Rating: 3 out of 5
It’s not that I dislike the poem — I think too many of the other people here have fallen into the trap of evaluating this work based on the qualities it would have in the modern world. Instead, this was a classic in the 17th and 18th centuries and should be evaluated as such. There is, indeed, almost an innate hope (in the reader) that the values that Wigglesworth praises are no longer the values we hold to, for otherwise we are indeed a group of savages.
This work ends up praising God aplenty when different groups of people come to plead their case before the Almighty on Judgement Day. As such, what can we look forward to? Interesting cases are made by thieves, rogues, unborn children, and people who died before they could repent in life (the most difficult group to describe, no doubt) amongst others. Not a single soul was saved from the Puritan morals — everyone could and would be smitten down, so the best that could be hoped for would be a quick stay in the cleansing fires.
How many peoples deserved the simple fire-y solution I will leave up to the intrepid reader to find. It suffices to say that very few of the above would be similarly condemned today — and we are better for it. Yet, we also need to understand where we come from and for that Wigglesworth’s morality story is an enlightening one.