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I said to them, Offend you I am loath:
Yet since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do further see.
If that thou wilt not read, let it alone;
Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone.
Yea, that I may them better palliate,
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 Mine end,—thy good? Why may it not be done Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring
Yea, dark or bright, if 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 her fruit
None shall 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 snare, nor net, nor engine can make thine;
Or they will not be catch’d, whate'er you do.
They must be groped for, and be tickled, too.
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 please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle to catch this;
Yet if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in a toad's head dwell,
And may be found, too, in an oyster shell;
If things that promise nothing do contain
What 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 make
It with this or the other man to take)
Is not without those 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 olden time held forth
By types, shadows, and metaphors? Yet. loath
Will any sober many 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 by what 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 happy is 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 show not solid be;
All things in parable 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 enclose 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.
Am I afraid to say, that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of all these things,
Dark figures, allegories? Yet there springs
From that same book, that luster, 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 durst adventure ten, That they will take my meaning in these lines Far better than his lies in silver shrines. Come, truth, although in swaddling-clothes, I find Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind; Pleases the understanding, makes the will Submit; the memory, too, 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 nowhere doth forbid The use of parables; 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. O man of God, Arth thou offended? Dost thou wish I had Put forth iny matter in another dress? Or, that I had in things been more express? Three things let me propound; then I submit
To those that are my betters, as is fit.
1. I find not that I am denied the use
Of this my method, so I no 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 I say? Nay, I have leave
(Example, too, and that from them that have
God better pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breatheth now-a-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-wise; 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 plough,
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
Doth call for one thing to set forth another;
Use it I may then, and yet nothing smother
Truth's golden beams; nay, by this method may
Make it cast forth its rays as light as day.
And now, before I do put up my pen,
I'll show the profit of my Book; and then
Commit both thee and it unto that hand
That pulls the strong down and makes weak ones
This book is chalketh out before thine eyes The man that seeks the everlasting prize; It also shows you whence he comes, whither he
What he leaves undone; also what he does:
It shows you how he runs and runs
Till he unto the gate of glory comes
It shows, too, who set out for life amain,
As if the lasting crown they would obtain:
Here also you may see the reason why
They lose their labor, and like fools do die.
This book will make a traveler of thee,
If by its counsels thou wilt ruled be;
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its directions understand:
Yea, it will make the slothful active be;
The blind also delightful things to see.
Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Wouldst thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful. Wouldest thou remember
From New-year's day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies: they will stick like burrs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters.
This book was writ in such a dialect,
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest Gospel strains.
Would'st thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Would'st thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Would'st thou read riddles, and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or would'st thou see
A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Would'st thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or would'st thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Would'st thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Would'st read thyself, and read thou know'st not
what, And yet know whether thou art blest or not, By reading the same lines? Oh then come hither, And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.