By Thomas Ellwood
"Transibunt cito, quae vos mansura putatis."
(From Webb, Maria. The Penns and Peningtons of the Seventeenth Century, In Their Domestic and Religious Life: Illustrated by Original Family Letters: Also Incidental Notices of Their Friend Thomas Ellwood, With Some of His Unpublished Verses. London: F. Bowyer Kitto, 1867, page 235.
The Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.
What ground, alas! has any man To set his heart on things below, Which, when they seem most like to stand, Fly like an arrow from a bow? Things subject to exterior sense Are to mutation most pretense. If stately houses we erect, And therein think to take delight, on what a sudden we are checked, And all our hopes made groundless quite! One little spark in ashes lays What we were building half our days. If on estates an eye we cast, And pleasure there expect to find, A secret providential blast Brings disappointment to our mind. Who's now on top ere long may feel The circling motion of the wheel. If we our tender babes embrace, And comfort hope in them to have, Alas! in what a little space Is hope laid with them in the grave! Whatever promiseth content Is in a moment from us rent. But is there nothing, then, that's sure For man to fix his heart upon? Nothing that always will endure When all these transient things are gone? Sad state where man, with grief oppress'd, Find nought wherein his mind may rest. Oh yes! there is a God above, Who unto men is also nigh, On whose unalterable love We may with confidence rely. No disappointment can befall While trusting Him that's All in All. In Him o'er all if we delight, And in His precepts pleasure take, We shall be sure to do aright. Tis not His nature to forsake. A proper object He alone For man to set his heart upon. T.E. Kent, 4th mo. 1670.