Michael Wigglesworth

To The Christian Reader

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Reader, I am a fool;
And have adventured
To play the fool this once for Christ,
The more his fame to spread.
If this my foolishness
Help thee to be more wise,
I have attained what I seek,
And what I onely prize.

Thou wonderest perhaps,
That I in Print appear,
Who to the Pulpit dwell so nigh,
Yet come so seldome there.
The God of Heaven knows
What grief to me it is,
To be with-held from Serving Christ:
No sorrow like to this.

This is the sorest pain
That I have felt of feel:
Yet have I stood some shocks that might
Make stronger Men to reel.
I find more true delight
In serving of my Lord,
Tan all the good things upon Earth,
Without it, can afford.

And could my strength endure,
That work I count so dear;
Not all the Riches of Peru
Should hire me to forbear;
But I'm a Prisoner,
Under a heavy Chain:
Almighty God's afflicting hand,
Doth me perforce restrain.

Yet some (I know) do judge,
Mine inability,
To come abroad and do Christ's Work,
To be Melancholy;
And that I'm not so weak,
As I my self conceit,
But who, in other things have found
Me so conceited yet?

Or who of all my friends,
That have my tryals seen,
Can tell the time in seven years,
When I have dumpish been?
Some think my voice is strong,
Most times when I do Preach:
But ten days after what I feel
And suffer, few can reach.

My prisoned thoughts break forth,
When open'd is the door,
With greater force and violence,
And strain my voice the more.
But vainly do they tell,
That I am growing stronger,
Who hear me speak in half an hour,
Till I can speak no longer.

Some for, because they see not
My chearfulness to fail,
Nor that I am disconsolate,
Do think I nothing ail.
If they had born my griefs,
Their courage might have fail'd them,
And all the Town (perhaps) have known
(Once and again) what ail'd them.

But why should I complain
That have so good a God,
That doth mine heart with comfort fill,
Ev'n whilst I feel his Rod?
In God I have been strong,
When wearied and worn out;
And joy'd in him, when twenty woes
Assail'd me round about.

Nor speak I this to boast;
But make Apology
For mine own self, and answer those
That fail in Charity.
I am (alas) as frail,
Impatient a Creature,
As most that tread upon the ground,
And have as bad a nature.

Let God be magnify'd,
Whose everlasting strength
Upholds me under sufferings
Of more than ten years length.
Through whose Almighty pow'r
Although I am surrounded
With sorrows more than can be told,
Yet am I not confounded.

For his dear sake have I
This service undertaken,
For I am bound to honour Him,
Who hath not me forsaken.
I am a Debtor too,
Unto the sons of Men;
Whom wanting other means, I would
Advantage with my Pen.

I would, But (ah!) my strength,
When tried, proves so small,
That to the ground without effect,
My wishes often fall.
Weak heads, and hands, and states,
Great things cannot produce:
And therefore I this little Piece
Have publish'd for thine use.

Although the thing be small,
Yet my good will therein,
Is nothing less then if it had
A larger Volumn been.
Accept it then in Love,
And read it for thy good:
There's nothing in't can do thee hurt,
If rightly understood.

The God of Heaven grant
These Lines so well to speed,
That thou the things of thine own peace,
Through them may'st better heed,
And may'st be stirred up
To stand upon thy guard,
That Death and Judgment may not come,
And find thee unprepar'd.

Oh get a part in Christ,
And make the Judge thy Friend:
So shalt thou be assured of
A happy, glorious end.
Thus prayes thy real Friend,
And Servant for Christ's Sake,
Who had he strength would not refuse,
More pains for thee to take.

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Michael Wigglesworth