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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 pull'd, it came; and so I penn'd
It down, until it came at last to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had thus put my ends together, I show'd them others, that I might see whether They would condemn them, or them justify; And some said, Let them live; some, Let them 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 loath:"
Yet since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge 'till you do farther see.
If that thou wilt 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 noné
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 blessing 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;
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 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 spaugle, and its rays to shine!
But they want solidness: speak, man, thy mind:
They drown the weak; us, metaphors make 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 loath
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 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 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 show, 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 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 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 shines.
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 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,
Art thou offended? Dost thou wish I had
Put forth thy 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 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,
(Examples too, and that from them that have
God better pleased by their words and 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 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:
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 stand.
This book it chalketh out before thine eyes
The man that seeks the everlasting prize:
It shows you whence he comes, whither he goes;
What he leaves undone; also what he does;
It also shows you, how he runs, and runs,
Till he unto the gate of glory comes.