Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
 
Stanzas from “The Armour of Proofe, brought from the Tower of Dauid”
LX. Roger Cotton
 
BUT 1 wilt thou know what is the sinne of sinnes?
  It is contempt of God’s most holy worde.
For that cast off, idolatrie beginnes;
  False god then sought, God draweth out his sword.
His sword? yea, all his plagues therewith are sent,        5
When on false gods the mindes of his are bent.
 
Alas! how then can we escape his hand?
  Haue not all sortes his holy worde off cast?
Not so; for then nought els but plagues in land,
  And it to ly both desolate and wast.        10
Wast? nay, worse: for Ohim therein then should dwel;
Yea, Zim and Iem, instead of men to tell.
 
For wilt thou see, for this what God once wrought
  On his owne seate, Ierusalem of fame?
In dust she lyeth, by Babel first so brought;        15
  Once built againe; yet Rome hath spoylde the same.
Too greeuous were her harmes all to be tolde;
She lyeth in dust, that glittered so with golde.
 
Euen shee, whose beautie shone so cleare and bryght,
  That all the world Perfection did her call;        20
Yea, shee, the ioy of all that were vpright;
  None such there was, nor neuer like there shall:
Yet downe she is, and neuer shall be buylt:
Thou mayest so see in God’s booke, if thou wylt.
 
And so Aholah, sister hers lykewyse,        25
  Before her long with Asshur’s rod was whypt,
For that new goddes amongst them did aryse,
  God’s worde cast off, and Omrie’s lawes well kept:
From Ahab’s house their manners still they sought,
Wherefore to dust their glorious crowne was brought.        30
 
And so in dayes of Iudges, long before,
  The Lorde his solde to spoylers round about;
Because their goddes they dayly did adore,
  And praysed them, whom God had bid thrust out;
But quite forgot the Lord, who did redeeme        35
Their neckes from thrall: him did they not esteeme.
 
And hath not this of vs yet taken holde?
  Not full, I hope: for though great store there be,
Who make them gods of wealth and wedge of gold,
  Of lustes of flesh, and pleasures of the eye;        40
All those who loue their wealth or pleasure more
Then they do God, to them gods they are sure:
 
But yet this sinne on all hath not layde holde;
  For though on some, yet many more there bee
Who neuer sought to gods yet made of mould,        45
  Or sunne or starres; for such ne heare nor see:
To one they call, who can their sute well heare,
And doth to them by worde and workes appeare.
 
To God alone we seeke in hope to finde,
  By meanes of Christ, eternall Sonne of his,        50
Who did our sinnes and foes to tree fast binde,
  When he on earth God’s statutes none did mis:
Yet death he tooke, the wages due for sinne,
And so by death spoyld him that death brought in:
 
Who after death all glorie was to haue,        55
  Which earst he had with God before all time,
And there doth sit, in shape of man, to craue
  The lyke for all that are of him, true vine.
Wherefore by him our prayers we present,
Which are to God a sweet and pleasing scent.        60
 
We maruell much what foolysh doults do meane,
  To fall to blockes, or call to saincts on hie;
Since none on earth or heauen yet doth raigne,
  But God alone, who can our thoughtes espie:
For Abram knoweth vs not, doth Esai say,        65
And Iacob wanteth eares to heare vs pray.
 
That virgin pure most blessed was in deede,
  In whose small wombe the Lord of lyfe did dwell;
Yet for to know, what time we stand in neede,
  She hath no skill, the scripture playne doth tell:        70
For God alone our prayers all doth heare;
Wherefore to him by Christ we still draw neare.
 
We holde them fooles, that labour so in vayne
  To call on Paul, or Peter, or on Pope:
For had they eies, Sainct Iohn hath told them playne,        75
  That who now sinnes, Christ now must be his hope:
For he now only Mediator is,
Cause Aron’s trade our sinnes could not dismis.
 
We haue God’s word to teach vs fayth and feare;
  We learne by it all secrets meete to know.        80
No writ of man to vs yet is so deare,
  Or like esteem’d, God’s councels vs to shew:
We are most sure that God by it must gayne
Such wanderyng soules as must with Christ here raine.
 
We haue the sacraments in perfect sort,        85
  As Christ himselfe at first did them ordayne.
Our foes are false who giue vs this report,
  That we holde not that Christ doth there remayne.
But how? Not really, as they do teach,
But there by fayth, as learned heere do preach.        90
 
Yf this be true, that all God’s trueth we holde,
  What neede we then of Spayne to be afrayde?
For God, I say, hath neuer yet such solde
  To sworde of foe; but still hath sent them ayde.
The trueth we haue, yet therein walke not wee;        95
Wherefore ofttimes God hisseth for a bee.
 
Indeede? then must we all looke for the same;
  For few there be that will of God do seeke;
But all degrees contemne his holy name:
  Few, rich or poore, one saboth true do keepe:        100
And all are bent their owne willes to obey,
But wille of God we seeke it no one day.
 
For whereas we should spend our lyues and time
  In God’s owne booke, his will to see therein;
Great store there be, that neuer sought one lyne        105
  To write in hart, that so they might know him:
And so, God’s will of vs not being knowne,
He castes vs off, to follow wayes our owne.
 
O Englande, then consider well thy state;
  Oft read God’s worde, and let it beare chiefe sway        110
Within thy hart: or els thou canst not scape
  The wrath of God; for he will surely pay.
Yea, diuers rods the Lorde of hostes doth vse,
To chasten such as do his worde refuse.
*      *      *      *      *      *
Remember then thy former loue and zeale,        115
  Which thou to God and to his worde didst beare,
And let them now agayne with thee preuale:
  And so no force of forrayne shalt thou feare.
None shall then moue thy candlesticke from thee,
Yf thou from it a lyght wilt take to see.        120
 
Note 1. LX. Roger Cotton.—He wrote “A Spirituall Song: containing an historicall discourse from the infancie of the world untill this present time;” and “An Armor of Proofe brought from the Tower of Dauid to fight against Spannyardes, and all enimies of the trueth.” The former of these works was published in 1595, and the latter in 1596. [back]
 
 
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