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Has fill'd with all its fumes a critick's brain, 445
The text, that sorts not with his darling whim,
Though plain to others, is obscure to him.
The will made subject to a lawless force,
All is irregular and out of course ;
And judgment drunk, and brib'd to lose his way, 450
Winks hard, and talks of darkness at noonday.

A critick on the sacred book should be
Candid and learn'd, dispassionate and free ;
Free from the wayward bias bigots feel,
From fancy's influence, and intemperate zeal ; 455
But above all, (or let the wretch refrain,
Nor touch the page he cannot but profane,)
Free from the domineering power of lust ;
A lewd interpreter is never just.
How shall I speak thee, or thy power address,

460 Thou god of our idolatry, the press? By thee, religion, liberty, and laws, Exert their influence, and advance their cause ; By thee worse plagues than Pharaoh's land befell, Diffus'd, make earth the vestibule of Hell; 465 Thou fountain, at which drink the good and wise ; Thou ever-bubbling spring of endless lies; Like Eden's dread probationary tree, Knowledge of good and evil is from thee. No wild enthusiast ever yet could rest,

470 Till half inankind were like himself possess'd. Philosophers, who darken and put out Eternal truth by everlasting doubt ; Church quacks, with passions under no command, Who fill the world with doctrines contraband, 475 Discov'rers of they know not what, confin'd Within no bounds—the blind that lead the blind; To streams of popular opinion drawn, Deposit in those shallows all their spawn. The wriggling fry soon fill the creeks around, 480 Pois’ning the waters where their swarms abound Scorn'd by the nobler tenants of the food,

495

Minnows and gudgeons gorge the unwholesome food.
The propagated myriads spread so fast,
E'en Lewenhoeck himself would stand aghast,

485
Employ'd to calculate th' enormous sum,
And own his crab-computing powers o'ercome.
Is this hyperbole? The world well known,
Your sober thoughts will hardly find it one.
Fresh confidence the speculatist takes

490 From every hair-brain'd proselyte he makes : And therefore prints. Hi elf but half deceiv’d, Till others have the soothing tale believ'd. Hence comment after comment, spun as fine As bloated spiders draw the flimsy line. Hence the same word, that bids our lusts obey, Is misapplied to sanctify their sway. If stubborn Greek refuse to be his friend, Hebrew or Syriack shall be forc'd to bend. If languages and copies all cry, No

500 Somebody prov'd it centuries ago. Like trout pursued, the critick in despair Darts to the mud, and finds his safety there. Women, whom custom has forbid to fly The scholar's pitch, (the scholar best knows why,) 505 With all the simple and unletter'd poor, Admire his learning, and almost adore. Whoever errs, the priest can ne'er be wrong, With such fine words familiar to his tongue. Ye ladies! (for indiff'rent in your cause,

510 I should deserve to forfeit all applause,) Whatever shocks or gives the least offence To virtue, delicacy, truth, or sense (Try the criterion, 'tis a faithful guide,) Nor has, nor can have, Scripture on its side. 515

None but an author knows an author's cares, Or Fancy's fondness for the child she bears. Committed once into the publick arms, The baby seems to smile with added charms. Like something precious ventur'd far from shore, 520

525

So one,

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'Tis valued for the danger's sake the more.
He views it with complacency supreme,
Solicits kind attention to his dream;
And daily more enamour'd of the cheat
Kneels, and asks Heav'n to bless the dear deceit.

whose story serves at least to show
Men lov'd their own productions long ago,
Woo'd an unfeeling statue for his wife,
Nor rested till the gods had giv'n it life.
If some mere driv'ller suck the sugar'd fib,
One that still needs his leading string and bib,
And praise his genius, he is soon repaid
In praise applied to the same part—his head :
For 'tis a rule, that holds for ever true,
Grant me discernment, and I grant it you.

Patient of contradiction as a child,
Affable, humble, diffident, and mild ;
Such was Sir Isaac, and such Boyle and Locke :
Your blund'rer is as sturdy as a rock
The creature is so sure to kick and bite,
A muleteer's the man to set him right.
First Appetite enlists him Truth's sworn foe,
Then obstinate Self-will confirms him so.
Tell him he wanders; that his errour leads
To fatal ills ; that, tho' the path he treads
Be flow'ry, and he see no cause of fear,
Death and the pains of Hell attend him there;
In vain : the slave of arrogance and pride,
He has no hearing on the prudent side.
His still-refuted quirks he still repeats ;
New-rais’d objections with new quibbles meets;
Till, sinking in the quicksand he defends,
He dies disputing, and the contest ends-
But not the mischiefs; they, still left behind,
Like thistle seeds, are sown by every wind.

Thus men go wrong with an ingenious skill ;
Bend the straight rule to their own crooked will ;
And with a clear and shining lamp supplied,

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First put it out, then take it for a guide.
Halting on crutches of unequal size,
One leg by truth supported, one by lies ;
They sidle to the goal with awkward pace,
Secure of nothing—but to lose the race.

Faults in the life breed errours in the brain,
And these reciprocally those again.
The mind and conduct mutually imprint
And stamp their image in each other's mint ;
Each sire, and dam, of an infernal race,
Begetting and conceiving all that's base.

None sends his arrow to the mark in view,
Whose hand is feeble, or his aim untrue.
For tho', ere yet the shaft is on the wing,
Or when it first forsakes th' elastick string,
It crr but little from th' intended line,
It falls at last far wide of his design;
So he, who seeks a mansion in the sky,
Must watch his purpose with a steadfast eye :
That prize belongs to none but the sincere,
The least obliquity is fatal here.

With caution taste the sweet Circean cup:
He that sips often at last drinks it up.
Habits are soon assum'd; but when we strive
To strip them off, 'tis being flay'd alive.
Call’d to the temple of impure delight,
He that abstains, and he alone, does right.
If a wish wender 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 pow'r Almighty save you not.
There hard’ning by degrees, till double steeld,
Take leave of Nature's God, and God reveal'd;
Then Inugh at all you trembled at before ;
And, joining the free thinkers' brutal roar,
Swallow the two grand nostrums they dispense
That Scripture lies, and blasphemy is sense.

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590

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If clemency revolted by abuse
Be damnable, then damnd without excuse.

Some dream that they can silence when they will,
The storm of passion, and say, “ Peace, be still ;"
But,Thus far and no farther," when address'd 600
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-ton'd chord the sum of all. 605

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 wand'rer his mistake discern,

610
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 ;) 615
There, and there only, is the power to save.
There no delusive hope invites despair ;
No mock'ry meets you, no deception there.
Tho spells and charms, that blinded you before,
All vanish there, and fascinate no more.

620 I am no preacher, let this hint sufficeThe cross once seen is death to ev'ry vice; Else he that hung there, suffer'd all his pain, Bled, groan'd, and agoniz'd, and died in vain.

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