Pondering Advent 2: George Herbert on the Scriptures

In keeping with the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent,

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
1.

OH Book !  infinite sweetnesse !  let my heart
Suck ev’ry letter, and a hony gain,
Precious for any grief in any part ;
To cleare the breast, to mollifie all pain.

Thou art all health, health thriving, till it make
A full eternitie : thou art a masse
Of strange delights, where we may wish and take.
Ladies, look here ; this is the thankfull glasse,

That mends the lookers eyes : this is the well
That washes what it shows.   Who can indeare
Thy praise too much ?  thou art heav’ns Lidger here,
Working against the states of death and hell.

Thou art joyes handsell : heav’n lies flat in thee,
Subject to ev’ry mounters bended knee.

Notes:

hony – obsolete spelling of ‘honey’
Lidger – Ledger
handsell – older spelling of ‘handsel’; a gift to express good wishes at the beginning of a new year or enterprise; a specimen or foretaste of what is to come.
flat –  Stretched out in full length; fixed and unvarying; free from qualification, absolute.
mounter – one who mounts or ascends.  Perhaps an allusion to Isaiah 40:31:
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Those waiting humbly in prayer.  The mind of the humble supplicant will have best understanding and make best use of the Book.

With modernized spellings:

Oh Book! infinite sweetness! let my heart
Suck ev’ry letter, and a honey gain,
Precious for any grief in any part;
To clear the breast, to mollify all pain.

Thou art all health, health thriving, till it make
A full eternity: thou art a mass
Of strange delights, where we may wish and take.
Ladies, look here; this is the thankful glass,

That mends the looker’s eyes: this is the well
That washes what it shows. Who can endear
Thy praise too much? thou art heav’n’s Lidger here,
Working against the states of death and hell.

Thou art joy’s handsel: heav’n lies flat in thee,
Subject to ev’ry mounter’s bended knee.

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