John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's, London





Preached at the Spital (Part 4).

SOME THING THE ANGELS do know by the dignity of their Nature, by their Creation, which we know not; as we know many things which inferior Creatures do not; and Such things all the Angels, good and bad know. Some things they know by the Grace of their confirmation, by which they have more given them, than they had by Nature in their Creation- and those things only the Angels that stood, but all they, do know Some things they know by Revelation, when God is pleased to manifest them unto them; and so some of the Angels know that, which the rest, though confirm'd, doe not know. By Creation, they know as his Subjects; by Confirmation, they know as his servants; by Revelation, they know as his Councel. Now Erimus sicut Angeli, says Christ, There we shall be as the Angels: The knowledge which I have by Nature, shall have no Clouds; here it hath: that which I have by Grace, shall have no reluctation, no resistance; here it hath: That which I have by Revelation, shall have no suspition, no jealousie; here it hath: sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a respiration from God, and a suggestion from the Devil. There our curiosity shall have this noble satisfaction, we shall know how the Angels know, by knowing as they know. We shall not pass from Author, to Author, as in a Grammar School, nor from Art to Art, as in an University; but, as that General which Knighted his whole Army, God shall Create us all Doctors in a minute That great Library, those infinite Volumes of the Books of Creatures, shall be taken away, quite away, no more Nature; those reverend Manuscripts, written with Gods own hand the Scriptures themselves, shall be taken away, quite away; no more preaching, no more reading of the Scriptures, and that great School-Mistress, Experience, and Observation shall be remov'd, no new thing to be done, and in an instant, I shall know more than they all could reveal unto me. I shall know, not only as I know already, that a Bee-hive, that an Ant-hill is the same Book in Decimo sexto as a Kingdom is in Folio, That a flower that lives but a day, is an abridgment of that King, that lives out his threescore and ten yeers; but I shall know too, that all these Ants, and Bees, and Flowers, and Kings, and Kingdoms, howsoever they may be Examples, and Comparisons to one another, yet they are all as nothing, altogether nothing, less than nothing infinitely less than nothing, to that which shall then be the subject of my knowledge, for, it is the knowledge of the glory of God.

[XXVI. Sermons (25), 1660]

Fr. Lance Mc Adam

The Study has been prepared by Father Lance McAdam

who entered into rest July 14, 2003

May his soul, and the souls of all the departed rest in peace.

And light perpetual shine upon him.

Anglicanism | Ashes to Easter | John Donne