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Oh happy peasant ! Oh unhappy bard!
His the mere tinsel, her's 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 her's.
Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound
In science, win one inoh 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 governed 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-
And he says much that many may disput
And cavil at with
but none refute.
Oh 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 walk 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 slie, once mistress of the realms around, Now scattered wide and no where to be found, As soon shall rise and re-ascend 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 wandering 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 fixt,
Pleasure and wonder in his features mixt;
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 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 humankind,
Whose happy skill and industry combined
Shall prove (what argument could never yet)
The Bible an impostor 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 lanacy is ignorance alone :-
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 polished 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,
Fallen from her glory, and too weak to rise ?
Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone,
Has she no spark that may be deemed 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 unborrowed 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, unmellowed 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, abhorred, 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 harlot 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 ;