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O 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 walked 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 who 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,
Yield only discord in his Maker's ear
Once the blest residence of truth divine,
Glorious as Solyma'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 no where 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 wand'ring 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 with 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 his 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 regimental 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's sake.
What shall the man deserve of human kind, 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? 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 wo;
That field of promise, how it flings abroad
Its odour 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,
Weeps 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 flow'ry 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 imbitters 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,
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
But let not him, that shares a brighter day,
Traduce the splendour of a noontide ray,
Prefer the twilight of a darker time,
And deem his base stupidity no crime:
The wretch, who slights the bounties 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.
Marshaling 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 will 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 sland'rous
Brings not alone the more conspicuous part,
The thought that meditates a brother's wrong:
His conduct, to the test, but tries his heart.
Hark! universal nature shook and groaned,
Rouse all your courage at your utmost need,
'Twas the last trumpet-see the judge enthroned;
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 can not 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,
My prayers and alms, imperfect and defiled,
Nor hoped, but in thy righteousness divine:
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.
Pride falls unpitied, never more to rise,
Angelic gratulations rend the skies,
Humility is crowned, and Faith receives the prize.
WHY weeps the muse for England? What ap-|Forgot the blush, that virgin fears impart
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, in 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.
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 their 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, a while
Then wherefore weep for England? What ap- They stood the test of her ensnaring smile,
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
Oaths, used as playthings or convenient tools,
As interest bias'd knaves, or fashion fools;
Adultery, neighing at his neighbour's door;
Oppression, lab'ring 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,
And had the grace in scenes of peace to show
The virtue they had learned in scenes of wo."
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 fore-runner of a general rot.
Then Truth is hushed, that Heresy may preach:
And all is trash, that Reason can not reach:
Then God's own image on the soul impressed,
Becomes a mock'ry, 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 gray-beards 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,
Confessed the wonder, and with daring tongue
Blasphemed th' 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 ev'ry 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 ancient 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 states they left, made waste and void;
For them the states to which thew 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 stand,
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 th' Almighty wing!
Their God their captain,* lawgiver, and king;
As if not love, but wrath, had brought him down: Crowned with a thousand vict'ries, and at last
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-
Rhet'ric is artifice, the work of man;
And tricks and turns, that fancy may devise,
Are far too mean for Him that rules the skies.
Th' astonished vulgar trembled while he tore
The mask from faces never seen before;
He stripped th' impostors in the noonday sun,
Showed that they followed all they seemed to shun;
Their pray'rs made public, their excesses kept
As private as the chambers where they slept;
The temple and its holy rites profaned
By mumm'ries 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;
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 Heav'n bestow-
They, and they only, amongst all mankind,
Received the transcript of th' 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
Had found one city not to be o'ercome;
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 Deliv'rer 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 th' 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
Keep wisdom, or meet vengeance in your turn;
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,
Pleasures 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.
Oh 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 holy, without a 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 country sown,
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, find'st 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
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;
Where sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light,
Discordant atoms meet, ferment, and fight;
Where Obstinacy 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 thrash the floor,
That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing
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,
With none on earth that thou canst call thine The busy trifler dreams himself alone,
Frames many a purpose, and God works his own.