If nothing else, may not this season move,
Second Earl of Westmoreland (1600-65)
Or time become the true chronicle of love?
And so allay the fury, stint the rage
Or madness doth predominize this age?
When for to ransom man, whose least offense
Was charactered in disobedience,
He who knew no sin came, that to fulfill
The mercy statute of His Father's will:
Thus he forgave, and gave, to let us know
What to our very enemies we owe,
By his example; and decrees this fate
To the posterity unfortunate
Of too-believing Adam, that they must
Give themselves over to no other trust
Than what His Word assures; nor to make less
That first of sins, create them numberless
In envy, malice, and ambition,
But join to charity contrition
For by-past faults, and resolutions raise
To spend the future in our Maker's praise:
Obey Him first, then those His glorious powers
Shall substitute for our superiors:
And with our own condition whatsoever
Content, enjoy a full harmonious sphere;
Leaving no orb for discord's fond increase,
Since He that's born for us was Prince of Peace.
What though 't be cold, and freeze,
Let no good Christian leese
So much of heat and zeal
As not for to remember
That blest day of December,
And what to shepherds angels did reveal,
Which doth of right claim lay
To all that ever man can write or say.
A savior's born for us:
What news more precious?
Were 't but some neighbor's son,
The bells would straightways ring--
In cakes for gossiping,
So soon the tidings o'er the town would run,
And many a light brain tossed
Among the goodwives, where to place their cost.
And shall my frozen heart
Not thaw and bear its part
In jollity for this,
Whereby not I alone
But each believing one
May promise to himself eternal bliss?
For such can ne'er be cold,
Who have this birthday in their hearts enrolled.
But may be said to burn,
Till some thanks they return,
Which though far short they reach,
The comfort is most sure,
'T hath healing wings to cure
Not for reward, but to make up the breach,
Which so repaired 'tis we
Must make it good 'gainst Satan's battery:
Whereto belongs this care
In chief and singular,
That stricter guards we keep,
Because both night and day
Th' artillery doth play,
Nor doth our adversary ever sleep:
Then we shall show hereby
Christ's favor hath not slipped our memory.
Awake dull soul, and from thy fold of clay
Receive the blessed tidings of the day:
Not of a fox's cub, whose guile might be
A promise of successive tyranny,
Nor o' th' victorious eagle's far-spread wing,
The chiefest of the world's parts covering,
But of a lamb that's yeaned, a child that's born,
No spectacle of glory but of scorn;
For in the house of bread, this Bread of Life,
For us is come to Joseph and his wife,
And though the city David's were, therein
His Son no throne possesses, but an inn.
There thou may'st find Him at Whose mean, low birth
The mightiest potentates of all the earth,
Nay, oracles, are silenced and gone,
Nor longer serve the devil's delusion.
The Delphian fiend confesses he's o'ercome
And by an Hebrew-born child stricken dumb.
The letters of th' Old Law effaced are;
Down falls the statue of great Jupiter,
With th' twins and their nursing beast--which shower
Of prodigies rouse up the emperor,
Who thus far in the dark could see, t' erect
In honor of th' Almighty Architect,
An altar in the Capitol to's Son
First-born, with the sole dedication.
If light thus through darkness shone, why is't
That thou who hast the Gospel's beams, the mist
Of errors canst not dissipate, but still
Becom'st idolater in doing ill?
How doth thy pride and envy hatch deceit,
And fond ambition raise thee in conceit
Of thine own worth, when all such honors can
But dress thee up more stately beast, no man?
The serpent's brood like twins do always pair,
Which by thy beastly humors fostered are:
Thy tongue no more thy heart's cross-row doth spell,
Than if thou wert another oracle.
Be silent then, nor longer more profane
That holy Temple for which thou art ta'en,
But let the Lamb's blood wash away the stains
And characters were written in thy veins
By thy first parents, and which since thou hast
By thy endeavors into volumes cast,
Throw down thyself for Him who meekly came
Into the world for thee, a Child, a Lamb,
Born to be slain for thee, yet slain before,
To make the victory and conquest more.
Humility's a child; a giant, pride:
Goliath from the hand of David died--
So though like foes, thy ill affections grow
Unto immensity, a powerful throw
Out of the sling of faith, of hope, and love
May all that monstrous-uncouth brood remove.
Then mayst thou reign without suspicion, free,
As Pharaoh did, till this nativity;
Then shall thy conscience oraclize thy fate,
Than was Augutus's more fortunate;
Nor in the Capitol but in thy heart
Erect an altar to Him, let each part
Express thou art awake, and seeing canst tell,
That now salvation's come to Israel.
When we a gem or precious stone have lost,
Is not the fabric or the frame
Of fancy busied, and each thing tossed
And turned within the room,
Till we the same
Can find again? Is't not a martyrdom?
Doth vanity affect us so, yet are
We slumber-charmed, nor can employ
A thought that backward might reduce, so far,
Lively to represent
Who fell and thus incurred a banishment?
Shall we leave any corner reason lends
To give sense light, unsought, untried?
To find how far our liberty extends,
And how refound we were
By th' Shepherd, and by the Son of the carpenter?
May not this skill and love in him requite
The white and better stone to mark,
And t' raise this time above all others higher,
Wherein He came (through Light)
Into the dark,
For to restore unto mankind its sight?
Most sure it will: and where neglect denies
To be observant of the day,
It proves not only forfeiture of eyes,
But all parts seem asleep
Or gone astray--
So's the house again unbuilt, and lost the sheep.
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