Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Beautiful Excerpt From Donne

(this is New St. Paul's Cathedral in London)
John Donne (the sometime Dean of Old St. Paul's) has inspired me lately as a recusant (his mother I believe was the grand-niece of St. Thomas More) who turned Anglican. His faith is usually seen as a forgery out of expediency, like so many, a minister of the CofE for profit. However, lately I've found a lot of even his private writing to be unabashedly Protestant (Holy Sonnet XIV is the locus classicus). While this would be unfair to my Calvinistic and Anglican friends who could surely claim him as their own before I could, I have to say that his meditations on Christ crucified show him to come quite close to the Lutheran Tradition:

"There now hangs that sacred Body upon the Crosse, rebaptized in his owne teares and sweat, and embalmed in his owne blood alive. There are those bowells of compassion, which are so conspicuous, so manifested, as that you may see them through his wounds. There those glorious eyes grew faint in their light: so as the Sun ashamed to survive them, departed with his light too. And then that Sonne of God, who was never from us, and yet had now come a new way unto us in assuming our nature, delivers that soule (which was never out of his Father's hand) by a new way, a voluntary emission of it into his Father's hands; For though to his God our Lord, belong'd these issues of death, so that considered in his owne contract, he must necessarily die, yet at no breach or battery, which they had made upon his sacred Body, issued his soule, but emisit, hee gave up the Ghost, and as God breathed a soule into the first Adam, so this second Adam breathed his soule into God, into the hands of God. There wee leave you in that blessed dependancy, to hang upon him that hangs upon the Crosse, there bath in his teares, there suck at his woundes, and lie downe in peace in his grave, till hee vouchsafe you a resurrection, and an ascension into that Kingdome, which hee hath purchas'd for you, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood." - John Donne

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