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He prais'd perhaps for ages yet to come,
She never heard of half a mile from home:
He lost in errours his vain heart prefers,
She safe in the simplicity of hers.
'Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound
In science, win one inch of heav'nly ground.
And is it not a mortifying thought
The poor should gain it, and the rich should not
No—the voluptuaries, who ne'er forget
One pleasure last, lose Heav'n without regret;
Regret would rouse them, and give birth to pray’r;
Pray’r would add faith, and faith would fix them
Not that the Former of us all, in this,
Oraught he does, is govern’d by caprice;
The supposition is replete with sin,
And bears the brand of blasphemy burnt in.
Not so—the silver trumpet’s heav'nly call
Sounds for the poor, but sounds alike for all :
Kings are invited, and would kings obey,
No slaves on earth more welcome were than they:
But royalty, nobility, and state,
Are such a dead preponderating weight,
That endless bliss (how strange soe'er it seem)
In counterpoise, flies up and kicks the beam.
*Tis open, and ye cannot enter—why?
Because ye will not, Conyers would reply—
And he says much that many may dispute,
And cavil at with ease, but none refute.
O bless'd effect of penury and want;
The seed sown there, how vigorous is the plant!
No soil like poverty for growth divine,
As leanest land supplies the richest wine.
Earth gives too little, giving only bread,
To nourish pride, or turn the weakest head:
To them the sounding jargon of the schools
Seems what it is—a cap and bell for fools:
The light they walk by, kindled from above,
Shows them the shortest way to life and love:
They, strangers to the controversial field,
Where deists, always foil’d, yet scorn to yield,
And never check’d by what impedes the wise, .
Believe, rush forward, and possess the prize.
Envy, ye great, the dull unletter'd small:
Ye have much cause for envy—but not all.
We boast some rich ones whom the Gospel sways,
And one who wears a coronet and prays;
Like gleanings of an olive-tree they show,
Here and there one upon the topmost bough.
How readily upon the Gospel plan,
That question has its answer—What is man?,
Sinful and weak, in ev'ry sense a wretch ;
An instrument, whose chords upon the stretch,
And strain’d to the last screw that he can bear,
Yield only discord in his Maker’s ear:
Once the blest residence of truth divine,
Glorious as Solyma's interiour shrine,
Where, in his own oracular abode,
Dwelt visibly the light-creating God;
But made long since, like Babylon of old,
A den of mischiefs never to be told:
And she, once mistress of the realms around,
Now scatter'd wide, and no where to be found,
As soon shall rise and reascend the throne,
By native pow'r and energy her own,
As Nature, at her own peculiar cost,
Restore to man the glories he has lost.
Go-bid the winter cease to chill the year,
Replace the wand'ring comet in his sphere,
Then boast (but wait for that unhop'd-for hour)
The self-restoring arm of human pow'r,
But what is man in his own proud esteem :
Hear him—himself the poet and the theme:
A monarch cloth'd with majesty and awe,
His mind his kingdom, and his will his law,
Grace in his mien, and glory in his eyes,
Supreme on earth, and worthy of the skies,
Strength in his heart, dominion in his nod,
And, thunderbolts excepted, quite a God!
So sings he, charm'd with his own mind and form,
The song magnificent—the theme a worm'
Himself so much the source of his delight,
His Maker has no beauty in his sight.
See where he sits, contemplative and fix’d,
Pleasure and wonder in his features mix’d,
His passions tam’d and all at his control,
How perfect the composure of his soul!
Complacency has breath’d a gentle gale
O'er all his thoughts, and swell'd his easy sail:
His books well trimm'd and in the gayest style,
Like regimental coxcombs, rank and file,
Adorn his intellects as well as shelves,
And teach him notions splendid as themselves:
The Bible only stands neglected there,
Though that of all most worthy of his care;
And, like an infant troublesome awake,
Is left to sleep for peace and quiet's sake.
What shall the man deserve of human kind,
Whose happy skill and industry combin’d
Shall prove (what argument could never yet)
The Bible an imposture and a cheat?
The praises of the libertine profess'd,
The worst of men, and curses of the best.
Where should the living, weeping o'er his woes;
The dying, trembling at the awful close;
Where the betray'd, forsaken, and oppress'd,
The thousands whom the world forbids to rest;
Where should they find (those comforts at an end
The Scripture yields), or hope to find, a friend?
Sorrow might muse herself to madness then,
And, seeking exile from the sight of men,
Bury herself in solitude profound,
Grow frantick with her pangs, and bite the ground.
Thus often Unbelief, grown sick of life,
Flies to the tempting pool, or felon knife.
The jury meet, the coroner is short,
And lunacy the verdict of the court;
Reverse the sentence, let the truth be known,
Such lunacy is ignorance alone;
They knew not, what some bishops may not know,
That Scripture is the only cure of woe;
That field of promise, how it flings abroad
Its odour o'er the Christian's thorny road!
The soul, reposing on assur’d relief,
Feels herself happy amidst all her grief,
Forgets her labour as she toils along,
Weeps tears of joy, and bursts into a song.
But the same word, that, like the polish’d share, Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care, Kills too the flow'ry weeds, where'er they grow, That bind the sinner's Bacchanalian brow. Oh that unwelcome voice of heav'nly love, Sad messenger of mercy from above! How does it grate upon his thankless ear, Crippling his pleasures with the cramp of fear! His will and judgment at continual strife, That civil war imbitters all his life: In vain he points his pow’rs against the skies, In vain he closes or averts his eyes, Truth will intrude—she bids him yet beware; And shakes the sceptick in the scorner’s chair.
Though various foes against the Truth combine, Pride above all opposes her design; Pride, of a growth superiour to the rest, The subtlest serpent with the loftiest crest, Swells at the thought, and, kindling into rage, Would hiss the cherub Mercy from the stage.
And is the soul indeed so lost?—she cries, Fall’n from her glory, and too weak to rise? Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone, Has she no spark that may be deem'd her own f Grant her indebted to what zealots call Grace undeserv’d, yet surely not for allSome beams of rectitude she yet displays, Some love of virtue, and some pow'r to praise; Can lift herself above corporeal things, And, soaring on her own unborrow’d wings, Possess herself of all that's good or true, Assert the skies, and vindicate her due.