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Still from thy search, the centre still shall fly,
Approaching still-thou never shalt come nigh.
So its bright orb th' aspiring flame would join,
But the vast distance mocks the fond design.
If he, Almighty! whose decree is fate,
Could, to display his pow'r, subvert his state;
Bid from his plastic hand, a greater rise,
Produce a master, and resign his skies ;
Impart his incommunicable flame,
The mystic number of th’ Eternal Name;
Then might revolting reason's feeble ray
Aspire to question God's all-perfect day,
Vain task! the clay in the directing hand,
The reason of its form might so demand,
As man presume to question his dispose
From whom the power he thus abuses flows.
Here point, fair Muse! the worship God requires,
The soul inflam'd with chaste and holy fires:
Where love celestial warms the happy breast,
And from sincerity the thought's express'd;
Where genuine piety, and truth refin'd,
Re-consecrate the temple of the mind;
With grateful flames the living altars glow,
And God descends to visit man below.
His Omnipresence. THROUGH th’unmeasurable tracks of space, Go, Muse divine! and present Godhead trace: See where, by place uncircumscrib'd as time, He reigns extended; and he shines sublime. Shouldst thou above the Heav'n of Heav'ns ascend, Couldst thou below the depth of depths descend, Could thy fond flight beyond the starry sphere The radiant Morning's lucid pinions bear,
There should his brighter presence shine confest,
There his almighty arm thy course arrest.
Could'st thou the thickest veil of Night assume,
Or think to hide thee in the central gloom;
Yet there, all patient to his piercing sight,
Darkness itself would kindle into light:
Not the black mansions of the silent
Nor darker hell, from his perception save;
What pow'r, alas! thy footsteps can convey
Beyond the reach of omnipresent day?
In his wide grasp, and comprehensive eye,
Immediate worlds on worlds unnumber'd lie:
Systems enclos’d in his perception roll,
Whose all-informing mind directs the whole :
Lodg'd in his grasp, their certain ways they know ;
Plac'd in that sight from whence can nothing go.
On Earth his footstool fix'd, in Heav'n his seat;
Enthron'd he dictates, and his word is fate.
Nor want his shining images below,
In streams that murmur, or in winds that blow;
His spirit broods along the boundless flood,
Smiles in the plain, and whispers in the wood:
Warms in the genial sun's enliv’ning ray,
Breathes in the air, and beautifies the day.
Should man his great immensity deny,
Man might as well usurp the vacant sky:
For were he limited in date, or view,
Thence were his attributes imperfect too:
His knowledge, power, his goodness all confin'd,
And lost th' idea of a ruling mind.
Feeble the trust, and comfortless the sense
Of a defective partial providence:
Boldly might then his arm injustice brave,
Or innocence in vain his mercy crave;
Dejected virtue lift its hopeless eye,
And heavy sorrow vent the heartless sigh:
An absent God no abler to defend,
Protect or punish, than an absent friend;
Distant alike our wants or griefs to know,
To ease the anguish, or prevent the blow,
If he, Supreme Director, were not near,
Vain were our hope, and empty were our fear;
Unpunish'd vice would o'er the world prevail,
And unrewarded virtue toil-to fail !
The moral world a second chaos lie,
And nature sicken to the thoughtful eye.
Even the weak embryo, ere to life it breaks,
From his high pow'r its slender texture takes;
While in his book the various parts enrolla,
Increasing, own eternal Wisdom's mould.
Nor views he only the material whole,
But pierces thought, and penetrates the soul:
Ere from the lips the vocal accents part,
Or the faint purpose dawns within the heart,
His steady eye the mental birth perceives,
Ere yet to us the new idea lives;
Knows what we say, ere yet the words proceed,
And ere we form th' intention, marks the deed.
But Conscience, fair vicegerent-light within,
Asserts its author, and restores the scene;
Points out the beauty of the govern'd plan,
• And vindicates the ways of God te man.
Then sacred Muse, by the vast prospect fird,
From Heav'n descended, as by Heav'n inspir’d,
His all enlightning omnipresence own,
When first thou feel'st thy dwindling presence
His wide omniscience, justly, grateful, sing, Whence thy weak science prunes its callow wing; And bless th’Eternal
, All-informing Soul, (whole. Whose sight pervades, whose knowledge fills the
His Immutability. As the Eternal and Omniscient Mind, By laws not limited, nor bounds confin'd, Is always independent, always free, Hence shines confess'd Immutability! Change, whether the spontaneous child of will, Or birth of force—is imperfection still. But he, all-perfect, in himself contains Power self-deriv'd, and from himself he reigns. If, alter'd by constraint, we could suppose, That God his fix'd stability should lose ; How startles reason at a thought so strange! What pow'r can force Omnipotence to change? If from his own divine productive thought, Were the yet stranger alteration wrought; Could excellence supreme new rays acquire ? Or strong perfection raise its glories higher ? Absurd his high meridian brightness glows, Never decreases, never overflows; Knows no addition, yields to no decay, The blaze of incommunicable day.
Below, through different forms docs matter range, And life subsists from elemental change; Liquids condensing shapes terrestrial wear, Earth mounts in fire, and fire dissolves in air; While we, inquiring phantoms of a day, Inconstant as the shadows we survey, With them along time's rapid current pass, And haste to mingle with the parent mass :
But thou, Eternal Lord of life divine !
In youth immortal shalt for ever shine:
No change shall darken thy exalted name;
From everlasting ages still the same.
If God, like man, his purpose could renew,
His laws could vary, or his plans undo;
Desponding Faith would droop its cheerless wing,
Religion deaden to a lifeless thing.
Where could we, rational, repose our trust,
But in a Power immutable as just?
How judge of revelation's force divine,
If Truth unerring gave not the design?
Where, as in Nature's fair according plan,
All smiles benevolent and good to man.
Plac'd in this narrow clouded spot below, We darkly see around and darkly know: Religion lends the salutary beam That guides our reason through the dubious gleam; Till sounds the hour, when he who rules the skies Shall bid the curtain of omniscience rise; Shall dissipate the mists that veil our sight, And show his creatures--all his ways are right!
Then, when astonish'd Nature feels its fate, And fetter'd Time shall know his latest date; When earth shall in the mighty blaze expire, Heav'n melt with heat, and worlds dissolve in fre; The universal system shrink away, And ceasing orbs confess th' almighty sway: Immortal he, amidst the wreck secure, Shall sit exalted, permanently pure; As in the sacred bush, shall shine the same, And from the ruin raise a fairer frame.