In the fourteenth canto Phylax displays the Crucifixion to Psyche, and takes her to the empty grave.
LOVE having liv'd for Men, is pleased to Die,
To make His Purchase sure by Life and Death;
Through Earth's profoundest gulf of Tyranny,
And vaster Ocean of Heav'n's mighty Wrath
He nobly waded: then upon the shore
After His blood, vouchsaf'd His Soul to pour.
O Soul of Sweets, O Life, how dear art Thou
To all that ever had a Taste of Thee!
How much of Heav'n it self triumphs to flow
Into the region of Thy Suavity!
Indeed Heav'n were not Heav'n, unless it had
By marrying Thee the Court of Bliss been made.
Thou in the Center of Divinity
Before the birth of Ages had'st Thy Spring,
Where Thou did'st sweetly smile amidst the Three
Most undivided One, and traversing
Those heights and depths of glorious Pleasure, through
Eternitie's immense Expansion flow.
Thence, when the World burst out from Nothing,
Thou Let'st out some streams created Souls to cheer;
With which sweet Influence when they 'gan to glow,
All Bosoms strait of it inamored were;
Which as their richest dearest Jewel, in
The temple of their Hearts obtain'd its shrine.
Goods were no longer Goods, compar'd with Thee;
Parents and Children were no more of kin,
If they disturb'd thy Consanguinity:
Their tenderer Selves, though lying treasur'd in
The bosom of their Love, they thence would throw,
Counting no Wives so near them as wert Thou.
For Thy sweet sake they durst rejoice to bear
All Bitterness, and not to blush at Shame:
Their Joints, Limbs, Skin, they readily could spare,
Yea and allow their precious Name and Fame.
A prey to Injury, so they by them
May Thee and Thy Security redeem.
The vilest Worm whom Thou dost please to grace,
Forgets not that high Worth he gains by Thee:
He shoots his warey self from place to place,
And, when oppressed, feeble though he be,
He turns again, and with the strongest Fo
Tries what for Thy dear Rescue he can do.
Rather on basest Dust the Snake will feed
His wretchedness, than part with precious Thee;
Though Heav'n's sad Curse sits heavy on his head,
He makes his body all one helmet he
To shelter it; and rolls himself about
Himself, to keep all mortal bruses out.
Nay when the Sword, or Wand Death's way has cut
Quite through his circles, till his carcase be
In its own woful fragments buried, yet
Ev'n by the cement of his Wounds will he
Soder himself; so loth is he to die,
Though Life him Pris'ner holds to Misery.
What voyages will silly Swallows take
Warm courteous Seasons round the World to chase!
How hard a shift will hunted Pheasants make
To shun the greedy Griffen's deadly face!
What wings of speed, what tricks and sleights will Fear
Of dying, teach the close-persued Hare!
In how great sweat and pains will Pismires spend
Their warmer months, to reap and carry home
Their crop, which in the Cold may them befriend
With sustentation, and protect them from
The fear of loosing that poor Life which they
In love of it, to endless Toil betray.
The most industrious never-tired Bee
Flies through all Summer, knocking at the door
Of every likely Flower, where thoughtful she
Can borrow ought to help her Winter's store:
And thus for love of Life, her honey-Trade
A bitter task of Painfulness is made.
Yea ev'n the simplest Weed, whose Life doth but
Preserve that Stink by which she taints the air;
When Boreas 'gins his icey chains to put
On captiv'd Earth, makes all her Spirits repair
Down to the Root: for, rather than be dead,
Alive she chooseth to be buryed.
But yet no Creature with such painful pains
Doth hunt out Life's security, as Man:
What Projects tumble in his anxious brains
What Cares and Labours make him faint and wan!
Earth all things else can freely entertain,
But he must sow before he reap his grain.
A tedious Prenticehood he spends, to learn
How he may toil himself another day,
And by his still-returning Studies earn
His wasting strength's support; that still he may
Be grapling with his growing Work; his Sweat
Being the constant Sauce to all his Meat.
To get a Living's a sufficient Charm
To lure him through the most portentuous Sea;
To make his Weakness scorn th' outragious Storm
To harden him above the durity
Of desperate Rocks for, that he still may breath,
He dares within three inches live of death.
A Charm sufficient to make him list
Himself a foe unto the Life of Man,
Whilst he triumphs to make his stoney breast
Yet more obdurate by bold steel, and can
Without all blushing take his bloody Pay
For his endeavours daily to Destroy.
Sufficient to engage him in the love
Of Hate, and Spight, and Fraud, and Rapine, and
Any accursed Helps which may improve
His stock of Avarice; to make him stand
Stiff on the mountain-top of Villanies
Defying Vengeance, and the thundring Skies.
O wonderous Riddle! though eternal Death
Inevitably be entail'd upon
His wicked Life, yet he his present breath
Esteems so dear, as forward still to run
In any deadly Crimes, to spin on that
Weak thread of Days which must e'r long be cut.
Indeed the Man whose teeming Coffers bring
Him forth free choise of all the dainty Store
With which the Land or Sea can court a King,
May find some feeling reason to adore
His jolly Life: but what convincing plea
Can Beggers move to this Idolatry?
Yet sorry they, so destitute within
And poor without, that equally they want
Both what should line and fill their wretched skin,
And what should cover it; are well content
On these hard terms to live, nor quit would be
By any Death of this Calamity.
The buried Captive, whose dark Dungeon is
His anti-dated and his sadder Grave,
Though banish'd thus from vital Happiness,
Yet hugs his Life as dearly, as the brave
And freest Gallant who his Lust can please
With all the Fat of Pleasure and of Ease.
The Leper, clothed in his winding sheet
By his Disease, abhors the thought of Death;
Life still is ev'n in his dead body sweet;
And full as precious he reputes his breath
As lovely Virgins, whose fair Features' dress
Of native Roses, and of Lilies is.
He whom a Fever's furnace fries, would yet
Escape the being cooled in his Grave;
And hires Physitians' costly doubtful wit
To find some way, though painful, now to save
His torturing Life: not for a world would he
By Death's most sovereign Physick eased be.
He whom a Cancer gnaws, had rather feed
That Monster, than the Worms; nor sticks to buy
Wounds, Cauterisms, Dismembrings; and be dead
In part, a mangled life a while to try.
On piteous Stilts he'l rather choose to creep
Than in a sumptuous tomb lie down to sleep.
The lamentable Gally-slave, who fast
Is chained to perpetual Misery,
Still toils and rows against the Tempest's blast
Without all hopes that any Port can be
His hav'n of Rest; yet holds that Life full dear
Which only makes his bondage persevere.
She whom a Siege begirts so close, that She
Is crowded up to nought but bones and skin;
Shrinks further yet from gaining Liberty
By Death's assistance; and will rather win
Upon her bowels to devour her Child
Than be by Famin of that Life beguild.
The cursed Traytor fettered alive
In Death's strong iron chair; though sadly sure
Abandon'd he in vain for Life shall strive;
Yet will in mighty love of it endure
To feed on his own Arms, that so he may
Though by selfe-torture, live one other day.
He who disjointed on the Rack doth lie,
Though now his shatter'd Life be scarcely his,
After a thousand deaths, is loth to die;
And ne'r-thought Treasons willing to confess:
Confess he will what needs must be his death,
Only to gain a little longer breath.
Thus all the Gall that sharpest Misery
Into the heart of Mortal Life can pour,
Meets there such resolute Powers of suavity
As conquer all its Bitterness; such store
Of precious mystick Delicacies as
Eas'ly outweigh the heavyest Sorrow's mass.
Tear what you will from Man besides, and he
Will stoutly set his shoulders to sustain
The Loss; but if his Life attacked be,
In vain all Comforts fawn on him; in vain
Are Crowns and Scepters proffer'd him, a price
Too poor to hire him to his Obsequies.
Since then the Life ev'n of the meanest Wight
Scorns to be ballanc'd with the richest Treasure;
What depth of mightiest Worthiness, what height
Of most refin'd preciousness can measure
The value of the Life of Jesus, which
Doth Earth with all the best of Heav'n inrich.
A Life more worth than was the Breath which fann'd
the panting Hearts of all the World beside;
More worth than all the tract of Ages, and
Old Time it self: A Life which nobly vy'd
With vast Eternity, though not in space,
Yet in unbounded Excellence and Grace.
For whilst all Human Life besides, the breath
Of Eden's venomous Serpent tainted so,
That by the rankling Principles of Death
It from its cradle was condemned to
Its herse; His kept it self unstained, and
Defy'd the gaping Grave's unjust Demand.
And well it might, as having gain'd a pitch
Higher than Human, by the Mystery
Of Theanthropick Combination, which
Peerless Prerogative's sublimity
Did Infinite with Finite strangely wed,
And make it both the Life of Man and God.
Yet this dear Life of His, less dear He held
Than worthless Man: so generous was His Love
His royal Heart's last Blood He freely spill'd
To ransom Theirs, desiring so to prove
Ev'n by their Soul's own rule, that They to Him
More worth than His all-precious Self did seem.
They, and the worst of them: nor did He choose
And pick some Noble Friends, for whose sweet sake;
His Life to offer up; but for His Foes
Vouchaf'd that dear Oblation to make:
Resolv'd that their ingrateful Hate should be
Drown'd in vast Courtesy's profoundest Sea.
O most adorable and matchless Art
Of Strange Revenge! what Enemy is he
Whose sweetly-wounded and convinced heart
Triumpheth not to be subdu'd by thee!
By thee, Love's highest Gallantry, and fit
For Him who is the mighty King of it!
With this divine Exploit her Guardian now
To ravish Psyche's plyant Soul, went on:
(The wonderous Legend though before she knew,
Yet 'twas at distance; Circumstances can
Make deep impression, and the present Scene
Of Miracles more admiration win.)
No sooner to the Shambles sentenc'd thus
Was Heav'n's pure Lamb; but streight upon their Prey
The rampant Soldiers fly: His gorgeous
Attire away they snatch, and Him array
In His own simple Fleece, (yet suff'ring still
The stinging Thorns upon His Head to dwell.)
Thus rubb'd, and wounded all those Wounds again,
Whose weary Blood had 'gan its clotted rest;
This op'd the worry'd mouth of every Vein,
Which though so strictly urg'd, yet confest,
Not all they knew; resolved still to keep
Enough the Cross in Ruby paint to steep.
Thus, dress'd for further spight, to Calvary
They hurry Him, ev'n though their Senate's Law
Wisely provides no Execution be
Done, till by ten days' thoughts the Judge may know
Whether his Sentence more by Passion's haste,
Than slow-pac'd Reason's Rules he has not past.
The Priests had Money, that commanding spur
Which fires all Soldiers with impatient speed
And Pilate now can cast in no Demur;
The Jewish Casuists tell him there's no need:
But need, or not; in vain his Fancies beat
The Soldiers now were bought to do the Feat.
Yet being Martial generous Spirits, they
Must not debase their armed Backs to bear
The servile ignominious Cross; nor may
The holy Jews, who purified were
To keep their blessed Paschal Supper, be
Stain'd by the touch of that accursed Tree.
On Jesus's wounds His Death the Soldiers lay,
And He must earn His Cross's Service by
First bearing it: then hasting Him away,
They 'gin their march; thus with a barbarous cry
Of Tongues and Trumpets, which the welkin rent,
Through Salem's Streets this sad procession went.
But He whose Springs so drained were before
Of Blood and Spirits, feeble grew and faint:
In vain they kick Him, and in vain they tore
Him forward by His Hair; for no constraint
Can screw weak Nature into strength, or breed
Robustuous Firmness in a broken Reed.
Easy indeed and light His Burden is
But that's not this Himself was pleas'd to bear:
For though His bloody Yoke did grind and press
Him to the ground, He lays upon His dear
And faithful Followers no weight, but such
As helps them up Heav'n's lofty gate to reach.
What Heart not seared by the fire of Hell
Could now Compassion's yearning tears repress?
But these rude Sons of Mars are by the fell
Cantagion of the Jewish Salvageness
So deeply tainted, that what might invite
Panthers to pity, only whets their Spight.
For meerly in prevention of the Loss
Of that choice sport their hopes had fram'd, when He
Should fairly yield them mounted on His Cross
A steady Mark, at which all scoffs might be
Directly aim'd; they from this Load reprieve Him,
And force Cyrenian Simon to relieve him.
Nay Live, good Sir, you shall, till you may Die
As you deserve: mean while this Earnest take
Of that full sum, which we will by and by
On Golgotha without abatement make:
Which said, they slash'd Him, and so much the more
As with His Blood He no Complaints would pour.
Indeed the softer sex, attending Him
And His still-growing woes with tenderer eyes,
In His own Blood could not behold Him swim,
But with their sympathetick Tears and Cries
Confess'd that Women still had Bowels, though
Remorsless stone Men's Hearts did overgrow.
But Jesus, who had all this grievous while
Encourag'd by His patient silence those
Most spightful Tempest[s] belched by the vile
And loudly-railing Jews; doth now oppose
These Women's loving showers, and turn on them
With nobler Pity their own pitying stream.
For 'twas His brave Ambition to engross
All griefs and sorrows to Himself to day;
Esteeming every groan of their's His loss,
And all His woes disparaged, if they
Intruded thus, and must His Partners be
In this calamitous Monopoly.
Weep not ye Daughters of Jerusalem,
Weep not for Me, who ope have set
My Breast To every Anguish which can hither stream
And heartily will welcome every guest:
Weep not for Me, said He, whose sorrows are
Not to be quenched by a mortal Tear.
If you will broach your Bottles, let them run
Both for your selves, and your unhappy seed
Those lamentable Days are posting on
Which all your brine, and more than all will need
The Days when Blessing shall no longer spread
Its joyous Complement on Mothers' Head.
The barren Womb shall then applauded be
As fertile in the choicest Happiness;
All Tongues shall then those Paps' aridity
Which ne'r nurs'd up a Prey for slaughter, bless:
Then shall the dearest Pledges of your Love,
Your Sons and Daughters, living torments prove.
Then in impatient forging for a Grave,
Despairing Men shall to the Mountains call,
And every neighbour Hill's compassion crave,
Beseeching them upon their Heads to fall,
And hide them, though in Death, from seeing what
Perplexity shall through the World be shot.
For if in Me, a young and verdant tree
The flames of vengeance thus prevailing are;
What dismal Doom shall executed be
On stumps and trunks, all withered and sear,
And ready-dry'd, and fuel fit indeed
Only their own combustion to feed.
Strait, in a fresh blaspheming cursing fit
This set the frantick Rout; who ask'd Him,
Why When they of late so humbly begged it
He would not condescend to prophesy?
And why His entheous Tongue could not as well
His own, as others' misery, foretell?
And see, good Prophet, yonder Hill, said they;
Be sure you take before too late it prove,
Your own advice: Let's hear what you can say,
Both its Compassion, and it self, to move.
Set out your throat; if hard and loud you plead,
Perhaps 'twill bow its own to hide your Head.
Nay, use your strongest Rhetorick; and know
It mightily concerns you to prevail:
For your arrested Life and Credit now
Nothing but that great Miracle can bail;
Since if that Hill comes not to you, by Fate
It is decreed, that you must go to that.
Then having star'd a while upon Him, all
Whose Fists, or Toes, or Spittle Him could reach,
With thick and peevish indignation fall
Upon His brused bloody Body: which
Variety of Scorns He vanquish'd by
Meek Silence; and march'd up to Calvary.
This Calvary, where now we standing are,
Which from a Scull deriv'd its solemn Name;
Adam's discover'd Scull, whose Sepulchre
Was digged here: which secret careful Fame
Told to posterity, and so the Hill
Wears in its Title that old story still.
With such Decorum did thy prudent Lord
His meritorious Passion order, that
The Second Adam might His help afford,
To free the First where chain'd he lay and shut
In Death's dark Jayl, — the most remorsless Grave,—
To worms, and stinks, and putrifaction slave.
Jesus on that dry Dust contriv'd to shed
His sovereign and purifying Blood;
That He might wash and cure the tainted Head
Of deadly miseries ev'n by the Flood
Of His own Life; that Life which only can
Restore true vital vigor unto Man.
Here, here the Cross's steady foot was set,
When up it bare the World's Supporter; here
Is that renowned Soil, which once was wet
With richer Drops than ever shoured were
From kindest Heav'n; that potent fertile Dew,
By which Mature Salvation's Harvest grew.
But yet this Hill wears not that only Name
Of Calvary; 'twas call'd Moriah too,
When Heav'n-commanded Abraham hither came
His dearer Self to sacrifice, and so
By that unparallel'd Obedience prove
The valorous Bravery of Faithful Love.
He hither came, and built his Altar here,
Which pre-possest the nobler Crosse's seat,
So Isaac did thy Lord's a while: yet there
A snarled Ram untwisted Isaac's fate;
But no Vicegerent here, no Ram alas
Which might of God's own Lamb supply the place.
That fatal Hour of Darkness, Psyche, now
Was come, which in the hand of Tyranny
Left free the reins; and she her freedom knew:
That Hour, when lnnocence by Heav'n's Decree
Became surrendred, and abandon'd quite
To feed the Luxury of hungriest Spight.
'Tis true, His Lips were complemented by
A draught of Wine; but ah, the Complement
Cruelly mock'd Him by the treachery
Of Bitterness, which made His Taste repent,
Besides, He had resolv'd to swallow down
No blood of Grapes, till He had shed His own.
His worryed limbs forthwith the Soldiers stretch
To fit Him to His wide tormenting Tree:
Up to the top His blessed Hands they twitch,
Those Hands which made them; and as violently
They to the bottom draw His Feet, which clear
Of all but their own guiltless Purple were.
These Hands and Feet With salvage Nails they make
Ah sadly sure, and rivet Him into
His Pains and Death, What heart-strings would not crack
To see these tender veins broke open? Who
Could barbarize his eyes to keep their flood
At home, now those dear Torrents run abroad?
Sure none who dare the Name of Softness wear
The name of Christian, can this Story read
With hearts so stony, but these Nails will tear
Their Thoughts, and make their Contemplations bleed:
For how can living genuine Members be
Not wounded with their Head's Calamity.
But these inhumane Torturers shouting loud
In desperate applause of this their Sin,
Rear up the Trophy of their rage, with proud
Delight to see their Victory. So when
Harpyes on heaps have heap'd their butcher'd Prey,
They smile, and clap their wings for cursed joy.
So when the Prince of monstrous Barbarousness
Abimelech, had seav'nty breaches in
The Bands of Nature made; by murdering his
Envy'd but harmless Brethren; on his Sin
The Fabrick of his high Content he built,
And measured his Triumph by his Guilt.
This done; on either hand a noted Thief
They crucify; by these Companions so
To cheat the foolish World into belief
That He of equal Crimes was guilty too.
Alas, He knew no other Theft but this,
To steal His Torturers to heav'nly Bliss.
For whilst between these Bryers, like the Rose,
Or beauteous Virtue 'twixt her foul Extremes,
He nailed is; He plots to save His Foes,
And projects how to pay them Diadems
For these His Tortures: unto Heav'n He flies
On Love's stout wings, and to His Father cries:
Father! by all the Sweets of that dear Name,
Regard the Prayer of Thy dying Son:
By this My Cross, and all its noble Shame,
By these four Wounds which with full current run
By all these Thorns which on My Temples grow,
And sharper those which pierce My Bosom through:
Behold not Thou the Sin of these poor Men,
Since they themselves perceive not what they do;
Though foolish, yet they are My Brethren:
O spare them then! Let not their Error who
Occasion all the World's most sovereign Bliss,
Make their own souls their proper portion miss.
Though blind, 'tis Zeal: the Blindness O forgive,
And teach their Zeal henceforth to use its eyes:
Why hang I here, if not for their Reprieve
Whose Wickedness most needs this Sacrifice?
Since I to drink Thy Fury ready am,
O make it not a Potion for Them.
Thus deign'd the Lamb for ravening Wolves to pray,
The Partridge for the Hawks. O mighty Love
Which all the Wrongs of this most barbarous Day
Cannot repress! the more the Caytifs strove
To wreak upon Him their elaborate Spight,
The more on them He tries His Mercie's Might.
Thus let Arabian Odours brused be,
Their sweet revenge they on their Enemies take
By pouring out to them their treasury
Of pure Perfumes; whose Breaths no anger speak,
But in the Language of delicious Sent
And that alone, are kindly eloquent.
Thus when the tender Vine is nailed fast
About her Prop, and by the pruning Knife
Robb'd of her Limbs; she taketh no distaste
At all those deep intrenchments on her life
But with a bounteous Vintage strives to cheer
The heart of him who wounds and mangles her.
But what care retchless they, who scorn to be
By Kindness softned? Wax indeed may run,
Warm'd by the Touch of Highnoon's charity;
But sordid Mud although the courteous Sun
With free and fur-tide Raies about it flows,
In stead of Melting only harder grows.
More need they think that Jesus has to Pray
For's Self, than Them; and smiling with disdain
At His unask'd-for Intercession, they
High time now count it to divide their Gain:
This was His Clothes, the Lamb's poor plunder'd fleece
The simple prize of their bold Villanies.
His other Robes they severally share:
But since His larger Vesture's texture was
Intire and seamless, they contented are
To offer the decision of the case
To Fortune's sentence, and conclude by Lot
To give that whole they thought too good to cut.
Too good they thought this Common-web to be
Mangled and slash'd; yet with the self-same Heart
Abhorred not His precious Flesh to see
Gashed, and plow'd, and rent in every part.
Rude Butchers thus think fit the Skin to keep
Untorn, although they quarter out the Sheep.
But now thy Lord was seated on His Throne,
Of pangs, His Royal style above His Head,
By Pilate fixed is; and, though but one,
Yet in three Languages decyphered;
The Learned three; that all the World might learn
The Mystery which did their life concern.
Indeed the Highpriest's Stomach's rose, and pray'd
The Judge to write Him but pretended King:
But he, by Heav'n or Conscience oversway'd,
Their peevish suit away sullenly flung.
To make His wronged Person some amends,
Thy Saviour's Title stoutly he defends.
Mean while arrayed in His naked Gore,
Sweet Jesus sadly hangs 'twixt Heav'n and Earth,
Of both rejected; yet doth freely pour
The World's red price at four wide floodgates forth:
An object of more Pity never yet
Exposed was, nor reaped less of it.
All Passengers without Regard went on,
And turn'd their careless backs upon His sorrow:
Which surely upon theirs had Jesus done,
Alas, they must themselves have waded thorough
The Ocean of tempestuous Pangs, nor had
He in their stead this woful voyage made.
Yet well it were, if only this Neglect
Made war upon His Patience; if His Foes
To heedless sleighting and cold Disrespect
No busy active Malice join'd: But those
Ingenious Sons of Mischief still devise
New tricks and ways afresh to tyrannize.
For not contented with their Nails and Thorns
To dig His precious Body, now they strive
To pierce His Soul with ignominious scorns,
To wound His Meekness, and His Suff'rings grieve:
His bloody Cross cannot their spight suffice,
Unless He mocked and reviled died.
They point their Fingers, and their Heads they shake;
And then their crueller Tongues, and thus they cry:
Remember what your Pride once pleas'd to crack;
You could both ruin and re-edify
That Pile in three days' space: yet, mighty Sir,
The Temple stands, and You are hanged here.
For shame make good your boasted Power, and now
Shake from your Hands, kick from your Feet the Nails:
Command the Cross before your face to bow;
Call home your stragling Blood; close at your Heels
Destruction hunts: high time it is to save
Your self, if you design to scape your grave.
O no; the Elders, Scribes, and Priests reply,
Though many seeming Wonders He hath done;
Though cured many an ugly Malady:
Though strangely conjur'd up Salvation
For others: yet 'tis certain, wretched He
Can never to Himself a Saviour be.
No cheating lying Prophet e'r was known,
Who once into the hands of justice brought,
Could by his highest Witchcraft reach his own
Deliverance, and work his Carcass out
Of Chains or Tortures: for if this might be,
Who could distinguish Truth from Forgery?
Now it appears by whose assistance He
Breath'd with His Word that Nature-conquering strength
Which charm'd the People's fond Credulity.
But Belzebub is wise enough at length
To leave his Instrument to Justice, when
Through all his Task of Mischief He has run.
Now Pilate finds how little cause he had
To shake his Head at our importunate Cry:
Had not our Zeal that fervent Onset made
On his abused lordship's Lenity,
This rank lmpostor, then reprieved, might
Have pass'd still for a Wonder-working Wight.
Yet if the potent King of Israel now
Will deign to stoop from that unkingly Tree,
And to His Subjects' doubtful hearts allow
This proof of His Divine Supremacy;
For our parts, we are ready here, and will
Believe His Pow'r, and His Commands fulfil.
What can He more expect from Us, who are
Attending on Him in His deepest Shame,
And wait till He will please those Mists to clear,
Which damp the lustre of His glorious Name?
So fain our homage we to Him would pay,
Would He assert Himself, and ope our way.
But silly King, nor hand nor foot can He
Stir, though His Kingdom lyeth at the stake;
He talk'd as if the Clouds His Coach should be,
And that upon the Air's commanded back,
He'd ride into our view: yet now, alas,
We find His sorry Charet's but His Cross.
He oft was heard to brag of God His Sire:
How is it then His Father owns him not?
Sure were He worth the Owning, all the Quire
Of Heav'n, would bring their Wings to hide this Blot
Of His so broad, so deep Disgrace, and hence
In triumph carry home their Native Prince.
Shame on your blasphemously-shameless Tongue,
Unpriestly Priests: for Jesus aimeth not
To free Himself, but You who flout and sting
His noble Patience. He has not forgot
That Truly-sovereign He holds treasur'd in
His Hands Omnipotence's Magazine.
For those Almighty Hands He stretcheth out,
Are busied in working your Salvation.
He could come down; but stays till He has wrought
The mighty Act of his victorious Passion.
He could Come down; but His Design is now
Up after Him all groveling Men to draw.
He could Come down; did you not fix Him there
Not with your Nails, but with your stronger sins.
He could Come down; were but His Life as dear
To Him as yours: but on His Wrongs He wins,
And by Love's indefatigable Might
Strives to subdue the utmost spight of spight.
Down should He come; ye foolish Miscreants how
Could you get up the Hill of Heav'nly Bliss!
Down should He come; how desperately low
Would you and all the World be tumbled! this
Your Exaltation is, and not His own,
Who Condescendeth by not Coming down.
O Psyche, barbarous were those scoffs: but yet
More stinging Ignominy's still behind
For now the putid Thieves upon Him spit
Their odious taunts, and seem in Him to find
What their vile Souls amidst the Miseries
Of their own cursed Crosses, dare despise.
Ink scorns the Snow, foul Night upbraideth Day
The virgin Spring deflowred Puddles mock,
Dark Shades contemn the Sun's Meridian Ray,
The Swan by Rav'ns is hooted at as black,
Blind sneaking Bats reproach the Eagle's Eyes,
And Hell it self insults o'r Paradise.
Art Thou that mighty Christ, said they, and yet
Hang'st here the patient Game of Shame and Spight?
Can Heav'n's great Son so far Himself forget,
As rather to endure to Die, than Fight?
Discredit not the Lord of Hosts, if He
Thy Father be, by yielding cowardly.
Come, justify that Royal Title there
Which now but laughs at Thine ignoble Head:
Approve Thy self the Jewish King, and tear
Thy Fame and Life from Ruin's jaws: but spread
Thy Favour too on us, that under Thee
The Sovereign, we may glorious Nobles be.
For since in these Thy deep misfortunes we
Of all the World Thy sole Companions are
We well in Thy restor'd Prosperity
May promise our Desert the deepest share:
'Tis true, we're Thieves: but such a one we hear
Was Judas too; yet your Lord Treasurer.
And reason good since Thieves and Murderers now
Are Names of Credit grown: did not our Nation
Elect Barabbas, reprobating You?
Although in pangs, sweet Sir, be not in passion.
So scoffed they; and then they roar'd for pain;
But quickly fell to mock and curse again.
And shall not Heav'n's Artillery now attend
Its injur'd King? Can Earth this Language hear
And her indignant Mouth not open rend
Into Damnation's Gulph these Elves to tear
No: Jesus still no Vengeance can approve
But that of patient and silent Love.
Sweet Vengeance! which so strongly wrought upon
One of this loud blaspheming Pair, that he
Converts his Curses to Devotion,
And prompts his Fellow-thief to Piety;
Rebuking sharply his outrageous Tongue,
Which still persu'd his Lord with shameless wrong.
We only are the proper Fruit, saith he,
Of these accursed Trees, whose Root is Sin:
For how did Jesse's Branch deserve to be
Torn from His Royal Stock, and grafted in
To that vile Trunk! O score no Blot on His
Account, who purer than the Lilies is.
If e'r thou mean'st to have a sense of God,
'Tis time, high time, before thy Senses fail:
Though Standers-by feel nothing of His Rod,
Thy present Tortures may with thee prevail;
They leisure have to flout, so hast not thou
Who on Damnation's brink art tottering now.
Then like a wise and sober Thief indeed,
He seeks to steal into his Saviour's Grace:
Great King of Heav'n, he cries, I plainly read
Thy Majesty though in Thy clouded Face,
Thy Goodness taught mine Eyes this skill;
O then Let Mercy finish what she hath begun.
When in Thy Kingdom Thou shalt mounted be
Upon Thy Throne of Glory, O forget
Those Wrongs my Ignorance hath pour'd on Thee,
On Thee, the God of Innocence: but yet Forget not
Me, whom greater pangs must grieve
Than these, unless Thy Pity me reprieve.
Jesus, whose Goodness never yet disdain'd
To hear the humble suppliant Sinner's cry,
Though His provoked Lips themselves refrain'd
In those loud storms of scornful Blasphemy;
With gracious sweetness now assurance gave
Unto the dying Thief, that he should live.
Though thou to Death's dark door art drawing nigh,
Ev'n that shall prove the gate of Life to thee;
My Word, the pillar of all Certainty,
To thee I pawn: Thou from that cursed Tree
Stepping to Paradise's bow'rs to day,
Thy Head with me on Bliss's bed shalt lay.
The Priests and People loudly laugh'd to hear
Him talk of giving Bliss, who hung in Pain;
Blind fools, who could not now discern how clear
His Power shin'd, which from Hell's jaws could gain
So strange a Prize, and by Love's mild constraint
Make of a cursing Thief a praying Saint.
By this dear Token He to every one
Of them, aforehand did their Pardon seal,
If they, what now the humble Thief had done,
Would to His Grace with broken hearts appeal:
But wretched They this tender deep Design
Of Love, by obstinacy countermine.
Profoundly did this Scorn of Mercy tear
His most divinely-gentle breast. But He
Spying His precious virgin-Mother there,
And virgin-Friend, of this His Tragedy
The sad Spectators: lo, a double dart
Of fresh Grief shot quite through His bleeding heart.
For in His Mother's wounded Soul He saw
That Sword now sheathed which old Simeon
In Prophesy had drawn; and though no Throw
She felt at first in bringing forth her Son;
For Him she now in hard hard Labour strains,
And pays her debt of puerperial Pains.
O how the bowels of her yearning Heart
Are rent and torn, although untouch'd. How she
Profoundly griped is with distant smart,
And made a Sacrifice to sympathy!
For from her Son she feeleth every wound
On her soft self most heavily rebound.
A siege of Thorns now hedge her Temples in,
To Tortures nailed are her Hands and feet,
Tatter'd and mangled is her dainty skin,
Her flesh plow'd up, Her veins wide open set,
And all her modest Body to the view
Exposed is of every shameless Jew.
On her those spightful Taunts and Blasphemies
Their venome spew, and swell with grief her Breast;
That Breast which noble Love so strictly ties
And cements to her Son's, that not the least
Division can interpose, or make
This Double one themselves for single take.
If she had in her other self, if she
In Mary had been Crucify'd, the Cross
Had seem'd a finite Sorrow; but to be
Destroy'd in Jesus, is so vast a Loss
As knows no limits, being stretched forth
By His incomparable boundless Worth.
Her Hope, her Joy, her life, her love, her Bliss,
Her Heav'n, her Son, her God, all these she now
Abandon'd sees to deadly Enemies;
And what has Mary more? How shall she row
Through this fierce Sea, which in each gaping
Wave Presents her O how much more than a Grave!
Were any Port in ken which might invite
And cheer her tempest-broken Hopes; or did
The courtesy of any Pharus's light
This Ocean of Blackness check, her head
She still with courage might have rear'd: but now
All Heav'n is dark above, all earth below.
As oft as to the Cross she opes her eyes,
Death rusheth in; yet she as oft do's die
As to their strong Compassion she denies
That ruful Spectacle. Alas had I,
Or any Seraph, by Griefs armies so
Beleaguer'd been and storm'd, what could we do!
What but surrender! yet most noble She
Strugling amidst a thousand Deaths, at last
Snatch'd from her mighty Losses, victory,
Whilst at the feet of God's great Will she cast
Her own: as gallant Abraham, when He
Preferr'd before his Isaac, Piety.
Yet what was Isaac unto Jesus! O
With how much dearer Prize did Mary part!
Though Isaac precious was, he could not so
Profoundly be ingrav'd in Abraham's heart,
As He in Mary's: yet content is she
Ev'n of her heart's own Hart depriv'd to be.
O Heav'nly Mother! never Agony
Was more heroical than this of thine;
Except thy Son's, when in the Garden He
His bloody humane Patience prov'd Divine:
And all Decorum 'twas, that next the Son
The Mother, Glory's hardest race should run.
But Psyche, though this Amazon of Love
So stoutly fought; yet John, whose valor's metal
Was of a britler temper, could not prove
Himself so strong in this Distresse's battle:
He strove a while with hearty fervor, but
Poor Saint, at length he found the fight too hot.
For whilst his eyes dwelt sadly on that Breast
Upon whose Sweets his bead was wont to lie:
And those dear Arms, which us'd to hug him fast
And chain him into Bliss; the Tyranny
Which now on them had seized, overthrew
His melting Soul, and all his Comforts slew.
He wonder'd what the virgin Mother meant
Whose Hopes dar'd live, ev'n whilst her Life was dying;
And on what bottom stood that strange Content
The fall of Joy's foundation defying:
For his part, bow he must to sad Dismay
Since with his Lord his Heart a bleeding lay.
Jesus observ'd them Both; and saw how She
Although her Sorrows far the mightier were,
Compell'd them to her Will to stoop; how He
Yielded, and let the Tempest domineer
Through all his conquer'd breast: and seeing this,
Felt what He saw in Both, for Both were His.
He felt their Tortures; but with deeper sense
Than they themselves, and more Excess of pain:
His Soul was temper'd to the Excellence
Of daintiest softness, and could not refrain
Its bowels from resenting all the Darts
He spy'd in any of His Spouse's hearts.
Witness His tender Care before he dies,
To cheer them by a bounteous Legacy:
His Mother, far above all Jewels' price,
Ev'n in that dearest of Relations, He
To John bequeaths and mutually John
To her, and that no other than as Son.
Sweet Legacy! where though the Mother be
The richer Gift, if valued alone,
Yet is the balance poised equally
Now John's inhanced by the name of Son;
A Name intitling him alone to be
(O wonderous honor!) Jesu's Deputy.
A long-long hour had now run out, since by
His weeping Wounds the King of Mercy hung;
Yet from the staring People's stony eye
He of compassion not one drop had wrung:
This made the Sun, though on his high-noon throne,
Doubt his own eyes had not their duty done.
But looking wistly, he discover'd that
Bold Men had exil'd all Humanity:
Which sight a Blush through all his count'nance shot
In shame and horror at the Prodigy:
He blush'd, and shut his royal eyes, and hurl'd
More than Cimmeria on the guilty World.
Though Earth refuse, yet will the Heav'ns at least
In mourning Weeds their dying Lord attend,
And with no gaudy tire of Light be drest
Now all the Powers of Hell and Darkness bend
Their uncontrolled spight, in Him to damp
All other lights' divine original Lamp.
The Air was daunted at this monstrous Change,
When Midnight boldly ravish'd Highnoon Day,
Marching with gloomy Spectres, and with strange
Phantoms of dusky fire, in fierce array;
Whilst every hollow Wind which passed by,
Groand and bemoan'd this sad Calamity.
The lesser Sparks of Heav'n all started at
Their sudden privilege, who now might view
The open face of Noon; and marvell'd what
Had thrown upon the Sun his sable flue:
With doubting twinckling eyes on Him they gaze
At once both down, and in his highest place.
Each gentle fair-condition'd Bird and Beast
Hy'd them into their nests and dens for fear:
Only some ominous Ravens and Scritchowls thrust
Their sooty pinions through the swarthy air;
And to the Jews, their fellow-monsters, croke;
Who little thought what fatal things they spoke.
Dismays and frights walk'd not so thick upon
The muffled face of Memphis, when the mad
Egyptians were by vengeance over-run,
And in a three-days' Night lay buried.
Amaz'd stood Nature, and began to doubt
Her Life, now she beheld her Light put out.
The grave Astronomers, who with Titan were
Of old acquaintance, and knew all his Gifts,
His Way, his Inns, his Hosts, and wheresoe'r
His restless Coach in his bright road persists;
Quite lost themselves to find what Prodigies
Had plunder'd him both of his Locks and Eyes.
None could suspect the Moon as guilty;
She Knew not the business, being far away;
No less than half the Heav'n's immensity
Betwixt Hers and her Brother's station lay;
For whilst He flourish'd in the perfect Height
Of Day, she groveled in the Depth of Night.
Yet granting some portentuous Wheel had from
Her due and proper Place thus whirl'd her; say
How could her pety bulk usurp the room
Of his vast flames, and dam up all the Day.
Sure Phebus scorns that her small Blot should rob
The total Beauties of his mighty Globe.
O no! a larger Blot it was then so:
A Blot where Blackness all its powers combines
A Blot to which the Ink is Alpine Snow,
A Blot compounded of all ugliest Sins,
A Blot as hideous, as profound, as wide
As Impudence could make; twas Deicide.
No wonder now Heav'n would not viewed be
By those who slaughtered her King; or that
Just Phebus his less reverend Majesty
Deny'd to desperate them who blushed not
Thus to eclipse and quench that Soverain Sun
Whose open eyes his durst not gaze upon.
Yet this dire Darkness but the shadow was
Of that more monstrous Pitch which stuck upon
The blinded Jews' obdurate hearts: alas
This Prodigy's stern admonition
Could not awake their sober thoughts to see
How frighted Day abhorr'd their Cruelty.
The itching Wit of their immortal Spight
Detorteth all things into Blasphemy:
Behold, say they, the most audacious might
Of His unsufferable Witchery;
Whilst other Wizzards only on the Moon
Or Stars throw darkness, how He chokes the Sun.
The Sun He chokes, and fondly hopeth by
New Villany to hide that shame to which
His former Crimes are nail'd: yet still the Eye,
The higher Eye of Heav'n, to Him can reach;
And so can ours, however cunning He
Before He gains His grave would buried be.
His Goblings came too late a pretty Trick
Women and Boys to scare; but He, 'tis thought,
Has met with Men. Thus belched they their thick
Insulting scoffs: yet still they cast about
Their doubtful Eyes, and in their count'nance spread
A pale confession of their guilty Dread.
But, Psyche, now the Day's Ninth hour drew on
This Tragedy's last Act to represent;
That most amazing Hour, in which alone
More Horrors than all Ages' vast extent
Had e'r beheld, and ru'd, together met,
And in array themselves all armed set.
His other Griefs but dim Preludiums were;
And gathering Clouds, in which the storm was bred:
But now grown ripe, that storm in full carreer
Broke down and sous'd directly on His Head.
Thus in the stream was He, in Him the stream,
For now into His Soul the Waters came.
The Waters of that loathsome Cup, which He
Both fear'd and lov'd, eschew'd and chose to drink:
The fatal dregs of Wrath and Misery;
Of every black and dreadful thing the Sink;
The true dead Sea, compar'd with which, alas,
Curs'd Sodom's Lake a living Fountain was.
Heav'n's Justice (who had with a constant Eye
Observ'd all Tribes of Men, and noted down
Each little slip, and broad Impiety,
With all the trappings Time and Place had thrown
About them,) hither rent her passage, and
Full in thy Spouse's Face took up her stand.
For at His Eyes alone her own she shot,
And not at theirs who most deserv'd the blow.
The dint was so intolerable, that
Not any Rock, nor Mount, or World knew how
To meet its fury. O what Parallel
Can represent this direful spectacle!
Less Terror from the Vulture's count'nance breaks
When she her tallons claps upon her prey;
Less from the Eyes of Lightning, when it takes
Aim for the Thunder's arrows; than to day
Flash'd from this cruel Maid, in whose fell look
Her dismal Throne accomplish'd Vengeance took.
Immortal Dread star'd wide in either Eye;
Plow'd was her Forehead, and the Furrows deep
Sown with the Seeds of all Severity,
And now mature for Jesus's Soul to reap:
Her Cheeks red-hot, a spark was every Word,
Bright fire her Lips, her Tongue a flaming Sword.
She never in such horrible Array
March'd down to Earth; not when she furnish'd came
With Water's arms to wash the World away;
Or purge Gomorrha with a flood of Flame;
Or wet her winged fiery Serpents' Tongue,
The Israelites' Rebellion to sting.
A veil, so hideously black, that Night
Or Hell, could not in Darkness vie with it,
'Twixt Heav'n and Her was spread; which, tho' Day-light
Here now at liberty, would not permit
The stoutest Mortars Sin-condemned Eyes ,
To reach the gracious comfortable Skies.
Ten thousand Furies throng'd on either hand
With millions of Pangs and Ejulations;
Whilst strong Eternity supported, and
Hugg'd every Horror: troops of Desperations,
Raving and rioting with barbarous cheer
In their own Blood, made up her Army's Rear.
A Massy sable Book she sternly held,
And op'd it leaf by leaf to Jesus's Eyes:
When lo, each dreadful page appeared fill'd
With crouds of such transcendent Prodigies,
As quite absolv'd from Horridness's guilt
Those Feinds of which her Regiments were built.
Lin'd out was that Rebellion there, which grew
In Paradise, so huge and rank a Weed,
That it no limits but the World's would know;
For through all Generations its Seed
It scatter'd thick, and made each pois'ned Birth
Of its own Death bring full assurance forth.
The Serpent which in Eden planted it,
Wears not such fatal Horror in his Face,
Nor stings so deep, nor can his Venom spit
So far and wide, nor e'r attended was
With such a numerous hissing fry, as this
Old Beldame sin by young ones follow'd is.
This was the fearful Frontespice: But Pride
Usurp'd the first and fairest Leaf, and shew'd
(What never mask was large enough to hide)
Her swoll'n and blister'd Countenance, which spew'd
Rank baneful matter, being brused by
A fall she caught as she was climbing high.
Then follow'd learing Spight, sly
Calumny, Lean Avarice besmear'd with gnawing
Rust Ignoble Cheating, ugly Treachery,
Dark sneaking Theft, and ever-stinging
Lust, Intemperance wallowing in a nasty flood
Of Vomit; Murder in a sea of Blood.
That Earth-relying Heav'n-distrusting Thing
Foolish base-hearted Infidelity;
Grinding Extortion, and self-torturing,
Because for ever jealous Tyranny;
Rotten Hypocrisy; proud learned Folly;
Dire Discontent; and hellish Melancholy.
Disloyal Murmurs; Pulpit Villanies;
Curs'd Holy Leagues; and zealous Profanations;
Sin-fatning Fasts; Thanksgiving solemn Lyes;
Bold Sacrilege; rebellious Reformations;
Enchanting Error; venemous Heresy;
New Lights and Spirits; old Idolatry.
But for their number, it disdains the skill
Of Computation, and all figures' reach,
Not all the Sparks whose glistering Armies fill
The field of Heav'n; not all the Atoms which
Traffick about the Summer Air, can tell
Their mighty Total how to parallel.
For each dwarf fault, and gyant Crime did stand
In martial rank and file arrayed there,
Which any humane Tongue of Heart or Hand
Was ever stained with, since through the ear
Of heedless Eve the Tempter's charms let in
The desperate Torrent of contagious Sin.
Nay more than so: for every Stain which through
All Ages to the end of Time's carreer
Shall taint the World, most mindful Justice now
Had in a black Appendix marshall'd: there
Psyche, thy proud Revolt, and all the rest
Of thy offences, were at large exprest.
And so were His, whose Pen hereafter shall
Paint, with more Will than Art, thy Legend: His,
His monstrous Score, which stood outglaring all
Its hideous Neighbours. And so true is this
My Witness, that it fairly by his Hand
In his own Records registred shall stand.
And if the least of Crimes, (as sure it is,)
Be infinitely foul, imagin then
How strange a Mass of horridness was this
Whose bulk was swell'd with All the Sins of Men:
What store of black Infinities were here
For single Jesus's wounded Back to bear.
For Justice heap'd them all upon His Back,
That He who did no Sin, might suffer all.
How would the World's deep-rooted Pillars crack,
Should such a Load upon their shoulders fall!
How would the all-supporting Center faint,
And strive to shrink into a smaller Point!
How would the joints of noblest Seraphs quake;
How would the Cherubs' sinnews tremble at
This Burden, which all Nature's bones would break,
And lay Heav'n's highest stoutest Powers flat!
Which all human Hearts for ever press
Down to that bottom which is bottomless!
Now Jesus groans, and feels His heartstrings stretch,
This monstrous Weight so sadly on them lies:
Those other Torments He forgets with which
The Whips and Nails and Jewish Blasphemies
His Patience had varied: River's powers
Are lost, when them the mighty Sea devours.
Should all the deepest Pangs that e'r did yet
The Veins and Joints and Lives of Mortals tear,
In one fell composition be knit,
And then enraged to their full carreer;
Less furious would their fury be than that
Which now on Jesus's soul in triumph sate.
It sate in triumph, barracading up
All Avenues which to His heart did lead,
That not the least Relief might pass, nor Hope
It self; if possible, be suffered
To march that way. Alas what Martyrs e'r
Girt in so strict a siege of Sorrows were!
Some Comfort it would be, if Heav'n would now
But with a gentile Aspect own its Son;
Who spies no Consolation's glimpse below:
But O, the Spheres are not eclips'd alone
By Phebus's absence; no; another Night
Has thrown its curtain o'r Heav'n's dearer Light.
The Light which from His Father's pleased eyes
His whole Soul us'd to drink, its influence hid:
With earnest labouring looks He pleads, and pries,
But is by sad Obscurity deny'd.
O Blackness, which no Parallel canst know!
To thee, all Ink is Milk, all Pitch is Snow.
Ask me not Psyche, what He suffer'd now:
Those Pangs are fitter for thy adoration,
Than for thine intellect: and they who row
With bold Enquiries through this Stormy Passion,
Will scarce avoid their shallow thoughts to wrack
Upon some dangerous desperate Mistake.
Long grappled He with this unbounded Grief
In patient silence: but His Soul at length
Snatching at least the desolate relief
Of free Complaining, with the utmost strength
Of His imbitter'd spirit, thus He spake:
My God, My God, why dost Thou Me forsake?
Am I not still Thy Son, in whom alone
Well-pleas'd Thou wert? Is not Thy Bosom still
The same, where once My habitation
I freely could enjoy? wilt Thou expel
Me, Me the Image of Thy blessed Face,
Thus from the view of its all-sweetning Grace?
Less terrible that Outcry was which shook
The tow'rs of Memphis, when the wretched King
And all his People, to one fatal stroke
Beheld their Firstborn Hopes an Offering:
And that which tore Gomorrha's throat, when from
The Heav'ns she felt her Hell and Brimstone come.
Had every Sigh, and every Groan and Shriek
With which the Air of Bethlehem was rent
When Rachel saw the streets so sadly reek
With an unheard-of flood of innocent
And infant blood, met in one Ejulation,
Its fra[n]gor had not match'd this Exclamation.
Never was such a lamentable Cry
Wrung from the mouth of Grief; and never was
Complaint more unregarded: Clemency
Was deaf; without all bowels Heav'n no less
Than Earth, pass'd by. Did ever tragick Day
So black a Scene of Heaviness display!
Sorrow her self amazed at the sight,
Would have repented of her Tyranny:
But Jesus meant not to decline the fight
Since die He could, but could not conquer'd be.
O no: He hugs His Horrors, and although
His Nature shrinks, His Courage loves His Woe
Thus gallant Soldiers in the dreadful Wars
With generous Pride their gushing blood behold;
Counting their Glories only by their Scars,
And that their dearest Limbs they well have sold,
Yea and their Hearts, and Lives; if so they may
Upon their Herses wear triumphant Bay.
How fondly dreamt some Standers by, who thought
That He Elias call'd to help Him down!
He help'd Elias up; and could have brought
Him and his Charet back: but He His own
Fast-fixed Pillar of extreme Reproach
More glorious judgeth than that Prophet's Coach.
At length, as in the furnace of His Pain
This helpless Victor fries, He cries, I thirst.
O how He long'd Himself to drink and drain
The dregs of Grief; that none of that accurst
And deadly Draught He might behind Him leave,
His mortal Brethren evermore to grieve.
But cruel They His burning lips present
With Vinager, who broach'd the Wine for Them,
His Blood's most precious Wine; all which He spent
To wash and cheer their hearts. Do's He not seem
O salvage Jews, Without the help of this
Strange Gift, to feel enough of Bitterness!
Is this your Thanks to Him, whose Bountie's Hand
Cull'd out for you the Jewel of the Earth,
Your fertile milk-and-honey flowing Land?
And who a Kingdom of more noble worth
To entertain you, after this, prepares,
A Canaan situate above the Stars.
Yet Jesus takes it kindly, Psyche;
He Knew that this gnawing Draught would best befit
The dying King of Grief; and Prophesy
Had long ago for Him provided it:
From Heav'n's severe Decree at first 'twas wrung,
And drop'd into His mouth from David's tongue.
Besides: that Poison He remembred well
Which in th' enchanting Apple's sweetness grew:
By wholsom Bitterness He means to heal
Ev's licorish Luxury: His Palate now
Both expiates Her's, and nobly teacheth it
That Apple's fatal rellish to forget.
This done: the Tragedy began to know
Its End approach'd: For Jesus having by
Immortal Patience undergone the Law
And Curse, and grappled with the monstrous fry
Of all the World's Transgressions, lifts
His head In triumph up, and cries, 'Tis finished.
O that it were! said Mary who stood by:
So should my Soul still live with my dear Lord.
If He has found a way how not to die
In purchasing our life, His cheerful word
Now now may He make good! So sighed she:
But He made haste to His Catastrophe.
For Justice now had nothing more to say;
The Blood which down the Cross its torrents threw
All her Objections had wash'd away;
And every Page of her black Volume grew
Full as serene and fair as is the skies
Pure face when rescu'd from the Clouds' disguise.
Dismissing therefore all her horrid Train
Her satisfied self she strait withdrew:
When Jesus looking up to Heav'n again
Perceiv'd the Veil, which shadow'd had till now
His Father's Face, remov'd. O blessed Sight!
O cheerful Morning after heavy Night!
No absence of the Sun could now forbid
His bright and heav'nly Day of Joy to shine;
Such floods of purest Comfort issued
Out from the fountain of that most divine
Most tender Apparition, as drown'd
The streams and pains of every bleeding wound.
He saw His Sire's eternal Arms as wide
Stretch'd out, as His were on the Cross;
He saw His gracious ready open Bosom bid
Him to his West of Bliss return, and grow
His happy Self again; He saw His Eye
Flaming in pitying Love's extremity.
An everlasting Laurel in His hand
He saw, designed to confute the Shame
Wreath'd in His thorny Crown; He saw the grand
Cherubick Quire ambitious to proclaim
His Conquests in their Songs: And at the sight
Resolv'd to Die, He cries with hearty might:
Father, into Thy hands I here commit
My Spirit, which Thou woo'st to come to Thee:
Up flew that mighty Word, and after it
Towred His blessed Soul; whilst noble He
Bow'd down His head, submitting sweetly to
That Will He came by life and death to do.
Th' affected Temple heard His dying Cry,
And with deep horror tore its clothes; to all
The sober world the Veil proclaiming by
That rupture's mouth, th' approaching funeral
Of Jewish Rites, and Moses' resignation
Of mouldering Law to Gospel renovation.
Earth heard it too, and at the fra[n]gor quaked,
Her Rocks were rent, her Sepulchres flew ope;
And many sleeping Saints by it awaked,
Russled their Dust together and gat up:
Nature's commotion was so great and strange,
That in the sturdy Guard it wrought a Change.
The bold Centurion with the Earth did shake,
(So did the Soldiers with the Rocks,) and cry,
Surely the World slept in a deep Mistake,
Whilst it discern'd not Jesus's Deity:
His Father now has owned Him, and He
Dy'd when Himself was pleas'd in Bliss to be.
For still His Vitals in their strength remain'd,
Though plunder had so deeply rack'd his Veins;
Witness that final Blast of His, which strain'd
That thundring Cry: still in their lingring pains
These wretched Thieves we see, whilst He is gone
To rest Himself on His Celestial Throne.
Nay, even on salvage and obdurate Jews,
So far can guilty Fear prevail, that now
The Danger-stricken People could not chuse
But grant their Conscience felt this Terror's Blow;
For though their sullen Tongue would not, their Fist
Confess'd their Fright upon their beaten Breast.
Here, Psyche, whose soft Heart had come and gone
A thousand times, as he the story told,
Yielded her self to Grief's dominion;
For e'r her Guardian spy'd it, down she roll'd,
Joining her Passion to her Lord's, and trying
With Him who dy'd for her, to live by dying.
So when the Father of her Life and Joy,
His fair self plunges in th' Atlantick Main,
O'rpowr'd by sympathetick sweet annoy
The loyal Marigold makes haste to gain
Her West as well as He; her golden Eye
She shuts, and till he lives again, do's die.
But Phylax by his Heav'nly tender Art,
Her and her Spirits rais'd, and told her,
She Must hear the other seasonable part,
Which of this sadness made a Comedy.
She look'd, and sigh'd, and cry'd, All Joys are dead
When Jesus, dies: and yet, dear Sir, proceed.
Know then, said he, this Passion and Death
Hath purchas'd all Life's Joys that Heav'n can breed
And cancell'd every fatal Bond of Wrath,
Which Sin had drawn against old Adam's Seed:
All Jesus's Wounds are open Gates, which in
To Paradise lead reconciled Men.
All pains and sorrows and reproaches, He,
Brave He, adventur'd to monopolize
The spightful Cunning of Hell's Treachery
He vanquished by being made its Prize;
And yielding up His meritorious Breath,
Blew down the Powers ev'n of prevailing Death.
Which when fell Satan saw, it him repented
Of what he toil'd and sweat to bring about;
And at his Den in Paxis he lamented
His undermin'd Design, when crying out,
Great Pan is dead, he made confession how
He had projected his own Overthrow.
For this was Pan indeed, the God of Sheep,
Who held His tender Flock so dear, that He
From Wolves and Lyons it secure to keep,
Would to their rage Himself a booty be:
But made His Fold a rampart sure and stout,
When with His Blood He moated it about.
Yet Hell at length will prick on Mortal Wit
Against this Passion's Merit to dispute,
And all their syllogizing Batteries set,
In order their Redemption to confute.
Thus to their Reason must their Faith give way;
Though God he satisfy'd, yet will not they.
No; they'll account His Mercy injur'd by
Allowing Justice to be fully pay'd.
Ah learned fool! is Mercy's Majesty
Not here triumphant, when the Load is lay'd
On God's own Son, to bear what else would crack
Proud though you be, for evermore your back?
But now a Soldier, he whose only Heart
Was harder than those Rocks which Grief had burst,
To act accomplish'd Cruelty's last part,
His Spear into his Savior boldly thrust:
Deep in His Side the Iron div'd, and brought
The final Stream of Blood and Water out:
That Water which the Pericardium bound
About the Heart that Blood which in it dwelt:
For Jesus all His store with most profound
And bounteous Love, to feast His Children spilt.
The Pelican so with her dearest Blood
Diets and fattens up her dearer Brood.
This done: the Sun unveil'd his clouded Eye,
And joy'd the new-redeemed World to see:
The monstrous shades forthwith made haste to fly
Down to the bottom of Night's hideous sea;
That now Sin's blackness chased was away,
Earth might behold a double glorious Day.
A Day, in which her Count'nance shin'd with more
Unspotted Grace, than when Heav'n tried by
A deluge of its Powers, to wash and scoure
The senior World's ingrained Villany:
For 'tis not Heav'n it self can yield a Flood
So purgative as that'd Jesus's Blood.
But will no Pity on the Body look,
Which now has tir'd the utmost spight of spight?
Yes; Arimathean Joseph undertook
Fairly to pay it its Sepulchral Right:
And by that courteous Loyalty, to prove
That he had a Disciple been of Love.
A true Disciple, though a secret one:
Witness his Fear, to generous Courage grown:
For though his Master now was dead and gone,
His Faith revives; nor shall the Highpriest's frown,
Or People's fury fright this Duty from
Yielding his Lord his own right costly Tomb.
Of Honor he a Person was, and fit
To wait on this Solemnity: his fair
Petition Pilate could not but admit
In common Courtship: to his pious care
He grants the Corps; and sighs to think that he
Had made it need that funeral charity.
With prouder joy his garland never did
Olympick Victor snatch, than Joseph now
This richer Prize: which he inveloped
In dainty Linen, white as driven-snow,
Fine as Arachne's web, and yet the Sheet
More delicacy learn'd by kissing it.
Right well he knew this Solemn Paschal-Feast
Forbad him all Pollution by the Dead:
And yet his loving Zeal durst not desist
Till he this votive Task had finished;
For by the Touch, though of Dead Purity,
Assur'd he was he could not stained be.
He being busied thus: another Friend
Appear'd, good Nicodemus, who by night,
On living Jesus did long time attend,
To gain for his obscured Judgment, Light;
He in his blacker Ev'n of Death will now
His grateful Piety on Him bestow.
Of precious Aromatick mixtures he
An hundred-weight brings in, to sacrifice
Unto this Body's service; so to be
Enobled, and enhanced in their price:
For as they touch the blessed Skin, they smil'd,
And felt themselves with richer sweetness fill'd.
Mean while the Instruments of Death (for this
The manner was,) were yonder buried:
Where sleep they must until a Queen shall rise
Out of thine Albion, from whose happy Bed
A Prince shall spring, who will exalt above
Rome's proudest Eagles meek Ecclesia's Dove.
Their dear Discovery is reserv'd for none
But Venerable Helen; who, when here
Hot in her passionate Devotion,
Her Savior's sufferings she her self shall bear,
Transfiguring her Meditating Heart
Into the prey of every wound and smart.
These sacred Relicts shall revealed be
In guerdon of her gallant Love and Zeal:
There for the Jewels she shall dig, and see
At length, the rude but glorious Spectacle;
The Cross, and every Nail she there shall find
Which her Lord's Body pierc'd, and her own Mind.
Inestimable shall their Worth be held:
One Nail to her Imperial Son shall seem
Illustrious enough his Head to gild,
And sit enthroned on his Diadem:
Two in his Bridle shall triumph, when He
Rides through the World like King of Victory.
The Fourth shall tame the Adriatick Main,
And nail it fast to its still bottom, so
That on its polish'd pacified Plain
The gliding Barks may unmolested go:
Then by this Gem shall that enriched Sea
More Wealthy than the Eastern Ocean be.
But for the noble Cross; no Tongue shall tell
The wonders that shall spring from that dry Tree;
Which hew'd out by Devotion's edge, shall fill
The zealous world, and quit that Injury,
Which from the deadly Bough in Eden spread
Through all the fields e'r sown with Human seed.
Persia shall take it captive, yet not dare
To look upon its Pris'ner; Piety
Shall thence redeem it by a generous war,
And reinstate it in its Calvary:
When great Heraclius his own Royal Back
A willing Chariot for it shall make.
Nor shall his glorious Sign have less esteem
Attendant on it, but be always worn
On holy Foreheads as the only Gem,
Which knows both how to strengthen and adorn:
A Gem, whose lustre frights all Devils' Eyes,
And whose brave value Swine alone despise.
But, Psyche, here upon the western side
Of this now holy Mountain, thou mayst see
The precious Sepulchre of Him who dy'd
And who aforehand bury'd was for thee.
This Rock is it: Come let's into the Cave;
No Temple is more holy than this Grave.
Joseph bestow'd the reverend Treasure here:
Here lay the blessed Head, and here the Feet:
Hard was the Couch indeed, yet never were
Those of the daintiest Kings so purely sweet;
Not Solomon's, although Arabia did
With all her odorous Wealth, go there to bed.
The Phenix's balmy Grave could ne'r afford
Such sovereign powers of Perfumes, as here
Breath'd from the body of thy breathless Lord;
Who soon the truer Phenix did appear,
O peerless Tomb! which buries all the Fame
Of Mausolean Sepulchres in shame.
The Monuments of Princes are but fair
Memorials of their putid Rottenness,
Whilst odious Worms and Dirt inshrined are
In specious Gold and Marble: But in this
Plain artless Vault both Putrifaction found
Her Hands were more than that dead Body's bound.
This is that Solemn Oratory, where
The choicest Souls ambitious are to pray
Their Pilgrimages all determin here;
And prostrate here their zealous Vows they pay:
With their devoutest Tears they dew this Floor,
And in this Air their warmest sighs they pour.
Yet time's at hand, when strong Idolatry
This sacred Cave will venture to prophane,
To turn this Paradise into a Sty,
To plant in this sweet Bed the worst of Bane:
To rear Hell's sovereign Monster, odious Jove,
Upon this Monument of divinest Love.
But all in vain; for Christian Eagles still
Will to the dear life-giving Carcass fly
And their inflam'd desire's impatience fill,
By Feasting on its precious Memory.
Jove, though the most impure of things, is not
So foul, as Purity's own shrine to blot.
That Idol's Pomp kick'd down into disgrace,
To free and undisturbed Piety,
Shall soon surrender its usurped place,
When Pagan Powers by mightier Faith shall be
Good Manners taught; and Crowns, and Scepters low
Before the Crucified King shall bow.
And here may'st thou (for I thy heats discover)
Sweet Psyche, stay, and ease thy burning Breast:
Thy Vows and Prayers, whose working-tide runs over,
Here may thou empty do, thou welcome Guest,
Do, riot in thy zeal, and revel high
In meek Devotion's noble Luxury.
Psyche, who scarcely for this Cue could wait,
Fell on her face, and kiss'd the reverend Floor;
Where melted by her earnest fervour, strait
Her sighs and soul she labour'd forth to pour;
And by the strong embrace of Faith and Love,
Hug'd Him below, who was enthron'd above.
Through all His Pains and all His Wounds she went,
And in her Bosom printed every one;
Her Bowels with His woful Cry she rent;
Each Scoff she echoed by as sad a groan;
By bitter thoughts, His Nails, His Thorns, His Spear,
Anew she fram'd, by tears His Vinegar.
But coming to His Death, she fetch'd a sigh
Up from the bottom of her Soul, in hope
Her Life would out with it together fly,
And make her Passion too completely up;
Striving in meek ambitious Love to have
The ready Honor of her Savior's Grave.
Desire lay boiling in her ardent Breast;
A violent march her Aspirations beat,
Reaching with restless panting at that Rest,
To which her Lord was flown: and in the heat
Of this contention she was towr'd so high,
That scarce her Body upon Earth did lie.
(O blessed Boistrousness of loving Zeal,
How strange a thing seem'st thou to worldly Hearts,
Whose cold and dead Affections never feel
The flaming Wounds of these delicious Darts!
How gravely would they pity Psyche's state,
As womanish and fondly passionate?
And how, alas, stand I amazed at
These rare calcining Raptures, who am by
Dull Indevotion's frost benummed! yet
Their contemplation thaws me so, that I
Can drop a Verse, and must, to wait on Them:
So due Applause's Tribute I esteem.)
But when Life held her on this dainty Rack,
She in an Ocean of Inamorations
And new ecstatick Gulfs resolv'd to wrack
Her labouring Heart: and yet these machinations,
And dangerous Storms of Love's intestine war,
She by diviner Love's assistance bare.
[1702; Grosart (1880) 2:36-53]