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But • Thus far and no farther,' when address'd
To the wild wave, or wilder human breast,
Implies authority that never can,
That never ought to be the lot of man.
But muse forbear; long flights forbode a fall ; Strike on the deep-toned chord the sum of all.
Hear the just law-the judgment of the skies ! He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies: And he that wili be cheated to the last, Delusions strong as hell shall bind him fast. But if the wand'rer his mistake discern, Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return, Bewilder'd once, must he bewail his loss For ever and for ever? No-the cross ! There, and there only (though the Deist rave, And Atheist, if earth bear so base a slave); There, and there only is the power to save. There no delusive hope invites despair; No mockery meets you, no deception there. The spells and charms, that blinded you before, All vanish there, and fascinate no more.
I am no preacher, let this hint sufficeThe cross once seen is death to every vice: Else he that hung there suffered all his pain, Bled, groan'd, and agonized, and died, in vain.
TRUTH. Pensantur trutinâ.-Hor. Lib. ii. Epist. 1. MAN, on the dubious waves of error toss'd, His ship half founder'd, and his compass lost, Sees, far as human optics may command, A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land: Spreads all his canvas, every sinew plies, Pants for't, aims at it, enters it, and dies ! Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes, His well-built systems, philosophic dreams; Deceitful views of future bliss farewell! He reads his sentence at the flames of hell.
Hard lot of man--to toil for the reward Of virtue, and yet lose it! Wherefore hard ?
He that would win the race must guide his horse
Obedient to the customs of the course;
Else, though unequall'd to the goal he flies,
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
Grace leads the right way: if you choose the wrong,
Take it and perish; but restrain your tongue;
Charge not, with light sufficient, and let free,
Your wilful suicide on God's decree.
O how unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven's easy, artless, unencumber'd plan!
No meretricious graces to beguile,
No clustering ornaments to clog the pile;
From ostentation as from weakness free,
It stands like the cerulean arch we see,
Majestic in its own simplicity.
Inscribed above the portal, from afar
Conspicuous, as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul quickening words—Believe and live.
Too many, shock'd at what should charm them most,
Despise the plain direction, and are lost.
Heaven on such terms ! (they cry with proud disdain,)
Incredible, impossible, and vain !-
Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey ;
And scorn, for its 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 judged the Pharisee? What odious cause
Exposed him to the vengeance of the laws?
Had he seduced 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 charged his Lord.)
No--the man's morals were exact, what then?
"Twas his ambition to be seen of mens
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 measured 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, Christian-like, retreats with modest mein
To the close copse, or far-sequestered green,
And shines without desiring to be seen.
The plea of works, as arrogant and vain,
Heaven 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 heaven 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 canvas dress'd,
Girt with a bell-rope that the pope has bless'd,
Adust with stripes told out for every crime,
And sore tormented long before his time;
His prayer preferr’d to saints that cannot aid;
His praise postponed, and never to be paid ;
See the sage hermit, by mankind admired,
With all that bigotry adopts inspired,
Wearing out life in his religious whim,
Till his religious whimsey 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 purchased heaven, 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 barbarous 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 sufferings, Scripture nowhere recommends,
Devised by self to answer selfish ends,
Give saintship, then all Europe must agree
Ten starveling hermits suffer less than he.
The truth is (if the truth may suit your ear,
And prejudice have left a passage clear),
Pride has attained its most luxuriant growth,
And poisoned every virtue in them both.
Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lear
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 lackeys, and · My Lord,'
More nourish pride, that condescending vice,
Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice;
It thrives in misery, and abundant grows :
In misery 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 withered features shex
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-brows arch'd, her eyes both gone astray
l'o watch yon amorous 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 prayers.
To thrift and parsimony much inclined,
She yet allows herself that boy behind;
The shivering urchin, bending as he goes,
With slip-shod heels and dewdrop 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,
Scrawld upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name;
Who stole her slipper, filled it with tokay,
And drank the little bumper every day.
Of temper as envenom'd as an asp,
Censorious, and her every word a wasp;
In faithful memory she records the crimes,
Or real, or fictitious, of the tiines;
Laughs at the reputations she has torn,
And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn.
Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride,
Of malice fed while flesh is mortified:
Take, madam, the reward of all your prayers,
Where hermits and where Bramins meet with theirs:
Your portion is with them.-Nay, never frown,
But, if you please, some fathoms lower down.
Artist attend-your brushes and your paint-
Produce them-take a chair-now draw a saint.
Oh, sorrowful and sad! the streaming tears
Channel her cheeks-a Niobe appears !
Is this a saint? Throw tints and all away-
True piety is cheerful as the day ;-
Will weep indeed, and heave a pitying groan
For others' woes, but smiles upon her own.