Alas, I walk not out, but still I meet
Paths too perplex'd for my unwary Feet.
At my return the calm and even Mind
I carry'd forth, all discompos'd I find;
My weak Devotions slacken'd and unbent,
And Passions loos'd grow loud and turbulent.
My ruffld Mind with Sorrow seeks in vain
To rank and suit its displac'd Thoughts again:
My careful Stops no place securely tread,
Thick snares o'er all th'enchanted Ground are spread.
The smallest Inadvertencies expose
Unguarded Virtue to our watchful Foes.
Satan rejoyces (if his Hell has Joy)
That, lost himself, He can Mankind destroy.
Rav'nous as Lyons are, and strong as they,
He does on Souls, as those on Bodies prey.
He much to's Skill, more to fall'n Nature trusts,
And brings Temptations suited to our Lusts;
Temptations brings of Circe's Syren-Brood,
By feeble Resolutions not withstood,
Nor vanquish'd by faint Wishes to be good.
Here some great Man's displeasure over awes
Our fears of Sin; there carnal Pleasure draws,
In an alluring Dress it courts the Sense,
Whilst yielding Nature faint Resistance makes;
At last, o'ercome, gives up her Innocence,
And, in exchange, Sin and Heav'ns ager takes
Sometimes a deadly Persecutors hate
Will damp our Zeal, and Love to God abate;
Sometimes the envious Scorn on Virtue thrown,
And the disgrace of being good Alone.
But after the attractive baits of sin,
Call up the secret Sparks of Lust within;
Which taking fire burst out into a Flame,
Which our disabled Reason cannot tame,
Those purposes small Opposition make,
That once we thought no charms, no force could shake,
But leave us to the power of Lustful Fires,
And the wild Guidance of unclean Desires.
But ah! what After-pangs will this create,
When sober thoughts the sinful Act debate?
What guilty Blushes wounded Conscience wears
See how it starts lash'd with its secret Fears?
It flies from Heav'n the thoughts of God afright
My troubled Soul, before its chief Delight.
Heav'ns frown blasts all my Joys; tormenting Fears,
The secret Stings of conscience Sighs, & Tears
Is all the sad Reward past Sins afford,
For these I'm by my self, and God abhor'd.
When Love would rise to Heav'n with fresh Delight,
Conscience suggests my Guilt, and stays its flight:
How dear a Moments sinful Pleasues cost,
God's Favour more than Life, I've for it lost.
One Sin can all my ancient Doubts restore,
Makes me suspend the Hopes of heav'nly Bliss,
And Tyrants ne'er found Torment, like to this.
It makes me question all my Deeds, debate
The future safety of my doubtful State.
It strangely can undo what's past, destroy
My present, and revoke my former Joy.
It shews old Sins to wound me with their view,
And the sad Penitential Scene renew.
What spreading Mischief is in Sin conceal'd!
By Man believ'd not, 'till to late reveal'd,
Fool that I am such Torments to create,
And buy Repentance at so dear a rate.