Ash Wednesday: "All Lent is but the vigil, the eve of Easter"

From a 1621 Lenten sermon of John Donne, on the text 'The last Enemy that shall be destroyed, is Death' (I Corinthians 15:26):

This is a text of the resurrection, and it is not Easter yet; but it is Easter eve; all Lent is but the vigil, the eve of Easter: to so long a festival as never shall end, the resurrection, we may well begin the eve betimes. Forty years long was God grieved for that generation which he loved; let us be content to humble ourselves forty days, to be fitter for that glory which we expect. In the Book of God there are many songs; there is but one Lamentation: and that one Song of Solomon, nay some one of David's hundred and fifty Psalms, is longer than the whole book of Lamentations. Make way to an everlasting Easter by a short Lent, to an undeterminable glory, by a temporary humiliation. You must weep these tears, tears of contrition, tears of mortification, before God will wipe all tears from your eyes; you must die this death, this death of the righteous, the death to sin, before this last enemy, death, shall be destroyed in you, and you made partakers of everlasting life in soul and body too.


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