1 BRIGHT emanation of all right'ous power,
2 Religion! bear me to thy sacred bower;
3 Where fix'd in faith, by holy patience bless'd,
4 Calm resignation yields the wretched rest;
5 Where hope divine to penitence is given,
6 Beams in each breast, and lists the soul to heaven.
7 Ye sons of shew, ye unreflecting gay,
8 Time-trifling youth, the splendors of a day;
9 Who lightly bounding o'er life's surface skim,
10 Monarchs of mode, and worshippers of whim.
11 Thus, thro' the air, the wing-poiz'd warbler sings;
12 Wanton thus flies, display their painted wings:
[Page 8]
13 So struts the fowl, with eye-bespangled train,
14 Like you self pleas'd; as pretty, and as vain.
15 The time must come when dress and dancing's o'er,
16 And your frail forms can play the fool no more:
17 E'er 'tis too late, look with religious eyes;
18 Think, think, ye faulty, and be timely wise.
19 Ye tender, lovely, love-inspiring race,
20 Whose words are music, and whose motion grace;
21 Whose soft endearing looks insidious play,
22 Feast the fond eye, and snatch the soul away.
23 Ye laughing sex, who vainly wanton, rove
24 Thro' the Elysium of unbounded love:
25 Tho' round enamour'd crouds observant sigh,
26 Watch the soft smile, and catch the glancing eye;
27 Still must you lose this sense-ensnaring form,
28 And what now feeds your lover, feast a worm.
29 Yet, yet, ye conscious beauty-beaming train,
30 A moment think; then, if ye dare, be vain.
[Page 9]
31 Dispassion'd race! ye wealthy slaves of care,
32 Whose cheeks ne'er felt the trickling, tender tear;
33 Whose breasts ne'er heav'd with sympathetic sigh;
34 Whose hearts ne'er open'd to the asking eye.
35 Ye sons of trade, ye busy tasteless train,
36 Whose God is gold, and whose religion gain;
37 Your greedy minds, to social joys unknown,
38 In one, dull, drudging round, rowl restless on.
39 Can you expect a charity from Heav'n?
40 Shall you! ye stubborn hearted, be forgiv'n?
41 Fruitless your sighs, repentant, will appear;
42 You'll want that mercy you derided here;
43 Unmov'd the Godhead will your sorrows view,
44 As weeping want, on earth, was seen by you.
45 Star-lustred breasts, ye court-delectant race,
46 Ye souls of honour, and ye sons of place,
47 Big with each blessing that attends a throne,
48 On the low wealthless look contemptuous down:
[Page 10]
49 Yet, spite of pride, the statesman and the slave.
50 Rise, undistinguish'd, from the equal grave.
51 Go search within for all ennobled earth;
52 Go teach the tomb-bred worm respect to birth
53 Correct his feeding, and refine his taste:
54 Alas!
55 Courtiers and clowns compose alike his feast
56 What will avail the di'monds sparkling blaze,
57 The glare of titles, or the vulgar's gaze,
58 When worn-out nature panting gasps for breath,
59 And friends fly, frighted, from the face of death?
60 "To the sad sense what then can give content"
61 "The sweet reflection of a life well spent."
62 Calm each great soul quits his clay-cumb'rous load.
63 Springs to the skies, and humbly waits his God.
64 While the low wretch, by crime rais'd wealth-grown great,
65 Starts at life's loss; and, frightful, meets his fate;
[Page 11]
66 Wide-op'ning, wild he rowls his ghastful eyes:
67 He shakes; he shrinks; and, agonizing, cries,
68 "Have mercy, Heav'n! Can I its mercy share?
69 " See! grief-stab'd merit opes its bosom there:
70 "Hear, from the grave, the plaintive orphan's groan
71 " Bursts sorrowing forth, and strikes the heav'nly "throne.
72 " Hark! the lust-ruin'd fair extends her cries,
73 "And the sound shakes along the trembling skies"
74 What shall we say in that great day of dread,
75 When the rent graves shall render back their dead?
76 When, at the trumpet's sound, the clouds give way,
77 And the world blazes in eternal day?
78 There the fierce tyrant feels th' avenging rod,
79 And pride sinks trembling at the sight of God;
80 There suff'ring virtue happiness receives;
81 There the fool'd atheist, tho' too late, believes:
82 The poor lost sinner hears th' eternal doom;
83 And, woe appall'd, clings shudd'ring to his tomb.
[Page 12]
84 Bring, ye bright fair, your love-attending crouds;
85 Command your slain, ye heroes, from their shrouds;
86 Ye prime in state display your deepest schemes;
87 And, ye nice wits, your fancy-forming dreams;
88 Try, try, ye proud, in that tremendous hour,
89 The skill of science, or the strength of pow'r,
90 Self-pleasing wisdom, the renown of birth,
91 All, all the vis'onary joys of earth;
92 Lay them before the universal Lord;
93 Go, plead your merits, and revoke his word.
94 Sooner shall shadows stop the light'ning's blaze
95 Or gloworms dim the sun's refulgent rays.
96 But chiefly you to whom the word was giv'n
97 Soul-saving sect, ye delegates of Heav'n;
98 Whose pious toils dispel the sinner's fear,
99 Stop the throb'd sigh, and dry confession's fear.
[Page 13]
100 Thus, but unpension'd, th' apostles went
101 On foot, coarse clad, with homely fare content,
102 Declar'd the dictates of th' almighty Lord,
103 But prov'd no doctrine by the dint of sword.
104 Love, justice, faith, humility they press'd,
105 Yet threaten'd no damnation to the rest.
106 Plain and unsully'd, like the simple maid,
107 Religion bloom'd, by int'rest unallay'd:
108 Leal truly servent, penitence sincere,
109 Bill'd the wrap'd soul, and spoke the heart-selt pray'r.
110 Then social bliss descended from above,
111 Spread thro' each sex, and ripen'd into love:
112 No feign'd desires fed th' heavenly flame;
113 Pure blaz'd the passion, as from God it came:
114 All beings then with mutual rapture strove;
115 Love was religion; and religion, love.
[Page 14]
116 Ye motley sons, compos'd of noise and shew;
117 Ye beauty-haunting, gingling, glitt'ring crew
118 Tho' round the fair you ever fondly rove;
119 Think not, insipids, you were form'd for love.
120 Scorn worldly wealth, ye pray'r-deliv'ring race,
121 Heav'n equal hears equal dispenses place:
122 With soul-felt awe adore all nature's Lord;
123 Boldly proclaim his wonder-working word:
124 Snatch the smooth mask from the rich sinner's face;
125 Check the gay vicious in their guilty race:
126 Humble the haughty, bend the scoffer down,
127 And scourge the shameless, tho' the pow'rful frown.
128 Raise, tho' in rags, and lend the wretched cure,
129 Assist the friendless, and protect the poor:
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130 Bounteous, o'er earth, the sun bestows his rays,
131 Shines o'er a throne, and thro' the cottage plays:
132 Bounteous thus Heav'n the gospel-light has spread;
133 Pure you receive, return it unallay'd:
134 Shun the mean wrangling, syllogistic rules;
135 Scorn quibbling logic, and the modes of schools;
136 Free from dull, learned jargon, plainly preach,
137 And act with ardour up to what you teach.
138 Ye congregated lay, who duly creep
139 As the bell tolls for church to fall asleep.
140 Ye well-dress'd train who modishly resort,
141 And treat the temple as you use the court.
142 Ye senseless rude who, with affrontive stare,
143 Blush the meek beauty in her hour of pray'r.
[Page 16]
144 Ye empty idlings, who insipid smile,
145 Prettily pacing thro' the sounding isle;
146 Devotion's hour, loit'ring, laugh away;
147 Too nice to kneel, and much too proud to pray
148 No more, ye vain, the sacred dome debase,
149 Wanton with worship, and your God disgrace,
150 With me fall prostrate penitent adore;
151 Confess your errors, and offend no more.
152 By chance condemn'd to wander from my birth
153 An erring exile, o'er the face of earth,
154 Wild thro' the world of vice; licentious race!
155 I've started folly, and enjoy'd the chace:
156 Pleas'd with each passion, I pursu'd their aim,
157 Cheer'd the gay pack, and grasp'd the guilty game;
[Page 17]
158 Revell'd regardless, leap'd reflection o'er,
159 'Till youth, 'till health, fame, fortune, are no more:
160 Too late I feel the thought-corroding pain
161 Of sharp remembrance, and severe disdain:
162 Each painted pleasure its avenger breeds;
163 Sorrow's sad train, to riot's troop succeeds:
164 Slow wasting sickness steals on swift debauch;
165 Contempt on pride, pale wants on waste approach.
166 Scorn'd by the sad, the cynie, and the dull,
167 The wou'd-be wit, and milky minded fool.
168 Eternal Good! from Thee our hope descends;
169 With Thee it centers, and in Thee it ends:
170 To Thee, with shame-torn heart, I trembling kneel;
171 Heal me with mercy; oh! my Saviour, heal!
172 Great Lord of life, if daring I request,
173 Still let me sigh among mankind unbless'd;
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174 Still sickness, shipwrecks, prisons, plagues to know;
175 Whate'er my fate is still my faith's in you:
176 Still shall thy name attune thy suppliant's song;
177 Still shall thy praise dwell rapt'rous on his tongue
178 Wretched or bless'd, still shall I always own,
179 Whate'er I feel, Heav'n's holy will be done.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): RELIGION. A RHAPSODY.
Genres: heroic couplet

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Source edition

Stevens, George Alexander, 1710-1784. Religion: or, the libertine repentant: A rhapsody. By George Alexander Stevens. London: printed and sold by W. Reeve; and F. Noble, 1751, pp. []-18. 18p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T46712; OTA K043977.000)

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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 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 4.0.0.