Anne Bradstreet
MEDITATIONS, DIVINE AND MORALL (1867)

I.

There is no object that we see; no action that we do; no good that we enjoy; no evil that we feel or fear, but we may make some spiritual advantage of all: and he that makes such improvement is wise as well as pious.

V.

It is reported of the peacock that, priding himself in his gay feathers, he ruffles them up; but, spying his black feet, he soon lets fall his plumes, so he that glories in his gifts and adornings should look upon his Corruptions, and that will damp his high thoughts.

VI.

The finest bread hath the least bran; the purest honey, the least wax; and the sincerest Christian, the least self love.

X.

Diverse children have their different natures; some are like flesh which nothing but salt will keep from putrefaction; some again like tender fruits that are best preserved with sugar: those parents are wise that can fit their nurture according to their Nature.

XII.

Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.

XIII.

The reason why Christians are so loath to exchange this world for a better, is because they have more sense than faith: they se what they enjoy, they do but hope for that which is to come.

XV.

A low man can go upright under that door where a taller is glad to stoop; so a man of weak faith, and mean abilities may undergo a cross more patiently than he that excels him, both in gifts and graces.

XIX.

Corn, till it has passed through the Mill and been ground to powder, is not fit for bread. God so deals with his servants: he grinds them with grief and pain till they turn to dust, and then are they fit manchet for his Mansion.

XXVII.

It is a pleasant thing to behold the light, but sore eyes are not able to look upon it; the pure in heart shall see God, but the defiled in conscience shall rather choose to be buried under rocks and mountains then to behold the presence of the Lamb.

XXXI.

Iron till it be thoroughly heat is uncapable to be wrought; so God sees good to cast some men into the furnace of affliction, and then beats them on his anvil into what frame he pleases.

XXXVIII.

Some Children are hardly weaned, although the breast be rubbed with wormwood or mustard, they will either wipe it off, or else suck down sweet and bitter together; so is it with some Christians, let God embitter all the sweets of this life, that so they might feed upon more substantial food, yet they are so childishly sottish that they are still hugging and sucking these empty breasts, that God is forced to hedge up their way with thorns, or lay affliction on their loins, that so they might shake hands with the world before it bid them farewell.

XL.

The spring is a lively emblem of the resurrection. After a long winter we see the leafless trees and dry stocks (at the approach of the sun) to resume their former vigor and beauty in a more ample manner then what they lost in the Autumn; so shall it be at that great day after a long vacation, when the Sun of righteousness shall appear, those dry bones shall arise in far more glory than that which they lost at their creation, and in this transcends the spring, that their leaf shall never fail, nor their sap decline.

XLVIII.

There is nothing admits of more admiration, than God's various dispensation of his gifts among the sons of men, betwixt whom he hath put so vast a disproportion that they scarcely seem made of the same lump, or sprung out of the loins of one Adam; some set in the highest dignity that mortality is capable of; and some again so base, that they are viler than the earth; some so wise and learned, that they seem like Angels among men; and some again so ignorant and Sottish, that they are more like beasts then men: some pious saints; some incarnate Devils; some exceeding beautiful; and some extremely deformed; some so strong and healthful that their bones are full of marrow; and their breasts of milk; and some again so weak and feeble, that, while they live, they are accounted among the dead—and no other reason can be given of all this, but so it pleased him, whose will is the perfect rule of righteousness.

LIII.

He that is to sail into a far country, although the ship, cabin and provision, be all convenient and comfortable for him, yet he hath no desire to make that his place of residence, but longs to put in at that port where his business lies; a Christian is sailing through this world unto his heavenly country, and here he hath many conveniences and comforts; but he must beware of desiring to make this the place of his abode, lest he meet with such tossings that may cause him to long for shore before he sees land. We must, therefore, be here as strangers and pilgrims, that we may plainly declare that we seek a city above, and wait all the days of our appointed time till our change shall come.

LXVII.

All the works and doings of God are wonderful, but none more awful than his great work of election and Reprobation; when we consider how many good parents have had bad children, and again how many bad parents have had pious children, it should make us adore the Sovereignty of God who will not be tied to time nor place, nor yet to persons, but takes and chooses when and where and whom he pleases: it should aloe teach the children of godly parents to walk with fear and trembling, lest they, through unbelief, fall short of a promise: it may also be a support to such as have or had wicked parents, that, if they abide not in unbelief, God is able to grass them in: the upshot of all should make us, with the Apostle, to admire the justice and mercy of God, and say, how unsearchable are his ways, and his footsteps past finding out.

LXXII.

As the brands of a fire, if once severed, will of themselves go out, although you use no other means to extinguish them, so distance of place, together with length of time (if there be no intercourse) will cool the affections of intimate friends, though there should be no displeasance between them.

LXXV.

It is admirable to consider the power of faith, by which all things are (almost) possible to be done; it can remove mountains (if need were) it hath stayed the course of the sun, raised the dead, cast out devils, reversed the order of nature, quenched the violence of the fire, made the water become firm footing for Peter to walk on; nay more than all these, it hath overcome the Omnipotent himself, as when Moses intercedes for the people, God saith to him, let me alone that I may destroy them, as if Moses had been able, by the hand of faith, to hold the everlasting arms of the mighty God of Jacob; yea, Jacob himself, when he wrestled with God face to face in Peniel: let me go! saith that Angel. I will not let thee go, replies Jacob, till thou bless me, faith is not only thus potent, but it is so necessary that without faith there is no salvation, therefore, with all our seekings and gettings, let us above all seek to obtain this pearl of prize.

LXXVII.

God hath by his providence so ordered, that no one country hath all Commodities within itself, but what it wants, another shall supply, that so there may be a mutual Commerce through the world. As it is with countries so it is with men, there was never yet any one man that had all excellences, let his parts, natural and acquired, spiritual and moral, be never so large, yet he stands in need of something which another man hath, (perhaps meaner than himself,) which shows us perfection is not below, as also, that God will have us beholden one to another.