Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne
          Atque annuit Ille,
Qui, per eos, clamat, Linquas
     jam, Lazare, lectum.

God prospers their practise,
and he, by them, calls
Lazarus out of his tombe, mee
out of my bed.

IF MAN had beene left alone in this world, at first, shall I thinke, that he would not have fallen? If there had beene no Woman, would not man have served, to have beene his own Tempter? When I see him now, subject to infinite weaknesses, fall into infinite sinne, without any forraine tentations, shall I thinke, hee would have had none, if hee had beene alone? God saw that Man needed a Helper, if hee should bee well; but to make Woman ill, the Devill saw, that there needed no third. When God, and wee were alone, in Adam, that was not enough; when the Devill and wee were alone, in Eve, it was enough. O what a Giant is Man, when he fights against himselfe, and what a Dwarfe when hee needs, or exercises his owne assistance for himselfel I cannot rise out of my bed, till the Physitian enable mee, nay I cannot tel, that I am able to rise, till hee tell me so. I doe nothing, I know nothing of myselfe: how little, and how impotent a peece of the world, is any Man alone! and how much lesse a peece of himselfe is that Man! So little, as that when it falls out, (as it falls out in some cases) that more misery, and more oppression, would be an ease to a man, he cannot give himselfe that miserable addition, of more misery; a man that is pressed to death, and might be eased by more weights, cannot lay those more weights upon himselfe: Hee can sinne alone, and suffer alone, but not repent, not bee absolved, without another. Another tels mee, I may rise; and I doe so. But is every raising a preferment? or is every present Preferment a station? I am readier to fall to the Earth, now I am up, than I was when I lay in the bed: O perverse way, irregular motion of Man; even rising it selfe is the way to Ruine. How many men are raised, and then doe not fill the place they are raised to? No corner of any place can bee empty; there can be no vacuity; If that Man doe not fill the place, other men will; complaints of his insufficiency will fill it; Nay, such an abhorring is there in Nature, of vacuity, that if there be but an imagination of not filling, in any man, that which is but imagination neither, will fill it, that is rumor and voice, and it will be given out, (upon no ground, but Imagination, and no man knowes whose imagination) that hee is corrupt in his place, or insufficient in his place, and another prepared to succeed him in his place. A man rises, sometimes, and stands not, because hee doth not, or is not beleeved to fill his place; and sometimes he stands not, because hee overfills his place: Hee may bring so much vertue, so much Justice, so much integrity to the place, as shall spoile the place, burthen the place; his integrity may bee a Libell upon his Predecessor, and cast an infamy upon him, and a burthen upon his successor, to proceede by example, and to bring the place itselfe to an under-value, and the market to an uncertainty. I am up, and I seeme to stand, and I goe round; and I am a new Argument of the new Philosophie, That the Earth moves round; why may I not beleeve, that the whole earth moves in a round motion, though that seeme to mee to stand, when as I seeme to stand to my Company, and yet am carried, in a giddy, and circular motion, as I stand? Man hath no center but misery; there and onely there, hee is fixt, and sure to finde himselfe. How little soever hee bee raised, he moves, and moves in a circle, giddily; and as in the Heavens, there are but a few Circles, that goe about the whole world, but many Epicircles, and other lesser Circles, but yet Circles, so of those men, which are raised, and put into Circles, few of them move from place to place, and passe through many and beneficiall places, but fall into little Circles, and, within a step or two, are at their end, and not so well, as they were in the Center, from which they were raised. Every thing serves to exemplifies to illustrate mans misery. But I need goe no farther, than my selfe: for a long time, I was not able to rise; At last, I must bee raised by others; and now I am up, I am ready to sinke lower than before. 

Source :
Donne, John.  The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
Charles M. Coffin, Ed. New York: Modern Library, 1952. 452-454.
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