Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
The Valediction
By Richard Baxter (1615–1691)
VAIN world, what is in thee?
What do poor mortals see,
Which should esteemed be
  Worthy their pleasure?
Is it the mother’s womb,        5
Or sorrows which soon come,
Or a dark grave and tomb,
  Which is their treasure?
How dost thou man deceive
  By thy vain glory?        10
Why do they still believe
  Thy false history?
Is it children’s book and rod,
The labourer’s heavy load,
Poverty undertrod,        15
  The world desireth?
Is it distracting cares,
Or heart-tormenting fears,
Or pining grief and tears,
  Which man requireth?        20
Or is it youthful rage,
  Or childish toying;
Or is decrepit age
  Worth man’s enjoying?
Is it deceitful wealth,        25
Got by care, fraud, or stealth,
Or short uncertain health,
  Which thus befool men?
Or do the serpent’s lies,
By the world’s flatteries        30
And tempting vanities,
  Still overrule them?
Or do they in a dream
  Sleep out their season?
Or borne down by lust’s stream,        35
  Which conquers reason?
The silly lambs to-day
Pleasantly skip and play,
Whom butchers mean to slay,
  Perhaps to-morrow;        40
In a more brutish sort
Do careless sinners sport,
Or in dead sleep still snort,
  As near to sorrow;
Till life, not well begun,        45
  Be sadly ended,
And the web they have spun
Can ne’er be mended.
What is the time that’s gone,
And what is that to come?        50
Is it not now as none?
  The present stays not.
Time posteth, oh how fast!
Unwelcome death makes haste;
None can call back what’s past—        55
  Judgment delays not.
Though God bring in the light,
  Sinners awake not;
Because hell’s out of sight
  They sin forsake not.        60
Man walks in a vain show;
They know, yet will not know;
Set still, when they should go;
  But run for shadows;
While they might taste and know        65
The living streams that flow,
And crop the flowers that grow,
  In Christ’s sweet meadows.
Life’s better slept away
  Than as they use it;        70
In sin and drunken play
  Vain men abuse it.
Malignant world, adieu!
Where no foul vice is new—
Only to Satan true,        75
  God still offended;
Though taught and warned by God,
And his chastising rod,
Keeps still the way that’s broad,
  Never mended.        80
Baptismal vows some make,
  But ne’er perform them;
If angels from heaven spake,
  ’Twould not reform them.
They dig for hell beneath,        85
They labour hard for death,
Run themselves out of breath
  To overtake it.
Hell is not had for naught,
Damnation’s dearly bought,        90
And with great labour sought;
  They’ll not forsake it.
Their souls are Satan’s fee—
  He’ll not abate it;
Grace is refused that’s free,        95
  Mad sinners hate it.
Is this the world men choose,
For which they heaven refuse,
And Christ and grace abuse,
  And not receive it?        100
Shall I not guilty be
Of this in some degree,
If hence God would me free,
  And I’d not leave it?
My soul, from Sodom fly,        105
  Lest wrath there find thee;
Thy refuge-rest is nigh;
  Look not behind thee!
There’s none of this ado,
None of this hellish crew;        110
God’s promise is most true,
  Boldly believe it.
My friends are gone before,
And I am near the shore;
My soul stands at the door,        115
  O Lord, receive it!
It trusts Christ and his merits,
  The dead He raises;
Join it with blessed spirits,
  Who sing thy praises.        120

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