or hack, or throw into the fire, and so they pay them their wages, all is well" (WGH 265). Furthermore, the parson, so far from being a jumped-up autocrat, ensures that his servants should not be kept in ignorance, but should be educated and made literate, and thus "Those that can read, are allowed times for it, and those that cannot, are taught; for all in his house are either teachers or learners, or both, so that his family is a Schoole of Religion, and they all account, that to teach the ignorant is the greatest almes" (WGH 240). His parsonage is a Christian academy.

On Sundays, the parson is "as a Market-man is, when the Market day comes" (WGH 235), and so strenuous is his pastoral vocation that all the days of the week must seem to him to be "worky-daies" ("Sunday" 11); the "burden of the week" appears to be all seven days of the week and doubtless makes him "stoup and bow" ("Sunday" 12-13). When the parson reaches out to his parishioners, he meets them where they are: "If the Parson were ashamed of particularizing in these things, hee were not fit to be a Parson" (WGH 248-49). Herbert's belief that his parson should "particularize" with his parishioners, that is, be prepared to dialogue with, edify, and catechize each member of his parish according to individual background, personality, ability, need, education, and inclinations, must have been, in practice, a Herculean labor. (13) Yet, Herbert insists, "every one is more awaked, when we come, and say, Thou art the man" (WGH 236). Just as it is to the parson's credit that he refuses to treat his servants as insentient blocks of wood, he accordingly does not account for his parishioners as numbers, but as distinct and precious human beings. Equally, Hodgkins points out that, "while The Canons of 1604 require parsons to visit no one but the sick, and then only when the sick are 'dangerously' near death, Herbert's parson ministers in practically every setting of country life" (122-23). The parson's goal, as John Wall puts it, is a "corporate goal" (172) and he aims at nothing less than the holiness and active virtue of the whole parish: he "sets up as many encouragements to goodnesse as he can, both in honour, and profit, and fame; that he may, if not the best way, yet any way, make his Parish good" (WGH 244). He is distressed at how many parishes are kept distant and ignorant by only receiving the sacraments not even three times a year and, for the sake of spiritual direction, arranges that his own parish celebrates Communion, "if not duly once a month, yet at least five or six times in the year" (WGH 259). The parson seeks "to preserve a directness, and open plainnesse in all things" (WGH 240) within his parsonage and, believing that "all Truth [is] consonant to it self' (WGH 229), he magnifies his application of this principle in the openness and transparency he strives for within his parish. In keeping with his love of plainness and transparency, the parson favors a sermon style that does not flaunt its own erudition and wit by "crumbling a text into small parts" (WGH 235), as John Donne or Lancelot Andrewes would do for their more sophisticated, educated, urban cathedral audiences. Herbert's parson would have his parish keep company with him as he opens the text, giving "a plain and evident declaration of the meaning of the text" (WGH 235) and taking care that the text is not partial but "lyes entire, and unbroken in the Scripture it self' (WGH 235), so that the parishioners take away with them from the sermon a comprehensive understanding of an intact and integral stretch of Scripture.

When the parson visits his parishioners, he keeps the channels of communication as open as possible by imparting wisdom through "familiar things," that "hee might make his Doctrine slip the more easily into the hearts even of the meanest" (WGH 261). He does not exempt the aristocracy from these rounds of catechizing and inquiring into the health of souls, but is willing "to preserve a boldness with them and all, even so farre as reproofe to their very face, when occasion cals" (WGH 226). When he visits those "that hold strange Doctrins," he must take care to practice "a very loving, and sweet usage of them" (WGH 262), for they too are part of his parish family. The parson does not intend, as the etymology of catechesis might suggest, to ring or din into the ears of his parishioners stodgy, indigestible doctrines (OED etymology [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--"to ring thoroughly"). With everyone he catechizes, he aims to help "the Answerer [to] discover what hee is" (WGH 259) with a threefold major end in view: first, to infuse knowledge into them; second, to build up their faith; and, third, to drive them into practice. He explains: "the one, to infuse a competent knowledge of salvation in every one of his Flock; the other, to multiply, and build up this knowledge to a spirituall Temple; the third, to inflame this knowledge, to presse, and drive it to practice, turning it to reformation of life, by pithy and lively exhortations" (WGH 255). What is evident from this description of the parson's practical piety is that he intends to turn all of the members of his parish into living temples, justified in their infused knowledge of salvation through faith in Christ, edified, in a revealing phrase, "to a spirituall Temple," and, finally, themselves inflamed to undertake good works and be sanctified to do good. (14) In his model parson's conversation and catechism with his parishioners, Herbert, it appears, intended to replicate the salutary effect of attending to and acting upon the experience of reading The Temple and The Country Parson--moving others to seek justification and then sanctification for their own good and the good of others.

One significant outcome of the Reformation was an altered perspective upon the doctrine of vocation. As Veith explains, "[T]he Reformed Church was very much concerned with reforming society as well. Rejecting the medieval church's dichotomy of secular and sacred vocations and insisting that God's reign extended to all of life, the Reformation Church promoted an active social ethic" (230). As well as the spiritual conflict between sin and love, "those two vast, spacious things" ("The Agonie" 4), which is the inner reality of the Christian life, Luther's doctrine of "the priesthood of all believers" had revolutionized and expanded the Reformed Church's understanding of how to do good, both through the actions of the institutional and corporate Church in the world, and through the good that an individual can effect by answering his or her calling or vocation, sacred or secular, and by seeing to it that various gifts and talents are directed to God's glory in a secular, worldly context. (15) In this view, a secular calling potentially had no less spiritual dignity and value in its service to God than a sacred, clerical vocation. To the Protestant mind, the pursuit and practice of one's vocation was unavoidably intertwined with the process of sanctification.

In the twenty-third chapter, "The Parson's Completenesse," the parson, always susceptible to any opportunity to benefit his parish, maximize the influence of his charity, and run himself ragged, combines within his person the roles of physician, lawyer, and even circuit judge for the welfare of his parish (WGH 259-62). In turn, just as he deems all of his parishioners to be more than automatic "parrats" (WGH 232, 256) and more than capable of being shepherded, with his instruction, to understand and embrace their own salvation, so he expects every last one of his parish, high and low, to discover his or her vocation, since "even in Paradise man had a calling, and how much more out of Paradise, when the evills which he is now subject unto, may be prevented, or diverted by reasonable imployment" (WGH 274). If Adam dug in a world free of thorns, thistles, the sweat of labor, and birth pangs, then how much more should any honest and self-respecting Bemertonian or Fugglestonian discover their own special kind of calling: "none should be idle, but all busied" (WGH 274). Married men should look to the physical and spiritual well-being of their families, taking "as much joy in a straight-growing childe, or servant, as a Gardiner doth in a choice tree" (WGH 275). If they find themselves at a loose end, they should take what care they can of their parish. Single men who are heirs should become versed in the Law, attend Parliament, visit the Court, and develop military skills (WGH 276-77). Younger brothers should study, to practical ends, civil law, the laws of other nations, and mathematics, and should acquaint themselves with the arts of fortification and navigation, or they should travel either to the New World to work plantations and spread the Gospel, or to mainland Europe to bring home continental learning for the public good (WGH 277-78). The lower orders of society are also obliged to seek vocations, because "Nothing is little in Gods service: If it once have the honour of that Name, it grows great instantly" (WGH 249). As Herbert's lyric "The Elixir" makes plain, all vocations possess a certain dignity, as long as we recognize God and divine grace "[i]n all things" (2), and as long as we do good works "as for" God (4). If a widow's mite is offered in God's name, it is found acceptable because "Nothing can be so mean" (14). The humblest, most sordid task, if done "for thy sake" (15), is fine:
   A servant with this clause
   Makes drudgerie divine:
   Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
   Makes that and th' action fine. (17-20)

Diana Benet remarks upon this poem's rich understanding of what the alchemy of a living faith committed to good works can accomplish in the world: "Whatever belongs to God and is touched by his influence becomes, and cannot be counted as less than, precious gold" (187). The seventeenth-century preacher John Preston makes a similar point: "[G]ood actions are nothing else but to doe the will of the Lord, and to bring forth fruit.... Every action that you doe is that fruit which God lookes for. Therefore, to doe the Lords will is to doe a good worke. Now by this you may see what a large field you have for good works, in what calling soever you are set, though it bee never so meane a place you have" (qtd. in George 50).

It is also needful to stress that Herbert's pastoral is far from being parochial. The parson should inflame his parish to look to the good of neighboring parishes. If a neighboring parish suffers a "calamity either by fire, or famine," the parson "first gives himself liberally, and then incite [his parish] to give" (WGH 253); and the parish should take credit for this act of charity collectively, "all together choosing some fitt day to carry [the donation] themselves, and cheere the Afflicted" (WGH 253-54). Even the parson's fostering of vocations across the parish has a purpose for the national, not just the parochial, good, and is designed to correct "The great and nationall sin of this Land ... Idlenesse" (WGH 274). What becomes increasingly clear from reading Herbert's writings is that in the twin works of The Temple and The Country Parson Herbert projected an ambitious and remarkable spiritual program that he envisioned, first commencing in the justification of the inner realm of the human heart, and then subsequently evolving into the dispersal of holiness, charity, and good works in the world, beginning in the parson's soul and gradually radiating out to his parsonage, his church, his parish, the surrounding parishes, and ultimately the nation at large. As Hodgkins has proposed, what at first sight reads as Herbert's handbook on local, parochial, parsonical conduct, is in fact a manifesto that, Herbert likely thought, if properly exercised and observed, could reform and improve a national spirit to the glory of God (181-209).

The foregoing interpretation of The Country Parson will scarcely admit of Herbert's parson as either an elitist brute or a tin-pot dictator. Nor, according to my interpretation, may the parson's way of life be viewed as saccharine or sentimental, which is yet another obvious, trap for the unwary reader of Herbert's handbook. As one who, "where ever he is, keeps Gods watch" (WGH 252) and ever acts "in Gods stead" (WGH 254), the vocational burden of responsibility placed upon the shoulders of Herbert's priest is, to put it mildly, a heavy one. Herbert often admits fallibility, even for his model priest, because, for example, in the parson's capacity as circuit judge he will require three or four of his ablest parishioners to hear the case with him "in case he be ignorant himself, what to hold" (WGH 260). Surrounded day and night by his vigilant parishioners, Herbert's parson will, in Hodgkins's memorable phrase, have to "run a virtually epic gauntlet of scrutiny" (99). He must be prepared to be despised by some and must learn various methods to cope with the contempt he receives from others who mock, envy, or shun him; bearing up under his Christlike affliction, he must nevertheless be "glad, and joyfull, that hee is made conformable to his Master" (WGH 269). In his vocation and in his life he will tend to "everlasting droopings" and will be "generally sad, because hee knows nothing but the Crosse of Christ... or if he have any leisure to look off from thence, he meets continually with two most sad spectacles, Sin, and Misery; God dishonoured every day, and man afflicted" (WGH 267). His is a nearly impossible commission; like the speaker of Herbert's lyric "Bitter-sweet," he must "complain, yet praise" (5), "bewail, approve: /And all my sowre-sweet dayes ... lament, and love" (6-8).

None of this adds up to, as some of Herbert's readers would have it, the absolutist mania of a Foucauldian powermonger; instead, for Herbert's parson, at least in this life, "A sad wise valour is the brave complexion" ("The Church-porch" 247). The Georges diagnose a flip-side to the Reformation understanding of good works: "English Protestant insistence on the necessity of good works could readily provide the basis for an emphasis on acts of faith and precision of behavior which would rival the utmost legalism of Judaism and the utmost perfectionism of the Catholic tradition" (George 48). This is borne out in The Country Parson in the rigors that the parson must suffer in order to keep to the letter of his pastoral rule. It is safe to say that the sincerity and responsibility required of Herbert's idea of a country parson would be sufficient to wear out the Cambridge-educated, already sickly, dropsical, and consumptive priest of Bemerton after three years in office. Perhaps it did. If so, the strenuousness and exemplarity required of Herbert's justified parson, as he undertakes the work of sanctification, shepherds his parish (and, in the long view, his nation) for the common good, and works so earnestly to spread the love, may help to explain the "saintly" reputation that the parson-poet George Herbert by all accounts appears to have acquired in that green and pleasant corner of Wiltshire.


(1) All subsequent references to Herbert's poetry and prose derive from F. E. Hutchinson's edition (WGH); for poems, references are to line number.

(2) These four poems, treating the traditional eschata or "Last Things" of death, judgment, hell, and heaven, are "Death," "Dooms-day," "Judgement," and "Heaven."

(3) See Luke 6:43-45.

(4) See, for example, "The Altar," "The Sinner," "Sepulchre," "Grace," "The Church-floore," "Decay," "Sion," "Jesu," and "Gratefulnesse."

(5) I am grateful to Greg Miller, Catherine Freis, and Richard Freis for sharing their as-yet-unpublished translation of Lucus and for their kindness in granting me permission to reproduce portions of their elegant new translation before it goes to press, with an accompanying commentary, for The George Herbert Journal.

(6) The full title of the collection is The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations.

(7) Herbert undertook the rebuilding of the church of Leighton Bromswold, where he was installed as prebendary, and as priest he also oversaw the renovation of the two churches within his living of Fugglestone-with-Bemerton, the parish church of Fugglestone St. Peter and the chapel of Bemerton St. Andrew.

(8) The passage reads in full that Herbert's ideal reader "must be an affectionate and dutiful Child of the [Anglican] Church, and from Habit. Conviction and a constitutional Predisposition to Ceremoniousness, in piety as in manners, find her Forms and Ordinances Aids of Religion, not sources of Formality. For Religion is the Element in which he lives, and the Region in which he moves--."

(9) This description of The Country Parson, adapted from Walton's expression used to characterize Herbert's devotional lifestyle, belongs to Wall 169.

(10) See, for example. Book Two of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, in which Aristotle posits his classical theory of ethical habituation:
   Virtue, then, is twofold, intellectual and moral. Both the
   coming-into-being and increase of intellectual virtue result mostly
   from teaching--hence it requires experience and time--whereas moral
   virtue is the result of habit, and so it is that moral virtue got
   its name [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] by a slight alteration of
   the term habit [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. It is also clear,
   as a result, that none of the moral virtues are present in us by
   nature, since nothing that exists by nature is habituated to be
   other than it is .... Neither by nature, therefore, nor contrary to
   nature are the virtues present; they are instead present in us who
   are of such a nature as to receive them, and who are completed
   through habit. (1103a 14-20, 23-26)

(11) Hodgkins's groundbreaking, equitable, and exact rehabilitation of Herbert's country parson has done much to set the record straight. Consider, for example, his addressing of the flaws in Herbert's character evident from The Country Parson:
   It is possible to hear in Herbert's aside about "showing holy" the
   voice of the cynical rhetorical manipulator, just as it is possible
   to hear in his remarks about "thick and heavy" country folk an
   elitist sneer. However, given Herbert's oratorical training, his
   relatively great birth, and his former courtly ambitions, what
   seems truly remarkable is not that he was to some degree a
   manipulator and a snob--what would we expect?--but that he came so
   far and so deliberately toward humility. (101)

I should acknowledge here my indebtedness to Hodgkins's scholarship, which inspired and motivated my own research into Herbert's pastoral, not least by advancing my interests beyond Herbert's poetics and helping me to realize the synergy between The Temple and The Country Parson.

(12) The Oxford English Dictionary derives the etymology of "sermon" from sermo, which it translates as "talk, discourse, speech," while Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary offers "talk, conversation, discourse" as the primary meaning of sermo.

(13) Gregory Kneidel, another sympathetic reader of The Country Parson, constructively aligns the "exactness" and "particularizing" of Herbert's parson with a more Calvinist pattern of an imitatio Christi in order to argue for the Christ-like behavior of Herbert's priest (see Kneidel 278-303).

(14) See Fish's The Living Temple for a thorough discussion of Herbert's catechetical method in The Country Parson.

(15) The eighth chapter of Veith's study is most instructive on Herbert's position on vocation (see 228-43). Veith examines those two extensive lyrics that fall outside the purview of this study, but which are important to Herbert's stance on the doctrine of the calling: "The Church-porch," which functions as a propaedeutic lyric addressed to a young man that charges him, amid his ordinary endeavors, "to be godly in the world" (231); and the more cosmic, eschatological "The Church Militant," which explores the interface between the invisible Church and the secular world and the struggle between grace and sin throughout history.


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Author:Hillier, Russell M.
Publication:Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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