To Market, To Market

"A Prayer for him that buyes and sels.

O Good God, what is our life but a common Mart, wherein we sel away our bodies to shame for the price of momentarie pleasure, & barter away our soules to sinne, which were bought at the dearest rate (euen thy Sonnes blood?) What are all our labours, but desperate voiages, made to purchase wealth? And what are the riches of a worldly man when they are gotten, but (as thy Prophet singeth) The weauing of a spiders webbe? The spider makes fine nets to catch 13 flyes; and the worldling wasteth his nights, & weareth out his dayes in tying his conscience full of knots to pull vp riches.

Sithence then the heaping vp of wealth is for the most part, the heaping vp of wickednesse; and that all the trauailes of our life, are but like buying and selling in a fayre, which wee beginne to day and end to morrow: so direct my steps (deare Lord) that I may neither wa~der to get goods by vnlawfull courses, nor that I may fal in loue with riches, how well soeuer they bee gotten. Let me not be one of those buyers and sellers, whom thy Sonne Iesus thrust out of the Temple: But rather one of those Merchants that sell all to follow thee.

And since to loue our neighbour is the fulfilling of the Law, giue mee grace that I may bee counted no breaker of that Law, but a keeper of it sound, dealing iustly with all men. And for that purpose, let not mine eye look vpon false waights, nor my hand be held out to take vp an vneuen ballance. Hee loseth a piece of his soule, (euery time) that robbeth his chapma~ of his measure: & he that vniustly gaineth but thirtie pence, selleth (like Iudas) euen his master Christ.

As thou (O Father of vs all) hast giuen mee two hands, so appoint 15 those seruants of my bodie to execute none but good and holy offices: Let the one hand buy honestly, and the other sell iustly. Let the left bee to lay vp wealth to maintain my bodie, and the right to distribute thy blessings to those whose bodies are in miserie. Seale vp my lips from lying and forswearing (the two poisons that ouerflow euery citie.) Purge my bosome from corruption: pull out of my heart the stings of enuy, and let me reioyce to see others prosper in the world, & not to murmure if I my selfe wither like trees in Autumne, though I lose the golde~ leaues of wealth, and be left naked with pouertie.

Keep the Wolf from my doore, & the Fox out of my bed-cha~ber, that other men may neither lye in waite to robbe mee of my goods, nor I sit vp late in the counsell of the wicked, how to deceiue other men of theirs. Be thou (O Lord) at my elbow in all my proceedings, so shall I feare to doe amisse in any. And so mortifie my affections, that euery day casting behinde my backe the comfort, the cares, the vanities, the vilenesse, the pleasures and the sorowes of this bewitching world, I may continually haue this cry aloude in my mouth, I desire to be dissolued and to be with thee. Amen."

--Thomas Dekker (ca. 1572-1632), Foure birds of Noahs arke viz. 1. The Dove 2. The Eagle 3. The Pellican 4. The Phoenix (1609), pp. 13-17

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