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But, muse, forbear; long flights forbode a fall ; Strike on the deep-toned chord the sum of all.
Hear the just ław—the judgment of the skies! He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies : And he that will be cheated to the last, Delusions strong as hell shall bind him fast. But if the wanderer his mistake discern, Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return, Bewildered once, must he bewail his loss For ever and for ever? No—the cross ! There and there only (though the deist rave, And atheist, if earth bear so base a slave); There and there only is the power to save. There no delusive hope invites despair ; No mockery meets you, no deception there. The spells and charms, that blinded you before, All vanish there, and fascinate no more.
I am no preacher, let this hint sufficeThe cross once seen is death to every vice: Else He that hung there suffered all his pain, Bled, groaned, and agonized, and died, in vain.
Man, on the dubious waves of error tossed,
His ship half foundered, and his compass lost,
Sees, far as human optics may command,
A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land :
Spreads all his canvass, every sinew plies;
Pants for it, aims at it, enters it, and dies !
Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes,
His well-built systems, philosophic dreams;
Deceitful views of future bliss farewell!
He reads his sentence at the flames of hell.
Hard lot of man-to toil for the reward
Of virtue, and yet lose it! Wherefore hard ?
He that would win the race must guide his horse
Obedient to the customs of the course ;
Else, though unequalled to the goal he flies,
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
Grace leads the right way: if you choose the wrong,
Take it and perish; but restrain your tongue ;
Charge not, with light sufficient, and left free,
Your wilful suicide on God's decree.
Oh how unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan!
No meretricious graces to beguile,
No clustering ornaments to clog the pile;
From ostentation as from weakness free,
It stands like the cerulean arch we see,
Majestic in its own simplicity.
Inscribed above the portal, from afar
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul-quickening words-BELIEVE
Too many, shocked at what should charm them most,
Despise the plain direction and are lost.
Heaven on such terms! (they cry with proud disdain)
Incredible, impossible, and vain!
Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey ;
for its own sake, the gracious way.
These are the sober, in whose cooler brains
Some thought of immortality remains ;
The rest too busy or too gay to wait
On the sad theme, their everlasting state,
Sport for a day and perish in a night,
The foam upon the waters not so light.
Who judged the Pharisee? what odions cause
Exposed him to the vengeance of the laws ?
Had he seduced a virgin, wronged a friend,
Or stabbed a man to serve some private end?
Was blasphemy his sin? Or did he stray
From the strict duties of the sacred day;
Sit long and late at the carousing board ?
(Such were the sins with which he charged his Lord)
No--the man's morals were exact ; what then?
'Twas his ambition to be seen of men;
His virtues were his pride ; and that one vice
Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price ;
He wore them as fine trappings for a show,
A praying, synagogue-frequenting beau.
The self-applauding bird, the peacock, see-
Mark what a sumptuous Pharisee is he!
Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold
His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold :
He treads as if, some solemn music near,
His measured step were governed by his ear:
And seems to say-Ye meaner fowl give place,
I am all splendour, dignity, and grace !
Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes,
Though he too has a glory in his plumes.
He, christian-like, retreats with modest mien
To the close copse, or far-sequestered green,
And shines without desiring to be seen.
The plea of works, as arrogant and vain,
Heaven turns from with abhorrence and disdain ;
Not more affronted by avowed neglect,
Than by the mere dissembler's feigned respect.
What is all righteonsness that men devise ?
What--but a sordid bargain for the skies?
But Christ as soon would abdicate his own,
As stoop from heaven to sell the proud a throne.
His dwelling a recess in some rude rock,
Book, beads, and maple-dish, his meagre stock ;
In shirt of hair and weeds of canvass dressed,
Girt with a bell-rope that the pope has blessed ;
Adust with stripes told out for every crime,
And sore tormented long before his time ;
His prayer preferred to saints that cannot aid;
His praise postponed, and never to be paid ;
See the sage hermit, by mankind admired,
With all that bigotry adopts inspired,
Wearing out life in his religious whim,
Till his religious whimsey wears out him.
His works, his abstinence, his zeal allowed,
You think him humble-God accounts him proud ;
High in demand, though lowly in pretence,
Of all his conduct this the genuine sense-
My penitential stripes, my streaming blood,
Have purchased heaven, and prove my title good.
Turn eastward now, and fancy shall apply
To your weak sight her telescopic eye.
The bramin kindles on his own bare head
The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade;
His voluntary pains, severe and long,
Would give a barbarous air to British song;
No grand inquisitor could worse invent,
Than he contrives to suffer, well content.
Which is the saintlier worthy of the two?
Past all dispate, yon anchorite say you.
Your sentence and mine differ. What's a name?
I say the bramin has the fairer claim.
If sufferings, scripture no where recommends,
Devised by self to answer selfish ends,
Give saintship, then all Europe must agree
Ten starveling hermits suffer less than he.
The truth is (if the truth may suit your ear, And prejudice have left a passage clear)
Pride has attained its most luxuriant growth,
And poisoned every virtue in them both.
Pride may be pampered while the flesh grows lean;
Humility may clothe an English dean ;
That grace was Cowper's—his, confessed by all-
Though placed in golden Durham's second stall.
Not all the plenty of a bishop's board,
His palace, and his lacqueys, and “My Lord,”
More nourish pride, that condescending vice,
Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice;
It thrives in misery, and abundant grows
In misery, fools upon themselves impose.
But why before us, protestants, produce
An Indian mistic, or a French recluse?
Their sin is plain : but what have we to fear,
Reformed and well instructed? You shall hear.
Yon ancient prnde, whose withered features show
She might be young some forty years ago,
Her elbows pinioned close upon her hips,
Her head erect, her fan apon her lips,
Her eye-brows arched, her eyes both gone astray
To watch yon amorous couple in their play,
With bony and unkerchiefed neck defies
The rude inclemency of wintry skies,
And sails with lappet-head and mincing airs
Duly at clink of bell to morning prayers.
To thrift and parsimony much inclined,
She yet allows herself that boy behind ;
The shivering urchin, bending as he goes,
With slip-shod heels, and dew-drop at his nose ;
His predecessor's coat advanced to wear,
Which future pages yet are doomed to share,
Carries her Bible tucked beneath his arm,
And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm.
She, half an angel in her own account, Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount,