You may rejoice to think yourselves secure,
You may be grateful for the gift divine,
That grace unsought which made your black hearts pure
And fits your earthborn souls in Heaven to shine.
But is it sweet to look around and view
Thousands excluded from that happiness,
Which they deserve at least as much as you,
Their faults not greater nor their virtues less?
And wherefore should you love your God the more
Because to you alone his smiles are given,
Because He chose to pass the many o’er
And only bring the favoured few to Heaven?
And wherefore should your hearts more grateful prove
Because for all the Saviour did not die?
Is yours the God of justice and of love
And are your bosoms warm with charity?
Say does your heart expand to all mankind
And would you ever to your neighbour do, –
The weak, the strong, the enlightened and the blind -
As you would have your neighbour do to you?
And, when you, looking on your fellow men
Behold them doomed to endless misery,
How can you talk of joy and rapture then?
May God withhold such cruel joy from me!
That none deserve eternal bliss I know:
Unmerited the grace in mercy given,
But none shall sink to everlasting woe
That have not well deserved the wrath of Heaven.
And, O! there lives within my heart
A hope long nursed by me,
(And should its cheering ray depart
How dark my soul would be)
That as in Adam all have died
In Christ shall all men live
And ever round his throne abide
Eternal praise to give;
That even the wicked shall at last
Be fitted for the skies
And when their dreadful doom is past
To life and light arise.
I ask not how remote the day
Nor what the sinner’s woe
Before their dross is purged away,
Enough for me to know
That when the cup of wrath is drained,
The metal purified,
They’ll cling to what they once disdained,
And live by Him that died.
(On this Five Hundredth anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, many of us who proudly claim his tradition would want to repudiate the doctrines of double predestination and limited atonement so closely linked to his legacy. Here Anne Brontë, the parson’s daughter, graciously does so in verse.)