Ordained Servant Online



The Priesthood

George Herbert (1593–1633)

Blest Order, which in power dost so excell,
That with th’ one hand thou liftest to the sky,
And with the other throwest down to hell
In thy just censures; fain would I draw nigh,
Fain put thee on, exchanging my lay-sword
                        For that of th’ holy Word.

But thou art fire, sacred and hallow’d fire;
And I but earth and clay: should I presume
To wear thy habit, the severe attire
My slender compositions might consume.
I am both foul and brittle; much unfit
                        To deal in holy Writ.

Yet have I often seen, by cunning hand
And force of fire, what curious things are made
Of wretched earth. Where once I scorn’d to stand,
That earth is fitted by the fire and trade
Of skilfull artists, for the boards of those
                        Who make the bravest shows.

But since those great ones, be they ne’re so great,
Come from the earth, from whence those vessels come;
So that at once both feeder, dish, and meat
Have one beginning and one final summe:
I do not greatly wonder at the sight,
                        If earth in earth delight.

But th’ holy men of God such vessels are,
As serve him up, who all the world commands:
When God vouchsafeth to become our fare,
Their hands convey him, who conveys their hands.
O what pure things, most pure must those things be,
                        Who bring my God to me!

Wherefore I dare not, I, put forth my hand
To hold the Ark,1 although it seems to shake
Through th’ old sinnes and new doctrines of our land.
Onely, since God doth often vessels make
Of lowly matter for high uses meet,
                        I throw me at his feet.

There will I lie, untill my Maker seek
For some mean stuffe thereon to show his skill:
Then is my time. The distance of the meek
Doth flatter power. Lest good come short of ill
In praising might, the poore do by submission
                        What pride by opposition.

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