. ( \.' . I·' ,.
THE POETICAL FRAGMENTS OF RICHARD BAXTER. '
LONDON: SAMl ' EL AND RICHARD BE!IiTLEY1 Dorset -street, Fleet-s teet.
OPE.. TY OF jj ~ GLIS M R THE POETIC1\L FRAGMENTS OF RICHARD BAXTER. - '- · FOURTH EDITION. LONDON PRINTED FOR WI LLI AM PICKERING LI NC OLN'S i NN FIELDS MDCCCXXI
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER. REA,DER, THESE Poetical Fragments, (except three l!eretofore printed) were so far from being intended for the Press, that they were not allowed the sight of many private ' friends, nor thought worthy of it. Only had I had time and heart to have finished the first, (which itself, according to the matter and designed method, would have made ·a Volume far bigger than all this, being intended as a thankful, historical commemoration of all the notable passages of my life) I should have published it as the most self-pleasing part of my writings. But as they were mostly written in various .passions, so passion bath now thrust them out into the world. God having taken away the dear companion of tlui last nineteen years of my life, · as her sorrows and sufferings long ago gave being to some of these Poe·ms (for reasons which the world is not concerned to know) so my grief for her removal, and the revived sense of former things, have 'prevailed with me to be passionate in the open sight of all. I confess that passion is oft such a Mndrance of judgment, that a man should be' very suspicious of himself till it be laid. But I am assured that God made. it not in vain; and that reason is a sleepy half-useless thing, till some passion excite it; and learning to a man asleep is no better for
( ii TO THE READER. that time than ignorance. ·And God usually beginneth tl;c awakening of raason, and the conversion of sinners, by the awakening of their useful passions, their fear, their grief, n;pentance, desire, &c. I confess, when God awakeneth in me those passions which I account rational and holy, I am so far from condemning them, that I think I was half a fool before, and have small comfort in sleepy reason. Lay by all the passionate part of love and joy, and it will be hard t& laave any pleasant thoughts of 1jeaven. In short, I am an adversary to their philosophy that vilify sense, because it is_ ~n brutes, and am past doubt that the noble spirits of sensitives are debased ignorantly, by pretending wits, that know not what they say or glory in; and human souls are not less sensitive for being ra. tional, ·but are eminently sensitive. Yea, reason hath in it more of eminent intemal sensation, than those- men ·think that debase sense. The Scripture tpat saith of God, that he is life and light, saith also, that he is love, and love is complacence, and complacence is joy; and to say God is infinite, essential love and joy, is a better notion, than with Cartesians and Cocceians, to say ~at God, and a,ngels, and spirits, are but a thought, or an idea. What is Heaven to us, if there be no love and Joy? I will do my wise friends, whose counsel l have much followed, that rig.ht1 as to acquit them from all the guilt of the publication. of these Fragments. Some of them say, that such work is below me; and those that l think speak wiselier, say'"' I am below such work. These I m·~feignedly, believe. I have long thought that a pajnter, a musici-an, and a poet, are contemptible, if they be not excellent: a.nd that I am nqt excellent, _I am satisfied: but.! am more pat,ient of contempt than many are. Comm.pn painters serve for poor men's work ; and a fiddler may serve at a country wedding : such cannot aspire to the attainments of the highei· sort; and the vulgar are the greater number. Dr. StiHingtleet saith, I sel-dom follow my friends' advice. In this I jus tify him; though in otber things my advisers contradict him . ·
TO TUE READ.ER; iii . I know that natural temper makes }JOetry savour to several wise and learned men, as differently as meat~ do to various appetites. I know such learned discreet men, that know not what a tune is, nor can difference one from another. · I wonder at them, and oft doubt whether it be an accident, or an integral of humanity which they want. ' Annatus, the Jesuit, iw his answer to Dr. Twisse, De Scienlia Media, commends his poetry (for a ~oem added in the end) in scorn, as if it were a disgrace to a School-Divine. I take one sign of an acumen of wit to make ·it likely thaLthe man bath tlu? same wit for other work. ' For myself, I confess .that harmony and melody are the pleasure and elevation of my soul, and have made a Psalm of Praise in the Holy Assembly the chief delightful exer- · cise of my religion and my life; and bath helped to bear down all the objections which I haveheard ~gainst Church~ music, and against the 14!lth and 150th Psalms. It was not the least comfort that I had in the converse of my late dear wife, that our first in the morning, and last in bed at night, was a Psalm of Praise· (till the hearing of others interrupted it.) Let those that savour not melody, leave others to their different appetites, and be content. to be so far strangers to their delights~ These times have produced many excellent Poets; among whom, for strength of wit, Dr. Abraham Cowley justly bears th~ bell. I much value Mr. Woorlford's paraphrase on the Psalms, though his genius (or somewhat else) expound some Psalms, so as the next age will confute. A woman's l*oems, the Lady Katherine Philips•s~ are far above contempt• . But that is best to me which is the most holy. I have known good men that were skilled in music, and much delighted in it, and yet had a conceit that it was unlawf'ul in a Psalm or holy exercise. I so much differed from them, that I scarce cared for it any where else; and if it might not be holily used, it should never have been used for me. Honest George Withers, though a rustic Poet, bath been very acceptable, as to some for his Pl,'opbeciefl, so to others
TO THE READER . . for his' plain co1;1ntry honesty. The vulgar were the more pleased with him for being so little courtly as to say, " If I should have been hung, I knew not how " To teach my body how to cringe and bow; u And to embrace a fellow's hinder quarters, " As if I meant to $teal away his garters. , " W.hen any bow~d to me with congees trim, "All I could do, was stand and laugh at him. " Bles!) me, thought I, what•will this coxcomb do I " When I perceiv'd one reaching at my shoe. Quarles yet out-went him, . mixing competent wit with piety (especially in hb Poem against rest on earth). Silvester on Du Bartas seems to me to out-go t'1em both. Sir Fulk Grevil, Lord Brook, (a man of great note in his age) hath a Poem latery printed for subject's liberty, which I greatly wonder this age would bear. There are no books that have been printed these twenty years, that I more wonder at, (that ever they .were endured) than Richard Hooker's eight books of ecclesiastical polity, dedicated by Bishop Gauden to our present king, and vindicated by him ; and these Poems of Sir Fulk Grevil, Lord Brook. Davie's Nosce teipsum is an excellent Poem in opening the nature, faculties, and certain immortality of man's soul. But I must confess, after all, that next the Scripture-Poems, there are none so savoury to me as Mr. George Herbert's, and Mr. George Saudys's. I know that Cowley and others far exceed Herbert in wit and accurate composure. But (as Seneca takes with me above all his contemporarie-s, because he speaketh things by words, feeli.ngly and seriOt~sly, like a man that is past jest, so) Herbert speak!: to God l-ike one that really believeth a God, and whose business 1n this world is most with God. Heart-work and Heaven-work make up his books. And Du Bartas is seriously divine. And George Sandy's Omne tulit punctum, dum miscuit utile dulci .
TO THE READER. V His Scripture-Poems are an elegant aud excellent paraphrase, but especially his Job, whom he bath restored to its original glory. 0 that he had turned the Psalms into metre fitted to the usual tunes. · It did me go~?d when .Mrs. Wyat invited me to see Boxley.-Abbey in Kent, to see upon the old stone wall in the garden, a summer-house _with this inscription in .great' golden letters, that in that place · Mr. G. Sandys, after his travels- over the world, retired himself for his poetry and contemplations, And none are fitter to retire to God, than such as are tired with seeing all the vanities on earth. Sure there is somewhat of Heavl'n in Holy Poetry. It charmeth souls into loving harmony and concord. We have two brothers in this city, of whom one hath written a book, called a Friendly Debate, to make those seem odious or contemptible who are against his way. It had too much success, and so far de5troyed love and concord, as will not easily be recovered in this age. His brother (Mr. Patrike of the Charter-house) hath with pious skill and seriousness turned into a new metre many o£ David's Psalms, and the advantage for holy affections and harmony hath so' far reconciled the nonconformists, that divers of them use his Psalms in their congregations, though they h<we their old ones, Rouse's, Bishop King's, Mr. White's, the New England's, Davison's, the Scuts, (agreed on by two natiom) in ~ompetition with it. But I digress too far. All that I have to say for these Fragments, is, I. That being fitted to women, and vulgar wits, which are the far greatest number, they may be useful to such, though contemptible to those of higher elevation and expe"'tation. 2. And being suited to afflicted, sick, dying, troubled, sad, and doubting persons, the number of such is so great in these calamitous times, as may render them useful to more than I di?sire. 3. And if my present grief may but excuse the publication, he that needeth them not may let them alone. Some of them need an exposition, which I must not give the world. 1 have added two or three printed here-
vi TO THE READER. tofore, that they may be altogether. The Lord by his mer- , ciful providence and his grace, tune up our dull and drooping sou-ls to ·such joyful praises, as may prepare us for ·his everlasting praise in Ueavea. Amen. London, at the DooT of·Ete1'11ity; Attg. 7, 1681. RICH. BAXTER.
POEMS. LOVE BREATHING THANKS AND PRAISE. THE FIRST PART. ETERNAL God! this worm lifts up the head; And looks to thee, by thee encouraged. Cheer'd by thy bounty, it would speak thy praise, "'Whose wondrous love hath measured all my days : If thou vouchsafe to make a worm rejoice, Give him a thankful praising heart and voice. Thy shining glory blessed angels see: Angels must sing thy highest praise, not we But if thy warming beams cause worms to speak, Their baser p~rt will n_ot the concert break. When time was yet no measure, when the sun Its rapid motion had not yet begun ; When heaven, and earth, and sea were yet unframed, Angels and men, and all things else unnamed, When there did nothing else exist but thee, Thou wast the same, and still the same wilt be. When there was none to know or praise thy name, Thou wast in perfect blessedness the same. The Father, Word and Spirit, One in Three, Trinity doth with unity agree. Th' eternal life, that quickens all that lives: 'rhe .soul of souls; ~he light .which all light gives B
' BAXTER'S POEMS. J.Inmense and boundless, present every where: Beyond all place and creatures, thou art there, Uncomprehended, comprehending all: Foreknowing whatsoever shall befal. Uncaused, thou causest all that hath a being: Unlmown, thouknowest; unse~n, thou art all-seeing Though necessary, yet without constraint; Unmoved, yet moving all, dost never faint. All things depend on thee, and thou on none ; A,nd changing all things, art unchanged alone. One in th' innumerable multitude; Perfectly ordering things which seem most rude. Infinite Power, one accent of whose breath, Can sentence Heav'n and earth to life or death. Yea, by one act of efficacious will Canst make and unmake worlds; give life, and kill. Reason transcending all created reason, Not only knowing all things in their season, But with a knowledge, perfect, infinite, Knowing thyself in thine eternal light. A knowledge which doth utterly excel The knowledge of the earth, the Heav'ns, and Hell; To know ten thousand worlds, were but to know The finite streams which from thy will do flow : Existents, futures, all contingeilcies . Conceal'd from man, are naked to thine eyes: Of every thing thou knowest the form and cause ; As giving all their nature and their laws. Nature's whole frame it but one piece to thee. The place and use of all things thou clost see. The globes of Heav'n and earth are in thy span ; Thou seest not things by parcels, like poor man.
BAXTER'S POEMS. Our narrow minds see here and there a letter, Not rightly placed, and therefore read no better We make the events of this day our sorrow, Because we know not what will be to-morroW. Things present, past, and future ; old and ne"v, Thou seest entirely with one single view. Thou seest all at home that's understood : Loving thyself thou lovest all that's good. Goodness itself, and perfect excellence, Transcending human reason, will, and sense; Good in thyself, and to thyself alone, Before thou wast to any creature known. Blest in thy own eternal pleasing sight; Thy own eternal love, thy own delight. Those that can find in thee no greater good, 3 Than that thou giv'st them life, and health, and food, And bountifully from thy ample treasure Blessest thy creatures with desired pleasure, Set up themselves and do the worst they can, To make themselves the Gods, and thee the man. They that can love thee but for loving them, · .'Make thee the casket, .and themselves the gem. To love thyself, is infinitely better, Than if love made a world of worlds its debtor. Thy own perfections by attraction move, As the chief formal object of man's love. Though our own good we may, and must intend ; Thy simple goodness is man's chiefest end. They that deny this, never knew love's force, Which to mere excellence hath its recourse Or never well considered love's end, Which unto good, for goodness' sake doth tend .
4 BAXTER'S POEMS. To be man's end, is but to be most loved; And good 's the loadstone by which love is moved! What though to thee the creature nothing add, That proves thee perfect, neither weak nor bad ; And therefore fit to be the final cause, Which all hearts by attractive goodness draws : Love is the final and enjoying act; Closing with thee by thy magnetic tract : Not as it mourneth for the good we want; Nor as ~t after distant good doth pant ; · But partly as it reacheth its desires : And more, as it with pleasure thee admires. This love, besides its object, hath no end: It doth not to some higher virtue tend: But from a seed, grows up to higher stature Of divine complacence, which is its nature. All other grace is but the means to it : They draw the bow ; but love the mark doth hit. But sinners lost in self rise not above The lower region of their own self-love. Experience assures me that I can Love a most learned, wise, and holy man Unseen, my very heart is to him knit, Without respect to any benefit. Reason convip.ceth me that I should err, If the known best, my loYe should not prefer: Should I not rather choose myself alone To be annihilated, or undone, Than the whole world should bear the same distress, Or towns, or countries; seeing I am less? Or the Creator should take down the sun ? Destroy the earth, or rivers cease t~ rml ?.
BAXTER'S POEMS. Reason taught heathens that their country's good \Vas worth the shedding of their vital blood : A faithful subject thinks his life a thing Meet to be cast away to save his king. True soldiers would choose death, if so they may But save their captains' lives, or win the day. Many have chose to die through love of friends, Preferring them above all selfish ends. It is not reason but blind selfish passion, If one refuse to die to save a nation. A s1lly useless wretch should not refuse His death, before a useful man's, to choose. My neighbour as myself I must respect, And for my brethren must my life reject.:lt' 0 doleful proof of man's unhappy fall ! 'That loves not God above himself and all ! And if I love him most, He is my end : Man's love above the lover must ascend ! But 0 how wisely hast thou made the twist ! To love thee and myself do well consist. Love is the closure of con-naturals ; The soul's return to its originals : As every brook is towards the ocean bent; And all things to their proper element : And as the inclination of the sight, How small soever, is unto the light: As the touch'd needle pointeth toward the pole; Thus unto thee inclines the holy soul : It trembleth and is restless till it come Unto thy bosom, where it is at home. * 1 John iii, 16, B3 5
6 BAXTER'S POEMS. yet no such union dare the soul desire As parts have with ' the whole, and sparks to fire; But as dependent, low, subordinate, Such as thy,will of nothing did create. As tendeth to the sun the smallest eye Of silly vermin, or the poorest fly. My own salvation when I make my end, Full mutual love is all that I intend. And in this closure though I happy be, It's by intending and admiring thee. 0 happy grace ! which feeds above the skies ! And causest man above himself to rise ! And saves what it denys ! when worldlings lose What they despised, and what they loved and chose! The more I do myself in love neglect, And only to thy goodness have respect, When most myself I from myself abstract, This is the sweetest and self-pleasing act! Even when I seem to leave myself behind, Co1iling to thee, with thee myself I find. ·when I am least the object of my love, And unto thee do most entirely move, My soul, the willing agent, drawn by grace, Will rest in love, and vision of thy face. But in this wilderness and vale.of tears, How is love damped by ignorance and fears ! For no man's love his knowledge can exceed: And guilty terrors disaffection breed. Mortals ean know thee but as in a glass. True formal knowledge doth man's mind surpass. No thoughts or names are adequate to thee: They are but metaphors from ,what we see ;
BAXTER'S POEMS. Which first thy "vorks and image signify ; And thence to thee men"'s rising minds apply. As far as faith comes short of perfect sight, And this dark prison of the glorious light ; So far this distant mediate love's below The heavenly love, which mortals cannot know. ·what will it be to love thee face to face, When thou appear'st so lovely in this glass ? Thy goodness is not to that world confined . To worthless, sinful mortals thou art kind : Thy mercies to the smallest are not small : 7 To some more wonderful, but great to all. Thy matchless power cloth itself express, Upon the smallest worm, or pile of grass. The methods of thy wisdom are profouild : All must admire the depths which none can sound. When man from holy love, turn'd to·a lie, Thy image lost, became thine enemy; 0 what a seal did love and wisdom find To re-imprint thine image on man's mind! Thou sent'st the signet from thine own right hand. Made man for them that had themselves unman'd. Th' eternal Son, who in thy bosom dwelt; Essential burning love, mei1's hearts to melt : Thy lively image : he that knew thy mind : Fit to illuminate and heal the blind. With love's great office thou didst him adorn: Redeemer of the helpless and forlorn : On love's chief work and message he was sent : Our flesh he took, our pain he underwent: Thy pardoning, saving love to man did preach : The Reconciler-stood up in t~e breach :
8 BAXTER's POEMS. The uncreated Im~ge of thy love, By his assumption, and the holy dove, On his own flesh thy image first imprest; And by that stamp ren~ws it on the rest. Love was his nature, doctrine, life and breath : Love flamed in his sufferings and death : Thus Love thine image, love on man doth print: This coin, thy Son, thy Word and Spirit mint. He that will have it true, must have it here ; Though love prepare its way by grief and feC\1· : Yea, oft by these expresseth its desire ; They are sincere when kindled by its fire. These are love's methods, passing tongue and pen : Wonders and joys, to angels, and to men. THE SECOND PART. LovE, which can make its object, did produce This worm, in season, for its proper use : In the earth's garden, the most happy land, [mand : Where Christians dwell, and Christian kings cornWhere plenteous streams of living waters flow ; Where the first-fruits of paradise do grow : Whence proud, dark, bloody popery was driven: To whom the opened book of God was given. Where sacred guides, and books, and helps abound ; And all that will, may hear the joyful sound. My parents here thy skilful hand did plant, Free from the snares of riches and of want. 'I~heir tender care was us'd for me alone, Because thy Providence gave them but one :
BAXTER'S POEMS. Their earthly precepts so possess'd my heart, That taking root, they did not thence depart . Thy wisdom so contrived my education, As might expose me to the least temptation. Much of that guilt thy·mercy did prevent, In which my spring-time I should else have spent . Yet sin sprung up and early did appear ; In love of play, and lies produced by fear · An appetite pleased with forbidden fruit, A proud delight in literate repute ; Excess of pleasure in vain tales, romances ; Time spent in feigned histories and fancies: In idle talk, conform to company; Childhood and youth had too much vanity. Conscience was oft resisted when it check'd, And holy duty I did much neglect. Yet patience bore, thy spirit still did strive, Restless convictions still were kept alive. Thou would'st not give me over, till thy grace Revived thy image which sin did deface. Thou strangely put'st such books into my hand , As caused me my case to understand : As touch'd my conscience, wakened my heart, And laid it under careful fears and smart. Ai1d made me question with a deeper sense, Whither my soul must go when it goes hence. Then did thy light detect the vanity Of all the joys and hopes below the sky. 9 The fruitless bustle which the worldling makes, The madness of the course the sinner takes ; The wicked world I thought a Bedlam was : And senseless sinners' hearts were stone or brass : B 2
10 BAXTER'S POEMS, I wondered men could Jive so carelessly, Ready to pass into eternity ! And 0 how easily could I confute All that against a holy life dispute ! I wondered at myself that staid so long, So little touch'd with argum·ents so strong! Laughing and playing, as if all were well, For aught I knew, near to the brink of Hell. I marvell'd at my former senselessness ! .My sin and mise~y I did confess. And now what horrid darkness on my mind, Never before lamented, did I find ! Sin was like sickness in my flesh and bone, Which on,ly by the book before was known. Christ's office now I better understood, The need my soul had of his cleansing blood . , How insufficient of myself I was, To bring my own deliverance to pass : Now I began to feel as well as see, How near the word of grace concerned me = That all means else in Heaven and earth were ,·ain, .My peace with God, and pardon to obtain. To whom else should my sinful soul have gone? But for my Saviour, I had been undone. Oh my dear God ! how precious is thy love ! Thus thou prepar'st us for the life above. Theheav'nly powers which mademyheart to quake .My prison bonds and doors did open shake. Sin now was-folly, villany, and sham·e : God, Heav'n, Christ, holiness seem not the sam~: How thou would'st use me, yet I did not know, Whether my sin thou would'st forgive, or no:
BAXT.ER'S POEMS, But well I saw there was no turning back . Nature is loth to go to Hell awake· Thy Gospel told me, I might mercy find: , Nothing but Hell and darkness was behind. At last thy grace br.ought me to this conclusion, To hope and seek I ·fix'd my resolution. 11 0 my dear God! how precious is thy love! Thy griefs prepare us for the joys above. Yet these my wounds and smarts were not so great As many's who sat long in scorners' seat ~ Nor did the change so suddenly begin, As to make known .when special grace came in In my young years thou hadst convinced my soul : Conscience did childish vanity controul : I liked thy ways as best : I honour'd those That folly shunn'd, and holy wisdom chose: Thou hadst prevented oaths and horrid crimes : And the enormous vices of the times : Preserving me from youthful lusts and rage : The thoughts of thee ,increasing with my age. This greatest change began when I was green, Having not much above three lustres s'een : Therefore I doubted whether it were true, Because its entrance I no better knew. Long was I sadly questioning thy grace, Because thy Spirit's steps I could not trace. . The difference is so great 'twixt Heavtn and Hell, That those must differ much who there must dwell. I fear'd the change which raised my soul no higher, Would not suffice to save me from Hell-fire. But above all, I thought so hard a heart Could not' among the living have a part.
12 BAXTER'S POEMS. I thought thy son would never heal my sore, Unless my tears and sorrow had been more. I wonder'd at my great stupidity! That could not weep when I deserved to die. I wonder'd things so great as Heav'n and Hell, - Did on my heart with no more feeling dwell ' That words which such amazing things import, Did not sink deeper, and my soul transport! That things of everlasting consequence Did not affect me with a deeper sense ! And that a soul so near its final doom, Could give these worldly trifles any room ! That on these shadows I could cast an eye, . While death and judgment, Heav'n and Hell stood by. I wonder'd, when my odious sin was named, I was no more confounded and ashamed. Many a time I begg'd a tender heart, And never pray'd so much for joy, as smart. I could· have kiss'd the place where I did kneel, If what my tongue had spoke, my heart could feel. These were my cries, when I to thee did speak, 0 that this heart of stone might melt or break ! These were my groans, this was my daily breath, 0 save me from hard-heartedness and death. This was the title which I used to take, Senseless, hard-hearted wretch, that cannot wake. But as thy wisdom gives in fittest measure; Not all at once; it's meet we wait thy leisure. I thought that things unseen should pierce and melt, With ·as great passion ftS things seen and felt. - But now I find it is their proper part, To be most valued~ to be next the heart!
BAXTER'S POEMS . To be the highest interest of the soul; There to command, and all things else controul. Thus must the little spark of fire be blown, Or else it will not flame, nor scarce be known; New'-lighted candles, darken'd by the snuff, Are ready to go out with every puff: So it was long before the heav'nly spark Conquer'd my snuff, and shined in the dark : My feeble new-born soul began with crying : My infant-life did seem to me still dying : Betwixt supporting hope, and sinking fears, My doubting soul did languish many years. 0 my dear God ! how precious is thy love ! Thy troubling motions tend to rest above. 13 Thus grace like nature entereth in a seed; Which with man's labour, heav'nly dews must feed. Whose virtue and first motions no eye sees, But after comes to ripeness by degrees : Our father's tender love doth much appear, When he with useless crying babes can bear : When'we the household's grief and trouble are; He shews the more his patient nursing care. At first I wish'd that I could pray and weep : Thus when I could not go, I learn'd to creep : Then thou began'st to loose my infant tongue; And taught'st me, Abba, :Father, when but young; First by the book, and some unworded groans ; After by heart-endited words and moans. Thy diet first was milk, the1i stronger food : But always that which wholesome was and good. Though preachers were too often dry and dull, Thy holy word was quick and powerful:
14 BAXTER'S POEMS. The many precious books of holy men, Thy spirit used on me as his pen : Perkins, Sibbs, Bolton, Whately, holy Dod, Hildersham, Preston, other men of Go~, How pertinently spake they to my case ? They open'd Heav'n and Hell before my face. They did unfold the Gospel mysteries, And set Christ crucified before my eyes : They shamed sin, they shewed me the snare, Opened the danger, charged me to beware. In every duty they did me direct ; Told me the sin and danger of neglect ; They search'd my heart, help'd me to try my state, My earthly mind they help'd to elevate. What strong and quick'ning motives did they bring To raise my heart, and wind the slack'ned spring ! These happy counsellors were still at hand ; The maps and landscapes of the holy land. This food was not lock'd from me; but I could Go read a holy sermon when I would. How cheaply kept I many rare divines ! And for a little purchased golden mines ! My griefs they eased, my many doubts resolved 1 With great delight I daily them revolved. 0 my dear God! how precious is thy love! Are these thy candles? what's the sun above? At last my fears became my greatest fear, Lest that my whole religioi1 should lie there : No man hath more of holiness than love: Which doth free souls by complacency move. Common grace goes as far as fear alone ; 'f'his eateth 11ot the meat, but gnaws the bone. 'fJ
BAXTER'S POEMS. A ~lavish fear desireth leave to sin ; It doth but tie the hands and wash the skin. Hypocrites act a forced affected part: 15 Where love is absent, Go,d hath not the heart. He~llnot accept what's done against men's will, That if they durst, had rather have done ill. Oh·my dear God ! shall not my heart be thine ? Then I shall wish it never had been mine. Objects of sense do soonest move the passion: But sure thou hast my highest estimation; l\1y will's resolved, choice is to be thine My soul and body I to thee resign : To thee the motions of my soul do bend, Thou art the scope to which my life doth tend. The motions of the higher faculties, The ruling powers are chiefest in thine. eyes ; Thou tak'st the love and homage which they pay; Though rebel-passion doth not them obey. What makes me laugh most, makesmenotmost .glad; Wh.tt made me weep most, made me not most sad; My love to one choice friend hath more of passion, Than my inuch greater love to church and nation. 0 had I all my powers at command ! As readily as tongue, or foot, or hand! My eyes should empty first the serious store, Because I love so good a God no more. And next Rome of the florid blood should spend, Because the God of love I did offend. The rest Rhould serve for oil unto love's fire, Wasting in restless, vehement desire. At every mention of thy blessed name, My ravish'd soul shQuld mount up in love's flame .
16 BAXTER'S POEMS • .Each sermon should Elias' chariot be, To carry up my longing heart to thee. The saints' assemblies I would make more bright, Where many Heaven-aspiring flames unite. And when my Lord's love-suiferings I read, My pierced and love-wounded heart should bleed. Love should enforce each word when I do pray ; A flaming heart I'd on thy altar lay : When halving hypocrites give thee a part, Love should present my whole, though broken, heart. When in thy world I read love's mysteries, There I would sweetly feed my greedy eyes. Each Sacrament should be an eucharist : [twist. There heart with heart, and love with love should My friends and I would in our daily walk <)f love's delights and entertainments talk ; My working love should other::; love excite: In love I'd be a burning shining light. Love through the lantern of my flesh should shii~e : Who heard me speak, should hear that I am thitt.:. Remembring that in love I must be made Equal to angels; I would learn their trade : Yea, I would reach up to a higher shelf, And as my copy, look to Christ himself. Love's work I'd do with all my diligence,'*" Though men should think I were beside my sense. t My daily love should rise before the sun, And it in speed and constancy out-run : Love as my life should fill up all my days ; Desire should be my pulse ; my breath thy praise. * Mark iii. 20, 21. t 2. Cor. -5, 13.
BAXTER'S POEMS. And I would wind up all the strings as high As blessed Paul was in his ecstacy. Heav'nly love should all my words indite, And be the soul and sense of all I write : My heart of love's delight should sweetly think, I'd write with flaming fire instead of ink: And yet thy holy day should be my best, In it my thirsty soul should taste of rest ; · My daily food should increase to a feast. , 0 my dear God! how precious is thy love ! 0 could I mount thus to the flames above! These are love's pantings after thee, my God! Though with my soul imprison'd in a clod! My soul and love shall shortly be set free ; And then my soul, my love shall feast on thee. If thou would'st grant the very thing I crave, And give me leave to choose what I would have ; Should it be lusts, or sports; or fleshly pleasure? Should it be lordly rule, or earthly treasure? No; I could gladly leave this di'rt to swine, And let the world be theirs, if thou be mine! I would not thirst to taste of their delight. If lively faith might ~ee the blessed sight! I would not be ambitious of a throne ! I could have full content in God alone. For men's esteem and praise I would not care: All other wit and knowledge I could spare : 17 To know and love my God should be my choice : Give me but this, and how shall I rejoice! Under my hand, Lord, this is it I choose: 0 gh'e me this, whatever else I lose.
l8 BAXTER'S POEMS. Is there no spark of love in this desire, When a poor soul doth unto thee aspire ? To know and love thee is my thirst and strife . Nothing more makes me weary of my life, Than that I feel no more the heav'nly fire ; But look and reach, and yet can reach rro higher. Here lies my pain ! this is my daily sore: I hate my heart for loving God no more. Do I not love thee, when I love to love thee? And when I set up nothing else above thee? , Next GoD himself, who is my END and REST, Lo,,e which stands next thee, I esteem my best; And loving God shall be my endless feast. 0 my dear God! how precJous is thy love! The~e are thy earnests of the life above. Fear is to love, as was the law to grace: And as John Baptist goes before Christ's face, Preaching repentance; it prepares his way; It is the first appearing of the day ; The dawning light which comes before the sun ; As he that to Christ's sepulchre first run, Excites the loved disciple to do better ; The certain news of life comes by the later. Fear is love's harbinger ; it is the womb Where love doth breed Gl time of ripeness come ! No wonder if it be not seen till then; The seed and embryo are hid from men. Though thou com'st in by love, fear draws the latch; Fear makes the motion, tho' love makes the match ; Fear is the soil that cherisheth the seed, The nursery in which Heav'n's plants do breed.
BAXTER'S POEMS. God first in nature finds self-love, and there He takes advantage to implant his fear. . With some the time is long before the earth Disclose her young one by a springy birth. 19 When Heav'n doth make our winter sharp and long, The seed of love lies hid, or seems but young : But when God makes it spring-time, his approach Takes from the barren soul its great reproach ; When Heav'n's reviving smiles and rays appear, Then love begins to spring up above fear : And if sin hinder not by cursed shade, It quickly shoots up to a youthful blade : And when Heav'n's warmer beams and dews succeed, That's ripen'd fruit which e'en now was but seed Yet doth not flow'ring, fruitful love forget Her nursing fear, there still her root is set: In humble self-denial under-trod, While flower and fruit are growing up to God. After love's birth-day, holy fear and care The outward part of the new creature are. As mortal man consists of flesh and skull, So fear and love, on earth, do make one whole. Love, as the soul, unseen, yet bears the sway; Fear, as the flesh, more felt, must it obey. By fear, love doth the daring flesh restrain, And keepeth men awake by threat'ned pain. This frame is mortal : not that love can die ; But leaving fe.ars, will dwell alone on high : Yet will retaiD: a reverent fear of God; But not the terror of his wrath or rod. 0 my dear God ! how precious is thy love ! How wise thy methods to the life above!
£0 BAXTER'S POEMS. '11wu first appear'dst in lightning, as to Paul: My heat abated, at thy feet I fall. The voice with which thy call thou didst begin, \Vas to convince me and reprove my sin _ I first enquired ..of thee, who thou art? And then, what duty thou hadst made my part? Thus fear and care began ; but the sweet name Of Jesus did reviving hope proclaim. And though long time it scarcely did appear, Yet sure some hidden spark of love was there. I loved thy holy word ; good books were sweet, Those that did with my own condition meet . Heart-searching ministers were my delight, Those that did most my drowsy soul excite. I dearly loved all in whom I saw A love to thee, and care to keep thy law: 'l11e speech and sight of holy men was sweet ; I honour'd them, and could have kiss'd their feet, I felt their living words go to the quick, When common idle prating made me sick. I dearly loved my serious bosom-friend, Who did in love my failings reprehend ; That could my doubting troubled mind condole, And help to keep awake my sleepy soul ; Who could unfold the mysteries of grace, And speak particularly to my case ; Sweetly disclosing his experience ; Extolling mercy from his own deep sense ; One that had been instructed by the rod, And boiled over in the praise of God : Who early (and oft in the night) would rise, To offer Thee a thankful sacrifice : '
BAXTER'S POEMS. 21 ·who warm'd me with his zeal when I was cold; And my rewissness lovingly controul'd; Who stirr'd me up, and taught me how to pray; And friendly watch'd and warn'd me every day. And yet his piety did not exceed His ~harity to those that were in need. For such a friend I had, though after all, Hims~lf became my warning by his fall ; As more than one or two have done since then ; Shewing when grace withdraws, we are but men. 0 my dear God ! how precious is thy love ! T'hese are the seeds ; what are the fruits above ? Yet did I scarce discern that ·it was thee, Whom in the glass my pleased mind did see. But though thine image more incur my sense, I love it for the pourtray'd excellence : It's not because the workmanship is :fine, Bu~ good and holy; and because it's thine. I better know the map that's in my hand : But yet, by it, I better love the land. Sure when I loved thy books and every letter ; I loved the sense, and end, and author better. He loveth wisdom sure, who loves the wise ; It's like he loves the light, who loves his eyes. If one in prison had his life begun, , Where he had never seen the shining sui). ; Yet if he dearly love the candle-light, He'd surely love the sun, which is more bright. Or if the sun had always clouded been, And men its scattered light alone had seen ; It's true, our thoughts and love of that we see, Would more exact and satisfying be :
22 BAXTER'S POEMS, But to the unseen cause, as it is better, Our love of estimation would be greater. And even a knowledge general and dark, Would be the chooser of our end and mark. That love's most sensible, which sense doth breed; But that com1'nands, which faith and reason feed . The country than the map, I must confess, Is much less known; but ·is not known as less. A great and certain object should do more, Though darkly known, than trifles at my door: An unseen kingdom would with men prevail, To leave their native place and hoist up sail, And venture over stormy boisterous seas : (please. Which shews that great things, though unseen, most No wonder if the knowledge be most clear, Of little things which to the sense are near; These narrow parcels we can comprehend, When unseen greatness doth the mind transcend : But yet this moves the wheels, and is the spring, Before the nearest sight of some small thing. That is most loved, which I make my end ; To which my great designs and actions tend ; For which I can all other treasure spend, Although I do it ·darkly apprehend. 0 my dear God! how precious is thy love! Unveiled fully to thy saints above! As fire first kindleth on the nearest wood, My sense thus fixed on the nearest good: And where sense fixed, there with greatest sense, The mind did exercise its complacence. It seem'd more cold to that which distant was Yet still looks farther as I forward pass .
BAXTER'S POEMS. 23 And towards my end, the nearer Heav'n I go, My love abstracteth more from things before. Love seemeth to get ground, and fear decays, Doubting and grief give place to thanks and praise. And tho' fear wrought with greatest sense before, A1id was in bulk and violence much more ; Yet the least spark of love which is sincere Will save the soul tho' mix'cl with greater fear: Wl10 loYes God somewhat, and the world above him, Loving not God as God, he doth not love him. Love must be so far tried by the measure, 'That God be loved above all earthly treasure: But that supposed the least degree of love, With greater doubts and·fears will saving prove. Great bodies with small souls are animate: Great heads with little eyes, are oculate. Small candles lighten rooms that are more large: A steward may have spacious lands in charge. The kingdom may be bigger than the king ; The diamond may be smaller than the ring: The house may bigger than the dweller· be : Great fear and little love consistent be. But still true love to God and man are known, l\Iore by the fruits, than by the sense alone. It must be such a love, as when there's need, Will venture, suffer, visit, clothe and feed. 0 my dear God! how precious is thy love! Which gently leads me to the joys above! Love still went on, aud lined out my way, Hedging me in, lest I should go astray: Yet after this how oft did I trangress ! By light discourse, and wanton playfulness ;
BAXTER'S POEMS. Ea.ting to fullness: yea, even cards and dice, Began my mind witll pleasure to entice. But providence did quickly interpose, And by a wonder take me oft' from those. Sin .most ensnared by pleading lawfulness ; Though conscience often did the sin confess : That wounded deepest which by seeming small, Drew me to venture and resist thy call; .And knowingly the same oft to commit, Thinking all Christians had as great as it. Let all that would not be undone by sin, Fly the occasions· where it doth begin. At first it's safe and pleasant to resist. But 0, how doleful is it to persist ! Sin doth not open its design at first : Its first app~arance sheweth not the worst : Flattering the sense, it seems to be a friend ; But it proves pain and poison in the end. Pray from temptation that you may be free, If from ~he evil you would saved be. Repentance must convince you that it's gall, Which first appeared innocent or small. ,, . 0 how it fills the soul with guilty fears ! Our filial evidences blasts and tears ! Disturbs our peace, and feeds the gnawing worm ! Turns our tranquillity into a storm ! It puts a piercing sting into the cross, And makes death dreadful as the greatest loss. Yet all my folly mercy did forgive, · And did my guilty, wounded soul relieve. Oh my dear God! how precious is thy love! Heal me and fit me for the joys .ab_ove !
Thy love in order to its' w·e 11 known ends, Shew'd. me great mercy in meet guides and friends: Antient and grave divines, solid and staid, Who from experience both preach"d and pray'd : Learned, yet counting Christianity The chiefest learning and philo~ophy. These; as the fathers of my untaught y-outh, Were willing to communicate the truth. Their help and fruitful converse was my stay, And great encouragement in all my way; More pleasant to me than my youthful games : My love doth grudgingly suppress their names. The company thou gav'st me was not vain, Not proud or factious, sensual or profane: But serious; sober, and obedient, · Whose time was in their peaceful labours spent~ Humble and meek, who made it their discourse, To stir up faith, and penitent remorse. Minding the lowest, and the hi'ghest things ; Not meddling busily with states and kings. Making the holy word their chief delight, And meditating on it day and night : Spending that day in works of holiness ; Hating profanenes~, lewdness, and excess Content with little, yet aspiring high; Sparing no pains for immortality: Low in the world ; but for salvation wise ; Though scorn'd by faithless fools as too precise. 0 my dear God! how precious is thy love! Such thou wilt take to dwell with thee above. Thy mercy did my younger studies guide: Sweet leisure and meet' books thou didst provide ; c
BAXTER'S ·poEMS, , And that I might thy love the better :'3ee , My.,tutor _thou thyself was pleased to be: As honeycombs are made by patient bees , · Who fetch the matter home by slow degrees, In many days, and from a thousand fio·wers, Not perfecting their work in a few hours : So taught'st thou me to ' 'rait the learning time, Not reachit:J.g first at matters too sublime; Few to maturity of knowledge grow, Who ' think they know, before indeed they know. 'rhou didst improve the thirsty love of truth, Which thou hast given me even in my youth. My labours thou mad'st easy by delight . Each day's success did to the next invite. But 0 the happy method of thy grace ! Which gave my own salvation the first place ! And first resolved me of the utmost end, \V"hich all my after-studies must intend : Shewing me first, why, and for what I must Lay out my studies, that they be not lost : Unhappy men! who follo·w base designs, And are not Christians, when they are divine~ ! 0 that an impio-lts divine were rare! Although the terms a contradiction are. Alas in what a blind and trembling state, Should I all day have at my studies sate, And with how little joy.., or hope of gains, HI had studied still in Satan's chains ! 0 foolish studies ! to consider how The ~ar.th is fixed, and the plants do grow! What is each creature's specifying canse ? And what arc all their orders and their laws ?
BAXTER'S POEMS. When thy own saving·change is to begin And thou hast yet no pardon of thy sin !. , When all the while thou art a son of wrath, Who to eternal life no title bath: When in thy flow'ring studies thou must die, And be undone to all eternity ? Who would .be playing at a childish ga1pe, While his own house is in a burning flame ? What if I knew whether the earth or sun So swift and unperceived a course doth run? Or knew' the course and order of the spheres? Or were best skill'd in numbering past ·years? · Knew all the houses of the star!·y sky ? And things that are for common wits too high ? What if I knew all these never so well? And knew not how to 'scape the flames of hell? What gain or pleasure would my knowledge be, If I the face of God must never see ? Or what if I could fool away my time, In smooth and well-composed idle rhyme? Or dreaming lovers' fancies could rehearse, In .the most lofty and adomed verse ? While my unholy soul, in fleshly thrall Should be lamenting its own funeral? . But when my soul had fix'd on God her end, Then all my studies unto him did tend. , TlH;y all w~re order'd in due place and season, Guided by faith, allowed by sound reason : Thou taught'st me first the only needful thing ; And all my studies harp'd stillon that string: Judging the greatest kuowledge to be vain, Which tendeth not to the immortal gain. 27
28 BAXTER'S POEMS, 'There is a knowledge which increaseth sorrow, And such whose fruit will die before to-morrow : Yea, there's a knowledge which occasions sin · Desire of knowing did man's woe b~gin: All means are to be judged of by their end : That's good which doth good, or doth good portend. Its end and .objects which ennoble acts: 'Those that do glorious things are glorious facts. Who calls a self-condemning sinner, wise, 'l11at on a syllable can criticize ; 'That can in mode and figure talk in vain ; Or learnedly his pride and sin maintain ; That's best at the resolving of a riddle, Or playing on a bag-pipe, or a fiddle: But hath not learned how to live and die, Nor where his soul must dwell eternally ? God and all wise nien judge him but a tool, 'Who is not wise enough to save his soul. [good, When Heaven's made sure, all knowledge then is For faith and love can turn it into food: It's pleasant then to study any book, When we see God the sense, where'er we look: When as the way to Heav'n we know each place, And see God's beauty in each creature's face: And when we stick not in the form and letter, But all our knowledge tends to make us better. When still the more we know, the more we love, And draw more with us to the joys above. Fine fancies are not. like clear minds ; nor those Like love, by which the soul with God doth close; Wisdom itself will make the mind most wise. He that ascends to God, doth highest rise.
BAXTER'S POEMS. Sure Pisgah was Parnassus, or the mount Where three Apostles did three glories count : Christ's living streams are the true Helicon: None make true poets but Heav'n's springs alone. What poor, low, toyish work make frothy wits ! Like Bacchus' scholars in their pot-wise fits. Like children's poppets dress'd with lace and pin; Like handsome pictures; something wants within: A painted feast, carved with a painted knife. A living soul can feel it wanteth life. Without a holy subject, end, and spirit, · True wisdom's sacred titles none can merit. 0 my dear God ! how precious is thy love! These are the drops, what are the streams above? Immortal thanks my soul doth owe my God, For his well-order'd, needful, healing rod: The book and rod do well befit thy school; Correction is the portion of the fool: 'I'he rod itself will make the sluggard rise: The rod and book make foolish children wise. I felt or fear'd no evil at the first, But my soul's misery, which is the worst. Whilst for a soul remedy 1 did look, Thy angry storm my body overtook: Languishing weakness shortens strength and breath ; Consumes my flesh, and threatens speedy death· And what I felt, revived the fears of more; For now my judgment seemed at the door: I knew not but it might be a foretaste _ Of greater woe which I might feel at last: My .new awakened soul amazed was, To think that unto judgment it must pass~
30 . BAXTER'S POEMS. And see the unseen world , and stand before 111e dreadful God whom Heav'n and Earth adore ! I was unready to behold thy fac·e, Having no more assurance of thy grace ! Having but lately too familiar been, With my seducing flesh, all<l hateful sin: My thoughts of thee were terrible and·strange! And of so great and an untimely change! · The threatened ruin I did thus condole; 0 must my scarce-born, unprepared so~1l Before my dreadful Judge so soon appear, And the decisive, final sentence hear? . And all myreckonings so soon bring in, And give account to God for every sin ? Before I do my soul's condition know, Or any sealed pardon have to shew. What if I prove an unconverted wretch ! And justice should my soul to torments fetch? How know I but the endless flames of hell, May be the place where next my soul shall d_well ? Mercy would save me, but I did reject it: · Christ's blood would 'clearise me, ·but I did neglect it. And though I am not hopeless, \Vho can bear · · To die uncertain under so great fear? 0 that my time had all been better spent ! And that my early thoughts had all been bent In preparation for the life to come ; That now I might have gone as to my home: And taken up my dwelling with the blest! And past to everlasting joy and rest! 0 that the pleasures of my sports and toys, Had all been turn'd to man-like holy joys·!allisonlibrary.regent-college.edu