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Would not the air be filled with streams of death

To poison the quick rivers of their blood,
Did not Thy winds fan with their panting breath

The flitting region? Would not the hasty flood

Empty itself into the sea's wide wood,
Didst Thou not lead it wandering from his way,
To give men drink, and make his waters stray,
To fresh the flowery meadows, through whose fields they play?

Who makes the sources of the silver fountains

From the flint's mouth and rocky valleys slide,
Thickening the airy bowels of the mountains ?

Who hath the wild herds of the forest tied

In their cold dens, making them hungry bide,
Till man to rest be laid? Can beastly he,
That should have inost serise, only senseless be,
And all things else, beside himself, so awful see?

Were he not wilder than the savage beast,

Prouder than haughty hills, harder than rocks,
Colder than fountains from their springs released,

Lighter than air, blinder than senseless stocks,

More changing than the river's curling locks; If reason would not, sense would soon reprove him, And unto shame, if not to sorrow, move him, To see cold floods, wild beasts, dull stocks, hard stones, outlove him.

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Under the weight of sin the earth did fall,

And swallowed Dathan 9; and the raging wind,
And stormy sea, and gaping whale, did call

For Jonah 10; and the air did bullets find,

And shot from heaven a stormy shower, to grind
The five proud kings 11 that for their idols
The sun itself stood still to fight it out,
And fire from heaven flew down, when sin to heaven did shout.

9 Numbers xvi. 32. 10 Jonah i. 17, 11 Joshua x,

Should any to himself for safety fly?

The way to save himself, if anywhere, Were to fly from himself; should he rely

Upon the promise of his wife? but there

What can he see but that he most may fear,
A syren sweet to death ? upon his friends ?
Who, that he needs, or that he hath not, lends ?
Or wanting aid himself, aid to another sends?
His strength ? but dust : his pleasure? cause of pain :

His hope? false courtier : youth or beauty? brittle : Entreaty? fond: repentance ? late and vain :

Just recompense ? the world were all too little:

Thy love? he hath no title to a tittle :
Hell's force? in vain her furies hell shall gather:
His servants, kinsmen, or his children rather?
His child, if good, shall judge; if bad, shall curse his father :
His life? that brings him to his end and leaves him:

His end? that leaves him to begin his woe:
His goods ? what good in that, that so deceives him?

His gods of wood ? their feet, alas! are slow

To go to help, that must be helped to go:
Honour? great worth ? ah! little worth they be
Unto their owners : wit ? that makes him see
He wanted wit, that thought he had it wanting Thee.
The sea to drink him quick ? that casts his dead :

Angels to spare? they punish: night to hide ?
The world shall burn in light : the heavens to spread

Their wings to save him ? heaven itself shall slide

And roll away, like melting stars that glide
Along their oily threads : his mind pursues him :
His house to shroud, or hills to fall and bruise him?
As sergeants both attach and witnesses accuse him.
What need I urge what they must needs confess ?

Sentence on them condemned by their own lust;
I crave no more, and thou canst give no less

Than death to dead men, justice to unjust ;
Shame to most shameful and most shameless dust :

But if thy mercy needs will spare her friends,
Let mercy there begin where justice ends;
'Tis cruel mercy that the wrong from right defends."
She ended-and the heavenly hierarchies,

Burning in zeal, thickly imbranded 12 were,
Like to an army that alarum cries;

And every one shakes his terrific spear;

And the Almighty's self, as He would tear The earth and her firm basis quite in sunder, Flamed all in just revenge and mighty thunder: Heaven stole itself from earth by clouds that moistened under.


As when the cheerful sun enlamping 13 wide,

Glads all the world with his uprising ray, And woos the widowed earth afresh to pride,

And paints her bosom with the flowery May,

His silent sister 14 steals him quite away;
Wrapped in a sable cloud from mortal eyes,
The hasty stars at noon begin to rise;
And headlong to his early roost the sparrow flies.
But soon as he again disshadowed is,

Restoring the blind world his blemished sight,
As though another day were newly his,

The cozened birds busily take their flight,

And wonder at the shortness of the night : So Mercy once again herself displays Out from her sister's cloud, and open lays Those sunshine looks, whose beams would dim a thousand days. THE SPEECH OF MERCY.

12 Imbranded, mustered in arms. 13 Spreading his rays like a lamp.

14 The moon.

Such when as Mercy her beheld from high,

In a dark valley, drowned with her own tears, One of her Graces she sent hastily,

Smiling Irene 15, that a garland wears

Of gilded olive on her fairer hairs,
To crown the fainting soul's true sacrifice :
Whom when as sad Repentance coming spies,
The holy desperado wiped her swollen eyes.

But Mercy felt a kind remorse to run

Through her soft veins, and therefore hieing fast To give an end to silence, thus begun :

'Aye, honoured Father, if no joy thou hast

But to reward desert, reward at last
The devil's voice spoke with a serpent's tongue,
Fit to hiss out the words so deadly stung,
And let him die, death's bitter charms so sweetly sung.

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He was the father of that hopeless season,

That to serve other gods forgot their own; The reason was, Thou wast above their reason :

They would have any gods rather than none,

A beastly serpent or a senseless stone;
And these as Justice hates, so I deplore;
But the up-ploughed heart, all rent and tore,
Though wounded by itself, I gladly would restore.

He was but dust: why feared he not to fall?

And being fallen, why should he fear to die? Cannot the hand that made him first restore him ?

Depraved of sin, should he deprived lie

Of grace? Can He not hide infirmity
That gave him strength ? Unworthy the forsaking
He is, who ever weighs without mistaking,
Or Maker of the man, or manner of his making.

15 Peace.

Who shall thy temple incense any more,

Or at thy altar crown the sacrifice,
Or strew with idle flowers the hallowed floor,

Or what should prayer deck with herbs and spice,

Her vials breathing orisons of price ?
If all must pay that which all cannot pay,
Oh! first begin with me, and Mercy slay,
And thy thrice-honoured Son that now beneath doth stray!

But if or He or I may live and speak,

And heaven can joy to see a sinner weep, Oh! let not Justice' iron sceptre break

A heart already broke, that low doth creep,

And with proud humblesse her feet's dust doth sweep.
Must all go by desert? is nothing free ?
Ah! if but those that only worthy be,
None should Thee ever see, none should Thee ever see.

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What man hath done that man shall not undo,

Since God to him is grown so near akin? Did his foes slay him ? He shall slay his foe:

Hath he lost all ? He all again shall win :

Is sin his master? He shall master sin.
Too hardy soul, with sin the field to try :
The only way to conquer was to fly;
But thus long death hath lived, and now death's self shall die.

He is a path, if any be misled;

He is a robe, if any naked be;
If any chance to hunger, He is bread;

If any be a bondman, He is free;

If any be but weak, how strong is He!
To dead men life He is, to sick men health ;
To blind men sight, and to the necdy wealth ;
A pleasure without loss, a treasure without stealth.

Who can forget-never to be forgot

The time that all the world in slumber lies,

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