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Through all thy actions, counsels, and discourse
Let mildness and religion guide thee out;
If truth be thine, what needs a brutish force,
But what's not good and just ne'er go about.
Wrong not thy conscience for a rotten stick,
That gain is dreadful, which makes spirits sick.
To God, thy country, and thy friend be true,
If priest and people change, keep thou thy ground;
Who sells religion is a Judas Jew,
And oaths once broke, the soul can not be sound.
The perjurer's a devil let loose, what can
Tie up his hands that dares mock God and man?
Seek not the same steps with the crowd; stick thou
To thy sure trot;' a constant, humble mind
Is both his own joy and his Maker's too;
Let folly dust it on or lag behind.
A sweet self-privacy in a right soul
Outruns the earth, and lines the utmost pole.
To all that see thee bear an open heart,
Make not thyself a labyrinth or trap,
If trials come this will make good thy part,
For honesty is safe come what can hap;
It is the good man's feast, the prince of flowers
Which thrives in storms, and smells best after showers.
Seal not thy eyes up from the poor, but give
Proportion to their merits, and thy purse;
Thou mayst in rags a mighty prince relieve
Who when thy sins call for't can fence a curse.
Thou shalt not lose one mite. Tho' waters stray,
The bread we cast returns in fraughts one day.
Spend not an hour, so as to weep another,
For tears are not thine own; if thou giv'st words
Dash not thy friend nor heaven; O smother
A vig'rous thought; some syllables are swords.
Unbitted tongues are in their penance double,
They shame their owners, and the hearers trouble.
Injure not modest blood, whose spirits rise
In judgment against lewdness; that's base wit
That voids but filth and stench. Hast thou no prize
But sickness or infection ? Stifle it.
Who makes his jests of sins, must be at least,
If not a very devil, worse than a beast.
Yet fly no friend, if he be such indeed,
But meet to quench his longings and thy thirst;
Allow your joys religion; that done, speed
And bring the same man back thou wert at first.
Whoso returns not cannot pray aright,
But shuts his door and leaves God out all night. To heighten thy devotions and keep low All mutinous thoughts, what business e'er thou hast Observe God in his works; here fountains flow, Birds sing, beasts feed, fish leap, and the earth stands fast:
Above are restless motions, running lights,
Vast circling azure, giddy clouds, days, nights.
When seasons change, then lay before thine eyes
His wondrous method, mark the various scenes
In heaven; hail, thunder, rainbows, snow, and ice,
Calms, tempests, light, and darkness by his means;
Thou canst not miss his praise, each tree, herb, flower,
Are shadows of his wisdom and his power.
To meals when thou dost come, give Him the praise
Whose arm supplied thee; take what may suffice,
And then be thankful : O admire his ways
Who fills the world's unemptied granaries !
A thankless feeder is a thief, his feast
A very robbery and himself no guest.
High noon thus past, thy time decays; provide
Thee other thoughts; away with friends and mirth;
The sun now stoops and hastes his beams to hide
Under the dark and melancholy earth.
All but preludes thy end. Thou art the man
Whose rise, height, and descent is but a span.
Yet, set as he doth, and 'tis well. Have all
Thy beams home with thee; trim thy lamp, buy oil,
And then set forth, who is thus drest, the fall
Furthers his glory, and gives death the foil.
Man is a summer's day, whose youth and fire
Cool to a glorious evening and expire. When night comes, lift thy deeds; make plain the way 'Twixt heaven and thee; block it not with delays. But perfect all before thou sleep’st, then say, There's one sun more strung on my bead of days.
What's good score up for joy; the bad well scanned Wash off with tears, and get thy Master's hand.
Thy account thus made, spend in the grave an hour
Before thy time. Be not a stranger there,
Where thou may'st sleep whole ages; life's poor flower
Lasts but a night sometimes. Bad spirits fear
This conversation, but the good man lies
Entombéd many days before he dies.
Being laid and dressed for sleep, close not thy eyes
Up with thy curtains, give thy soul the wing
In some good thoughts; so when the day shall rise
And thou unrak'st thy fire, those sparks will bring
New flames : besides where these lodge vain hearts
And die : That bush where God is shall not burn.
When the nap's over, stir thy fire, unrake
In that dead age, one beam i' the dark outvies
Two in the day; then from the damps and ache
Of night shut up thy leaves, be chaste; God pries
Through thickest night; though then the sun be far
Do thou the works of day, and rise a star.
Briefly. Do as thou would'st be done unto,
Love God, and love thy neighbour; watch and pray.
These are the words and works of life. This do,
And live; who doth not thus hath lost heaven's way.
O lose it not ! look up, wilt change those lights
For chains of darkness, and eternal nights?
When through the north a fire shall rush
And roll into the east,
And like a fiery torrent brush
And sweep up south and west.
When all shall stream and lighten round,
And with surprising flames
Both stars and elements confound,
And quite blot out their names.
When thou shalt spend thy sacred store
Of thunders in that heat,
And low as e'er they lay before
Thy six-days' buildings beat.
When like a scroll the heaven shall pass
And vanish clean away,
And nought must stand of that vast space
Which held up night and day.
When one loud blast shall rend the deep,
And from the womb of earth
Summon up all that are asleep
Unto a second birth.
When Thou shalt make the clouds thy seat,
And in the open air
The quick and dead, both small and great
Nust to thy bar repair.
O then it will be all too late
To say, what shall I do?
Repentance there is out of date
And so is mercy too.
Prepare, prepare me then, O God!
And let me now begin
To feel my loving Father's rod
Killing the man of sin !
Give me, Oh! give me crosses here,
Still more afflictions lend :
That pill, though bitter, is most dear
That brings health in the end.
Lord God! I beg not friends nor wealth
But pray against them both :
Three things I'd have, my soul's chief health!
And one of these seems loth.
A living faith, a heart of flesh,
The world an enemy
This last will keep the first two fresh,
And bring me where I'd be.
My soul, there is a country,
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingéd Sentry
All skilful in the wars ;
There above all noise and danger,
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious Friend,
And (Ò my soul awake !)
Did in pure love descend
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of Peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress and thy ease;
Leave, then, thy foolish ranges,
For none can that secure;
But One who never changes-
Thy God, thy Life, thy Cure.
(ABOUT 1635–1688.) “ THOMAS FLATMAN,” in the words of Wood," an eminent poet of his time, was born in Aldersgate Street, in the suburb of London, educated in grammar learning in Wykeham's School, near Winchester, elected fellow of New College (Oxford), in 1654, left it before he took a