Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions

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Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and severall steps in my Sicknes is a prose work by the English metaphysical poet and cleric in the Church of England John Donne, published in 1624. It covers death, rebirth and the Elizabethan concept of sickness as a visit from God, reflecting internal sinfulness.


Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, together with Death's Duel, Ann Arbor Paperbacks (University of Michigan Press, 1959)
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed., The Oxford Book of English Prose (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1925), nos. 115, 116
  • My God, my God, all that thou askest of mee, is my Heart, My Sonne, give mee thy heart; Am I thy sonne, as long as I have but my heart? Wilt thou give mee an Inheritance, a Filiation, any thing for my heart? O thou, who saydst to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him upon the earth, shall my feare, shall my zeale, shall my jealousie, have leave to say to thee, Hast thou considered my Heart, that there is not so perverse a Heart upon earth; and wouldst thou have that, and shall I be thy Sonne, thy eternal Sonne's Coheire, for giving that? The Heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? Hee that askes that question, makes the answere, I the Lord search the Heart. When didst thou search mine? Dost thou thinke to finde it, as thou madest it in Adam? Thou hast searched since, and found all these gradations in the ill of our Hearts, That every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts, is only evill continually. Doest thou remember this, and wouldest thou have my Heart? O God of all light, I know thou knowest all; and it is Thou, that declarest unto man, what is his Heart. Without thee, O soveraigne goodnesse, I could not know, how ill my heart were. Thou hast declared unto mee, in thy Word, that for all this deluge of evill, that hath surrounded all Hearts, yet thou soughtest and foundest a man after thine owne heart; That thou couldest and wouldest give thy people Pastours according to thine owne heart; And I can gather out of thy Word so good testimony of the hearts of men, as to find single hearts, docile and apprehensive hearts; Hearts that can, Hearts that have learnt, wise hearts, in one place, and in another, in a great degree, wise, perfit hearts; straight hearts, no perversnesse without, and cleane hearts, no foulnesse within; such hearts I can find in thy Word; and if my heart were such a heart, I would give thee my Heart. But I find stonie hearts too, and I have made mine such: I have found Hearts, that are snares; and I have conversed with such; hearts that burne like Ovens; and the fuell of Lust, and Envie, and Ambition, hath inflamed mine. . . The first kind of heart, alas, my God, I have not; the last are not Hearts to be given to thee; What shall I do? Without that present I cannot bee thy Sonne, and I have it not. To those of the first kinde thou givest joyfulnes of heart, and I have not that; To those of the other kinde, thou givest faintnesse of heart: And blessed bee thou, O God, for that forbearance, I have not that yet. There is then a middle kinde of Hearts, not so perfit as to bee given, but that the very giving mends them; Not so desperate, as not to bee accepted, but that the very accepting dignifies them. This is a melting heart, and a troubled heart; and a wounded heart, and a broken heart, and a contrite heart; and by the powerfull working of thy piercing Spirit, such a Heart I have; Thy Samuel spake unto all the house of thy Israel, and sayd, If you returne to the Lord with all your hearts, prepare your hearts unto the Lord. If my heart bee prepared, it is a returning heart; And if thou see it upon the way, thou wilt carrie it home . . and the Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keepe my Heart and Minde through Christ Jesus.
    • XVII. Expostulation
    • Hearts
  • Perchance hee for whom this Bell tolls, may be so ill, as that he knowes not it tolls for him; And perchance I may thinke my selfe so much better than I am, as that they who are about mee, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for mee, and I know not that. The Church is Catholike, universall, so are all her Actions; All that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concernes mee; for that child is thereby connected to that Head which is my Head too, and engraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a Man, that action concernes me: . . . As therefore the Bell that rings to a Sermon, calls not upon the Preacher onely, but upon the Congregation to come; so this Bell calls us all: but how much more mee, who am brought so neere the doore by this sicknesse. . . The Bell doth toll for him that thinkes it doth; and though it intermit againe, yet from that minute, that that occasion wrought upon him, hee is united to God. Who casts not up his Eie to the Sunne when it rises? but who takes off his Eie from a Comet when that breakes out? Who bends not his eare to any bell, which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell, which is passing a peece of himselfe out of this world? No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
    • XVII. Meditation
    • The Bell