John Donne: Prayer


John Donne

O ETERNAL and most gracious God, the God of security, and the enemy of security too, who wouldst have us always sure of thy love, and yet wouldst have us always doing something for it, let me always so apprehend thee as present with me, and yet so follow after thee, as though I had not apprehended thee. Thou enlargedst Hezekiah's lease for fifteen years; thou renewedst Lazarus's lease for a time which we know not; but thou didst never so put out any of these fires as that thou didst not rake up the embers, and wrap up a future mortality in that body, which thou hadst then so reprieved. Thou proceedest no otherwise in our souls, O our good but fearful God; thou pardonest no sin, so as that that sinner can sin no more; thou makest no man so acceptable as that thou makest him impeccable.

Though therefore it were a diminution of the largeness, and derogatory to the fulness of thy mercy, to look back upon the sins which in a true repentance I have buried in the wounds of thy Son, with a jealous or suspicious eye, as though they were now my sins, when I had so transferred them upon thy Son, as though they could now be raised to life again, to condemn me to death, when they are dead in him who is the fountain of life, yet were it an irregular anticipation, and an insolent presumption, to think that thy present mercy extended to all my future sins, or that there were no embers, no coals, of future sins left in me.

Temper therefore thy mercy so to my soul, O my God, that I may neither decline to any faintness of spirit, in suspecting thy mercy now to be less hearty, less sincere, than it uses to be, to those who are perfectly reconciled to thee, nor presume so of it as either to think this present mercy an antidote against all poisons, and so expose myself to temptations, upon confidence that this thy mercy shall preserve me, or that when I do cast myself into new sins, I may have new mercy at any time, because thou didst so easily afford me this.