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Strange tidings these to tell a world, who treat All but their own experience as deceit! Will they believe, though credulous enough To swallow much upon much weaker proof, That there are bless'd inhabitants of earth, Partakers of a new etherial birth, Their hopes, desires, and purposes estranged From things terrestrial, and divinely changed, Their very language of a kind, that speaks The soul's sure interest in the good she seeks, Who deal with Scripture, its importance felt, As Tully with philosophy once dealt, And in the silent watches of the night, And through the scenes of toil-renewing light, The social walk, or solitary ride, Keep still the dear companion at their side ? No--shame upon a self-disgracing age, God's work may serve an ape upon a stage With such a jest, as fill’d with hellish glee Certain invisibles as shrewd as be; But veneration or respect finds none, Save from the subjects of that work alone. The world,grown old,her deep discernment shows, Claps spectacles on her sagacious nose, Peruses closely the true Christian’s face, And finds it a mere mask of sly grimace, Usurps God's office, lays his bosom bare, And finds hypocrisy close lurking there. And, serving God herself through mere constraint, Concludes his unfeign'd love of him a feint. And yet, God knows, look human nature through, (And in due time the world shall know it too), That since the flowers of Eden felt the blast, That after man's defection laid all waste,
Sincerity towards the heart-searching God
That in her heart the Christian she reveres, And, while she seems to scorn him, only fears.
A poet does not work by square or line, As smiths and joiners perfect a design; At least we moderns, our attention less, Beyond the example of our sires digress, And claim a right to scamper and run wide, Wherever chance, caprice, or fancy guide. The world and I fortuitously met, I owed a trifle, and have paid the debt; She did me wrong, I recompensed the deed, And, having struck the balance, now proceed. Perhaps however as some years have pass’d, Since she and I conversed together last, And I have lived recluse in rural shades, Which seldom a distinct report pervades, Great changes and new manners have occurr’d, And bless'd reforms, that I have never heard, And she may now be as discreet and wise, As once absurd in all discerning eyes. Sobriety perhaps may now be found, Where once Intoxication press’d the ground; The subtle and injurious may be just, And he grown chaste that was the slave of lust; Arts once esteem'd may be with shame dismiss’d; Charity may relax the miser's tist; The gamester may have cast his cards away, Forgot to curse, and only kneel to pray. It has indeed been told me (with what weight, How credibly, 'tis hard for me to state) That fables old, that seem'd for ever mute, Revived are hastening into fresh repute, And gods and goddesses discarded long Like useless lumber, or a stroller's song,
Are bringing into vogue their heathen train,
'Tis time, however, if the case stand thus, For us plain folks, and all who side with us, To build our altar, confident and bold, And say as stern Elijah said of old, The strife now stands upon a fair award, If Israel's Lord be God, then serve the Lord: If he be silent, faith is all a whim, Then Baal is the God, and worship him.
Digression is so much in modern use,
shades, And, while it shows the land the soul desires, The language of the land she seeks inspires, Thus touch'd, the tongue receives a sacred cure Of all that was absurd, profane, impure;