1621
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Brides Ornaments: Meditat. III. Of Mercy.

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

Robert Aylett


Mercy, proving a difficult subject, is methodically anatomized.



If any mightie Monarch chance enquire,
Why I sweet Mercies seate doe place so high,
Since shee the lowliest Cell doth most desire,
Her selfe delighting sole in miserie,
The onely Object of her pitying eye:
He hence for greatnesse may this lesson gaine,
That as he growes in Pow'r and Majestie,
To Poore he ought the greater Mercy daine,
Thus imitating him by whom ev'n Princes raigne.

For though this Dame be of such wondrous grace,
So near in favour to the Queene of Love,
That next to her shee gaynes the soveraigne place,
Both here below, and in the Heav'n above;
Yea though to heav'nly Love so like shee prove,
That scarse the one from th' other can be knowne,
(Though to be mercifull, and truely love
Do differ much, as after shall be showne)
Yet her great bounty's not to meanest wretch unknowne.

For as the Sunne, from highest firmament
Vouchsafes on good and bad alike to shine,
And clouds of Heav'n doe raine indifferent
On fertiel Land, and on the barren Mine;
So unto all shee offers Grace Divine:
But as the Cause is not in Sunne nor Raine,
But in the Soile, why it doth fruitlesse line,
So sinne's the cause why some cannot Grace retaine,
Which shines and waters bad and barren hearts in vaine.

A depth all bottomlesse I now doe sound,
A height which higher then the Heav'ns doth reach,
So wide as nothing it can compasse round,
For Mercy over all Gods workes doth stretch;
So farre beyond mans limited fraile reach,
As to conceive of Gods Eternitie,
Or how he all doth out of nothing fetch,
Darknesse from Light, Joy out of Miserie,
From Warre true Peace; high Honour from Humilitie.

Thou, God of Mercy! Blessed Trinitie!
Who first in thine owne Image didst create
Man pure and good: But when Hels subtiltie
Had him dejected from so happy state,
Abandoning to endlesse Bale and Hate,
That riches of thy Mercy might appeare,
Didst for thy Mercies sake regenerate,
And all his score by thy Bloods price didst cleare,
Grant I may rightly sing and practise Mercy here.

Which is a certayne pitifull regard,
We doe of others miserie conceive,
Whereby our hearts are moved and prepar'd,
Them, what we can, to succour and relieve:
That Passion and Affection which doth grieve
Mans heart, to see anothers miserie,
Doth not unto th' Almighties Mercy cleave,
No more then Anger, Hate, and Jealousie,
As they distempers are, be in the Trinitie.

No words indeed can properly expresse
Gods Mercy, Anger, Hate, or Jealousie,
But as we see their fruits we them confesse,
To be in God by Anthropopathy:
Gods punishment of foule iniquitie,
We call Revenge: But when he Grace doth show
To those that are in woe and miserie,
We call that Mercy: Not but we well know,
No passion or distemper in Gods Nature grow.

That Mercy may the plainelyer be descri'de,
And we her diverse Nature better know,
I her into two Currents doe divide;
The Mercy God on Creatures doth bestow,
And that which he requires of us below:
For as God is by Nature pitifull,
So he delights in them that Mercy shew;
For he by Nature is most Mercifull,
And therefore unto all in Fruits most plentifull.

Gods Nature is Eternall, Infinite,
So is his Mercy stretched out to all,
Ev'n as the Sunne to Man and Beast gives light,
And Raine on bad and good alike doe fall:
But this we call Gods Mercy generall,
Which lasts but for a time. But on the Just
He shewes his Mercy more especiall,
Which everlasting is: wherein we trust,
And whereby He to Blisse will rayse us from the Dust.

But here we must have an especiall Care,
Lest diffrence of Gods Mercy we confound,
Not speciall everlasting Grace to share,
Where he but common, generall, doth propound:
This is a firme Position, true and sound,
That God in Unbelief hath shut up all,
That his great Mercy might to all abound;
Unto the wicked, common, generall,
Eternall unto them, that on him rightly call.

God grant to Me this Mercy speciall,
That of Mans Mercy I may right enquire,
That teaching, I may practise it withall,
The Mercy that God doth of us require,
Of which, a two-fold kind make one entire;
First towards Sinners, that doe go astray,
The next to Poore, and those that Helpe desire;
First pitties Souls, and leades them in right way,
The last supplyes their Wants, that Need have ev'ry Day.

For as Mans soule is his most noble part,
Whereon his sole eternall Blisse depends,
So he the greatest Mercy doth impart,
Who to poore wandring Soules his Mercy sends:
He that gives to the Poore, he surely lends
To God, that will foure-fold his gift repay;
But who to save poore Soules his Mercy spends,
Shall sure obtayne those Crownes at that great Day,
Which God doth up in store for such Soule-savers lay.

In men we divers outward causes see,
Which them to Mercy and Compassion move;
Some by remembrance of like miserie,
Which in themselves they formerly did prove;
Some Kindred, Youth, Acquaintance, friendly Love,
Learning, Nobilitie, to Pitie leade:
But none of these cause Mercy from above,
But it from Gods sole goodnesse doth proceede,
And not from any thing that in our Natures breede.

Therefore as God doth on us Mercy show
For the great riches onely of his Grace,
So we no other cause of Mercy know,
Whereby our Fellow members we embrace,
But his sole Grace: whose Mercy did deface
Ev'n Works hand-writing once against us brought,
No works of Mercy can in heav'n have place,
In Faith and Charitie that are not wrought:
Then Mercies works for shew, or Merit come to nought.

None can to Mercies perfectnesse attayne
But onely God, whose Mercy's over all;
No number can our miseries contayne,
Yet God in store hath Mercy for them all:
Onely in words, Gods Mercy doth not fall,
But most in fruits and comforts doth abound:
As Mercy hath no measure, so withall,
Her fruits and workes all numbers doe confound,
Mans life a daily exercise thereof is found.

'Tis not a heavy Heart or grieved Mind,
Compassionate of others miseries,
Whereby afflicted Soules no profit find,
But as our Heart, so our Abilities
Must minister to Saints necessities;
They that the Heart and Hand in this disjoyne,
Faith and Good Workes to sunder doe devise.
If first our Hearts to Mercy true encline,
Good Words and Workes from thence as true Effects will shine.

Then we them truly workes of Mercy call,
When from unfayned Mercy they proceede:
For sure it is the Heart that seasons all,
Which maketh mercifull in word and deede.
Thus we releeve the Poore that are in neede,
And Widdowes, Orphanes, Strangers entertayne;
Doth clothe the Naked, and the Hungrie feede,
Visit the sScke, the Captives that remayne
In bonds, we loose: And comfort those that mourn in payne.

Though all the Vertues of Loves Royall Court
Delight to keepe sweet Mercy companie,
As Patience, Justice, Faith, Hope, good Report,
Repentance, Meeknesse, Truth, Joy, Chastitie;
Yet shee delights most in Humilitie,
Unseparable Adjunct of this Peere,
With whom shee workes all deeds of Charitie,
Those which our Heartes from Sinne doe purge and cleere,
And those whereby the Needie we doe succour heere.

By her is daily great provision made
For Blind, Old, Lame, all People that are poore,
Not those that doe of begging make a Trade,
And loosely idle walke from dore to dore,
A worke of Mercy shee it deems to gore
Such Vagabonds: their Passe with blood to seal,
Unfruitfull Vermine that consume our store,
The Catterpillers of our Common-weale,
Which to maintayne base ease, and lust, begge, lie, and steale.

But shee, directed by Humilitie,
Into deepe stinking Dungeons will descend,
To visit captiv'd thralls in miserie,
And them instruct in wayes of Truth to wend,
Exhorting them their bad lives to amend:
If any for well-doing bound doe lie,
Shee for his ransome her estate will spend,
All Malefactors wants Shee doth supply,
For well shee knows Christ did for Malefactors die.

Shee next like Lot and Abram entertaynes
Strangers all Day, at Noone, and eke at Night:
Not that shee hopes from them least gold or gaynes,
Or that with double mends they will requite:
But those which harbour want shee doth invite
Humbly to Meate, and Drinke, and Lodging meete,
Where shee to wait upon them takes delight,
And brings faire water for to wash their Feete,
And them for her sweet Saviours sake doth fairely greete.

Then shee the hungry Bodies of the Poore
With her faire Hand of plentie full doth feed,
And drink unto the thirstie powreth store,
She feares not once her selfe to stand in neede.
Who to the Sower ministreth his seede,
And bread unto the humble, will provide
For those which of her Body shee doth breede,
Shee with no future want is terrifide,
For others oft to feede, shee hunger doth abide.

Oh, should you see th' abundance ev'ry day
Of clothes, shee for the naked doth provide,
To keepe them from the cold, and to aray
Gods Images which here in Clay abide,
And if that any naked shee espide,
After shee all her clothes divided had,
She would her owne coate cut out, and divide
To those that want; most chearefully and glad
That shee had such a shift, poore naked Soules to clad:

With those that mourne in Sion shee will mourne,
And beare a part with them in miserie,
Whether they weepe, by friends as left forlorne,
Or grone with weight of their iniquitie,
Shee wondrous salves of comfort doth apply,
And when they weepe, shee mourning not forbeares,
And oft in Psalmes and Hymnes makes melodie,
Sweet Psalmes and Hymnes that drie up all our teares,
And like to pleasant Wine, make us forget our cares.

But, most of all, sicke persons shee doth tend,
And comfort them in point of death that lay,
For there most needed comfort sweet to lend,
When Sinne, Hell, Death, and Conscience doe dismay
The Soule that now departing is away:
First spirituall comfort shee to them doth deale,
How on Christs merits they should onely stay,
Balm that applide aright, their sores should heale;
And prays the Spirit within the Truth hereof may seale.

'Twere infinite to tell the wondrous store
Of heav'nly comforts Mercy can apply,
For Mercy hath a salve for ev'ry sore:
Soules burthened with their iniquitie
She handeleth most soft and tenderly;
The smoking flax, nor yet the bruised reede
She will not quench or breake unwarily;
Such heav'nly comforts can this Peere areede,
That shee makes Soules revive when Bodies are halfe dead.

Best skill to cure the body shee doth use,
And to his former health againe restore:
No Office meane or base shee doth refuse,
That may the payne asswage, or heal his sore,
All miseries lie open her before,
That shee may lend to all her helpe and aid,
She physicke sends, and meate unto the poor,
With beds of downe, whereon he may be laid,
And though her med'cines faile, her prayer's never staid.

But if their Soules from Bodies once depart,
In seemly sort shee cares them to engrave,
Last worke of Mercy that we can impart
Unto their corps when God their soule doth save,
Which though now dust, yet most sure hope we have,
God will the same a glorious Body rayse,
And decke it for her Spouse most fine and brave,
The Deads memoriall shee doth often prayse,
The living to provoke to walke in righteous wayes.

Thus when shee hath in Grave him seemely laid,
With much lamenting, and with many teares,
To tender Orphanes and to Widdowes aid,
She doth employ the utmost of her cares,
In whose defence no great Mans frownes shee feares,
But stands in judgement for their firme defence,
And if both Parents die, as oft it fares,
Their tender Babes shee soone removeth thence,
And feedes, and puts to Schole ev'n at her owne expence.

Therefore shee large Almes-houses hath erected,
Faire Colledges for Muses habitation,
And Churches, by prophaner sort neglected,
Adornes and decks in honourable fashion:
She holds it much against her reputation,
In goodly seeled Houses to abide,
And see Gods Temples ruinous prophanation.
If in her any sparing be descride,
'Tis that shee works of Mercy may dispread more wide.

But ah! no pen is able to recount
The fruits of Mercy by Humilitie,
But in one worke I all them up doe count,
To succour those that are in miserie:
As there is infinite varietie
Of miseries in Soule and Body found,
So without number shee doth helpes supply,
But for her end Soules health shee doth propound,
And in such heav'nly comforts shee doth most abound.

Rebuke, admonish, suffer, and chastise,
Her very stripes are corrasives to heale,
And when in most distresse the Body lies,
Most comfort then to Soule shee doth reveale.
Thus Christ did unto her a paterne seale,
With mortall foode he thousand Bodies fed,
But those to whom he Bread of Life did deale,
Like huge Sea sands cannot be numbered,
Whereby their Soules now live, though yet their Bodies dead.

Justice and Mercy both doe well accord,
And in one Subject may contayned bee,
For Just and Mercifull is God our Lord,
Just as a Judge, but as a Father hee
Is pitifull and tender: So ought wee
In our owne cause, as Fathers, Mercy show,
And our deare Brethren of all wrongs to free,
But when we sit in judgement, we must know,
We are Gods Ministers to punish sinne below.

Ev'n as a Judge in his owne Familie
Unto a gracelesse sonne may pardon give,
Though he his Coffers rifle privily,
And doe conspire of life him to deprive;
But if as Traytor to his Prince he live,
And one before his Father him arraigne;
The Judge there cannot his owne Sonne forgive,
But must condemn to his deserved paine,
For Magistrates ought not to beare the sword in vaine.

I Mercy here and Justice may compare
Unto a Gardiners spade and pruning knife,
The knife luxurious branches off doth pare,
That for vaine shew grow fruitlesse, rank, and rife;
The Spade unto Vines roote, gives heate and life,
By dunging, opening it to Sunne and Raine:
Ne yet betwixt them discord is or strife,
One prunes the boughes, the other doth maintayne
The Roote. Both have one end the Bodies good and gayne.

In this Worlds Schoole we all like Scholers are,
Fitted below for Fellowships above,
Mercy, our Patronesse doth us prepare
Foode, Rayment, Bookes, all things that needfull prove,
We all have but one Lesson here: to love:
Which none can better teach then this sweet Peere,
Yet our untowardnesse doth oft her move,
To suffer Justice to correct us here:
Which sure doth us more good then all her daintie cheer.

So as Correction truly may be said
To be a worke of Mercy: For as hee
That most affects his Sonne, is not afraid
To scourge him oft for his impietie,
Ev'n so our gracious God, to whom we bee
Then Sonne unto his Father farre more deare,
Doth oft chastise to purge and purifie
Us from sinnes guilt, whereby we may appeare
Before him perfect, pure, and live more holy here.

For Mercy doth like skilfull Surgeon deale,
That hath for ev'ry sore a remedy:
If gentle drawing plaisters cannot heale
The wound, because it festreth inwardly,
He sharper corrasives must then apply,
And as he oft cuts off some member dead,
Or rotten, lest the rest should putrifie,
So Mercy wicked Members off doth shred,
Lest they should noysome prove to body and the head.

Mercy is like the glorious Cherubims,
Which in the holiest place their wings extend,
And under thier broad spreading golden fins,
Arke, Mercy seate, Rod, Manna comprehend;
So glorious Mercy doth her Grace forth send.
So ruling, workes of Mercy, poores defence,
The Arke, Gods Statutes doth to us commend;
The Rod, his Pow'r: Manna, his Providence:
Mercy them all cotaynes in wings circumference.

Ev'n as one totall summe it selfe extends
To all the Credits in the Merchants Bill;
So Mercy doth all Vertues comprehend,
And Men of Mercy with all Graces fill:
And as from foule corrupt depraved will,
All wickednesse abundantly doth flow,
So from a Heart of Mercy doth distill,
All Graces that in Loves faire Garden grow;
Mercy's the summe of all I doe, or wish to know.

But all in vaine I seeke by Simile
To shew the nature of this Grace Divine:
Since earthly things, to Her, all shadowes be.
Thy Mercy, Lord, no where so cleare doth shine,
As sending of that blessed Sonne of thine:
Unspotted Lambe, slaine from Eternitie,
To save all that their hearts to him incline,
From Hell, Death, Bale, and endlesse Miserie:
This Mercy is without all like or paritie.

Here will I strive to cleare the difference
That I of Love and Mercy doe conceive,
To other each have so near reference,
That we one for another oft receive:
Gods Love upon th' Elect doth onely cleave,
Mercy on them in Miserie that lie.
Till Satan our first Parents did deceive,
God them embrac'd in Love and Charitie;
No Mercy needed them that felt no Miserie.

Gods Love doth most in our Creation shine,
In our Election and Predestination:
But his great Mercy seemes to draw her line
From our Redemption and Justification.
Not that I hence exclude Loves operation,
For Love is as the Prince and Soveraigne,
Of all the Graces needfull to salvation;
And Mercy is the chiefest of her traine,
And seemes in Mans Redemption like her Queene to raigne.

As that great Peere that in his Princes grace,
For Vertue and for Learning high doth stand,
And next to him obtaynes the second place,
And chiefest governement of all the Land,
In Court of Mercy doth ev'n counter-mand
Acts that are sped in Justice highest Plea;
So Mercy here, who is Queene Loves right hand,
Doth us from sentence of damnation free,
Which Justice doth pronounce: A hard, but just Decree.

But as this Peere derives authoritie
From Prince, by whom all Regiment doth move;
So speciall saving Mercy doth relie,
And first proceed from Gods eternall Love.
O deepe rich wisedome of our God above,
Unsearchable thy Judgements and thy Wayes,
Past finding out! more hard the more we prove,
Most glorious Sunne of Love which wide displayes
Thy beames of Mercy bright like Phoebus golden rayes.

But ah! such knowledge soareth farre above
The reach of my weake Muses waxen wing,
I now Mans Mercy and his heav'nly Love
Seeke to compare for their discovering:
Where heav'nly Love sends her sweet lightening,
Shee doth of thing beloved like Love require:
But when we Mercy shew to any thing:
We seldome Mercy of that thing desire,
Mercy stil downward goes, Love most what mounteth higher.

Mercy doth most in Miserie consist:
Love reacheth Heav'n with her high mounting wing,
And Head and Members all in one doth twist,
But downe againe I my discourse must bring
To Mercy; which from Heart hath life and spring,
Whence shee receiveth her denomination:
For Misericordia, whereof now I sing,
Is one with Mercy, and is by translation
A miserable Heart, or piteous inclination.

And though indeed no Miserie can fall
Upon th' eternall Being, blest for ay,
Yet he that bare the Miserie of all,
And hath before us lin'd out Mercies way,
His part in Miserie for us did play,
When as he saw or heard of Miseries,
He to compassion moved was streight-way,
And to them ministered best remedies,
And oft with teares bewayled our infirmities.

Hierusalem! Oh poore Hierusalem!
(His Heart full sad, his Eyes ev'n flowing teares)
How oft would I you gather as a Hen,
Her Chickens under her warme wings upreares:
Not inward grones and weeping he forebeares,
When Jewes and Mary Lazarus bemone,
Upon the Crosse all Miseries he beares,
And cryes out for our woes, not for his owne,
Such cryes were never heard: Such Mercy never knowne.

As our high Priest, all our infirmities
(Excepting sinne) he in his Body bare,
Whereby he learn'd to know our Miseries,
And to releeve them that in anguish fare:
He now his Blood and Body doth not spare,
But deales it out in blessed Sacrament,
For Meate and Drinke to those that grafted are
Into his Body by sweet couplement.
Sound Meate and Drinke for Soules and Bodies nourishment.

As Ointment sweet that powr'd on Aarons head,
Ran downe and did perfume his garments all,
So this sweet Oile of Mercy doth dispread,
From Christ our Head and on his Members fall:
If I should here to your remembrance call
The names of all, whose Mercies did abound;
I might as well here make memoriall
Of all Saints Names that Books of Life propound,
Who shew'd true Mercy here, in Heav'n have Mercy found.

Noe, Abram, Lot, Job, Isaac, Israel,
With all the righteous Men before the Flood,
Good Joseph, Moses, Josuah, Samuel,
All Kings, Priest, Prophets, Judges, that were good:
Behold it was sweet Israels Singers food.
To chant Gods Mercy earely and at night.
Apostles, Martyrs, that for Truth have stood,
In workes of Mercy set their whole delight,
In preaching Faith, Hope, Love, in Almes, and doing right.

No Father on his Child more pitie takes,
Then doth our heav'nly Father shew compassion
On us, and loves our Children for our sakes,
Which lasteth to the thousand Generation.
Oh! had he not it showne on this our Nation,
We had long since consumed beene with fire,
And brought like Sodom unto desolation,
These wicked dang'rous times when sinnes conspire,
To draw us on us Gods vengeance and eternall ire.

But why seeke I outward Authorities?
If we stand right, we in our hearts shall find
Of heav'nly Mercy such testimonies,
That all Soules, Bodies, Powers will be inclin'd
To magnifie Gods Mercies wondrous kind,
That like his Truth for ever doe endure,
Which hath all outward needfull things assign'd,
And giv'n us earnest, which doth us secure,
That Mercy here begun, shall stand for ever sure.

And that we may the eas'lier apprehend,
And taste Gods Mercy; He it maketh knowne
To us familiarly: And doth commend
It to us by examples of our owne.
As Father hath to Childe his Mercy showne,
As Mother fruit of her owne wombe doth love,
As Birds their young ones feede till they be flowne:
So mercifull the Lord to us will prove;
And though all these should faile, God will not faile above.

This also serveth for our imitation,
That like our God we Mercy here should show,
And as he tenders us with sweet compassion,
We should his Members here in Mercy know:
It equall is we pitifull should grow,
And Mercy shew, where Mercy we receave:
He is to Mercy swift, to Anger slow,
Most mercifull to them that to him cleave,
And kind, where Ignorance, not Malice doth deceave.

But ah! so carelesly we Mercy show,
And succour those that are in miserie,
That we by all means doe avoid to know
Their wants, that are in woe and povertie.
When as indeed to see calamitie
Of others, doth Mans heart to pitie move,
We swimme in Plentie and Prosperitie,
Regarding not what hardnesse others prove,
And farre the sight or thought of wretchednesse remove.

Our Captayne did not thus that went before,
But in much anguish, paine, and tribulation
Converted Soules, heal'd Sicke, releev'd the Poore,
Himselfe without a house for habitation,
In workes of Mercy was his conversation,
What Member suff'red and he did not grone?
Where saw he want and shewed not compassion?
What? did our Head this by himselfe alone?
No, His Apostles all with him in this have gone.

Oh, that we would in this Him imitate,
And Mercy ev'n with open Armes embrace.
With our whole heart, strength, substance and estate,
Aide and releeve the Poore in wretched case;
'Tis not a piteous heart that makes men base:
For they that are most valiant, noble, wise,
Are readiest Mercy here to shew and Grace,
When Cruelty's the badge of Cowardize:
Good Kings rule all by love; Usurpers tyrannize.

In stead of Mercies bowels, kindnesse, love
We put on Worldlinesse, Securitie,
And off from us the evill day remove,
Living in pleasure, ease, and vanitie:
Banishing farre the Poores calamitie,
As Enemies to profit, thrift, and rest,
And when we smitten are we will not crie:
As if no griefe or pitie ought infest,
Or harbour in a hardie, valiant, noble brest.

Yet the most Mightie that doth sit on high,
Of Valour and Nobilitie the Spring,
Delights to see and helpe our miserie,
That we might take delight in pitying;
Thus God by his example would us bring
To Mercy, and considering the Poore,
He Mercy before Judgement here doth sing,
Wherein than Sacrifice he joyeth more,
That as we doe receive, we might againe restore.

And since 'tis not in outward workes alone,
But inward Bowels that God doth delight,
(Though by the one the other is best knowne)
We often should desire to have a sight,
Of poore Mens wretchednesse and piteous plight,
Which our hard Hearts might to compassion move,
And yeeld them remedie with all our might.
What neede hath God of Mercy or of Love:
But by poore Members here our Mercy he doth prove.

For though God's able by his onely Word,
To succour all that are in Miserie,
And in abundance daily Bread afford,
To those that are in want and povertie;
Yet more to show his Liberalitie,
And that his wondrous Bountie might appeare,
Us for his Stewards he doth dignifie,
And good Dispensers of his bounteous cheere:
Happy is he whose Lord him findeth faithfull heere.

Lord, of those faithfull Stewards make me one,
Yet for no hope of Merit or Desert,
But for the Glorie of thy Grace alone,
And riches of thy Love, who Authour art
Of ev'ry Grace that commeth from the Heart:
With temporall afflictions exercise
Me, that I may escape eternall smart,
And learne by griefs and mine infirmities
To succour all that are in woe and miseries.

Though Mercy God againe doe not desire
Towards himselfe, as he doth Love for Love;
Yet to his Members all he doth require,
We should most bountiful and gracious prove:
That our Affections inward should us move
Like heav'nly Father mercifull to bee,
Our Brother's garment pawn'd we must remove
From us, before the Sunne be set, lest hee
Doe crie to God that pities all in miserie.

No Man so poore but he may Mercy show,
And succour those that are in miserie:
For though his worldly substance ebbe so low,
He seemes to live in want and penurie;
Yet may he lend Divine sweet remedie
To those that doe in Hell and Darknesse sit,
And heav'nly comforts to their Soule apply,
Whom Conscience throwes into th' infernal Pit.
More Mercy from Hels jawes, than earthly cords to quit.

Doe but conceive what Mercy may be found
With mercifullest Man that ere did live,
And we may know farre greater doth abound
With God, who's not more willing to releeve
Then able all things needfull us to give,
Besides, in Mercy he doth take delight,
Most readie their offences to forgive
That doe relie upon his Truth and Might,
And on his gracious Providence doe rest aright.

And therefore thou this life appointest here
For Mercy; but in life that is to come
Thou as an upright Judge wilt then appear,
And render ev'ry Man as he hath done:
Oh shouldst thou here with Judgement have begun,
We all had beene the Vessels of damnation,
And but for Mercy we had long agone
Beene swallowed up of Hell and Desperation,
Thy Mercy that begun, must finish our Salvation.

So ev'n the Just no cause to boast shall find,
By Mercy all must be delivered,
Thy Judgements just, for thy forbearance kind,
By Reprobates shall be acknowledged,
How can his Grace sufficiently be read;
Who good by Nature, Just, Eternall, Wise,
Thus sinful, mortall, base, flesh honoured,
And to such height of Glorie makes to rise,
As Angels wonder to behold such Mysteries.

What Pen of Praise is able to commend
The wondrous gracious Force and Energie
Of Mercy, which ev'n God made to descend
From his great Glorie, Joy, Felicitie?
The God of Wisedome, Power, and Majestie,
To shew such Grace on Wretches, vile below,
To have compassion on Mans miserie,
Base corruptive Dust, which here doth grow,
Swift to revenge and wrath, but to compassion slow.

Nothing but thine owne goodnesse could thee move
On Man to shew such Mercy and Compassion,
Thou are most glorious, he most base doth prove,
Thou just, he sinfull by his depravation;
Thou Lord of blisse, he Heire of dire damnation,
Oh Lord! as thy sole goodnesse thee did move,
To pay our price of Reconciliation,
And us exalt from Earth to Heav'n above:
So let the goodnesse cause thee alwayes us to love.

How should my Muse of Mercy make an end,
Which like thy Truth and Love endures for ay;
And most abundant comforts here doth send
To all, but most to those that in right way
Sincerely walke, and doe thy Hests obay?
Lord grant that as I of sweet Mercy sing,
Her in my heat, deed, word, I practise may,
Not for vaine praise or any outward thing,
But for thy Mercy sake, my good and gracious King.

Next Loves great Generall, brave Fortitude
Should enter Lists: to shew her wondrous might,
But Rashnesse 'tis, not Valour, to include
A Christian Souldier in such dang'rous fight,
Till all his Armour be about him dight;
His upper parts I armed have elsewhere
With Girdle, Brest-plate, Shield and Helmet bright,
But Feete and Legs I naked left and bare;
Now Patience them shall arme, as you shall after heare.

[pp. 158-76]