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Works magic wonders, adds a brighter hue
To nature's scenes than nature ever knew.
At her command winds rise and waters roar,
Again she lays them slumb'ring on the shore ;
With flow'r and fruit the wilderness supplies,
Or bids the rocks in ruder pomp arise.
For her the judgment, umpire in the strife
That grace and nature have to wage through life,
Quick-sighted arbiter of good and ill,
Appointed sage preceptor to the will,
Condemns, approves, and with a faithful voice
Guides the decision of a doubtful choice.
Why did the fiat of a God give birth
To yon fair sun and his attendant earth?
And, when descending he resigns the skies,
Why takes the gentler moon her turn to rise,
· Whom ocean feels through all his countless waves,
And owns her pow'r on ev'ry shore he laves ?
Why do the seasons still enrich the year,
Fruitful and young as in their first career ?
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees,
Rock'd in the cradle of the western breeze ;
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves,
Till autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues.-
"Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste,
Pow'r misemploy'd, munificence misplac'd,
Had not its Author dignified the plan,
And crown'd it with the majesty of man..
Thus form'd, thus plac'd, intelligent, and taught, Look where he will, the wonders God has wrought, The wildest scorner of his Maker's laws Finds in a sober moment time to pause, To press th’ important question on his heart, “ Why form’d at all, and wherefore as thou art ?" If man be what he seems--this hour a slave, The next mere dust and ashes in the grave; Endu'd with reason only to descry His crimes and follies with an aching eye ; With passions, just that he may prove, with pain, The force he spends against their fury vain ; And if, soon after having burnt, by turns, With ev'ry lust with which frail nature burns, His being end where death dissolves the bond, The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond Then he, of all that nature has brought forth, Stands self-impeach'd, the creature of least worth, And useless while he lives, and when he dies, Brings into doubt the wisdom of the skies.
Truths that the learn'd pursue with eager thought, Are not important always as dear-bought, Proving at last, though told in pompous strains, A childish waste of philosophic pains ; But truths on which depends our main concern, That 'tis our shame and mis’ry not to learn, Shine by the side of ev'ry path we tread, With such a lustre, he that runs may read. 'Tis true, that, if to trifle life away Down to the sun-set of their latest day,
Then perish on futurity's wide shore,
Were all that Heav'n requir'd of human kind,
And all the plan their destiny design'd,
What none could rev'rence, all might justly blame,
And man would breathe but for his Maker's shame.
But reason heard, and nature well perus’d,
At once the dreaming mind is disabus’d.
If all we find possessing earth, sea, air,
Reflect his attributes who plac'd them there,
Fulfil the purpose, and appear design'd
Proofs of the wisdom of th' all-seeing mind,
'Tis plain the creature, whom he chose ť invest
With kingship and dominion o'er the rest,
Receiv'd his nobler nature, and was made
Fit for the pow'r in which he stands array'd,
That first or last, hereafter if not here,
He too might make his Author's wisdom clear,
Praise him on earth, or, obstinately dumb,
Suffer his justice in a world to come.
This once believ'd, 'twere logic misapplied,
To prove a consequence by none denied,
That we are bound to cast the minds of youth
Betimes into the mould of heav'nly truth,
That, taught of God, they may indeed be wise,
Nor, ignorantly wand'ring, miss the skies.
A quickness, which in later life is lost :
Preservd from guilt by salutary fears,
Or, guilty, soon relenting into tears.
Too careless often, as our years proceed,
What friends we sort with, or what books we read,
Our parents yet exert a prudent care
To feed our infant minds with proper fare ;
And wisely store the nurs'ry by degrees
With wholesome learning, yet acquir'd with ease..
Neatly secur'd from being soild or torn
Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn,
A book (to please us at a tender age
'Tis call'd a book, though but a single page)
Presents the pray’r the Saviour deign'd to teach,
Which children use, and parsons--when they preach.
Lisping our syllables, we scramble next
Through moral narrative, or sacred text ;
And learn with wonder how this world began,
Who made, who marr’d, and who has ransom'd man:
Points, which, unless the scripture made them plain,
The wisest heads might agitate in vain.
Oh thou, whom, born on fancy's eager wing
Back to the season of life's happy spring,
I pleas'd remember, and, while mem'ry yet
Holds fast her office here, can ne'er forget;
Ingenious dreamer, in whose well-told tale
Sweet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail ;
Whose hum'rous vein, strong sense, and simple style,
May teach the gayest, make the gravest smile ;
Witty, and well employ'd, and, like thy Lord,
Speaking in parables his slighted word;
I name thee not, lest so despis'd a name
Yet ev'n in transitory life's late day,
That mingles all my brown with sober gray,
Revere the man, whose Pilgrim marks the road,
And guides the PROGRESS of the soul to God.
"Twere well with most, if books, that could engage
Their childhood, pleas’d them at a riper age :
The man, approving what had charm'd the boy,
Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy ;
And not with curses on his heart, who stole
The gem of truth from his unguarded soul.
The stamp of artless piety, impress’d
By kind tuition on his yielding breast,
The youth now bearded, and yet pert and raw,
Regards with scorn, though once receiv'd with awe ;
And, warp'd into the labyrinth of lies,
That babblers, call'd philosophers, devise,
Replete with dreams, unworthy of a man.
Touch but his nature in its ailing part, .
Assert the native evil of his heart,
His pride resents the charge, although the proof
Rise in his forehead, and seem rank enough :
Point to the cure, describe a Saviour's cross
As God's expedient to retrieve his loss,
The young apostate sickens at the view,