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By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might;
And He, whose pow'r mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, form'd thee for his praise.
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suff'ring, his unquestion'd will;
'Tis to believe what men inspir’d of old,
Faithful, and faithfully inform’d, unfold;
Candid and just, with no false aim in view,
To take for truth what cannot but be true;
To learn in God’s own school the Christian part,
And bind the task assign'd thee to thine heart:
Happy the man there seeking and there found,
Happy the nation where such men abound.
How shall a verse impress thee? by what name
Shall I adjure thee not to court thy shame
By theirs, whose bright example unimpeach'd
Directs thee to that eminence they reach'd,
Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sires 2
Or his, who touch'd their hearts with hallow'd fires?
Their names, alas! in vain reproach an age,
Whom all the vanities they scorn'd engage!
And His, that seraphs tremble at, is hung
Disgracefully on ev’ry trifler’s tongue,
Or serves the champion in forensick war,
To flourish and parade with at the bar.
Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea,
If int’rest move thee, to persuade e'en thee;
By ev'ry charm that smiles upon her face,
By joys possess'd, and joys still held in chase,
If dear society be worth a thought,
And if the feast of freedom cloy thee not,
Reflect that these, and all that seems thine own,
Held by the tenure of his will alone,
Like angels in the service of their Lord,
Remain with thee, or leave thee at his word;
That gratitude and temp'rance in our use
Of what he gives, unsparing and profuse,
Secure the favour, and enhance the joy,
That thankless waste and wild abuse destroy.
But above all reflect, how cheap soe'er
Those rights, that millions envy thee, appear,
And, though resolv’d to risk them, and swim down
The tide of pleasure, heedless of His frown,
That blessings truly sacred, and when giv'n
Mark'd with the signature and stamp of Heav'n,
The word of prophecy, those truths divine,
Which make that Heav'n, if thou desire it, thine,
(Awful alternative' believ'd, belov’d, -
Thy glory, and thy shame if unimprov’d,)
Are never long vouchsaf’d, if push'd aside
With cold disgust or philosophick pride!
And that, judicially withdrawn, disgrace,
Errour, and darkness occupy their place.
A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot
Not quickly found, if negligently sought,
Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small,
Endur'st the brunt, and dar’st defy them all:
And wilt thoujoin to this bold enterprise
A bolder still, a contest with the skies?
Remember, if He guard thee and secure,
Whoe'er assails thee, thy success is sure;
But if He leave thee, though the skill and pow'r
Of nations sworn to spoil thee and devour,
Wol. I. 9*
Were all collected in thy single arm,
And thou couldst laugh away the fear of harm,
That strength would fail, oppos'd against the push
And feeble onset of a pigmy rush.
Say not (and if the thought of such defence
Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence)
What nation amongst all my foes is free
From crimes as base as any charg’d on me !
Their measure fill'd, they too shall pay the debt,
Which God, though long forborn, will not forget.
But know that Wrath divine, when most severe,
Makes justice still the guide of his career,
And will not punish, in one mingled crowd.
Them without light, and thee without a cloud
Muse, hang this harp upon yon aged aged beech,
Still murm’ring with the solemn truths I teach ;
And while at intervals a cold blast sings
Through the dry leaves, and pants upon the strings;
My soul shall sigh in secret, and lament
A nation scourg’d, yet tardy to repent.
I know the warning song is sung in vain;
That few will hear, and fewer heed the strain;
But if a sweeter voice, and one design'd
A blessing to my country and mankind,
Reclaim the wand'ring thousands, and bring home
A flock so scatter'd and so wont to roam,
Then place it once again between my knees;
The sound of truth will then be sure to please:
And truth alone, where'er my life be cast,
In scenes of plenty, or the pining waste,
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.
. . . . . . doceas iter, et sacra otia pandas.
Virg. En. 6.
ASK what is human life—the sage replies, With disappointment low’ring in his eyes, A painful passage o'er a restless flood, A vain pursuit of fugitive false good, A scene of fancied bliss and heart-felt care, Closing at last in darkness and despair, The poor inur'd to drudg’ry and distress, Act without aim, think little, and feel less, And no where, but in feign'd Arcadian scenes, Taste happiness, or know what pleasure means. Riches are pass'd away from hand to hand, As fortune, vice, or folly may command; As in a dance the pair that take the lead Turn downward, and the lowest pair succeed, So shifting and so various is the plan, By which Heav'n rules the mix’d affairs of man; Wicissitude wheels round the motley crowd, The rich grow poor, the poor become purse-proud; Bus’ness is labour, and man’s weakness such, Pleasure is labour too, and tires as much, The very sense of it forgoes its use, By repetition pall'd, by age obtuse.
Youth lost in dissipation we deplore,
Through life's sad remnant, what no sighs restore;
Our years, a fruitless race without a prize,
Too many, yet too few to make us wise.
Dangling his cane about, and taking snuff,
Lothario cries, What philosophick stuff—
O querulous and weak l—whose useless brain
Once thought of nothing, and now thinks in vain;
Whose eye reverted weeps o'er all the past,
Whose prospect shows thee a disheart’ning waste;
Would age in thee resign his wintry reign,
And youth invigorate that frame again,
Renew’d desire would grace with other speech,
Joys always priz'd, when placod within our reach.
For lift thy palsied head, shake off the gloom
That overhangs the borders of thy tomb,
See Nature gay, as when she first began
With smiles alluring her admirer man;
She spreads the morning over eastern hills,
Earth glitters with the drops the night distils;
The Sun obedient at her call appears,
To fling his glories o'er the robe she wears;
Banks clothed with flow’rs, groves fill'd with spright-
Thy yellow tilth, green meads, rocks, rising grounds,
Streams edg’d with osiers, fatt’ning ev'ry field,
Where'er they flow, now seen and now conceal’d;
From the blue rim, where skies and mountains
Down to the very turf beneath thy feet,
Ten thousand charms, that only fools despise,
Or Pride can look at with indiff'rent eyes,