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And to say truth, though in its early prime,
And when unstain'd with any grosser crime,
Youth has a sprightliness and fire to boast,
That in the valley of decline are lost,
And Virtue with peculiar charms appears,
Crown'd with the garland of life's blooming years ;
Yet Age, by long experience well inform’d,
Well read, well temper'd, with religion warm’d,
That fire abated, which impels rash Youth,
Proud of his speed, to overshoot the truth,
As time improves the grape's authentic juice,
Mellows and makes the speech more fit for use,
And claims a rev'rence in its short'ning day,
That 'tis an honour and a joy to pay.
The fruits of Age, less fair, are yet more sound,
Than those a brighter season pours around;
And, like the stores autumnal suns mature,
Through wintry rigours unimpair'd endure.
What is fanatic frenzy, scorn’d so much,
And dreaded more than a contagious touch?
I grant it dang’rous, and approve your fear,
That fire is catching if you draw too near ;
But sage observers oft mistake the flame,
And give true piety that odious name.
To tremble (as the creature of an hour
Ought at the view of an almighty pow'r)
Before his presence, at whose awful throne
All tremble in all worlds, except our own,
To supplicate his mercy, love his ways,
And prize them above pleasure, wealth, or praise,
Though common sense, allow'd a casting voice,
And free from bias, must approve the choice,
Convicts a man fanatic in the extreme,
And wild as madness in the World's esteem.
But that disease, when soberly defin'd,
Is the false fire of an o'erheated mind;
It views the truth with a distorted eye,
And either warps or lays it useless by ;
'Tis narrow, selfish, arrogant, and draws
Its sordid nourishment from man's applause ;
And while at heart sin unrelinquish'd lies,
Presumes itself chief fav’rite of the skies.
'Tis such a light as putrefaction breeds
In fly-blown flesh, whereon the maggot feeds,
Shines in the dark, but, usher'd into day,
The stench remains, the lustre dies away.
True bliss, if man may reach it, is compos’d
Of hearts in union mutually disclos'd ;
And, farewell else all hope of pure delight,
Those hearts should be reclaiin'd, renew'd, upright.
Bad men, profaning friendship’s hallow'd name,
Form, in its stead, a covenant of shame,.
A dark confed'racy against the laws
Of virtue, and religion's glorious cause :
They build each other up with dreadful skill,
As bastions set point blank against God's will;
Enlarge and fortify the dread redoubt,
Deeply resolv’d to shut a Saviour out;
Call legions up from Hell to back the deed;
And, curs'd with conquest, finally succeed.
But souls, that carry on a blest exchange
of joys, they meet with in their heav'nly range,
And with a fearless confidence make known
The sorrows, sympathy esteems its own,
Daily derive increasing light and force
From such communion in their pleasant course,
Feel less the journey's roughness and its length,
Meet their opposers with united strength,
And, one in heart, in intrest, and design,
Gird up each other to the race divine.
But Conversation, choose what theme we may,
And chiefly when religion leads the way,
Should flow, like waters after summer show'rs,
Not as if rais'd by mere mechanic pow'rs.
The Christian, in whose soul, though now distress'd,
Lives the dear thought of joys he once possess’d,
When all his glowing language issu'd forth
With God's deep stamp upon its current worth,
Will speak without disguise, and must impart,
Sad as it is, his undissembling heart,
Abhors constraint, and dares not feign a zeal,
Or seem to boast a fire he does not feel.
The song of Sion is a tasteless thing,
Unless, when rising on a joyful wing,
The soul can mix with the celestial bands,
And give the strain the compass ít demands.
Strange tidings those to tell a World, who treat All but their own experience as deceit! Will they believe, though credulous enough, To swallow much upon much weaker proof, That there are blest inhabitants of Earth, Partakers of a new ethereal birth, Their hopes, desires, and purposes estrang'd From things terrestrial, and divinely chang'd, Their very language of a kind, that speaks The soul's sure int’rest in the good she seeks, Who deal with Scripture, its importance felt, As Tully with philosophy once dealt, And in the silent watches of the night, And through the scenes of toil-renewing light, The social walk, or solitary ride, Keep still the dear companion at their side ?
No-shame upon a self-disgracing age,
God's work may serve an ape upon a stage
With such a jest, as fill'd with hellish glee
Certain invisibles as shrewd as he ;
But veneration or respect finds none,
Save from the subjects of that work alone.
The World grown old her deep discernment shows,
Claps spectacles on her sagacious nose,
Peruses closely the true Christian's face,
And finds it a mere mask of sly grimace ;
Usurps God's office, lays his bosom bare,
And finds hypocrisy close lurking there :
And, serving God herself through mere constraint,
Concludes his unfeign'd love of him a feint.
And yet, God knows, look human nature through,
(And in due time the World shall know it too)
That since the flow'rs of Eden felt the blast,
That after man's defection laid all waste,
Sincerity tow'rds the heart-searching God
Has made the new-born creature her abode,
Nor shall be found in unregen’rate souls,
Till the last fire burn all between the poles.
Sincerity! why 'tis his only pride,
Weak and imperfect in all grace beside,
He knows that God demands his heart entire,
And gives him all his just demands require.
Without it his pretensions were as vain,
As having it he deems the World's disdain ;
That great defect would cost him not alone
Man's favourable judgment, but his own;
His birthright shaken, and no longer clear,
Than wbile his conduct proves his heart sincere.
Retort the charge, and let the World be told
She boasts a confidence she does not hold ;
That, conscious of her crimes, she feels instead
A cold misgiving, and a killing dread :
That while in health the ground of her support
Is madly to forget that life is short ;
That sick she trembles, knowing she must die,
Her hope presumption, and her faith a lie;
'That while she dotes, and dreams that she believes,
She mocks her Maker, and herself deceives,
Her utmost reach, historical assent,
The doctrines warp'd to what they never meant ;
The truth itself is in her head as dull
And useless as a candle in a skull,
And all her love of God a groundless claim,
A trick upon the canvass, painted flame.
Tell her again, the sneer upon her face,
And all her censures of the work of grace,
Are insincere, meant only to conceal
A dread she would not, yet is forc'd to feel ;
That in her heart the Christian she reveres,
And while she seems to scorn him, only fears.
A poet does not work by square or line,
As smiths and joiners perfect a design ;
At least we moderns, our attention less,
Beyond the example of our sires digress,
And claim a right to scamper and run wide,
Wherever chance, caprice, or fancy guide.
The World and I fortuitously met ;
I ow'd a trifle, and have paid the debt;
She did me wrong, I recompens’d the deed,
And, having struck the balance, now proceed.
Perhaps however as some years have pass'd,
Since she and I convers’d together last,
And I have liv'd recluse in rural shades,
Which seldom a distinct report pervades,