‘“No man ever saw God and lived”. And yet, I shall not live till I see God; and when I have seen him I shall never die. What have I ever seen in this world, that hath been truly the same thing that it seemed to me? I have seen marble buildings, and a chip, a crust, a plaster, a face of marble hath pulled off, and I see brick-bowels within, I have seen beauty, and a strong breath from another tells me that that complexion is from without, not from a sound constitution within. I have seen the state of princes, and all that is but ceremony. As he that fears God, fears nothing else, so he that sees God, sees everything else: when we shall see God, we shall see all things as they are. We shall be no more deluded with outward appearances: for, when this sight, which we intend here comes, there will be no delusory thing to be seen. All that we have made as though we saw in this world, will be vanished, and I shall see nothing but God, and what is in him; and him I shall see in the flesh.
Our flesh, even in the resurrection, cannot be spectacles, a telescope to the soul. We shall see the humanity of Christ with our bodily eyes, then glorified; but that flesh, though glorified, cannot make us see God better nor clearer than the soul alone hath done all the time from our death to our resurrection. But as an indulgent father, or as a tender mother, when they go to see the king in any solemnity, delight to carry their child, which is flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone, with them, and though the child cannot comprehend it as well as they, they are as glad that the child sees it, as that they see it themselves; such a gladness shall my soul have that this flesh (which she will no longer call her prison nor her tempter but her friend, her companion, her wife) that this flesh, that is, I, in the re-union and reintegration of both parts, shall see God; for then one principal clause in her rejoicing and acclamation shall be, that this flesh is her flesh, In my flesh I shall see God’.
from a sermon, 1620, by John Donne, 1572-1631
Fr Lee Kenyon