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ON A SIMILAR OCCASION,
He who sits from day to day
Where the prisoned lark is hung, Heedless of his loudest lay,
Hardly knows that he has sung.
Where the watchman in his round
Nightly lifts his voice on high, None accustomed to the sound,
Wakes the sooner for his cry.
So your verse man I, and clerk,
Yearly in my song proclaim Death at hand—yourselves his mark—
And the foe's unerring aim.
Duly at my time I come,
Publishing to all aloud,—
And your only suit a shroud.
But the monitory strain,
Oft repeated in your ears, Seems to sound too much in vain,
Wins no notice, wakes no fears.
Can a truth, by all confessed
Of such magnitude and weight, Grow, by being oft impressed,
Trivial as a parrot's prate?
Pleasure's call attention wins,
Hear it often as we may; New as ever seem our sins,
Though committed every day.
Death and judgment, heaven and hell—
These alone, so often heard, No more move us than the bell
When some stranger is interred.
Oh then, ere the turf or tomb
Cover us from every eye, Spirit of instruction! come,
Make us learn that we must die.
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION
For the Year 1793.
De sacris autem hac sit una sententia, ut conscrventur.—Clc. De Leg.
But let us all concur in this one sentiment, that things sacred be inviolate.
He lives who lives to God alone,
And all are dead beside;
Whence life can be supplied.
To live to God is to requite
His love as best we may;
His promises our stay.
But life, within a narrow ring
Of giddy joys comprised,
But rather death disguised.
Can life in them deserve the name,
Who only live to prove
An endless life above?
Who, much diseased, yet nothing feel;
Much menaced, nothing dread;
Yet never ask his aid?
Who deem his house a useiess place,
Faith, want of common sense;
A hypocrite's pretence?
Who trample order; and the day
Which God asserts his own
And worship chance alone?
If scorn of God's command":, impressed
On word and deed, imply
With life that cannot die;
Such want it, and that want, uncured
Till man resigns his breath,
Of everlasting death.
_ _ _£_
TO THE COURTEOUS READER.
Having satiated and fatigued my eyes, gentle reader, by too intent an observation of what is passing on earth ; and raising therefore my thoughts to higher contemplations, to the wonders diffused by the Supreme Being, for the benefit of man, through the universe; I felt my heart penetrated by a certain Christian compunction, in reflecting how his inexpressible goodness, though perpetually and grievously offended by us, still shows itself in the highest degree indulgent towards us in preserving those wonders with a continual influence to our advantage; and how on the first provocation to vengeance, Almighty power does not enlarge the ocean to pass its immense boundary, does not obscure the light of the sun, does not impress sterility on the earth, to engulf us, to blind us, and finally to destroy us. Softened and absorbed in these divine emotions, I felt myself transported and hurried by a delightful violence into a terrestrial paradise, where I seemed to behold the first man Adam, a creature dear to God, the friend of Angels, the heir of heaven, familiar with the stars, a compendium of all created things, the ornament of all, the miracle of nature, the lord of the animals, the only inhabitant of the universe, and enjoyer of a scene so wonderfully grand. Whence charmed more than ever, I resolved with the favour of the blessed God, to usher into the light of the world, .vhat I bore in the darkness of my imagination; both to render it known in some measure, that, I know myself, and the infinite obligations that I have to God; and that others, who do not know, may learn, the true nature of man, and from the low contemplation of earthly things, may raise their minds to things celestial and divine.
I remained, however, a considerable time in doubt if I ought, or if I were able to undertake a composition most difficult to me on many accounts, since in beginning the sacred subject from man's creation to the point where he is driven from the terrestrial paradise, a period of six years (as St. Augustine relates in his book on the City of God), I did not clearly perceive how an action so brief