Pensentur trutinâ. HOR.
1 MAN on the dubious waves of error toss'd,
2 His ship half founder'd and his compass lost,
3 Sees far as human optics may command,
4 A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land:
5 Spreads all his canvass, ev'ry sinew plies,
6 Pants for it, aims at it, enters it, and dies.
7 Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes,
8 His well-built systems, philosophic dreams,[Page 74]
9 Deceitful views of future bliss, farewell!
10 He reads his sentence at the flames of hell.
11 Hard lot of man! to toil for the reward
12 Of virtue, and yet lose it — wherefore hard?
13 He that would win the race, must guide his horse
14 Obedient to the customs of the course,
15 Else, though unequall'd to the goal he flies,
16 A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
17 Grace leads the right way, if you chuse the wrong,
18 Take it and perish, but restrain your tongue;
19 Charge not, with light sufficient and left free,
20 Your willful suicide on God's decree.
21 Oh how unlike the complex works of man,
22 Heav'ns easy, artless, unincumber'd plan!
23 No meretricious graces to beguile,
24 No clust'ring ornaments to clog the pile,
25 From ostentation as from weakness free,
26 It stands like the caerulean arch we see,
27 Majestic in its own simplicity.
28 Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar
29 Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,[Page 75]
30 Legible only by the light they give,
31 Stand the soul-quick'ning words — BELIEVE AND LIVE.
32 Too many shock'd at what should charm them most,
33 Despise the plain direction and are lost.
34 Heav'n on such terms! they cry with proud disdain,
35 Incredible, impossible, and vain —
36 Rebel because 'tis easy to obey,
37 And scorn for its own sake the gracious way.
38 These are the sober, in whose cooler brains
39 Some thought of immortality remains;
40 The rest too busy or too gay, to wait
41 On the sad theme, their everlasting state,
42 Sport for a day and perish in a night,
43 The foam upon the waters not so light.
44 Who judg'd the Pharisee? What odious cause
45 Expos'd him to the vengeance of the laws?
46 Had he seduc'd a virgin, wrong'd a friend,
47 Or stabb'd a man to serve some private end?
48 Was blasphemy his sin? Or did he stray
49 From the strict duties of the sacred day?[Page 76]
50 Sit long and late at the carousing board?
51 (Such were the sins with which he charg'd his Lord)
52 No — the man's morals were exact, what then?
53 'Twas his ambition to be seen of men;
54 His virtues were his pride; and that one vice
55 Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price;
56 He wore them as fine trappings for a show,
57 A praying, synagogue frequenting beau.
58 The self-applauding bird, the peacock see —
59 Mark what a sumptuous Pharisee is he!
60 Meridian sun-beams tempt him to unfold
61 His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold;
62 He treads as if some solemn music near,
63 His measur'd step were govern'd by his ear,
64 And seems to say, ye meaner fowl, give place,
65 I am all splendor, dignity and grace.
66 Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes,
67 Though he too has a glory in his plumes.
68 He, christian like, retreats with modest mien,
69 To the close copse or far sequester'd green,
70 And shines without desiring to be seen.[Page 77]
71 The plea of works, as arrogant and vain,
72 Heav'n turns from with abhorrence and disdain;
73 Not more affronted by avow'd neglect,
74 Than by the mere dissemblers feign'd respect.
75 What is all righteousness that men devise,
76 What, but a fordid bargain for the skies?
77 But Christ as soon would abdicate his own,
78 As sloop from heav'n to sell the proud a throne.
79 His dwelling a recess in some rude rock,
80 Book, beads, and maple-dish his meagre stock,
81 In shirt of hair and weeds of canvass dress'd,
82 Girt with a bell-rope that the Pope has bless'd,
83 Adust with stripes told out for ev'ry crime,
84 And sore tormented long before his time,
85 His pray'r preferr'd to saints that cannot aid,
86 His praise postpon'd, and never to be paid,
87 See the sage hermit by mankind admir'd,
88 With all that bigotry adopts, inspir'd,
89 Wearing out life in his religious whim,
90 'Till his religious whimsy wears out him.[Page 78]
91 His works, his abstinence, his zeal allow'd,
92 You think him humble, God accounts him proud;
93 High in demand, though lowly in pretence,
94 Of all his conduct, this the genuine sense —
95 My penitential stripes, my streaming blood
96 Have purchas'd heav'n, and prove my title good.
97 Turn eastward now, and fancy shall apply
98 To your weak sight her telescopic eye.
99 The Bramin kindles on his own bare head
100 The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade,
101 His voluntary pains, severe and long,
102 Would give a barb'rous air to British song,
103 Nor grand inquisitor could worse invent,
104 Than he contrives to suffer, well content.
105 Which is the saintlier worthy of the two?
106 Past all dispute, yon anchorite say you.
107 Your sentence and mine differ. What's a name?
108 I say the Bramin has the fairer claim.
109 If suff'rings scripture no where recommends,
110 Devis'd by self to answer selfish ends[Page 79]
111 Give saintship, then all Europe must agree,
112 Ten starvling hermits suffer less than he.
113 The truth is (if the truth may suit your ear,
114 And prejudice have left a passage clear)
115 Pride has attain'd its most luxuriant growth,
116 And poison'd every virtue in them both.
117 Pride may be pamper'd while the flesh grows lean;
118 Humility may cloath an English Dean;
119 That grace was Cowper's — his confess'd by all —
120 Though plac'd in golden Durham's second stall.
121 Not all the plenty of a Bishop's board,
122 His palace, and his lacqueys, and, my Lord!
123 More nourish pride, that condescending vice,
124 Than abstinence, and beggary and lice.
125 It thrives in misery, and abundant grows
126 In misery fools upon themselves impose.
127 But why before us Protestants produce
128 An Indian mystic or a French recluse?
129 Their sin is plain, but what have we to fear,
130 Reform'd and well instructed? You shall hear.[Page 80]
131 Yon antient prude, whose wither'd features show
132 She might be young some forty years ago,
133 Her elbows pinion'd close upon her hips,
134 Her head erect, her fan upon her lips,
135 Her eye-brows arch'd, her eyes both gone astray
136 To watch yon am'rous couple in their play,
137 With boney and unkerchief'd neck defies
138 The rude inclemency of wintry skies,
139 And sails with lappet-head and mincing airs
140 Duely at clink of bell, to morning pray'rs.
141 To thrift and parsimony much inclin'd,
142 She yet allows herself that boy behind;
143 The shiv'ring urchin, bending as he goes,
144 With slipshod heels, and dew drop at his nose,
145 His predecessors coat advanc'd to wear,
146 Which furture pages are yet doom'd to share,
147 Carries her bible tuck'd beneath his arm,
148 And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm.
149 She, half an angel in her own account,
150 Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount,[Page 81]
151 Though not a grace appears on strictest search,
152 But that she fasts, and item, goes to church.
153 Conscious of age she recollects her youth,
154 And tells, not always with an eye to truth,
155 Who spann'd her waist, and who, where'er he came,
156 Scrawl'd upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name,
157 Who stole her slipper, fill'd it with tokay,
158 And drank the little bumper ev'ry day.
159 Of temper as invenom'd as an asp,
160 Censorious, and her every word a wasp,
161 In faithful mem'ry she records the crimes,
162 Or real, or fictitious, of the times,
163 Laughs at the reputations she has torn,
164 And holds them dangling at arms length in scorn.
165 Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride,
166 Of malice fed while flesh is mortified.
167 Take, Madam, the reward of all your pray'rs,
168 Where hermits and where Bramins meet with theirs,
169 Your portion is with them: nay, never frown,
170 But, if you please, some fathoms lower down.[Page 82]
171 Artist attend — your brushes and your paint —
172 Produce them — take a chair — now draw a Saint.
173 Oh sorrowful and sad! the streaming tears
174 Channel her cheeks, a Niobe appears.
175 Is this a Saint? Throw tints and all away,
176 True piety is chearful as the day,
177 Will weep indeed and heave a pitying groan
178 For others woes, but smiles upon her own.
179 What purpose has the King of Saints in view?
180 Why falls the gospel like a gracious dew?
181 To call up plenty from the teeming earth,
182 Or curse the desart with a tenfold dearth?
183 Is it that Adam's offspring may be sav'd
184 From servile fear, or be the more enslav'd?
185 To loose the links that gall'd mankind before,
186 Or bind them faster on, and add still more?
187 The freeborn Christian has no chains to prove,
188 Or if a chain, the golden one of love;
189 No fear attends to quench his glowing fires,
190 What fear he feels his gratitude inspires.[Page 83]
191 Shall he for such deliv'rance freely wrought,
192 Recompense ill? He trembles at the thought:
193 His masters int'rest and his own combin'd,
194 Prompt ev'ry movement of his heart and mind;
195 Thought, word, and deed, his liberty evince,
196 His freedom is the freedom of a Prince.
197 Man's obligations infinite, of course
198 His life should prove that he perceives their force,
199 His utmost he can render is but small,
200 The principle and motive all in all.
201 You have two servants — Tom, an arch, sly rogue,
202 From top to toe the Geta now in vogue;
203 Genteel in figure, easy in address,
204 Moves without noise, and swift as an express,
205 Reports a message with a pleasing grace,
206 Expert in all the duties of his place:
207 Say, on what hinge does his obedience move?
208 Has he a world of gratitude and love?
209 No, not a spark — 'tis all mere sharpers play;
210 He likes your house, your housemaid and your pay;[Page 84]
211 Reduce his wages, or get rid of her,
212 Tom quits you, with, your most obedient Sir —
213 The dinner serv'd, Charles takes his usual stand,
214 Watches your eye, anticipates command,
215 Sighs if perhaps your appetite should fail,
216 And if he but suspects a frown, turns pale;
217 Consults all day your int'rest and your ease,
218 Richly rewarded if he can but please,
219 And proud to make his firm attachment known,
220 To save your life would nobly risque his own.
221 Now, which stands highest in your serious thought?
222 Charles, without doubt, say you — and so he ought;
223 One act that from a thankful heart proceeds,
224 Excels ten thousand mercenary deeds.
225 Thus heav'n approves as honest and sincere,
226 The work of gen'rous love and filial fear,
227 But with averted eyes th'omniscient judge,
228 Scorns the base hireling and the slavish drudge.[Page 85]
229 Where dwell these matchless Saints? Old Curio cries —
230 Ev'n at your side, Sir, and before your eyes,
231 The favour'd few, th' enthusiasts you despise.
232 And pleas'd at heart because on holy ground,
233 Sometimes a canting hypocrite is found,
234 Reproach a people with his single fall,
235 And cast his filthy raiment at them all.
236 Attend — an apt similitude shall show,
237 Whence springs the conduct that offends you so.
238 See where it smoaks along the sounding plain,
239 Blown all aslant, a driving dashing rain,
240 Peal upon peal redoubling all around,
241 Shakes it again and faster to the ground,
242 Now flashing wide, now glancing as in play,
243 Swift beyond thought the light'nings dart away;
244 Ere yet it came the traveller urg'd his steed,
245 And hurried, but with unsuccessful speed,
246 Now drench'd throughout, and hopeless of his case,
247 He drops the rein, and leaves him to his pace;[Page 86]
248 Suppose, unlook'd for in a scene so rude,
249 Long hid by interposing hill or wood,
250 Some mansion neat and elegantly dress'd,
251 By some kind hospitable heart possess'd,
252 Offer him warmth, security and rest;
253 Think with what pleasure, safe and at his ease,
254 He hears the tempest howling in the trees,
255 What glowing thanks his lips and heart employ,
256 While danger past is turn'd to present joy.
257 So fares it with the sinner when he feels,
258 A growing dread of vengeance at his heels,
259 His conscience like a glassy lake before,
260 Lash'd into foaming waves begins to roar,
261 The law grown clamorous, though silent long,
262 Arraigns him, charges him with every wrong,
263 Asserts the rights of his offended Lord,
264 And death or restitution is the word;
265 The last impossible, he fears the first,
266 And having well deserv'd, expects the worst
267 Then welcome refuge, and a peaceful home,
268 Oh for a shelter from the wrath to come![Page 87]
269 Crush me ye rocks, ye falling mountains hide,
270 Or bury me in oceans angry tide —
271 The scrutiny of those all seeing eyes
272 I dare not — and you need not, God replies;
273 The remedy you want I freely give,
274 The book shall teach you, read, believe and live:
275 'Tis done — the raging storm is heard no more,
276 Mercy receives him on her peaceful shore,
277 And justice, guardian of the dread command,
278 Drops the red vengeance from his willing hand.
279 A soul redeem'd demands a life of praise,
280 Hence the complexion of his future days,
281 Hence a demeanor holy and unspeck'd,
282 And the world's hatred as its sure effect.
283 Some lead a life unblameable and just,
284 Their own dear virtue, their unshaken trust.
285 They never sin — or if (as all offend)
286 Some trivial slips their daily walk attend,
287 The poor are near at hand, the charge is small,
288 A slight gratuity atones for all.[Page 88]
289 For though the Pope has lost his int'rest here,
290 And pardons are not sold as once they were,
291 No Papist more desirous to compound,
292 Than some grave sinners upon English ground:
293 That plea refuted, other quirks they seek,
294 Mercy is infinite and man is weak,
295 The future shall obliterate the past,
296 And heav'n no doubt shall be their home at last.
297 Come then — a still, small whisper in your ear,
298 He has no hope that never had a fear;
299 And he that never doubted of his state,
300 He may perhaps — perhaps he may — too late.
301 The path to bliss abounds with many a snare,
302 Learning is one, and wit, however rare:
303 The Frenchman first in literary fame,
304 (Mention him if you please — Voltaire? The same)
305 With spirit, genius, eloquence supplied,
306 Liv'd long, wrote much, laugh'd heartily and died:
307 The scripture was his jest-book, whence he drew
308 Bon môts to gall the Christian and the Jew:[Page 89]
309 An infidel in health, but what when sick?
310 Oh then, a text would touch him at the quick:
311 View him at Paris in his last career,
312 Surrounding throngs the demi-god revere,
313 Exalted on his pedestal of pride,
314 And fum'd with frankincense on ev'ry side,
315 He begs their flattery with his latest breath,
316 And smother'd in't at last, is prais'd to death.
317 Yon cottager who weaves at her own door,
318 Pillow and bobbins all her little store,
319 Content though mean, and chearful, if not gay,
320 Shuffling her threads about the live-long day,
321 Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
322 Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
323 She for her humble sphere by nature fit,
324 Has little understanding, and no wit,
325 Receives no praise, but (though her lot be such,
326 Toilsome and indigent) she renders much;
327 Just knows, and knows no more, her bible true,
328 A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew,[Page 90]
329 And in that charter reads with sparkling eyes,
330 Her title to a treasure in the skies.
331 Oh happy peasant! Oh unhappy bard!
332 His the mere tinsel, her's the rich reward;
333 He prais'd perhaps for ages yet to come,
334 She never heard of half a mile from home;
335 He lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
336 She safe in the simplicity of hers.
337 Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound
338 In science, win one inch of heav'nly ground;
339 And is it not a mortifying thought
340 The poor should gain it, and the rich should not?
341 No — the voluptuaries, who ne'er forget
342 One pleasure lost, lose heav'n without regret;
343 Regret would rouse them and give birth to pray'r,
344 Pray'r would add faith, and faith would fix them there.
345 Not that the Former of us all in this,
346 Or aught he does, is govern'd by caprice,
347 The supposition is replete with sin,
348 And bears the brand of blasphemy burnt in.[Page 91]
349 Not so — the silver trumpet's heav'nly call,
350 Sounds for the poor, but sounds alike for all;
351 Kings are invited, and would kings obey,
352 No slaves on earth more welcome were than they:
353 But royalty, nobility, and state,
354 Are such a dead preponderating weight,
355 That endless bliss (how strange soe'er it seem)
356 In counterpoise, flies up and kicks the beam.
357 'Tis open and ye cannot enter — why?
358 Because ye will not, Conyers would reply —
359 And he says much that many may dispute
360 And cavil at with ease, but none refute.
361 Oh bless'd effect of penury and want,
362 The seed sown there, how vigorous is the plant!
363 No soil like poverty for growth divine,
364 As leanest land supplies the richest wine.
365 Earth gives too little, giving only bread,
366 To nourish pride or turn the weakest head:
367 To them, the sounding jargon of the schools,
368 Seems what it is, a cap and bells for fools:[Page 92]
369 The light they walk by, kindled from above,
370 Shows them the shortest way to life and love:
371 They, strangers to the controversial field,
372 Where deists always foil'd, yet scorn to yield,
373 And never check'd by what impedes the wise,
374 Believe, rush forward, and possess the prize.
375 Envy ye great the dull unletter'd small,
376 Ye have much cause for envy — but not all;
377 We boast some rich ones whom the gospel sways,
378 And one that wears a coronet and prays;
379 Like gleanings of an olive tree they show,
380 Here and there one upon the topmost bough.
381 How readily upon the gospel plan,
382 That question has its answer — what is man?
383 Sinful and weak, in ev'ry sense a wretch,
384 An instrument whose chords upon the stretch
385 And strain'd to the last screw that he can bear,
386 Yield only discord in his maker's ear:
387 Once the blest residence of truth divine,
388 Glorious as Solyma's interior shrine,[Page 93]
389 Where in his own oracular abode,
390 Dwelt visibly the light-creating God;
391 But made long since like Babylon of old,
392 A den of mischiefs never to be told:
393 And she, once mistress of the realms around,
394 Now scatter'd wide and no where to be found,
395 As soon shall rise and re-ascend the throne,
396 By native pow'r and energy her own,
397 As nature at her own peculiar cost,
398 Restore to man the glories he has lost.
399 Go bid the winter cease to chill the year,
400 Replace the wand'ring comet in his sphere,
401 Then boast (but wait for that unhop'd-for hour)
402 The self-restoring arm of human pow'r.
403 But what is man in his own proud esteem?
404 Hear him, himself the poet and the theme;
405 A monarch cloath'd with majesty and awe,
406 His mind his kingdom and his will his law.
407 Grace in his mien and glory in his eyes,
408 Supreme on earth and worthy of the skies,[Page 94]
409 Strength in his heart, dominion in his nod,
410 And, thunderbolts excepted, quite a God.
411 So sings he, charm'd with his own mind and form,
412 The song magnificent, the theme a worm:
413 Himself so much the source of his delight,
414 His maker has no beauty in his sight:
415 See where he sits contemplative and fixt,
416 Pleasure and wonder in his features mixt,
417 His passions tam'd and all at his controul,
418 How perfect the composure of his soul!
419 Complacency has breath'd a gentle gale
420 O'er all his thoughts, and swell'd his easy sail:
421 His books well trimm'd and in the gayest stile,
422 Like regimented coxcombs rank and file,
423 Adorn his intellects as well as shelves,
424 And teach him notions splendid as themselves:
425 The bible only stands neglected there,
426 Though that of all most worthy of his care,
427 And like an infant, troublesome awake,
428 Is left to sleep for peace and quiet sake.[Page 95]
429 What shall the man deserve of human kind,
430 Whose happy skill and industry combin'd,
431 Shall prove (what argument could never yet)
432 The bible an imposture and a cheat?
433 The praises of the libertine profess'd,
434 The worst of men, and curses of the best.
435 Where should the living, weeping o'er his woes,
436 The dying, trembling at their awful close,
437 Where the betray'd, forsaken and oppress'd,
438 The thousands whom the world forbids to rest,
439 Where should they find (those comforts at an end
440 The scripture yields) or hope to find a friend?
441 Sorrow might muse herself to madness then,
442 And seeking exile from the sight of men,
443 Bury herself in solitude profound,
444 Grow frantic with her pangs and bite the ground.
445 Thus often unbelief grown sick of life,
446 Flies to the tempting pool or felon knife,
447 The jury meet, the coroner is short,
448 And lunacy the verdict of the court:[Page 96]
449 Reverse the sentence, let the truth be known,
450 Such lunacy is ignorance alone;
451 They knew not, what some bishops may not know,
452 That scripture is the only cure of woe:
453 That field of promise, how it flings abroad
454 Its odour o'er the Christians thorny road;
455 The soul reposing on assur'd relief,
456 Feels herself happy amidst all her grief,
457 Forgets her labour as she toils along,
458 Weeps tears of joy, and bursts into a song.
459 But the same word that like the polish'd share
460 Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care,
461 Kills too the flow'ry weeds wheree'r they grow,
462 That bind the sinner's Bacchanalian brow.
463 Oh that unwelcome voice of heav'nly love,
464 Sad messenger of mercy from above,
465 How does it grate upon his thankless ear,
466 Crippling his pleasures with the cramp of fear!
467 His will and judgment at continual strife,
468 That civil war imbitters all his life;[Page 97]
469 In vain he points his pow'rs against the skies,
470 In vain he closes or averts his eyes,
471 Truth will intrude — she bids him yet beware —
472 And shakes the sceptic in the scorner's chair.
473 Though various foes against the truth combine,
474 Pride above all opposes her design;
475 Pride, of a growth superior to the rest,
476 The subtlest serpent with the loftiest crest,
477 Swells at the thought, and kindling into rage,
478 Would hiss the cherub mercy from the stage.
479 And is the soul indeed so lost, she cries,
480 Fall'n from her glory and too weak to rise,
481 Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone,
482 Has she no spark that may be deem'd her own?
483 Grant her indebted to what zealots call
484 Grace undeserv'd, yet surely not for all —
485 Some beams of rectitude she yet displays,
486 Some love of virtue and some pow'r to praise,
487 Can lift herself above corporeal things,
488 And soaring on her own unborrow'd wings,[Page 98]
489 Possess herself of all that's good or true,
490 Assert the skies, and vindicate her due.
491 Past indiscretion is a venial crime,
492 And if the youth, unmellow'd yet by time,
493 Bore on his branch luxuriant then, and rude,
494 Fruits of a blighted size, austere and crude,
495 Maturer years shall happier stores produce,
496 And meliorate the well concocted juice.
497 Then conscious of her meritorious zeal,
498 To justice she may make her bold appeal,
499 And leave to mercy with a tranquil mind,
500 The worthless and unfruitful of mankind.
501 Hear then how mercy slighted and defied,
502 Retorts th' affront against the crown of pride.
503 Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhorr'd,
504 And the fool with it that insults his Lord.
505 Th' atonement a Redeemer's love has wrought
506 Is not for you, — the righteous need it not.
507 Seest thou yon harlot wooing all she meets
508 The worn-out nuisance of the public streets,[Page 99]
509 Herself from morn to night, from night to morn,
510 Her own abhorrence, and as much your scorn,
511 The gracious show'r, unlimited and free,
512 Shall fall on her, when heav'n denies it thee.
513 Of all that wisdom dictates, this the drift,
514 That man is dead in sin, and life a gift.
515 Is virtue then, unless of christian growth,
516 Mere fallacy, or foolishness, or both,
517 Ten thousand sages lost in endless woe,
518 For ignorance of what they could not know?
519 That speech betrays at once a bigot's tongue,
520 Charge not a God with such outrageous wrong.
521 Truly not I — the partial light men have,
522 My creed persuades me, well employed may save,
523 While he that scorns the noon-day beam perverse,
524 Shall find the blessing, unimprov'd, a curse.
525 Let heathen worthies whose exalted mind,
526 Left sensuality and dross behind,
527 Possess for me their undisputed lot,
528 And take unenvied the reward they sought.[Page 100]
529 But still in virtue of a Savior's plea,
530 Not blind by choice, but destin'd not to see.
531 Their fortitude and wisdom were a flame
532 Celestial, though they knew not whence it came,
533 Deriv'd from the same source of light and grace
534 That guides the christian in his swifter race;
535 Their judge was conscience, and her rule their law,
536 That rule pursued with rev'rence and with awe,
537 Led them, however fault'ring, faint and slow,
538 From what they knew, to what they wish'd to know;
539 But let not him that shares a brighter day,
540 Traduce the splendor of a noon-tide ray,
541 Prefer the twilight of a darker time,
542 And deem his base stupidity no crime;
543 The wretch that slights the bounty of the skies,
544 And sinks while favour'd with the means to rise,
545 Shall find them rated at their full amount,
546 The good he scorn'd all carried to account.
547 Marshalling all his terrors as he came,
548 Thunder and earthquake and devouring flame,[Page 101]
549 From Sinai's top Jehovah gave the law,
550 Life for obedience, death for ev'ry flaw.
551 When the great sov'reign would his will express.
552 He gives a perfect rule; what can he less?
553 And guards it with a sanction as severe
554 As vengeance can inflict, or sinners fear:
555 Else his own glorious rights he would disclaim,
556 And man might safely trifle with his name:
557 He bids him glow with unremitting love
558 To all on earth, and to himself above;
559 Condemns th' injurious deed, the sland'rous tongue,
560 The thought that meditates a brother's wrong;
561 Brings not alone, the more conspicuous part,
562 His conduct to the test, but tries his heart.
563 Hark! universal nature shook and groan'd,
564 'Twas the last trumpet — see the judge enthron'd:
565 Rouse all your courage at your utmost need,
566 Now summon ev'ry virtue, stand and plead.
567 What, silent? Is your boasting heard no more?
568 That self-renouncing wisdom learn'd before,[Page 102]
569 Had shed immortal glories on your brow,
570 That all your virtues cannot purchase now.
571 All joy to the believer! He can speak —
572 Trembling yet happy, confident yet meek.
573 Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot,
574 And cut up all my follies by the root,
575 I never trusted in an arm but thine,
576 Nor hop'd, but in thy righteousness divine:
577 My pray'rs and alms, imperfect and defil'd,
578 Were but the feeble efforts of a child,
579 Howe'er perform'd, it was their brightest part,
580 That they proceeded from a grateful heart:
581 Cleans'd in thine own all-purifying blood,
582 Forgive their evil and accept their good;
583 I cast them at thy feet — my only plea
584 Is what it was, dependence upon thee;
585 While struggling in the vale of tears below,
586 That never fail'd, nor shall it fail me now.
587 Angelic gratulations rend the skies,
588 Pride falls unpitied, never more to rise,
589 Humility is crown'd, and faith receives the prize.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): TRUTH.
Author: William Cowper
Themes: religion; virtue; vice
Genres: heroic couplet; essay
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.
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