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from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert: LENT


from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:
¶ Lent.
WElcome deare feast of Lent: who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authoritie,
But is compos’d of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now:
Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow
To every Corporation.
The humble soul compos’d of love and fear
Begins at home, and layes the burden there,
When doctrines disagree.
He sayes, in things which use hath justly got,
I am a scandall to the Church, and not
The Church is so to me.
True Christians should be glad of an occasion
To use their temperance, seeking no evasion,
When good is seasonable;
Unlesse Authoritie, which should increase
The obligation in us, make it lesse,
And Power it self disable.
Besides the cleanness of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulnesse there are sluttish fumes,
Sowre exhalations, and dishonest rheumes,
Revenging the delight.
Then those same pendant profits, which the spring
And Easter intimate, enlarge the thing,
And goodness of the deed.
Neither ought other men abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
We forfeit all our Creed.
It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy even as he.
In both let’s do our best.
Who go in the way which Christ had gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
That travelled by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.
Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
As may our faults control:
That every man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
And among those his soul.

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