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When joys, unknown to former life, may shed
Their brightest beams on each succeeding day;
When Health again may bloom, and Pleasure smile
(By Pain no more allay'd), and new delights
On every changing season still attend;
Each morn returning wake the soul to joy
From balmy slumbers, undisturb'd by care ;
Success still wait on Hope, and every hour
In peace and pleasure gently glide away.-
But ah! how rare on earth are years like this!
In the dark prospect of Futurity
Far other scenes than these may yet remain;
Affliction there may aim her keenest shafts
To tear the heart, while Pain and Sickness waste
The feeble frame by slow consuming pangs,
And ease and comfort lost are sought in vain:
For there, perhaps, no friendly voice may cheer
The tedious hours of grief, but all around
Expiring joys and blasted hopes appear;
New woes succeed to woes, and every good
On earth be snatched away.--How then shall man
Salute the rising year? Shall cheerful Hope
Receive the welcome guest ? or terror wait,
In speechless anguish, the impending storm?
Presumptuous mortal, cease O turn thine eyes
On the dark mansions of the silent dead,
And check the bold enquiry; never more
The rising sun may shed its beams on thee;
Perhaps, e'en now, the fatal hour is come
Which ends at once thy earthly hopes and fears,
And seals thy doom thro' vast eternity:
How awful is the thought! and who shall say
It is not just? What mortal shall disclose
The dark decrees of Heaven? But grant, to life
A longer date assigned, another year
On earth bestow'd, in deepest shades conceal'd
Its good or ill remains, no mortal hand
Can draw the veil which hides it from thy view :
Hence then, ye airy dreams by Fancy led!
Vain hopes, and vainer fears, deceive no more!
In native lustre bright let Truth appear,
With her pure beams illume the dark unknown,
And shew what man of future days can know,
What is Futurity? It is a time
By Heaven in mercy given, where all may find
Their best, their truest good; the means, the pow'r,
To elevate their nature, to exert
Each nobler faculty, and still to rise
In evēry virtue. Here the best may find
Improvement: for what mortal e'er attain'd
Perfection's utmost point? And here ev'n those
Who long by Vice and Folly led astray
Forsook the paths of wisdom and of truth,
May yet return, and with new ardour seek
That long-neglected good, which, though despis’d,
Rejected once, may here be yet attain'd.
Know then, whoe'er thou art on whom high
Another year of life will now bestow,
That year may lead thee to eternal peace,
May cancel follies past, redeem the time
In thoughtless dissipation once abus’d,
Dispel the shades of vice, the gloom of care,
Call forth each latent virtue, and impart
New strength, new hopes, and joys which ne'er
shall fail. Then hail, bright prospect of the rising year! The school of virtue, and the road to bliss ! No more the shades of doubt are spread around; No more ideal pleasures deck the scene With airy forms of good, which Fancy's self Scarce dares enjoy, no more by Terror lęd A train of woes in long succession rise, And deepest Horror o'er the time to come Extends her baleful influence; by the power Of Truth subdued, at once they disappear,
And surer hopes, and brighter views arise,
Than Pleasure e'er could give, or Pain destroy,
To chase each vain delusion far away,
And shew the glorious prize which future days
May yet attain.This, this alone is sure :
The rest, involv'd in dark uncertainty,
But mocks our search : but oh! how blest the path
(Whate'er it be) which leads to endless rest!-
Then, let Affliction come ;--shall man complain
Of seeming ills, which Heaven in mercy sends
To check his vain pursuits, exalt his views,
Improve his virtues, and direct the soul
To seek that aid which ne'er can fail, that aid
Which all who seek shall find ?--Oh! in the hour
Of deepest horror, when the throbbing heart
Oppress'd with anguish can sustain no more,
May Patience still, and Resignation come
To cheer the gloom ! not such as his who boasts
Superior powers, a mind above the reach
Of human weakness, yet with ardour seeks
The frail support of transitory praise ;
Or his, who trembling at an unknown power,
Submits in silence to Omnipotence,
And struggling checks the murmurs of his breast :
But that sweet peace, that heartfelt confidence
(By heavenly hope and filial love inspir'd,
In Truth's inviolable word secure)
Which pain and sorrow never can destroy;
Which smile triumphant in the gloom of woe,
And own a Father's power, a Father's love
O’er all presiding.
Blest in thoughts like these
The mourner's heart still feels a secret joy
Which pleasure ne'er could yield: no murmurs now
Disturb its peace; but every wish resign'd
To wisdom, power, and goodness infinite,
Celestial hope and comfort beam around
O'er all the prospect of succeeding time,
And never-fading glories close the scene.
O Thou, great source of every good! by whom This heart was taught to beat, these thoughts to
range O'er the wide circuit of the universe, To soar beyond the farthest bounds of time, And pant for bliss which earth could ne'er bestow; While worlds unnumber'd tremble at Thy power, And hosts celestial own their loftiest strain Too weak to tell Thy praise: 0 how shall man E’er lift his voice to Thee?-Yet at Thy call Thy servant comes.
O hear my humble prayer: By Thy Almighty Power, direct, sustain My feeble efforts ; and whate'er the lot To me on earth assign'd, O guide me still, By the blest light of Thy eternal truth, Thro' every varied scene of joy or woe; Support my weakness by Thy mighty aid, And lead my soul to peace-to bliss--to Thee!
PIOUS AND MORAL REFLECTIONS.
All the souls that are, were forfeit once ;
And He that might the 'vantage best have took,
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are ?
Never any thing can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades, when speaking fails.
If powers divine
Behold our human actions, as they do,)
I doubt not then, but Innocence shall make
False Accusation blush.
Let none presume To wear an undeserved dignity.
dare do all that
become a man ; Who dares do more, is none.
Nought's had, all's spent, When our desire is got without content.