Where is death? Look for it in Christ, and it is not there now. It was once there, but it is dead in him. O life, death’s death! [O vita, mors mortis!] Courage: it will die in us also! What has been anticipated in our Head will be realized also in his members. Death will die in us too. When? At the end of the world, in the resurrection of the dead in which we believe without hesitation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. Follow what you should fear: He who does not believe will be condemned (Mk 16:16). Death will die in us, then, but it will conquer in those condemned. When death knows no death, death will be eternal…. In us death will die and be no more.
Do you want to know more? I tell you the few words of those who triumph so that you will have something to reflect on, something to sing in your hearts, something to hope for with all your heart, something to seek by faith and good works. Listen to the words of those who triumph when death will no longer be, when in us, as in our Head, death will die [morietur mors]. The Apostle Paul says: This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. Then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” That is death’s death. It will be swallowed up so that it no longer appears. What does this mean? So that it no longer exists either within or without. Death will be swallowed up in victory.
Let the triumphant rejoice; let them rejoice and say what follows: Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Where is it? You captured him, you possessed him, you conquered him, you subjected him to yourself, you struck him, and you killed him. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Has not my Lord shattered it? O death, when you went after my Lord, you died also to me. This is the salvation by which will be saved anyone who believes and is baptized. (Augustine, Sermon 233, 5)
Could John Donne have known this passage of Augustine?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
And after him, Milton has this (The Son of God is speaking):
Though now to Death I yield, and am his due,
All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid,
thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave
His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul
For ever with corruption there to dwell;
But I shall rise victorious, and subdue
My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil.
Death his death’s wound shall then receive, and stoop
Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed.