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Him first to love that was so dearly bought,
Him first to love great right and reason is,
Who first to us our life and being gave, And after, when we fared had amiss,
Us wretches from the second death did save;
And cast the food of life which now we have,
Then next we love our brethren that were made
Of that self mould and that self Maker's hand That we, and to the same again shall fade,
Where they shall have like heritage of land,
However here on higher steps we stand. Which also were with self-same price redeemed That we, however of us light esteemed.
And were they not, yet sith that loving Lord
Commanded us to love them for his sake, Even for his sake and for his sacred word,
Which is his last bequest He to us spake,
We should them love, and with their needs partake, Knowing that whatsoe'er to them we give We give to Him by whom we all do live.
Such mercy He by his most holy reed'
Unto us taught, and to approve it true, Ensampled it by his most righteous deed,
Showing us mercy (miserable crew!)
That we the like should to the wretches shew,
Then rouse thyself, O Earth! out of thy soil,
In which thou wallowest like to filthy swine,
Unmindful of that dearest Lord of thine :
Lift up to Him thy heavy-clouded eyne,'
Begin from first where He encradled was
In simple cratch,' wrapped in a wad of hay
And in what rags, and in how base array,
The glory of our heavenly riches lay,
From thence read in the story of his life
His humble carriage, his unfaulty ways,
His pains, his poverty, his sharp assays,
Through which He passed his miserable days,
And look, at last, how of most wretched wights
He taken was, betrayed, and false accused ;
He was reviled, disgraced, and foul abused ;
Then let thy flinty heart, that feels no pain,
Empierced be with pitiful remorse ;
At sight of his most sacred heavenly corse,
So torn and mangled with malicious force ; And let thy soul, whose sins and sorrows wrought, Melt into tears, and groan grieved thought.
With sense thereof, while thy so softened spirit
Is inly touched and humbled with meek zeal, Through meditation of his endless merit,
Lift up thy mind to th’ Author of thy weal,
And to his sovereign mercy do appeal ; Learn Him to love that loved thee so dear, And in thy breast his blessed image bear.
With all thy heart, with all thy soul and mind,
Thou must Him love, and his behests embrace; All other loves with which the world doth blind Weak fancies, and stir up
Then shalt thou feel thy spirit so possessed,
And ravished with devouring great desire Of his dear self, that shall thy feeble breast
Inflame with love, and set thee all on fire
With burning zeal through every part entire,
Thenceforth all world's desire will in thee die,
And all earth's glory on which men do gaze Seem dust and dross in thy pure-sighted eye,
Compared to that celestial beauty's blaze,
Whose glorious beams all fleshly sense doth daze With admiration of their passing light, Blinding the eyes and lumining the sprite.
Then shall thy ravished soul inspired be,
With heavenly thoughts, far above human skill ; And thy bright radiant eyes shall plainly see
Th' idea of his pure glory present still
Before thy face, that all thy spirit shall fill
FROM THE HYMN OF HEAVENLY BEAUTY.
But whoso may, thrice happy man him hold,
Of all on earth, whom God so much doth grace, And lets his own beloved to behold;
For in the view of her celestial face
All joy, all bliss, all happiness have place : Not aught on earth can want unto the wight, Who of herself can win the wishful sight.
For she out of her secret treasury
Plenty of riches forth on him will pour, E’en heavenly riches, which there hidden lie,
Within the closet of her chastest bower,
Th' eternal portion of her precious dower, Which mighty God hath given to her free, And to all those which thereof worthy be.
None thereof worthy be but those whom she
Vouchsafeth to her presence to receive, And letteth them her lovely face to see,
Whereof such wondrous pleasures they conceive,
And sweet contentment, that it doth bereave
In which they see such admirable things,
As carries them into an ecstasy,
Of God's high praise, that fills the brazen sky,
And feel such joy and pleasure inwardly, That maketh them all worldly cares forget, And only think on that before them set.
Nor from thenceforth doth any fleshly sense,
Or idle thought of earthly things, remain; But all that erst seemed sweet seems now offence,
And all that pleased erst now seems to pain ;
Their joy, their comfort, their desire, their gain, Is fixed all on that which now they see; All other sights but feigned shadows be.
And that fair lamp, which useth to inflame
The hearts of men with self-consuming fire, Thenceforth seems foul and full of sinful blame ;
And all that pomp to which proud men aspire
By name of honor, and so much desire, Seems to them baseness, and all riches dross, And all mirth sadness, and all lucre loss.
So full their eyes are of that glorious sight,
And senses fraught with such satiety, That in naught else on earth they can delight,
But in th' respect of that felicity,
Which they have written in their inward eye, On which they feed, and in their fattened mind, All happy joy and full contentment find.
Ah, then, my hungry soul! which long hast fed
On idle fancies of thy foolish thought, And, with false beauties' flattering bait misled,
Hast after vain deceitful shadows sought,
Which all are fled, and now have left thee naught But late repentance, through thy follies' prief ;' Ah! cease to gaze on matter of thy grief,