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To them, the sounding jargon of the schools
Envy, ye great, the dull unletter'd small,
How readily, upon the gospel plan, That question has its answer,—what is man? Sinful and weak, in every sense a wretch, An instrument whose chords, upon the stretch And strain'd to the last screw that he can bear, Yield only discord in his Maker's ear: Once the blest residence of truth divine, Glorious as Solyma's interior shrine, Where, in his own oracular abode, Dwelt visibly the light-creating God; But made long since, like Babylon of old, A den of mischiefs never to be told : And she, once mistress of the realms around, Now scattered wide and no where to be found, As soon shall rise and reascend the throne, By native power and energy her own, Aš Nature, at her own peculiar cost, Restore to man the glories he has lost. Go bid the winter cease to chill the year, Replace the wandering comet in his sphere, Then boast (but wait for that unhoped for hour) The self-restoring arm of human power ! But what is man in his own proud esteem ? Hear him, himself the poet and the theme: A monarch clothed with majesty and awe, His mind his kingdom, and his will his law,
Grace in his mien and glory in his eyes,
So sings he, charm’d with his own mind and form,
What shall the man deserve of human kind, Whose happy skill and industry combined Shall prove (what argument could never yet) The Bible an imposture and a cheat ? The praises of the libertine profess’d, The worst of men, and curses of the best. Where should the living, weeping o'er his woes, The dying, trembling at the awful close, Where the betray'd, forsaken, and oppress’d, The thousands whom the world forbids to rest, Where should they find, (those comforts at an end The Scripture yields,) or hope to find, a friend ? Sorrow might muse herself to madness then, And, seeking exile from the sight of men, Bury herself in solitude profound, Grow frantic with her pangs, and bite the ground. Thus often Unbelief, grown sick of life, Flies to the tempting pool, or felon knife;
The jury meet, the coroner is short, And lunacy the verdict of the court; Reverse the sentence, let the truth be known, Such lunacy is ignorance alone : They knew not, what some bishops may not know, That Scripture is the only cure of woe : That field of promise, how it flings abroad Its odour o'er the Christian's thorny road! The soul, reposing on assured relief, Feels herself happy amidst all her grief, Forgets her labour as she toils along, Weeps tears of joy, and bursts into a song.
But the same word that, like the polish'd share, Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care, Kills too the flowery weeds, where'er they grow, That bind the sinner's Bacchanalian brow. Oh that unwelcome voice of heavenly love, Sad messenger of mercy from above, How does it grate upon his thankless ear, Crippling his pleasures with the cramp of fear ! His will and judgment at continual strife, That civil war embitters all his life : In vain he points his powers against the skies, In vain he closes or averts his eyes, Truth will intrude—she bids him yet beware, And shakes the sceptic in the scorner's chair.
Though various foes against the truth combine, Pride above all opposes her design ; Pride, of a growth superior to the rest, The subtlest serpent with the loftiest crest, Swells at the thought, and kindling into rage, Would hiss the cherub Mercy from the stage.
And is the soul indeed so lost,—she cries, Fallen from her glory and too weak to rise, Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone, Has she no spark that may be deem'd her own ? Grant her indebted to what zealots call Grace undeserved, yet surely not for all ;Some beams of rectitude she yet displays, Some love of virtue and some power to praise ;
Can lift herself above corporeal things,
Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhorr’d,
Is virtue then, unless of Christian growth, Mere fallacy, or foolishness, or both ? Ten thousand sages lost in endless woe, For ignorance of what they could not know ? That speech betrays at once a bigot's tongue; Charge not a God with such outrageous wrong! Truly not I.–The partial light men have, My creed persuades me, well employ'd may save; While he that scorns the noonday beam, perverse, Shall find the blessing unimproved a curse. Let heathen worthies, whose exalted mind Left sensuality and dross behind,
Possess for me their undisputed lot,
Marshalling all his terrors as he came,
Hark! universal Nature shook and groan'd; ’T was the last trumpet-see the Judge enthroned ! Rouse all your courage at your utmost need, Now summon every virtue, stand and plead.