Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
By Thomas Dekker (c. 15701632)
From Four Birds of Noahs Ark
THE FOURTH and last bird which you are to behold, flying out of Noahs ark, is the Phnix. The phnix of all other birds liveth to the longest age: so must our prayers fly up in bright flames all the days of our life: we must be petitioners even to the hour and last minute of our breath. The phnix hath the goodliest feathers in the world, and prayers are the most beautiful wings by which we may mount into heaven. There is but one phnix upon earth, as there is but one tune, in which God delighteth, and that is the prayer of a sinner. When the phnix knoweth she must die, she buildeth a nest of all the sweetest spices and there looking stedfastly on the sun, she beateth her wings in his hottest beams, and between them kindleth a fire among those sweet spices, and so burneth herself to death. So when we desire to die to the vanities of the world, we must build up a nest, and fill it with faithful sighs, groans, tears, fasting and prayer, sackcloth and ashes (all which in the nostrils of the Lord are sweet spices) and then fixing our eyes upon the cross where the glorious Son of God paid the ransom of our sins, we must not cease till with the wings of faith and repentance, we have kindled His mercy, and in that sweet flame have all our fleshly corruptions consumed and purified. Out of those dead ashes of the phnix doth a new phnix arise. And even so out of the ashes of that one repentance, shall we be regenerate and born anew.