by George Herbert

George Herbert

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 says, now:
Give to thy Mother what thou wouldst allow
To ev'ry 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 cleannesse 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 goodnesse of the deed.
Neither ought other men's abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
We forfeit all our Creed.
It's true, we cannot reach Christ's forti'th day;
Yet to go part of that religious way
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Saviour's puritie;
Yet are we bid, "Be holy ev'n as he."
In both let's do our best.
Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
That travelleth by-wayes,
Perhaps my God, though he be farre before,
May turn, and make me by the hand, and more,
May strengthen my decayes.
Yet, Lord, instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sinne and taking such repast
As may our faults controll:
That ev'ry man may revell at his doore,
Not in his parlour; banquetting the poore,
And among those his soul.

Last updated January 14, 2019