Michael Wigglesworth (1631—1705)
Some plead examples of their betters.
Then were brought in and charg’d with sin,
Who by Petition obtain’d permission
to make Apology.
They arguéd, “We were misled,
as is well known to thee.
By their example that had more ample
abilities than we;
“Such, as profess’d they did detest
and hate each wicked way;
Whose seeming grace whilst we did trace,
our Souls were led astray.
When men of Parts, Learning, and Arts,
Did thus and thus, it seem’d to us
we might take liberty.“
Who are told that examples are no Rules.
The Judge replies: “I gave you eyes,
And light to see your way,
Which had you lov’d and well improv’d,
you had not gone astray.
My Word was pure, the Rule was sure;
Why did you it forsake,
Or thereon trample, and men’s example
your Directory make?
“This you well knew: that God is true,
and that most men are liars,
In word professing holiness,
in deed thereof deniers.
simple fools! that having Rules,
your lives to regulate.
Would them refuse, and rather choose
vile men to imitate.“
They urge that they were led by godly men’s Examples.
But all their shifts turn to their greater shame.
“But, Lord,” say they, “we went astray,
and did more wickedly,
By means of those whom thou has chose
Salvation’s heirs to be.“
To whom the Judge: “What you allege
doth nothing help the case,
But makes appear how vile you were,
and rend’reth you more base.
“You understood that what was good,
was to be followéd.
And that you ought that which was naught
to have relinquished.
Contrariwise it was your guise
only to imitate
Good men’s defects, and their neglects
who were regenerate.
“But to express their holiness,
or imitate their grace.
You little car’d, nor once prepar’d
your hearts to seek my Face.
They did repent and truly rent
their hearts for all known sin;
You did offend, but not amend,
to follow them therein.“