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Tien truth is hushed, that heresy may preach;
And all is trash that reason cannot reach;
Then God's own image on the soul impressed
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 graybeards 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 priest, 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 drew 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 noonday 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 high,
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 ancieiii. 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 state 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 aiand,
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,1 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 e'er wished, or heaven bestowed?
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.
Had they maintained allegiance firm and sure,
And kept the faith immaculate and pure,
Then the proud eagles of all-conquering Rome
1 Vide Joshua v. 14.
Had found one city not to be o'ercotne,
And the twelve standards of the tribes unfurled
Had bid defiance to the warring world.
But grace abused brings forth the foulest deeds,
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds;
Cured of the golden calves, their father's sin,
They set up self, that idol-god, within;
Viewed a Deliverer with disdain and hate,
Who left them still a tributary state;
Seized fast his hand, held out to set them free
From a worse yoke, and nailed it to the tree.
There was the consummation and the crown,
The flower of Israel's infamy full blown;
Thence date their sad declension and their fall,
Their woes not yet repealed, thence date them all.
Thus fell the best instructed in her day, And the most favoured land, look where we may. Philosophy indeed on Grecian eyes Had poured the day, and cleared the Roman skies; In other climes perhaps creative art, With power surpassing theirs, performed her part, Might give more life to marble, or might fill The glowing tablets with a juster skill, Might shine in fable, and grace idle themes With all the embroidery of poetic dreams; 'Twas theirs alone to dive into the plan, That truth and mercy had revealed to man; And while the world beside, that plan unknown, Deified useless wood or senseless stone, They breathed in faith their well-directed prayers, And the true God, the God of truth, was theirs.
Their glory faded, and their race dispersed,
The last of nations now, though once the first,
They warn and teach the proudest, would they learn,
Keep wisdom, or meet vengeance in your turn I
If we escaped not, if heaven spared not us,
Peeled, scattered, and exterminated thus;
If vice received her retribution due,
When we were visited, what hope for you?
When God arises with an awful frown,
To punish lust, or pluck presumption down;
When gifts perverted, or not duly prized,
Pleasure o'ervalued, and his grace despised,
Provoke the vengeance of his righteous hand
To pour down wrath upon a thankless land,
He will be found impartially severe,
Too just to wink, or speak the guilty clear.
O Israel, of all nations most undone!
Thy diadem displaced, thy sceptre gone,
Thy temple, once thy glory, fallen and rased,
And thou a worshipper e'en where thou mayst;
Thy services once only without spot,
Mere shadows now, their ancient pomp forgot;
Thy Levites, once a consecrated host,
No longer Levites, and their lineage lost,
And thou thyself o'er every country sown,
With none on earth that thou canst call thine own;
Cry aloud, thou that sittest in the dust,
Cry to the proud, the cruel, and unjust,
Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears,
Say wrath is coming, and the storm appears;
But raise the shrillest cry in British ears.
What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar,
And fling their foam against thy chalky shore?
Mistress, at least while providence shall please,
And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas,—
Why, having kept good faith, and often shown
Friendship and truth to others, findst thou none?
Thou that hast set the persecuted free,
None interposes now to succour thee.
Countries indebted to thy power, that shine
With light derived from thee, would smother thine;
Thy very children watch for thy disgrace,—
A lawless brood, and curse thee to thy face:
Thy rulers load thy credit, year by year,
With sums Peruvian mines could never clear,
As if, like arches built with skilful hand,
The more 'twere pressed the firmer it would stand.
The cry in all thy ships is still the same,
Speed us away to battle and to fame!
Thy mariners explore the wild expanse,
Impatient to descry the flags of France,
But, though they fight as thine have ever fought,
Return ashamed without the wreaths they sought.
Thy senate is a scene of civil jar,
Chaos of contrarieties at war,
Were sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light,
Discordant atoms meet, ferment, and fight;
Where obs inacy takes his sturdy stand,
To disconcert what policy has planned;
Where policy is busied all night long
In setting right what faction has set wrong;
Where flails of oratory thresh the floor,
That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more.
Thy racked inhabitants repine, complain,
Taxed till the brow of labour sweats in vain;
War lays a burden on the reeling state,
And peace does nothing to relieve the weight;
Successive loads succeeding broils impose,
And sighing millions prophesy the close.
Is adverse providence, when pondered well,
So dimly writ or difficult to spell,
Thou canst not read with readiness and ease
Providence adverse in events like these?
Know then, that heavenly wisdom on this ball
Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all:
That, while laborious and quick-thoughted man
Snuffs up the praise of what he seems to plan,
He first conceives, then perfects his design,
As a mere instrument in hands divine:
Blind to the working of that secret power
That balances the wings of every hour,
The busy trifler dreams himself alone,
Frames many a purpose, and God works his own.
States thrive or wither as moons wax and wane,
Even as his will and his decrees ordain;
While honour, virtue, piety bear sway,
They flourish; and as these decline, decay.
In just resentment of his injured laws,
He pours contempt on them and on their cause
Strikes the rough thread of error right ath.v^...
The web of every scheme they have at heart.
Bids rottenness invade and bring to dust
The pillars of support in which they trust,
And do his errand of disgrace and shame
On the chief strength and glory of the frame.
None ever yet impeded what he wrought,
None bars him out from his most secret thought;
Darkness itself before his eyes is light,
And hell's close mischief naked in his sight.
Stand now and judge thyself.—Hast thou incurred His anger who can waste thee with a word, Who poises and proportions sea and land, Weighing them in the hollow of his hand. And in whose awful sight all nations seem As grasshoppers, as dust, a drop, a dream, Hast thou (a sacrilege his soul abhors) Claimed all the glory of thy prosperous wars. Proud of thy fleets and armies, stolen the gem Of his just praise, to lavish it on them? Hast thou not learned, what thou art often told, A truth still sacred, and believed of old, That no success attends on spears and swords Unblessed, and that the battle is the Lord s i That courage is his creature, and dismay The post that at his bidding speeds away, Ghastly in feature, and his stammering tongue. With doleful rumour and sad presage hung, To quell the valour of the stoutest heart, And teach the combatant a woman's part? That he bids thousands fly when none pursue. Saves as he will by many or by few, And claims for ever as his royal right, The event and sure decision of the fight?
Hast thou, though suckled at fair freedom's breast, Exported slavery to the conquered East,