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HEN at the first I took my pen in hand,
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another : which, when almost done,
Before I was aware, I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints in this our gospel day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory,
About their journey and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things, which I set down:
This done, I twenty more had in my crown,
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
Nay then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The book that I already am about.
Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To shew to all the world my pen and ink.
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what; nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbour; no, not I,
I did it mine own self to gratify.
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble; nor did I intend
But to divert myself in doing this,
From worser thoughts which make me do amiss.
Thus I set pen to paper with delight.
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white.
For having now my method by the end,
Still as I pulld it came; and so I penn'd
It down, until at last it came to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had put my ends together, I shew'd them others, that I might see whether They would condemn them or them justify: And some said, Let him live; some, Let him die; Some said, John print it; others said, Not so ; Some said, It might do good; others said, No.
Now I was in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me.
At last I thought, since you are thus divided,
I print it will, and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some I see would have it done,
Though others in that channel do not run:
To prove then who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.
I farther thought, if now I did deny
Those that would have it, thus to gratify,
I did not know but hinder them I might
Of that which would to them be great delight:
For those which were not for its coming forth,
I said to them, Offend you I am loth;
Yet since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do farther see.
If that you would not read, let it alone :
Some love the meat, some love to pick a bone.
Yea, that I might them better moderate,
I did too with them thus expostulate :
May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method too, and yet not miss
My end, thy good ? Why may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the fruit they yield together ;
Yea, so commixes both, that in their fruit
None can distinguish this from that; they suit
Her well when hungry; but if she be full,
She spews out both, and makes their blessings null.
You see the ways the fisherman doth take
To catch the fish; what engines doth he make?
Behold! how he engageth all his wits;
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets :
Yet fish there be, that neither hook nor line,
Nor snares, nor net, nor engine can make thine:
They must be grop'd for, and be tickled too,
Or they will not be catch’d, whate'er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game
By divers means ! all which one cannot name :
His gun, his nets, his lime twigs, light and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands : yea, who can tell
Of all his postures ? yet there's none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he pleasę.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle, to catch this ;
Yet, if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may on a toad's head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster-shell;
If things that promise nothing, do contain
W bat better is than gold ; who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look
That they may find it! Now my little book
(Though void of all these paintings that may
It with this or the other man to take)
Is not without these things that do excel
What do in brave, but empty notions dwell.
Well, yet I am not fully satisfied,
That this your book will stand, when soundly tried.
Why, what's the matter? It is dark: What though?
But it is feigned : What of that I trow,
Some men, by feigned words as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine !
But they want solidness : speak, man, thy mind :
They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen.
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs want solidness, because
By metaphors I speak ? Were not God's laws, .
His gospel laws, in older times held forth
By shadows, types, and metaphors ? yet loth
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The highest wisdom: No, he rather stoops.
And seeks to find out what by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,,
God speaketh to him; and full happy he
That finds the light and grace that in them be!
Be not too forward therefore to conclude
That I want solidness; that I am rude:
All things solid in shew, not solid be;
All things in parables despise not we,
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets inclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth ; yea, whoso considers
Christ, his apostles too, shall plainly see,
That truths to this day in such mantles be.
I am afraid to say that Holy Writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is every-where so full of all these things,
(Dark figures, allegories) yet there springs
From that same book, that lustre, and those rays
Of light; that turn our darkest nights to days.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book.
He findeth any: yea, and let him know
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one,
I dare adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning in these lines,
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come. Truth, although in swaddling-clouts I find,
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind;
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
Submit, the memory also it doth fill
With what doth our imagination please :
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives' fables he is to refuse;.
But yet grave Paul him no-where did forbid
The use of parable; in which lay hid
That gold, those pearls, and precious stones that were
Worth digging for, and that with greatest care.
Let me add one word more; ( man of God,
Art thou offended ? Dost thou wish I had
Put forth my matter in another dress ?
Or, that I had in things been more express ?
To those that are my betters, as is fit,
Three things let me propound, then I submit :
1. I find not that I am denied the use
Of this method, so I do not abuse
Put on the words, things, readers, or, be rude.
In handling figure or similitude,
In application; but all that I may
Seek the advance of truth this or that way.
Denied did say? Nay, I have leave
(Examples too, and that from them that have
God better pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breathes now in our days)
Thus to express my mind, thus to declare
Things unto thee that excellentest are.
2. I find that men (as high as trees) will write
Dialogue ways; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so : indeed if they abuse
• Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God; for who knows how.
Better than he that taught us first to plow,
To guide our minds and pens for his design?
And he makes base things usher in divine.
3, I find that Holy Writ, in many places,
Hath semblance with this method, where the cases
Do call for one thing to set forth another:
Use it I may then, and yet nothing smother