1625
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Brides Ornaments: Meditat. V. Of Spirituall and Heav'nly Joy.

The Brides Ornaments, viz. Five Meditiations, Morall and Divine. [Books III and IV.]

Robert Aylett


The third book concluded.



How should a heart opprest with worldly cares,
Of Spiritual inward Joy now rightly sing;
Since none her knowes but who her image beares,
And feeles the Spirits inward witnessing:
All sacred stuffe I to this building bring
No helpe, but he that Abba Father crys,
Can teach my Muse to touch this golden string,
I therefore here forbeare prophane supply's,
My Spirit wholly on the holy Spirit rely's.

Well, said the King, All worldly things are vaine,
And travell which beneath the Sun he found
Compared to least drop or minutes gaine,
Which Spirituall Joy did to his heart propound;
No reach of Wizards skill, no wit profound,
Is able this true Joy to comprehend,
This Musicke wholly to the Saints doth sound,
The inward man can only apprehend,
Sweet lively Spirituall Joy, which never shall have end.

No Muses darling ever yet did dreame,
Of this sweet wind, which where it lifts doth blow;
This onely is sweet Israels Singers theam,
Which he by heav'nly influence did show;
And then most, when the outward man brought low,
By paine of body, or by griefe of mind,
Did from his pen divinest comforts flow
Most herv'nly Joys, which he was wont to find,
To grow more strong within, as he without declin'd.

Oh Joy of joys! Unspeakable delight,
Ev'n when our soules the powers of hell doe shake,
And us with Justice and due vengeance fright,
When as our guilty conscience is awake,
That all with terrour tremble, horrour quake;
That then one gentle beame of heav'nly Grace,
Not onely shall from us this horrour take,
But in Loves armes us in an instant place,
They onely know this Joy, that have beene in this case.

If ever I received strength and skill
From Heav'n to scale the hill of contemplation,
I now doe hope Gods gracious Spirit will,
Me fill with Joy for his sweet Meditation;
Oh blessed Spirit! who by sweet inspiration,
Directest ev'ry holy Prophets quill,
Enlighten mine, by heav'ns illumination,
That most divine sweet Joys it may distill
Into the Readers heart, and Mine with comfort fill.

No tongue could ever tell, no heart conceive,
Therefore no Art is able to define
What is the inward Joy which we receive
By peace of conscience, and Grace divine:
But sure it is, that speciall marke or signe,
Which on our soules the holy Spirit of Grace
Most gently doth imprint, and lively line,
Whereby we doe behold Gods cheerefull face,
And spiritually feele our Bridegroomes sweet embrace.

There is a naturall and carnall Joy,
Besides this inward Joy spirituall,
By one we common blessings here enjoy,
By th' other we in Sin and errour fall;
Those be partakers of Joy naturall,
That health of body have, and worldly store,
The carnall Joy we sinful pleasures call,
Excesse of meate, and wine, Lips of a whore,
And all mans vaine delights 'gainst rule of heav'n lore.

These Joy's which with false pleasures us deceive,
Are not of kin to Joy spirituall;
For that they alway's doe our hearts bereave
Of inward Joyes pure food Angelicall;
Gods goodnesse is th' efficient cause of all,
And though each person in the Trinitie,
May seeme to have a working severall,
Yet all in one, and one in all agree,
With Joy here to begin mans true felicitee.

There many causes are materiall,
Why we this inward Joy in us should have;
Gods freest grace which doth most surely call,
All those that he elected hath to save;
The Peace of conscience, which Joy us gave,
And eke the Joy of our Sanctification:
Whereby ev'n heavens inheritance we crave,
And certainly expect glorification,
And are invited guests to heav'ns participation.

As are Gods gifts and graces infinite,
So causes are of Joy spirituall;
It fills my soule with infinite delight,
When all his benefits to mind I call;
But none like this that's Sonne should save us all,
By that great secret of his Incarnation,
Which made the Babe into Joy's Passion fall,
At blessed Mothers heav'nly Salutation,
And made blinde Simeon's soule rejoyce in his Salvation.

This made the Mother of the Babe to sing,
And her sweet little Lord to magnifie,
Her Saviour, which shee in her armes did bring;
This made in heov'nly Host such melody,
When newes was brought of his Nativity;
Oh Joy of Joys! to you is borne this day
A Saviour, God from all eternitie;
This made the Wise-men from the East to stray,
And offer to him gifts that in a cradle lay.

This made the holy King propheticall,
Though many pleasant Lay's to Harpe hee sing,
Straine none so high, and so patheticall,
As those of his Sonne, Saviour, Lord, and King:
Oh then each stroake, hee strikes, to heav'n doth ring.
His heart rejoyceth; and his tongue is glad,
Such Joy doth hope of resurrection bring,
That thongh his flesh be with corruption clad,
His heart shall never faint, nor soule be ever sad.

We for this hope, it count exceeding Joy
When we doe fall, on many sore temptations,
And when afflictions most abound, we Joy
In Trialls, Sufferings, and Tribulations:
The Angels in their holy habitations,
At our conversions wondrous Joy receive,
What passing Joy will be and delectations,
When all the members to their head shall cleave,
And for short Sorrowes, endlesse recompence receive.

My Muse her selfe ev'n out of breath now fly's,
Rais'd up so high by Joy Spirituall;
Yet by Joys objects, she must higher rise,
To Father, Sonne, the holy Ghost, and all:
What greater Joy, then on the Father call;
And how did Abraham rejoyce to see?
The day of his Redeemers nuptiall;
Ah what more Joy unspeakable can bee?
Then feele the holy Spirit of Grace to dwell in thee.

Oh happy Host, such guests to entertaine,
With peace of conscience, their continual feast,
Open you everlasting doors againe,
Open, The King stands knocking ready prest;
The King of Glory to come in and rest:
Downe from the fig-tree speedily then come,
And entertaine thy Saviour in thy brest,
To day Salvation is to thee come home,
With Faith, Hope, Love, and Truth perfume thou ev'ry rome.

For without these, true Joy will never stay,
With her must all the heav'nly Graces bide,
Long-suffering, Mercy, Peace, desire to Pray,
God these hath joyn'd, no man may them divide.
False Joys without these into us may slide,
As stony ground, which did receive the seed;
Did flourish faire, and Branch on ev'ry side;
But this did Faith, but temporary breed,
And we this but a momentany Joy areed.

There are besides this friendly seeming Joy,
Other that are professed enemy's;
As those which worldly happinesse enjoy,
And live in plasures, ease, and jollity's:
Against these th' authour of true joy reply's,
Woe unto you that laugh, for you shall waile,
Lament and howle for your iniquity's,
When Judgement comes, and all mens hearts shal faile,
What then shall all your worldly pleasures you availe.

Another Joy against true Joy I find,
When in true cause of Joy we so delight,
That we omit from Lusts to clense our mind,
And valiantly 'gainst base affections fight,
Ah! how can heav'nly true Joy take delight,
Amongst our grosse corruptions here to dwell,
Sure this Rejoycing is not good and right,
A little Leven makes the whole lump smell,
Our boasting's vaine: This water's not from living Well.

There is a counterfett, and feign'd delight,
Shew'd in the face, but comes not from the heart,
Whom I may call, A merry Hypocrite,
Others rejoyce so in their own desert,
In their redemption they will beare a part:
These are the men whom workes must justifie:
Alas! poor wretch! remember what thou art,
And whence thou hast received thy supply,
And thou shalt soone from this thy proud rejoycing flye.

Proud flesh and bloud! that dares of merits boast,
When in thy Makers presence thou do'st stand,
And hopest to regaine what Adam lost:
By thine inherent Justice: thou dost band,
Directly 'gainst thy Makers glory; and
Seek'st to rejoyce in Justice of thine owne,
Presume not 'bove thy strength to understand,
But merry be and glad in God alone,
Who is all Worthinesse, but in thy selfe is none.

As those which vaine applause of men regard,
And at their doing almes a trumpet blow;
Gaine onely praise of men, for their reward,
But God no such good-workes will ever know;
So those in whom these boasting merits flow,
And in their meritorious workes delight,
God never them doth this sound comfort show,
They may awhile seeme goodly in mans sight,
But never feele true inward Joy and sound delight.

As those which only see the Stars and Moone,
But never saw fair Phoebus glorious light,
Beleeve no cleerer lights have ever shone;
Then those faire Lamps which do adorn the night;
So those that never knew this true delight,
Those heav'nly Joys to holy Saints confin'd,
Thinke there most Joy, where flesh doth most delight:
But tast they once sweet inward Joy of mind,
In all these worldly Joy's they no content can find.

This heav'nly Joy by no similitude,
In Heav'n or Earth can truly be exprest,
Yet is shee felt, as oft in simple rude,
As in the most profound deepe learned breast;
None know her, till they be of her possest.
For as we feele the winde when it doth blow,
But whence it comes, or where it meanes to rest,
No wit of man ere able was to show;
So many feele these Joys, but know not whence they flow.

As in the Incarnations mysteries,
The blessed Virgin over-shadowed
By th' Holy Ghost, and power of the most High;
Perceiv'd her fruitfull womb replenished,
But knew not whence, till th' Angell it aread;
So we this Babe of Joy spirituall,
Oft feele in us most lively quickened;
But know not how, nor whence the same doth fall,
This that same Spirit of Truth, to us revealeth all.

And as no creature able is, of man
The Spirit to discerne, but man alone;
So of this Spirituall Joy, no spirit can
Conclude, but this sweet spiritual holy One:
Some would it liken to the glorious Sunne,
Which by his lively beames doth Life inspire;
Where they an object fit to light upon,
But I forbeare too nicely to inquire,
And rather in mine heart, to feel her beames desire.

Oh Sunne of Light! Bright Glory of thy Sire,
Who when thou left'st the earth, thy Spirit didst send,
Into our hearts sweet comforts to inspire,
And with us to abide till worlds last end:
Some good examples to my Muse commend,
Of holy men, which took so much delight
In heay'nly Joys, they holy them intend,
And banish all vaine worldly pleasures quite,
Shining like glorious Lamps in worlds obscurest night.

This inward heate, this holy heav'nly fire,
Most what concealed under ashes ly's,
Which one, till into flames they doe respire,
At home more easie, than abroad descry's:
Because it selfe within best testify's:
In Abraham appear'd this holy flame;
Whenas he saw his Saviour with his eyes
Who of his blessed seed long after came,
For Abram saw Christs day, and joyed in the same.

Up Miriam up, thou merrily canst sing,
Now through the Red Sea thou art safely past,
Hereby our Baptisme then prefiguring,
That when Repentance us with teares hath wash't,
With Joy wee Egypts Bondage off should cast:
But never did more Joyfull musicke sound,
Then Davids: when he of this Joy did tast,
Restore mee to those wonted Joys I found,
And ever let thy holy Spirit in me abound.

Oh blessed Bridegroome of the fairest Bride,
How often when she seeketh thee by night,
Doest thou thy Joyfull presence from her hide?
That wanting, shee in thee may more delight:
How oft againe, when thou dost her invite?
Rise my belov'd, and ope to me the doore,
Such is her nicenesse, and her sluggish sprite;
Shee will not rise to let thee in, before
Thou thence art gone; And then thy losse shee doth deplore.

These are the apples, odours, nuts, and wine,
Which comfort her, when she is sicke of Love;
These Christs embraces that doe her entwine,
The kisses which he gives his Turtle Dove:
Milke, spice, pomegranats, which shee so doth love,
All these are inward Joys the Bride hath here,
Whereof she with the Bridegrooms friends doth prove;
And eates and drinkes with Joy and merry cheere,
Yea drinkes abundantly with her beloved deare.

This was the Joy, that him was set before,
That did endure the Crosse, despise the shame,
And Lord of all, became, low, naked, pore,
Enduring death us to excuse from blame!
His Martyrs and Apostles in the same
Suffrings and crosses him have followed;
And trode the Wine-presse as their order came,
Where some in scorching flames more Joys have red,
Then wearied Limbs could finde in softest downy bed.

This 'twas the Kingly Prophet so admir'd,
When loathing all worlds pompe and glory vaine,
He this one onely thing of God desir'd.
For ever in his Temple to remaine,
To view the Beautie of that heav'nly traine;
This made him leave his purple Crowne and Throne,
And in a linen Ephod dance amaine;
For this would Constantine be rather one
Of Christ his members, then the Empires head alone.

But why seeke I for witnesses without,
Since 'tis the Spirit within that testify's,
Our Soule that without wavering or doubt,
With Peace of Conscience, Abba Father Cry's:
Unto whose Soule this Spirit eke reply's,
Be glad and Joyfull, I am thy salvation;
Be not afraid — My Grace shall thee suffice
To conquer Hell, and to resist temptation,
And yeeld the soundest Joy in greatest tribulation.

I will make glad thy soule, delight thine heart,
And with a cheereful countenance will smile,
For I am thine, and mine again thou art;
And though afflictions here thee square and file,
No power in Earth or Hell shall thee beguile
Of those sweet Joys, which are for thee prepar'd:
Oh tarry thou my leasure but a while,
And thy petitions all, I will regard,
Delight in mee, I am thy hope and just reward.

Oh! who can hear these Joyous invitations,
These blessed promises, and yet complaine,
That hee's afraid of crosse or tribulations:
Oh! never let these worldly pleasures vaine,
Make me so great a looser for their gaine;
And let me here all worldly griefes endure,
Lord onely free me from me from eternall paine,
This inward Joy shall ever me assure,
And on thy merits I in all will rest secure.

Who would not rather covet there to dwell,
Where fulnesse is of Joy for evermore,
Then in false vaine delights, which leade to Hell
Voluptuous Diet, flatt'rings of a Whore;
I rather had with David keepe a dore
Where inward Joy may in my soule abound;
Then swim in pleasures and preferments store,
In Princes Courts, where vain delights are found,
Which like faire flowers fade, and quickly fall to ground.

But I confesse, this proverb true I finde,
That where Gods Church is raising, there to build
His Chappell is the Devill most inclin'd,
And where best seed is sowne in Ground well till'd,
He with most tares and weeds it alway's fill'd:
Vaine pleasures are his tares, true Joys our wheat,
Till harvest both together grow in field,
Then will the Lord of Harvest surely beat,
The cockle from pure corne, at his owne board to eate.

Fountaine of Joy! oh set my whole delight!
Into thy Lawes and Statutes to enquire;
To meditate thereon both day and night,
My soule than Gold doth more these Joys desire,
Let others, honour, wealth, and wine admire;
Lift, Lord, on me thy loving countenance,
Thy loving favour, shall my Soule raise higher,
Then Princes highest favours can advance,
To heav'nly spirituall wealth, not subject unto chance.

In holy Writ, I many places find,
From whence do flow these Joy's spirituall,
But no where faster then within my mind,
Oh Lord! Thou knowst; not I, from whence they fall:
God of all Peace and Joy perpetuall;
Let not my Joy A temporary prove,
But with her in mine heart thy Graces all
Infuse, Faith, Mercy, Patience, Peace, and Love;
To passe by things below, and seeke for things above.

Of endlesse Joy how should I make an end?
My Muse is never weary of delight;
Since I this Meditation did intend,
I never scarce could sleepe by day or night.
So doth the pleasing matter me invite;
So full the rimes, and so the numbers run:
That I in shorter time have finisht quite,
This tast of Joy, then I have earst begun
Some other Graces: But my hower-glasse hath done.

[pp. 42-52]