John Donne

Evelyn Simpson, Helen Gardner, and T. S. Healy (eds), Selected Prose

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pg 29144. From the fourth of my Prebend Sermons upon my five Psalmes: Preached at S. Pauls, 28 January.16271

Gods House is the house of Prayer; It is his Court of Requests; There he receives petitions, there he gives Order upon them. And you come to God in his House, as though you came to keepe him company, to sit downe, and talke with him halfe an houre; or you come as Ambassadors, covered in his presence, as though ye came from as great a Prince as he. You meet below, and there make your bargaines, for biting, for devouring Usury, and then you come up hither to prayers, and so make God your Broker. You rob, and spoile, and eat his people as bread, by Extortion, and bribery, and deceitfull waights and measures, and deluding oathes in buying and selling, and then come hither, and so make God your Receiver, and his house a den of Thieves. His house is Sanctum Sanctorum, The holiest of holies, and you make it onely Sanctuarlum; It should be a place sanctified by your devotions, and you make it onely a Sanctuary to priviledge Malefactors, A place that may redeeme you from the ill opinion of men, who must in charity be bound to thinke well of you, because they see you here. Offer this to one of your Princes, (as God argues in the Prophet) and see, if he will suffer his house to be prophaned by such uncivill abuses; And, Terrlbilis Rex, The Lord most high is terrible, and a great King over all the earth; and, Terribills super omnes Deos, More terrible than all other Gods. Let thy Master be thy god, or thy Mistresse thy god, thy Belly be thy god, or thy Back be thy god, thy fields be thy god, or thy chests be thy god, Terribills super omnes Deos, The Lord is terrible above all gods, A great God, and a great King above all gods. You come, and call upon him by his name here, But Magnum & terribile, Glorious and fearefull is the name of the Lord thy God. And, as if the Son of God were but the Son of some Lord, that had beene your Schoole-fellow in your youth, and so you continued a boldnesse to him ever after, so, because you have beene brought up with Christ from your cradle, pg 292and catechized in his name, his name becomes lesse reverend unto you, and Sanctum & terribile, Holy, and reverend, Holy and terrible should his name be.

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Editor’s Note
1 On the text: 'By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off, upon the sea' (Ps. lxv. 5)
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