Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHRISTIAN ETHICS: MANKIND IS SICK, by THOMAS TRAHERNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CHRISTIAN ETHICS: MANKIND IS SICK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Mankind is sick, the world distemper'd lies
Last Line: How sweet a grace, how infinite!
Subject(s): Sin


Mankind is sick, the world distemper'd lies,
Oppress'd with sins and miseries.
Their sins are woes; a long corrupted train
Of poison, drawn from Adam's vein,
Stains all his seed, and all his kin
Are one disease of life within.
They all torment themselves!
The world's one Bedlam, or a greater cave
Of madmen, that do always rave.


The wise and good like kind physicians are,
That strive to heal them by their care.
They physic and their learning calmly use,
Although the patient them abuse.
For since the sickness is (they find)
A sad distemper of the mind;
All railings they impute,
All injuries, unto the sore disease,
They are expressly come to ease!


If we would to the world's distemper'd mind
Impute the rage which there we find,
We might, even in the midst of all our foes,
Enjoy and feel a sweet repose.
Might pity all the griefs we see,
Anointing every malady
With precious oil and balm;
And while ourselves are calm, our art improve
To rescue them, and show our love.


But let's not fondly our own selves beguile;
If we revile 'cause they revile,
Ourselves infected with their sore disease,
Need others' helps to give us ease.
For we more made than they remain,
Need to be cut, and need a chain
Far more than they. Our brain
Is craz'd; and if we put our wit to theirs,
We may be justly made their heirs.


But while with open eyes we clearly see
The brightness of His majesty;
While all the world, by sin to Satan sold,
In daily wickedness grows old,
Men in chains of darkness lie,
In bondage and iniquity,
And pierce and grieve themselves!
The dismal woes wherein they crawl, enhance
The peace of our inheritance.


We wonder to behold ourselves so nigh
To so much sin and misery,
And yet to see ourselves so safe from harm!
What amulet, what hidden charm
Could fortify and raise the soul
So far above them; and control
Such fierce malignity!
The brightness and the glory which we see
Is made a greater mystery.


And while we feel how much our God doth love
The peace of sinners, how much move,
And sue, and thirst, entreat, lament, and grieve,
For all the crimes in which they live,
And seek and wait, and call again,
And long to save them from the pain
Of sin, from all their woe!
With greater thirst, as well as grief we try,
How to relieve their misery.


The life and splendour of felicity,
Whose floods so overflowing be,
The streams of joy which round about His throne,
Enrich and fill each holy one,
Are so abundant, that we can
Spare all, even all to any man!
And have it all ourselves!
Nay have the more! We long to make them see
The sweetness of felicity.


While we contemplate their distresses, how,
Blind wretches, they in bondage bow,
And tear and wound themselves, and vex and groan,
And chafe and fret so near His throne,
And know not what they ail, but lie
Tormented in their misery
(Like madmen that are blind)
In works of darkness nigh such full delight:
That they might find and see the sight,


What would we give! that they might likewise see
The glory of His majesty!
The joy and fullness of that high delight,
Whose blessedness is infinite!
We would even cease to live, to gain
Them from their misery and pain,
And make them with us reign.
For they themselves would be our greatest treasures
When sav'd, our own most heavenly pleasures.


O holy Jesus who didst for us die,
And on the altar bleeding lie,
Bearing all torment, pain, reproach and shame,
That we by virtue of the same,
Though enemies to God, might be
Redeem'd, and set at liberty.
As Thou didst us forgive,
So meekly let us love to others show,
And live in Heaven on earth below!


Let's prize their souls, and let them be our gems,
Our temples and our diadems,
Our brides, our friends, our fellow-members, eyes,
Hands, hearts and souls, our victories,
And spoils and trophies, our own joys!
Compar'd to souls all else are toys!
O Jesus, let them be
Such unto us, as they are unto Thee,
Vessels of glory and felicity!


How will they love us, when they find our care
Brought them all thither where they are!
When they conceive, what terror 'tis to dwell
In all the punishments of hell:
And in a lively manner see,
O Christ, eternal joys in Thee!
How will they all delight
In praising Thee for us, with all their might,
How sweet a grace, how infinite!

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