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OR A CONSOLATION TO THE SOUL AGAINST THE DYING LIFE AND LIVING DEATH OF THE BODY Delivered In A Sermon At Whitehall, Before The Kingís Majesty, In The Beginning Of Lent, 1630.
BY THAT LATE LEARNED AND REVEREND DIVINE, JOHN DONNE, DR. IN DIVINITY, AND DEAN OF ST. PAULíS, LONDON Being His Last Sermon, And Called By His Majestyís Household, The Doctorís Own Funeral Sermon.
TO THE READER THIS sermon was, by sacred authority, styled the authorís own funeral sermon, most fitly, whether we respect the time or matter. It was preached not many days before his death, as if, having done this, there remained nothing for him to do but to die; and the matter is of death ó the occasion and subject of all funeral sermons. It hath been observed of this reverend man, that his faculty in preaching continually increased, and that, as he exceeded others at first, so at last he exceeded himself. This is his last sermon; I will not say it is therefore his best, because all his were excellent.
Yet thus much: a dying manís words, if they concern ourselves, do usually make the deepest impression, as being spoken most feelingly, and with least affectation. Now, whom doth it concern to learn both the danger and benefit of death? Death is every manís enemy, and intends hurt to all, though to many he be occasion of greatest good. This enemy we must all combat dying, whom he living did almost conquer, having discovered the utmost of his power, the utmost of his cruelty. May we make such use of this and other the like preparatives, that neither death, whensoever it shall come, may seem terrible, nor life tedious, how long soever it shall last.