It's no great matter what men deem,
Whether they count me good or bad:
In their applause and best esteem,
There's no contentment to be had.
Thy steps, Lord, in this dirt I see;
And lest my soul from God should stray,
I'll bear my cross and follow thee:
Let others choose the fairer way.
My face is meeter for the spit;
I am more suitable to shame,
And to the taunts of scornful wit:
It's no great matter for my name.
My Lord hath taught me how to want
A place wherein to put my head:
While he is mine, I'll be content
To beg or lack my daily bread.
Must I forsake the soil and air
Where first I drew my vital breath?
That way may be as near and fair:
Thence I may come to thee by death.
All countries are my Father's lands;
Thy sun, thy love, doth shine on all;
We may in all lift up pure hands,
And with acceptance on thee call.
What if in prison I must dwell?
May I not there converse with thee?
Save me from sin, thy wrath, and hell,
Call me thy child, and I am free.
No walls or bars can keep thee out;
None can confine a holy soul;
The streets of heaven it walks about;
None can its liberty control.
This flesh hath drawn my soul to sin:
If it must smart, thy will be done!
- fill me with thy joys within,
And then I'll let it grieve alone.
Frail, sinful flesh is loath to die;
Sense to the unseen world is strange;
The doubting soul dreads the Most High,
And trembleth at so great a change.
- let me not be strange at home,
Strange to the sun and life of souls,
Choosing this low and darkened room,
Familiar with worms and moles!
Am I the first that go this way?
How many saints are gone before!
How many enter every day
Into thy kingdom by this door!
Christ was once dead, and in a grave;
Yet conquered death, and rose again;
And by this method he will save
His servants that with him shall reign.
The strangeness will be quickly over,
When once the heaven-born soul is there:
One sight of God will it recover
From all this backwardness and fear.
To us, Christ's lowest parts, his feet,
Union and faith must yet suffice
To guide and comfort us: it's meet
We trust our head who hath our eyes.
We see here that faith in the Lord leads Richard Baxter to the same
conclusions immediately to which his faithful philosophy led Henry More.
There is much in Baxter's poems that I would gladly quote, but must leave
with regret. Here is a curious, skilful, and, in a homely way, poetic
ballad, embodying a good parable. I give only a few of the stanzas.