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To catch the wand'ring notice of mankind,
145 Is handmaid to the purposes of Grace ; By good vouchsaf'd makes known superiour good, And bliss not seen by blessings understood : That bliss, reveal'd in Scripture, with a glow Bright as the covenant-ensuring bow,
150 Fires all his feelings with a noble scorn Of sensual evil, and thus hope is born.
Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all
160 Hope with uplifted foot, set free from earth, Pants for the place of her ethereal birth, On steady wings sails through the immense abyss, Plucks amaranthine joys from bowers of bliss, And crowns the soul, while yet a mourner here 165 With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear. Hope, as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast The Christian vessel, and defies the blast. Hope ! nothing else can nourish and secure His new-born virtues, and preserve him pure.
170 Hope ! let the wretch, once conscious of the joy, Whum now despairing agonies destroy, Speak, for he can, and mone so well as he, What treasures centre, what delights in thee,
Had he the gems, the spices, and the land, 175
Though clasp'd and cradled in his nurse's arms,
185 To frown, and roar, and shake his feeble form. From infancy through childhood's giddy maze Froward at school, and fretful in his plays, The puny tyrant burns to subjugate The free republick of the whipgig state.
190 If one, his equal in athletick frame, Or, more provoking still, of nobler name, Dare step across his arbitrary views, An Iliad, only not in verse, ensues ; The little Greeks look trembling at the scales, 195 Till the best tongue, or heaviest hand prevails.
Now see him launch'd into the world at large ; If priest, supinely droning o'er his charge, Their fleece his pillow, and his weekly drawl, Though short, too long, the price he pays for all. 200 If lawyer, loud whatever cause he plead, But proudest of the worst, if that succeed. Perhaps a grave physician, gath’ring fees, Punctually paid for length’ning out disease; No Cotton, whose humanity sheds rays
205 That make superiour skill his second praise. If arms engage him, he devotes to sport His date of life, so likely to be short ; A soldier may be any thing, if brave, So may a tradesman, if not quite a knave. 210 Such stuff the world is made of: and mankind To passion, int’rest, pleasure, whim, resign'd,
Insist on, as if each were his own pope,
Peace be to those, (such peace as earth can give,) Who live in pleasure, dead e'en while they live ; 230 Born, capable, indeed, of heav'nly truth ; But down to latest age, from earliest youth, Their mind a wilderness through want of care, The plough of wisdom never ent'ring there. Peace, (if insensibility may claim
235 A right to the meek honours of her name,) To men of pedigree, their noble race, Emulous always of the nearest place To any throne, except the throne of Grace. Let cottagers and unenlighten'd swains
240 Revere the laws they dream'd that Heav'n ordains; Resort on Sundays to the house of pray'r, And ask, and fancy they find blessings there. Themselves, perhaps, when weary they retreat T' enjoy cool nature in a country seat,
245 T'exchange the centre of a thousand trades, For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades, May now and then their velvet cushions take , And seem to pray, for good example sake ;
Judging, in charity, no doubt, the town
230 Pious enough, and having need of none. Kind souls! to teach their tenantry to prize What they themselves, without remorse despise : Nor hope have they, nor fear of aught to come, As well for them had prophecy been dumb; 255 They could have held the conduct they pursue, Had Paul of Tarsus liv'd and died a Jew; And truth, propos'd to reasʼners wise as they, Is a pearl cast_completely cast away. They die-Death lends them, pleas'd, and as in sport,
260 All the grim honours of his ghastly court. Far other paintings grace the chamber now, Where late we saw the mimick landscape glow : The busy heralds rang the sable scene With mournful scutcheons, and dim lamps between; Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
266 But they that wore them move not at the sound; The coronet plac'd highly at their head, Adds nothing now to the degraded dead ; And e'en the star, that glitters on the bier, 270 Can only say–Nobility lies here. Peace to all such~-'twere pity to offend, By useless
censure, whom we cannot mend ; Life without hope can close but in despair, 'Twas there we found them, and must leave them there.
275 As when two pilgrims in a forest stray, Both may be lost, yet each in his own way ; So fares it with the multitudes beguild In vain Opinion's waste and dang’rous wild ; Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among, 280 Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong. But here, alas! the fatal diff'rence lies, Each man's belief is right in his own eyes ; And he that blames what they have blindly chose, Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say, botanist, within whose province fali The cedar and the hyssop on the wall, Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bow'rs, What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flow'rs? Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combin'd, 290 Distinguish ev'ry cultivated kind; The want of both denotes a meaner breed, And Chloe from her garland picks the weed. Thus hopes of ev'ry sort, whatever sect Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect. 295 If wild in nature, and not duly found, Gethsemane! in thy dear hallow'd ground, That cannot bear the blaze of Scripture light, Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight, Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds,
300 (Oh cast them from thee!) are weeds, arrant weeds.
Ethelred's house, the centre of six ways,
310 To sound his horn, and publish it abroad. That all might mark-knight, menial, high, and low, An ord'nance it concern'd them much to know. If after all some headstrong hardy lout Would disobey, though sure to be shut out, 315 Could he with reason murmur at his case, Himself sole author of his own disgrace? No! the decree was just and without flaw; And he that made, had right to make the law; His sov'reign power, and pleasure unrestrain'd, 320 The wrong was his who wrongfully complain’d.
Yet half mankind maintains a churlish strife With Him, the Donor of eternal life,