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Exalted on his pedestal of pride,
And fumed with frankincense on ev'ry side,
He begs their fatt'ry with his latest breath,
And smotherd in't at last, is praised to death.
Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store;
Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the livelong day,
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light:
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit,
Receives no praise; but, though her lot be such,
Toilsome and indigent, she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew;
And in that charter reads with sparkling eyes
Her title to a treasure in the skies.
O happy peasant ! O unhappy bard !
His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward ;
He praised perhaps for ages yet to come,
She never heard of half a mile from home;
He lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
She safe in the simplicity of hers.
Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound
In science, win one inch of heavenly ground.
And is it not a mortifying thought
The poor should gain it, and the rich should not ?
No- the voluptuaries, who ne'er forget.
One pleasure lost, lose heaven without regret :
Regret would rouse them, and give birth to prayer;
Prayer would add faith, and faith would fix them there.
Not that the Former of us all, in this,
Or aught he does, is govern'd by caprice ;
The supposition is replete with sin,
And bears the brand of blasphemy burnt in.
Not so the silver trumpet's heavenly call
Sounds for the poor, but sounds alike for all :
Kings are invited, and, would kings obey,
No slaves on earth more welcome were than they :
But royalty, nobility, and state,
Are such a dead preponderating weight,
That endless bliss, (how strange soe'er it seem)
In counterpoise, flies up and kicks the beam.
'Tis open, and ye cannot enter -- why?
Because ye will not, Conyers would reply:9
And he says much that many may dispute,
And cavil at with ease, but none refute.
O bless'd effect of penury and want ;
The seed sown there, how vig'rous is the plant !
No soil like poverty for growth divine,
As leanest land supplies the richest wine. 10
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 walk by, kindled from above,
Shows them the shortest way to life and love ;
They, strangers to the controversial field,
Where deists, always foild, yet scorn to yield,
And never check'd by what impedes the wise,
Believe, rush forward, and possess the prize.
Envy, ye great, the dull unletter'd 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 strain'd 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 scatter'd 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, charm'd 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 fix'd,
Pleasure and wonder in his features mix'd ;
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 swell’d his easy sail :
His books well trimm'd, and in the gayest style,
Like regimented 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 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, profess'd 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 betray'd, forsaken, and oppress’d, 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 : 12 They knew not, what some bishops may not know, That Scripture is the only cure of woe ; 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 polish'd share, Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care, Kills too the flowery 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, Swells at the thought, and, kindling into rage, Would hiss the cherub mercy from the stage.
And is the soul indeed so lost - she cries, Fall'n from her glory, and too weak to rise ; Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone, Has she no spark that may be deem'd her own ? Grant her indebted to what zealots call Grace undeserved — yet, surely, not for all ! Some beams of rectitude she yet displays, Some love of virtue, and some power to praise ; Can lift herself above corporeal things, And, soaring on her own unborrow'd wings, Possess herself of all that's good or true, Assert the skies, and vindicate her due. Past indiscretion is a venial crime, And if the youth, unmellow'd yet by time, Bore on his branch, luxuriant then and rude, Fruits of a blighted size, austere and crude, Maturer years shall happier stores produce, And meliorate the well concocted juice. Then, conscious of her meritorious zeal, To justice she may make her bold appeal, And leave to mercy, with a tranquil mind, The worthless and unfruitful of mankind. Hear then how mercy, slighted and defied, Retorts th' affront against the crown of pride.
Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhorr’d, And the fool with it, who insults his Lord. Th’ atonement a Redeemer's love has wrought Is not for you the righteous need it not. Seest thou yon barlot, wooing all she meets, The worn out nuisance of the public streets, Herself from morn to night, from night to morn, Her own abhorrence, and as much your scorn : The gracious shower, unlimited and free, Shall fall on her, when Heaven denies it thee,