John Donne: Prayer XII. Spirante columba
O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who, though thou have suffered us to destroy ourselves, and hast not given us the power of reparation in ourselves, hast yet afforded us such means of reparation as may easily and familiarly be compassed by us, prosper, I humbly beseech thee, this means of bodily assistance in this thy ordinary creature, and prosper thy means of spiritual assistance in thy holy ordinances.
And as thou hast carried this thy creature, the dove, through all thy ways through nature, and made it naturally proper to conduce medicinally to our bodily health, through the law, and made it a sacrifice for sin there, and through the gospel, and made it, and thy Spirit in it, a witness of thy Son's baptism there, so carry it, and the qualities of it, home to my soul, and imprint there that simplicity, that mildness, that harmlessness, which thou hast imprinted by nature in this creature. That so all vapours of all disobedience to thee, being subdued under my feet, I may, in the power and triumph of thy Son, tread victoriously upon my grave, and trample upon the lion and dragon [Ps. 91:13] that lie under it to devour me.
Thou, O Lord, by the prophet, callest the dove the “dove of the valleys,” but promisest that the “dove of the valleys shall be upon the mountain.” [Ezek. 7:16] As thou hast laid me low in this valley of sickness, so low as that I am made fit for that question asked in the field of bones, “Son of man, can these bones live?” [Ezek. 37:3] so, in thy good time, carry me up to these mountains of which even in this valley thou affordest me a prospect, the mountain where thou dwellest, the holy hill, unto which none can ascend “but he that hath clean hands,” which none can have but by that one and that strong way of making them clean, in the blood of thy Son Christ Jesus. Amen.