Wednesday, 23 April 2014

'To Preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood' - Father Mapple's Sermon to the Whalers





 Resurrection of Christ - by Piero della Francisca; a fresco, painted between 1463-1465

       'Wishing everyone a blessed and happy Easter - Deo Gratias'

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                                                                     Herman Melville 1885
 ‘Father Mapple’s Sermon to the Whalers’ - from 'Moby Dick' (1851) by Herman Melville (1819-1891)
 

‘ ….  Then God spake unto the fish; and from the shuddering cold and blackness of the sea, the whale came breeching up towards the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights of air and earth; and “vomited out Jonah upon the dry land”; when the word of the Lord came a second time; and Jonah, bruised and beaten – his ears like two sea-shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean – Jonah did the Almighty’s bidding.  And what was that, shipmates?  To preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood! That was it!
   

 ‘This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to that pilot of the living God who slights it.  Woe to him whom this world charms from Gospel duty! Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale! Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to apal!  Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness! Woe to him, who, in this world, courts not dishonour! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were damnation! Yea, woe to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway!’
   

 He drooped and fell away from himself for a moment; then lifting his face to them again, showed a deep joy in his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm, ‘But oh! Shipmates! On the starboard hand of every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep.  Is not the main-truck higher than the keelson (*) is low? Delight is to him – a far, far upward and inward delight – who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self.  Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base, treacherous world has gone down beneath him.  Delight is to him who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of  Senators and Judges.  Delight, top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven.  Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous mob can ever shake from this sure Keel of the Ages.  And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with his final breath - O Father! – chiefly known to me by thy rod – mortal or immortal, here I die.  I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world’s, or mine own.  Yet this is nothing; I leave eternity to thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?’
   

 He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction, covered his face with his hands, and so remained kneeling, till all the people had departed, and he was left alone in the place.
 

(*) keelson – line of timber fastening ship’s floor-timbers to keel. (See also kelson)

Herman Melville (1819-1881).  American poet and novelist; born in New York City, son of a merchant. Particularly remembered for 'Moby Dick' or 'The White Whale', his epic novel of the sea and whaling and the life of man.


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                                                                Sir Walter Raleigh (1588)

'O Eloquent, Just, and Mighty Death' - from 'History of the World' (1614) by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 -1618) - a prisoner in the Tower of London at the time.

'Death, which hateth and destroyeth man, is believed;  God, which hath made him and loves him, is always deferred. I have considered (saith Solomon) all the works that are under the sun, and bekold, all is vanity, and vexation of spirit; but who believes it, till Death tells it us; it was Death, which opening the conscience of Charles the first, made him enjoin his son Philip to restore Navarre; and King Francis the first of France, to command that justice should be done upon the murderers of the Protestants in Merindol and Cabrieres, which till then he neglected.  It is therefore Death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent, that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant; makes them cry, complain, and repent, yea, even to hate their forepassed happiness.  He takes the account of the rich, and proves him a beggar; a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing, but in the gravel that fills his mouth.  He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein, their deformity and rottenness; and they acknowledge it.

O elequent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised: thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words,  'Hic iacet'- Here lies ...'

 Sir Walter Raleigh.(1552 - 1618).   Courtier, soldier, explorer, writer and poet. Born in Devonshire, a Protestant and favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1, beheaded for treason under James 1. The above passage is taken from his 'History of the World' which he wrote in 1614, whilst a prisoner in the Tower of London. An interesting and revealing passage from a man, often depicted by contemporary historians as a pirate and brigand during his lifetime, yet condemning those very vices with which he has been accused.

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 'The first dart that wounds and frequently robs chaste souls of life, finds admission through the eyes.  By them David, the beloved of God, fell.  By them was Solomon, once the inspired of the Holy Ghost, drawn into the greatest abominations.'
                                     'Thoughts from St.Alphonsus de Liguori'                                              

1 comment:

Richard Collins said...

And a happy and holy Easter to you and all the brave souls who reside north of the border.

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