John Donne metaphorically symbolizes the tolling of the bell in Meditation 17, as death. The tolling which announces the looming death of an unknowing individual. Who hears the toll, yet does not doubt himself. Donne may even think himself better than those around him, that the world can distinguish his "state", yet he cannot.
John Donne expresses his devotion to the Catholic Church, that God is the connection to all humanity. The baptizing of a child is representing the child's anointed connection to the church, which connects him, for he is anointed with the church as well.
Donne refers to mankind's connection as an open book, which the death of a man, does not result in his chapter being "torn out". The death affects every man's chapter in the "open book"(humanity's book) his chapter is "translated"(changed), and it is rewritten as we are left with memories. The death of one-man changes the verses of the next man's chapter, for we are all connected. The translation is also death-- death by age, by sickness, by war, by justice, but ultimately God. God gathers the scattered pages of our lives, our every breath affected by another's, connected and bound to a book, laid open for all mankind.
"As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but the congregation ...but how much more me, who am brought near the door by this sickness." Donne is eluding that none are exemplified from death; even those that are deemed holiest cannot escape or prolong death, he realizes his imminent end.
"...religious orders should ring to prayer first in the morning...if we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we should be glad to make it ours by rising early..." Donne is expressing that our dignity with God is relevant at all times, we must be riotous with our religio... Continues...