« ForrigeFortsett »
Carelessly nods and sleeps upon the brink,
While others poison what the flock must drink;
Or, waking at the call of lust alone,
Infuses lies and errors of his own;
His unsuspecting sheep believe it pure,
And tainted by the very means of cure,
Catch from each other a contagious spot,
The foul fore-runner of a general rot.
Then truth is hushed that heresy may preach,
And all is trash that reason cannot teach,
Then God's own image on the soul imprest
Becomes a mockery, and a standing jest;
And faith, the root whence only can arise
The graces of a life that wins the skies,
Loses at once all value and esteem,
Pronounced by gray-beards a pernicious dream:
Then ceremony leads her bigots forth,
Prepared to fight for shadows of no worth;
While truths, on which eternal things depend,
Find not, or hardly find, a single friend;
As soldiers watch the signal of command,
They learn to bow, to kneel, to sit, to stand;
Happy to fill religion's vacant place
With hollow form, and gesture, and grimace.
Such, when the teacher of his church was there,
People and prięst, the sons of Israel were;
Stiff in the letter, lax in the design
And import, of their oracles divine;
Their learning legendary, false, absurd,
And yet exalted above God's own word;
They dret a curse from an intended good,
Puffed up with gifts they never understood.
He judged them with as terrible a frown,
As if not love, but wrath, had brought him down: .
Yet he was gentle as soft summer airs,
Had grace for others' sins, but none for theirs;
Through all he spoke a noble plainness ran-
Rhetoric is artifice, the work of man;
And tricks and turns that fancy may devise,
Are far too mean for him, that rules the skies.
The astonished vulgar trembled while he tore
The mask from faces never seen before;
He stripped the impostors in the noon-day sun,
Showed that they followed all they seemed to shun;
Their prayers made public, their excesses kept
As private as the chambers where they slept;
The temple and its holy rites profaned
By mummeries, he that dwelt in it disdained;
Uplifted hands that at convenient times
Could act extortion and the worst of crimes,
Washed with a neatness scrupulously nice,
And free from every taint but that of vice.
Judgment, however tardy, mends her pace
When obstinacy once has conquered grace.
They saw distemper healed, and life restored,
In answer to the fiat of his word;
Confessed the wonder, and with daring tongue
Blasphemed the authority from which it sprung.
They knew by sure prognostics seen on bigh,
The future tone and temper of the sky;
But, grave dissemblers! could not understand
That sin let loose speaks punishment at hand.
Ask now of history's authentic page,
And call up evidence from every age;
Display with busy and laborious hand
The blessings of the most indebted land;
What nation will you find, whose annals prove
So rich an interest in almighty love?
Where dwell they now, where dwelt in ancient day,
A people planted, watered, blest, as they?
Let Egypt's plagues and Canaan's woes proclaim
The favours poured upon the Jewish name;
Their freedom purchased for them at the cost
Of all their hard oppressors valued most;
Their title to a country not their own
Made sure by prodigies till then unknown;
For them the states, they left, made waste and void;
For them the states, to which they went, destroyed;
A cloud to measure out their march by day,
By night a fire to cheer the gloomy way;
That moving signal summoning, when best,
Their host to move, and when it stayed, to rest.
For them the rocks dissolved into a flood,
The dews condensed into angelic food,
Their very garments sacred, old yet.new,
And Time forbid to touch them as he flew;
Streams, swelled above the bank, enjoined to stand,
While they passed through to their appointed land;
Their leader armed with meekness, zeal, and love,
And graced with clear credentials from above;
Themselves secured beneath the Almighty wing;
Their God their captain *, lawgiver, and king;
Crowned with a thousand victories, and at last
Lords of the conquered soil, there rooted fast,
In peace possessing what they won by war,
Their name far published, and revered as far;
Where will you find a race like theirs, endowed
With all that man ever wished, or heaven be-
They, and they only, amongst all mankind
Received the transcript of the eternal mind;
Were trusted with his own engraven laws,
And constituted guardians of his cause;
Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call,
And theirs by birth the Saviour of us all.
In vain the nations, that had seen them rise
With fierce and envious yet admiring eyes,
Had sought to crush them, guarded as they were
By power divine, and skill that could not err.
:. * Vide Joshua, v. 14.