The plaint and the advice of Dives hear,
From hell’s hot furnace, and outrageous flame,
To his five brethren, and his kinsfolk dear,
Lest they, like him, shou’d come and feel the same.
“Hear me, my brethren! — hear me, whilst I tell,
What happ’ned to me, since I went below ;
That warn’d thereby, you may escape from hell,
From its dire pains, and never-ending woe.
Fraternal love and pity bid me give
You this advice, ’tis evidently plain;
Lest you should here unweetingly arrive,
Whence no one ever could return again.
Did you but know what horrid things I hear —
Cou’d you of all my torments form a guess!
You to my words wou’d lend a willing ear :
Lest you yourselves shou’d feel the like distress.
I’m well assur’d, did you but know my pains,
My woes, my anguish, and my vast dismay,
You wou’d not for an emperor’s domains,
Willingly bear them for a single day.
No man, alas! nor angel e’er can tell,
How great my woe! how infinite my pain!
In the fierce fires and furious flames of hell;
Where I am doom’d for ever to remain.
I erst in life was insolently proud,
(For fortune is esteem’d and honour’d still)
And as I wou’d, I rul’d the trembling crowd,
And did whate’er was pleasing to my will.
To many it appear’d, that from my soul
No God I fear’d, nor liv’d of man in awe,
More than the infidel and miscreant foul,
Whose inclinations are his only law.
But, Oh! myself I wretchedly deceiv’d,
Fondly presuming I shou’d never die,
Or if I died, I foolishly believ’d,
That in the grave I shou’d unquestion’d lie!
Though Moses, and the Prophets all averr’d,
My soul was not obnoxious to the grave;
Yet, to their tenets, I my own preferr’d,
And slighted all the counsels, that they gave.
Although they shew’d that, at God’s aweful throne,
Each must a reck’ning make, when he is dead,
For ev’ry villainy, which he has done;
Yet it cou’d never enter to my head.
But now in hell, I know it to my cost,
That all they taught was, to a tittle, true,
And that the deathless soul, which I have lost,
Must in those flames my foul offences rue.
I vainly thought, whilst yet I drew my breath,
There was no God, no mansions of the blest,
No hell, nor Devil in the realms beneath,
And that man died, as dies the brutal beast.
But now in hell, at each repeated blow,
By each insulting fiend I’m better taught,
And, to my full conviction, made to know,
That there’s a God to punish ev’ry fault.
Now, now I feel, and see, alas, too plain!
That there’s a Devil, and a local hell,
With Demons an innumerable train,
To plague my soul, with whom I’m forc’d to dwell.
Now, to a demonstration, I well know,
That man is of a deathless soul possest,
(Whether that soul be doom’d to bliss, or woe!)
Though in the tomb the body’s laid to rest.
Now, I believe the scriptures to be true,
Now, I believe whatever Christ did say,
And that the skies will scud away, like dew,
Before a Word of his shall pass away.
But as I did not this believe, in time,
What I believe at present is in vain:
For want of faith I plung’d to ev’ry crime,
Worse than the brutes, that graze the verdant plain:
And such will you, my brethren be, when dead,
If you do not the scripture-truths embrace,
And strive a life of piety to lead,
As they direct you, like the sons of grace.
Because the scriptures I did not obey,
Because my nature I did not subdue,
Because I wou’d not see the gospel’s ray,
I now, in woeful case, my folly rue.
Because in Moses’ rules I never trod,
Because those sacred truths I disbeliev’d,
Because I never kept the laws of God,
It was that I so very vilely liv’d.
When once I put the gospel out of sight,
Then Satan came himself to be my guide,
And by each sin, wherein it took delight,
He my frail nature quickly drew aside.
There’s not a heinous vice, that I can name,
Which I did not, till I was cloy’d, plunge-in,
Until a proverb my bad life became,
And I was judg’d Manasses to out-sin.
My worldly pelf, I as my God obey’d,
In sensual lusts I plac’d my chief delight,
In ev’ry sin I revell’d undismay’d,
And left the Lord out of remembrance quite.
When by those errors I had long been led,
My precious soul I utterly despis’d,
Like some brute beast, to ev’ry virtue dead,
And nought but riches and my belly priz’d.
Still in the richest dress was I array’d,
My robes were in the deepest purple died;
Now, for my pride and vanity well pay’d,
I’ve not a rag my nakedness to hide.
The finest linen I was us’d to wear,
Nor wou’d admit of any thing more coarse;
But now I vainly wish that I had here
Some sackcloth, or the cov’ring of a horse.
Each day, throughout the year, whene’er I din’d,
I cramm’d my guts with victuals of the best ;
And yet my soul for very hunger pin’d,
Amidst the hurry of a constant feast.
I then was grown so dainty in my meat,
And so extremely nice, that I ne’er deign’d
Of any dish, or kind of food, to eat,
Which was not choice, dear-bought, and finely-grain’d.
But now I fain my hunger wou’d assuage
Even on hogs-wash, or on husky grains,
So that I might in part appease the rage
Of that keen famine, which my bowels pains.
I then was wont strong beer and wine to swill,
As if no measure I in drinking knew,
And often my ungodly paunch wou’d fill,
‘Till up again the nauseous load I threw.
But now I’d gladly give the world entire,
And all its treasures, for a little cup
From some cool stream, to slake the raging fire,
Which my chark’d tongue for ever parches-up.
Though as much offals from my table went,
As wou’d have fed great numbers of the poor,
Yet to the dogs the whole was daily sent,
Whilst Lazarus lay starving at my door.
Now Lazarus in turn repays me home,
And still refuses, from some bubbling spring,
(Although I beg him earnestly to come)
One drop of water, for my use, to bring.
Though Moses and the Prophets always laid
The best rules down, their rules I still despis’d,
And gave no ear to any word they said,
Nor ever did the least thing, they advis’d.
Now here I cry, and no cessation know ;
For none unto my plaintive cries give heed,
But in my teeth their keen reproaches throw,
Because of the vile life I us’d to lead.
Whenever any preach’d the word of God,
I still averse in attitude appear’d,
Or, ever and anon, was seen to nod,
Whilst others profited by what they heard.
Because at church I, then, was wont to doze,
By Demons, here, I’m tortur’d all the while;
So that I now can meet with no repose;
Nor sleep, nor slumber can my woes beguile.
Because I, to the Gospel, gave no ear,
Nor to those doctrines, which the Saviour taught,
I now am forc’d the fiend’s loud yells to hear,
With hideous horror and amazement fraught.
Because the law of Moses they despis’d,
Because the Gospel they did not believe,
Because its dictates they so little priz’d,
Some thousands, now in hell, lament and grieve!
The sabbath I, in gluttony, alas!
Always mis-spent, or in some wanton play ;
In riot, I contriv’d to make it pass,
And fouler sins, than any other day.
Thousands of souls are now in hell distrest,
Because the sabbath they did not revere:
No pause they know from pain, nor day of rest ;
But without respite are tormented there.
The sacred name of God, I took in vain
For sport alone, a million times, or more,
And thought my story wou’d no credit gain,
Unless by Jesus’ blood and wounds I swore.
Oh! how my tongue now fries in dreadful dole,
Because his precious blood I lightly priz’d!
And, Oh! what tortures rack my very soul,
Because the name of Jesus I despis’d!
To the foul fiend I offer’d long in vain
My precious soul, a thousand times a day ;
But as I gave it o’er and o’er again,
At last he seiz’d it, as his lawful prey.
Thousands with me in shocking torments dwell,
Thrown headlong to this deep sulphureous flood;
Because they gave themselves, by oaths, to hell,
Tho’ Christ himself had bought them with his blood.
Full many a one I to the army sent,
Straining maliciously my country’s laws —
Thirsting for bloodshed, and entirely bent,
The guiltless to destroy, without a cause,
Their blood extorted vengeance from the sky —
A vengeance justly-due unto my guilt!
And to the fiends their injur’d spirits cry,
To pay me home for all the blood I spilt.
On juries, oft, for life and death I served,
Of God, and of his laws regardless quite;
The guiltless I condemn’d, but still preserv’d
Those, who depriv’d their neighbours of their right.
But now each murderer, and desperate thief,
(Whom erst I from the gallows sav’d) in hell
Remorseless tear my soul — and, to my grief,
The fiends themselves in cruelty excel.
My love for my own consort soon grew cool,
And to vile strumpets, in her stead, I cleav’d —
An host of whom now plague me in this pool,
Because I their credulity deceiv’d.
The base-born blood from those foul harlots sprung,
By my example to those regions led,
Call on the fiends, with unharmonious tongue,
To pour their torments thicker on my head.
Their helpless, friendless, orphans I oppress’d,
Whene’er my tenants died — and from the plough,
The yoke entire, tho’ nought was due, distress’d;
Lest one, if left, shou’d for its partner low.
Because those innocents I then abus’d,
The fiends in hell my tortur’d soul distress,
Worse than a tanner, any time, is us’d
To beat those hides he fully means to dress.
Some venal villains oftentimes I hir’d,
The rankest lies and perjuries to tell,
Who never fail’d to swear, as I requir’d,
When I had taught them their vile lesson well.
Now, like a brood of vipers in their nest,
They, night and day, my very entrails tear,
And ever gnaw my heartstrings in my breast,
Because I taught them perjuries to swear.
Of murder, and of robb’ry I accus’d
Persons, whose innocence was fully known,
And with foul slanders either sex abus’d,
Out of mere pique, and wickedness alone.
The lab’rer’s hire I oft was wont to keep,
And my own servants wages to retain,
Nay, without pay, I forc’d the poor to reap,
Throughout the harvest, my whole crop of grain.
Now to the fiend those needy folks complain,
And at his hands my punishment implore,
Because I us’d their wages to detain,
And ruin’d such a number of the poor.
My money, to the poor, on use I lent,
And screw’d them, with an avarice seldom known,
‘Till all the little that they had was spent,
And they by my extortion were undone.
Many of those, now in the pit of hell,
With aggregated pains torment me sore,
Because I did their minds to theft impel,
When my exactions had consum’d their store.
To low attornies, a black-minded tribe,
I gave large fees, the needy to oppress,
Who now, because corrupted by my bribe,
In this infernal sink my soul distress.
I gave my servants orders, o’er and o’er,
To plague my neighbours round me; — in the pit,
Those servants now torment my soul full sore,
Because I made them such bad things commit.
At under-price men’s lands I often bought,
Yet still some part of that small pittance kept :
But now I to this gloomy gaol am brought,
I have no money to repay the debt.
Cou’d one poor penny my redemption buy,
And from this doleful prison-house relieve,
And bring me to the lucid realms on high,
I have not one poor penny left, to give.
I was advis’d a thousand times, or more,
What I extorted, to refund again,
But rather than I wou’d a mite restore,
I chose to suffer here eternal pain.
Whene’er I sent to markets, or to fairs,
False weights I us’d, and measures short of size,
Or else amongst my wheat I mingled tares,
Yet for that trash requir’d the greatest price.
Against the laws of God and of the land,
I weights for diff’rent purposes produc’d:
Whene’er I bought, the large ones were at hand;
Whene’er I sold, a lesser sort I us’d.
But now the fiends, in this infernal place,
My head with the most heavy of them bruise;
And such as mine, is the unhappy case
Of all, who e’er were wont false weights to use!
I left no tittle of the law unbroke,
Nay, which I did not break a hundred times!
And, ’till death, gave me the conclusive stroke,
I wallow’d daily in the worst of crimes.
I just have given you, in language plain,
My life at large, until surpriz’d by death:
I next shall give you an account again,
How Satan plagues me in the realms beneath!
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Based on Keywords: surpriz, evidently, advis, tenets, credulity, sulphureous, contriv, tanner, insolently, unbroke, happ