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

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2. [The sickness grows worse]

No man is so little, in respect of the greatest man, as the greatest in respect of God; for here, in that, wee have not so much as a measure to try it by; proportion is no measure for infinitie. He pg 95that hath no more of this world but a grave, hee that hath his grave but lent him, til a better man, or another man, must bee buried in the same grave, he that hath no grave, but a dung-hill, hee that hath no more earth, but that which he carries, but that which hee is, hee that hath not that earth, which hee is, but even in that, is anothers slave, hath as much proportion to God, as if all Davids Worthies, and all the worlds Monarchs, and all imaginations Gyants were kneaded and incorporated into one, and as though that one were the survivor of all the sonnes of men, to whom God had given the world. And therefore how little soever I bee, as God calls things that are not, as though they were, I, who am as though I were not, may call upon God, and say, My God, my God, why comes thine anger so fast upon me? Why dost thou melt me, scatter me, poure me like water upon the ground so instantly? Thou staidst for the first world, in Noahs time, 120 yeres; thou staidst for a rebellious generation in the wildernes, 40 yeres, wilt thou stay no minute for me? Wilt thou make thy Processe, and thy Decree, thy Citation, and thy Judgement but one act? Thy Summons, thy Battell, thy Victorie, thy Triumph, all but one act; and lead me captive, nay, deliver me captive to death, as soon as thou declarest me to be enemy, and so cut me off even with the drawing of thy sword out of the scabberd, and for that question, How long was he sicke? leave no other answere, but that the hand of death pressed upon him from the first minute? My God, my God, thou wast not wont to come in whirlwinds, but in soft and gentle ayre. Thy first breath breathed a Soule into mee, and shall thy breath blow it out? Thy breath in the Congregation, thy Word in the Church, breathes communion, and consolation here, and consummation hereafter; shall thy breath in this Chamber breathe dissolution, and destruction, divorce, and separation? Surely it is not thou; it is not thy hand. The devouring sword, the consuming fire, the winds from the wildernes, the diseases of the body, all that afflicted Job, were from the hand of Satan; it is not thou. It is thou, thou my God, who hast led mee so continually with thy hand, from the hand of my Nurce, as that I know, thou wilt not correct me, but with thine own hand. My parents would not give mee over to a Servants correction, nor my God, to Satans. I am fallen into the hand of God, with David, and with David I see that his Mercies are great. For by that mercy, I consider in my present state, not the haste, and the dispatch of the disease, in dissolving this body, so much, as the much more hast, and dispatch, which my God shal use, in recollecting, and reuniting this dust againe at the Resurrection. Then I shall pg 96heare his Angels proclaime the Surgite Mortui, Rise yee dead. Though I be dead, I shall heare the voice; the sounding of the voice, and the working of the voice shall be all one; and all shall rise there in a lesse minute, than any one dies here.

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