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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

The Day of Doom

By Michael Wigglesworth (1631–1705)

[Born in England, 1631. Died at Maiden, Mass., 1705. The Day of Doom; or, a Poetical Description of the Great and Last Judgment. 1662.]


STILL was the night, Serene & Bright,

when all Men sleeping lay;

Calm was the season, & carnal reason

thought so ’twould last for ay.

Soul, take thine ease, let sorrow cease,

much good thou hast in store:

This was their Song, their Cups among,

the Evening before.

Wallowing in all kind of sin,

vile wretches lay secure:

The best of men had scarcely then

their Lamps kept in good ure.

Virgins unwise, who through disguise

amongst the best were number’d

Had clos’d their eyes; yea, and the wise

through sloth and frailty slumber’d.

Like as of old, when Men grow bold

God’s threatenings to contemn,

Who stop their Ear, and would not hear,

when Mercy warned them:

But took their course without remorse,

till God began to powre

Destruction the World upon

in a tempestuous showre.

They put away the evil day,

and drown’d their care and fears,

Till drown’d were they, and swept away

by vengeance unawares:

So at the last, whilst Men sleep fast

in their security,

Surpriz’d they are in such a snare

as cometh suddenly.

For at midnight brake forth a Light,

which turn’d the night to day,

And speedily an hideous cry

did all the world dismay.

Sinners awake, their hearts do ake,

trembling their loynes surprizeth;

Amaz’d with fear, by what they hear,

each one of them ariseth.

They rush from Beds with giddy heads,

and to their windows run,

Viewing this light, which shines more bright

then doth the Noon-day Sun.

Straightway appears (they see’t with tears)

the Son of God most dread;

Who with his Train comes on amain

to Judge both Quick and Dead.

Before his face the Heav’ns gave place,

and Skies are rent asunder,

With mighty voice, and hideous noise,

more terrible than Thunder.

His brightness damps heav’ns glorious lamps

and makes them hide their heads,

As if afraid and quite dismay’d,

they quit their wonted steads.

Ye sons of men that durst contemn

the Threatnings of Gods Word.

How chear you now? your hearts, I trow,

are thrill’d as with a sword,

Now Athist blind, whose brutish mind

a God could never see,

Dost thou perceive, dost now believe

that Christ thy judge shall be?

Stout Courages, (whose hardiness

could Death and Hell out-face)

Are you as bold now you behold

your Judge draw near apace?

They cry, no, no: Alas! and wo!

our courage all is gone:

Our hardiness (fool hardiness)

hath us undone, undone.

No heart so bold, but now grows cold

and almost dead with fear:

No eye so dry, but now can cry,

and pour out many a tear.

Earth’s Potentates and pow’rful States,

Captains and Men of Might

Are quite abasht, their courage dasht

at this most dreadful sight.

Mean men lament, great men do rent

their Robes, and tear their hair:

They do not spare their flesh to tear

through horrible despair.

All Kindreds wail: all hearts do fail:

horror the world doth fill

With weeping eyes, and loud out-cries,

yet knows not how to kill.

Some hide themselves in Caves and Delves,

in places under ground:

Some rashly leap into the Deep,

to scape by being drown’d:

Some to the Rocks (O senseless blocks!)

and woody Mountains run,

That there they might this fearful sight,

and dreaded Presence shun.

In vain do they to Mountains say,

fall on us and us hide

From Judges ire, more hot than fire,

for who may it abide?

No hiding place can from his Face

sinners at all conceal,

Whose flaming Eye hid things doth ’spy

and darkest things reveal.

The Judge draws nigh, exalted high,

upon a lofty Throne,

Amidst the throng of Angels strong,

lo, Israel’s Holy One!

The excellence of whose presence

and awful Majesty,

Amazeth Nature, and every Creature,

doth more than terrify.

The Mountains smoak, the Hills are shook,

the Earth is rent and torn,

As if she should be clear dissolv’d,

or from the Center born.

The Sea doth roar, forsakes the shore,

and shrinks away for fear;

The wild beasts flee into the Sea,

so soon as he draws near.

Whose Glory bright, whose wondrous might,

whose power Imperial,

So far surpass whatever was

in Realms Terrestrial;

That tongues of men (nor angels pen)

cannot the same express,

And therefore I must pass it by,

lest speaking should transgress.

Before his Throne a Trump is blown,

Proclaiming the day of Doom:

Forthwith he cries, Ye dead arise,

and unto Judgment come.

No sooner said, but ’tis obey’d;

Sepulchres opened are:

Dead bodies all rise at his call,

and’s mighty power declare.

Both Sea and Land, at his Command,

their Dead at once surrender:

The Fire and Air constrained are

also their dead to tender.

The mighty word of this great Lord

links Body and Soul together

Both of the Just, and the unjust,

to part no more for ever.

The same translates, from Mortal states

to Immortality,

All that survive, and be alive,

i’ th’ twinkling of an eye:

That so they may abide for ay

to endless weal or woe;

Both the Renate and Reprobate

are made to dy no more.

His winged Hosts flie through all Coasts,

together gethering

Both good and bad, both quick and dead,

and all to Judgment bring.

Out of their holes those creeping Moles,

that hid themselves for fear,

By force they take, and quickly make

before the Judge appear.

Thus every one before the Throne

of Christ the Judge is brought,

Both righteous and impious

that good or ill hath wrought.

A separation, and diff’ring station

by Christ appointed is

(To sinners sad) ’twixt good and bad,

’twixt Heirs of woe and bliss.



These words appall and daunt them all;

dismai’d, and all amort,

Like stocks that stand at Christ’s left hand

and dare no more retort.

Then were brought near with trembling fear

a number numberless

Of blind Heathen, and bruitish men,

that did God’s Laws transgress.

Whose wicked ways Christ open layes,

and makes their sins appear,

They making pleas their case to ease,

if not themselves to clear.

Thy written Word (say they) good Lord,

we never did enjoy:

We nor refus’d nor it abus’d

Oh, do not us destroy.

You ne’r abus’d nor yet refus’d

my written Word, you plead,

That’s true (quoth he) therefore shall ye

the less be punished.

You shall not smart for any part

of other mens offence,

But for your own transgression

receive due recompence.

But we were blind, say they, in mind,

to dim was Natures Light,

Our only guide, as hath been try’d

to bring us to the sight

Of our estate degenerate,

and curst by Adam’s fall;

How we were born and lay forlorn

in bondage and in thrall.

We did not know a Christ till now,

nor how fain men be saved,

Else would we not, right well we wot,

have so our selves behaved.

We should have mourn’d, we should have turn’d

from sin at thy Reproof,

And been more wise through thy advice,

for our own Souls behoof.

But Nature Light shin’d not so bright

to teach us the right way:

We might have lov’d it, and well improv’d it,

and yet have gone astray.

The Judge most High makes this Reply,

you ignorance pretend,

Dimness of sight, and want of light

your course Heav’nward to bend.

How came your mind to be so blind?

I once you knowledge gave,

Clearness of sight, and judgement right;

who did the same deprave?

If to your cost you have it lost,

and quite defac’d the same;

Your own desert hath caus’d the smart,

you ought not me to blame.

Your selves into a pit of woe,

your own transgression led:

If I to none my Grace had shown,

who had been injured?

If to a few, and not to you,

I shew’d a way of life,

My Grace so free, you clearly see,

gives you no ground of strife.

’Tis vain to tell, you wot full well,

if you in time had known,

Your Misery and Remedy,

your actions had it shown.

You, sinful Crew, have not been true,

unto the Light of Nature,

Nor done the good you understood,

nor owned your Creator.

He that the Light, because ’tis Light,

hath used to despize,

Would not the Light shining more bright,

be likely for to prize.

If you had lov’d, and well improv’d

your knowledge and dim sight,

Herein your pain had not been vain,

your plagues had been more light.


Then to the Bar, all they drew near

Who dy’d in infancy,

And never had or good or bad

effected pers’nally.

But from the womb unto the tomb

were straightway carried,

(Or at the least e’er they transgrest)

who thus began to plead:

If for our own transgression,

or disobedience,

We here did stand at thy left hand

just were the Recompence:

But Adam’s guilt our souls hath spilt,

his fault is charg’d on us:

And that alone hath overthrown,

and utterly undone us.

Not we, but he ate of the Tree,

whose fruit was interdicted:

Yet on us all of his sad Fall,

the punishment’s inflicted.

How could we sin that had not been

or how is his sin our

Without consent, which to prevent,

we never had a pow’r?

O great Creator, why was our Nature

depraved and forlorn?

Why so defil’d, and made so vil’d

whilst we were yet unborn?

If it be just, and needs we must

transgressors reck’ned be,

Thy Mercy Lord, to us afford,

which sinners hath set free.

Behold we see Adam set free,

and sav’d from his trespass,

Whose sinful Fall hath split us all,

and brought us to this pass.

Canst thou deny us once to try,

or Grace to us to tender,

When he finds grace before thy face,

that was the chief offender?

Then answered the Judge most dread,

God doth such doom forbid,

That men should dye eternally

for what they never did.

But what you call old Adam’s Fall,

and only his Trespass,

You call amiss to call it his,

both his and yours it was.

He was design’d of all Mankind

to be a publick Head,

A common Root, whence all should shoot,

and stood in all their stead.

He stood and fell, did ill or well,

Not for himself alone,

But for you all, who now his Fall,

and trespass would disown.

If he had stood, then all his brood

had been established

In Gods true love never to move,

nor once awry to tread:

Then all his Race, my Fathers Grace,

should have enjoy’d for ever,

And wicked Sprights by subtile sleights

could them have harmed never.

Would you have griev’d to have receiv’d

through Adam so much good,

As had been your for evermore,

if he at first had stood?

Would you have said, we ne’er obey’d,

nor did thy Laws regard;

It ill befits with benefits,

us, Lord, so to reward.

Since then to share in his welfare,

you could have been content,

You may with reason share in his treason,

and in the punishment.

Hence you were born in state forlorn,

with Natures so depraved:

Death was your due, because that you

had thus your selves behaved.

You think if we had been as he,

whom God did so betrust,

We to our cost would ne’er have lost

all for a paltry Lust.

Had you been made in Adam’s stead,

you would like things have wrought,

And so into the self same wo,

your selves and yours have brought.

I may deny you once to try,

or Grace to you to tender,

Though he finds Grace before my face,

who was the chief offender:

Else should my Grace cease to be Grace;

for it should not be free,

If to release whom I should please,

I have no libertie.

If upon one what’s due to none

I frankly shall bestow,

And on the rest shall not think best,

compassions skirts to throw,

Whom injure I? will you envy,

and grudge at others weal?

Or me accuse, who do refuse

your selves to help and heal.

Am I alone of what’s my own,

no Master or no Lord?

O if I am, how can you claim

what I to some afford?

Will you demand Grace at my hand,

and challenge what is mine?

Will you teach me whom to set free,

and thus my grace confine?

You sinners are, and such a share

as sinners may expect,

Such you shall have; for I do save

none but my own Elect.

Yet to compare your sin with their

who liv’d a longer time,

I do confess yours is much less,

though every sin’s a crime.

A Crime it is, therefore in bliss

you may not hope to dwell;

But unto you I shall allow

the easiest room in Hell.

The glorious King thus answering,

they cease and plead no longer:

Their Consciences must needs confess

his Reasons are the stronger.

Thus all mens Pleas the Judge with ease

doth answer and confute,

Until that all, both great and small,

are silenced and mute.

Vain hopes are cropt, all mouths are stopt,

sinners have nought to say,

But that ’tis just, and equal most

they should be damn’d for ay.



Where tender love mens hearts did move

unto a sympathy,

And bearing part of others smart

in their anxiety;

Now such compassion is out of fashion,

and wholly laid aside:

No Friends so near, but Saints to hear

their Sentence can abide.

One natural Brother beholds another

in his astonied fit,

Yet sorrows not thereat a jot,

nor pities him a whit.

The godly wife conceives no grief,

nor can she shed a tear

For the sad state of her dear Mate,

when she his doom doth hear.

He that was erst a Husband pierc’t

with sense of Wives distress,

Whose tender heart did bear a part

of all her grievances,

Shall mourn no more as heretofore

because of her ill plight;

Although he see her now to be

a damn’d forsaken wight.

The tender Mother will own no other

of all her numerous brood,

But such as stand at Christ’s right hand

acquitted through his Blood.

The pious father had now much rather

his graceless son should ly

In Hell with Devils, for all his evils,

burning eternally.

Then God most high should injury,

by sparing him sustain;

And doth rejoice to hear Christ’s voice

adjudging him to pain.

Who having all both great and small,

convinc’d and silenced,

Did then proceed their Doom to read,

and thus it uttered.

Ye sinful wights, and cursed sprights,

that work iniquity,

Depart together from me for ever

to endless Misery;

Your portion take in yonder Lake,

where Fire and Brimstone flameth:

Suffer the smart, which your desert

as it’s due wages claimeth.

Oh piercing words more sharp than swords!

what, to depart from thee,

Whose face before for evermore

the best of Pleasures be!

What? to depart (unto our smart)

from thee Eternally:

To be for aye banish’d away,

with Devils company!

What? to be sent to Punishment,

and flames of Burning Fire,

To be surrounded, and eke confounded

with Gods Revengeful ire!

What? to abide, not for a tide

these Torments, but for Ever:

To be released, or to be eased,

not after years, but Never.

Oh fearful Doom! now there’s no room

for hope or help at all:

Sentence is past which aye shall last,

Christ will not it recall.

There might you hear them rent and tear

the Air with their out-cries:

The hideous noise of their sad voice

ascendeth to the Skies.

They wring their hands, their caitiff-hands,

and gnash their teeth for terrour;

They cry, they roar for anguish sore,

and gnaw their tongues for horrour.

But get away without delay,

Christ pities not your cry:

Depart to Hell, there may you yell,

and roar Eternally.

That word, Depart, maugre their heart,

drives every wicked one,

With mighty pow’r, the self-same hour,

far from the Judge’s Throne.

Away they’re chast’d by the strong blast

of his Death-threatning mouth:

They flee full fast, as if in haste,

although they be full loath.

As chaff that’s dry, and dust doth fly

before the Northern wind:

Right so are they chased away,

and can no Refuge find.

They hasten to the Pit of Woe,

guarded by Angels stout;

Who to fulfil Christ’s holy will,

attend this wicked Rout.

Whom having brought as they are taught,

unto the brink of Hell,

(That dismal place far from Christ’s face,

where Death and Darkness dwell:

Where God’s fierce Ire kindleth the fire,

and vengeance feeds the flame

With piles of Wood and Brimstone Flood,

that none can quench the same,)

With Iron bands they bind their hands,

and cursed feet together,

And cast them all both great and small,

into that Lake for ever,

Where day and night, without respite,

they wail, and cry, and howl

For tort’ring pain which they sustain

in body and in Soul.

For day and night, in their despight,

their torments smoak ascendeth,

Their pain and grief have no relief,

their anguish never endeth.

There must they ly, and never dy,

though dying every day:

There must they dying ever ly,

and not consume away.

Dy fain they would, if dy they could,

but death will not be had.

God’s direful wrath their bodies hath

for ev’r Immortal made.

They live to ly in misery,

and bear eternal wo;

And live they must whilst God is just,

that he may plague them so.

But who can tell the plagues of Hell,

and torments exquisite?

Who can relate their dismal state,

and terrours infinite?

Who fare the best, and feel the least,

yet feel that punishment

Whereby to nought they should be brought,

if God did not prevent.

The least degree of misery

there felt’s incomparable,

The lightest pain they there sustain

more than intolerable.

But God’s great pow’r from hour to hour

upholds them in the fire,

That they shall not consume a jot,

nor by it’s force expire.



The Saints behold with courage bold,

and thankful wonderment,

To see all those that were their foes

thus sent to punishment:

Then do they sing unto their King

a Song of endless Praise:

They praise his Name, and do proclaim

that just are all his ways.

Thus with great joy and melody

to Heav’n they all ascend,

Him there to praise with sweetest layes,

and Hymns that never end.

Where with long rest they shall be blest.

and nought shall them annoy:

Where they shall see as seen they be,

and whom they love enjoy.

O glorious Place! where face to face

Jehovah may be seen,

By such as were sinners while here

and no dark veil between.

Where the Sun shine and light Divine,

of Gods bright countenance,

Doth rest upon them every one,

with sweetest influence.

O blessed state of the Renate!

O wond’rous Happiness,

To which they’re brought beyond what thought

can reach, or words express!

Griefs water-course, and sorrows source,

are turn’d to joyful streams.

Their old distress and heaviness

are vanished like dreams.

For God above in arms of love

doth dearly them embrace,

And fills their sprights with such delights,

and pleasures in his grace;

As shall not fail, nor yet grow stale

through frequency of use:

Nor do they fear God favour there,

to forfeit by abuse.

For there the Saints are perfect Saints,

and hold ones indeed,

From all the sin that dwelt within

their mortal bodies freed:

Made Kings and Priests to God through Christe

dear loves transcendency,

There to remain and there to reign

with him Eternally.