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To call up plenty from the teeming earth,
Or curse the desert with a tenfold dearth?
Is it that Adam's offspring may be saved
From servile fear, or be the more enslaved?
To loose the links that galled mankind before,
Or bind them faster on, and add still more?
The free-born Christian has no chains to prove,
Or if a chain, the golden one of love;
No fear attends to quench his glowing fires,
What fear he feels his gratitude inspires.
Shall he for such deliverance freely wrought
Recompense ill? He trembles at the thought:
His master's interest and his own combined,
Prompt every movement of his heart and mind;
Thought, word, and deed, his liberty evince,
His freedom is the freedom of a prince.
Man's obligations infinite, of course
His life should prove that he perceives their force;
His utmost he can render is but small,
The principle and motive all in all.
You have two servants,—Tom, an arch sly rogue,
From top to toe the Geta now in vogue:
Genteel in figure, easy in address,
Moves without noise, and swift as an express,
Reports a message with a pleasing grace,
Expert in all the duties of his place;
Say, on what hinge does his obedience move?
Has he a world of gratitude and love?
No, not a spark,—'tis all mere sharper's play;
He likes your house, your housemaid, and your pay ,
Reduce his wages, or get rid of her,
Tom quits you, with, your most obedient, Sir.—
The dinner served, Charles takes his usual stand,
Watches your eye, anticipates command,
Sighs if perhaps your appetite should fail,
And if he but suspects a frown, turns pale;
Consults all day your interest and your ease,
Richly rewarded if he can but please,
And proud to make his firm attachment known,
To save your life would nobly risk his own.
Now, which stands highest in your serious thought?
Charles, without doubt, say you,—and so he ought .
One act that from a thankful heart proceeds,
Excels ten thousand mercenary deeds.
Thus heaven approves as honest and sincere,
The work of generous love and filial fear;
But with averted eyes the omniscient judge
Scorns the base hireling and the slavish drudge.
Where dwell these matchless saints? old Curio cries;
Even at your side, Sir, and before your eyes,
The favoured few, the enthusiasts you despise;
And pleased at heart because on holy ground
Sometimes a canting hypocrite is found, Reproach a people with his single fall, And cast his filthy raiment at them all. Attend,—an apt similitude shall show, Whence springs the conduct that offends you so. See where it smokes along the sounding plain, Blown all aslant, a driving dashing rain, Peal upon peal redoubling all around, Shakes it again and faster to the ground; Now flashing wide, now glancing as in play, Swift beyond thought the lightnings dart away; Ere yet it came the traveller urged his steed, And hurried, but with unsuccessful speed, Now drenched throughout, and hopeless of his case, He drops the rein, and leaves him to his pace; Suppose, unlooked for in a scene so rude, Long hid by interposing hill or wood, Some mansion neat and elegantly dressed, By some kind hospitable heart possessed, Offer him warmth, security and rest; Think with what pleasure, safe and at his ease, He hears the tempest howling in the trees, What glowing thanks his lips and heart employ, While danger past is turned to present joy. So fares it with the sinner when he feels A growing dread of vengeance at his heels; His conscience, like a glassy lake before, Lashed into foaming waves begins to roar; The law grown clamorous, though silent long, Arraigns him, charges him with every wrong, Asserts the rights of his offended Lord, And death or restitution is the word; The last impossible, he fears the first, And having well deserved, expects the worst. Then welcome refuge, and a peaceful home, Oh, for a shelter from the wrath to come! Crush me, ye rocks, ye falling mountains, hide, Or bury me in ocean's angry tide !— The scrutiny of those all-seeing eyes I dare not—And you need not, God replies; The remedy you want I freely give; The book shall teach you, read, believe and live! 'Tis done—the raging storm is heard no more, Mercy receives him on her peaceful shore, And Justice, guardian of the dread command, Drops the red vengeance from his willing hand. A soul redeemed demands a life of praise, Hence the complexion of his future days, Hence a demeanour holy and unspecked, And the world's hatred, as its sure effect. Some lead a life unblameable and just, Their own dear virtue their unshaken trust. ■"
They never sin,—or if (as all offend)
Some trivial slips their daily walk attend,
The poor are near at hand, the charge is small,
A slight gratuity atones for all.
For though the Pope has lost his interest here,
And pardons are not sold as once they were,
No papist more desirous to compound,
Than some grave sinners upon English ground:
That plea refuted, other quirks they seek,
Mercy is infinite and man is weak,
The future shall obliterate the past,
And heaven no doubt shall be their home at last.
Come then,—a still small whisper in your ear,
He has no hope that never had a fear;
And he that never doubted of his state,
He may perhaps—perhaps he may—too late.
The path to bliss abounds with many a snare,
Learning is one, and wit, however rare:
The Frenchman first in literary fame,
(Mention him if you please,—Voltaire? the same)
With spirit, genius, eloquence supplied,
Lived long, wrote much, laughed heartily, and died:
The Scripture was his jest-book, whence he drew
Bon mots to gall the Christian and the Jew:
An infidel in health, but what when sick?
Oh, then a text would touch him at the quick:
View him at Paris in his last career,
Surrounding throngs the demigod revere,
Exalted on his pedestal of pride,
And fumed with frankincense on every side,
He begs their flattery with his latest breath,
And smothered in't at last, is praised to death.
Yon cottager who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store,
Content though mean, and cheerful, if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the live-long day,
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
She for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding and no wit,
Receives no praise, but (though her lot be such,
Toilsome and indigent) she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Lible true,
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew,
And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the skies.
O happy peasant! O unhappy bard!
His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward;
He praised perhaps for ages yet to come,
She never heard of half a mile from home;
He lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
She safe in the simplicity of hers.
Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound
In science, win one inch of heavenly 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 lost, lose heaven without regret;
Regret would rouse them and give birth to prayer,
Prayer would add faith, and faith would fix them there.
Not that the Former of us all in this,
Or aught he does, is governed by caprice;
The supposition is replete with sin,
And bears the brand of blasphemy burnt in.
Not so ;—the silver trumpet's heavenly 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.
Oh, blessed 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 bells 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 foiled, yet scorn to yield,
And never checked by what impedes the wise,
Believe, rush forward, and possess the prize.
Envy, ye great, the dull unlettered small,
Ye have much cause for envy—but not all;
We boast some rich ones whom the gospel sways,
And one that 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 every sense a wretch,
An instrument whose chords upon the stretch
And strained to the last screw that he can bear,
Yiebi only discord in his Maker's ear,
Once the blest residence of truth divine,
Glorious as bolyma's interior 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 scattered wide and nowhere to be found,
As soon shall rise and reascend the throne,
By native power 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 wandering comet in his sphere,
Then boast (but wait for that unhoped for hour)
The self-restoring arm of human power?
But what is man in his own proud esteem?
Hear him, himself the poet and the theme:
A monarch clothed wfth 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, charmed 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 fixed,
Pleasure and wonder in his features mixed:
His passions tamed and all at its control,
How perfect the composure of his soul!
Complacency has breathed a gentle gale
O'er all his thoughts, and swelled his easy sail.
His books well trimmed and in the gayest style.
Like regimented 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 sake.
What sliall the man deserve of humankind,
Whose happy skill and industry combined
Shall prove (what argument could never yet)
The Bible an imposture and a cheat?
The praises of the libertine professed,
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 betrayed, forsaken, and oppressed,
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?