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the great truths of scripture revelation, yet there will ever be in minds of the greatest reach and capacity, a striving after that which is good and holy, and a knowledge, approximating to the truth, of the relationship between the Creator and the created; for
“Spontaneously to God will tend the soul,
Would that all whose “tranced hands have woke the lyre," and chanted such strains as the world would not willingly let die, had had such clear views of the nature of the obligation which lay on them to dedicate their powers to the service of true religion, as our own Milton, who commenced his immortal epic thus:
“And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Would that all could bear some such testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus, and exclaim with him
"O, unexampled Love!
A similar spirit of fervent piety animated the breast of the Italian poet Lorenzo de Medici, who made this solemn request at the footstool of the Almighty, previous to entering on the composition of a poem:
"In ardent adoration joined,
Obedient to Thy holy will,
Thy just desires, O God, fulfil!
To thee our noblest powers we bring:
Listen, also to the author of the "Night Thoughts,” and hear his acknowledgment of the true sources, of poetic inspiration :
“O Thou bless'd Spirit: whether the Supreme,
Of Inspiration, from a purer stream,
Alas! how often has been, and is, this noble gift of poesy abused and prostituted to base purposes; of how few could it be said that he had written no line which dying he might wish to blot. Dryden, we may remember, exclaims
“O gracious God! How far have we
Profaned Thy heavenly gift of poesy!
Yet even he cannot altogether escape the reproach conveyed in these lines to such as have, at times, shown themselves unworthy of the sacred gift, and of this he appears to be conscious when he says "how far have we,” etc. Cowper might with great propriety act the censor on such a dereliction of duty, and say—
“Debased to servile purposes of pride,
Of vanity, a wreath for self to wear,
So also might one of the sacred poets of our own day, many of whose strains of simple, earnest, and pure devotion, will be found in our volume. He has just passed from hence to sing in a heavenly choir; and fain would we embody in this preface a slight tribute of our admiration for his genius, and our gratitude for the service he has rendered to the Christian Religion.
TO THE MEMORY OF JAMES MONTGOMERY.
SWEET minstrel, who through life hast turned thy face
Unto the city of the heavenly king;
And God's high attributes hast loved to sing;
E'en like a pilgrim onward journeying,
But through whose mists of sin and sorrowing
Hath oped to bid thee welcome to thy rest;
Now swells the chorus of the truly blest:
SACRED POETICAL QUOTATIONS.
AARON. I WILL sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office.--Exodus, xxix. 44.
And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.-Numbers, xx. 28.
Aaron the saint of the Lord. --Psalm cvi. 16.
So, with trembling hand, He hasted to unclasp the priestly robe, And cast it o'er his son, and on his head The mitre place; while, with a feeble voice, He blessed, and bade him keep his garments pure From blood of souls. But then, as Moses raised The mystic breastplate, and that dying eye Caught the last radiance of those precious stones, By whose oracular and fearful light Jehovah had so oft His will revealed Unto the chosen tribes, whom Aaron loved In all their wanderings—but whose promised land He might not look upon-he sadly laid His head upon the mountain's turfy breast, And with one prayer, half-wrapped in stifled groans, Gave up the ghost.