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Sorrow might muse herself to madness then,
And, seeking exile from the sight of men,
Bury herself in solitude profound,
Grow frantic 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 odours o'er the Christian's thorny road!
The soul, reposing on assured relief,
Feels herself happy amidst all her grief,
Forgets her labour as she toils along,
Weep tears of joy, and bursts into a song.
But the same word that, like the polished share, Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care, Kills too the flowery weeds, where'er they grow, That bind the sinner's Bacchanalian brow. Oh, that unwelcome voice of heavenly 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 embitters all his life; In vain he points his powers against the skies, In vain he closes or averts his eyes, Truth will intrude—she bids him yet beware,— And shakes the sceptic in the scorner's chair.
Though various foes against the truth combine, Pride above all opposes her design; Pride of a growth superior 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 ooul indeed so lost,—she cries, Fallen from her glory and too weak to rise, Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone, Has she no spark that may be deemed her own? Grant her indebted to what zealots call Grace undeserved, yet surely not for all ;— Some beams of rectitude she yet displays, Some love of virtue and some power to praise; Can lift herself above corporeal things, And soaring on her own unborrowed wings, Possess herself of all that's good or true, Assert the skies, and vindicate her due. Past indiscretion is a venial crime, And if the youth, unmellowed yet by time,
Bore on his branch luxuriant then and rude,
Fruits of a blighted size, austere and crude,
Maturer years shall happier stores produce,
And meliorate the well-concocted juice.
Then, conscious of her meritorious zeal,
To Justice she may make her bold appeal,
And leave to Mercy, with a tranquil mind,
The worthless and unfruitful of mankind.
Hear then how Mercy, slighted and defied,
Retorts the affront against the crown of Pride.
Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhorred,
And the fool with it that insults his Lord.
The atonement a Redeemer's love has wrought
Is not for you,—the righteous need it not.
Seest thou yon harlot wooing all she meets,
The worn-out nuisance of the public streets,
Herself from morn to night, from night to morn,
Her own abhorrence, and as much your scorn,
The gracious shower, unlimited and free,
Shall fall on her, when heaven denies it thee.
Of all that wisdom dictates, this the drift,
That man is dead in sin, and life a gift.
Is virtue then, unless of Christian growth,
Mere fallacy, or foolishness, or both?
Ten thousand sages lost in endless woe,
For ignorance of what they could not know?
That speech betrays at once a bigot's tongue;
Charge not a God with such outrageous wrong!
Truly not I.—The partial light men have,
My creed persuades me, well employed may save;
While he that scorns the noonday beam, perverse*
Shall find the blessing unimproved a curse.
Let heathen worthies, whose exalted mind
Left sensuality and dross behind,
Possess for me their undisputed lot,
And take unenvied the reward they sought,
But still in virtue of a Saviour's plea,
Not blind by choice, but destined not to see.
Their fortitude and wisdom were a flame
Celestial, though they knew not whence it came,
Derived from the same source of light and grace,
That guides the Christian in his swifter race;
Their judge was Conscience, and her rule their law;
That rule, pursued with reverence and with awe,
Led them, however faltering, faint, and slow,
From what they knew, to what they wished to know.
But let not him that shares a brighter day,
Traduce the splendour of a noon-tide ray,
Prefer ths twilight of a darker time,
And deem his base stupidity no crime;
The wretch, that slights the bounty of the skies,
And sinks while favoured with the means to rise,
Shall find them rated at their full amount,
The good he scorned all carried to account.
Marshalling all his terrors as he came,
Thunder and earthquake and devouring flame,
From Sinai's top Jehovah gave the law,
Life for obedience, death for every flaw.
When the great Sovereign would his wiU express,
He gives a perfect rule; what can he less?
And guards it with a sanction as severe
As vengeance can inflict, or sinners fear:
Else his own glorious rights he would disclaim,
And man might safely trifle with his name.
He bids him glow with unremitting love
To all on earth, and to himself above;
Condemns the injurious deed, the slanderous .ongue,
The thought that meditates a brother's wrong;
Brings not alone the more conspicuous part.
His conduct to the test, but tries his heart.
Hark ! universal nature shook and groaned;
'Twas the last trumpet—see the Judge enthroned!
Rouse all your courage at your utmost need,
Now summon every virtue, stand and plead.
What! silent? Is your boasting heard no more?
That self-renouncing wisdom, learned before.
Had shed immortal glories on your brow,
That all your virtues cannot purchase now.
All joy to the believer! he can speak,
Trembling yet happy, confident yet meek.
Since the dear hour, that brought me to thy foot,
And cut up all my follies by the root,
I never trusted in an arm but thine,
Nor hoped but in thy righteousness divine:
My prayers and alms, imperfect and defiled.
Were but the feeble efforts of a child;
Howe'er performed, it was their brightest part.
That they proceeded from a grateful heart;
Cleansed in thine own all-purifying blood,
Forgive their evil, and accept their good;
I cast them at thy feet—my only plea
Is what it was, dependence upon thee;
While struggling in the vale of tears below,
That never failed, nor shall it fail me now.
Angelic gratulations rend the skies,
Pride falls unpitied, never more to rise,
Humility is crowned, and Faith receives the prize.
Tantane, tarn patiens, nullo certamine tolV
Dona sines? Virg;£.
Why weeps the Muse for England? What appears
In England's case to move the Muse to tears?
From side to side of her delightful isle
Is she not clothed with a perpetual smile?
Can Nature add a charm, or art confer
A new-found luxury not seen in her?
Where under heaven is pleasure more pursued,
Or where does cold reflection less intrude?
Her fields a rich expanse of wavy corn
Poured out from Plenty's overflowing horn;
Ambrosial gardens in which Art supplies
The fervour and the force of Indian skies;
Her peaceful shores, where busy Commerce waits
To pour his golden tide through all her gates;
Whom fiery suns that scorch the russet spice
Of eastern groves, and oceans floored with ice,
Forbid in vain to push his daring way
To darker climes, or climes of brighter day;
Whom the winds waft where'er the billows roll,
From the world's girdle to the frozen pole;
The chariots bounding in her wheel-worn streets;
Her vaults below where every vintage meets;
Her theatres, her revels, and her sports,
The scenes to which not youth alone resorts,
But age, in spite of weakness and of pain,
Still haunts, m hope to dream of youth again;
All speak her happy :—let the Muse look round
From east to west, no sorrow can be found,
Or only what in cottages confined,
Sighs unregarded to the passing wind.
Then wherefore weep for England? What appears
In England's case to move the Muse to tears?
The prophet wept for Israel, wished his eyes Were fountains fed with infinite supplies; For Israel dealt in robbery and wrong, There were the scorner's and the slanderer's tongue, Oaths used as playthings or convenient tools, As interest biassed knaves, or fashion fools; Adultery neighing at his neighbour's door, Oppression labouring hard to grind the poor, The partial balance and deceitful weight, The treacherous smile, a mask for secret hate, Hypocrisy, formality in prayer, And the dull service of the lip were there. Her women insolent and self-caressed, By Vanity's unwearied finger dressed, Forgot the blush that virgin fears impart To modest cheeks, and borrowed one from art; Were just such trifles without worth or use, As silly pride and idleness produce; Curled, scented, furbelowed, and flounced around, With feet too delicate to touch the ground, They stretched the neck, and rolled the wanton eye, ^And sighed for every fool that fluttered by.
He saw his people slaves to every lust,
Lewd, avaricious, arrogant, unjust;
He heard the wheels of an avenging God
Groan heavily along the distant road;
Saw Babylon set wide her two-leaved brass
To let the military deluge pass;
Jerusalem a prey, her glory soiled,
Her princes captive, and her treasures spoiled;
Wept till all Israel heard his bitter cry,
Stamped with his foot, and smote upon his thigh;
But wept and stamped and smote his thigh in vain,
Pleasure is deaf when told of future pain,
And sounds prophetic are too rough to suit
Ears long accustomed to the pleasing lute;
They scorned his inspiration and his theme,
Pronounced him frantic and his fears a dream,
With self-indulgence winged the fleeting hours,
Till the foe found them, and down fell the towers.
Long time Assyria bound them in her chain,
Till penitence had purged the public stain,
And Cyrus, with relenting pity moved,
Returned them happy to the land they loved:
There, proof against prosperity, awhile
They stood the test of her ensnaring smile,
And had the grace in scenes of peace to show
The virtue they had learned in scenes of woe.
But man is frail, and can but ill sustain
A long immunity from grief and pain,
And after all the joys that plenty leads,
With tiptoe step vice silently succeeds.
When he that ruled them with a shepherd's rod,
In form a man, in dignity a God,
Came not expected in that humble guise,
To sift, and search them with unerring eyes,
He found, concealed beneath a fair outside,
The filth of rottenness and worm of pride,
Their piety a system of deceit,
Scripture employed to sanctify the cheat,
The Pharisee the dupe of his own art,
Self-idolized, and yet a knave at heart.
When nations are to perish in their sins,
'Tis in the Church the leprosy begins:
The priest whose office is, with zeal sincere,
To watch the fountain, and preserve it clear,
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 forerunner of a general rot.