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Condemns, approves, and with a faithful voice
Guides the decision of a doubtful choice.
Why did the fiat of a God give birth
To yon fair sun and his attendant earth ?
And, when descending he resigns the skies,
Why takes the gentler moon her turn to rise,
Whom ocean feels through all his countless waves,
And owns her power on every shore he laves ?
Why do the seasons still enrich the year,
Fruitful and young as in their first career ?
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees,
Rocked in the cradle of the western breeze;
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves,
Till autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues.-
'Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste,
Power misemployed, munificence misplaced,
Had not its author dignified the plan,
And crowned it with the majesty of man.
Thus formed, thus placed, intelligent and taught,
Look where he will, the wonders God has wrought,
The wildest scorner of his Maker's laws
Finds in a sober moment time to pause,
To press the important question on his heart,
“Why formed at all, and wherefore as thou art?"
If man be what he seems, this hour a slave,
The next mere dust and ashes in the grave;
Endued with reason only to descry
His crimes and follies with an aching eye;
With passions, just that he may prove, with pain,
The force he spends against their fury vain;
And if, soon after having burnt, by turns,
With every lust, with which frail nature burns,
His being end where death dissolves the bond,
The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond ;
Then he, of all that nature has brought forth, Stands self-impeached the creature of least worth, And useless while he lives, and when he dies, Brings into doubt the wisdom of the skies.
Truths, that the learned pursue with eager thought, Are pot important always as dear-bought, Proving at last, though told in pompous strains, A childish waste of philosophic pains ; But truths, on which depends our main concern, That 'tis our shame and misery not to learn, Shine by the side of every path we tread With such a lustre, he that runs may read. 'Tis true that, if to trifle life away Down to the sun-set of their latest day, Then perish on futurity’s wide shore Like fleeting exhalations, found no more, Were all that Heaven required of humankind, And all the plan their destiny designed, What none could reverence all might justly blame, And man would breathe but for his Maker's shame. But reason heard, and nature well perused, At once the dreaming mind is disabused. If all we find possessing, earth, sea, air, Reflect his attributes, who placed them there, Fulfil the purpose, and appear designed Proofs of the wisdom of the all-seeing mind, 'Tis plain the creature, whom he chose to invest With kingship and dominion o'er the rest, Received his nobler nature, and was made Fit for the power, in which he stands arrayed, That first or last, hereafter if not here, He too might make his author's wisdom clear, Prạise him on earth, or obstinately dumb Suffer his justice in a world to come. This once believed, 'twere logic misapplied To prove a consequence by none denied,
That we are bound to cast the minds of youth
Betimes into the mould of heavenly truth,
That taught of God they may indeed be wise,
Nor ignorantly wandering miss the skies.
In early days the conscience has in most
A quickness, which in later life is lost :
Preserved from guilt by salutary fears,
Or guilty soon relenting into tears.
Too careless often, as our years proceed,
What friends we sought with, or what books we read,
Our parents yet exert a prudent care
To feed our infant minds with proper fare ;
And wisely store the nursery by degrees
With wholesome learning, yet acquired with ease.
Neatly secured from being soiled or torn
Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn,
A book (to please us at a tender age,
'Tis called a book, though but a single page)
Presents the prayer the Saviour deigned to teach,
Which children use, and parsons—when they preach,
Lisping our syllables, we scramble next
Through moral narrative, or sacred text!
And learn with wonder how this world began,
Who made, who marr'd, and who has ransom'd man.
Points, which anless the scripture made them plain,
The wisest heads might agitate in vain.
O thou, whom, borne on fancy's eager wing
Back to the season of life's happy spring,
I pleased remember, and while memory yet
Holds fast her office here, can ne'er forget;
Ingenious dreamer, in whose well-told tale
Sweet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail;
Whose humorous vein, strong sense, and simple style,
May teach the gayest, make the gravest smile ;
Witty, and well employed, and like thy Lord,
Speaking in parables bis slighted word;
I name thee not, lest so despised a name
Should move a sneer at thy deserved fame;
Yet ev'n in transitory life's late day,
That mingles all my brown with sober gray,
Revere the man,
whose Pilgrim marks the road,
And guides the PROGRESS of the soul to God.
'Twere well with most, if books that could engage
Their childhood, pleased them at a riper age;
The man, approving what had charmed the boy,
Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy ;
And not with curses on his heart, who stole
The gem of truth from his unguarded soul,
The stamp of artless piety impressed
By kind tuition on his yielding breast,
The yoath now bearded, and yet pert and raw,
Regards with scorn, though once received with awe;
And, warped into the labyrinth of lies,
That babblers, called philosophers, devise,
Blasphemes his creed, as founded on a plan
Replete with dreams, unworthy of a man.
Touch but his nature in its ailing part,
Assert the native evil of his heart,
His pride resents the charge, although the proof *
Rise in his forehead, and seem rank enough :-
Point to the cure, describe a Saviour's cross
As God's expedient to retrieve his loss,
The young apostate sickens at the view,
And hates it with the malice of a Jew.
How weak the barrier of mere nature proves
Opposed against the pleasures nature loves ;
While self betrayed, and wilfully undone,
She longs to yield, no sooner wooed than won.
Try now the merits of this blest exchange
Of modest truth for wit's eccentric range.
* See 2 Chron. ch. xxvi. ver. 19.
be closed as he began the day
With decent duty, not ashamed to pray:
The practice was a bond upon his heart,
A pledge he gave for a consistent part;
Nor could he dare presumptuously displease
A power, confessed so lately on his knees.
But now farewell all legendary tales,
The shadows fly, philosophy prevails ;
Prayer to the winds, and caution to the waves ;
Religion makes the free by nature slaves.
Priests have invented, and the world admired
What knavish priests promulgate as inspired ;
Till reason, now no longer overawed,
Resumes her powers, and spurns the clumsy fraud;
And common-sense diffusing real day,
The meteor of the gospel dies away.
Such rhapsodies our shrewd discerning youth
Learn from expert inquirers after truth;
Whose only care, might truth presume to speak,
Is not to find what they profess to seek,
And thus, well-tutored only while we share
A mother's lectures and a nurse's care;
And taught at schools much mythologic stuff *,
But sound religion, sparingly enough ;
Our early notices of truth, disgraced,
Soon lose their credit, and are all effaced.
Would you your son should be a sot or dance,
Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once ;
That in good time the stripling's finished taste
For loose expense, and fashionable waste,
Should prove your ruin, and his own at last :