Rees Prichard Poems >>
The Unhappy State Of The Ungodly, After Death

You of each sex and age, draw near,
And to my sad Complaint give ear,
Who vice, unto the last obey'd,
But now beneath the pall am laid.

As you are now, I once have been,
Happy and pleas'd among my kin:
Now poor and naked I appear,
Extended on the solemn bier.

When worldly wealth, the most I sought,
And when of Death, the least I thought,
Death came unlook'd for with his dart,
And pierc'd me to the very heart.

When fortune favour'd ev'ry deed,
And all my aims us'd to succeed,
The ice broke short beneath my feet,
And down I tumbled to the pit.

When ruddy health my body grac'd,
And ev'ry nerve with strength was brac'd,
To pieces fell this brittle frame,
Like glass, when death once near me came.

I, gold and silver one possess'd,
And was with lands and houses bless'd;
But now I can't one farthing find
Of all the wealth I left behind.

I once in kinsfolks did abound,
Wife, children, servants, friends, I own'd;
But now with none can I converse,
Besides pale Death, within the hearse.

I then, companions always had
In all my ways, however bad;
But now not any one will come
To answer for me at my doom.

The fatal stroke, which now I rue,
Will shortly come to each of you,
Be then prepar'd, before you die,
You shall be warn'd no more than I.

Christ, and the ministers of heaven,
To all have proper notice given,
And yet how many millions die,
Who heed their words no more than I?

I long have ran a vary'd round
Of sins, which now my conscience wound:
But sharper 'tis, e'en than a sword,
To have despis'd God's holy word.

Stiffneck'd, and headstrong as an ass,
And heedless of God's laws, I was;
Whate'er Christ, or his servants, spake,
No notice of it wou'd I take.

With rakehell Publicans, or worse,
Rather than priests I'd still discourse,
Tho' these debauch'd and spoil'd me quite,
And those wou'd fain direct me right.

Whole months I'd rather gaily spend
In taverns with a female friend,
Than to my God with Christians pray,
Or in his temple pass a day.

More hours I pass'd in taverns then
With swine — I mean with drunken men,
Than with the sons of light I spent ;
For which full oft I now repent,

The mirth, that hardly holds a day,
And, ere scarce tasted, fleets away,
I chose before that perfect joy,
Which always lasts, and ne'er can cloy.

Earth, stones, brass, lead, I still preferr'd,
My sty, my stud, my lowing herd,
Before the charms of paradise,
Or any bliss God cou'd devise.

My body to my soul I still
Preferr'd — to virtue, ev'ry ill —
This world to heaven — wrong to right —
My guts, to God — and gloom, to light.

But now I'm sorry, from my soul,
That I was e'er so much a fool,
And ev'ry fibre quakes for fear,
Ere I before my Judge appear.

My body now to rot is gone,
For all the crimes that I have done;
Whilst my sad soul the skies must mount,
For all my follies to account.

My Saviour calls me by my name,
And I must answer to the same:
To make my reck'ning I must go
However difficult to do!

Ah me! what an unnumber'd sum
Of sins my conscience overcome —
Sins into which I madly ran,
In spite of God, in spite of man?

What joy dilates the Devil's breast,
Wide as the east is from the west!
As he relates, before my face,
How oft I've sinn'd — the time and place.

Of what a roll the Fiend's possest,
Long as the east is from the west!
By which instructed, he can show
The sins I've done — when, where, and how!

Ah me! — who is it, that I hear
Against me deadly witness bear,
But he who tempted me of yore
To listen to his fatal lore?

In all the days that I have past,
There's not a sin but he does cast
Full in my face — woe's me the while,
That I have led a life so vile!

He shews, alas, with too much truth!
How fruitlessly I spent my youth,
In revelry alone employ'd,
But of each Christian virtue void.

He stoutly claims me, for my crimes,
Since in my youth a thousand times
He won my soul; and to my shame,
God cannot but admit his claim.

He makes each vicious folly known
I did, since into manhood grown,
My drunken frolicks, am'rous fires,
And all my loose impure desires.

He shews, how prone I was to rage,
And all the foibles of old age!
How much to gain and lies a slave!
But, ah! how thoughtless of the grave!

With open mouth, and earnest strife,
He pleads that, in each stage of life,
He won my soul — and, from a boy,
That I have been in his employ.

With shameless, brazen, confidence,
The scriptures wresting to his sense,
That I am his, he boldly saith,
For want of penitence and faith.

I deem'd, by ignorance misled,
That Christ for my transgressions bled,
And that the Fiend no right cou'd claim
O'er those, who merely own'd his name.

But 'tis retorted by the Fiend,
That this can never serve my end,
Since Christ will not a soul receive,
But such as faithfully believe.

To this, he further dares to add,
That I no faith, nor virtue, had,
Nor any surer hopes of heaven,
Than if I were a very heathen.

With eager rancour he'd fain show,
That I have nought with Christ to do;
Because I heeded not his lore,
Nor chang'd my life, to my last hour.

And that, tho' I his name receiv'd,
Baptiz'd by Christians that believ'd,
My faith was no more to be priz'd
Than their's, who never were baptiz'd.

He says (ah me, I hear him now!)
That I no greater faith did show,
Nor any works, surpassing those
Which pagans in their lives disclose.

He says, I never kept a word
Of all the gospel of our Lord,
More than a Jew, who ne'er had grace
Those sacred doctrines to embrace.

He tells th' Almighty, whilst I hear,
That he will any torment bear,
If I, by rote, a single verse
Of all the scripture can rehearse.

He God himself presumes to call,
(With his attendant angels all)
To witness, that he nothing says
But truth, of my ungodly ways.

My conscience with the load opprest,
Must the distasteful truth attest,
And forces me to own each sin,
And say, — "Just such my life has been!"

He urges, that I've sore distress'd
The poor, and in all shapes oppress'd,
Their lands and houses forc'd away,
And made their little All, my prey.

He adds, that I have oft got drunk —
Oft dally'd with some common punk —
A thousand times the sabbath broke,
And of religion made a joke.

He then insists, with malice fell,
That Christ shou'd sentence me to hell,
To suffer, for my vices past,
Such pains, as shall for ever last.

Oh, how my soul with horror shakes,
For fear of Satan's fierce attacks?
Lest he, with his black crew, shou'd come,
And haul me to receive my doom.

Ah me! how bitter to the taste!
O, how unpleasant at the last!
How much the object of my hate,
The sin I lov'd so well of late?

How much am I asham'd to hear
The grand accuser publish, there,
A thousand things, which here below
I chose not my best friends should know?

Cou'd I my option have —— my soul
Wou'd chuse in Hell's fierce flames to roll,
Before it to God's bar wou'd mount,
For its misdeeds, there to account!

Yet it must at that bar appear,
(There's no excuse for absence there!)
Of all its works account to give
And its just sentence to receive.

To plead its cause, I no one hear —
I see no advocate appear ——
To give an answer none begins,
Even for one of all my sins.

The sacred rolls, I open'd see,
Before the dreadful Deity,
Ready to bring those crimes to light,
Which I had acted in the night.

Full in my face, I hear them cast,
My faithless life, and converse past,
My carnal and intemp'rate mind,
To each unchristian vice inclin'd.

I hear the oaths, now number'd o'er,
Which I, among vile drunkards, swore —
My breaches of the sabbath day,
With each loose thing I us'd to say.

My soul, a sullen silence keeps
Meanwhile, and self-convicted weeps,
Or mute as is the fin-row'd fry,
'Tis only sometimes heard to sigh.

I hear Christ issue his commands
To have me bound fast, feet and hands,
And thrown down to the nether gloom,
Where nought but woes and torments come!

I hear him, with excessive dread,
Pass sentence on my guilty head,
That I shou'd to th' abyss be tost,
With Satan and his sable host!

I see the Fiend himself take pains
To bind me with the strongest chains;
And, when my hands and feet are fast,
I see my soul to Tophet cast!

I hear it, there, for very pain,
Cry out, and groan, and roar amain;
Thus headlong, without mercy, hurl'd
To suffer in th' infernal world!

I see th' inferior Dev'lings, there,
Each sinner's soul and body tear,
As hounds, that almost famish'd are,
Through hunger tear a hind, or hare.

I hear my soul with piteous cry,
And loud laments entreat to die;
But yet, for all his piteous cries,
Far from him Death indignant flies.

He flies in Hell's tremendous gloom,
Where happiness and hope ne'er come,
Half-starv'd he pines among the Fiends,
Where his keen anguish never ends.

There's nothing gives me such a blow,
And sinks my hopeless heart so low,
As to reflect, that all this woe,
Shall no cessation ever know:

And that my body, there must go,
For want of proper caution too,
And, with the soul like tortures taste,
When once the resurrection's past:

And well do I deserve to dwell
Among the fiercest flames in hell,
As I entic'd it often times
To all its unrepented crimes.

There all the faithless folks shall go,
Who vile, immoral actions do,
Who out of doors their houses cast,
And love, like swine, a long repast.

I therefore ev'ry one advise
To fear the Lord, if he is wise,
And always to obey him well,
Lest he shou'd be condemn'd to hell.

Be sober, pious, and sincere,
And worship God with Christian fear,
If not — I will be bold to say,
That you'll be hurl'd to hell, one day.

Fear God — the scripture often read,
Nor from it turn aside your head —
Like Christians live, if you wou'd fain
The weighty crown of glory gain.

Faith, without works, no man can see;
No libertine a saint can be:
True Christians ne'er cast faith away,
They're Satan's slaves, who disobey.

In vain Religion you profess,
If works do not your faith express,
They can't exist, unless both meet,
No more than fire can, without heat.

Justice and honesty pursue,
God will, to guile, no favour shew ;
But heavy vengeance in the end,
Shall on deceit and fraud descend.

What gain they by their ill-plac'd toil,
Who rob the poor, and quite despoil,
If into hell they shall be cast,
For their injustice, at the last?

What boots it that you can fulfil
Your lusts, and have, a while, your will;
If, after gaining your desires,
You're headlong hurl'd to penal fires?

What boots it your vile guts to fill,
And wine and ale, whole nights to swill;
If for your love of ale and wine,
You shall, for thirst, in Tophet pine?

What shall he gain, who falsehood shows,
His promise breaks, and quite undoes
The neighb'ring poor? — if he must go,
For his deceit, to hell below.

Then let not Satan you deceive,
Who does an ill, shall ill receive:
For each shall reap, whate'er he sows,
And each be paid for what he does.

As easily our deadly foe
To heaven may on doomsday go,
As the debauch'd, lewd, infidel
Escape that day, the pains of hell.

God long will aim before the blow,
His wrath is deadly-sure, tho' slow;
For the long score and credit past,
He'll pay thee to the full at last.

God for a while will condescend
To spare the worst that they may mend;
But if at length they don't repent,
To hell they shall in heaps be sent.

God give all grace, their lives to mend,
Before their day is at an end!
God make all ready hence to go,
Before they feel Death's fatal blow!