Dialogue on the Threshold

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Thursday, 21 January 2010

Infinitely less than nothing

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 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 to 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.

John Donne, from A Sermon preached at the Spittle, upon Easter-Monday, 1622

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