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But soon as Peter lost his hold of thee,
He sunk like lead into the sea.
All thy magnetic power disperst and gone,
The heavenly charm was broke, and Peter quite undone ;
And had not help been just at hand,
Peter had gone the nearest way to land.
Made up of wonders, and on wonders fixed,
Of contradicting qualities thou 'rt mixed.
Small as a grain, yet as a mountain great,
A child in growth, yet as a giant strong ;
A beggar, yet above a king in state :
Of birth but short, yet in duration long.
How shall we reconcile thee to our sense?
Here thou would'st pass for mere impertinence.
Thy teasing nature would thy end defeat,
So humble, and yet so importunate.
See the great test of faith, the greatest sure,
That Heaven e'er put a mortal to endure.
She cried, she begged, nay, she believed and prayed,
Yet long neglected, and as long denied ;
At last, as if commanded to despair,
She's almost told it was not in His power,
That she was out of His commission placed,
Shut out by Heaven, by race accurst.
Woman! I am not sent to thee!
Woman ! thou hast no share in Me!
Was ever creature born, but this, could hear
Such words proclaimed from Heaven and not despair
But still she prays, adheres, petitions, cries,
And on the Hand that thrusts her back relies :
Till moved, as 't were, with her impertinence,
He calls her dog, and challenges her sense,
To tell her whether such as she are fed,
With food appropriate, or the household bread.
But all was one ; her faith so often tried,
Too strong to fail, too firm to be denied :
She follows still, allows her outcast state,
The more thrust off, the more importunate :
Every repulse she meets, revives her prayer.
And she builds hope because she 's bid despair ;
He call her dog, she calls herself so too,
But pleads as such the fragments that are due.
The case so doubtful, the repulse so long,
Her sex so weak, and yet her faith so strong,
Heaven yields ! The victory of faith 's obtained,
And all she asked, and all she 'sought for, gained.
Mysterious flame! tell us from whence
Thou draw'st that cleaving confidence,
That strange, that irresistible desire.
That with such magic force sets all the soul on fire ;
By which thou can'st to Heaven itself apply,
In terms which Heaven itself cannot deny.
A power so great, an influence so sure,
Not Heaven itself the wrestlings can endure.
See how the struggling angel yields the day,
When Jacob's faith bids Jacob pray.
Let me alone, the heavenly vision cries.
No, no, says conquering faith, never without my prize.
Heaven yields ! Victorious faith prevailed,
And all the blessings asked for he entailed.
Blest humble confidence, that finds the way
To know we shall be heard before we pray ;
Heav'n's high insurance-office, where we give
The premium faith, and then the grant receive.
Stupendous gift! from what strange spring below,
Can such a supernatural product flow?
From Heaven, and Heaven alone it must derive ;
For Heaven alone can keep its flame alive.
No spring below can send out such a stream,
No fire below emit so bright a flame,
Of nature and original divine,
It does all other gifts of Heaven outshine.
Thou art the touchstone of all other grace,
No counterfeits can keep thy pace.
The weighty standard of our best desires,
The true sublime, which every breast inspires,
By thee we rise to such a height of flame,
As neither thought can reach nor language name,
Such as St. Paul himself could hardly know,
Whether he really was alive or no :
When clothed in raptures lifted up by thee,
He saw by faith, what none without it see.
Just Heaven, that in thy violence delights,
And easily distinguishes thy flights
From the thin outside warmth of hypocrites,
Approves, accepts, rewards, and feeds thy flame,
And gives this glorious witness to thy fame,
That all our gifts are hallowed by thy name.
By thee our souls on wings of joy ascend,
Climb the third heaven, an entrance there demand.
As sure those gates to thee shall open wide,
As without thee we're sure to be denied.
No bars, no bolts, no flaming swords appear,
To shock thy confidence, or move thy fear.
To thee the patent passage always free,
Peter himself received the keys from thee;
Or, which we may conceive with much more ease,
Thou art thyself the gate, thyself the keys.
Thine was the fiery chariot, thine the steeds,
That fetched Elijah from old Jordan's plains ;
Such a long journey such a voiture needs,
And thou the steady coachman held the reins.
Thine was the wondrous mantle he threw down,
By which successive miracles were wrought ;
For 't was the prophet's faith, and not his gown,
Elisha so importunately sought.
Bright pole-star of the soul, for ever fixed,
The mind's sure guide, when anxious and perplexed ;
When wandering in the abyss of thoughts and cares,
Where no way out and no way in appears ;
When doubt and horror, the extremes of fear,
Surround the soul, and prompt her to despair.
Thou shin'st aloft, open'st a gleam of light,
And show'st all heaven to our sight;
Thou gild'st the soul with sudden smiles, and joy,
And peace, that hell itself can ne'er destroy.
If all this be to be said, and all indeed but a poetical trifle upon this exalted subject, what is become of our negative Christian in all this? There is not a word of negative religion in all the description of faith, any more than there is of faith in all our negative religion.
Now let us follow this poor negative wretch to his deathbed ; and there having very little other notion of religion — for 't is the fate of those that trust to their negatives to have little else in their thoughts — if a good man come to talk with him, if he talks out of that way he puts him all into confusion ; for if he cannot swim upon the bladders
of his negatives he drowns immediately, or he buoys himself up above your reproofs, and goes on before. He is a little like the Polish Captain Uratz, who was executed for the murder of Mr. Thynne, who, when they talked to him of repentance and of Jesus Christ, said he was of such and such a family, and he hoped God would have some respect to him as a gentleman.
But what must a poor minister do who, being filled with better principles, prays for this vainglorious man? Must he say, “ Lord, accept this good man, for he has been no drunkard, no swearer, no debauched person ; he has been a just, a charitable man, has done a great deal of good among his neighbours, and never wilfully wronged any man; he has not been so wicked as it is the custom of the times to be, nor has he shown bad examples to others; Lord, be merciful to this excellent good man"?
No, no, the poor sincere minister knows better things; and if he prays with him, he turns him quite inside out, represents him as a poor mistaken creature, who now sees that he is nothing, and has nothing in himself, but casts himself entirely, as a miserable lost sinner, into the arms of a most merciful Saviour, praying to be accepted on the merits of Jesus Christ, and no other ; so that there is all his negative bottom unravelled at once; and if this is not his case it must be worse.
OF LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF PROVIDENCE
E are naturally backward to inform
ourselves of our duty to our Maker and to ourselves; it is a study we engage in with great reluctance, and
it is but too agreeable to us, when we meet with any difficulty which we think gives us a just occasion to throw off any farther inquiries of that kind.
Hence I observe the wisest of men often run into mistakes about the things which, speaking of religion, we call duty, taking up slight notions of them, and believing they understand enough of them, by which they rob themselves of the advantages as well as comfort of a farther search ; or, on the other hand, taking up with the general knowledge of religious principles, and the common duties of a Christian life, are satisfied with knowing what they say is sufficient to carry them to heaven, without inquiring into those things which are helpful and assistant to make that strait path easy and pleasant to themselves, and to make them useful to others by the way.
Solomon was quite of another opinion, when he bid us cry after knowledge, and lift up our voice for understanding - dig for her as for silver, and search for her as for hid treasure. It is certain here that he meant religious knowledge, and it is explained in the very next words, with an encouraging promise to those that shall enter upon the search, viz., Then