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Poems By Poet Ralph Erskine  12/20/2014 4:12:32 PM
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  RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752)

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Meditations on Smoking Tobacco; or, Smoking Spiritualized

Part 1.

This Indian weed now wither'd quite,
Though green at noon, cut down at night
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The pipe so lily-like and weak,
Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.
Thou art ev'n such,
Gone with a touch.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the smoke ascends on high,
Then thou behold'st the vanity
Of worldly stuff,
Gone with a puff.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the pipe grows foul within,
Think on thy soul defil'd with sin;
For then the fire
It does require.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And seest the ashes cast away;
Then to thyself thou may say,
That to the dust
Return thou must.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Part II.

Was this small plant for thee cut down?
So was the Plant of great renown;
Which mercy sends
For nobler ends.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Doth juice medicinal proceed
From such a naughty foreign weed?
Then what's the power
Of Jesse's flow'r?
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The promise, like the pipe, inlays,
And by the mouth of Faith conveys
What virtue flows
From Sharon's Rose.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

In vain th' unlighted pipe you blow;
Your pains in outward means are so,
Till heav'nly fire
Your heart inspire.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The smoke, like burning incense, tow'rs;
So should a praying heart of yours
With ardent cries
Surmount the skies.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
Ralph Erskine



The Believer's Soliloquy; Especially in Times of Desertion, Temptation, Affliction, &c.

Sect. I.

The deserted Believer longing for perfect freedom from sin.

Ah mournful case! what can afford
Contentment, when an absent Lord
Will now his kindness neither prove
By smiles of grace, nor lines of love!

What heart can joy, what soul can sing,
While winter over-runs the spring?
I die, yet can't my death condole;
Lord, save a dying, drooping soul.

In pain, yet unconcern'd I live,
And languish when I should believe.
Lord, if thou cease to come and stay,
My soul in sin will pine away.

In sin, whose ill no tongue can tell,
To live is death, to die is hell;
O save, if not from thrall's arrest,
Yet save me, Lord, from sin at least.

This for his merit's sake I seek,
Whose blood and wounds do mercy speak;
Who left the rank of glorious choirs,
And heav'nly flow'rs for earthly briers.

Our Samson took an holy nap
Upon our feeble nature's lap:
He wand'ring in a pilgrim's weed,
Did taste our griefs, to help our need.

Earth's fury did upon him light:
How black was Herod's cruel spite!
Who to be sure of murd'ring one,
Lest he be spar'd, did pity none!

Hell hunts the Babe; a few days old,
That came to rifle Satan's fold;
All hands pursu'd him, ev'n to death,
That came to save from sin and wrath.

O mercy! ignorant of bounds!
Which all created thought confounds;
He ran outright a saving race
For them that unto death him chase.

O sin! how heavy is thy weight,
That press'd the glorious God of might,
Till prostrate on the freezing ground,
He sweat his clotted blood around!

His hand the pond'rous globe does prop,
This weight ne'er made him sweat a drop:
But when sin's load upon him lies,
He falls, and sweats, and groans, and dies.

Alas! if God sink under sin.
How shall the man that dies therein?
How deeply down, when to the load
He adds the slighted blood of God?

Lord, let thy fall my rise obtain,
Thy grievous shame my glory gain;
Thy cross my lasting crown procure,
Thy death my endless life insure.

O send me down a draught of love,
Or take me hence to drink above;
Here Marah's water fills my cup,
But there all griefs are swallow'd up.

Love here is scarce a faint desire;
But there the spark's a flaming fire.
Joys here are drops that passing flee,
But there an ever-flowing sea.

My faith, that sees so darkly here,
Will there resign to vision clear;
My hope, that's here a weavy groan,
Will to fruition yield the throne.

Here fetters bamper freedom's wing,
But there the captive is a king:
And grace is like a bury'd seed,
But sinners there are saints indeed.

Thy portion's here a crumb at best,
But there the Lamb's eternal feast:
My praise is now a smother'd fire,
But then I'll sing and never tire.

Now dusky shadows cloud my day,
But then the shades will flee away:
My Lord will break the dimming glass,
And shew his glory face to face.

My num'rous foes now beat me down,
But then I'll wear the victor's crown;
Yet all the revenues I'll bring
To Zion's everlasting King.

Sect. II.

The deserted Believer's prayer under complaints of unbelief, darkness, deadness, and hardness.

What means this wicked, wand'ring heart?
This trembling ague of my soul?
Would Jesus but a look impart,
One look from him would make me whole.

But will he turn to me his face,
From whom he justly did withdraw?
To me who slighted all that grace
I in my past experience saw?

Lord, for thy promise sake return,
Apply thy pard'ning, cleansing blood;
Look down with pity on a worm,
With cov'nant-mercy do me good.

When thy free Sp'rit the word applies,
And kindly tells me thou art mine,
My faithless sinking heart replies,
Ah, Lord! I wish I could be thine.

My faith's so 'nighted in my doubts,
I cast the offer'd good away;
And lose, by raising vain disputes,
The wonted blessings of the day.

Was e'er one press'd with such a load,
Or pierc'd with such an unseen dart:
To find at once an absent God,
And yet, alas! a careless heart?

Such grief as mine, a griefless grief,
Did ever any mortal share?
An hopeless hope, a lifeless life,
Or such unwonted careless care?

'Tis sad, Lord! when for night's solace
Nor moon nor starry gleams appear:
Yet worse, when in this dismal case
My heart is harden'd from thy fear.

'Twas not because no show'rs did flow
Of heav'nly manna, at my door;
But by my folly I'm into
A worse condition than before.

Come, Lord, with greater pow'rs, for why?
Mine, sure, is not a common case:
Thou offer'st to unvail; yet I
Do scarce incline to see thy face.

Such languid faint desires I feel
Within this wicked stupid heart:
I should, I would, but that I will
I hardly dare with truth assert.

O to be free of that vile wrack,
That basely keeps me from my God!
I flee from thee, Lord! bring me back
By tender love, or by thy rod.

In paths of righteousness direct,
New proofs of thy remission give;
Then of thy name I'll mention make
With grateful praises while I live.

On banks of mercy's boundless deep,
With sweeter ease I'll soar and sing,
Than kings of feather'd hosts that sweep
The oozy shore with easy wing.

But if thy mind omniscient know
I'm for this absent bliss unfit,
Give grace to hate my sins, and to
Their righteous punishment submit.

But let me ne'er thy Spirit lack,
That by his aid my pray'rs may come
Before him who can wisely make
Ev'n distance lead his people home.

Deep wisdom can my soul prepare
By present woes for absent bliss.
By acid griefs that now I share,
He can convey the joys I miss.

Who all from nothing's womb disclo'sd,
Can make th' amazing product cease;
With him our order is confus'd,
By him confusion brings forth peace.

Then, Lord, ne'er let me basely spurn
Against thy searchless unknown ways?
But magnify thy work, and turn
My groans and murmurs into praise.

Let me submissive, while I live,
Thy awful justice own with fear:
Yet pensive let me never grieve
Thy tender mercy by despair.

Since though by sin I foully swerv'd
And lewdly from thy glory fell,
I'm chasten'd here, and not reserv'd
To feel the weight of sin and hell.

The high right hand's once joyful days
In my distress I'll call to mind;
And own that all thy darkest ways
Will clearly prove thee good and kind.

Sect. III.

The Believer wading through depths of desertion and corruption.

Lord, when thy face thou hid'st,
And leav'st me long to plore,
I faithless doubt of all thou didst
And wrought'st for me before.

No marks of love I find,
No grains of grace, but wracks:
No track of heav'n is left behind,
No groan, nor smoking flax.

But say, if all the gusts
And grains of love he spent,
Say, Farewell Christ, and welcome lusts:
Stop, stop; I melt, I faint.

Lord, yet thou hast my heart,
This bargain black I hate;
I dare not, cannot, will not part
With thee at such a rate.

Once like a father good,
Thou didst with grace perfume;
Wast thou a father to conclude
With dreadful judge's doom?

Confirm thy former deed.
Reform what is defil'd;
I was, I am, I'll still abide
Thy choice, thy charge, thy child.

Love-seals thou didst impart,
Lock'd up in mind I have;
Hell cannot raise out of my heart
What Heav'n did there engrave.

Thou once didst make me whole
By thy almighty hand:
Thou mad'st me vow, and gift my soul;
Both vow and gift shall stand.

But, since my folly gross
My joyful cup did spill,
Make me, the captive of thy cross,
Submissive to thy will.

Self in myself I hate,
That's matter of my groan;
Nor can I rid me from the mate
That causes me to moan.

O frail unconstant flesh!
Soon trapt in ev'ry gin;
Soon turn'd, o'erturn'd, and so afresh
Plung'd in the gulph of sin.

Shall I be slave to sin,
My Lord's most bloody foe!
Feel its powerful sway within,
How long shall it be so?

How long, Lord, shall I stay?
How long in Mesech here?
Dishon'ring thee from day to day,
Whose name to me's so dear?

While sin, Lord, breeds my grief,
And makes me sadly pine;
With blinks of grace, O grant relief,
Till beams of glory shine.

Sect. IV.

Complaint of sin, sorrow, and want of love.

If black doom by desert should go,
Then, Lord, my due desert is death;
Which robs from souls immortal joy,
And from their bodies mortal breath.

But in so great a Saviour,
Can e'er so base a worm's annoy
Add any glory to thy pow'r,
Or any gladness to thy joy?

Thou justly mayst me doom to death,
And everlasting flames of fire;
But on a wretch to pour thy wrath
Can never sure be worth thine ire.

Since Jesus the atonement was,
Let tender mercy me release;
Let him be umpire of my cause,
And pass the gladsome doom of peace.

Let grace forgive and love forget
My base, my vile apostasy;
And temper thy deserved hate
With love and mercy towards me.

The ruffling winds and raging blasts
Hold me in constant cruel chace;
They break my anchors, sails, and masts,
Allowing no reposing place.

The boist'rous seas with swelling floods,
On ev'ry side against me fight.
Heaven, overcast with stormy clouds,
Dims all the planets' guiding light.

The hellish furies lie in wait,
To win my soul into their pow'r;
To make me bite at ev'ry bait,
And thus my killing bane devour.

I lie inchain'd in sin and thrall,
Next border unto black despair;
Till grace restore, and of my fall
The doleful ruins all repair.

My hov'ring thoughts would flee to glore,
And nestle safe above the sky;
Fain would my tumbling ship ashore
At that sure anchor quiet lie.

But mounting thoughts are haled down
With heavy poise of corrupt load;
And blust'ring storms deny with frown
A harbour of secure abode.

To drown with weight that wakes the blast,
Thy sin-subduing grace afford;
The storm might cease, could I but cast
This troublous Jonah over-board.

Base flesh, with fleshly pleasures gain'd,
Sweet grace's kindly suit declines;
When mercy courts me for its friend,
Anon my sordid flesh repines.

Soar up, my soul, to Tabor hill,
Cast off this loathsome pressing load;
Long is the date of thine exile,
While absent from the Lord, thy God.

Dote not on earthly weeds and toys,
Which do not, cannot suit thy taste:
The flow'rs of everlasting joys
Grow up apace for thy repast.

Sith that the glorious God above
In Jesus bears a love to thee,
How base, how brutish is thy love
Of any being less than he?

Who for thy love did chuse thy grief,
Content in love to live and die:
Who lov'd thy love more than his life,
And with his life thy love did buy.

Since then the God of richest love
With thy poor love enamour'd is:
How high a crime will thee reprove
If not enamour'd deep with his?

Since on the verdant field of grace
His love does thine so hot pursue:
Let love meet love with chaste embrace,
Thy mite a thousand-fold is due.

Rise love, thou early heav'n, and sing,
Young little dawn of endless day:
I'll on thy mounting fiery wing
In joyful raptures melt away.

Sect. V.

The deserted Soul's prayer for the Lord's gracious and sin-subduing presence.

Kind Jesus, come in love to me,
And make no longer stay;
Or else receive my soul to thee,
That breaths to be away.

A Lazar at thy gate I lie,
As well it me becomes,
For children's bread asham'd to cry:
O grant a dog the crumbs.

My wounds and rags my need proclaim,
Thy needful help insure:
My wounds bear witness that I'm lame,
My rags that I am poor.

Thou many at thy door dost feed
With mercy when distrest;
O wilt thou not shew an alms deed
To me among the rest?

None else can give my soul relief,
None else can ease my moan,
But he whose absence is my grief:
All other joys be gone.

How can I cease from sad complaint,
How can I be at rest?
My mind can never be content
To want my noble guest.

Drop down, mine eyes, and never tire,
Cease not on any terms,
Until I have my heart's desire,
My Lord within mine arms.

My heart, my hand, my spirits fail,
When hiding off he goes;
My flesh, my foes my lusts prevail,
And work my daily woes.

When shall I see that glorious sight
Will all my sins destroy?
That Lord of love, that lamp of light,
Will banish all annoy?

O could I but from sinning cease,
And wait on Pisgah's hill,
Until I see him face to face,
Then should my soul be still.

But since corruption cleaves to me
While I in Kedar dwell;
O give me leave to long for thee,
For absence is a hell.

Thy glory should be dear to me,
Who me so dear hast bought:
O save from rend'ring ill to thee
For good which thou hast wrought.

With fear I crave, with hope I cry,
Oh promis'd favour send;
Be thou thyself though changeling I
Ungratefully offend.

Out of thy way remove the lets,
Cleanse this polluted den;
Tender my suits, cancel my debts:
Sweet Jesus, say Amen.

Sect. VI.

The Song of Heaven desired by Saints on Earth.

Aurora veils her rosy face
When brighter Phoebus takes her place;
So glad will grace resign her room
To glory in the heav'nly home.

Happy the company that's gone
From cross to crown, from thrall to throne;
How loud they sing upon the shore,
To which they sail'd in heart before!

Bless'd are the dead, yea, saith the word,
That die in Christ the living Lord,
And on the other side of death
Thus joyful spend their praising breath.

'Death from all death has set us free,
And will our gain for ever be;
Death loos'd the massy chains of woe,
To let the mournful captives go.

Death is to us a sweet repose;
The bud was op'd to shew the rose;
The cage was broke to let us fly,
And build our happy nest on high.

Lo, here we do triumphant reign,
And joyful sing in lofty strain:
Lo, here we rest, and love to be,
Enjoying more than faith could see.

The thousandth part we now behold,
By mortal tongues was never told;
We got a taste, but now above
We forage in the fields of love.

Faith once stole down a distant kiss.
Now love cleaves to the cheek of bliss:
Beyond the fears of more mishap
We gladly rest in glory's lap.

Earth was to us a seat of war,
In thrones of triumph now we are.
We long'd to see our Jesus dear,
And sought him there, but find him here.

We walk in white without annoy,
In glorious galleries of joy:
And crown'd with everlasting bays,
We rival Cherubs in their praise.

No longer we complain of wants,
We see the glorious King of saints,
Amidst his joyful hosts around,
With all the divine glory crown'd.

We see him at his table head
With living water, living bread,
His cheerful guests incessant load
With all the plentitude of God.

We see the holy flaming fires,
Cherubic and seraphic choirs;
And gladly join with those on high,
To warble praise eternally.

Glory to God that here we came,
And glory to the glorious Lamb.
Our light, our life, our joy, our all
Is in our arms, and ever shall.

Our Lord is ours, and we are his;
Yea, now we see him as he is:
And hence we like unto him are,
And full his glorious image share.

No darkness now, no dismal night,
No vapour intercepts the light;
We see for ever face to face,
The highest Prince in highest place.

This, this does heav'n enough afford,
We are for ever with the Lord:
We want no more, for all is giv'n;
His presence is the heart of heav'n.'

While thus I laid my list'ning ear
Close to the door of heav'n to hear;
And then the sacred page did view,
Which told me all I heard was true;

Yet shew'd me that the heav'nly song
Surpasses ev'ry mortal tongue,
With such unutterable strains
As none in fett'ring flesh attains:

Then said I, 'O to mount away,
And leave this clog of heavy clay!
Let wings of time more hasty fly,
That I may join the songs on high.'
Ralph Erskine




M UCH fam'd on earth, renown'd for piety;
A midst bright seraphs now sings cheerfully,
S acred thine anthems yield much pleasure here;
T hese songs of thine do truly charm the ear.
E each line thou wrot'st doth admiration raise;
R ouse up the soul to true seraphic praise.

R eligiously thy life below was spent:
A mazing pleasures now thy soul content.
L ong didst thou labour in the church below;
P ointing out Christ, the Lamb who saves from wo,
H eaven's blessedness on sinners to bestow.

E rskine the great! whose pen spread far abroad,
R edeeming love; the sole device of God;
S ubstantial themes thy thoughts did much pursue;
K ept pure the truth, espous'd but by a few.
I ntegrity of heart, of soul serene;
N o friend to vice, no cloke to the profane:
E mploy'd thy talents to reclaim the vain.
Ralph Erskine



The Believer's Espousals : Chapter II.

The manner of a Sinner's divorce from the Law in a work of Humiliation, and his Marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ; or, the way how a Sinner comes to be a Believer.

Sect. I.

Of a Law-Work, and the workings of legal pride under it.

So proud's the bride, so backwardly dispos'd;
How then shall e'er the happy match be clos'd?
Kind grace the tumults of her heart must quell,
And draw her heav'nward by the gates of hell.
The bridegroom's Father makes by's holy Sp'rit,
His stern command with her stiff conscience meet;
To dash her pride, and shew her utmost need,
Pursues for double debt with awful dread.
He makes her former husband's frightful ghost
Appear and damn her, as a bankrupt lost;
With curses, threats, and Sinai thunder-claps,
Her lofty tow'r of legal boasting saps.
These humbling storms, in high or low degrees,
Heav'n's Majesty will measure as he please;
But still he makes the fiery law at least
Pronounce its awful sentence in her breast,
Till through the law convict of being lost,
She hopeless to the law gives up the ghost:
Which now in rigour comes full debt to crave,
But in close prison cast; but not to save.
For now 'tis weak and can't (through our default)
Its greatest votaries of life exalt.
But well it can command with fire and flame,
And to the lowest pit of ruin damn.
Thus doth it, by commission from above,
Deal with the bride, when Heav'n would court her love.

Lo! now she startles at the Sinai trump,
Which throws her soul into a dismal dump;
Conscious another husband she must have,
Else die for ever in destruction's grave.
While in conviction's jail she's thus inclos'd,
Glad news are heard, the royal Mate's propos'd
And now the scornful bride's inverted stir
Is raking fear, he scorn to match with her.
She dreads his fury, and despairs that he
Will ever wed so vile a wretch as she.
And here the legal humour stirs again
To her prodigious loss, and grievous pain:
For when the Prince presents himself to be
Her husband, then she deems; Ah! is not he
Too fair a match for such a filthy bride?
Unconscious that the thought bewrays her pride,
Ev'n pride of merit, pride of righteousness,
Expecting Heav'n should love her for her dress;
Unmindful how the fall her face did stain,
And made her but a black unlovely swain,
Her whole primeval beauty quite defac'd,
And to the rank of fiends her form debas'd;
Without disfigur'd, and defil'd within,
Uncapable of any thing but sin.
Heav'n courts not any for their comely face.
But for the glorious praise of sov'reign grace,
Else ne'er had courted one of Adam's race,
Which all as children of corruption be
Heirs rightful of immortal misery.

Yet here the bride employs her foolish wit,
For this bright match her ugly form to fit;
To daub her features o'er with legal paint,
That with a grace she may herself present:
Hopeful the Prince with credit might her wed,
If once some comely qualities she had.
In humble pride, her haughty spirit flags;
She cannot think of coming all in rags,
Were she a humble, faithful penitent,
She deams he'd then contract with full content:
Base valet! thinks she'd be a match for him,
Did she but deck herself in handsome trim.
Ah! foolish thought! in legal deeps that plod;
Ah! sorry notions of a sov'reign God!
Will God expose his great, his glorious Son,
For our vile baggage to be sold and won?
Should sinful modesty the match decline,
Until its garb be brisk and superfine;
Alas! when should we see the marriage-day?
The happy bargain must flee up for ay.
Presumptuous souls, in surly modesty,
Half-saviours of themselves would fondly be.
Then hopeful th' other half their due will fall,
Disdain to be in Jesus' debt for all.
Vainly they first would wash themselves, and then
Address the Fountain to be wash'd more clean;
First heal themselves, and then expect the balm:
Ah! many slightly cure their sudden qualm.
They heal their conscience with a tear or pray'r;
And seek no other Christ, but perish there.

O sinner! search the house, and see the thief
That spoils thy Saviour's crown, thy soul's relief,
The hid, but heinous sin of unbelief.
Who can possess a quality that's good,
Till first he come to Jesus' cleansing blood?
The pow'r that draws the bride, will also shew
Unto her by the way her hellish hue,
As void of ev'ry virtue to commend,
And full of ev'ry vice that will offend.
Till sov'reign grace the sullen bride shall catch,
She'll never fit herself for such a match.

Most qualify'd they are in heav'n to dwell,
Who see themselves most qualify'd for hell;
And, ere the bride can drink salvation's cup,
Kind Heav'n must reach to hell and lift her up;
For no decorum e'er about her found,
Is she belov'd: but on a nobler ground.
Jehovah's love, is like his nature, free,
Nor must his creature challenge his decree;
But low at sov'reign grace's footstool creep,
Whose ways are searchless, and his judgements deep,
Yet grace's suit, meets with resistance rude
From haughty souls; for lack of innate good
To recommend them. Thus the backward bride
Affronts her suitor with her modest pride;
Black hatred for his offer'd love repays,
Pride under mask of modesty displays:
In part would save herself; hence, saucy soul!
Rejects the matchless Mate would save in whole.

Sect. II.

Conviction of Sin and Wrath, carried on more deeply and effectually in the Heart.

So proudly forward is the bride, and now
Stern Heav'n begins to stare with cloudier brow;
Law-curses come with more condemning pow'r,
To scorch her conscience with a fiery show'r.
And more refulgent flashes darted in;
For by the law the knowledge is of sin.
Black Sinai thund'ring louder than before,
Does awful in her lofty bosom roar.
Heav'n's furious storms now rise from ev'ry airth,
In ways more terrible to shake the earth,
Till haughtiness of men be sunk thereby,
That Christ alone may be exalted high.

Now stable earth seems from her centre tost,
And lofty mountains in the ocean lost.
Hard rocks of flint, and haughty hills of pride,
Are torn in pieces by the roaring tide.
Each flash of new conviction's lucid rays,
Heart-errors, undiscern'd till now, displays;
Wrath's massy cloud upon the conscience breaks,
And thus menacing Heav'n in thunder speaks:
'Black wretch, thou madly under foot hast trode
Th' authority of a commanding God;
Thou, like thy kindred that in Adam fell,
Art but a law-renversing lump of hell,
And there by law and justice doom'd to dwell.'
Now, now, the daunted bride her state bewails,
And downward furls her self-exalting sails:
With pungeant fear, and piercing terror, brought
To mortify her lofty legal thought.
Why? the commandment comes, sin is reviv'd,
That lay so hid, while to the law she liv'd;
Infinite majesty in God is seen,
And infinite malignity is sin;
That to its expiation must amount
A sacrifice of infinite account.
Justice its dire severity displays,
The law its vast dimensions open lays.
She sees for this broad standard nothing meet,
Save an obedience sinless and complete.
Her cobweb righteousness, once in renown,
Is with a happy vengeance now swept down.

She who of daily faults could once but prate,
Sees now her sinful, miserable state:
Her heart, where once she thought some good to dwell,
The devil's cab'net fill'd with trash of hell.
Her boasted features now unmasked bare,
Her vaunted hopes are plung'd in deep despair.
Her haunted shelter-house in by-past years,
Comes tumbling down about her frighted ears.
Her former rotten faith, love, penitence.
She sees a bowing wall, a tott'ring fence:
Excellencies of thought, of word, and deed,
All swimming, drowning in a sea of dread.
Her beauty now deformity she deems,
Her heart much blacker than the devil seems,
With ready lips she can herself declare
The vilest ever breath'd in vital air.
Her former hopes, as refuges of lies,
Are swept away, and all her boasting dies.
She once imagin'd Heav'n would be unjust
To damn so many lumps of human dust
Form'd by himself; but now she owns it true,
Damnation surely is the sinner's due:
Yea, now applauds the law's just doom so well,
That justly she condemns herself to hell;
Does herein divine equity acquit,
Herself adjudging to the lowest pit.
Her language 'Oh! if God condemn, I must
From bottom of my soul declare him just.
But if his great salvation me embrace,
How loudly will I sing surprising grace!
If from the pit he to the throne me raise,
I'll rival angels in his endless praise.
If hell-deserving me to heav'n he bring,
No heart so glad, no tongue so loud shall sing.
If wisdom has not laid the saving plan,
I nothing have to claim, I nothing can.
My works but sin, my merit death I see;
Oh! mercy, mercy, mercy! pity me.'

Thus all self-justifying pleas are dropp'd,
Most guilty she becomes, her mouth is stopp'd,
Pungent remorse does her past conduct blame,
And flush her conscious cheek with spreading shame.
Her self-conceited heart is self-convict,
With barbed arrows of compunction bunny'd:
Wonders how justice spares her vital breath,
How patient Heav'n adjourns the day of wrath:
How pliant earth does not with open jaws
Devour her, Korah-like, for equal cause;
How yawning hell, that gapes for such a prey,
Is frustrate with a further hour's delay.
She that could once her mighty works exalt,
And boast devotion fram'd without a fault,
Extol her nat'ral pow'rs, is now brought down,
Her former madness, not her pow'rs, to own.
Her present beggar'd state, most void of grace,
Unable e'en to wail her woful case,
Quite pow'rless to believe, repent, or pray;
Thus pride of duties flies and dies away.
She, like a harden'd wretch, a stupid stone,
Lies in the dust, and cries, Undone, Undone.

Sect. III.

The deeply humbled Soul Relieved with some saving discoveries of Christ the Redeemer

When thus the wounded bride perceives full well
Herself the vilest sinner out of hell,
The blackest monster in the universe;
Pensive if clouds of woe shall e'er disperse:
When in her breast Heav'n's wrath so fiercely glows,
'Tixt fear and guilt her bones have no repose.
When flowing billows of amazing dread
Swell to a deluge o'er her sinking head;
When nothing in her heart is found to dwell,
But horrid Atheism, enmity, and hell;
When endless death and ruin seems at hand,
And yet she cannot for her soul command
A sigh to ease it, or a gracious thought,
Though heav'n could at this pretty rate be bought:
When darkness and confusion overcloud,
When wholly without strength to move or stir,
And not a star by night appears to her;
But she, while to the brim her troubles flow,
Stands, trembling on the utmost brink of woe.

Ah! weary case! but how in this sad plight.
The sun arises with surprising light.
The darkest midnight is his usual time
Of rising and appearing in his prime,
To shew the hills from whence salvation springs,
And chase the gloomy shades with golden wings,
The glorious husband now unwails his face,
And shews his glory full of truth and grace;
Presents unto the bride, in that dark hour,
Himself a Saviour, both by price and pow'r;
A mighty helper to redeem the lost,
Relieve and ransom to the uttermost;
To seek the vagrant sheep to deserts driv'n,
And save from lowest hell to highest heav'n.
Her doleful case he sees, his bowels move,
And make her time of need her time of love.
He shews, to prove himself her mighty shield,
His name is Jesus, by his father seal'd:
A name with attributes engrav'd within,
To save from ev'ry attribute of sin.

With wisdom, sin's great folly to expose;
And righteousness, its chain of guilt to loose;
Sanctification, to subdue its sway;
Redemption, all its woful brood to slay.
Each golden letter of his glorious name
Bears full deliv'rance, both from sin and shame,
Yea, not privation bare from sin and woe,
But thence all positive salvations flow,
To make her wise, just, holy, happy too.
He now appears, a match exactly meet
To make her ev'ry way in him complete,
In whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells,
That she may boast in him and nothing else.
In gospel lines she now perceives the dawn
Of Jesus' love with bloody pencil drawn;
How God in him is infinitely pleas'd,
And Heav'n's avenging fury whole appeas'd:
Law-precepts magnify'd by her belov'd,
And ev'ry let to stop the match remov'd.
Now, in her view, the prison-gates break ope,
Wide to the walls flies up the door of hope;
And now she sees, with pleasure unexpress'd,
For shatter'd barks, a happy shore of rest.

Sect. IV.

The working of the Spirit of Faith, in separating the Heart from all Self-Righteousness, and drawing out its consent to, and desire after Christ alone and wholly.

The bride at Sinai little understood,
How these law-humblings were design'd for good,
T' enhance the value of her husband's blood.
The tow'r of tott'ring pride thus batter'd down,
Makes way for Christ alone to wear the crown.
Conviction's arrows pierc'd her heart, that so
The blood from his pierc'd heart, to her's might flow.
The law's sharp plough tears up the fallow ground,
Where not a grain of grace was to be found,
Till straight, perhaps, behind the plough is sown
The hidden seed of faith, as yet unknown.

Hence now the once reluctant bride's inclin'd
To give the gospel an assenting mind,
Dispos'd to take, would grace the pow'r impart,
Heav'n's offer with a free consenting heart
His Spirit in the gospel-chariot rides,
And shews his loving heart to draw the bride's;
Tho' oft in clouds his drawing pow'r he hides,
His love in gracious offers to her bears,
In kindly answers to her doubts and fears,
Resolving all objections more or less,
From former sins, or present worthlessness.
Persuades her mind of's conjugal consent,
And then impow'rs her heart to say, Content,
Content to be divorced from the law,
No more the yoke of legal terms to draw:
Content that he dissolve the former match,
And to himself alone her heart attach:
Content to join with Christ at any rate,
And wed him as her everlasting mate:
Content that he should ever wear the bays,
And of her whole salvation have the praise:
Content that he should rise though she should fall,
And to be nothing, that he may be all:
Content that he, because she nought can do,
Do for her all her work, and in her too.
Here she a peremptory mind displays,
That he do all the work, get all the praise.
And now she is, which ne'er till now took place,
Content entirely to be sav'd by grace.
She owns that her salvation must be free;
And therefore her salvation must be free;
That nothing being hers but sin and thrall,
She must be debtor unto grace for all.

Hence comes she to him in her naked case,
To be invested with his righteousness.
She comes, as guilty, to her pardon free;
As vile and filthy, to a cleansing sea:
As poor and empty, to the richest stock;
As week and feeble, to the strongest rock:
As perishing, unto a shield from thrall;
As worse than nothing, to an all in all.
She, as a blinded mole, an ign'rant fool,
Comes for instruction to the Prophet's school.
She, with a hell-deserving conscious breast,
Flees for atonement to the worthy Priest.
She, as a slave to sin and Satan, wings
Her flight for help unto the King of kings.
She all her maladies and plagues brings forth
To this Physician of eternal worth.
She spreads before his throne her filthy sore;
And lays her broken bones down at his door.
No might she has to buy a crumb of bliss,
And therefore comes impov'rish'd, as she is.
By sin and Satan of all good bereft,
Comes e'en as bare as they her soul have left.
To sense, as free of holiness within,
As Christ, the spotless Lamb, was free of sin.
She comes by faith, true; but it shew her want,
And brings her as a sinner, not a saint;
A wretched sinner flying for her good
To justifying, sanctifying blood.
Strong faith no strength, nor power of acting, vaunts,
But acts in sense of weakness and of wants.
Drain'd now of ev'ry thing that men may call
Terms and conditions of relief from thrall;
Except this one, that Jesus be her all.

When to the bride he gives espousing faith,
It finds her under sin, and guilt, and wrath,
And makes her as a plagued wretch to fall
At Jesus' footstool for the cure of all.
Her whole salvation now in him she seeks,
And musing thus perhaps in secret speaks:

'Lo! all my burdens may in him be eas'd;
The justice I offended he has pleas'd;
The bliss that I have forfeit he procur'd;
The curse that I deserved he endur'd;
The law that I have broken he obey'd;
The debt that I contracted he has paid:
And though a match unfit for him I be,
I find him ev'ry way most fit for me.

Sweet Lord, I think, wouldst thou thyself impart,
I'd welcome thee with open hand and heart.
But thou that sav'st by price, must save by pow'r;
O send thy Spirit in a fiery show'r,
This cold and frozen heart of mine to thaw,
That nought, save cords of burning love, can draw,
O draw me, Lord, then will I run to thee,
And glad into thy glowing bosom flee.
I own myself a mass of sin and hell,
A brat that can do nothing but rebel:
But, didst thou not as sacred pages shew,
(When rising up to spoil the hellish crew,
That had by thousands, sinners captive made,
And hadst in conqu'ring chains them captive led,)
Get donatives, not for thy proper gain,
But royal bounties for rebellious men,
Gifts, graces, and the Spirit without bounds,
For God's new house with man on firmer grounds.
O then let me a rebel now come speed,
Thy holy Spirit is the gift I need.
His precious graces too, the glorious grant,
Thou kindly promis'd, and I gently want.
Thou art exalted to the highest place,
To give repentance, faith, and ev'ry grace.
O Giver of spiritual life and breath,
The author and the finisher of faith;
Thou husband-like must ev'ry thing provide,
If e'er the like of me become thy bride.'

Sect. V.

Faith's view of the Freedom of Grace, cordial renunciation of all its own ragged Righteousness, and formal acceptance of, and closing with the Person of the glorious Christ.

The bride with open eyes, that once were dim,
Sees now her whole salvation lies in him;
The prince, who is not in dispensing nice,
But freely gives without her pains or price;
This magnifies the wonder in her eye,
Who not a farthing has wherewith to buy;
For now her humbled mind can disavow
Her boasted beauty and assuming brow;
With conscious eye discern her emptiness,
With candid lips her poverty confess.
For now her humbled mind can disavow
Her boasted beauty and assuming brow;
With conscious eye discern her emptiness,
With candid lips her poverty confess.
'O glory to the Lord, that grace is free,
Else never would it light on guilty me.
I nothing have with me to be its price,
But hellish blackness, enmity, and vice.'
In former times she dust, presuming, come
To grace's market, with a petty sum
Of duties, prayers, tears, a boasted set,
Expecting Heav'n would thus be in her debt.
These were the price, at least she did suppose
She'd be the welcomer because of those:
But now she sees the vileness of her vogue,
The dung that close doth ev'ry duty clog;
The sin that doth her holiness reprove,
The enmity that close attends her love;
The great heart hardness of her penitence,
The stupid dulness of her vaunted sense;
The unbelief of former blazed faith,
The utter nothingness of all she hath.
The blackness of her beauty she can see,
The pompous pride of strain'd humility,
The naughtiness of all her tears and pray'rs,
And now renounces all as worthless wares;
And finding nothing to commend herself,
But what might damn her, her embezzled pelf;
At sov'reign grace's feet does prostrate fall,
Content to be in Jesus' debt for all.
Her noised virtue vanish out of sight,
As starry tapers at meridian light;
While sweetly, humbly, she beholds at length
Christ as her only righteousness and strength.
He with the view throws down his loving dart,
Imprest with power into her tender heart.
The deeper that the law's fierce dart was thrown,
Hence sweetly pain'd, her cries to heav'n do flee;
'O none but Jesus, none but Christ, for me:
O glorious Christ, O beauty, beauty rare,
Ten thousand thousand heav'n's are not so fair,
In him at once all beauties meet and shine,
The white and ruddy, human and divine.
As in his low, he's in his high abode,
The brightest image of the unseen God.
How justly do the harpers sing above,
His doing, dying, rising, reigning love!
How justly does he, when his work is done,
Possess the centre of his Father's throne?
How justly does his awful throne before
Seraphic armies prostrate him adore;
That's both by nature and donation crown'd,
With all the grandeur of the Godhead round?

But wilt thou, Lord, in very deed come dwell
With me, that was a burning brand of hell?
With me so justly reckon'd worse and less
Than insect, mite, or atom can express?
Wilt thou debase thy high imperial form,
To match with such a mortal crawling worm?
Yea, sure thine errand to our earthly coast,
Was in deep love to seek and save the lost;
And since thou design'st the like of me to wed,
O come and make my heart thy marriage-bed.
Fair Jesus, wilt thou marry filthy me?
Amen, Amen, Amen; so let it be.'
Ralph Erskine

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Poems By Poet Ralph Erskine