John Donne: Prayer XI. Nobilibusque trahunt
O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who in thy upper house, the heavens, though there be many mansions, yet art alike and equally in every mansion; but here in thy lower house, though thou fillest all, yet art otherwise in some rooms thereof than in others; otherwise in thy church than in my chamber, and otherwise in thy sacraments than in my prayers; so though thou be always present and always working in every room of this thy house, my body, yet I humbly beseech thee to manifest always a more effectual presence in my heart than in the other offices.
Into the house of thine anointed, disloyal persons, traitors, will come; into thy house, the church, hypocrites and idolators will come; into some rooms of this thy house, my body, temptations will come, infections will come; but be my heart thy bedchamber, O my God, and thither let them not enter. Job made a covenant with his eyes, but not his making of that covenant, but thy dwelling in his heart, enabled him to keep that covenant. Thy Son himself had a sadness in his soul to death, and he had a reluctation, a deprecation of death, in the approaches thereof; but he had his cordial too, “Yet not my will, but thine be done.” And as thou hast not delivered us, thine adopted sons, from these infectious temptations, so neither hast thou delivered us over to them, nor withheld thy cordials from us.
I was baptized in thy cordial water against original sin, and I have drunk of thy cordial blood, for my recovery from actual and habitual sin, in the other sacrament. Thou, O Lord, who hast imprinted all medicinal virtues which are in all creatures, and hast made even the flesh of vipers to assist in cordials, art able to make this present sickness, everlasting health, this weakness, everlasting strength, and this very dejection and faintness of heart, a powerful cordial.
When thy blessed Son cried out to thee, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” thou didst reach out thy hand to him; but not to deliver his sad soul but to receive his holy soul: neither did he longer desire to hold it of thee, but to recommend it to thee. I see thine hand upon me now, O Lord, and I ask not why it comes, what it intends; whether thou wilt bid it stay still in this body for some time, or bid it meet thee this day in paradise, I ask not, not in a wish, not in a thought. Infirmity of nature, curiosity of mind, are temptations that offer; but a silent and absolute obedience to thy will, even before I know it, is my cordial. Preserve that to me, O my God, and that will preserve me to thee; that, when thou hast catechised me with affliction here, I may take a greater degree, and serve thee in a higher place, in thy kingdom of joy and glory. Amen.
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