|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
|By Thomas Dekker (c. 15701632)|
From Four Birds of Noahs Ark
THE DOVE was the first bird that being sent out of Noah his ark, brought comfort to Noah: so prayer being sent out of the ark of our bodies, is the only and first bringer of comfort to us from Heaven. The dove went out twice ere it could find an olive branch (which was the ensign of peace): so our prayers must fly up again and again, and never leave beating at the doors of Heaven, till they fetch from thence the olive branch of Gods mercy, in sign that we are at peace with Him, and that He hath pardoned our sins. The dove no sooner brought that bough of good tidings into the ark, but the universal flood fell, and sunk into the bowels of the deep: so no sooner do our hearty prayers pierce the bosom of the Lord Almighty, but the waters of His indignation shrink away, melting to nothing like hills of snow, and the universal deluge of sin that floweth forty days and nights together (that is to say, every hour, or all our life time) to drown both soul and body, is driven back, and ebbs into the bottomless gulf of hell. The dove is said to be without gall: our prayers must be without bitterness, and not to the hurt of our neighbour (for such prayers are curses) lest we pull down vengeance on our heads. Such was the dove that Noah sent out of the ark; with such wings let our prayers carry up our messages to Heaven.