John Donne: Prayer


John Donne

O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who having married man and woman together, and made them one flesh, wouldst have them also to become one soul, so as that they might maintain a sympathy in their affections, and have a conformity to one another in the accidents of this world, good or bad; so having married this soul and this body in me, I humbly beseech thee that my soul may look and make her use of thy merciful proceedings towards my bodily restitution, and go the same way to a spiritual.

I am come, by thy goodness, to the use of thine ordinary means for my body, to wash away those peccant humours that endangered it. I have, O Lord, a river in my body, but a sea in my soul, and a sea swollen into the depth of a deluge, above the sea. Thou hast raised up certain hills in me heretofore, by which I might have stood safe from these inundations of sin. Even our natural faculties are a hill, and might preserve us from some sin. Education, study, observation, example, are hills too, and might preserve us from some. Thy church, and thy word, and thy sacraments, and thine ordinances are hills above these; thy spirit of remorse, and compunction, and repentance for former sin, are hills too; and to the top of all these hills thou hast brought me heretofore; but this deluge, this inundation, is got above all my hills; and I have sinned and sinned, and multiplied sin to sin, after all these thy assistances against sin, and where is there water enough to wash away this deluge? There is a red sea, greater than this ocean, and there is a little spring, through which this ocean may pour itself into that red sea. Let thy spirit of true contrition and sorrow pass all my sins, through these eyes, into the wounds of thy Son, and I shall be clean, and my soul so much better purged than my body, as it is ordained for better and a longer life.