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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A New England Saint

By Benjamin Woodbridge (d. 1710)

[Preached in Bristol, R. I., and Kittery, Me., 1680–88. Died at Medford, Mass., 1710. “Upon the Tomb of the Most Reverend Mr. John Cotton,” as quoted in Cotton Mather’s “Magnalia.”]

HERE lies magnanimous humility;

Majesty, meekness; Christian apathy

On soft affections; liberty in thrall;

A noble spirit, servant unto all;

Learning’s great masterpiece, who yet would sit

As a disciple, at his scholars’ feet:

A simple serpent or serpentine dove,

Made up of wisdom, innocence and love:

Neatness embroider’d with itself alone,

And civils canonized in a gown;

Embracing old and young, and low and high,

Ethics embodied in divinity;

Ambitious to be lowest, and to raise

His brethren’s honor on his own decays;

(Thus doth the sun retire into his bed,

That being gone the stars may show their head;)

Could wound at argument without division,

Cut to the quick, and yet make no incision:

Ready to sacrifice domestic notions

To churches’ peace and ministers’ devotions:

Himself, indeed (and singular in that)

Whom all admired he admired not:

Liv’d like an angel of a mortal birth,

Convers’d in heaven while he was on earth:

Though not, as Moses, radiant with night

Whose glory dazzl’d the beholder’s sight,

Yet so divinely beautified, you’ld count

He had been born and bred upon the Mount!

A living, breathing Bible; tables where

Both covenants at large engraven were;

Gospel and law in ’s heart had each its column;

His head an index to the sacred volume;

His very name a title-page; and next

His life a commentary on the text.

O, what a monument of glorious worth,

When, in a new edition, he comes forth,

Without erratas, may we think he’ll be

In leaves and covers of eternity!

A man of might, at heavenly eloquence,

To fix the ear, and charm the conscience;

As if Apollos were reviv’d in him,

Or he had learned of a seraphim;

Spake many tongues in one; one voice and sense

Wrought joy and sorrow, fear and confidence:

Rocks rent before him, blind receiv’d their sight;

Souls levell’d to the dunghill, stood upright:

Infernal furies burst with rage to see

Their prisoners captiv’d into liberty:

A star that in our eastern England rose,

Thence hurri’d by the blast of stupid foes,

Whose foggy darkness and benumbed senses

Brookt not his dazzling fervent influences:

Thus did he move on earth, from east to west;

There he went down, and up to heaven for rest.

Nor from himself, whilst living, doth he vary,

His death hath made him an ubiquitary:

Where is his sepulchre is hard to say,

Who, in a thousand sepulchres, doth lay

(Their hearts, I mean, whom he hath left behind)

In them his sacred reliques, now, enshrin’d.

But let his mourning flock be comforted,

Though Moses be, yet Joshua is not dead:

I mean renowned Norton; worthy he,

Successor to our Moses, is to be.

O happy Israel in America,

In such a Moses, such a Joshua!