Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
By John Donne (15721631)
From Sermon to the Prince and Princess Palatine
HERE then salvation is eternal salvation; not the outward seals of the church upon the person, not visible sacraments, nor the outward seal of the person to the church, visible works, nor the inward seal of the Spirit, assurance here, but fruition, possession of glory, in the kingdom of heaven; where we shall be infinitely rich, and that without labour in getting, or care in keeping, or fear in losing; and fully wise, and that without ignorance of necessary, or study of unnecessary knowledge, where we shall not measure our portion by acres, for all heaven shall be all ours; nor our term by years, for it is life and everlasting life; nor our assurance by precedent, for we shall be safer than the angels themselves were in the creation; where our exaltation shall be to have a crown of righteousness, and our possession of that crown shall be, even the throwing it down at the feet of the Lamb; where we shall leave off all those petitions of Adveniat regnum, Thy kingdom come, for it shall be come in abundant power; and the Da nobis hodie, Give us this day our daily bread, for we shall have all that which we can desire now, and shall have a power to desire more, and then have that desire so enlarged, satisfied; and the Libera nos, we shall not pray to be delivered from evil, for no evil, culpæ or pnæ, either of sin to deserve punishment, or of punishment for our former sins, shall offer at us: where we shall see God face to face, for we shall have such notions and apprehensions as shall enable us to see him, and he shall afford such an imparting, such a manifestation of himself, as he shall be seen by us; and where we shall be as inseparably united to our Saviour, as His humanity and divinity are united together; this unspeakable, this unimaginable happiness is this salvation, and therefore let us be glad when this is brought near us.
And this is brought nearer and nearer unto us, as we come nearer and nearer to our end. As he that travels weary, and late towards a great city, is glad when he comes to a place of execution, because he knows that is near the town: so when thou comest to the gate of death, glad of that, for it is but one step from that to thy Jerusalem. Christ hath brought us in some nearness to salvation, as he is vere Salvator mundi, in that we know, that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world: and He hath brought it nearer than that, as he is Salvator corporis sui, in that we know that Christ is the head of the church, and the Saviour of that body: and nearer than that, as he is Salvator tuus Sanctus, in that we know, he is the Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel, our Saviour: but nearest of all, in the Ecce Salvator tuus venit, Behold thy salvation cometh. It is not only promised in the prophets, nor only writ in the Gospel, nor only sealed in the sacraments, nor only prepared in the visitations of the Holy Ghost, but, ecce, behold it, now, when thou canst behold nothing else: the sun is setting to thee, and that for ever; thy houses and furniture, thy gardens and orchards, thy titles and offices, thy wife and children are departing from thee, and that for ever; a cloud of faintness is come over thine eyes, and a cloud of sorrow over all theirs; when his hand that loves thee best hangs tremblingly over thee to close thine eyes ecce Salvator tuus venit, behold then a new light, thy Saviours hand shall open thine eyes, and in His light thou shalt see light; and thus shalt see, that though in the eyes of men thou lie upon that bed, as a statue on a tomb, yet in the eyes of God, thou standest as a colossus, one foot in one, another in another land; one foot in the grave, but the other in heaven; one hand in the womb of the earth, and the other in Abrahams bosom; and then vere prope, salvation is truly near thee, and nearer than when thou believedst, which is our last word.