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It err but little from th' intended line,
It falls at last far wide of his design:
So he, who seeks a mansion in the sky,
Must watch his purpose with a steadfast eye;
That prize belongs to none but the sincere,
The least obliquity is fatal here. .
With caution taste the sweet Circean cup:
He that sips often, at last drinks it up.
Habits are soon assum'd; but when we strive
To strip them off, 'tis being flay'd alive.
Call’d to the temple of impure delight,
He that abstains, and he alone, does right.
If a wish wander that way, call it home;
He cannot long be safe whose wishes roam.
But, if you pass the threshold, you are caught;
Die then, if pow'r Almighty save you not.
There hard’ning by degrees, till double steeld,
Take leave of nature's God, and God reveal'd;
Then laugh at all you trembled at before;
And, joining the free-thinker's brutal roar,
Swallow the two grand nostrums they dispense
That Scripture lies, and blasphemy is sense.
If clemency revolted by abuse
Be damnable, then damn'd without excuse.
Some dream that they can silence, when they will, The storm of passion, and say, Peace, be still; But “ Thus far and no farther,” when address'd To the wild wave, or wilder human breast, Implies authority that never can, That never ought to be the lot of man.
But muse forbear; long flights forebode a fall ; Strike on the deep-ton'd chord the sum of all.
Hear the just law—the judgment of the skies! He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies: And he that will be cheated to the last, Delusions strong as Hell shall bind him fast. But if the wand'rer his mistake discern, Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return, Bewilder'd once, must he bewail his loss For ever and for ever? No the cross ! T'here and there only (though the deist rave, And atheist, if Earth bear so base a slave); There and there only is the pow'r to save. There no delusive hope invites despair ; No mock’ry meets you, no deception there. The spells and charms, that blinded you before, All vanish there, and fascinate no more.
I am no preacher, let this hint suffice The cross once seen is death to ev'ry vice: Else he that hung there suffer'd all his pain, Bled, groan'd, and agoniz'd, and died in vain.
Man, on the dubious waves of errour toss'd,
His ship half founder'd, and his compass lost,
Sees, far as human optics may command,
A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land:
Spreads all his canvass, ev'ry sinew plies;
Pants for't, aims at it, enters it, and dies!
Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes,
His well-built systems, philosophic dreams;
Deceitful views of future bliss farewell!
He reads his sentence at the flames of Hell.
Hard lot of man-to toil for the reward
Of virtue, and yet lose it! Wherefore hard ?-
He that would win the race must guide his horse
Obedient to the customs of the course;
Else, though unequalld to the goal he flies,
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
Grace leads the right way: if you choose the wrong,
Take it and perish; but restrain your tongue;
Charge not, with light sufficient, and left free,
Your wilful suicide on God's decree.
O how unlike the complex works of man,
Heav'n's easy, artless, unincumber'd plan!
No meretricious graces to beguile,
No clust'ring ornaments to clog the pile;
From ostentation as from weakness free,
It stands like the cerulean arch we see,
Majestic in it's own simplicity.
Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul-quick’ning words-BELIEVE AND
LIVE. Too many, shock’dat what should charm them most, Despise the plain direction and are lost. Heav'n on such terms! (they cry with proud disdain) Incredible, impossible, and vain !-Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey; And scorn, for it's own sake, the gracious way.