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The first, eternal; bringing into view
Each light is good within its destin'd sphere; Nor with each other do they interfere : Faith does not reason, reason does not see, Nor sight extend beyond a fixt degree: Yet faith in light of a superior kind Cannot be cal'd irrational, or blind; Because an higher certainty, display'd, Includes the force of all inferior aid.
As body, soul, and spirit make a man, Each has the help of its appointed plan; Sight, hearing, smell, and taste, and feeling sense, What the corporeal nature wants, dispense: Thinking, comparing, judging, and the whole Of reasoning faculties, assist the soul: Faith, and whatever else may be exprest By grace celestial, makes the spirit blest.
To heal defect, or to avoid excess, The greater light should still correct the less; And form, within the right obedient will, A seeing, reas'ning, and believing skill: While body moves as outward sense directs; And soul perceives what reason's light reflects; And spirit, fill'd with lustre from above, Obeys by faith, and operates by love.
A sober person, tho' his eyes are good, Slights not the truths by reason understood; Nor just conclusions, under the pretence. Of contradiction to his seeing sense; Knowing the limits too that reason hath, He does not seek to quench the light of faith; But rationally grants, that it may teach What human stretch of reason cannot reach.
As sight to reason, in the things that lie Beyond the ken of the corporeal ‹ye, Unburt, uninjur'd, yields itself of course, So well-taught reason owns a higher force; By faith enlighten'd, it enjoys a rest In clearer light to find its own supprest; Suffering no more, for want of its display, Than Moon and stars in full meridian day.
To make the reas'ning faculty of man Do more, or less to help him, than it can, Is equally absurd; but worse to slight, Or want the benefits of faith, than sight: If he who sees no outward light be blind, How dismal dark must be the faithless mind! The one is only natural defect, The other wilful, obstinate neglect.
Pretence of reason, for it is pretence Foolish and fatal, in the saddest sense; For reason cannot alter what is true, Or any more prevent, than eyes can do; Both, by the limits which they feel, proclaim The real want of a celestial flame:
How is it possible to see, in fine,
BETWEEN RUSTICUS, THEOPHILUS, AND ACADEMICUS, ON THE NATURE, POWER, AND USE OF HUMAN LEARNING, IN MATTERS OF RELIGION. FROM MR. LAW'S WAY TO DIVINE
YES, Academicus, you love to hear
With all your value for his books, as yet,
This heaping up of notions, one by one,
The works of Behmen would you understand? Then, where he stood, see also that you stand; Begin where he began; direct your thought To seek the blessing only, that he sought; The heart of God; that, by a right true faith, He might be sav'd from sin, and Satan's wrath: While thus the humble seeker stood resign'd, The light of God broke in upon his mind: But you, devoted to the pow'r, alone, Of speculative reason, all your own, Would reach his ladder's top at once, nor try The pains of rising, step by step, so high— But, on this subject, by your looks, You'd rather hear Theophilus than me.
Why really, Academicus, the main Of all that Rusticus, so bluntly plain, Has here been saying, tho' it seem so hard, Hints truth enough to put you on your guard: Much in the same mistake your mind has been, That many of my learned friends are in; Who, tho' admirers, to a great degree, Of truths in Jacob Behmen, which they see, Yet, of all people, have the least pretence To real benefit received from thence: Train'd up in controversy, and dispute; Accustom'd to maintain, or to refute, All propositions, only by the light Of their own reason judging what is right,
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN RUSTICUS, THEOPHILUS, &c.
Be not uneasy; learning has in me No foe at all, not in the least degree; No more than has the science, or the skill, To build an house to dwell in, or a mill For grinding corn-I think an useful art Of human things the noblest, for my part: Knowledge of books or languages, or aught That any person has been duly taught, I would not ask him to renounce, or say They might not all be useful, in their way: I would not blame, within its proper place, The art of throwing silk, or making lace; Or any art, confin'd to its own sphere; But then the measure of its use is there: Some we call liberal, and some we call Mechanic; now the circle of them all Does but show forth, in its most perfect plan, The natural abilities of man;
The pow'rs and faculties of human mind,
But now, redemption of the human race
It breathes a spark of life, to re-create
This is redemption; or the life divine
Now whether man, in this awaken'd strife,
Therefore no truths, concerning this divine
If you, well read in ancient books, my friend,
Doctrines, wherein redemption is concern'd, No more belong to men as being learn'd, Than colours do to him, who never saw The light, that gives to all of them the law: From like unnatural attempt proceeds That huge variety of sects, and creeds, Which, from the same true scripture, can deduce What serves each diffrent errour, for its use: Papist, or protestant, Socinian class, Or Arian, can as easily amass
The texts of scripture, and by reason's ray,
The light of the celestial inward man, That died in Paradise, when sin began, Is Jesus Christ; and consequently, men By him alone can rise to life again: He, in the heart of man, must sow the seed, That can awaken heav'nly life indeed: Nothing but this can possibly admit Return of life, or in the least be fit, Or capable, or sensible of pow'r From Jesus Christ, in his redeeming hour: The light, and life, which he intends to raise, Have no dependence upon word, and phrase; Life, in itself, be it of Heav'n, or Earth, Must have its whole procession from a birth: Would it not sound absurdly, in your mind, That, if a man be naturally blind, Care must be had to teach him grammar well, Or in the art of logic to excell; That he will best obtain, when this is done, Knowledge of light and colours from the Sun ? Yet not one jot is it the less absurd To think that skill in Greek, or Hebrew word, Of man's redemption can explain the whole, Or let the light of God into his soul.
This matter, Academicus, if you Can set in a more proper light-pray do.
A POETICAL VERSION OF A LETTER FROM THE EARL OF ESSEX TO THE EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON '.
Untaught by nature or by art,
To give the genuine dictates of my heart
'Tis not from any ceremonious view,
A long-perhaps, a last departing leave;
1 A copy of the original letter may be seen in Cogan's Collection of Tracts from Lord Somer's Library, Vol. 4, P. 132, under the title of "A precious and most divine Letter, from that famous and ever to be renown'd Earl of Essex, (Father to the now Lord General his Excellence) to the Earl of Southampton, in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's Reign."
My friend's abilities, and present state Of natural endowments how I rate; To God what glory, to himself what use, The best exertion of them might produce, I shall not here express; enough to note That, at such times as I was most remote From all dissembling, witnesses enoo Can vouch my speaking what I thought was true, The truths, which love now prompts me to remind
Your lordship of, are of the following kind:
Of which account is to be giv'n, and just:
A serious thought if you can ever lend To admonition, from your truest friend; If the regard due to your country sways; Which you may serve so many glorious ways; If an all-ruling, righteous Pow'r above Can raise your dread of justice, or your love; If you yourself will to yourself be true, And everlasting happiness pursue, Before the joys of any worldly scheme, The short delusions of a pleasing dream, Of which, whatever it may represent, The soul, soon wak'd, must bitterly repent; If these reflections, any of them, find Due estimation in your prudent mind; Take an account of what is done, and past, And what the future may demand, forecast: The leagues, whatever they import, repeal, To which good conscience has not set the seal: And fix your resolution firm, to serve Him, from whose will no loyal thought can swerve; That gracious God, from whom, in very deed, All your abilities and gifts proceed; Whether of bodily, or mental trace; Without, within; of nature, or of grace.
Then he, who cannot possibly deny Himself, or give his faithfulness the lie, Will honour his true servant, and impart That real peace of mind, that joy of heart, Of which until you are become possest, Your heart, your mind, shall never be at rest; And when you are, by having well approv'd The one true way, it never shall be mov'd.
This, I foresee, your lordship may object, Is melancholy's vaporous effect; That I am got into a pris'ner's style; Far enough from it all the jocund while That I was free like you, and other men; And, fetters gone, should be the same again.
To which I answer-say it tho' you should, Yet cannot I distrust a God so good; Or mercy failing me, so greatly shown, Or grace forsaking, but by fault my own: So deeply bound to him, my heart so burns To make his mercy suitable returns, That not to try, of all th' apostate class Worse should I be than any ever was: I have with such repeated, solemn stress, Avow'd the penitence which I profess; From time to time so call'd on not a few, To witness, and to wateh, if it was true, That of all hypocrites, if found to lie, That e'er were born, the hollowest were I. · But should I perish in my sins, and draw Upon myself my own damnation's law, Will it not be your wisdom to embrace God's offer'd mercy, of a saving grace? To profit by example, if you see The fearful case of miserable me?
A longer time was I a slave to sin, And a corrupted world, than you have been; Had many a too, too slowly answer'd call, That made still harder my return from thrall: To come to Christ was requisite, I knew, But softer pace, I flatter'd me, would do; The journey's end contented I remain'd To see, and own, tho' still 'twas unattain'd: Therefore the same good Providence that call'd, With a kind violence, has pull'd and haul'd; As public eye may, outwardly, at least, Have seen, and drag'd me to the marriage feast.
Kind, in this world, affliction's heaviest load, That, in another, bliss might be bestow'd; Kind the repeated stripes, that should correct Of too great knowledge a too small effect: God grant your lordship may, with less alloy, Feel an unfeign'd conversion's inward joy, As I do now; and find the happy way, Without the torments of so long delay!
To the divines (and there were none beside That nam'd conversion to me) I reply'd"Could my ambition enter, and possess Your narrow hearts, your meekness would be less; Vere my delights, to which it gives the rise, Tasted by you, you would be less precise:" But you, my lord, have the momentous hint, From one that knows the very utmost stint Of all that can amuse you, whilst you live, Of all contentments which the world can give. Think then, dear earl, that I have stak'd and buoy'd
The ways of pleasure, fatally enjoy'd,
They must, they must be open'd at the last: Truth will compel you to confess, like me, That to the wicked peace can never be. With my own soul, that Heav'n may deign to aid My heart's address, this covenant is made; My eyes shall never yield to sleep, at night, Nor thoughts attend the bus'ness of the light, 'Till I have pray'd my God, that you may take This plain but faithful warning, for his sake, With a believing profit-then, in you Your friends,' your country will be happy too; And all your aims succeedevents so blest Would fill with comfort, not to be exprest,
Your lordship's cousin and true friend--so ty'd That worldly cause can never once divide
THE ITALIAN BISHOP.
THERE is no kind of a fragmental note,
There liv'd a bishop, once upon a time,
I then look down upon the Earth; and think,
TO A FRIEND IN TROUBLE.
DEAR child, know this, that he, who gave thee Almighty God, is Lord of life and death, [breath, And all things that concern them, such as these; Youth, health, or strength; age, weakness, or dis
Wherefore, whatever thy affliction be,
Take therefore what befails thee in good part, As a prescription of love's healing art; "Whom the Lord loveth he chastiseth too," Saith Paul," and scourgeth with a saving view;" It is the mark, by which he owns a child, Without it, not so honourably styl'd: Fathers according to the flesh, when they Correct them, children rev'rence, and obey; How much more justly may that Father claim, By whom we live eternally, the same? They oft chastise thro' humour of their own, He always for our greater good alone; Chast'ning below, that we may rise above Holy, and happy in our Father's love.
These things for comfort, and instruction fit, In holy scripture, for our sakes, are writ, That with a patient, and enduring mind, In all conditions we may be resign'd; And reverencing our father, and our friend,. Take what his goodness shall be pleas'd to send. What greater good, considering the whole, Than Christ's own likeness in a Christian soul By patient suff'ring? Think what ills, before He enter'd into joy, our Saviour bore; What things he suffer'd, to retrieve our loss, And make his way to glory, thro' the cross, The way for us; he wanted none to make, But for the poor lost human sinner's sake; For them he suffer'd more than words can tell, Or thought conceive; reflect upon it well, Dear child! and whether life, or death remains, Depend on him to sanctify thy pains; To be himself thy strong defence, and tow'r, To make thee know and feel his saving pow'r: Still taught by him, repeat-Thy will be done! And trust in God thro' his beloved Son.
A POETICAL VERSION OF A LETTER, FROM JACOB BEHMEN, TO A FRIEND, ON THE
DEAR brother in our Saviour, Christ-his grace
And thereupon, I give you, sir, to know, What a true insight he was pleas'd to show, Into the cause and cure of all your grief, And present trial; which I shall, in brief,
Set down for a memorial, and declare For you to ponder with a serious care.
First then, the cause, to which we must assign
All utt'rance, flowing from the God of love;
And then, the struggle with so great a grace, In human will, refusing to embrace; Tho' tender'd to it with a love so pure, It seeks itself, and strives against a cure; From its own love to transitory things, More than to God, the real evil springs.
'Tis man's own nature, which, in its own life, Or centre, stands in enmity and strife, And anxious, selfish, doing what it lists, [sists: (Without God's love) that tempts him, and reThe devil also shoots his fi'ry dart,
From grace and love to turn away the heart.
This is the greatest trial; 'tis the fight, Which Christ, with his internal love and light, Maintains within man's nature, to dispel God's anger, Satan, sin, and death, and Hell; The human self, or serpent to devour, And raise an angel from it by his pow'r.
Now if God's love in Christ did not subdue, In some degree, this selfishness in you, You would have no such combat to endure; The serpent then, triumphantly secure, Would unoppos'd, exert its native right, And no such conflict in your soul excite.
For all the huge temptation and distress Rises in nature, tho' God seeks to bless; The serpent feeling its tormenting state, (Which, of itself, is a mere anxious bate) When God's amazing love comes in, to fill, And change the selfish to a god-like will.
Here Christ, the serpent-bruiser, stands in man, Storming the devil's hellish, self-built plan; And hence the strife within the human soul; Satan's to kill, and Christ's to make it whole; As by experience, in so great degree, God, in his goodness, causes you to see.
Now, while the serpent's head is bruis'd, the
Of Christ is stung; and the poor soul must feel
The serpent, turning it another way, Shows it the world's alluring, fine display; Mocking its resolution to forego, For a new nature, the engaging show; And represents the taking its delight In present scenes, as natural, and right.
Thus, in the wilderness with Christ alone, The soul endures temptation of its own; While all the glories of this world display'd, Pleasures and pomps surround it, and persuade Not to remain so humble, and so still, But elevate itself in own self-will.