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John Donne's Devotions
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XXI. EXPOSTULATION.

MY God, my God, how large a glass of the next world is this! As we have an art, to cast from one glass to another, and so to carry the species a great way off, so hast thou, that way, much more; we shall have a resurrection in heaven; the knowledge of that thou castest by another glass upon us here; we feel that we have a resurrection from sin, and that by another glass too; we see we have a resurrection of the body from the miseries and calamities of this life. This resurrection of my body shows me the resurrection of my soul; and both here severally, of both together hereafter. Since thy martyrs under the altar press thee with their solicitation for the resurrection of the body to glory, thou wouldst pardon me, if I should press thee by prayer for the accomplishing of this resurrection, which thou hast begun in me, to health. But, O my God, I do not ask, where I might ask amiss, nor beg that which perchance might be worse for me. I have a bed of sin; delight in sin is a bed: I have a grave of sin; senselessness of sin is a grave: and where Lazarus had been four days, I have been fifty years in this putrefaction; why dost thou not call me, as thou didst him, with a loud voice,297297    John 11:43. since my soul is as dead as his body was? I need thy thunder, O my God; thy music will not serve me. Thou hast called thy servants, who are to work upon us in thine ordinance, by all these loud names—winds, and chariots, and falls of waters; where thou wouldst be heard, thou wilt be heard. When thy Son concurred with thee to the making of man, there it is but a speaking, but a saying. There, O blessed and glorious Trinity, was none to hear but you three, and you easily hear one another, because you say the same things. But when thy Son came to the work of redemption, thou spokest,298298    John 12:28. and they that heard it took it for thunder; and thy Son himself cried with a loud voice upon the cross twice,299299    Matt. 27:46, 50. as he who was to prepare his coming, John Baptist, was the voice of a crier, and not of a whisperer. Still, if it be thy voice, it is a loud voice. These words, says thy Moses, thou spokest with a great voice, and thou addedst no more,300300    Deut. 5:22. says he there. That which thou hast said is evident, and it is evident that none can speak so loud; none can bind us to hear him, as we must thee. The Most High uttered his voice. What was his voice? The Lord thundered from heaven,301301    2 Sam. 22:14. it might be heard; but this voice, thy voice, is also a mighty voice;302302    Psalm 68:33. not only mighty in power, it may be heard, nor mighty in obligation, it should be heard; but mighty in operation, it will be heard; and therefore hast thou bestowed a whole psalm303303    Psalm 29. upon us, to lead us to the consideration of thy voice. It is such a voice as that thy Son says, the dead shall hear it;304304    John 5:25. and that is my state. And why, O God, dost thou not speak to me, in that effectual loudness? Saint John heard a voice, and he turned about to see the voice:305305    Rev. 1:12. sometimes we are too curious of the instrument by what man God speaks; but thou speakest loudest when thou speakest to the heart. There was silence, and I heard a voice, says one, to thy servant Job.306306    Job 4:16. I hearken after thy voice in thine ordinances: and I seek not a whispering in conventicles; but yet, O my God, speak louder, that so, though I do hear thee now, then I may hear nothing but thee. My sins cry aloud; Cain’s murder did so: my afflictions cry aloud; the floods have lifted up their voice (and waters are afflictions), but thou, O Lord, art mightier than the voice of many waters;307307    Psalm 93:3, 4. than many temporal, many spiritual afflictions, than any of either kind: and why dost thou not speak to me in that voice? What is man, and whereto serverth he? What is his good and what is his evil?308308    Ecclus. 18:8. My bed of sin is not evil, not desperately evil, for thou dost call me out of it; but my rising out of it is not good (not perfectly good), if thou call not louder, and hold me now I am up. O my God, I am afraid of a fearful application of those words, When a man hath done, then he beginneth;309309    Ecclus. 5:7. when this body is unable to sin, his sinful memory sins over his old sins again; and that which thou wouldst have us to remember for compunction, we remember with delight. Bring him to me in his bed, that I may kill him,310310    1 Sam. 19:15. says Saul of David: thou hast not said so, that is not thy voice.

Joash’s own servants slew him when he was sick in his bed:311311    2 Chron. 24:25. thou hast not suffered that, that my servants should so much as neglect me, or be weary of me in my sickness. Thou threatenest, that as a shepherd takes out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel, that dwell in Samaria, in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus, in a couch, be taken away;312312    Amos 3:12. and even they that are secure from danger shall perish. How much more might I, who was in the bed of death, die? But thou hast not so dealt with me. As they brought out sick persons in beds, that thy servant Peter’s shadow might over-shadow them,313313    Acts 5:15. thou hast, O my God, overshadowed me, refreshed me; but when wilt thou do more? When wilt thou do all? When wilt thou speak in thy loud voice? When wilt thou bid me take up my bed and walk?314314    Matt. 9:6. As my bed is my affections, when shall I bear them so as to subdue them? As my bed is my afflictions, when shall I bear them so as not to murmur at them? When shall I take up my bed and walk? Not lie down upon it, as it is my pleasure, not sink under it, as it is my correction? But O my God, my God, the God of all flesh, and of all spirit, to let me be content with that in my fainting spirit, which thou declarest in this decayed flesh, that as this body is content to sit still, that it may learn to stand, and to learn by standing to walk, and by walking to travel, so my soul, by obeying this thy voice of rising, may by a farther and farther growth of thy grace proceed so, and be so established, as may remove all suspicions, all jealousies between thee and me, and may speak and hear in such a voice, as that still I may be acceptable to thee, and satisfied from thee.


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