The Self-righteous Rendered Invalid and Doomed

Michael Wigglesworth (1631—1705)


Then answeréd unto their dread,
the Judge: “True Piety
God doth desire and eke require,
no less than honesty.
Justice demands at all your hands
perfect Obedience;
If but in part you have come short,
that is a just offense.


“On Earth below, where men did owe
a thousand pounds and more.
Could twenty pence it recompense?
Could that have clear’d the score?
Think you to buy Felicity
with part of what’s due debt?
Or for desert of one small part,
the whole should off be set?


“And yet that part whose great desert
you think to reach so far,
For your excuse doth you accuse,
and will your boasting mar.
However fair, however square
your way and work hath been
Before men’s eyes, yet God espies
iniquity therein.


“God looks upon th’ affecti-on
and temper of the heart;
Not only on the acti-on,
and the external part.
Whatever end vain men pretend,
God knows the verity,
And by the end which they intend
their words and deeds doth try.


“Without true Faith, the Scripture saith,
God cannot take delight
In any deed that doth proceed
from any sinful wight.
And without love all actions prove
but barren empty things;
Dead works they be and vanity,
the which vexation brings.


“Nor from true Faith, which quencheth wrath,
hath your obedience flown;
Nor from true Love, which wont to move
Believers, hath it grown.
Your argument shews your intent
in all that you have done;
You thought to scale Heav’n’s lofty Wall
by Ladders of your own.

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