The Brides Ornaments: Meditat. I. Of Heavenly Love.

The Brides Ornaments: Poetical Essayes upon a Divine Subject. [In The Song of Songs, which was Salomons.]

Robert Aylett

In one of the longer poems ever written in Spenserians, Robert Aylett ("R. A."), a Cambridge poet, anatomizes the Christian virtues. The first two books of the Brides Ornaments, published in 1621, consist of 347 and 322 Spenserians; the second two, announced as ready for the press, appeared in 1625. Book I contains meditations on Love, Humility, Repentance, Faith, Hope; Book II on Justice and Righteousness, Truth, Mercy, Patience, Fortitude.

W. Davenport Adams: "Robert Aylett, LL.D., Master in Chancery, wrote Peace with her Four Garders (1622); A Wife not ready-made, but bespoken (1653); A Poetical Pleading for and against Marriage; Divine and Moral Speculations (1654), and Devotions (1655). See Brydges' Censura Literaria and Restituta, and Lowndes' Bibliographer's Manual. Aylett wrote his own epitaph as follows: — 'Haec suprema dies, sit mihi prima quies' i.e. 'Lord! let this last be my first day of rest'" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 47.

Harko Gerrit De Maar: "This is full of allegorical personages, representing private virtues. The first stanza of the 'proeme' contains a reference to Spenser" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 63.

F. M. Padelford: "The characteristic procedure in each of the meditations is to give a theological definition of the virtue under consideration, define its relation to the kindred virtues, and expound its operations, with abundant metaphors, analogies, and illustrations from Holy Writ, and much pious, aphoristic exhortation" Robert Aylett" (1936) 6.

The rambling first meditation was considerably abridged when republished in 1654, included the slight allegorical frame.

Those learned spirits that spend their youthful prime
In writing Volumes large of wanton Love,
Find, in the end, they lose most precious time,
And all their labour, and, though late, oft prove,
That had their soules beene mounted up above,
Whence they were sent to this fraile house of clay,
They there had found the object of true Love,
God, true, eternall, which ne're fades away,
But when Love there begins it doth endure for ay.

Whom as we love 'bove all things by him wrought,
So at his glorious Workes in him we love,
And ev'n that Word, whereby to passe he brought
This all, in whom ev'n all doe live, bee, and move;
The same is Authour, Finisher of Love,
The Sea from which all streames of Love doe flow,
Which here refresh the tender plants, and prove
Most Soveraigne medicine to the Saints below,
Whereby in goodness, love, and vertue, thy may grow.

And as the Brookes their tribute streames doe send
Unto the boundlesse Ocean whence they move;
So though on Saints and Poore we freely spend
What we receive; yet to this Sea of Love
We must tend alwayes, as the steele doth move
With Load-stone touched, to the Arctique Pole;
All other motions violent doe prove,
This is the object of true Love: this sole
The Center is of Love, on which all Love doth roll.

Authour and Finisher, Thou Word of power,
Center and Load-stone, Object, Sea of love,
Sweet drops of Grace upon mine heart downe showr,
Attract my steely thoughts tow'rds heav'n to move;
Teach me the complement of man, true love,
O helpe me to expresse, what I conceive
Of thine affection, which ev'n from above
Made thee descend, and all thy Glorie leave,
And to the cursed Crosse for love of man to cleave.

Of that dread love by which the Trinitie,
Ineffably doth in it selfe delight,
Of Persons three making one Unitie,
I dare not undertake so high to write:
My Muse here only labours to indite,
Of that free love which doth from thence descend,
That Love which from the head on members light,
And that which from them ought againe ascend;
Lastly, that Christian love we each on other spend.

But as th' eternall Godhead is but one,
Yet is by Persons three distinguished,
The Sonne is of the Father all alone,
The Spirit from Sonne and Father doth proceede;
So though a threefold kinde of love we reade,
Yet is this true and heav'nly love but one,
For, with that love from Father doth proceede,
Christ loveth those he chooseth for his owne,
And we the self-same love to Head and Members showne.

Thou that did'st in thy Fathers bosome wun,
Eternally begotten, uncreate,
Let me begin where first thy love begun
To be unto us manifest: when Hate
And Pride, the Dam of mischiefe and debate,
Had caused those celestiall Lamps of light,
The Angels that kept not their first estate,
To be dejected from thy Palace bright,
Reserv'd in everlasting chaines of darkest night.

Then first thy free love did to Man appeare,
Whom after thine owne Image thou didst frame,
And blessedst him to multiply and reare
Much fruit on Earth: and gav'st him power to tame
Thy handie workes, to which he gave a name,
Which they receiv'd as Vassalls of their Lord;
Adam then Lord of all thy workes became,
Each herbe, fruit, seede, thou gav'st him for his board,
Thus Lord of all, Hee's onely subject to thy Word.

Hadst thou him set in Gardens ready planted
With all varietie of rich delight,
And for his care to keepe them had but granted,
He might take pleasure onely in their sight,
And foode from one to feede his appetite,
Nature had beene content with competence:
Thou gav'st him leave of all the trees to bite,
Thou onely one tree from his lips didst fence,
To shew thy Lordship, and prove his obedience.

But, loe, that pride which mischiefe did conceive
First in the Court of Heav'n, brings forth below;
And in disdaine such exc'llent Spirits must leave,
Their glorious Mansions unto one they know
Was fram'd of slimy earth: Behold! they grow
To tempt the weaker by a false pretence,
You shall not die, saith he, for God doth know
What day you eate, you shall be gods from thence,
Loe, thus was all mankinde made guiltie of offence.

Adam, where art? what art? Hid, naked, Vile;
Now thou hast eate of the forbidden Tree,
My Wife did me, the Serpent her beguile,
Cannot excuse thee nor thy Progenie:
Curst is the Serpent for his subtletie,
The Ground is curst and all that on it goes,
Serpents and Womans seede at enmitie,
The earth, from whence thou cam'st, thee up must close,
Thy Garden's lost, thy Subjects now become thy Foes.

O miserable Man, in losse, in paine,
Looke but from whence, and whither thou dost fall:
Who now hath power to raise thee up again?
Breach of one Law, thee guiltie makes of all,
Hell is thy Guerdon, miserable thrall,
Driv'n from the presence sweet of God above,
Which thee to such a height of blisse did call,
The Serpents speech, thou now too true, dost prove,
And to thy cost know'st Good and Evil, Hate and Love.

God is most mercifull, yet True and Just,
His Mercy shin'd in thy first Creation,
His Law is broken, now he punish must,
Here Love, behold, beyond all expectation,
Will draw them both to reconciliation;
God Man becomes Man, Justice to satisfie,
His Death shall pay the price of our damnation.
No height of Verse this great Love can descry,
This Sun is too resplendant for my Muses eye.

Most glorious God, Wise, Happy, Uncreate,
Absolute, Perfect, Pure, Omnipotent,
Here humbly to converse in meane estate,
And as a Malefactor to be rent,
To save ev'n those that sought him to torment,
Captivitie thus Captive for to leade,
And give such gifts to Men, and Hell prevent,
Thy workes of power, Lord! can no Creature reade,
But this of Love and Mercy doth them all exceede.

Three sorts of Love wise Sages have observ'd,
Love of true Friends; of Kindred, Conjugall;
Of which amongst them friendship hath deserv'd
To be first rank'd, this Love surmounts them all:
These Starres doe rise, these Starres againe doe fall,
But when this Sunne of heav'nly Love doth shine
Once in our hearts, it is perpetuall,
And when it lowest seemes and to decline,
It then is highest rays'd, and nearest to Divine.

This Love's an undivided Unitie,
A concord that division will admit,
Divided yet to all abundantly,
And doth this all into one body knit:
The Head that ev'n above hea'n dot sit,
It joyneth to the Members on the ground,
And all those Members in one Body knit,
Love like her selfe the same is ever found,
Though in one Member more than other shee abound.

As Soule of Man doth from the Head to Heart,
And all the Members life and motion send,
Being all in all, and all in ev'ry part,
Ev'n so doth Love her Power divine extend
On ev'ry part that on the Head depend,
And as the Members soone rot and decay,
To which the Soule her vertue doth not lend;
Ev'n so the Man whose love doth fall away,
Doth straight in errour, darknesse, and delusions stray.

Those that by reasons force, and strength of wit,
Draw true Conclusions by firme Argument,
First strive the Causes, with th' Effects to fit,
Else they will hardly grant the Consequent.
To say, I love, is not sufficient,
Except I shew the reason why I love;
I know, O Lord! thou art Omnipotent,
But know no cause to love mee should thee move,
Onely I daily feele that which I cannot prove.

God is loves very Authour, Life and Spring,
Yea, God himself is also stiled Love;
From him all Streames of Love are issuing,
As from the Sea all other Waters move;
He first fils all with love in Heav'n above:
Which water plenteously the Vales below.
So God loves first before we doe him love,
Loe, what exceeding great love he doth show,
God loves his Enemies first, before they him doe know.

The cause of all this Love proceeds from thee;
Thou didst us love yet being Enemies,
Bond-slaves to Sinne and Satan: but now free,
And made thy Friends by Grace; our love doth rise
From thee as from the Spring, and multiplyes,
Growing from strength to strength, till by thy Grace,
We workes of Love in thee doe exercise;
Thy Members here for thee wee doe embrace,
Ev'n as our owne, till we behold thy glorious Face.

Into one Body we by love doe grow,
Into one Building we are all combin'd.
Love that doth from the Head to Members flow,
And all the stones hath in this building joyn'd;
Where ev'ry Members office is assign'd;
And ev'ry stone anothers weight doth beare;
All lively Stones the choicest of mankinde,
All living Members of one Head, which here
By love in one close cemented and joynted are.

My lowly Muse, dares not presume to prie
Into Gods holy happy Habitation,
Where love three Persons joynes in Unitie,
And makes one Godhead, to mans admiration;
I leave the mystery of th' Incarnation,
Where love doth make both God and Man in one,
And eke the pow'r of Spirits regeneration,
Where Love makes man ev'n Gods flesh and bone,
Thus love all things in Heav'n and Earth unites in one.

Such as Loves cause is, such are loves effects,
Holy, Transcendent, Supernaturall,
Which publique good, not private most respects,
The weakest member service doth to all,
And the most Honourable doth not call
The meaner base as he did him despise,
They all agree in one, and one in all,
Unto one glorious Head by love to rise,
And in him workes of Love and Grace to exercise.

This Love's long suffering, gentle, not envies,
Not striving, boasting, shamelesse for her owne,
Bitter, ill-minded, joying in injuries,
But most glad to doe right when Truth is knowne;
Endures, beleeves, hopes, suffers all alone,
Though tongues doe cease, and prophecying faile,
And knowledge vanish, yet Love holds her owne;
We know and prophecie in part, as fraile,
But when the perfect comes, th' imperfect nought availes.

Had I the tongues of Men and Angels, and
Could prophecie, and knew all mysteries;
Had faith to remove Mountaynes, t' understand
All knowledge, and should all my goods out size
Amongst the Poore, my body should devise
Ev'n to be burn'd; yet if I want this Love,
It profits not, this Love which doth arise
From a pure heart; oh thou then, that dost prove
And trie the hearts of Men, season mine heart with Love.

And ever let the Object of my Love
Be the true individuall Trinitie,
The Saints on earth, and Angels all above,
That still perfit in their integritie;
I mention here the happy memorie
Of thy deceased Saints and Martyrs all,
Which here their Love to thee did testifie,
Whom thou by Love didst first unto thee call,
And dost in heav'n reward with blisse perpetuall.

But 'tis the heart from which this Love must flow,
There Love her Court keepes, there's her Royall seate;
'Tis not enough with wordes this Love to show,
Or fayned lookes; God doth the heart intreate;
That must be clens'd from sinne, made sweet and neate
For him that standeth knocking at the dore,
Then open; he will enter in and eate,
And bring with him of heav'nly foode such store,
As thou shalt never thirst nor hunger any more.

Clense my deceifull heart defil'd with sinne,
Make it a Temple for thy Spirit of Love,
Fit for the King of Glorie to come in
That all my words, thoughts, actions, pure may prove,
As Rivers which from purest Fountaynes move,
Oh, since thou wert so bountifull to spend
Thy precious Blood for us thy Foes, still love
And cherish us, and 'gainst all harme defende.
Who will die for his Foes, cannot denie his Friend.

In all that Nature hath indued with life,
We find desire with like to companie:
Againe wee see dissentions, jarres, and strife,
'Mongst those that are of different qualitie;
We oft man's inclinations may descrie,
By company they either keepe or shunne,
They have of manners such a sympathie,
I therefore shew what heav'nly Graces wonne
With royall Love, which sweetly link't together runne.

These vertues are Loves deare Concomitants,
Repentance, Knowledge, Faith, Humilitie,
Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, Temperance,
Meeknesse, Obedience, Truth, Hope, Curtesie,
These a most sacred faire Societie,
Doe on the Court of royall Love attend,
These Hate expell, and her base progenie,
Wrath, Avarice, Pride, Luxurie, and contend
Gainst Gluttonie, Slouth, Envie, which on Hate depend.

These Impes which of this hellish Hagge are bred,
Begot of her by Lucifer in Hell,
In wayes of errour and of darknesse leade,
Where damned spirits in torments ever dwell;
And though on earth they beare away the bell,
Of all one day there will a reckning bee,
Then shall appeare who hath done ill, who well;
The lovely Bride shall joy her Love to see,
But they which follow Hate, with her shall damned bee.

Such doe ill judge of Love that cannot love,
Nor in their hearts feele heat of lively flame,
Love is the gift of God from heav'n above,
Sent downe mans proud rebellious heart to tame,
And yeeld obedience to his holy Name,
Though scorn'd by those, whose hearts are made so blind
With this worlds god, they cannot see the same,
This World they love, and set on Lusts their mind,
And never seeke this true and Heav'nly love to find.

The reason is, they doe not seeke to know
Gods Wisedome, Mercy, Bountie, Goodnesse, Love,
And these though Preachers daily to them show,
And their slow unbeleeving hearts reprove,
Their hearts of flint to love they cannot move;
Ah! How can they love God they have not seene,
When as their brethren here they cannot love.
To love the Head, and yet to beare a spleene
Unto the Members, is a thing unknowne, unseene.

Should they with Paul behold the glorious sight
Of th' Head, whose Members they doe cause to rue,
They would fall downe amazed with such light,
And humbly prostrate with submission due,
Crie, Lord, Who art: and with affection new,
That Head and Members would intirely love,
Which lately with such spite they did pursue:
Then would thy set their hearts on things above,
And all base worldly cares out of their mind remove,

Or be a Peter, John, and James affected,
When on the Mount their Lords Transfiguration
They saw, and thenceforth worldly care rejected,
Desiring there to make their Habitation:
Or could they see the Bridegroomes preparation,
When clothed all in Majestie and Love,
He hastens to his marriage consummation,
How would they all their former thoughts reprove,
And strive to be joyn'd to their Head by Faith and Love!

When Love like Moses holds up both her hands,
We, gainst our spirituall Amalec prevaile;
And, lest shee faints, like Hur and Aaron stands,
Both Faith and Hope to stay them, lest they faile;
These three transcendent Vertues, loe, can quaile
All that our passage to the holy Land
Oppose by force, or else by slight assaile;
Loe, two of them, ten thousand can withstand,
The third triumphs o'er Sinne and all the Devils band.

If when good Jonathan saw Goliah slaine,
His love to valiant David was so great,
That they as one soule from thence remayne;
How should we love our Lord that did defeat
Our spirituall Goliah? How intreat
Our Jonathan that doth his Father's ire
Appease, and though he drops of blood doth sweat,
Will vindicate us from eternall fire,
And make Coheires with him: Angels this Love admire.

And father Jacob thought it much, to send
His dearest Benjamin to Egypt land,
Having ten sonnes upon him to attend,
To loose their brother Simeon then in band:
How doth Gods love it selfe to us expand,
Who having but one onely Sonne, him gave
Us to redeeme from Satans cruell hand,
And us his enemies as his Sonnes to save,
In whom, and by whom, he will grant us all we crave.

And as the Child that sucks his Mothers brest,
Is in all dutie to her ever bound,
For bearing him with paine and losse of rest,
With many troubles she in nursing found:
So should our love unto our Lord abound,
By whose Crosse we are new borne from above,
And nurs'd with Bloud that floweth from his Wound,
His Flesh we eate, his bloud we drink, and prove
Flesh of his Flesh, Bone of his Bone, by Faith and Love,

Behold, here is a Sea of Mystery,
Where Lambs may wade, and Elephants may swim,
And both be drown'd, except sweet Love stand by,
By Faith we onely wade about the brim
Of this deepe Sea, by love up to the chin.
It is a mysterie, which to unfold
No speech is able, 'tis the heart within,
To which this mysterie is plainly told:
This secret Babes and Sucklings doe through love behold.

Love's like to Oile, that in Zarepta's Cruse,
By spending on the Prophet, did encrease,
Like Sunne, which light doth into all infuse,
Yet doth thereby his light no whit decrease,
Like boundlesse Waters of the bounteous Seas,
Which faile not, though on all the Flouds they spend;
Like Leaches skill, by use which gains encrease,
Like fervent Prayer, which the Cloudes transcend,
Yet by her daily use in strength and growth doth mend.

Loves like purest living Streames in Pipes, which flow
From some faire Conduit built upon a Hill,
Which though they moisten all the Vales below,
And many Offices with Water fill;
Yet to as high pitch remounten still,
As is the Fountayne from whence first they fall,
Ev'n so Loves streames which from the head distill
Upon the lowest Members here of all,
Mount up, from whence they came, with source perpetuall.

But why seeke I by simile's t' expresse,
The heav'nly Nature of this glorious Queene,
Since Men and Angels greatest noblenesse,
But ev'n as shadows to the substance beene,
If with her most celestiall splendour seene:
Let dust and ashes dare then be so bold,
His Maker to compare with Loves great Queene,
So I her heav'nly graces may unfold,
And you the plainlier may her glorie great behold.

God's uncreate, eternall, infinite,
Love's boundlesse, sans beginning, without end:
And as Gods Throne above in Heav'n is pight,
Yet's Providence doth on meanest Worme tend
So though Loves habitation doth transcend;
Shee dwels with meanest Creature here below,
And on them her most gracious Beames doth send;
God ev'n the secrets of mans heart doth know,
And Love the secret things of God to man doth show.

The King of Heav'n, for man did on him take
A Servants forme, ev'n so this heav'nly Peere,
Her selfe a Servant unto man doth make.
The whole Law God for us fullfilled heere,
And Love us from the guilt thereof doth cleare;
If you will grant similitudes may prove
By thousands I can make it plaine appear,
Love's like in all to God in heav'n above,
Yea, Love is God himselfe: for God is called Love.

As in the Frame and Microcosme of Man,
The Soules great power all other motions sway,
And that whole Frame which of the Chaos came,
To the prime mover alwayes doth obay;
So doe all spirituall heav'nly Vertues ay,
Depend upon this gracious Queene of Love,
And ev'n as Man and this whole world decay,
When Soule departs and Spheres doe cease to move,
Ev'n so all Vertues die not quickned by love.

Two things observe in Love, longing, delight;
Longing to get; Delight, when we obtayne:
Loe, Love with longing doth our hearts unite
Unto the feast, where Christ shall entertayne
Virgins that in their Lamps sweet Oile mantayne;
Those that are in the wedding Garment drest,
Where they with him shall ever more remayne,
In solemnizing of this marriage feast,
Where they enjoy true happinesse and endlesse rest.

As in Loves Object so indeed is Love,
Constant, delightful, happy, permanent,
If we affection set on things above,
And treade in his steps that before us went,
Delight shall ever last with true content:
If for this pearle of Love, we all doe pay,
And let no Wife, Farme, Oxen us prevent
From comming to the marriage at the Day,
Then like Loves Object, so delight shall last for ay.

Th' examples of this love are manifold,
In holy Men, when yet the Law had place,
As Abram, Moses, Job, and David bold,
But they have shin'd more clear now under Grace,
Amongst those that have seene our Saviours face:
But most since he the Comforter hath sent,
Stones, Fagots, Swords, Sawes, Crosses they embrace,
As if they did their Saviour represent,
Shewing by losse of their deare bloud their true intent.

In ev'ry Age, examples doe abound
Of Gods love t' us, and ours to God againe;
Yea, when most en'mies seek Love to confound,
Shee doth her owne most valiantly maintayne,
Nor horror, death, cold, hunger, losse, or paine,
Saints, from their Love to Christ, can separate,
Their Martyrdome's their Crowne; their losse, their gaine;
Their Captaynes death Souldiers doth not amate,
They know this is the way in at the narrow Gate.

Oh! let this one example serve for all,
For love, a Servants forme, God on him takes,
To raise up Man, ev'n God receives a fall,
Himselfe a Suiter poore to us he makes,
Enduring paine and hunger for our sakes,
Going from house to house: in ev'ry place
Doing of good, our sinnes upon him takes,
Opes wide his Armes, his Church for to embrace,
And humbly us intreating to accept of grace.

It hath beene knowne, that sometimes for a Friend
A man would die; some shortn'd have their life
With griefe for losse of Children, or their kind:
Some, for their Minions losse, have dyed with knife:
Jacob would serve ev'n sev'n yeares for a Wife,
Our Saviour for his Foes his Bloud doth spend,
Us Children to adopt, layes downe his life;
To save his Spouse doth on the Crosse depend,
Serv'd for her five seven years: His Love doth never end.

Behold! by what sweet names he doth invite
Us to embrace his mutuall heav'nly Love,
He calls us Friend, Childe, Sister, Spouse, Delight,
His servants sends us courteously to move,
To royall Banquets and sweet Beds of Love,
By grace adopting us, to be Coheires
Ev'n with himselfe, of glorie great above,
No cost or paines, not his owne Bloud he spares,
But like a Father, Husband, Friend, for us he cares.

I here had ended, had not holy Steven,
The first of Martyrs, that did testifie
His Masters Resurrection: of the seven
The chiefest Deacon: Had he not falsely
Beene accus'd of wicked blasphemie,
Whose witnesses their cloth's at Sauls feete lay,
And then him stone with stones, whil'st he doth crie,
Jesu receive my Spirit: And Love doth pray
Aloud, Lord to their charge this sinne doe thou not lay.

Why seeke I out? let us within abound,
Towards the Saints in love and charitie,
Which doth to Gods high glorious grace redound,
When by releeving them in povertie,
They for our bountie Gods Name glorifie?
He that unto the Sower giveth seede,
Bread to the hungrie, he will multiply
Us with encrease, if to poore Saints in neede
We give with cheerfulnesse: such gifts God likes indeede.

Who sparingly doth sow, reapes sparingly:
His Righteousnesse for ever shall remayne
That doth disperse and give abundantly:
What doe we save if we the world should gayne,
And lose our Crowne which up in Heav'n is lain?
Who having this worlds good yet doth behold
His brother want, and doth his hand retayne,
How can it be but Love in him is cold:
For whereas Love doth dwell, her fruits are manifold.

Oh! come all yee then, that forget the Lord;
Behold his love such fruits to Saints afford,
They may blesse God for such refocillation.
Mount up my soule by heav'nly contemplation,
Behold him in his Majestie above!
Behold him in his wonderful creation!
In's Wisedome and his Providence, and prove
If all these counterpoise his Bountie, Mercy, Love.

And if his love's so great and wonderfull,
Most precious sure's the Object of his love,
Out of this Worlds great treasurie to cull
One, whom he would eternally above
Make happy with his presence: and to prove
So kind a Father, Him Coheire to take
To his owne deare beloved Sonne: to love
Him as his owne, for his owne Sonnes deare sake:
Learne here what high account we of our soules should make.

Why dost, my Soule, then grovell on the ground,
Since in respect of thee this World is base?
No thing created in the World is found,
Which God vouchesafed hath so much to grace.
His free Love doth advance thee to this place,
Requiring of thee this one complement,
Thou him and his againe with love embrace,
For Love fulfilleth the Commandement,
Command Lord what thou wilt, Love makes obedient.

But ah my Soule! Where is thy Love: thy feare?
How doth the World bewitch thee? How possess?
How are thy thoughts tane up with worldly care?
Breeding of heav'nly Love a senselessnesse:
Dost tho misdoubt Gods gracious promises?
Farre be such Atheisme and impietie;
Oh, never let such dismall heavinesse
Cleave on my Soule, through unbelief to die,
For which Christ offred up himselfe so lovingly.

Hast thou not, oh my Soule! most plainely seene,
That all things in this World are vanitie,
No true content to mortall e're hath beene,
But that which doth endure eternally?
As Primum mobile Love doth employ
All other Graces in their proper motion,
And as all Spheres are mov'd perpetually
By the prime Mover, so Loves purest Notion,
Swayes all the other Vertues in their due devotion,

Wilt then despise his friendship, kindnesse, love,
Wherewith thy Lord invites thee unto Grace?
And as a Father, Husband, Friend thee move,
His Love with like relation to embrace?
And all thy minde on things above to place,
Abandoning vaine wealth and worlds delight,
The World and all things in it are but base,
To ransome one poore Soule all is too light,
In this Gods Love doth more then all his Power and Might.

Oh! that I could despise worlds vain promotion,
And follow heav'nly things with all my might,
My whole life consecrating to devotion,
Oh, that I might live ever in his sight,
Where fulnesse is of joy and pure delight,
Oh, that mine heart were on thy Law so set!
To meditate thereon both day and night,
Thy Statutes then I never should forget,
Nor at the wickeds vaine and false preferments fret.

Oh, that my dearest Husband, Father, Friend,
His Heav'nly Love into mine heart would shower!
That my Love may againe to him ascend,
And that I may with all my might and power,
Love and defend his Members from each stower;
His Saints which in this wandring wildernesse
In danger of the Wolves are ev'ry howr,
Visit the Widdowes and the Fatherlesse,
And walk unspotted here in Truth and Holinesse.

But though, alas, this heav'nly Love I feele
Abundant grace upon mine heart to shower,
Love of this world my soules eyes up so seele,
To love the things above I have no power:
And though I feele sweet flashes every hour
Of heav'nly Love: I cannot love againe
The Head and Members, which in earthly Bower
Most dear and precious in his sight remayne,
But hardly can from Envy, Hatred, Pride refrayne.

I doe confesse my debt of love so great,
I never able am my score to pay,
For if I should Gods kindnesses repeate,
And all his favours in one summe convay,
I might begin them earely before day,
But could not cast the number up by night.
Accept my will and readinesse for pay,
Accept my sorrowfull heart and humble sprite,
Which made the Widdowes poore, an acceptable mite.

Let me thy love so lively apprehend,
That I may ready be with cheerfulnesse
To die for thee, who thy dear Blood didst spend,
To vindicate my soule from wretchednesse;
And raise me to such height of happinesse,
That I may gladly wish my dissolution;
And cast from me all wretched worldliness,
Prepared with a holy resolution,
To stand undaunted at the Worlds great devolution.

Frame in me such an habit of thy love,
As I for love may seeke thee to obay.
More than for feare I should thine anger move,
Whereby thou should'st my sinnes with vengeance pay;
And grant that all the good I doe, I may
Performe it well, with good and due respect
Unto thy gracious Love, which me alway
In every good and perfect thing direct:
And not for pleasure, gayne, vaine-glorie, worlds respect.

Set my delight on hallowing thy Name,
And longing for the comming of our King,
Thy Will on Earth to doe, ev'n as the same
Thine Angels doe in Heav'n: such nourishing
As we have need of, daily to us bring.
Forgive our faults as we by love forgive
Them that offend us; From the blandishing
Of Sinne and Satan and the Flesh releeve;
From evill set us free, in Joy and love to live.

O Lord, I doe but aske, what thou to give
More readie art then I am to receive;
Thy life thou laidst downe, that my soule might live,
Didst cleave to flesh that I to thee might cleave;
My Soule thou wilt not now in darknesse leave,
Which to redeem thou suffredst many a wound,
And Hell and Satans malice to deceave,
Suffredst thy Body three dayes in the ground;
But rais'd up now to Heav'n, thy Love doth more abound.

For there thou mak'st continuall intercession
For us, thy Servants which doe wander here
In this vaine World, subject to base oppression
Of Satan, World, Flesh, which about we beare:
Thou send'st thy Comforter our hearts to cheare,
That sayes, Thy Grace is all-sufficient,
Esteeming nothing of thine Owne too dear,
For them which to thee bee obedient,
And love and serve thee with a faithfull true intent.

Then, oh my Soule! be bold and confident,
Though of this Love thou have the smallest taste,
He gave it, that will daily it augment,
Cherish it carefully, let it not waste;
Dost thou desire to love: loe, love thou hast;
He surely shall fulfill thy whole desire,
Looke all the ages that are gone and past,
God never yet was found like Man, a lyar,
But what he promiseth, we boldly may require.

Should I with Job be throwne downe in the dust;
With Jonas drown'd in belly of a Whale;
With Jeremie into a Dungeon thrust,
Should I with David walke, ev'n in the vale
Of cruell death, with Joseph set to sale,
And without cause in prison spend my dayes,
Should damned ghosts stand readie for to hale
My Soule to hell: all this me not dismayes:
I know whom I have trusted, he my soule will raise.

Should my sinnes be in number as the Sand,
And my forefathers sinnes, my sinnes exceed
In weight and number: yet I firme would stand,
What though eternall fire be sinnes just meed:
Much is forgiv'n, where is much love indeed.
Wherefore mine Heart and Soule shall ever praise
My Maker that in me such love doth breed,
Who doth my Soule from hellish horrour raise
Above the Heavens, to live the life of love alwayes.

As alwayes for thy love, so at this time
I praise thee for this holy Meditation
Of heav'nly Love: of all the Graces prime,
Which by thy grace doe worke out our salvation;
And pay the score and price of our damnation:
I alwayes will acknowledge and confesse
Thy Power and Bountie in our first Creation;
But now mine heart unable to expresse
Thy Love in our Redemption, here with joy doth cease.

And pray's that whilst I Love to others preach,
My selfe may not become a reprobate,
Like as I oft have seene a skilfull Leach,
Carelesse of his owne health and fraile estate;
But grant that as this Song I doe relate
Of heav'nly Love, it may my Soule here move
To be as true as Turtle to her Mate:
That never worldly cares my heart remove
From this most precious Pearle: this true and heav'nly Love.

Had I not told, yøu wonder might, how I
So meane a wretch, in presence came of Love;
But, as I said, Madame Humilitie
Me first directed to her Court to move;
And from mine heart Ambition did remove;
For, from my youth, I had a great desire,
To view th' estate and blisse of glorious Love,
But, oft in vaine, I did thereto aspire,
Till Humblenesse me taught: of whom I next enquire.

[pp. 24-46]