"The Nearer The Church The Further From God"
Context: Launcelot Andrewes, himself the son of a school teacher, intended to follow his father's profession, but his professors told him he was too smart for a schoolmaster; he should study for the Church. He quickly proved his capabilities. He became a popular preacher before large audiences until Queen Elizabeth appointed him Dean of Westminster. James I, succeeding her in 1603, made him Bishop of Chichester and head of the committee that assembled the King James version of the Bible. In 1605 Andrewes was made chaplain to James I. One of his duties was to preach a sermon to the court every Christmas morning before they sat down to their boar and venison banquet. Andrewes was a preacher of the old school, quoting Latin and Greek, making detailed analyses of his text, and interjecting jokes. For instance, in one Christmas sermon he quipped that if we have not Immanu-el, which indicates that God is with us, we have Immanu-hell. His sort of preaching went out following the coronation of Charles I in 1625. At Bishop Andrewes' death, Charles ordered two of his fellow clergymen to publish some of the court chaplain's representative sermons, which appeared as 96 Sermons by the Right Honorable and Reverend Father in God Launcelot Andrewes, late Lord Bishop of Winchester, Published by His Majesties Special Command. By 1641 the work had gone into a fourth edition. The volume contained seventeen Christmas Sermons preached between 1605 and the year before his death (he died in September, 1626), along with other sermons for Ash Wednesday, Easter, and Whitsunday. They are set down in a sort of short hand that he must have expanded while preaching. Number 15, "A Sermon preached before the Kings Majestie at White Hall on Wednesday the 25th of December, 1622, being Christmas Day," took as its text Matthew XI, 1 and 2: "Behold there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem; saying Where is the King of the Jews that is born? For we have seen His star in the East and are come to worship Him." It is an excellent example of exegesis. Of the two points, the persons and their errand, Andrewes develops the latter. The Magi were motivated by faith. They believed Him born and wanted to do something about the event. Then the preacher made personal application. The Magi saw a star; we on earth also have a star, St. Peter Lucifer, who summons us. Though we may never see the Magi's star or hear angel voices, we can by the grace of God be moved to seek and worship. But we need to make an effort. Is the "lightly" in parentheses an indication about delivery of the sermon? Is the preacher showing he is preparing to utter a whimsy?
But then for the distance, desolateness, tediousness, and the rest, any of them were enough to mar our venimus quite. It must be no great way, first, we must come; we love not that; well fare the Shepherds, yet they come but hard by; rather like them than the Magi. Nay, not like them neither. For with us, the nearer (lightly), the further off. Our Proverb is (you know), the nearer the Church, the further from God.Nor, it must not be through no desert, over no Petrea. If rugged or uneven the way; if the weather be ill disposed; if any never so little danger. it is enough to stay us. To Christ we cannot travel, but weather, and way, and all must be fair. If not, no journey, but sit still and see further.