England's Antiphon

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Where's now the objects of thy fears, Needless sighs, and fruitless tears? They be all gone like idle dream
Suggested from the body's steam.

* * * * *

What's plague and prison? Loss of friends? War, dearth, and death that all things ends? Mere bugbears for the childish mind; Pure panic terrors of the blind.

Collect thy soul unto one sphere
Of light, and 'bove the earth it rear; Those wild scattered thoughts that erst Lay loosely in the world dispersed, Call in:--thy spirit thus knit in one Fair lucid orb, those fears be gone Like vain impostures of the night, That fly before the morning bright. Then with pure eyes thou shalt behold How the first goodness doth infold All things in loving tender arms;
That deeméd mischiefs are no harms, But sovereign salves and skilful cures Of greater woes the world endures; That man's stout soul may win a state Far raised above the reach of fate.

Then wilt thou say, God rules the world, Though mountain over mountain hurled Be pitched amid the foaming main
Which busy winds to wrath constrain;

* * * * *

Though pitchy blasts from hell up-born Stop the outgoings of the morn,
And Nature play her fiery games
In this forced night, with fulgurant flames:

* * * * *

All this confusion cannot move
The purgéd mind, freed from the love Of commerce with her body dear,
Cell of sad thoughts, sole spring of fear.

Whate'er I feel or hear or see
Threats but these parts that mortal be. Nought can the honest heart dismay Unless the love of living clay,

And long acquaintance with the light Of this outworld, and what to sight Those two officious beams[135] discover Of forms that round about us hover.

Power, wisdom, goodness, sure did frame This universe, and still guide the same. But thoughts from passions sprung, deceive Vain mortals. No man can contrive
A better course than what's been run Since the first circuit of the sun.

He that beholds all from on high
Knows better what to do than I.
I'm not mine own: should I repine
If he dispose of what's not mine?
Purge but thy soul of blind self-will, Thou straight shall see God doth no ill. The world he fills with the bright rays Of his free goodness. He displays
Himself throughout. Like common air That spirit of life through all doth fare, Sucked in by them as vital breath
That willingly embrace not death.
But those that with that living law Be unacquainted, cares do gnaw;
Mistrust of God's good providence
Doth daily vex their wearied sense.

Now place me on the Libyan soil,
With scorching sun and sands to toil, Far from the view of spring or tree, Where neither man nor house I see;

* * * * *

Commit me at my next remove
To icy Hyperborean ove;
Confine me to the arctic pole,
Where the numb'd heavens do slowly roll; To lands where cold raw heavy mist Sol's kindly warmth and light resists; Where lowering clouds full fraught with snow Do sternly scowl; where winds do blow With bitter blasts, and pierce the skin, Forcing the vital spirits in,
Which leave the body thus ill bested, In this chill plight at least half-dead; Yet by an antiperistasis[136]
My inward heat more kindled is;
And while this flesh her breath expires, My spirit shall suck celestial fires By deep-fetched sighs and pure devotion. Thus waxen hot with holy motion,
At once I'll break forth in a flame; Above this world and worthless fame I'll take my flight, careless that men Know not how, where I die, or when.

Yea, though the soul should mortal prove, So be God's life but in me move
To my last breath--I'm satisfied
A lonesome mortal God to have died.

This last paragraph is magnificent as any single passage I know in literature.

Is it lawful, after reading this, to wonder whether Henry More, the retired, and so far untried, student of Cambridge, would have been able thus to meet the alternations of suffering which he imagines? It is one thing to see reasonableness, another to be reasonable when objects have become circumstances. Would he, then, by spiritual might, have risen indeed above bodily torture? It is possible for a man to arrive at this perfection; it is absolutely necessary that a man should some day or other reach it; and I think the wise doctor would have proved the truth of his principles. But there are many who would gladly part with their whole bodies rather than offend, and could not yet so rise above the invasions of the senses. Here, as in less important things, our business is not to speculate what we would do in other circumstances, but to perform the duty of the moment, the one true preparation for the duty to come. Possibly, however, the right development of our human relations in the world may be a more difficult and more important task still than this condition of divine alienation. To find God in others is better than to grow solely in the discovery of him in ourselves, if indeed the latter were possible.

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