XXVII. Breathing after God, and weary of the World.

’Tis no mean Beauty of the Ground

That has allur’d my Eyes;

I faint beneath a nobler Wound,

Nor Love below the Skies.

If Words can reach the Heights of Love and Gratitude, let me pour out the secret Ardour of my Soul; O let it not offend thy Greatness, that Dust and Vanity adores and loves thee. If thou hadst given me other Capacities, and form’d any thing more suitable to my Wishes, I might have found a lower [111] Happiness, and been content with something below the infinite Deity; but the scanty Creation affords nothing to satisfy me, and I follow thee by a divine Instinct and mere Necessity of Nature.

My Life is useless, and my Being insignificant without thee: My Reason has no proper Employment; Love, the noblest Passion of my Soul, has no Object to answer its Dignity. I am reduced to absolute Poverty; my Nature is entirely ruin’d, I am lost, eternally lost, undone, and abandon’d to Despair, if I am depriv’d of thee. There can be no Reparation made for an infinite Loss; nothing can be instead of God to my Soul.

I have willingly renounc’d all things else for thy sake: All the Sentiments of Tenderness and Delight, that my Soul ever feels for any earthly Object, is mere Indifference, compar’d to my Love for thee; and it grows into Hatred when that Object stands as thy Rival or Competitor. This is the conquering, the superior Flame that draws in and swallows up all the oher Arddours of my Nature. My Engagements with all terrestrial things, are broken; the Names of Father, of Brother, or of Friend, are no more: Abstracted from thee, these tender Titles give me neither [112] Confidence, nor Joy, and are mere insignificant Names, but as thou dost give them an Emphasis; they are nothing at all without thee; and with thee, what finite Good can be an Addition?

The Soul can hold no more, for God is all,

He only equals its capacious Grasp,

He only overfills to Spaces infinite.

Thou art my God, and I have enough; my Soul is satisfy’d, I am entirely at rest. Divide the vain, the perishing Creation to the miserable Wretches that ask no other Portion: Let them unenvy’d possess the Honours, and Riches, and Pleasures of the World; with a lavish hand divide them away: These things are but as the Dust of the Balance to the happy Soul that knows what the Light of thy Countenance imports. After that there can be nbo Relish left for the low Delights of Mortality.

Lost in the high Enjoyments of thy Love,

What glorious Mortal could my Envy move?

You ineffable Delectations of divine Love, let me have no Sentiment of Pleasure left [113] but for you. My God revealing his Glories and his Graces in Jesus Christ his Son, is sufficient for my eternal Entertainment.

What if all former Ideas of visible things were wiped from my Soul? what if I had no Imagination, no Memory, no Traces left of any thing but the Joys I have found in thy Presence, and the Assurances of thy everlasting Favour? those are the only past Moments I recal with Pleasure, and oh! let all the vast Eternity before me be spent in these Satisfactions.

Vanish, ye terrestrial Scenes! fly away, ye vain Objects of Sense! I resign all those poor and limited Faculties by which you are enjoy’d; let me be insensible to all your Impressions, if they do not lead me to my God. Let Chaos come again, and the fair Face of Nature become an universal Blank: let her glowing Beauties all fade away, and those divine Characters she wears be effac’d, I shall yet be happy; the God of Nature, and the Original of all Beauty is my God.

What if the Sun were extinguish’d in the Skies, and all the etherial Lamps had burnt out their golden Flames, I shall dwell in Light and immortal Day, for my God will be ever with me. When the Groves shall no more renew their Verdure, nor the Fields and Vallies boast any longer their flowry Pride; when all these lower Heavens, and this Earth are mingled in universal Ruin, and these material Images of things are no more; I shall see new Regions of Beauty and Pleasure for ever opening themselves in the divine Essence with all their original Glories.

But oh! how various, how boundless, how transporting will the Prospect be? Oh! when shall I bid adieu to Phantoms and Delusions, and converse with eternal Realities? When shall I drink at the Fountain Head of essential Life and Blessedness?

————— and then,

“O what?—But ask not of the Tongues of Men,

For Angels cannot tell.—let it suffice,

Thy self, my Soul, shalt feel thy own full Joys,

And hold then fast for ever.”

Oh! break my Fetters, for I must be gone.—Bring my Soul out of Prison; I am straiten’d; the whole Creation is too narrow for me; I sicken at this Confinement, and groan and pant for Liberty,. How sweet are the Thoughts of Enlargement? My Soul is already on the Wing, and practices imaginary [115] Flights: I seem to reach the Heaven of Heavens, where God himself resides. It is good for me to be here.———

But ah! how soon the Clouds of mortal Sense

Arise, and veil the charming Vision? ——

Alas! what do I here in this waste and dreadful Wilderness? This dismal Region, where our Delights are vanishing, and the very Glimpses of future Felicity we enjoy are so soon over-shaded and surrounded with real Horrors? Alas! what do I here, wasting that Breath in Sighs and endless Complaints, that was given me to bless and praise the infinite Creator? Alas! what do I here, among Strangers and Enemies, in this wild unhospitable Place, far from my Home and all the Objects of my solid Delight?

My Wishes, Hopes, my Pleasures, and my Love,

My Thoughts, and noblest Passions are above.

What do I here in the Dominions of Death and Sin, in the Precincts and Range of the Powers of Darkness? Here they lay their Toils, and set their fatal Snares; but, Lord, what Part have they in me? I have bid defiance to the Powers of Darkness in thy [116] Strength, and renounc’d my Share in the Vanities of the World. I am a Subject of another Kingdom, and dare not enter into any Terms of Peace and Amity with the irreconcileable Adversaries of God and my Soul, which inhabit these treacherous and sinful Regions. The Friendship of this World is Enmity with God. Death and Destruction are in its Smiles; I stand on my Guard, and am every Moment in danger of Surprize: Oh! when will my Deliverance come from on high?

——————— when, my Soul,

O when shall thy Release from cumb’rous Flesh

Pass the great Seal of Heaven? What happy Hour

Shall give thy Thoughts a loose to soar and trace

The intellectual World?

What glorious Scenes shall open when once this mortal Partition fails, when these Walls of Clay shall totter and sink down into Dust? Ye Waters of Life, ye Torrents of immortal Pleasure, how impetuously will you then roll in upon me, and swell and fill up all the Capacities of Joy in my Nature? Every Faculty shall then be fill’d, and every Wish shall end in unutterable Fruition. [117] When I awake into immortal Light, I shall be satisfied with thy Likeness. These expressless Desires will die into everlasting Raptures: Hope and languishing Expectation will be no more; but present, compleat, and unbounded Satisfactions will surround me. My God, my God himself shall be my infinite, my unutterable Joy: All the Avenues of Pleasure shall be open before me, the Scenes of Beauty and Prospects of Delight. Everlasting Joy shall be upon my Head, and Sorrow and Sighing shall flee away for ever.

There will be no more Intervals of Grief and Sin; Sin, that insupportable Evil, that worst, that heaviest Burden: Here the painful and deadly Pressure lies: ’Tis this that hangs as a Weight on all my Joys; but, thanks be to my God, I can say, I sincerely detest and hate this vilest of Slaveries, this cursed Bondage of Corruption; I long for the glorious Liberty of the Sons of God; I groan under this Load of Flesh, this Burden of Mortality, this Body of Death.

But grant, O Lord, I may with Patience continue in well-doing, and at last obtain Glory and Immortality thro’ my Redeemer’s Righteousness. Sanctify me through thy Word [118] of Truth *, remember this Request of my glorious Advocate.

Text: Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Devout Exercises of the Heart in Meditation and Soliloquy, Prayer and Praise. By the late Pious and Ingenious Mrs. Rowe. Review’d and Published at her Request by I. Watts, D. D. (London: Printed for R. Hett, at the Bible and Crown in the Poultry. M.DCC.XXXVIII [1738]), pp. 110-18.