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John Donne's Devotions
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XVIII. PRAYER.

O ETERNAL and most gracious God, I have a new occasion of thanks, and a new occasion of prayer to thee from the ringing of this bell. Thou toldest me in the other voice that I was mortal and approaching to death; in this I may hear thee say that I am dead in an irremediable, in an irrecoverable state for bodily health. If that be thy language in this voice, how infinitely am I bound to thy heavenly Majesty for speaking so plainly unto me? for even that voice, that I must die now, is not the voice of a judge that speaks by way of condemnation, but of a physician that presents health in that. Thou presentest me death as the cure of my disease, not as the exaltation of it; if I mistake thy voice herein, if I overrun thy pace, and prevent thy hand, and imagine death more instant upon me than thou hast bid him be, yet the voice belongs to me; I am dead, I was born dead, and from the first laying of these mud walls in my conception, they have mouldered away, and the whole course of life is but an active death. Whether this voice instruct me that I am a dead man now, or remember me that I have been a dead man all this while.

I humbly thank thee for speaking in this voice to my soul; and I humbly beseech thee also to accept my prayers in his behalf, by whose occasion this voice, this sound, is come to me. For though he be by death transplanted to thee, and so in possession of inexpressible happiness there, yet here upon earth thou hast given us such a portion of heaven, as that though men dispute whether thy saints in heaven do know what we in earth in particular do stand in need of, yet, without all disputation, we upon earth do know what thy saints in heaven lack yet for the consummation of their happiness, and therefore thou hast afforded us the dignity that we may pray for them. That therefore this soul, now newly departed to thy kingdom, may quickly return to a joyful reunion to that body which it hath left, and that we with it may soon enjoy the full consummation of all in body and soul, I humbly beg at thy hand, O our most merciful God, for thy Son Christ Jesus’ sake. That that blessed Son of thine may have the consummation of his dignity, by entering into his last office, the office of a judge, and may have society of human bodies in heaven, as well as he hath had ever of souls; and that as thou hatest sin itself, thy hate to sin may be expressed in the abolishing of all instruments of so, the allurements of this world, and the world itself; and all the temporary revenges of sin, the stings of sickness and of death; and all the castles, and prisons, and monuments of sin, in the grave. That time may be swallowed up in eternity, and hope swallowed in possession, and ends swallowed in infiniteness, and all men ordained to salvation in body and soul be one entire and everlasting sacrifice to thee, where thou mayst receive delight from them, and they glory from thee, for evermore. Amen.

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