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Call'd to the temple of impure delight,
He that abstains, and he alone, does right.
If a wish wander that way, call it home;
He cannot long be safe whose wishes roam.
But, if you pass the threshold, you are caught;
Die then, if power Almighty save you not.
There hardening by degrees, till double steel'd,
Take leave of Nature's God, and God reveal’d;
Then laugh at all you trembled at before;
And, joining the freethinkers’ brutal roar,
Swallow the two grand nostrums they dispense—
That Scripture lies, and blasphemy is sense:
If clemency revolted by abuse
Be damnable, then damn'd without excuse.
Some dream, that they can silence, when they
The storm of passion, and say, Peace, be still;
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 forebode 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 will be cheated to the last,
Delusions strong as Hell shall bind him fast.
But if the wanderer 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 suffice—
The cross once seen is death to every vice:
Else he that hung there suffer'd all his pain,
Bled, groan'd, and agonized, and died in vain.
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 canvass, every sinew plies;
Pants for’t, aims at it, enters it, and dies!
Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes,
His wellbuilt 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 unequal'd to the goal he flies,
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
Grace leads the rightway: 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 decree.
O, how unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven's easy, artless, unincumber'd plans
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, [LIVE.
Stand the soul-quickening words—BELIEVE AND
Too many, shock'd at what should charm them
Despise the plain direction, and are lost. [most,
Heaven on such terms! (they cry with proud dis-
Incredible, impossible, and vain!—- [dain)
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
No–the man's morals were exact; what then?
'Twas his ambition 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 hel
Meridian sunbeams 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, Christianlike, retreats with modest mien
To the closé copse, or far sequester'd green,
And shines without desiring to be seen.
The plea of works, as arrogant and vain,
Heaven turns from with abhorrence and disdain;
No 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 canvass 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;
WOL. I. G
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,
Youthink 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 provemy 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 saintly worthier 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 no where 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 attain’d its most luxuriant growth,
And poison'd every virtue in them both.
Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lean;
Humility may clothe an English dean;