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To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard,
Wrapt in his crimes, against the storm prepar'd;
But when the milder beams of Mercy play,
He melts, and throws his cumbrous cloak away.
Lightning and thunder (Heaven's artillery)
As harbingers before th' Almighty fly:
Those but proclaim his style, and disappear;
The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there.
The tithes, his parish freely paid, he took;
But never sued, or curs'd with bell and book.
With patience bearing wrong; but offering none :
Since every man is free to lose his own.
The country churls, according to their kind,
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,)
The less he sought his offerings, pinch'd the more,
And prais'd a priest contented to be poor.
Yet of his little he had some to spare,
To feed the famish'd, and to clothe the bare:
For mortified he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not see.
True priests, he said, and preachers of the word,
Were only stewards of their sovereign lord;
Nothing was theirs; but all the public store:
Intrusted riches, to relieve the poor.
Who, should they steal, for want of his relief,
He judg'd himself accomplice with the thief.
Wide was his parish; not contracted close
In streets, but here and there a straggling house;
Yet still he was at hand, without request,
To serve the sick; to succor the distress'd:
Tempting, on foot, alone, without affright,
The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this, the good old man perform'd alone,
Nor spar'd his pains; for curate he had none.
Nor durst he trust another with his care;
Nor rode himself to Paul's, the public fair,
To chaffer for preferment with his gold,
Where bishoprics and sinecures are sold.
But duly watch'd his flock, by night and day;
And from the prowling wolf redeem'd the prey:
And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tam'd, the penitent he cheer'd:
Nor to rebuke the rich offender fear'd.
His preaching much, but more his practice wrought,
(A living sermon of the truths he taught,)
For this by rules severe his life he squar'd:
That all might see the doctrine which they heard.
For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest
(The gold of Heaven, who bear the God impress'd:)
But when the precious coin is kept unclean,
The sovereign's image is no longer seen.
If they be foul on whom the people trust,
Well may the baser brass contract a rust.
The prelate, for his holy life he priz'd; The worldly pomp of prelacy despis'd. His Savior came not with a gaudy show; Nor was his kingdom of the world below. Patience in want, and poverty of mind, These marks of church and churchmen he design'd, And living taught, and dying left behind. The crown he wore was of the pointed thorn : In purple he was crucified, not born. They who contend for place and high degree, Are not his sons, but those of Zebedee.
Not but he knew the signs of earthly power Might well become Saint Peter's successor; The holy father holds a double reign, [plain. The prince may keep his pomp, the fisher must be Such was the saint; who shone with every grace, Reflecting, Moses-like, his Maker's face.
God saw his image lively was express'd; And his own work, as in creation, bless'd.
The tempter saw him too with envious eye;
And, as on Job, demanded leave to try.
He took the time when Richard was depos'd,
And high and low with happy Harry clos'd.
This prince, though great in arms, the priest withstood:
Near though he was, yet not the next of blood.
Had Richard, unconstrain'd, resign'd the throne,
A king can give no more than is his own:
The title stood entail'd, had Richard had a son.
Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside,
Where all submitted, none the battle tried.
The senseless plea of right by Providence
Was, by a flattering priest, invented since;
And lasts no longer than the present sway;
But justifies the next who comes in play.
The people's right remains; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Much to himself he thought; but little spoke; | And, undepriv'd, his benefice forsook.
Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretch'd
And like a primitive apostle preach'd.
Still cheerful; ever constant to his call;
By many follow'd; lov'd by most, admir'd by all.
With what he begg'd, his brethren he reliev'd;
And gave the charities himself receiv'd:
Gave, while he taught; and edified the more,
Because he show'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor.
He went not with the crowd to see a shrine;
But fed us, by the way, with food divine.
In deference to his virtues, I forbear
To show you what the rest in orders were:
This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright,
He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light.
Or all the cities in Romanian lands,
The chief, and most renown'd, Ravenna stands,
Adorn'd in ancient times with arms and arts,
And rich inhabitants, with generous hearts.
But Theodore the brave, above the rest,
With gifts of Fortune and of Nature bless'd,
The foremost place for wealth and honor held,
And all in feats of chivalry excell'd.
This noble youth to madness lov'd a dame Of high degree, Honoria was her name; Fair as the fairest, but of haughty mind, And fiercer than became so soft a kind. Proud of her birth (for equal she had none ;) The rest she scorn'd, but hated him alone; His gifts, his constant courtship, nothing gain'd; For she, the more he lov'd, the more disdain'd. He liv'd with all the pomp he could devise, At tilts and tournaments obtain'd the prize; But found no favor in his lady's eyes: Relentless as a rock, the lofty maid Turn'd all to poison, that he did or said: Nor prayers, nor tears, nor offer'd vows, could move; The work went backward; and the more he strove T advance his suit, the farther from her love. Wearied at length, and wanting remedy, He doubted oft, and oft resolv'd to die.
But Pride stood ready to prevent the blow,
For who would die to gratify a foe?
His generous mind disdain'd so mean a fate;
That pass'd, his next endeavor was to hate.
But vainer that relief than all the rest,
The less he hop'd, with more desire possess'd;
Love stood the siege, and would not yield his breast.
Change was the next, but change deceiv'd his care;
He sought a fairer, but found none so fair.
He would have worn her out by slow degrees,
As men by fasting starve th' untam'd disease:
But present love requir'd a present ease.
Looking he feeds alone his famish'd eyes,
Feeds lingering Death, but looking not he dies.
Yet still he chose the longest way to Fate,
Wasting at once his life and his estate.
His friends beheld, and pitied him in vain,
For what advice can ease a lover's pain!
Absence, the best expedient they could find,
Might save the fortune, if not cure the mind:
This means they long propos'd, but little gain'd
Yet, after much pursuit, at length obtain'd.
Hard you may think it was to give consent,
But struggling with his own desires he went,
With large expense, and with a pompous train,
Provided as to visit France and Spain,
Or for some distant voyage o'er the main.
But Love had clipp'd his wings, and cut him short,
Confin'd within the purlieus of the court.
Three miles he went, nor farther could retreat;
His travels ended at his country-seat:
To Chassis' pleasing plains he took his way,
There pitch'd his tents, and there resolv'd to stay.
The spring was in the prime; the neighboring
Supplied with birds, the choristers of Love:
Music unbought, that minister'd delight
To morning walks, and lull'd his cares by night:
There he discharg'd his friends: but not th' expense
Of frequent treats, and proud magnificence.
He liv'd as kings retire, though more at large
From public business, yet with equal charge;
With house and heart still open to receive:
As well content as Love would give him leave:
He would have liv'd more free; but many a guest,
Who could forsake the friend, pursued the feast.
It hapt one morning, as his fancy led, Before his usual hour he left his bed; To walk within a lonely lawn, that stood On every side surrounded by a wood: Alone he walk'd, to please his pensive mind, And sought the deepest solitude to find; "Twas in a grove of spreading pines he stray'd; The winds within the quivering branches play'd, And dancing trees a mournful music made. The place itself was suiting to his care, Uncouth and savage, as the cruel fair. He wander'd on, unknowing where he went, Lost in the wood, and all on love intent: The Day already half his race had run, And summon'd him to due repast at noon, But Love could feel no hunger but his own.
Whilst listening to the murmuring leaves he stood, More than a mile immers'd within the wood, At once the wind was laid; the whispering sound Was dumb; a rising earthquake rock'd the ground; With deeper brown the grove was overspread; A sudden horror seiz'd his giddy head, And his ears tinkled, and his color fled. Nature was in alarm; some danger nigh Seem'd threaten'd, though unseen to mortal eye.
Unus'd to fear, he summon'd all his soul,
And stood collected in himself, and whole;
Not long for soon a whirlwind rose around,
And from afar he heard a screaming sound,
As of a dame distress'd, who cried for aid,
And fill'd with loud laments the secret shade.
A thicket close beside the grove there stood, With briers and brambles chok'd, and dwarfish wood;
From thence the noise, which now, approaching near
With more distinguish'd notes invades his ear;
He rais'd his head, and saw a beauteous maid,
With hair dishevell'd, issuing through the shade;
Stripp'd of her clothes, and ev'n those parts reveal'd
Which modest Nature keeps from sight conceal'd.
Her face, her hands, her naked limbs were torn,
With passing through the brakes, and prickly thorn
Two mastiffs gaunt and grim her flight pursu'd,
And oft their fasten'd fangs in blood embru'd;
Oft they came up, and pinch'd her tender side,
"Mercy, O mercy, Heaven!" she ran, and cried.
When Heaven was nam'd, they loos'd their hold
Then sprang she forth, they follow'd her amain.
Not far behind, a knight of swarthy face,
High on a coal-black steed pursu'd the chase:
With flashing flames his ardent eyes were fill'd,
And in his hand a naked sword he held:
He cheer'd the dogs to follow her who fled,
And vow'd revenge on her devoted head.
As Theodore was born of noble kind, The brutal action rous'd his manly mind; Mov'd with unworthy usage of the maid, He, though unarm'd, resolv'd to give her aid, A sapling pine he wrench'd from out the ground, The readiest weapon that his fury found. Thus furnish'd for offence, he cross'd the way Betwixt the graceless villain and his prey.
The knight came thundering on, but, from afar, Thus in imperious tone forbade the war:
Cease, Theodore, to proffer vain relief,
Nor stop the vengeance of so just a grief;
But give me leave to seize my destin'd prey.
And let Eternal Justice take the way:
I but revenge my fate, disdain'd, betray'd, And suffering death for this ungrateful maid."
He said, at once dismounting from the steed; For now the hell-hounds with superior speed Had reach'd the dame, and, fastening on her side, The ground with issuing streams of purple dyed. Stood Theodore surpris'd in deadly fright,
With chattering teeth, and bristling hair upright;
Yet arm'd with inborn worth, "Whate'er," said he,
"Thou art, who know'st me better than I thee;
Or prove thy rightful cause, or be defied;"
The spectre, fiercely staring, thus replied:
Know, Theodore, thy ancestry I claim,
And Guido Cavalcanti was my name.
One common sire our fathers did beget,
My name and story some remember yet:
Thee, then a boy, within my arms I laid,
When for my sins I lov'd this haughty maid;
Not less ador'd in life, nor serv'd by me,
Than proud Honoria now is loved by thee.
What did I not her stubborn heart to gain?
But all my vows were answer'd with disdain :
She scorn'd my sorrows, and despis'd my pain
Long time I dragg'd my days in fruitless care;
Then, lothing life, and plung'd in deep despair,
To finish my unhappy life, I fell
On this sharp sword, and now am damn'd in Hell.
"Short was her joy; for soon th' insulting maid By Heaven's decree in this cold grave was laid. And as in unrepented sin she died,
Doom'd to the same bad place is punish'd for her
Because she deem'd I well deserv'd to die,
And made a merit of her cruelty.
There, then, we met; both tried, and both were cast, My heart shall be my own; my vast expense
And this irrevocable sentence pass'd;
Reduc'd to bounds, by timely providence :
That she, whom I so long pursu'd in vain,
This only I require; invite for me
Honoria, with her father's family,
Should suffer from my hands a lingering pain:
Renew'd to life that she might daily die,
I daily doom'd to follow, she to fly;
No more a lover, but a mortal foe,
I seek her life (for love is none below ;)
As often as my dogs with better speed
Arrest her flight, is she to death decreed:
Then with this fatal sword, on which I died,
I pierce her open back, or tender side,
And tear that harden'd heart from out her breast,
Which, with her entrails, makes my hungry hounds a
Her friends, and mine; the cause I shall display,
On Friday next; for that's th' appointed day."
Well pleas'd were all his friends, the task was light,
The father, mother, daughter, they invite;
Hardly the dame was drawn to this repast;
But yet resolv'd, because it was the last.
The day was come, the guests invited came,
And, with the rest, th' inexorable dame:
A feast prepar'd with riotous expense,
Much cost, more care, and most magnificence.
The place ordain'd was in that haunted grove,
Where the revenging ghost pursu'd his love:
The tables in a proud pavilion spread,
With flowers below, and tissue over-head:
The rest in rank, Honoria, chief in place,
Was artfully contriv'd to set her face
To front the thicket, and behold the chase.
The feast was serv'd, the time so well forecast,
That just when the dessert and fruits were plac'd,
The fiend's alarm began; the hollow sound
Sung in the leaves, the forest shook around,
Air blacken'd, roll'd the thunder, groan'd the ground.
Nor long before the loud laments arise,
Of one distress'd, and mastiffs' mingled cries;
And first the dame came rushing through the wood,
And next the famish'd hounds that sought their food,
And grip'd her flanks, and oft essay'd their jaws in
They came, and, usual salutations paid,
With words premeditated thus he said:
[pride:" What you have often counsell'd, to remove
My vain pursuit of unregarded love;
By thrift my sinking fortune to repair,
Though late yet is at last become my care:
Nor lies she long, but, as her Fates ordain,
Springs up to life, and fresh to second pain,
Is sav'd to-day, to-morrow to be slain."
This, vers'd in death, th' infernal knight relates,
And then for proof fulfill'd the common fates;
Her heart and bowels through her back he drew,
And fed the hounds that help'd him to pursue :
Stern look'd the fiend, as frustrate of his will,
Not half suffic'd, and greedy yet to kill.
And now the soul, expiring through the wound,
Had left the body breathless on the ground,
When thus the grisly spectre spoke again:
"Behold the fruit of ill-rewarded pain:
As many months as sustain'd her hate,
So many years is she condemned by Fate
To daily death; and every several place,
Conscious of her disdain and my disgrace,
Must witness her just punishment; and be
A scene of triumph and revenge to me!
As in this grove I took my last farewell,
As on this very spot of earth I fell,
As Friday saw me die, so she my prey
Becomes ev'n here, on this revolving day."
Thus while he spoke the virgin from the ground
Upstarted fresh, already clos'd the wound,
And, unconcern'd for all she felt before,
Precipitates her flight along the shore:
The hell-hounds, as ungorg'd with flesh and blood,
Pursue their prey, and seek their wonted food:
The fiend remounts his courser, mends his pace;
And all the vision vanish'd from the place.
Long stood the noble youth, oppress'd with awe
And stupid at the wondrous things he saw,
Surpassing common faith, transgressing Nature's law.
He would have been asleep, and wish'd to wake,
But dreams, he knew, no long impression make,
Though strong at first; if vision, to what end,
But such as must his future state portend?
His love the damsel, and himself the fiend.
But yet, reflecting that it could not be
From Heaven, which cannot impious acts decree,
Resolv'd within himself to shun the snare,
Which Hell for his destruction did prepare;
And, as his better genius should direct,
From an ill cause to draw a good effect.
Inspir'd from Heaven he homeward took his way,
Nor pall'd his new design with long delay:
But of his train a trusty servant sent,
To call his friends together at his tent.
Last came the felon, on his sable steed, [speed.
Arm'd with his naked sword, and urg'd his dogs to
She ran, and cried, her flight directly bent
(A guest unbidden) to the fatal tent,
The scene of death, and place ordain'd for punish
Loud was the noise, aghast was every guest,
The women shriek'd, the men forsook the feast;
The hounds at nearer distance hoarsely bay'd;
The hunter close pursu'd the visionary maid,
She rent the Heaven with loud laments, imploring aid
The gallants, to protect the lady's right,
Their falchions brandish'd at the grisly sprite;
High on his stirrups he provok'd the fight,
Then on the crowd he cast a furious look,
And wither'd all their strength before he spoke :
"Back on your lives! let be," said he, "my prey,
And let my vengeance take the destin'd way:
Vain are your arms, and vainer your defence,
Against th' eternal doom of Providence :
Mine is th' ungrateful maid by Heaven design'd:
Mercy she would not give, nor mercy shall she find."
At this the former tale again he told
With thundering tone, and dreadful to behold:
Sunk were their hearts with horror of the crime,
Nor needed to be warn'd a second time,
But bore each other back: some knew the face,
And all had heard the much-lamented case
Of him who fell for love, and this the fatal place
And now th' infernal minister advanc'd,
Seiz'd the due victim, and with fury lanc'd
Her back, and, piercing through her inmost heart,
Drew backward as before th' offending part;
The reeking entrails next he tore away,
And to his meagre mastiffs made a prey.
The pale assistants on each other star'd,
With gaping mouths for issuing words prepar'd;
The still-born sounds upon the palate hung,
And died imperfect on the faltering tongue.
The fright was general; but the female band
(A helpless train) in more confusion stand:
With horror shuddering, on a heap they run,
Sick at the sight of hateful justice done;
For conscience rung th' alarm, and made the case their
So, spread upon a lake, with upward eye,
A plump of fowl behold their foe on high;
They close their trembling troop; and all attend
On whom the sowsing eagle will descend.
But most the proud Honoria fear'd th' event,
And thought to her alone the vision sent.
Her guilt presents to her distracted mind
Heaven's justice, Theodore's revengeful kind,
And the same fate to the same sin assign'd.
Already sees herself the monster's prey,
And feels her heart and entrails torn away.
Twas a mute scene of sorrow, mix'd with fear;
Still on the table lay th' unfinish'd cheer:
The knight and hungry mastiffs stood around,
The mangled dame lay breathless on the ground;
When on a sudden, reinspir'd with breath,
Again she rose, again to suffer death;
Nor staid the hell-hounds, nor the hunter staid,
But follow'd, as before, the flying maid:
Th' avenger took from earth th' avenging sword,
And mounting light as air, his sable steed he spurr'd:
The clouds dispell'd, the sky resum'd her light,
And Nature stood recover'd of her fright.
But fear, the last of ills, remain'd behind,
And horror heavy sat on every mind.
Nor Theodore encourag'd more the feast,
But sternly look'd, as hatching in his breast
Some deep designs; which when Honoria view'd,
The fresh impulse her former fright renew'd;
She thought herself the trembling dame who fled,
And him the grisly ghost that spurr'd th' infernal
Darkling and desperate, with a staggering pace,
Of death afraid, and conscious of disgrace;
Fear, Pride, Remorse, at once her heart assail'd,
Pride put Remorse to flight, but Fear prevail'd.
Friday, the fatal day, when next it came,
Her soul forethought the fiend would change his game,
And her pursue, or Theodore be slain,
And two ghosts join their packs to hunt her o'er the
This dreadful image so possess'd her mind,
That, desperate any succor else to find,
She ceas'd all farther hope; and now began
To make reflection on th' unhappy man,
Rich, brave, and young, who past expression lov'd,
Proof to disdain, and not to be remov'd:
Of all the men respected and admir'd,
Of all the dames, except herself, desir'd:
Why not of her? preferr'd above the rest
By him with knightly deeds and open love profess'd?
So had another been, where he his vows address'd.
This quell'd her pride, yet other doubts remain'd,
That, once disdaining, she might be disdain'd.
The fear was just, but greater fear prevail'd,
Fear of her life by hellish hounds assail'd:
He took a lowering leave; but who can tell,
What outward hate might inward love conceal?
Her sex's arts she knew; and why not, then,
Might deep dissembling have a place in men?
Here hope began to dawn; resolv'd to try,
She fix'd on this her utmost remedy:
Death was behind, but hard it was to die.
"Twas time enough at last on Death to call,
The precipice in sight: a shrub was all,
That kindly stood betwixt to break the fatal fall.
One maid she had, belov'd above the rest;
Secure of her, the secret she confess'd;
And now the cheerful light her fears dispell'd,
She with no winding turns the truth conceal'd,
But put the woman off, and stood reveal'd:
With faults confess'd commission'd her to go,
If pity yet had place, and reconcile her foe.
The welcome message made, was soon receiv'd;
"Twas to be wish'd, and hop'd, but scarce believ'd;
Fate seem'd a fair occasion to present;
He knew the sex, and fear'd she might repent,
Should he delay the moment of consent.
There yet remain'd to gain her friends (a care
The modesty of maidens well might spare ;)
But she with such a zeal the cause embrac'd,
(As women, where they will, are all in haste)
The father, mother, and the kin beside,
Were overborne by fury of the tide ;
With full consent of all, she chang'd her state;
Resistless in her love, as in her hate.
By her example warn'd, the rest beware:
More easy, less imperious, were the fair;
And that one hunting, which the Devil design'd
For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
The more dismay'd, for when the guests withdrew,
Their courteous host, saluting all the crew,
Regardless pass'd her o'er, nor grac'd with kind adieu;
That sting infix'd within her haughty mind,
The downfall of her empire she divin'd;
And her proud heart with secret sorrow pin'd.
Home as they went, the sad discourse renew'd
Of the relentless dame to death pursu'd,
And of the sight obscene so lately view'd.
None durst arraign the righteous doom she bore,
Ev'n they who pitied most, yet blam'd her more:
The parallel they needed not to name,
But in the dead they damn'd the living dame.
At every little noise she look'd behind,
For still the knight was present to her mind:
And anxious oft she started on the way,
And thought the horseman-ghost came thundering
for his prey.
Return'd, she took her bed with little rest,
But in short slumbers dreamt the funeral feast.
Awak'd, she turn'd her side, and slept again;
The same black vapors mounted in her brain,
And the same dreams return'd with double pain.
Now fore'd to wake, because afraid to sleep,
Her blood all fever'd, with a furious leap
She sprang from bed, distracted in her mind,
And fear'd, at every step, a twitching sprite behind.
DIM as the borrow'd beams of Moon and stars
To lonely, weary, wandering 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 supernatural 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 some soul encompassing this ball
Unmade, unmov'd; yet making, moving all;
Or various atoms, interfering dance,
Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance;
Or this great all was from eternity;
Not ev'n 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 endeavors find
What most concern'd the good of human-kind:
For happiness was never to be found;
But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground.
One thought content the good to be enjoy'd;
This every 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 their line too short, the well too deep;
And leaky vessels which no bliss could keep.
Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll,
Without a centre where to fix the soul:
In this wild maze their vain endeavors end:
How can the less the greater comprehend?
Or finite reason reach Infinity?
For what could fathom God were more than He.
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 natural worship, built on prayer 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!
And great oppressors might Heaven's wrath beguile
By offering his own creatures for a spoil!
Dar'st thou, poor worm, offend Infinity?
And must the terms of peace be given 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 power too just and strong,
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong,
Look humbly upward, see his will disclose
The forfeit first, and then the fine impose:
A mulet thy poverty could never pay,
Had not Eternal Wisdom found the way;
And with celestial wealth supplied thy store:
His justice makes the fine, his mercy quits the score.
See God descending in thy human frame;
Th' offended suffering in th' offender's name :
All thy misdeeds to him imputed see,
And all his righteousness devolv'd on thee.
For, granting we have sinn'd, and that th' offence
Of man is made against Omnipotence,
Some price that bears proportion must be paid,
And infinite with infinite be weigh'd.
See then the deist lost: remorse for vice,
Not paid; or, paid, inadequate in price:
What farther means can reason now direct,
Or what relief from human wit expect?
That shows us sick; and sadly are we sure
Still to be sick, till Heaven reveal the cure:
If then Heaven's will must needs be understood,
Which must, if we want cure, and Heaven be good,
Let all records of will reveal'd be shown;
With Scripture all in equal balance thrown,
And our one sacred book will be that one.
The deist thinks he stands on firmer ground;
Cries Eupeka, 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 given,
Distributed alike to all by Heaven:
Else God were partial, and to some denied
The means his justice should for all provide.
This general worship is to praise and pray :
One part to borrow blessings, one to pay:
And when frail Nature slides into offence,
The sacrifice for crimes is penitence.
Yet, since the effects of providence, we find,
Are variously dispens'd to human-kind;
That Vice triumphs, and Virtue suffers here,
A brand that sovereign justice cannot bear;
Our reason prompts us to a future state;
The last appeal from fortune and from fate:
Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar'd;
The bad meet punishment, the good reward.
Thus man by his own strength to Heaven would soar, But this one rule of life, that shows us best
And would not be oblig'd to God for more.
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 Heaven, and of a nobler kind.
Reveal'd religion first inform'd thy sight,
And reason saw not till faith sprung to light.
Hence all thy natural worship takes the source:
"Tis revelation what thou think'st discourse.
Else how com'st thou to see these truths so clear,
Which so obscure to heathens did appear?
Not Plato these, nor Aristotle found:
Nor he whose wisdom oracles renown'd.
Hast thou a wit so deep, or so sublime,
Or canst thou lower dive, or higher climb?
Proof needs not here; for whether we compare
That impious, idle, superstitious ware
Of rites, lustrations, offerings, which before,
In various ages, various countries bore,
With Christian faith and virtues, we shall find
None answering the great ends of human-kind
How God may be appeas'd, and mortals blest.
Whether from length of time its worth we draw,
The word is scarce more ancient than the law:
Heaven's early care prescrib'd for every age;
First, in the soul, and after, in the page.
Or, whether more abstractedly we look,
Or on the writers, or the written book,
Whence, but from Heaven, could men unskill'd in arts.
In several ages born, in several parts,
Weave such agreeing truths? or how, or why,
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie?
Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price.
If on the book itself we cast our view,
Concurrent heathens prove the story true: