Rave On, John Donne (Thanks To Tim Fountain)

From here:

God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons. But God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies. In paradise, the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is always Autumn: his mercies are ever in their maturity…

He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring. Though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered, and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries. All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.

John Donne (d. 1631), quoted in Ordinary Graces, Edited by Lorraine Kisly

2 Responses to “Rave On, John Donne (Thanks To Tim Fountain)”


  1. 1 rwightman August 1, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    A larger selection gives an even deeper impression of the depth of those mercies. Here it is (from an writing analysis exercise that I do with my sophomore English students- in a public high school)

    Preached Christmas Day (in the Evening), 1624 in [the unheated nave of] Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

    The aire is not so full of Moats*, [*specks of dust] of Atomes, as the Church is of Mercies ; and as we can suck in no part of aire, but we take in those Moats, those Atomes ; so here in the Congregation we cannot suck in a word from the preacher, we cannot speak, we cannot sigh a prayer to God, but that that whole breath and aire is made of mercy.
    But we call not upon you from this Text, to consider Gods ordinary mercy, that which he exhibites to all in the ministry of his Church ; nor his miraculous mercy, his extra-ordinary deliverances of States and Churches; but we call upon particular Consciences, by occasion of this Text, to call to minde Gods occasionall mercies to them ; such mercies as a regenerate* [*spiritual] man will call mercies, though a naturall man would call them accidents, or occurrences, or contingencies ; A man wakes at midnight full of unclean thoughts, and he heares a passing Bell* ; this is an occassionall mercy, if he call that his own knell* [*to signal a death] and consider how unfit he is to be called out of the world then, how unready to receive that voice, Foole, this night they shall fetch away thy soule. The adulterer, whose eye waites for the twy-light, goes forth, and casts his eyes upon forbidden houses* [*houses of prostitution], and would enter, and sees a [sign with] Lord have mercy upon us upon the door; this is an occasionall mercy, if this bring him to know that they who lie sick of the plague within, passe through a furnace, but by Gods grace, to heaven ; and hee without, carries his own furnace to hell, his lustful loines to everlasting perdition [……….]
    If I should declare what God hath done for me (done occasionally) for my soule, where he instructed me for feare of falling, where he raised me when I was fallen, perchance you would rather fixe your thoughts upon my illnesse, and wonder at that, than at Gods goodnesse, and glorifie him in that; rather wonder at my sins, than at his mercies, rather consider how ill a man I was, than how good a God he is. If I should enquire upon what occasion God elected me, and writ my name in the book of Life, I should sooner be afraid that it were not so, than finde a reason why it should be so.
    God made Sun and Moon to distinguish the seasons, and day, and night and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons : But God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies ; In paradise, the fruits were ripe, the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever at their maturity.
    We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must [come] againe to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you.
    If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominion, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his Dominions, so large an extent East and West, as that he hath day and night together in his Dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together : He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light ; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring ; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or consicence, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupefied till now, God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, poverty and all times are his seasons.

  2. 2 Talitha Mathew January 16, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Hello,

    I am looking for the full text of Donne’s sermon “The Everlasting Mercy” preached on Christmas Day, though I do not remember the year, which includes the text above from “God made sun and moon to distinguish…” It begins with “I/we? will speak of that which predates our beginning and shall overlive our end, the mercy of God….. for firat and last are but the rags of time …”

    Thanks,

    Talitha


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