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Is equal both to punish and reward,
For few would love their God unless they fear'd.
Resistless force and immortality
Make but a lame imperfect deity :
350 Tempests have force unbounded to destroy, And deathless beir.g e'en the damn'd enjoy ; And yet Heav'n's attributes, both last and first, One without life, and one with life accurst; But Justice is Heav'n's self, so strictly he, That could it fail the Godhead could not be. This virtue is your own; but life and state Are one to Fortune subject, one to Fate: Equal to all, you justly frown or smile; Nor hopes nor fears your steady hand beguile; Yourself our balance hold, the world's our isle. 361
Ormari res ipsa negat, contenta docere.
Dim as the borrow'd beams of moon and stars
To lonely, weary, wand'ring travellers,
Is reason to the soul: and as on high
Those rolling fires discover but the sky,
Not light us here; so reason's glimmering ray
Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way,
But guide us upward to a better day.
And as those nightly tapers disappear
When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere,
So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight,
So dies, and so dissolves in supernat'ral light.
Some few, whose lamp shone brighter, have been led
From cause to cause, to Nature's secret head,
And found that one first principle must be ;
But what or who that Universal He,
Whether from soul encompassing this ball
Unmade, unmov’d, yet making, moving all,
Or various atoms' interfering dance
Leapt into form, the noble work of Chance;
Or this great All was from eternity,
No: e’en the Stagirite himself could see,
And Epicurus guess'd as well as he.
As blindly grop'd they for a future state,
As rashly judg'd of Providence and Fate;
But least of all could their endeavours find
What most concero'd the good of human kind;
For happiness was never to be found,
But vanish'd from 'em like enchanted ground.
One thought content the good to be enjoy'd;
This ev'ry little accident destroy'd;
The wiser madmen did for virtue toil,
A thorny, or at best a barren soil:
In pleasure some their glutton souls would steep,
But found the line too short, the well too deep,
And leaky vessels which no bliss would keep.
Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll,
Without a centre where to fix the soul :
In this wild maze their vain endeavours end;
How can the less the greater comprehend ?
Or finite reason reach infinity ?
For what could fathom God were more than He.
The Deist thinks he stands on firmer ground;
Cries Eópoxa, the mighty secret's found:
God is that spring of good, supreme, and best;
We made to serve, and in that service blest.
If so, some rules of worship must be giv'n,
Distributed alike to all by Heav'n;
Else God were partial, and to some deny'd
The means his justice should for all provide.
This general worship is to praise and pray; 516
One part to borrow blessings, one to pay:
And when frail nature slides into offence,
The sacrifice for crimes is penitence.
Yet since th' effects of Providence we find
Are variously dispens'd to human kind;
That vice triumphs, and virtue suffers here,
(A brand that sov’reign Justice cannot bear)
Our reason prompts us to a future state,
The last appeal from Fortune and from Fale,
Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar'd, 60
The bad meet punishment, the good reward.
- Thus man, by his own strength, to hear'n would
And would not be oblig'd to God for more. [soar,
Vain, wretched creature! how art thou misled,
To think thy wit these godlike notions bred !
These truths are not the product of thy mind,
But dropt from heav'n, and of a nobler kind.
Reveal'd religion first inform'd thy sight,
And Reason saw not till Faith sprung the light.
Hence all thy nat'ral worship takes the source ;
70 •Tis revelation what thou think'st discourse; Else how com'st thou to see these truths so clear Which so obscure 10 Heathens did appear? Not Plato these, nor Aristotle, found, Nor he whose wisdom orac les renown'd, Hast thou a wit so deep or so sublime ? Or canst thou lower dive or higher climb ?
Canst thou by reason more of Godhead know
Than Plutarch, Seneca, or Cicero?
Those giant wits in happier ages born,
When arms and arts did Greece and Rome adorn,
Knew no such system; no such piles could raise
Of nat'ral worship, built on pray’r and praise,
To one sole God:
Nor did remorse to expiate sin prescribe,
But slew their fellow-creatures for a bribe :
The guiltless victim groan’d for their offence,
And cruelty and blood was penitence.
If sheep and oxen could atone for men,
Ah! at how cheap a rate the rich might sin ! 90
And great oppressors might Heav'n's wrath beguile,
By off'ring his own creatures for a spoil!
Dar'st thou, poor worm! offend Infinity ?
And must the terms of peace be giv'n by thee?
Then thou art justice in the last appeal ;
Thy easy God instructs thee to rebel;
And like a king remote and weak, must take
What satisfaction thou art pleas'd to make.
But if there be a pow'r too just and strong
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong, 100
Look humbly upward, see his will disclose
The forfeit first, and then the fine impose;
A mulct thy poverty could never pay
Had not Eternal Wisdom found the way,