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Grace leads the right way: if you choose the wrong, Take it and perish; but restrain your tongue; Charge not, with light sufficient, and left free, Your wilful suicide on God's decrees
O how unlike the complex works of man, Heav'n's easy, artless, unincumber'd plan! No meretricious graces to beguile, No clust'ring ornaments to clog the pile ; From ostentation as from weakness free, It stands like the cerulean arch we see, Majestic in its own simplicity. Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar Conspicuous as the brightness of a star, Legible only by the light they give, Stand the soul-quick’ning words-BELIEVE AND LIVE. Too many, shock'd at what should charm them most, Despise the plain direction, and are lost. Heav'n on such terms! (they cry with proud disdain) Incredible, impossible, and vain ! Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey ; And scorn, for it's own sake, the gracious way. These are the sober, in whose cooler brains Some thought of immortality remains ; The rest too busy or too gay to wait On the sad theme, their everlasting state, Sport for a day, and perish in a night, The foam upon the waters not so light.
Who judg'd t're pharisee? What odious cause Expos’d him to the vengeance of the laws ?
Had he seduc'd a virgin, wrong'd a friend,
Or stabb'd a man to serve some private end ?
Was blasphemy his sin ?
Or did he stray
From the strict duties of the sacred day?
Sit long and late at the carousing board ?
(Such were the sins with which he charg'd his Lord.)
Nom the man's morals were exact, what then ?
mbition to be seen of men ;
His virtues were his pride; and that one vice
Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price;
He wore them as fine trappings for a show,
A praying, synagogue-frequenting, beau.
The self-applauding bird, the peacock see
Mark what a sumptuous pharisee is he !
Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold
His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold :
He treads as if, some solemn music near,
His measur'd step were govern'd by his ear;
And seems to say-Ye meaner fowl, give place,
I am all splendour, dignity, and grace !
Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes,
Though he too has a glory in his plumes.
He, christianlike, retreats with modest mien
To the close copse, or far sequester'd green,
And shines without desiring to be seen.
The plea of works, as arrogant and vain,
Heav'n turns from with abhorrence and disdain ;
Not more affronted by avow'd neglect,
Than by the mere dissembler's feign'd respect.
What is all righteousness that men devise ?
What—but a sordid bargain for the skies?
But Christ as soon would abdicate his own,
As stoop from Heav'n to sell the proud a throne.
His dwelling a recess in some rude rock,
Book, beads, and maple-dish, his meagre stock;
In shirt of hair and weeds of canvass dress’d,
Girt with a bell-rope that the pope has bless'd;
Adust with stripes told out for ev'ry crime,
And sore tormented long before his time;
His pray'r preferr'd to saints that cannot aid;
His praise postpon'd, and never to be paid;
See the sage hermit, by mankind admir'd,
With all that bigotry adopts inspir'd,
Wearing out life in his religious whim,
Till his religious whimsy wears out him.
His works, his abstinence, his zeal allow'd,
You think him humble-God accounts him proud;
High in demand, though lowly in pretence,
Of all his conduct this the genuine sense-
My penitential stripes, my streaming blood,
Have purchas'd Heav'n, and prove my title good.
Turn eastward now, and Fancy shall apply
To your weak sight her telescopic eye.
The bramin kindles on his own bare head
The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade,
His voluntary pains, severe and long,
Would give a barb'rous air to British song ;
No grand inquisitor could worse invent,
Than he contrives to suffer well content.
Which is the saintlier worthy of the two ?
Past all dispute, yon anchorite, say you.
Your sentence and mine differ. What's a name?
I say the bramin has the fairer claim.
If suff'rings, Scripture no where recommends,
Devis'd by self to answer selfish ends,
Give saintship, then all Europe must agree
Ten starv'ling hermits suffer less than he.
The truth is (if the truth may suit your ear,
And prejudice have left a passage clear)
Pride has attain'd it's most luxuriant growth,
And poison'd ev'ry virtue in them both.
Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lean;
Humility may clothe an English dean;
That grace was Cowper's his, confess'd by all
Though plac'd in golden Durham's second stall.
Not all the plenty of a bishop's board,
His palace, and his lacqueys, and “ My Lord,"
More nourish pride, that condescending vice,
Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice;
It thrives in mis’ry, and abundant grows :
In mis’ry fools upon themselves impose.
But why before us protestants produce
An Indian mystic, or a French recluse
Their sin is plain ; but what have we to fear,
Reform’d and well instructed? You shall hear.
Yon ancient prude, whose wither'd features show She might be young some forty years ago, Her elbows pinion'd close upon her hips, Her head erect, her fan upon her lips, Her eye-brûws arch’d, her eyes both gone astray To watch yon am'rous couple in their play, With bony and unkerchief d neck defies The rude inclemency of wintry skies, And sails with lappet-head and mincing airs Duly at chink of bell to morning pray’rs. To thrift and parsimony much inclin'd, She yet allows herself that boy behind; The shivring urchin, bending as he goes, With slipshod heels, and dewdrup at his nose ; His predecessor's coat advanc'd to wear, Which future pages yet are doom'd to share, Carries her Bible tuck'd beneath his arm, And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm,
She, half an angel in her own account, Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount, Though not a grace appears on strictest search, But that she fasts, and item, goes to church. Conscious of age she recollects her youth, And tells, not always with an eye to truth, Who spann'd her waist, and who, where'er he came, Scrawl'd upon glass miss Bridget's lovely name; Who stole her slipper, fillid it with tokay, And drank the little bumper ev'ry day.