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Than those a brighter season pours around.
What is fanatic frenzy, scorned so much,
True bliss, if man may reach it, is composed Of hearts in union mutually disclosed; And, farewell else all hope of pure delight, Those hearts should be reclaimed, renewed, upright. Bad men, profaning friendship's hallowed name, Form, in its stead, a covenant of shame, A dark confederacy against the laws Of virtue, and religion's glorious cause; They build each other up with dreadful skill, As bastions set point blank against God's will, Enlarge and fortify the dread redoubt, Deeply resolved to shut a Saviour out,— Call legions up from hell to back the deed, And curst with conquest, finally succeed: But souls that carry on a blest exchange Of joys they meet w'th in their heavenly range, And with a fearless confidence make known The sorrows sympathy esteems its own, Daily derive increasing light and force From such communion in their pleasant course, Feel less the journey's roughness and its length,
Meet their opposers with united strength,
But conversation, choose what theme we may,
Strange tidings these to tell a world who treat
That after man's defection laid all waste,
Sincerity towards the heart-searching God
Has made the new-born creature her abode,
Nor shall be found in unregenerate souls,
Till the last fire burn all between the poles.
Sincerity! Why 'tis his only pride;
Weak and imperfect in all grace beside,
He knows that God demands his heart entire,
And gives him all his just demands require.
Without it, his pretensions were as vain,
As, having it, he deems the world's disdain;
That great defect would cost him not alone
Man's favourable judgment, but his own,
His birthright shaken, and no longer clear,
Than while his conduct proves his heart sincere.
Retort the charge, and let the world be told
She boasts a confidence she does not hold;
That, conscious of her crimes, she feels instead
A cold misgiving, and a killing dread;
That while in health, the ground of her support
Is madly to forget that life is short;
That sick, she trembles, knowing she must die,
Her hope presumption, and her faith a lie.
That while she dotes, and dreams that she believes,
She mocks her Maker, and herself deceives .
Her utmost reach, historical assent,
The doctrines warped to what they never meant;
That truth itself is in her head as dull
And useless as a candle in a skull,
And all her love of God a groundless claim,
A trick upon the canvas, painted flame.
Tell her again, the sneer upon her face,
And all her censures of the work of grace,
Are insincere, meant only to conceal
A dread she would not, yet is forced to feel;
That in her heart the Christian she reveres,
And while she seems to scorn him, only fears.
A poet does not work by square or line,
And blest reforms that I have never heard,
And she may now be as discreet and wise,
As once absurd in all discerning eyes.
Sobriety perhaps may now be found,
Where once intoxication pressed the ground;
The subtle and injurious may be just,
And he grown chaste that was the slave of lust;
Arts once esteemed may be with shame dismissed,
Charity may relax the miser's fist,
The gamester may have cast his cards away,
Forgot to curse, and only kneel to pray.
It has indeed been told me (with what weight,
How credibly, 'tis hard for me to state,)
That fables old, that seemed for ever mute,
Revived, are hastening into fresh repute,
And gods and goddesses discarded long,
Like useless lumber or a stroller's song,
Are bringing into vogue their heathen train,
And Jupiter bids fair to rule again;
That certain feasts are instituted now,
Where Venus hears the lover's tender vow;
That all Olympus through the country roves,
To consecrate our few remaining groves,
And echo leams politely to repeat
The praise of names for ages obsolete:
That having proved the weakness, it should seem,
Of revelation's ineffectual beam,
To bring the passions under sober sway,
And give the moral springs their proper play,
They mean to try what may at last be done
By stout substantial gods of wood and stone,
And whether Roman rites may not produce
The virtues of old Rome for English use.
May much success attend the pious plan,
May Mercury once more embellish man,
Grace him again with long forgotten arts,
Reclaim his taste and brighten up his parts,
Make him athletic as in days of old,
Learned at the bar, in the palaestra bold,
Divest the rougher sex of female airs,
And teach the softer not to copy theirs.
The change shall please, nor shall it matter aught
Who works the wonder, if it be but wrought.
'Tis time, however, if the case stand thus,
For us plain folks and all who side with us,
To build our altar, confident and bold,
And say as stern Elijah said of old,
The strife now stands upon a fair award,
If Israel's Lord be God, then serve the Lord,—
If he be silent, faith is all a whim,
Then Baal is the God, and worship him!
Digression is so much in modem use, Thought is so rare, and fancy so profuse, Some never seem so wide of their intent, As when returning to the theme they meant; As mendicants, whose business is to roam, Make every parish but their own their home: Though such continual zigzags in a book, Such drunken reelings have an awkward look, And I had rather creep to what is true Than rove and stagger with no mark in view; Yet to consult a little seemed no crime, The freakish humour of the present time. But now, to gather up what seems dispersed, And touch the subject I designed at first, May prove, though much beside the rules of art, Best for the public, and my wisest part. And first let no man charge me that I mean To clothe in sables every social scene, And give good company a face severe, As if they met around a father's bier; For tell some men, that pleasure all their bent, And laughter all their work, is life misspent, Their wisdom bursts into this sage reply, Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry. To find the medium asks some share of wit, And therefore 'tis a mark fools never hit. But though life's valley be a veil of tears, A brighter scene beyond that veil appears, Whose glory with a light that never fades, Shoots between scattered rocks and opening shades, And while it shows the land the soul desires, The language of the land she seeks, inspires. Thus touched, the tongue receives a sacred cure Of all that was absurd, profane, impure; Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech Pursues the course that truth and nature teach, No longer labours merely to produce The pomp of sound, or tinkle without use: Where'er it winds, the salutary stream, Sprightly and fresh, enriches every theme, While all the happy man possessed before, The gift of nature or the classic store, Is made subservient to the grand design For which Heaven formed the faculty divine. So should an idiot, while at large he strays, Find the sweet lyre on which an artist plays, With rash and awkward force the chords he shakes, And grins with wonder at the jar he makes; But let the wise and well-instructed hand Once take the shell beneath his just command, In gentle sounds it seems as it complained