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ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Brides Ornaments: Meditat. IIII. Of Faith.

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

Robert Aylett


Robert Aylett's vast didactic poem continues with a discourse on Calvinist theology.



One Being that from all Eternitee
Most happy is, Wise, Just, Omnipotent,
And from eternitie all things did see,
As present, though long after they were meant,
Of nought created Aire, Fire, Firmament,
With all the Spirits and Powers that are above,
Made and replenished Earths Continent,
The Sea, and all that in them both doe move,
All these he made for Man; Man him to serve and love.

Man sure a Creature was most excellent,
Being of all created things the end,
To whom that Being onely being lent,
That he to's Makers service might intend,
And in his joyfull Presence his life spend;
Wherefore He him in goodliest Garden plac't,
And one Fruit onely did from him defend,
Of which Fruit onely he presum'd to taste,
Wherefore God him for ev'r out of the Garden cast.

But as the glorious riches of his grace,
Was the sole-moving cause Man first to make;
So gracelesse Man he leaves not in this case,
But to repaire his losse, will undertake
A new worke likewise for his mercies sake:
To free him from sinnes guilt, and Satans wile.
God will Mans flesh and guilt upon him take,
And purge him from the sinne doth him defile,
Thus Satan is beguil'd that sought Man to beguile.

As mis-belief and disobedience,
Caus'd Man from Earthly Eden to be cast;
So true Beliefe and due Obedience,
Cause him in heav'nly Eden to be plac't:
And as on paine of death he was to fast
From one fruit onely; so this gracious King
Commands us now, one onely fruit to taste,
Life to restore, and for to kill Death's sting:
This fruit is Faith in Christ ,where of I next doe sing.

Thou, that when Man most blessed was created,
But by sinne falne from his high happinesse,
Thine owne sonne sent, that he regenerated
Might be; and winne againe more perfect blesse.
Who here ev'n humbled'st God in humane flesh,
That thou by Faith might'st Man to thee unite,
And safe deliver from all wretchednesse,
Direct my Muse of Faith to sing aright,
And grant me first true faith before of Faith I write.

Faith is a wondrous gift of God, a Grace,
Whereby th' Elect apply particularly
Christ right, and all his benefits embrace:
By her our hope subsists most certainely;
Shee shewes us things unseene, most evidently:
Faith of the Gospel is a firme beliefe,
Whereby, Christs benefits offred we apply,
And rightly doe receive: So Faith in briefe
Is a right application, and a sound beliefe.

Faith is the Bucket which hangs on Hopes string,
Whereby the most deep living Well we sound,
Which if the Rope hold out, us up will bring
Such living Water, as doth there abound,
When Christ his saving Graces doth propound.
Faith is the Hand whereby we them receive:
Faith healeth up the clensed purged wound,
Beginneth where Repentance doth us leave,
Who without her seekes Faith, he doth himself deceave.

Faith as it's tane for credit or beliefe,
Is when we credit give to God or Man,
Thus he with men most Faith hath that is chiefe,
And in his coffer hide most money can:
But when to God it reference hath, we then
It ordinary or extr'ord'nary call.
By this we miracles and wonders can.
The Ordinarie Faith call historicall
Or justifying Faith, in some but temporall.

But this most precious Faith, whereof I write,
And which I formerly aright define,
The Faith of Gods Elect is truely hight,
Which when one hath doth wholly ne're decline;
This justifying saving Faith doth joyne
Us to our Head, and is the instrument
And meanes, whereby Gods Spirit doth refine
And purge our hearts from sinfull excrement:
This Faith doth make Gods Children bold and confident.

This Faith, though not divided, hath degrees,
Beginning, first, encrease, and consummation;
A little Faith to greater doth encrease,
Till built and rooted on a sure foundation:
Yet never had this Faith so sure a station,
Which conscience and hels terrours have not shaken:
Remember Christ our Head his bitter passion,
How he cry'd out as God had him forsaken,
When he the guilt and curse of sinne had on him taken.

Such as the Head, the Members must endure,
Thus in their soules they totter, faint, and reele,
Though the foundation of the Lord stand sure
And firme, and hath upon it set this seale,
The Lord knowes who are his: yet he doth deale
With us, as doth the Finer with his gold,
Which he doth sev'n times in the furnace neale,
Thus tries he those, whose names he hath enrold,
But will heape comforts in their bosomes manifold.

In Men and Plants, and Beasts, three soules we see,
Of Reason, Growing, and the Sensitive,
So in this Christian soule, sound Faith, there bee
Three qualities alike cooperative:
And as in Man all three into one thrive,
So in th' Elect, both Faith historicall,
Temporall, and the true Faith are alive,
And but one saving Faith together all:
This Soule, Mans forme, this Faith true Christians life we call.

As vegetation sheweth most in Plants,
So in the worldlings Faith historicall,
Faith temporall in false Professors hants,
True Faith upon th' Elect doth onely fall:
And as no Plant or Beast, be it great or small,
The things that are in Man right apprehends,
Yet Man, what is in Beasts and Plants knowes all,
So those two Faith's (which serve to other ends)
Know not true saving Faith, yet shee both comprehends.

God Authour is, and Cause efficient
Of e'ry good and perfect gift and grace,
His good Will moves him first: But his Intent
And chiefe end is the glorie of his Grace,
And our salvation in the second place:
But when He in our soules doth Faith beget,
Whereby Christ and his Merits we embrace,
A double meanes he here on worke doth set,
Inward and outward, whereby saving Faith we get.

The outward is his Word and Sacrament:
One workes, the other strengthens what is wrought.
The inward is Gods Spirit into us sent,
Our hearts to quicken, sanctifie, make soft,
Wherein the Word may sowne be as it ought,
The Gospell, whereupon stands Faith's foundation,
Though we, by Law, to see our sinnes are brought,
As the Schoole Mistris to Regeneration;
Yet 'tis the Gospell makes us wise unto salvation.

The Spirit, most what, worketh by the Word,
Not, but without, 'tis all-sufficient.
But this instruction it doth us afford,
That we in hearing should be diligent:
The Word, without the Spirits enlightenment,
Is as good Seede sowne on untilled ground,
That never brings forth fruit that's excellent,
For without Grace, Faith temporary's found,
And never doth in good and holy workes abound.

Prayer is not the meanes Faith to obtaine,
But it preserves and strengthens Faith to pray:
For without Faith our Prayers are in vaine,
Yet after Faith is wrought in us, we may
Pray that Faith failes us not: wherefore, I say,
We must give Prayer her due commendation
For by her we discourse with God alway,
And have with him familiar conversation,
Though none can pray aright before regeneration.

Faith's like the Hand, and Prayer like the Key
Which doth th' Almighties Coffers open wide,
Wherein his richest Treasures lockt up lye,
The Key unprofitably hangs beside,
Except that Faith it take in hand to guide:
Likewise the Hand doth use her strength in vaine,
The Bar without the Key gainst Wards to slide:
Both joyn'd, the Lock to open doe constrayne,
And us most glorious view of heav'nly Treasures gayne.

'Twere infinite of all Faiths fruits to tell,
All duties towards God, all charitee
Towards our Neighbours, done aright and well
From her proceede: a holy mother's shee
Of Graces all, that sanctifying bee:
Therefore 'tis plaine they want her that doe strive
To make good workes Faiths mother, and doe flee
Unto Saints merits; For were Faith alive
In them, all Pietie and Charitie would thrive.

They would not neede an Indulgence from Rome:
For then a quiet confidence and a cleare,
(A faithfull evidence) to them would come,
Then with true inward joy would soone appeare
Holy Securitie, to cast our care
Upon the Lord: for if Faith justifie,
We are at peace with God: Loe, then our feare
Is turned into sweet Securitie,
And inward joy doth by affictions multiplie.

But if this peace and joy doe not appeare,
But rather terror, stormes, and diffidence,
Let's labour yet our conscience may stand cleare,
Which is to doe Gods Will, and shun offence:
Here God beholds our will, not impotence,
And if we doe indeavour to approve
Our selves to God; Faith workes in us a sence
of heav'nly Love: whereby we plainly prove
That God loves first, whereby we doe begin to love.

Behold! thus ev'n a fruit of Faith is Love,
For many one whose Faith is weake and faint,
And cannot in themselves Spirits earnest prove,
Nor their hearts with true inward joy acquaint,
So as in true beliefe they seeme to faint;
Yet fin within their brests this Spirit of Love,
Which is to them from sinning a restraint,
And 'tis an evidence doth surely prove,
Faith's seede is sowne within, when as we truely love.

And as Faith growes, ev'n so doth Love encrease,
Loe! first we them that are in want releeve,
With spirituall comfort troubled soules appease,
Love makes us (if we constantly beleeve)
That for our brethern we our lives will leave.
By this indeed we know God's charitie,
That did himselfe of life for us bereave,
We therefore for our brethren ought to die,
This great Love in us comes from Faiths plerophorie.

The Subject of true Faith is a pure heart,
Her Objects are Christs sufferings, sanctitie
Fulfilling of the Law in ev'ry part.
If these three by true Faith we can apply:
They are against all ill the remedie,
These are the Balme a wounded soule can heale,
And not the Churches store, Romes trumperie,
These onely can to us our Pardon seale,
Merits Mens fancies are, these Scripture doth reveale.

Ev'n as three ills, inherent be in sin,
Originall vice, Sinne actuall, condemnation;
So Faith three parallel benefits lets in,
Whereby effected is Justification,
Christ's sufferings pay the price of our damnation,
His perfectest Obedience satsifies
For actuall sinnes; th' exquisite Sanctification
Of's humane Nature in us all destroies
Originall sinne: This threefold way, Faith justifies.

He that is able out of stones to raise
Up children unto Abram: He, I say,
Can onely make our hearts melt at the rayes
Of his Sunne beames: He to a heart of clay
Can turne a stony heart: And though this may
Seeme very hard and strange to flesh and blood,
Yet he that feeles his heart melt with the ray
Of spirituall Grace, Faith there doth prove this good:
By those whose hearts would blinds, this is not understood.

Three qualities true Faith accompany,
Which shee doth use in ev'ry worke well wrought.
First shee doth good, not for to please Mans eye,
But for his sake, whose blood her dearely bought:
Next by Gods Law, each action, word, and thought
Shee squareth: For shee knowes Obedience,
Then Sacrifice is better by her wrought:
All to Gods glorie last hath reference,
To these we guided are by Spirit, not by Sense.

Shee's swift to heare: The holy Sacrament
Of Baptisme once: The Eucharist oft receives,
Releeves the Poore, in Prayer diligent,
In which shee still persists and never leaves;
Lastly, shee to some lawfull Calling cleaves,
To be 'fore God and Man without offence.
If these faile in her, shee herselfe deceives;
Shee's temporary, and a false pretence,
To walke licentiously without Obedience.

Other Companions are of Faith likewise:
As grievous, manifold, and great tentation,
With these sound Faith herselfe must exercise,
These part not from her till soules separation.
For Satan prosecutes with infestation,
His hatred to our head continually,
Upon his Members to their great vexation,
Besides Tentations, true faith purge and trie,
Preparing hearts for Grace by sweet Humilitie.

These often come of diffident distrust,
When sight of sinne makes us faint, stagger, reele,
Or when by our unworthinesse and lust,
We of this precious Faith a coldnesse feele;
These for a while our spirituall eyes up seele,
So as true inward comfort, life, and love
As in times past in him we cannot feele,
Who is our Head, and hereby doth us prove,
And make us when we feele his want, the more to love.

Behold, two other Deepes on either hand,
On right, Presumption proud; on left, Despaire;
Which like two red-Sea walls of waves doe stand,
And for the Faithfull a faire way prepare,
That through the Deepe they may ev'n drie-shod fare;
But loe! the miscreant and presumptuous Wight,
They drowne in over-weening and much care,
Here God against th' Egyptians seems to fight,
Out of the fiery Pillar that to Faith gives light.

These two are like the Cities of the Plaine,
Gomorrha proud, and Sodom base in lust,
On which God fire and brimstone downe did raine.
The first is Pharisaicall, over-just,
The other doth Gods promises distrust.
But Faith, like little Zoar Lot doth save,
Though unbeliefe doe turne his Wife to dust,
These three be they that seeke Faith to deprave,
These three so hinder Faith, shee nothing right can crave.

Presumption proud on her owne merits stands,
Despaire lookes downe on her vile wretchednesse,
But never Gods great goodnesse understands,
Nor his great power, free grace, and willingnesse
To ease all those whose sinnes doe them oppresse:
But Infidelitie seeks to entice
To Atheism, and all ungodlinesse,
And make Faith folly seeme to worldly wise,
Who nought beleeve, but Sense and Reason must devise.

Despair to great Goliath I resemble,
But Faith doth like to little David fare,
At whom though Saul and all his Host doe tremble,
Yet all his threats bold David cannot scare.
He that hath giv'n the Lion and the Beare
Into his hands, he surely doth beleeve
This rayling Philistim will never spare,
But will him unto like destruction leave,
Thus off with his owne sword David his head doth cleave.

Oft have I seene some grieved patient
Languishing of some des'prate disease,
Not feeling it till Nature's helps were spent,
Then thinks his grave onely can's griefe appease,
Yet if he hopes of skilfull Leech some ease,
He him intreates to use his utmost skill,
To cure his maladie and sore disease,
Himselfe referring wholly to his will,
Till he such Balme apply that cures him of that ill.

All men are sick of the disease of sinne,
Which till 'tis past mans cure, they not perceive,
But when of helpe they to despaire beginne,
If by true Faith they unto Christ can cleave,
Their soules Physician: and unto him leave
The cure alone: of his most precious Blood,
A plaister they to cure their sore receave;
This onely is the Balme can doe them good,
And not Saints merits, Pardons, Dirges, woodden Rood.

Faith to the blind man may be well compar'd
That feeles the heate but cannot see the flame
Of fire, which in the winter is prepar'd,
The tyrannizing cold thereof to tame:
Faith, Hope, are like two men, one blind, one lame,
Blind Hope, weake Faith on shoulders doth sustaine,
Faith, Hope directs her steps aright to frame,
Both labour top of Zions mount to gaine,
And both by mutuall aid their wished end attaine.

Our hearts are like unto the parched Land,
That three yeares drought endur'd in Ahabs daies,
Faith like the Cloud is little as mans hand,
That in the end great stormes and wind doth raise,
And many showers abundantly displayes;
Loe then the Land that erst was dry and waste,
Abundanly her fruit and grasse repayes,
So Faith though small at first, yet at her last
Grows wondrous great, and pours downe heav'nly showres ful fast.

Faith is like to a grain of Mustard seede,
Which of all graines at sowing time is least,
But growes so high that Birds therein may breede,
Yea Fowles of th' air therein doe make their nest;
Shee's like an Oken plant that winds infest,
Which more 'tis shak'd rootes faster in the ground,
So more tentations have true Faith opprest,
Shee stands more resolute, secure, and sound;
And as her rootes hold fast, her leaves and fruit abound.

We are on earth like Wind-mills all, whose grist
Are workes of Pietie and Charitie,
Our Faith like Sailes, which if the wind be whist,
And aire calme, doe stand unprofitably,
But when tentations rise, shee instantly
Swayes all the inward powers by her commotion,
To all the workes of Love and Pietie,
Love to our Neighbours, to our God devotion;
But if Faiths sailes doe fail, all faile in their true motion.

Faith is our spirituall Sunne in Firmament,
Which Clouds may darken, not put out her light:
She is sweet Oile, that giveth nutriment
Unto our Lamps, us to direct aright:
Shee is our strong Shield, under which we fight
Safe and secure 'gainst all the powers of Hell;
Which though our brest-plate oft by force or slight,
They pierce of Righteousnesse: Faiths shield doth quell
Yet all Hells fiery darts, and Satans force expell.

Shee Mortar is, us living Stones to joyne,
In that great Building to the corner Stone,
The Pins and Joynts which every peece combine
Into one goodly Frame: By Faith alone
Members on Earth and Head in heav'n is one,
Shee doth espouse the Bridegroome to the Bride,
Shee us the earnest of his Spirit hath showne,
Shee sets us at the Banquet by his side,
Then Love us to embrace, her Armes doth open wide.

Faith like is to the holy Martyr Steven,
Who when before the Councell he did stand,
Look'd up and saw Gods glorie great in heav'n,
And Jesus standing by on his right hand;
Shee's like Tobias Angell, at command
For to direct us in our journey right,
And free from danger both by Sea and Land,
Shee doth endue us with such heav'nly light,
That we to Friends and Parents may restore their sight.

Like Advocate, who not for private gayne
Pleades for all sinners to Repentance brought,
Whom neither feare nor favour can restrayne
From pleading, till our Pardon shee hath wrought:
Shee never leaves till shee hath us brought
To the most glorious happy Court of Love,
Into his armes, whose Blood us dearely bought,
For Faith and Hope cease further there to move,
Our state there is immutable without remove.

Faith, like to Moses, out of Egypt leades
All Israelites that under bondage grone,
Baptiseth them that in her foote-steps treads,
As in red Sea: Faith cleaves a Rocke of stone,
From which gush living Waters: Faith alone
The hidden Manna makes from heav'n descend,
Which who by Faith eate, Bone become of Bone,
Flesh of his Flesh: Faith doth before us wend
Through this worlds wilderness: but there shee makes an end.

Yet Faith, like Moses, doth from Mount behold,
And view from far the blessed promis'd Land;
But leaves us there unto our Josuah bold,
T' expell the Amorite with mightie hand,
And give us seisin of that blessed Land,
Loe then, Faith to sure Knowledge is return'd,
Then we in state unchangeable doe stand,
Not that Faith, Hope as needlesse off are turn'd,
What Faith beleev'd, and Hope did wait for, is confirm'd.

Like when some friend doth promise thee to give,
After his death, a faire Inheritance,
Thou must beleeve and hope whilst he doth live:
But when his change thy fortunes doth advance,
And thou possest this Inheritance,
Loe then thy first beliefe, and hope decrease,
Thou hold'st it now by good assurance:
So when we Heav'n possesse, Faith, Hope doe cease,
It is our owne for ever, not a Farme by lease.

Faith is as much as when we credit say,
Which is as sure as money in our hand,
If we trust one that is able to pay,
And to what he hath promised will stand:
If rightly then Gods power we understand
And Truth, which fast like him hath ever stood,
We have most firme assurance of heav'ns Land,
Yet least weake Faith make doubt of this as good,
Loe, his last Testament sealed with his owne Blood.

If with th' incredulous these cannot prevaile,
Who will beleeve no more than they can prove
By Sense and Reason: Nne of these shall faile
Thee to a true and lively Faith to move:
Behold, the Father us hath shew'd such love,
That we the Sonnes of God should called bee.
If Sonnes, we be Coheires of heav'n above;
If we beleeve but what we taste and see;
To Sense in Sacraments exhibited is hee.

With these authorities why should I sort
Saints Monuments, which in Worlds wildernesse,
By Faith obtayning here a good report,
Are now ariv'd at th' Hav'n of blessednesse:
Millions which have and constantly professe,
And for this Faith, land, honours, life doe leave,
Accounting it their greatest happinesse
They are worthy found, not onely to beleeve
In Christ, but for his sake their lives, goods, friends, to leave.

See Abraham, in whose most holy Seede
All Nations of the earth most happy are,
How Faith did arm him to performe a deede
Against the promise God unto him sware:
His sonne, his onely son, not Isaac spare:
See Jacob, with his Maker hand to hand,
Wrestling to get a blessing, nor doth care
To lose his limbs, so firme his Faith may stand,
Loe, Faith brings Josephs bones from Nile to Holy Land.

Moses by Faith the Red Sea did divide,
So struck the Rocke that Waters gushed out,
Calls food from Heav'n with God on Mount doth bide
Full fortie daies: Loe, Joshua bold and stout
Commands the Sunne to stand still, while he fought
Gods Battailes: Loe, Kings, Judges, Prophets all,
By Faith invincible did never doubt
Blessings, Rain, Haile, and Foode from heav'n to call,
With fire and vengeance on Gods enemies heads to fall.

Loe, Christ himselfe, when he on earth did preach,
And mightie miracles to passe forth brought,
What thing did he more here unto us teach
Then Faith? by which great miracles he wrought,
He that had Faith neede not despaire of ought.
Lepers by Faith are cleans'd, issues are stayd.
Blinde see, Lame walke, the Devils are cast out,
Her Faith so great's growne that for crummes earst prayd,
That, Be it as thou wilt, to her by Christ is said.

Yea, after that our Saviour did ascend,
And had the promis'd Comforter downe sent,
His Church by Faith wrought wonders that transcend:
Loe, Peters shaddow heal'd ev'n as he went.
Partlets and Napkins from Paules sent,
Expel'd ill spirits, did Blind and Lame restore:
Cur'd all diseases of the Patient:
So that th' Apostles by true Faith did more,
And greater miracles, then Christ had done before.

I doe beleeve the World could not contayne
The Bookes, if one all Monuments should write
Of Saints, which Clouds of witnesses remayne
Of Faith's great power, her glorie, grace, and might:
Which though they laid their lives downe in this fight;
Their glorie ever doth in Heav'n remayne,
Where Victors they triumph in the Lambs sight,
And for their losse of life and mortall payne,
True immortalitie and endlesse pleasure gain.

And though in these last times and frozen dayes,
Her force and vertue seeme much to decline;
Yet he that feeles the comfortable rayes
Of her Sunne-beames upon his heart to shine,
Infallibly perceives some power divine
In him, that World of wonder hath effected,
Which is both God and Man in one to joyne:
For this they know and feele that are elected,
But Satan blindes the eyes of those that are rejected.

Oh! What great wonders worketh Faith within,
When first shee rayseth by regeneration,
And quickneth soules that lay long dead in sin,
Unto the life of Grace sanctification;
This second farre exceeds our first Creation,
To passe from darknesse to the glorious light,
And libertie of Heires of true salvation,
When loos'd from Satans bands we walke aright,
And with this shield of Faith 'gainst all our enemies fight.

My joynts doe tremble, and mine heart doth quake,
When I Faiths wondrous workes begin to write;
Shee from the sleepe of sinne doth me awake,
Into sweet libertie and glorious light:
My Members that in sinne did earst delight,
And worldly lusts shee maketh to obey,
Defacing in me th' old Mans image quite.
Sinnes fogs and mists of errour drives away,
And turnes my night of griefe to joyfull Sunne-shine day.

Like Enoch, now me thinks with God I walke,
And have with Angels happy conversation,
Like Abram I with God doe friendly talk,
And wrestle by divinest Meditation:
Loe, rapt to the third heav'n by contemplation,
I there such joy and glorie bright behold,
As Peter did at's Lords Transfiguration,
Such glorie bright and joy cannot be told,
Faith this to true Beleevers onely doth unfold,

And now with James, John, Peter, I could say,
Upon the Mount, 'Tis good Lord to be here:
And wish our Mansions there may last for ay,
Where such delight and happinesse appeare,
Where I like Stev'n behold most plaine and clear
Heav'n open, and Christ sit at Gods right hand;
The glorious Bridegroome longing for his Deare,
Hierusalem the glorie of the Land,
The head, whose members are in number like the Sand.

But ah, we all, like Balaam fond, desire
To Righteous later end for to attayne,
But never here to live like them enquire;
But seeke for Balaaks honours, gifts, and gayne:
But they that will with Christ in glorie raigne,
Must looke with him on earth to beare his Crosse.
The Coward never Honour doth obtaine,
Who from his Captayne runnes for life or losse,
All in comparison of Christ is dung and drosse.

Yet I alas doe oft like Felix fare,
Tremble to heare of justice and damnation,
Or think Paul mad: And if it doth prepare
Mine heart fit for good tidings of salvation,
I am withdrawne by Worlds negotiation,
To put it off unto another day,
I oft like like Peter make great protestation
To die for Christ, but come I to the fray,
I deeply him forsweare, or else I run away.

Yea oft when I some inward flashings feele,
As if Faith now were to some measure growne,
I straight wax cold, faint, totter, stagger, reele,
As if Faiths seedes were scarcely in me sowne;
Or I true inward comfort ne're had knowne,
Nor tasted spirituall Grace: yet I beleeve,
Lord helpe my unbelief! Thy power's showne
Most in my weaknesse: Lord then me releeve,
And from Sinnes baits and Satans malice me reprieve.

Nor would I onely covet to obtaine
The faithfuls glorie, and her Garland weare,
But if neede be, would beare my share in paine,
Not that I able think my selfe to bear
Those grievous torments as thy Martyrs were;
But let me measure like of Faith receive,
My body cut, broile, scal'd, hang, saw, starve, feare,
'Tis Gods great grace, we in him may beleeve,
But greater, for Christs sake, unto his Crosse to cleave.

Why then should I wish Honour, Wealth, Promotion:
Which in this world are transitorie, vaine,
And in mine heart no roome leave for devotion,
Or godlinesse, which is the greatest gaine?
He that to all things needfull would attaine,
Must seeke Gods Kingdome first and Righteousnesse,
Loe, then all other things doe come amaine,
But ah! it is my fault, I must confesse,
To looke on present shewes, and not on good successe.

So that when of the grand Mogull I reade,
Great Lord of misse-beleeving India,
Whose wealth and Empire farre out-strip indeede
All Kings of Europe and of Africa,
Great China's King; Cham of Tartaria,
The least of which the grand Mogull exceede;
That potent Prince Sophie of Persia,
Great Turke, Virginia's Powhatan, these breede
In me such doubting oft, I stumble at my Creede.

Th' whole World to God compar'd, than point is lesse,
Earth to the World, to the Earth Christendome:
And but a Point of these Christ right professe,
Of these Professors but a Point become
Beleevers true: So that the little summe
Of all Christs flocke, as Point is to compare
With those that headlong to the Devill runne:
What then? All these huge troupes in errour are,
And thus Point onely in the true and right way fare.

Why then doe Fooles of Universall boast,
As note infallible of sound beliefe,
Seeing the Devill hath the worst and most,
And few, alas! acknowledge Christ as chiefe:
But soft, my Muse, thou merit'st just repriefe,
To draw in matters here of disputation:
Thy taske of Faith is to discourse in briefe,
And to erect thy thoughts by meditation:
Disputes are fit for Schooles, not Muses recreation.

Lord make me one of this thy little Flocke,
Of that small number that beleeve aright,
That fall not downe before a stone or stocke,
But being by Faith endude with heav'nly light,
Know they are alwayes in their Makers sight:
That wheresover, by day or night,
To thee alike are both the night and day,
True Faith in Christ to God our prayers presenteth ay.

Grant that by Faith I may a heart obtaine,
Chams, Moguls, China's glorie to despise
With all Worlds pompe, wealth, honour, lustre vaine.
By Faith so clearely open thou mine eyes,
To see thy Sunne of Righteousness arise,
That glorious Sunne whose beames doe never fall
Upon the proud, ambitious, worldly-wise,
But on the meeke, obedient, that with Paul
Doe not consult with flesh and blood, when thou dost call.

Lord, thou hast promised, thou wilt not quench
The smoking flaxe, nor breake the bruised Reede,
Thou mak'st a weake Faith grow from strength to strength,
Unto her fulnesse and ripe age indeede:
Thou plant'st and watrest so this little seede,
That it doth grow to infinite increase,
Like the five Loaves that did five thousand feede;
Yet did into twelve baskets-full encrease:
By using, grace and vertue grow, and not decrease.

Who then soe're he be that doth beleeve,
Perish shall not, but have eternall Life:
The calling and the gifts which God doth give,
Without Repentance are: The Bridegroome's Wife
Is lov'd for ever: Never any strife
Can separate Christs love: He that can free
Use from Lyons hungrie jawes, We know that he
Is wise, and better knowes, what's good for us than we.

And now by Faith I dare my Maker call
Father, Christ brother, Heav'n my Inheritance;
The Angels mine attendants, lest I fall:
Behold, I dare my shield of Faith advance
Against Despaire, the Devils keenest lance.
Death, Angels, Life, Powers, Principalities;
Things present, Things hereafter for to chance,
Height, depth, no Creature's able to devise,
To turne from me Gods love which doth in Christ arise.

What shall we say? If God be on our side,
Who can against us be: What can be denyde?
Who dares condemne, who by him saved are?
For whom his Death and Rising doth prepare
Eternall blisse: Shall anguish, tribulation,
Nakednesse, famine, perill, sword or feare,
Us sep'rate from the Horne of our salvation?
In these Faith makes us conquer by Christs mediation.

My prayer, Gracious Lord, shall ever bee,
Increase my Faith: And as thou onely wise
Thou her faire Lineaments hast made mee see,
For which I praise thee: Open so mine eyes,
That seeing I her worth may truely prise,
And for her sake most willing be to loose
My life, and all this wicked world despise;
And rather bondage here with Faith to choose,
Then live in Egypts Court with vaine deceitfull showes.

Now as a valiant Souldier, strong and wise,
That would in open field defeate his Foe,
Suffers no sleepe to come within his eyes,
But keepes continuall watch: For he doth know,
His En'mie, Lyon-like, about doth goe,
By force or sleight his life for to surprize:
Ev'n so, good Lord, grant thou me grace to doe,
That though sleepe often close my bodies eyes,
My Soule may still keepe watch 'gainst Satans subtilties.

Hope was the Patron that with Faith did joyne,
When to my triall me Repentance brought,
Who all their might and forces did combine,
Untill my absolution they had wrought:
These not their owne good, but their Clients sought,
And pleaded not for friendship, sees, or gayne;
Loves favour was their utmost ayme and thought,
They shew'd no Law their Causes to maintayne:
But Pardons wrote in's Blood that for our sinnes was slayne.

[pp. 75-98]