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IIKE OF Dll. DONNE. IT
'* God will add some one to you for my pravers. A "man would almost be content to die (if there were "no other benefit in death) to hear of so much sort' row, and so much good testimony from good men "as I (God be blessed for it) did upon the report of "my death; yet I perceive it went not through all; "for one writ to me that some (and he said of my "friends) conceived I was not so ill as I pretended, "but withdrew myself to live at case, discharged of "preaching. It is an unfriendly, and, God. knows, "an ill.grounded interpretation; for I have always "been sorrier when I could not preach than any could "be they could not hear me. It hath been my desire, "and God may be pleased to grant it, that I might "die in the pulpit; if not that, yet that I might take "my death in the pulpit, that is, die the sooner by "occasion of those labours. Sir, I hope to see you "piesently after Candlemas, about which time will "fall my Lent.sermon at court, except my Lord '* Chamberlain believe me to be dead, and so leave me *' out of the roll; but as long as I live, and am not "speechless, I would not willingly decline that ser. "vice. I have better leisure to write than you to read, "yet I would not willingly oppress you with too much "letter. God bless you and your son, as I wish. "Your poor friend and servant in Christ Jesus,
." J. Donne."
Before that month ended he was appointed to preach upon his old constant day, the first Friday in Lent: he had notice of it, and had in his sickness so prepared for that employment, that as he had long thirsted for it, so he resolved his weakness should not hinder his journey; he came, therefore, to London some few days before his appointed day of preaching. At his coming thither many of his friends (who with sorrow saw his sickness had left him only so much flesh as did only cover his bones) doubted his strength to perform that task, and did therefore dissuade him from undertaking it, assuring him, however, it was like to short en his life; but he passionately denied their requests, saying, " He would not doubt that that God, who in so "many weaknesses had assisted him with an unex. "peeled strength, wculd. now withdraw it in his last "employment," professing an holy ambition to perform that sacred work. And when, to the ama2ement of some beholders, he appeared in the pulpit, many of them thought he presented himself not to preach mortification by a living voice, but monality by a decayed body and dying face; and, doubtless, many did secretly ask that question in E2ekiel, " Do these banes live ? * "or can that sou! organi2e that tongue to speak so "longtime as the sand in that glass will move towards
* Eiek. xxxvii. j.
"become my nightly meditation upon my bed, which *" my infirmities have now made restless to me: but *' at this present time I was in a serious contemplation *' of the providence and goodness of God to me, who "am less than the least of his mercies; and looking "back upon my life past, I now plainlysee it was his "hand that prevented me from ail temporal employ. *' ment, and it was his will that I should never settle "nor thrive till I entered into the ministry; in which "I have now lived almost twenty years, (I hope *o his "glory) and by which, I most humbly thank him, I "have been enabled to requite most of those friends "which shewed me kindness when my fortune was "very low, as God knows it was; and (as it hath oc. "casioned the expression of my gratitude) I thank "God most of them have stood in need of my requital. '** I have lived to be useful and comfortable to my good "father.in.law Sir George Moor, whose patience God "hath been pleased to exercise with many temporal "crosses; I have maintained my own mother, whom "it hath pleased God, after a plentiful fortune in her "younger days, to bring to a great decay in her very "old age; I have quieted the consciences of many "that have groaned under the burthen of a wounded "spirit, whose prayers I hope are available for me. I "cannot plead innocency of life, especially of my "youth; but I am to be judged by a merciful God, "who is not willing to see what I have done amiss:
LIFE OF DR. DONNE. liX
"and though of myself I.have nothing to present to "him but sins and misery, yet I know he looks not "upon me now as I am of myself, but as I am in my "Saviour, and hath given me, even at this time, some *' testimones by his holy Spirit, that I am of the num"berof his elect: I am therefore full of joy, and shall '' die in peace."
I must here look so far back as to tell the reader that at his first return out of Essex to preach hi, last sermon, his old friend and physician, Dr. Fox, a man of great worth, came to him to consult his health; and that after a sight of him, and some queries concerning his distempers, he told him, " That by cor"dials and drinking milk twenty days together, there "was a probability of his restoration tohealth;" but be passionately denied to drink it. Nevertheless Dr. Fox, who loved him most entirely, wearied him with solicitations, till he yielded to take it for ten days; at the end of which time he told Dr. Fox, "he had "drunk it more to satisfy him than to recover his "health; and that he would not drink it ten days "longer upon the best moral assurance of having »' twenty years added to his life, for he loved it not; •' and that lie was so far from fearing death, which is "the king of terrors, that he longed for the day of his •' dissolution." *
It is observed, that a desire of glory or comraenda