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Oh for a world in principle as chaste
As this is gross and selfish ! over which
Custom and prejudice shall bear no sway,
That govern all things here, shouldering aside
The meek and modest truth, and forcing her
To seek a refuge from the tongue of strife
In nooks obscure, far from the ways of men :--
Where violence shall never lift the sword,
Nor cunning justify the proud man's wrong,
Leaving the poor no remedy but tears :-
Where he that fills an office shall esteem
The occasion it presents of doing good
More than the perquisite :-where law shall speak
Seldom, and never but as wisdoni prompts
And equity ; not jealous more to guard
A worthless form, than to decide aright:-
Where fashion shall not sancify abuse,
Nor smooth good-breeding supplemental grace)
With lean performance ape the work of love!
Come then, and, added to thy many crowns,
Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth,
Thou who alone art worthy !
By ancient covenant, ere natı e's birth ;
And thou hast made it thine by purchase since,
And overpaid its value with thy blood.
Thy saints proclaim thee king; and in their hearts
Thy title is engraven with a pen
Dipt in the fountain of eternal love.
Thy saints proclaim thee king; and thy delay
Gives courage to their fces, who, could they see
The dawn of thy last advent, long-desir'd,
Would creep into the bowels of the hills,
And flee for safety to the falling rocks.
The very spirit of the world is tir'd
Of its own taunting question, ask'd so long,
• Where is the promise of your Lord's approach ?"
The infidel has shot his bolts away,
Till, his exhausted quiver yielding none,
He gleans the blunted shafts that have recoil'd,
And aims them at the shield of truth again.
The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands,
That hides divinity from mortal eyes ;
And all the mysteries to faith propos'd,
Insulted and traduc'd, are cast aside,
As useless, to the moles and to the bats.
They now are deem'd the faithful, and are prais'd,
Who, constant only in rejecting thee,
Deny thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal,
And quit their office for their error's sake.
Blind, and in love with darkness ! yet even these
Worthy, compar'd with sycophants, who kneel
Thy name adoring, and then preach thee man !
So fares thy church. But how thy church may fare
The world takes little thought. Who will may preachi,
And what they will. All pastors are alike
890 To wandering sheep, resolv'd to follow none. Two gods divide them all-Pleasure and Gain : For these they live, they sacrifice to these, And in their service wage perpetual war With conscience and with thee. Lust in their hearts, 895 And niischief in their hands, they roam the earth To prey upon each other ; stubborn, fierce, High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace. Thy prophets speak of such; and, noting down The features of the last degenerate times,
900 Exhibit every lineament of these. Come then, and, added to thy many crowns, Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest, Due to thy last and most effeciual work, Thy word fulfill'd, the conquest of a world!
He is the happy man, whose life even now Shows somewhat of that happier life to come ; Who, dooni'd to an obscure but tranquil state, Is pleas'd with it, and, were he free to choose, Would make his fate his choice ; whom peace, the fruit 910 Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith, Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one Content indeed to sojourn while he must Below the skies, but having there his home. The world o'erlooks him in her busy search
915 Of objects, more illustrious in her view; And, occupied as earnestly as she, Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world. She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not ; He seeks not her's, for he has prov'd them yain. 920 He cannot skim the ground like summer-birds Pursuing gilded flies; and such he deems Her honours, her emoluments, her joys. Therefore in contemplation is his bliss, Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth 925
She makes familiar with a heaven unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveal’d.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemploy'd,
And censur'd oft as useless. Stiliest streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
That furters least is longest on the wing.
Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has rais d,
Or what achievements of inmortal fame
He purposes, and he shall ansier-None.
His weifare is within. There unfaigud
llis servent spirit lavours. There he nghts,
And there obtains fresh triumphs o’er himself,
And never withering wreaths, compar'd with which
The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds.
Perhaps the self-approving haughty world,
That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks
Scarce deigns to notice limi, or, if she sce,
Deems him a cypher in the works of God,
Receives advantage from his noiseless hours,
Of which she lit:le dreams. Perhaps she owes
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous barvest, to the prayer he makes,
When, Isaac like, the solit:iry saint
Walks forth to meditate at even-tide,
And think on her, who thinks not for herself.
Forgive him, then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an idler in the best,
If, author of no mischief and some good,
He seek his proper happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine.
Nor, though he tread the secret path of life,
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease,
Account him an incumbrance on the state,
Receiving benefits, and rendering none.
His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example, and thongh small
His influence, if that influence all be spent
In soothing sorrow and in quenching strife,
In aiding helpless indigence, in works
From which at least a grateful few derive
Some taste of comfort in a world of wo,
Then let the supercilious great confess
He serves his country, recompenses well
The state, beneath the shadow of whose vine
He sits secure, and in the scale of life
Holds no ignoble, though a slighted, place.
The man, whose virtues are more felt than seen,
Must drop indeed the hope of public praise ;
But he may boast what few that win it can-
That, if his country stand not by his skill,
At least his follies have not wrought her fall.
Polite refinement offers him in vain
Her golden tube, through which a sensual world
Draws gross impurity, and likes it well,
The neat conveyance hiding all the offence.
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode
Because that world adopts it. If it bear
The stamp and clear impression of good sense,
And be not costly more than of true worth,
He puts it on, and, for decorum sake,
Can wear it e'en as gracefully as she.
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not soon deceiv'd ; aware that what is base
No polish can make sterling ; and that vice,
Though well perfum'd and elegantly dress’d,
Like an unburied carcase trick'd with flowers,
Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song ; not vext with care
Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approv'd
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfillid,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me, weary, to a safe retreat
Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
It shall not grieve me, then, that once, when call'd
To dress a sofa with the flowers of verse,
I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light task; but soon, to please her more,
Whom flowers alone I knew would little please,
Let fall the unfinish'd wreath, and rov'd for fruit ;
Rov'd far, and gather'd much: some harsh, 'tis true,
Pick'd from the thorns and briers of reproof,
But wholesome, well-digested; grateful some
To palates that can taste immortal truth;
Insipid else, and sure to be despis'd.
But all is in His hand whose praise I seek.
In vain the poet sings, and the world hears,
If he regard not, though divine the theme.
'Tis not in art ful measures, in the chime
And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre,
To charm his ear, whose eye is on the heart ;
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,
Whose approbation-prosper even mine.