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If, when we cast a thoughtful, thankful eye
Towards the beauties of an ev'ning sky,
Calm we admire, thro' the ethereal field,
The various scenes that even clouds can yield;
What huge delight must Nature's fund afford,
Where all the rich realities are stor'd,
Which God produces from its vast abyss,
To his own glory, and his creatures bliss?
His glory, first, all nature must display,
Else how to bliss could creatures know the way?
Order, thro' all eternity, requires,
That to his will they subject their desires;
That, with all meekness, the created mind
Be to the fountain of its life resign'd;
Think, speak, and act, in all things for his sake:
This is the true perfection of its make.
Both men and angels must have wills their own,
Or God and Nature were to them unknown:
"Tis their capacity of life and joy,
Which none but they can ruin or destroy.
God, in himself, was, is, and will be, good,
And all around pour forth th' enriching flood.
From him-'tis Nature's and Religion's creed)
Nothing but good can possibly proceed.
That creature only, whose recipient will
Shuts itself up within itself, is ill:
Good cannot dwell in such an harden'd clay,
But stagnates, and evaporates away.
Thus when the regent of th' angelic host,
That fell, began within himself to boast;
Began, endow'd with his Creator's pow'rs,
That nothing could resist, to call them ours;
To spread thro' his wide ranks the impious term,
And they their leader's doctrine to confirm;
Then self, then evil, then apostate war
Rag'd thro' their hierarchy wide and far;
Kindled to burn, what they esteem'd a rod,
The meekness and subjection to a God.
Resolv'd to pay no hymning homage more,
Nor, in an orbit of their own, adore:
All right of Heav'n's eternal King abjur'd,
They thought one region to themselves secur'd;
One out of Three, where majesty divine
Shone in its glorious outbirth unitrine;
Shone, and will shine eternally, altho'
Angels or men the shining bliss forego.
Straight, with this proud imagination fir'd,
To self-dominion strongly they aspir'd;
Bent all their wills, irrevocably bent,
To bring about their devilish intent.
How ought we mortals to beware of pride,
That such great angels could so far misguide!
No sooner was this horrible attempt,
From all obedience to remain exempt,
Put forth to act, but instantly thereon
Heav'n, in the swiftness of a thought, was gone:
From Love's beatifying pow'r estrang'd, [chang'd.
They found their life, their bliss, their glory,
That state, wherein they were resolv'd to dwell,
Sprung from their lusting, and became their Hell.
Thinking to rise above the God of all
The wretches fell, with an eternai fall;
In depths of slavery, without a shelf:
There is no stop in self-tormenting self.
Just as a wheel, that's running down a hill
Which has no bottom, must keep running still:
So down their own proclivity to wrong,
Urg'd by impetuous pride, they whirl along,
Their own dark, fiery, working spirits tend
Farther from God, and farther to descend.
He made no Hell to place his angels in;
They stirr'd the fire that burnt them, by their sin:
The bounds of Nature, and of Order, broke,
And all the wrath that follow'd them awoke:
Their own disorder'd raging was their pain;
Their own unbending harden'd strength, their chain:
Renouncing God with their eternal might,
They sunk their legions into endless night. [dwelt,
Mean-while the glorious kingdom, where they
Th' effect of their rebellious workings felt:
Its clear materiality, and pure,
Could not the force of raging fiends endure:
Its elements, all heav'nly in their kind,
In one harmonious system when combin'd,
Were now disclos'd, divided, and opake:
Their glassy sea became a stormy lake:
The height and depth of their angelic world
Was nought but ruins upon ruins hurl'd:
Chaos arose, and, with its gloomy sweep
Of darkning horrours, overspread the deep:
All was confusion, order all defac'd,
Tohu, and Bohu, the deformed waste:
Till the Almighty's gracious fiat came,
And stop'd the spreading of the hellish flame;
Put to each fighting principle the bar;
And calm'd, by just degrees, th' intestine war.
Light, at his word, th' abating tempest cheer'd;
Earth, sea, and land, Sun, Moon, and stars, ap-
Creatures of ev'ry kind, and food for each; [pear'd;
And various beauties clos'd the various breach:
Nature's six properties had each their day,
Lost Heav'n, as far as might be, to display;
And in the sev'nth, or body of them all,
To rest from, what they yet must prove, a fall.
For had not this disorder'd chaos been;
Had not these angels caus'd it by their sin;
Nor had compacted earth, nor rock, nor stone,
Nor gross materiality, been known:
All that in fire, or water, earth, or air,
May now their noxious qualities declare,
Is as unknown in Heav'n as sin or crime,
And only lasts for purifying time:
Til the great end, for which we all came here,
Till God's restoring goodness, shall appear:
Then, as the rebel creatures' false desire
Awak'd in nature the chaotic fire;
So when redeeming Love has found a race
Of creatures worthy of the heav'nly place,
Then shall another fire enkindled rise,
And purge from ill these temporary sk'es;
Purge from the world its deadness, and its dross,
And of lost Heav'n recover all the loss.
Why look we then with such a longing eye
On what this world can give us, or deny;
Of man and angel fall'n, the sad remains?
It has its pleasures-but it has its pains.
It has, what speaks it, would we but attend,
Not our design'd felicity-an end.
Sons of eternity, tho' born on Earth,
There is within us a celestial birth;
A life that waits the efforts of our mind,
To raise itself within this outward rind.
This husk of ours, this stately stalking clod,
Is not the body that we have from God:
Of good and evil 'tis the mortal crust;
Fruit of Adamical and Eval lust;
By which the man, when heav'nly life was ceas'd,
Became an helpless, naked, biped beast:
Fore'd, on a cursed Earth, to sweat and toil;
To brutes a native, him a foreign soil:
And, after all his years employ'd to know
The satisfactions of a life so low,
Nine hundred, or nine hundred thousand, past,
Another death to come, and Hell, at last-
-But for that new mysterious birth of life;
That promis'd seed to Adam and his wife;
That quick'ning spirit to a poor dead soul;
Not part of scripture doctrine, but the whole;
Which writers, figuring away, have left
A mere dead letter, of all sense bereft;
But for that only help of man forlorn,
The incarnation of the Virgin-born.
This Serpent-bruiser, son of God and man,
Who, from the first, his saving work began,
Revers'd, in full maturity of time,
In his own sacred person, Adam's crime;
Brought human nature from its deadly fall,
And made salvation possible for all.
Without acknowledging that Adam dy'd,
Scripture throughout is, in effect, deny'd:
All the whole process of redeeming love,
Of life, of light, and spirit from above,
Loses, by learning's piteous pretence
Of modes, and metaphors, its real sense:
All the glad tidings, in the gospel found,
Are sunk in empty and unmeaning sound.
If, by the first man's sin, we understand
Only some breach of absolute command
Half-punish'd, half-remitted, by a grace
Like that which takes in human acts a place;
The more we write, the more we still expose
The Christian doctrine to its reas'ning foes:
But, once convinc'd, that Adam, by his crime,
Fell from eternal life to that of time;
Stood on the brink of death eternal too,
Unless created unto life anew,
Then ev'ry reason teaches us to see
How all the truths of sacred writ agree;
How life restor'd arises from the grave;
How man could perish, and how Christ could save.
Man perish'd by the deadly food he took,
And needs must lose the life that he for ook,
Not unadvis'd-the moment he inclin'd
To this inferior life his nobler mind,
God kindly warn'd him to continue fed
With food of Paradise, with angels bread;
To shun the tree, the knowledge, whose sad leav'n
Would quench in him the light and life of
Strip him of that angelical array, [Heav'n;
Which thro' his outward body spread the day;
Kept it from ev'ry curse of sin and shame,
From all those evils that bad yet no name:
That prov'd alas! when he would not refrain,
The loss of Adam's proper life too plain.
Who can suppose that God would e'er forbid
To eat what would not hurt him, if he did?
Fright his lov'd creature by a false alarm;
Or make what, in itself, was harmless, harm?
O how much better he from whom I draw,
Tho' deep, yet clear the system, master Law!
Master, I call him; not that I incline
To pin my faith on any one divine;
But, man or woman, whosoe'er it be,
That speaks true doctrine, is a pope to me.
Where truth alone is interest, and aim,
Who wou'd regard a person, or a name?
Or, in the search of it impartial, scoff,
Or scorn the meanest instrument thereof?
Pardon me, sir, for having dar'd to dwell
Upon a truth already told so well:
Since diff'rent ways of telling may excite,
In diff'rent minds, attention to what's right;
And men (I measure by myself) sometimes,
Averse to reas'ning, may be taught by rhymes;
If where one fails, they will not take offence,
Nor quarrel with the words, but seek the sense.
Life, death, and such like words, in scripture
Have certainly an higher, deeper ground, [found,
Than that of this poor perishable ball,
Whereon men doat, as if it were their all;
As if they were like Warburtonian Jews,
Or, Christians nam'd, had still no higher views;
As if their years had never taught them sense
Beyond-It is all one a hundred hence.
'Twas of such worldlings that our Saviour said
To one of his disciples, "Let the dead
Bury their dead: but do thou follow me."
He makes no more distinction, sir, you see,
But that, with ref'rence to a life so brute,
The speaking carcases interr'd the mute.
Life, to conclude, was lost in Adam's fall, Which Christ, our resurrection, will recall: And, as death came into the world by sin, Where one begun, the other must begin. Why will the learned sages use their art, From scripture truth, so widely, to depart? But above all, a bishop, grave, and wise, Why will he shut, against plain text, his eyes? Not see that Heav'n's prediction never ly'd; That Adam fell by eating, sinn'd, and dy'd, A real death, as much as loss of sight Is death to ev'ry circumstance of light; Tho' a blind man may feel his way, and grope, Or for recover'd eyes be made to hope; We might as well set glasses on his nose, And sight, from common helps of sight, suppose, As say, when Adam's heav'nly life was kill'd, That sentence was not instantly fulfill'd.
Persuade your mitred friend, then, if you can, To re-consider, sir, the fall of man; To see, and own the depth of it; because, 'Till that is done, we may as well pick straws, As talk of what, and who, the Serpent was That brought the fall, not understood, to pass. One thing he was, sir, be what else he will: A critic, that employ'd his fatal skill To cavil upon words, and take away The sense of that which was as plain as day. And thus the world, at present, by his wiles, Tho' not in outward shape, he still beguiles; Seeking to turn, by comments low and lax, The word of God into a nose of wax; To take away the marrow, and the pith, Of all that scripture can present us with. May Heav'n deliver from his winding tours, The bishop, and us all! I am, sir, your's.
as might well excite one to an attempt of this nature. Just and improving sentiments deserve to be placed in any light that may either engage the attention of a reader, or assist his memory; and verse, as I have found by experience, does both: for which reason, when I first met with an account of Enthusiasm so quite satisfactory, I chose to give it the dress wherein it now appears before you.
Enthusiasm is grown into a fashionable term of reproach, that usually comes uppermost, when any thing of a deep and serious nature is mentioned. We apply it, through an indolent custom, to sober and considerate assertors of important truths, as readily as to wild and extravagant contenders about them. This indiscriminate use of the word has evidently a bad effect: it pushes the general indifferency to matters of the highest concern into downright aversion. The best writers upon the best subjects are unattended to; and the benefit accruing from their love, and their labours, is not perceived by us; because we are hurried on, by the idlest of all prejudices, to condemn them without a reading, or to pronounce them to be unintelligible, upon such a slight one, as can hardly be called an endeavour to understand them. We have heard it said, and have seen it printed, that they are enthusiasts; and, to avoid the imputation of that character, we run into it at second hand, and adopt the rashness and injustice of impetuous originals: we take the stalest exclamations for the freshest proofs; and the affected retailing of madness, mysticism, Behmenism, and the like decisive, outcries, contents us as if there were something of sense, wit, or demonstration in it.
When this low kind of enthusiasm is alert enough to gain its point, the writer of a good book may possibly lose the applause, which it is highly probable that he never sought for. But what does a reader get the while, by his tame resignation of the right of judging for himself to such incompetent authority? Men of superior fluency in expressing their own conceptions are not always sedate enough to examine, or judicious enough to discover, the principles which might undeceive them. The first obstruction to their hypothesis may pass, with them, for an immediate confutation of any book whatsoever: they may show their learning, their zeal, or their contempt, and speak of an enthusiasm different from their own, as quickly as they please; but where the question is momentous, and the celebration of their fame quite foreign to it, what should induce any one, who is really desirous of information, to remit the freedom of inquiry after it for their dicacity?
How many pathetic accounts of living piety, how many excellent treatises composed for the advancement of it, are neglected, or unknown, because we are so easily prepossessed by popular hearsay, and wretched compilers? How many has the sourness of controversy, the bitterness of party, and the rotation of amusement, in a manner suppressed? The enthusiasm which is hence enkindled reigns and rages unsuspected, while that of a juster kind, the genuine effect of a true life and spirit, arising from what is lovely, harmonious, and substantial, is in danger of being extinguished by it; and, whenever it is so, the
variety of delusion with which a different spirit may then possess its votaries, will centre, properly speaking, in endemoniasm.
In short, there is a right enthusiasm, as well as a wrong one; and a man is free to admit which he pleases: but one he must have, as sure as he has a head; as sure as he has a heart that fondly pursues the object of its desire, whatever it be. If that be pointed right; if it reach after that godlike state and condition, to which all mankind were originally created; if it long to be freed from the disorders of its present state, to be restored again to that enduring rest, light, and liberty, which alone can accomplish and beautify it; how can it be too constant, or too vigorous? If the desire be otherwise inclined, how little does it signify to the main purpose what ingenuity, parts, or learning, what natural, or what acquired talents, men may be possessed of? So long as they have only light enough to hate light, they may, upon the first glimpse of it, retire into their earthliness, and push out their works as thick as mole-hills: but, in reality, a single page, proceeding from a right spirit, whose enthusiasm they all despise, is worth a library of such a produce.
In such a spirit I take the Appeal, to which the following lines are owing, to be written; and am persuaded, that if any sober-minded deist, who is prejudiced against Christianity, because he does not really know what it is; that if any Christian so called, who has been led into mistakes about it, because he does not really know what it is not; in fine, that if any one, whose heart is so far converted as to desire conversion, should be disposed to read it through, he would find his account in it; he would be struck with, he would be edified by it.
There is, apparently, something so solid, and so animated, through the whole of it; such an impartial regard to truth, wherever it may be found; and such happy illustration of it, where it really has been found; that I had some thoughts of translating it for the use of foreigners, believing that such a service would be acceptable to the more searching and unbiassed dispositions amongst them, and also help to fix many awakening and comfortable truths upon my own mind; which is the interest that I would propose to obtain by it. If I shall find myself capable of executing this design with justice to the original, you shall hear further from me. In the mean time I have transcribed for you these verses upon the incidental subject of Enthusiasm, as they were first composed for private recollection; and, as I can rely upon your judgment concerning them better than I can upon my own, they are wholly submitted to your correction and disposal. 1 am, yours, &c. Manchester, Sept. 3, 1751.
"FLY from Enthusiasm-it is the pest,
Bane, poison, frenzy, fury-and the rest."
This is the cry that oft, when truth appears,
Forbids attention to our list'ning ea.s;
Checks our first entrance on the main concern,
And, stunn'd with clamour, we forbear to learn;
Mechanically catch the common cant,
And fly from what we almost know we want;
A deeper sense of something that should set
The heart at rest, that never has done yet;
Some simpler secret, that, yet unreveal'd,
Amidst contending systems lies conceal'd.
A book, perhaps, beyond the vulgar page,
Removes at once the lumber of an àge:
Truth is presented; strikes upon our eyes;
We feel conviction, and we fear surprise:
We gaze, admire, dispute, and then the baw!--
"Fly from Enthusiasm"-that answers all.
Now, if my friend has patience to inquire,
Let us awhile from noisy scenes retire;
Let us examine sense, as well as sound,
And search the truth, the nature, and the ground.
'Tis will, imagination, and desire
Of thinking life, that constitute the fire,
The force, by which the strong volitions drive,
And form the scenes to which we are alive.
What! tho', unsprouted into outward shape,
The points of thought our grosser sight escape?
Nor bulky forms in prominent array
Their secret cogitative cause betray?
Once fix the will, and nature must begin
T'unfold its active rudiments within;
Mind governs matter, and it must obey:
To all its opening forms desire is key:
Nor mind nor matter's properties are lost,
As that shall mould, this must appear embost.
Imagination, trifling as it seems,
Big with effects, its own creation teems.
We think our wishes and desires a play,
And sport important faculties away:
Edg'd are the tools with which we trifle thus,
And carve out deep realities for us.
Intention, roving into Nature's field,
Dwells in that system which it means to build,
Itself the centre of its wish'd-for plan;
For where the heart of man is-there is man.
Ev'ry created, understanding mind
Moves as its own self-bias is inclin'd:
From God's free spirit breathed forth to be,
It must of all necessity be free;
Must have the pow'r to kindle and inflame
The subject-matter of its mental aim:
Whither it bend the voluntary view,
Realities, or fictions, to pursue :
Whether it raise its nature, or degrade,
To truth substantial, or to phantom shade,
Falshood or truth accordingly obtains;
That only which it wills to gain-it gains:
Good-if the good be vigorously sought,
And ill-if that be first resolv'd in thought.
All is one good, that nothing can remove,
While held in union, harmony, and love.
But when a selfish separating pride
Will break all bounds, and good from good divide,
"T is then extinguish'd, like a distant spark,
And pride self-doom'd into its joyless dark.
The miscreant desire turns good to ill,
In its own origin, the evil will:
A fact, that fills all histories of old,
That glares in proof, while conscious we behold
The bliss, bespoken by our Maker's voice,
Fixt, or perverted by a man's own choice.
Now when the mind determines thus its force,
The man becomes enthusiast of course.
What is enthusiasm? What can it be,
But thought enkindled to an high degree?
That may, whatever be its ruling turn,
Right, or not right, with equal ardour burn.
It must be therefore various in its kind,
As objects vary, that engage the mind:
When to religion we confine the word,
What use of language can be more absurd?
'Tis just as true, that many words beside,
As love, or zeal, are only thus apply'd :
To ev'ry kind of life they all belong;
Men may be eager, tho' their views be wrong:
And hence the reason, why the greatest foes
To true religious earnestness are those
Who fire their wits upon a diff'rent theme,
Deep in some false enthusiastic scheme.
One man politely, seiz'd with classic rage,
Dotes on old Rome, and its Augustan age;
On those great souls who then, or then abouts,
Made in their state such riots and such routs.
He fancies all magnificent and grand,
Under this mistress of the world's command:
Scarce can his breast the sad reverse abide,
The dame despoil'd of all her glorious pride:
Time, an old Goth, advancing to consume
Immortal gods, and once eternal Rome;
When the plain gospel spread its artless ray,
And rude unsculptur'd fishermen had sway;
Who spar'd no idol, tho' divinely carv'd,
Tho' Art, and Muse, and shrine-engraver, starv'd:
Who sav'd poor wretches, and destroy'd, alas!
The vital marble, and the breathing brass.
Where does all sense to him, and reason, shiue?
Behold-in Tully's rhetoric divine!
Tully! enough-high o'er the Alps he's gone,
To tread the ground that Tully trod upon;
Haply to find his statue, or his bust,
Or medal green'd with Ciceronian rust:
Perchance the rostrum-yea, the very wood,
Whereon this elevated genius stood;
When forth on Catiline, as erst he spoke,
The thunder of quousque tandem broke.
Well may this grand enthusiast deride The dulness of a pilgrim's humbler pride, Who paces to behold that part of Earth, Which to the Saviour of the world gave birth; To see the sepulchre from whence he rose; Or view the rocks that rented at his woes; Whom Pagan reliques have no force to charm, Yet e'en a modern crucifix can warm: The sacred signal who intent upon, Thinks on the sacrifice that hung thereon. Another's heated brain is painted o'er With ancient hieroglyphic marks of yore: He old Egyptian mummies can explain, And raise 'em up almost to life again; Can into deep antique recesses pry, And tell, of all, the wherefore and the why; How this philosopher, and that, has thought, Believ'd one thing, and quite another taught; Can rules, of Grecian sages long forgot, Clear up, as if they liv'd upon the spot.
What bounds to nostrum? Moses, and the Jews, Observ'd this learned legislator's views, While Israel's leader purposely conceal'd Truths, which his whole economy reveal'd; No heav'n disclos'd, but Canaan's fertile stage, And no for-ever-but a good old age; Whilst the well untaught people, kept in awe By meanless types, and unexplained law, Pray'd to their local god to grant a while The future state, of corn, and wine, and oil; "Till, by a late captivity set free, Their destin'd errour they began to see; Dropt the Mosaic scheme, to teach their youth. Dramatic Job, and Babylonish truth.
To soar aloft on obeliskal clouds;
To dig down deep into the dark-for shrouds;
To vex old matters, chronicled in Greek,
While those of his own parish are to seek;
What can come forth from such an antic taste,
But a Clarissimus Enthusiast?
Fraught with discoveries so quaint, so new,
So deep, so smart, so ipse-dixit true,
See arts and empires, ages, books, and men,
Rising, and falling, as he points the pen:
See frauds and forgeries, if ought surpass,
Of nobler stretch, the limits of his class,
Not found within that summary of laws,
Conjecture, tinsel'd with its own applause.
Where erudition so unblest prevails,
Saints, and their lives, are legendary tales;
Christians, a brain-sick, visionary crew,
That read the Bible with a Bible view,
And thro' the letter humbly hope to trace
The living word, the spirit, and the grace.
It matters not, whatever be the state
That ful-bent will and strong desires create;
Where'er they fall, where'er they love to dwell,
They kindle there their Heaven, or their Hell;
The chosen scene surrounds them as their own,
All else is dead, insipid, or unknown.
However poor and empty be the sphere,
'Tis all, if inclination centre there:
Its own enthusiasts each system knows,
Down to lac'd fops, and powder-sprinkled beaus.
Great wits, affecting, what they call, to think,
That deep immers'd in speculation sink,
Are great enthusiasts, howe'er refin'd,
Whose brain-bred notions so inflame the mind,
That, during the continuance of its heat,
The summum bonum is-its own conceit:
Critics, with all their learning recondite,
Poets, that sev'rally be-mused write;
The virtuosos, whether great or small;
The connoisseurs, that know the worth of all;
Philosophers, that dictate sentiments,
And politicians, wiser than events;
Such, and such-like, come under the same law,
Altho' their heat be from a flame of straw;
Altho' in one absurdity they chime,
To make religious entheasm a crime.
Endless to say how many of their trade
Ambition, pride, and self-conceit have made.
If one, the chief of such a num'rous name,
Let the great scholar justify his claim.
Self-love, in short, wherever it is found,
Tends to its own enthusiastic ground;
With the same force that goodness mounts above,
Sinks, by its own enormous weight, self-love-
By this the wav'ring libertine is prest,
And the rank atheist totally possest:
Atheists are dark enthusiasts indeed,
Whose fire enkindles like the smoking weed:
Lightless, and dull, the clouded fancy burns,
Wild hopes, and fears, still flashing out by turns.
Averse to Heav'n, amid the horrid gleam
They quest annihilation's monstrous theme,
On gloomy depths of nothingness to pore,
'Till all be none, and being be no more.
The sprightlier infidel, as yet more gay,
Fires off the next ideas in his way,
The dry fag-ends of ev'ry obvious doubt;
And puffs and blows for fear they should go out.
Boldly resolv'd, against conviction steel'd,
Nor inward truth, nor outward fact, to yield;
Urg'd with a thousand proofs, he stands unmov'd
Fast by himself, and scorns to be out-prov'd;
To his own reason loudly he appeals,
No saint more zealous for what God reveals.
Think not that you are no enthusiast then:
All men are such, as sure as they are men.
The thing itself is not at all to blame:
'Tis in each state of human life the same.
The fiery bent, the driving of the will,
That gives the prevalence to good, or ill.
You need not go to cloisters, or to cells,
Monks, or field preachers, to see where it dwells:
It dwells alike in balls and masquerades;
Courts, camps, and 'Changes, it alike pervades.
There be enthusiasts, who love to sit
In coffee-houses, and cant out their wit.
The first in most assemblies would you see,
Mark out the first haranguer, and that's be:
Nay 'tis what silent meetings cannot hide,
It may be notic'd by its mere outside.
Beaus and coquets would quit the magic dress,
Did not this mutual instinct both possess.
The mercer, taylor, bookseller, grows rich,
Because fine clothes, fine writings can bewitch.
A Cicero, a Shaftsbury, a Bayle,
How quick would they diminish in their sale?
Four fifths of all their beauties who would heed,
Had they not keen enthusiasts to read?
That which concerns us therefore is to see What species of enthusiasts we be; On what materials the fiery source Of thinking life shall execute its force: Whether a man shall stir up love, or hate, From the mix'd medium of this present state; Shall choose with upright heart and mind to rise, And reconnoitre Heav'n's primeval skies; Or down to lust and rapine to descend, Brute for a time, and demon at its end. Neither perhaps, the wary sceptics cry, And wait till Nature's river shall run dry; With sage reserve not passing o'er to good, Of time, lost time, are borne along the flood; Content to think such thoughtless thinking right, And common sense enthusiastic flight.
66 Fly from Enthusiasm?" Yes, fly from air, And breathe it more intensely for your care. Learn, that, whatever phantoms you embrace, Your own essential property takes place: Bend all your wits against it, 't is in vain, It must exist, or sacred, or profane. For flesh, or spirit, wisdom from above, Or from this world, an anger, or a love, Must have its fire within the human soul: 'Tis ours to spread the circle, or control; In clouds of sensual appetites to smoke, While smoth'ring lusts the rising conscience choke; Or, from ideal glimmerings, to raise, Showy and faint, a superficial blaze; Where subtle reasons, with their lambent flames, Untouch'd the things, creep round and round the Or-with a true celestial ardour fir'd, Such as at first created man inspir'd, To will, and to persist to will, the light, The love, the joy, that makes an angel bright, That makes a man, in sight of God, to shine With all the lustre of a life divine.
When true religion kindles up the fire, Who can condemn the vigorous desire? That burns to reach the end for which 't was giv'n, To shine, and sparkle in its native Heav'n?