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The texts of scripture, and by reason's ray,
One as another, urge the endless fray;
Retort absurdities, whenever prest,
Prove its own system, and confute the rest;
Just as blind men, in their disputes, can do
Each others notions of red, green, or blue.
The light of the celestial inward man,
That died in Paradise, when sin began,
Is Jesus Christ; and consequently, men
By him alone can rise to life again:
He, in the heart of man, must sow the seed,
That can awaken heav'nly life indeed:
Nothing but this can possibly adinit
Return of life, or in the least be fit,
Or capable, or sensible of pow'r
From Jesus Christ, in his redeeming hour:
The light, and life, which he intends to raise,
Have no dependence upon word, and phrase;
Life, in itself, be it of Heav'n, or Earth,
Must have its whole procession from a birth:
Would it not sound absurdly, in your mind,
That, if a man be naturally blind,
Care must be had to teach him grammar well,
Or in the art of logic to excell;
That he will best obtain, when this is done, Knowledge of light and colours from the Sun ? Yet not one jot is it the less absurd
To think that skill in Greek, or Hebrew word,
Of man's redemption can explain the whole,
Or let the light of God into his soul.
This matter, Academicus, if you
Can set in a more proper light-pray do.
A POETICAL VERSION OF A LETTER FROM THE EARL OF ESSEX TO THE EARL of SOUTHAMPTON'.
Untaught by nature or by art,
To give the genuine dictates of my heart
The gloss of compliment, I never less,
Than now, should aim at that polite excess;
Now, that my wand'ring thoughts are fix'd upon,
Not Martha's many things, but Mary's one.
'Tis not from any ceremonious view,
But to discharge a real, needful due
From friend to friend in absence, that I write
To mine, secluded from his wonted sight;
By force oblig'd to give, and to receive
A long-perhaps, a last departing leave;
For small, by ev'ry test of human ken,
The hopes of meeting, in this world, again.
Under such circumstances, I recall
My friend, whose honour, person, fortune, all,
So dear to me, make bosom wish to swell,
That he may always prosper, and do well;
Where'er he goes, whate'er he takes in hand,
Under the favour, service, and command
Of his protecting providence, from whom
All happiness, if truly such, must come.
1 A copy of the original letter may be seen in Cogan's Collection of Tracts from Lord Somer's Library, Vol. 4, P. 132, under the title of "A precious and most divine Letter, from that famous and ever to be renown'd Earl of Essex, (Father to the now Lord General his Excellence) to the Earl of Southampton, in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's Reign."
My friend's abilities, and present state
Of natural endowments how I rate;
To God what glory, to himself what use,
The best exertion of them might produce,
I shall not here express; enough to note
That, at such times as I was most remote
From all dissembling, witnesses enoo
Can vouch my speaking what I thought was true. The truths, which love now prompts me to remind
Your lordship of, are of the following kind:
First; that whatever talents you possess,
They are God's gifts, whom you are bound to bless:
Next; that you have them, not as things your own,
Tho' for your use, yet not for yours alone;
But as an human stewarty, or trust,
Of which account is to be giv'n, and just:
So that, in fine, if talents are apply'd
To serve the spirit of the world, in pride,
And vain delights, as he, who rules the scenes
Of guilty joy, the prince of darkness, means,
It is ingratitude, injustice too,
Yea, 'tis perfidious treachery in you:
For if a servant, of your own, should dare
To use the goods, committed to his care,
To the advantage of your greatest foe,
What would you think of his behaving so?
Yet how with God would you yourself do less,
Having from him whatever you possess,
And serving with it, in the donor's stead,
That foe to him by whom the world is led?
A serious thought if you can ever lend
To admonition, from your truest friend;
If the regard due to your country sways;
Which you may serve so many glorious ways;
If an all-ruling, righteous Pow'r above
Can raise your dread of justice, or your love;
If you yourself will to yourself be true,
And everlasting happiness pursue,
Before the joys of any worldly scheme,
The short delusions of a pleasing dream,
Of which, whatever it may represent,
The soul, soon wak'd, must bitterly repent;
If these reflections, any of them, find
Due estimation in your prudent mind;
Take an account of what is done, and past,
And what the future may demand, forecast:
The leagues, whatever they import, repeal,
To which good conscience has not set the seal:
And fix your resolution firm, to serve
Him, from whose will no loyal thought can swerve;
That gracious God, from whom, in very deed,
All your abilities and gifts proceed;
Whether of bodily, or mental trace;
Without, within; of nature, or of grace.
Then he, who cannot possibly deny
Himself, or give his faithfulness the lie,
Will honour his true servant, and impart
That real peace of mind, that joy of heart,
Of which until you are become possest,
Your heart, your mind, shall never be at rest;
And when you are, by having well approv❜d
The one true way, it never shall be mov'd.
This, I foresee, your lordship may object,
Is melancholy's vaporous effect;
That I am got into a pris'ner's style;
Far enough from it all the jocund while
That I was free like you, and other men;
And, fetters gone, should be the same again.
To which I answer-say it tho' you should,
Yet cannot I distrust a God so good;
Or mercy failing me, so greatly shown,
Or grace forsaking, but by fault my own:
So deeply bound to him, my heart so burns
To make his mercy suitable returns,
That not to try, of all th' apostate class.
Worse should I be than any ever was:
I have with such repeated, solemn stress,
Avow'd the penitence which I profess;
From time to time so call'd on not a few,
To witness, and to watch, if it was true,
That of all hypocrites, if found to lie,
That e'er were born, the hollowest were I.
But should I perish in my sins, and draw
Upon myself my own damnation's law,
Will it not be your wisdom to embrace
God's offer'd mercy, of a saving grace?
To profit by example, if you see
The fearful case of miserable me?
A longer time was I a slave to sin,
And a corrupted world, than you have been;
Had many a too, too slowly answer'd call,
That made still harder my return from thrall:
To come to Christ was requisite, I knew,
But softer pace, I flatter'd me, would do;
The journey's end contented I remain'd
To see, and own, tho' still 'twas unattain'd:
Therefore the same good Providence that call'd,
With a kind violence, has pull'd and haul'd;
As public eye may, outwardly, at least,
Have scen, and drag'd me to the marriage feast.
Kind, in this world, affliction's heaviest load,
That, in another, bliss might be bestow'd;
Kind the repeated stripes, that should correct
Of too great knowledge a too small effect:
God grant your lordship may, with less alloy,
Feel an unfeign'd conversion's inward joy,
As I do now; and find the happy way,
Without the torments of so long delay!
To the divines (and there were none beside
That nam'd conversion to me) I reply'd-
"Could my ambition enter, and possess
Your narrow hearts, your meekness would be less;
Were my delights, to which it gives the rise,
Tasted by you, you would be less precise:"
But you, my lord, have the momentous hint,
From one that knows the very utmost stint
Of all that can amuse you, whilst you live,
Of all contentments which the world can give.
Think then, dear earl, that I have stak'd and
The ways of pleasure, fatally enjoy'd,
And set them up, as marks at sea, for you
To keep true Virtue's channel in view :
Think, tho' your eyes should long be shut, and
They must, they must be open'd at the last:
Truth will compel you to confess, like me,
That to the wicked peace can never be.
With my own soul, that Heav'n may deign to aid
My heart's address, this covenant is made;
My eyes shall never yield to sleep, at night,
Nor thoughts attend the bus'ness of the light,
'Till I have pray'd my God, that you may take
This plain but faithful warning, for his sake,
With a believing profit-then, in you
Your friends, your country will be happy too;
And all your aims succeed events so blest
Would fill with comfort, not to be exprest,
THERE is no kind of a fragmental note,
That pleases better than an anecdote;
Or fact unpublish'd; when it comes to rise,
And give the more agreeable surprise:
From long oblivion sav'd, an useful hint
Is doubly grateful, when reviv'd in print;
A late and striking instance of this kind
Delighted many an attentive mind;
This anecdote, my task is, to rehearse,
As highly fit to be consign'd to verse.
There liv'd a bishop, once upon a time,
Where is not said, but Italy the clime;
An honest, pious man, who understood
How to behave as a true bishop should;
But thro' an opposition, form'd to blast
His good designs, by men of diff'rent cast,
He had some tedious struggles, and a train
Of rude affronts, and insults to sustain;
And did sustain; with calm unruffled mind
He bore them all, and never once repin'd:
An intimate acquaintance, one who knew
What difficulties he had waded thro'
Time after time, and very much admir'd
A patience so provok'd, and so untir'd,
Made bold to ask him, if he could impart,
Or teach the secret of his happy art;
"Yes," said the good old pre ate," that I can,
And 'tis a plain and practicable plan;
For all the secret, that I know of, lies
In making a right use of my own eyes."
Beg'd to explain himself, how that should be-
"Why, in whatever state I am," said he,
"I first look up to Heav'n; as well aware,
That to get thither is my main affair.
I then look down upon the Earth; and think,
In a short space of time, how small a chink
I shall possess of its extensive ground;
And then I cast my seeing eyes around,
Where more distress appears, on ev'ry side,
Amongst mankind, than I myself abide.
So that, reflecting on my own concern,
-where true happiness is plac'd, I learn:
let the world, to what it will, pretend,
I see where all its good and ill must end.
Last how unjust it is, as well as vain,
Upon a fair discernment, to complain.
Thus, looking up, and down, and round about,
Right use of eyes may find my secret out:
With Heav'n in view-his real home-in fine
Nothing on Earth should make a man repine."
TO A FRIEND IN TROUBLE.
DEAR child, know this, that he, who gave thee
Almighty God, is Lord of life and death, [breath,
And all things that concern them, such as these,
Youth, health, or strength; age, weakness, or dis-
Wherefore, whatever thy affliction be,
Take it as coming from thy God to thee:
Whether to teach thee patience be its end,
Or to instruct such persons as attend,
That faith and meekness, try'd by suff'rings past,
May yield increase of happiness at last:
Or whether it be sent for some defect,
Which he, who wants to bless thee, would cor-
Certain it is, that if thou dost repent, [rect;
And take thy cross up patiently, when sent,
Trusting in him, who sends it thee, to take
For Jesus Christ his Son, thy Saviour's, sake,
Wholly submitting to his blessed will,
Whose visitation secks thy profit still;
All that thou dost, or ever canst endure,
Will make thy everlasting joy more sure.
Take therefore what befalls thee in good part,
As a prescription of love's healing art;
"Whom the Lord loveth he chastiseth too,"
Saith Paul," and scourgeth with a saving view;"
It is the mark, by which he owns a child,
Without it, not so honourably styl'd:
Fathers according to the flesh, when they
Correct them, children rev'rence, and obey;
How much more justly may that Father claim,
By whom we live eternally, the same?
They oft chastise thro' humour of their own,
He always for our greater good alone;
Chast'ning below, that we may rise above
Holy, and happy in our Father's love.
These things for comfort, and instruction fit, In holy scripture, for our sakes, are writ, That with a patient, and enduring mind, In all conditions we may be resign'd; And reverencing our father, and our friend, Take what his goodness shall be pleas'd to send. What greater good, considering the whole, Than Christ's own likeness in a Christian soul By patient suff'ring? Think what ills, before He enter'd into joy, our Saviour bore; What things he suffer'd, to retrieve our loss, And make his way to glory, thro' the cross, The way for us; he wanted none to make, But for the poor lost human sinner's sake; For them he suffer'd more than words can tell, Or thought conceive; reflect upon it well, Dear child! and whether life, or death remains, Depend on him to sanctify thy pains; To be himself thy strong defence, and tow'r, To make thee know and feel his saving pow'r: Still taught by him, repeat-Thy will be done! And trust in God thro' his beloved Son.
A POETICAL VERSION OF A LETTER, FROM JACOB BEIIMEN, TO A FRIEND, ON THE SAME OCCASION.
DEAR brother in our Saviour, Christ-his grace
And love premis'd, in your afflictive case;
I have consider'd of it, and have brought
The whole, with Christian sympathetic thought,
Before the will of the most High, to see
What it would please him to make known to me.
And thereupon, I give you, sir, to know,
What a true insight he was pleas'd to show,
Into the cause and cure of all your grief,
And present trial; which I shall, in brief,
Set down for a memorial, and declare
For you to ponder with a serious care.
First then, the cause, to which we must assign
Your strong temptation, is the love divine;
The goodness supernatural, above
All utt'rance, flowing from the God of love;
Seeking the creaturely and human will,
To free it from captivity to ill:
And then, the struggle with so great a grace,
In human will, refusing to embrace;
Tho' tender'd to it with a love so pure,
It seeks itself, and strives against a cure;
From its own love to transitory things,
More than to God, the real evil springs.
'Tis man's own nature, which, in its own life,
Or centre, stands in enmity and strife,
And anxious, selfish, doing what it lists,
(Without God's love) that tempts him, and re-
The devil also shoots his fi'ry dart,
From grace and love to turn away the heart.
This is the greatest trial; 'tis the fight,
Which Christ, with his internal love and light,
Maintains within man's nature, to dispel
God's anger, Satan, sin, and death, and Hell;
The human self, or serpent to devour,
And raise an angel from it by his pow'r.
Now if God's love in Christ did not subdue,
In some degree, this selfishness in you,
You would have no such combat to endure;
The serpent then, triumphantly secure,
Would unoppos'd, exert its native right,
And no such conflict in your soul excite.
For all the huge temptation and distress
Rises in nature, tho' God secks to bless;
The serpent feeling its tormenting state,
(Which, of itself, is a mere anxious hate)
When God's amazing love comes in, to fill,
And change the selfish to a god-like will.
Here Christ, the serpent-bruiser, stands in man,
Storming the devil's hellish, self-built plan;
And hence the strife within the human soul;
Satan's to kill, and Christ's to make it whole;
As by experience, in so great degree,
God, in his goodness, causes you to see.
Now, while the serpent's head is bruis'd, the
Of Christ is stung; and the poor soul must feel
Trembling, and sadness, while the strivers cope,
And can do nothing, but stand still in hope;
Hardly be able to lift up its face,
For mere concern, and pray to God for grace.
The serpent, turning it another way,
Shows it the world's alluring, fine display;
Mocking its resolution to forego,
For a new nature, the engaging show;
And represents the taking its delight
In present scenes, as natural, and right.
Thus, in the wilderness with Christ alone,
The soul endures temptation of its own;
While all the glories of this world display'd,
Pleasures and pomps surround it, and persuade
Not to remain so humble, and so still,
But elevate itself in own self-wil.
The next temptation, which befalls of course
From Satan, and from nature's selfish force,
Is when the soul has tasted of the love,
And been illuminated from above;
Still in its seif-hood it would seek to shine,
And, as its own, possess the light divine.
That is, the soulish nature, take it right,
As much a serpent, if without God's light,
As Lucifer, this nature still would claim
For own propriety the heav'nly flame;
And elevate its fire to a degree,
Above the light's good pow'r, which cannot be.
This domincering self, this nature fire,
Must be transmuted to a love desire:
Now, when this change is to be undergone,
It looks for some own pow'r, and finding none,
Begins to doubt of grace, unwilling quite
To yield up its self-willing nature's right.
It ever quakes for fear, and will not die
In light divine, tho' to be blest thereby:
The light of grace it thinks to be deceit,
Because it worketh gently without heat:
Mov'd too by outward reason, which is blind,
And, of itself, sees nothing of this kind.
Who knows, it thinketh, whether it be true
That God is in thee, and enlightens too?
Is it not faucy? for thou dost not see
Like other people, who, as well as thee,
Hope for salvation, by the grace of God,
Without such fear, and trembling at his rod.
Thus the poor soul, accounted for a fool,
By all the reas'ners of a gayer school,
By all the graver people, who embrace
Mere verbal promises of future grace,
Sighs from its deep internal ground, and pants
For such enlight'ning comfort as it wants;
And fain would have; but nature can, alas!
Do nothing, of itself, to bring to pass;
And is, thro' its own impotence, afraid
That God rejects it, and will give no aid;
Which, with regard to the self-will, is true;
For God rejects it, to implant a new.
The own self-will must die away, and shine,
Rising thro' death, in saving will divine;
And, from the opposition which it tries
Against God's will, such great temptations rise:
The devil too is loth to lose his prey,
And sce his fort cast down, if it obey.
For, if the life of Christ within arise,
Self-lust, and false imagination dies;
Wholly it cannot in this present life,
But by the flesh maintains the daily strife;
Dies, and yet lives; as they alone can tell,
In whom Christ fights against the pow'rs of Hell.
The third temptation is in mind, and will,
And flesh and blood, if Satan enter still;
Where the false centres lie in man, the springs
Of pride, and lust, and love of earthly things;
And all the curses wish'd by other men,
Which are occasion'd by this devil's den.
These in the astral spirit make a fort,
Which all the sins concentre to support;
And human will, esteeming for its joy
What Christ, to save it, combats to destroy,
Will not resign the pride-erected tow'r,
Nor live obedient to the Saviour's pow'r.
Thus I have giv'n you, loving sir, to know What our dear Saviour has been pleas'd to show To my consideration; now, on this, Examine well what your temptation is: "We must leave all, and follow him," he said, Right Christ-like poor, like our redeeming head.
Now, if self-lust stick yet upon your mind, Or love of earthly things, of any kind, Then, from those centres, in their working force, Such a temptation will rise up of course: If you will follow, when it does arise, My child-like counsel, hear what I advise.
Fix your whole thought upon the bitter woe, Which our dear Lord was pleas'd to undergo; Consider the reproach, contempt, and scorn, The worldly state so poor, and so forlorn, Which he was so content to bear; and then, His suff'ring, dying for us sinful men.
And thereunto give up your whole desire,
And mind, and will; and earnestly aspire
To be as like him as you can; to bear,
(And with a patience bent to persevere)
All that is laid upon you; and to make
His process your's, and purely for his sake;
For love of him, most freely to embrace
Contempt, affliction, poverty, disgrace;
All that can happen, so you may but gain
His blessed love within you, and maintain;
No longer willing with a self-desire,
But such as Christ within you shall inspire.
Dear sir, I fear lest something still amiss,
Averse to him, cause such a strife as this:
He wills you, in his death, with him to die
To your own will, and to arise thereby
In his arising; and that life to live,
Which he is striving in your soul to give.
Let go all earthly will; and be resign'd
Wholly to him, with all your heart and mind:
Be joy, or sorrow, comfort, or distress,
Receiv'd alike, for he alike can bless,
To gain the victory of Christian faith
Over the world, and all Satanic wrath.
So shall you conquer death, and Hell, and sin; And find, at last, what Christ in you hath been: By sure experience will be understood,
How all hath happen'd to you for your good:
Of all his children this hath been the way;
And Christian love here dictates what I say.
TAKE up the cross which thou hast got,
For love of Christ, and bear it not
As Simon of Cyrene did,
Compell'd to do as he was bid.
"Pray, am not I, who cannot free Myself, compell'd as much as he?
I cannot shun it, and, of course,
Must bear this heavy cross by force."
What dost thou get then by disgust
At bearing that, which bear thou must?
Nothing abates the force of ill,
Like a resign'd and patient will.
"Tis true; but how shall I obtain
Such an abatement of my pain?
Compulsion tempts me to repine
At Simon's case becoming mine."
Look then at Jesus gone before; Reflect on what thy Saviour bore; Bore, tho' he could have been set free, Death on the cross, for love of thee.
"He did so-Lord! what shall I say? Do thou enable me to pray,
If 't is not possible to shun
This bitter cross-thy will be done!"
ON THE CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE OF A DOUBT
I MUSE, I doubt, I reason, and debate-
Therefore, I am not in that perfect state,
In which, when its creation first began,
God plac'd his own beloved image, man;
From whose high birth, at once design'd for all,
This ever poring reason proves a fall.
Whilst Adam stood in that immortal life,
Wherein pure truth excluded doubt and strife,
He knew, he saw, by a diviner light,
All that was good for knowledge, or for sight;
But when the serpent-subtlety of Hell
Brought him to doubt, and reason-then he fell.
Fell, by declining from an upright will,
And sunk into a state of good and ill:
The very state of such a world as this
Became a death to his immortal bliss:
Bliss, which his reason gave him not, before
The loss ensu'd, nor after could restore.
From him descending, all the human race
Must needs partake the nature of his case:
Just as the trunk, the branches, or the fruit,
Derive their substance from the parent root:
What life, or death, into the father came,
The sons, tho' guiltless, could but have the same.
If I am one, if ever I must live
The blissful life, which God design'd to give;
As reason dictates, or as some degree
Of higher light enables one to see,
It cannot rise from being born on Earth,
Without a second, new, and heav'nly birth.
The gospel doctrine, which assures to men
The joyful truth of being born again,
Demands the free consent of ev'ry will,
That seeks the good, and to escape the ill:
In all the sav'd, right reason must allow
Such birth effected, tho' it knows not how.
Such was the faith in life's redeeming seed,
Of poor fall'n man the comfort, and the creed:
Such was the hope before, and since the flood,
In ev'ry time and place, of all the good:
Till the new birth of Jesus, from above,
Reveal'd below the mystery of love.
His virgin birth, life, death, and re-ascent,
Explain what all God's dispensations meant-
God give me grace to shun the doubting crime!
Since nothing follows intermediate time,
But life, or death, eternally to rule
A blessed Christian, or a cursed fool.
OF THE NATURE AND DESIGN OF TRUE RELIGION,
WHAT is religion?-Why it is a cure,
Giv'n in the gospel, gratis, to the poor,
By Jesus Christ, the healer of the soul;
Which all who take are sure to be made whole;
And they who will not, all the art of man
May strive to cure them, but it never can.
Cure for what malady?-For that of sin,
From whence all other maladies begin;
It had its rise in Adam, first of all,
And all his sons, partaking of his fall,
Want a new Adam to beget them free
From sin and death; and Jesus Christ is he.
How is it giv'n?-By raising a new birth
Of heav'nly life, surviving that of Earth;
Which may, at any time, at some it must,
Return its mortal body to the dust;
And then the born of God in Christ again
Will rise immortal, true angelic men.
Why in the gospel?-Gospel is, indeed,
In its true living sense, the holy seed,
By God's great mercy, first, in Adam sown,
And first, in Christ, to full perfection grown:
Fullness, from which ali holy souls derive,
And bodies too, the pow'r to be alive.
Why gratis giv'n?-Because the love-desire
Of God, in Christ, can never work for hire:
Its nature is to love for loving's sake,
To give itself to ev'ry will to take;
To them it brings, amidst the darkest night,
Its life and immortality to light.
Why to the poor?-Because they feel their Which trust in riches is so loth to grant: [want, The rich have something which they call their The poor have nothing, but to Christ alone [own; They owe themselves, and pay him what they And what religion is-they only know. [owe,
ON THE TRUE MEANING OF THE SCRIPTURE TERMS LIFE AND DEATH,
WHEN APPLIED TO MEN.
TRUE life, according to the scripture plan,
Is God's own likeness in his image, man;
This was the life that Adam ceas'd to live,
Or lost by sin; and therefore could not give:
So that his offspring, all the born on Earth,
Want a new parent of this heav'nly birth.
This, Christ alone, God's image most express, The second Adam, gives them to possess;