Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
The Day of Doom
By Michael Wigglesworth (1631–1705)
[Born in England, 1631. Died at Maiden, Mass., 1705. The Day of Doom; or, a Poetical Description of the Great and Last Judgment. 1662.]


STILL was the night, Serene & Bright,
  when all Men sleeping lay;
Calm was the season, & carnal reason 1
  thought so ’twould last for ay.
Soul, take thine ease, let sorrow cease,        5
  much good thou hast in store:
This was their Song, their Cups among,
  the Evening before.
Wallowing in all kind of sin,
  vile wretches lay secure:        10
The best of men had scarcely then
  their Lamps kept in good ure.
Virgins unwise, who through disguise 2
  amongst the best were number’d
Had clos’d their eyes; yea, and the wise        15
  through sloth and frailty slumber’d.
Like as of old, when Men grow bold
  God’s threatenings to contemn,
Who stop their Ear, and would not hear, 3
  when Mercy warned them:        20
But took their course without remorse,
  till God began to powre
Destruction the World upon
  in a tempestuous showre.
They put away the evil day, 4        25
  and drown’d their care and fears,
Till drown’d were they, and swept away
  by vengeance unawares:
So at the last, whilst Men sleep fast
  in their security,        30
Surpriz’d they are in such a snare
  as cometh suddenly.
For at midnight brake forth a Light, 5
  which turn’d the night to day,
And speedily an hideous cry        35
  did all the world dismay.
Sinners awake, their hearts do ake,
  trembling their loynes surprizeth;
Amaz’d with fear, by what they hear,
  each one of them ariseth.        40
They rush from Beds with giddy heads,
  and to their windows run,
Viewing this light, which shines more bright
  then doth the Noon-day Sun.
Straightway appears (they see’t with tears)        45
  the Son of God most dread; 6
Who with his Train comes on amain
  to Judge both Quick and Dead.
Before his face the Heav’ns gave place,
  and Skies are rent asunder,        50
With mighty voice, and hideous noise,
  more terrible than Thunder.
His brightness damps heav’ns glorious lamps 7
  and makes them hide their heads,
As if afraid and quite dismay’d,        55
  they quit their wonted steads.
Ye sons of men that durst contemn
  the Threatnings of Gods Word.
How chear you now? your hearts, I trow,
  are thrill’d as with a sword,        60
Now Athist blind, whose brutish mind
  a God could never see,
Dost thou perceive, dost now believe
  that Christ thy judge shall be?
Stout Courages, (whose hardiness        65
  could Death and Hell out-face)
Are you as bold now you behold
  your Judge draw near apace?
They cry, no, no: Alas! and wo!
  our courage all is gone:        70
Our hardiness (fool hardiness)
  hath us undone, undone.
No heart so bold, but now grows cold 8
  and almost dead with fear:
No eye so dry, but now can cry,        75
  and pour out many a tear.
Earth’s Potentates and pow’rful States,
  Captains and Men of Might
Are quite abasht, their courage dasht
  at this most dreadful sight.        80
Mean men lament, great men do rent 9
  their Robes, and tear their hair:
They do not spare their flesh to tear
  through horrible despair.
All Kindreds wail: all hearts do fail:        85
  horror the world doth fill
With weeping eyes, and loud out-cries,
  yet knows not how to kill.
Some hide themselves in Caves and Delves, 10
  in places under ground:        90
Some rashly leap into the Deep,
  to scape by being drown’d:
Some to the Rocks (O senseless blocks!)
  and woody Mountains run,
That there they might this fearful sight,        95
  and dreaded Presence shun.
In vain do they to Mountains say,
  fall on us and us hide
From Judges ire, more hot than fire,
  for who may it abide?        100
No hiding place can from his Face
  sinners at all conceal,
Whose flaming Eye hid things doth ’spy
  and darkest things reveal.
The Judge draws nigh, exalted high, 11        105
  upon a lofty Throne,
Amidst the throng of Angels strong,
  lo, Israel’s Holy One!
The excellence of whose presence
  and awful Majesty,        110
Amazeth Nature, and every Creature,
  doth more than terrify.
The Mountains smoak, the Hills are shook, 12
  the Earth is rent and torn,
As if she should be clear dissolv’d,        115
  or from the Center born.
The Sea doth roar, forsakes the shore,
  and shrinks away for fear;
The wild beasts flee into the Sea,
  so soon as he draws near.        120
Whose Glory bright, whose wondrous might,
  whose power Imperial,
So far surpass whatever was
  in Realms Terrestrial;
That tongues of men (nor angels pen)        125
  cannot the same express,
And therefore I must pass it by,
  lest speaking should transgress.
Before his Throne a Trump is blown, 13
  Proclaiming the day of Doom:        130
Forthwith he cries, Ye dead arise,
  and unto Judgment come.
No sooner said, but ’tis obey’d;
  Sepulchres opened are:
Dead bodies all rise at his call,        135
  and’s mighty power declare.
Both Sea and Land, at his Command,
  their Dead at once surrender:
The Fire and Air constrained are
  also their dead to tender.        140
The mighty word of this great Lord
  links Body and Soul together
Both of the Just, and the unjust,
  to part no more for ever.
The same translates, from Mortal states        145
  to Immortality, 14
All that survive, and be alive,
  i’ th’ twinkling of an eye:
That so they may abide for ay
  to endless weal or woe;        150
Both the Renate and Reprobate
  are made to dy no more.
His winged Hosts flie through all Coasts, 15
  together gethering
Both good and bad, both quick and dead,        155
  and all to Judgment bring.
Out of their holes those creeping Moles,
  that hid themselves for fear,
By force they take, and quickly make
  before the Judge appear.        160
Thus every one before the Throne 16
  of Christ the Judge is brought,
Both righteous and impious
  that good or ill hath wrought.
A separation, and diff’ring station        165
  by Christ appointed is
(To sinners sad) ’twixt good and bad,
  ’twixt Heirs of woe and bliss.
*        *        *        *        *

These words appall and daunt them all;
  dismai’d, and all amort,        170
Like stocks that stand at Christ’s left hand
  and dare no more retort.
Then were brought near with trembling fear
  a number numberless
Of blind Heathen, and bruitish men,        175
  that did God’s Laws transgress.
Whose wicked ways Christ open layes, 17
  and makes their sins appear,
They making pleas their case to ease,
  if not themselves to clear.        180
Thy written Word (say they) good Lord,
  we never did enjoy:
We nor refus’d nor it abus’d
  Oh, do not us destroy.
You ne’r abus’d nor yet refus’d        185
  my written Word, you plead,
That’s true (quoth he) therefore shall ye 18
  the less be punished.
You shall not smart for any part
  of other mens offence,        190
But for your own transgression
  receive due recompence.
But we were blind, say they, in mind,
  to dim was Natures Light,
Our only guide, as hath been try’d        195
  to bring us to the sight
Of our estate degenerate, 19
  and curst by Adam’s fall;
How we were born and lay forlorn
  in bondage and in thrall.        200
We did not know a Christ till now,
  nor how fain men be saved,
Else would we not, right well we wot,
  have so our selves behaved.
We should have mourn’d, we should have turn’d 20        205
  from sin at thy Reproof,
And been more wise through thy advice,
  for our own Souls behoof.
But Nature Light shin’d not so bright
  to teach us the right way:        210
We might have lov’d it, and well improv’d it,
  and yet have gone astray.
The Judge most High makes this Reply, 21
  you ignorance pretend,
Dimness of sight, and want of light        215
  your course Heav’nward to bend.
How came your mind to be so blind?
  I once you knowledge gave,
Clearness of sight, and judgement right; 22
  who did the same deprave?        220
If to your cost you have it lost,
  and quite defac’d the same;
Your own desert hath caus’d the smart,
  you ought not me to blame.
Your selves into a pit of woe,        225
  your own transgression led:
If I to none my Grace had shown, 23
  who had been injured?
If to a few, and not to you,
  I shew’d a way of life,        230
My Grace so free, you clearly see,
  gives you no ground of strife.
’Tis vain to tell, you wot full well,
  if you in time had known,
Your Misery and Remedy,        235
  your actions had it shown.
You, sinful Crew, have not been true, 24
  unto the Light of Nature,
Nor done the good you understood,
  nor owned your Creator.        240
He that the Light, because ’tis Light,
  hath used to despize,
Would not the Light shining more bright, 25
  be likely for to prize.
If you had lov’d, and well improv’d        245
  your knowledge and dim sight,
Herein your pain had not been vain,
  your plagues had been more light.

Then to the Bar, all they drew near 26
  Who dy’d in infancy,        250
And never had or good or bad
  effected pers’nally.
But from the womb unto the tomb
  were straightway carried,
(Or at the least e’er they transgrest)        255
  who thus began to plead:
If for our own transgression,
  or disobedience,
We here did stand at thy left hand
  just were the Recompence:        260
But Adam’s guilt our souls hath spilt,
  his fault is charg’d on us:
And that alone hath overthrown,
  and utterly undone us.
Not we, but he ate of the Tree,        265
  whose fruit was interdicted:
Yet on us all of his sad Fall,
  the punishment’s inflicted.
How could we sin that had not been
  or how is his sin our        270
Without consent, which to prevent,
  we never had a pow’r?
O great Creator, why was our Nature
  depraved and forlorn?
Why so defil’d, and made so vil’d        275
  whilst we were yet unborn?
If it be just, and needs we must
  transgressors reck’ned be,
Thy Mercy Lord, to us afford, 27
  which sinners hath set free.        280
Behold we see Adam set free,
  and sav’d from his trespass,
Whose sinful Fall hath split us all,
  and brought us to this pass.
Canst thou deny us once to try,        285
  or Grace to us to tender,
When he finds grace before thy face,
  that was the chief offender?
Then answered the Judge most dread,
  God doth such doom forbid, 28        290
That men should dye eternally
  for what they never did.
But what you call old Adam’s Fall,
  and only his Trespass,
You call amiss to call it his,        295
  both his and yours it was.
He was design’d of all Mankind
  to be a publick Head,
A common Root, whence all should shoot, 29
  and stood in all their stead.        300
He stood and fell, did ill or well,
  Not for himself alone,
But for you all, who now his Fall,
  and trespass would disown.
If he had stood, then all his brood        305
  had been established
In Gods true love never to move,
  nor once awry to tread:
Then all his Race, my Fathers Grace,
  should have enjoy’d for ever,        310
And wicked Sprights by subtile sleights
  could them have harmed never.
Would you have griev’d to have receiv’d
  through Adam so much good,
As had been your for evermore,        315
  if he at first had stood?
Would you have said, we ne’er obey’d,
  nor did thy Laws regard;
It ill befits with benefits,
  us, Lord, so to reward.        320
Since then to share in his welfare,
  you could have been content,
You may with reason share in his treason,
  and in the punishment. 30
Hence you were born in state forlorn,        325
  with Natures so depraved:
Death was your due, because that you
  had thus your selves behaved.
You think if we had been as he,
  whom God did so betrust,        330
We to our cost would ne’er have lost
  all for a paltry Lust.
Had you been made in Adam’s stead, 31
  you would like things have wrought,
And so into the self same wo,        335
  your selves and yours have brought.
I may deny you once to try,
  or Grace to you to tender,
Though he finds Grace before my face, 32
  who was the chief offender:        340
Else should my Grace cease to be Grace;
  for it should not be free,
If to release whom I should please,
  I have no libertie.
If upon one what’s due to none        345
  I frankly shall bestow,
And on the rest shall not think best,
  compassions skirts to throw,
Whom injure I? will you envy,
  and grudge at others weal?        350
Or me accuse, who do refuse
  your selves to help and heal.
Am I alone of what’s my own,
  no Master or no Lord? 33
O if I am, how can you claim        355
  what I to some afford?
Will you demand Grace at my hand,
  and challenge what is mine?
Will you teach me whom to set free,
  and thus my grace confine?        360
You sinners are, and such a share 34
  as sinners may expect,
Such you shall have; for I do save
  none but my own Elect.
Yet to compare your sin with their 35        365
  who liv’d a longer time,
I do confess yours is much less,
  though every sin’s a crime.
A Crime it is, therefore in bliss
  you may not hope to dwell;        370
But unto you I shall allow
  the easiest room in Hell.
The glorious King thus answering,
  they cease and plead no longer:
Their Consciences must needs confess        375
  his Reasons are the stronger.
Thus all mens Pleas the Judge with ease
  doth answer and confute,
Until that all, both great and small,
  are silenced and mute.        380
Vain hopes are cropt, all mouths are stopt,
  sinners have nought to say,
But that ’tis just, and equal most
  they should be damn’d for ay.
*        *        *        *        *

Where tender love mens hearts did move
  unto a sympathy,
And bearing part of others smart
  in their anxiety; 36
Now such compassion is out of fashion,
  and wholly laid aside:        390
No Friends so near, but Saints to hear
  their Sentence can abide.
One natural Brother beholds another
  in his astonied fit,
Yet sorrows not thereat a jot, 37        395
  nor pities him a whit.
The godly wife conceives no grief,
  nor can she shed a tear
For the sad state of her dear Mate,
  when she his doom doth hear.        400
He that was erst a Husband pierc’t
  with sense of Wives distress,
Whose tender heart did bear a part
  of all her grievances,
Shall mourn no more as heretofore        405
  because of her ill plight;
Although he see her now to be
  a damn’d forsaken wight.
The tender Mother will own no other
  of all her numerous brood,        410
But such as stand at Christ’s right hand
  acquitted through his Blood. 38
The pious father had now much rather
  his graceless son should ly
In Hell with Devils, for all his evils,        415
  burning eternally.
Then God most high should injury,
  by sparing him sustain;
And doth rejoice to hear Christ’s voice 39
  adjudging him to pain.        420
Who having all both great and small,
  convinc’d and silenced,
Did then proceed their Doom to read,
  and thus it uttered.
Ye sinful wights, and cursed sprights, 40        425
  that work iniquity,
Depart together from me for ever
  to endless Misery;
Your portion take in yonder Lake,
  where Fire and Brimstone flameth:        430
Suffer the smart, which your desert
  as it’s due wages claimeth.
Oh piercing words more sharp than swords! 41
  what, to depart from thee,
Whose face before for evermore        435
  the best of Pleasures be!
What? to depart (unto our smart)
  from thee Eternally:
To be for aye banish’d away,
  with Devils company!        440
What? to be sent to Punishment,
  and flames of Burning Fire,
To be surrounded, and eke confounded
  with Gods Revengeful ire!
What? to abide, not for a tide        445
  these Torments, but for Ever:
To be released, or to be eased,
  not after years, but Never.
Oh fearful Doom! now there’s no room
  for hope or help at all:        450
Sentence is past which aye shall last,
  Christ will not it recall.
There might you hear them rent and tear
  the Air with their out-cries:
The hideous noise of their sad voice        455
  ascendeth to the Skies.
They wring their hands, their caitiff-hands,
  and gnash their teeth for terrour;
They cry, they roar for anguish sore, 42
  and gnaw their tongues for horrour.        460
But get away without delay,
  Christ pities not your cry:
Depart to Hell, there may you yell,
  and roar Eternally.
That word, Depart, maugre their heart,        465
  drives every wicked one, 43
With mighty pow’r, the self-same hour,
  far from the Judge’s Throne.
Away they’re chast’d by the strong blast
  of his Death-threatning mouth:        470
They flee full fast, as if in haste,
  although they be full loath.
As chaff that’s dry, and dust doth fly
  before the Northern wind:
Right so are they chased away, 44        475
  and can no Refuge find.
They hasten to the Pit of Woe,
  guarded by Angels stout;
Who to fulfil Christ’s holy will,
  attend this wicked Rout.        480
Whom having brought as they are taught,
  unto the brink of Hell, 45
(That dismal place far from Christ’s face,
  where Death and Darkness dwell:
Where God’s fierce Ire kindleth the fire,        485
  and vengeance feeds the flame
With piles of Wood and Brimstone Flood,
  that none can quench the same,)
With Iron bands they bind their hands, 46
  and cursed feet together,        490
And cast them all both great and small,
  into that Lake for ever,
Where day and night, without respite,
  they wail, and cry, and howl
For tort’ring pain which they sustain        495
  in body and in Soul.
For day and night, in their despight,
  their torments smoak ascendeth,
Their pain and grief have no relief, 47
  their anguish never endeth.        500
There must they ly, and never dy,
  though dying every day:
There must they dying ever ly,
  and not consume away.
Dy fain they would, if dy they could,        505
  but death will not be had.
God’s direful wrath their bodies hath
  for ev’r Immortal made.
They live to ly in misery,
  and bear eternal wo;        510
And live they must whilst God is just,
  that he may plague them so.
But who can tell the plagues of Hell, 48
  and torments exquisite?
Who can relate their dismal state,        515
  and terrours infinite?
Who fare the best, and feel the least,
  yet feel that punishment
Whereby to nought they should be brought,
  if God did not prevent.        520
The least degree of misery
  there felt’s incomparable,
The lightest pain they there sustain 49
  more than intolerable.
But God’s great pow’r from hour to hour        525
  upholds them in the fire,
That they shall not consume a jot,
  nor by it’s force expire.
*        *        *        *        *

The Saints behold with courage bold, 50
  and thankful wonderment,        530
To see all those that were their foes
  thus sent to punishment:
Then do they sing unto their King 51
  a Song of endless Praise:
They praise his Name, and do proclaim        535
  that just are all his ways.
Thus with great joy and melody
  to Heav’n they all ascend, 52
Him there to praise with sweetest layes,
  and Hymns that never end.        540
Where with long rest they shall be blest.
  and nought shall them annoy:
Where they shall see as seen they be,
  and whom they love enjoy.
O glorious Place! where face to face 53        545
  Jehovah may be seen,
By such as were sinners while here
  and no dark veil between.
Where the Sun shine and light Divine,
  of Gods bright countenance,        550
Doth rest upon them every one,
  with sweetest influence.
O blessed state of the Renate!
  O wond’rous Happiness,
To which they’re brought beyond what thought        555
  can reach, or words express!
Griefs water-course, and sorrows source, 54
  are turn’d to joyful streams.
Their old distress and heaviness
  are vanished like dreams.        560
For God above in arms of love
  doth dearly them embrace,
And fills their sprights with such delights, 55
  and pleasures in his grace;
As shall not fail, nor yet grow stale        565
  through frequency of use:
Nor do they fear God favour there,
  to forfeit by abuse.
For there the Saints are perfect Saints,
  and hold ones indeed,        570
From all the sin that dwelt within 56
  their mortal bodies freed:
Made Kings and Priests to God through Christe 57
  dear loves transcendency,
There to remain and there to reign        575
  with him Eternally.
Note 1. The Security of the World before Christ’s coming to Judgment. Luke 12. 19. [back]
Note 2. Mat. 25. 5. [back]
Note 3. Mat. 24. 37, 38. [back]
Note 4. 1 Thes. 5. 3. [back]
Note 5. The Suddenness, Majesty & Terror of Christ’s appearing. Mat. 25. 6. 2 Pet. 3. 10. [back]
Note 6. Mat. 24. 29, 30. [back]
Note 7. 2 Pet. 3. 10. [back]
Note 8. Rev. 6. 15. [back]
Note 9. Mat. 24. 30. [back]
Note 10. Rev. 6. 15, 16. [back]
Note 11. Mat. 25. 21. [back]
Note 12. Rev. 6. 14. [back]
Note 13. 1 Thes. 4. 16. Resurrection of the dead. John 5. 28, 29. [back]
Note 14. The living Changed. Luke 20. 36. 1 Cor. 15. 52. [back]
Note 15. all brought to Judgment. Mat. 24. 31. [back]
Note 16. 2 Cor. 5. 10. The sheep separated from the Goats. Mat. 25. 32. [back]
Note 17. Heathen men plead want of the written Word. [back]
Note 18. Mat. 11. 22. Luke 12. 48. [back]
Note 19. 1 Cor. 1. 21. And insufficiency of the Light of Nature. [back]
Note 20. Mat. 11. 22. [back]
Note 21. They are answered. [back]
Note 22. Gen. 1. 27. Eccl. 7. 29. Hos. 13. 9. [back]
Note 23. Mat. 1. 25 compared with 20, & 15. [back]
Note 24. Rom. 1. 20–22. [back]
Note 25. Rom. 2. 12, 15, & 1. 32. Mat. 12. 41. [back]
Note 26. Reprobate Infants plead for themselves. Rev. 20. 12, 15. compared with Rom. 5. 12, 14, & 9. 11, 13. Ezek. 18. 2. [back]
Note 27. Psal. 51. 5. [back]
Note 28. Their Arguments taken off. Ezek. 18. 20. Rom. 5. 12, 19. [back]
Note 29. 1 Cor. 15. 48, 49. [back]
Note 30. Rom. 5. 12. Psal. 51. 5. Gen. 5. 3. [back]
Note 31. Mat. 23. 30, 31. [back]
Note 32. Rom. 9. 15, 18. The free gift. Rom. 5. 15. [back]
Note 33. Mat. 20. 15. [back]
Note 34. Psl. 58. 3. Rom. 6. 23. Gal. 3. 10. Rom. 8. 29, 30, & 11. 7. Rev. 21. 27. [back]
Note 35. Luk. 12. 4, 8. Mat. 11. 22. The wicked all convinced and put to silence. Rom. 3. 19. Mat. 22. 12. Behold the formidable estate of all the ungodly, as they stand hopeless and helpless before an impartial Judge, expecting their final Sentence. Rev. 6. 16, 17. [back]
Note 36. 1 Cor. 6. 2. [back]
Note 37. Compare Prov. 1. 26. with 1 John 3. 2, & 2 Cor. 5. 16. [back]
Note 38. Luk. 16. 25. [back]
Note 39. Psal. 58. 10. [back]
Note 40. The Judge pronounceth the Sentence of condemnation. Mat. 25. 41. [back]
Note 41. The terrour of it. [back]
Note 42. Luke 13. 28. Prov. 1. 26. [back]
Note 43. It is put in Execution. Mat. 25. 46. [back]
Note 44. Mat. 13. 41, 42. [back]
Note 45. HELL. Mat. 25. 30. Mark 9. 42. Isa. 30. 33. Rev. 21. 8. [back]
Note 46. Wicked Men and Devils cast into it for ever. Mat. 22. 13, & 25. 46. [back]
Note 47. Rev. 14. 10, 11. [back]
Note 48. The insuffereable torments of the damned. Luk. 16. 24. Jude 7. [back]
Note 49. Isa. 33. 14. Mark 9. 43, 44. [back]
Note 50. The Saints rejoyce to see Judgment executed upon the wicked World. [back]
Note 51. Psal. 58. 10. Rev. 10, 1, 2, 3. [back]
Note 52. They ascend with Christ into Heaven triumphing. Mat. 25, 46. [back]
Note 53. 1 Joh. 3. 2. 1 Cor. 13. 12. Their Eternal happiness and incomparable Glory there. [back]
Note 54. Rev. 21. 4. [back]
Note 55. Psal. 16. 11. [back]
Note 56. Heb. 12. 23. [back]
Note 57. Rev. 1. 6, & 22. 5. [back]

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