A Word To The Calvinists / A Word To The 'Elect'
Written: May 28th. 1843.  First Published: 1846.

Throughout her life, Anne waged war on Calvinism; and some of her views on the subject are expressed in this poem. It may well have been this creation which caused Dr Thom, the universalist, to write to Anne in late 1848, after he had read it in a copy of Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (for which it had been re-titled 'A Word To The Elect'). Some of the views she expresses here were similarly expressed through the heroine, Helen Huntingdon, in her novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Alterations made for the poem's inclusion in Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell were mostly in punctuation and capitalisation. Both versions are presented below.

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.89 & p.176)


A Word To The Calvinists

You may rejoice to think yourselves secure,
You may be grateful for the gift divine,
That grace unsought which made your black hearts pure
And fits your earthborn souls in Heaven to shine.

But is it sweet to look around and view
Thousands excluded from that happiness,
Which they deserve at least as much as you,
Their faults not greater nor their virtues less?

And wherefore should you love your God the more
Because to you alone his smiles are given,
Because He chose to pass the many o'er
And only bring the favoured few to Heaven?

And wherefore should your hearts more grateful prove
Because for all the Saviour did not die?
Is yours the God of justice and of love
And are your bosoms warm with charity?

Say does your heart expand to all mankind
And would you ever to your neighbour do,
-- The weak, the strong, the enlightened and the blind -­
As you would have your neighbour do to you?

And, when you, looking on your fellow men
Behold them doomed to endless misery,
How can you talk of joy and rapture then?
May God withhold such cruel joy from me!

That none deserve eternal bliss I know:
Unmerited the grace in mercy given,
But none shall sink to everlasting woe
That have not well deserved the wrath of Heaven.

    And, O! there lives within my heart
    A hope long nursed by me,
    (And should its cheering ray depart
    How dark my soul would be)

    That as in Adam all have died
    In Christ shall all men live
    And ever round his throne abide
    Eternal praise to give;

    That even the wicked shall at last
    Be fitted for the skies
    And when their dreadful doom is past
    To life and light arise.

    I ask not how remote the day
    Nor what the sinner's woe
    Before their dross is purged away,
    Enough for me to know

    That when the cup of wrath is drained,
    The metal purified,
    They'll cling to what they once disdained,
    And live by Him that died.


A Word To The 'Elect'

You may rejoice to think yourselves secure;
You may be grateful for the gift divine --
That grace unsought, which made your black hearts pure,
And fits your earth-born souls in Heaven to shine.

But, is it sweet to look around, and view
Thousands excluded from that happiness,
Which they deserved, at least, as much as you, --
Their faults not greater, nor their virtues less?

And, wherefore should you love your God the more,
Because to you alone his smiles are given;
Because he chose to pass the many o'er,
And only bring the favoured few to Heaven?

And, wherefore should your hearts more grateful prove,
Because for ALL the Saviour did not die?
Is yours the God of justice and of love
And are your bosoms warm with charity?

Say, does your heart expand to all mankind?
And, would you ever to your neighbour do --
The weak, the strong, the enlightened, and the blind -­
As you would have your neighbour do to you?

And, when you, looking on your fellow-men,
Behold them doomed to endless misery,
How can you talk of joy and rapture then? --
May God withhold such cruel joy from me!

That none deserve eternal bliss I know;
Unmerited the grace in mercy given:
But, none shall sink to everlasting woe,
That have not well deserved the wrath of Heaven.

And, Oh! there lives within my heart
    A hope, long nursed by me;
(And, should its cheering ray depart,
    How dark my soul would be!)

That as in Adam all have died,
    In Christ shall all men live;
And ever round his throne abide,
    Eternal praise to give.

That even the wicked shall at last
    Be fitted for the skies;
And, when their dreadful doom is past,
    To life and light arise.

I ask not, how remote the day,
    Nor what the sinner's woe,
Before their dross is purged away;
    Enough for me, to know

That when the cup of wrath is drained,
    The metal purified,
They'll cling to what they once disdained,
    And live by Him that died.

Acton


Copyright © 2000 Michael Armitage

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