[The Court of the Temple, Jerusalem, Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶ Divinitie

AS men, for fear the starres should sleep and nod,
          And trip at night, have spheres suppli'd;
As if a starre were duller then a clod,
          Which knows his way without a guide:

Just so the other heav'n they also serve,
          Divinities transcendent skie:
Which with the edge of wit they cut and carve.
          Reason triumphs, and faith lies by.

Could not that Wisdome, which first broacht the wine,
          Have thicken'd it with definitions?
And jagg'd his seamlesse coat, had that been fine,
          With curious questions and divisions?

But all the doctrine, which he taught and gave,
          Was cleare as heav'n, from whence it came.
At least those beams of truth, which onely save,
          Surpasse in brightnesse any flame.

Love God, and love your neighbour. Watch and pray.
          Do as ye would be done unto.
O dark instructions; ev'n as dark as day!
          Who can these Gordian knots undo?

But he doth bid us take his bloud for wine.
          Bid what he please; yet I am sure,
To take and taste what he doth there designe,
          Is all that saves, and not obscure.

Then burn thy Epicycles, foolish man;
          Break all thy spheres, and save thy head.
Faith needs no staffe of flesh, but stoutly can
          To heav'n alone both go, and leade.

General Note: When trying to explain the irregular motions of the planets (the wandering stars), astronomers devised ingenious explanations. One of these theories was that a planet moved in a perfect sphere attached to a large perfect sphere which had the earth as its center, and this explained its contrary movement in epicycles, a circle on a circle. Herbert parallels this elaborate astonomical explanation to the religious theology of his time.

1633 Edition
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