THE TRIALS OF VIRTUE.
1 PLac'd on the verge of Youth, my mind
2 Life's opening scene survey'd:
3 I view'd its hills of various kind,
4 Afflicted and afraid.
5 But chief my fear the dangers mov'd,
6 That Virtue's path inclose:
7 My heart the wise pursuit approv'd;
8 But O, what toils oppose!
9 For see, ah! see, while yet her ways
10 With doubtful step I tread,
11 A hostile World its terrors raise,
12 Its snares delusive spread.
13 O! how shall I, with heart prepar'd,
14 Those terrors learn to meet?
15 How from the thousand snares to guard
16 My unexperienc'd feet?
17 As thus I mus'd, oppresive Sleep
18 Soft o'er my temples drew
19 Oblivion's veil. The watry Deep,
20 An object strange and new,
21 Before me rose: on the wide shore
22 Observant as I stood,
23 The gathering storms around me roar,
24 And heave the boiling flood.
25 Near and more near the billows rise;
26 Ev'n now my steps they lave;
27 And Death to my affrighted eyes
28 Approach'd in every wave.
29 What hope, or whither to retreat?
30 Each nerve at once unstrung,
31 Chill Fear had fetter'd fast my feet,
32 And chain'd my speechless tongue.
33 I feel my heart within me die;
34 When sudden to mine ear
35 A voice descending from on high
36 Reprov'd my erring fear.
37 "What tho' the swelling surge thou see
38 " Impatient to devour?
39 "Rest, Mortal, rest on God's decree,
40 " And thankful own his power.
41 "Know, when he bade the Deep appear,
42 " Thus far, th' Almignty said,
43 "Thus far, nor farther, rage; and Here
44 " Let thy proud waves be stay'd.
45 I heard: and lo! at once controul'd,
46 The waves in wild retreat
47 Back on themselves reluctant roll'd
48 And murm'ring left my feet.
49 Deeps to assembling Deeps in vain
50 Once more the signal gave:
51 The shores the rushing weight sustain,
52 And check th' usurping wave.
53 Convinc'd, in Nature's volume wise
54 The imag'd truth I read;
55 And sudden from my waking eyes
56 Th' instructive Vision fled.
57 Then why thus heavy, O my Soul!
58 Say why, distrustful still,
59 Thy thoughts with vain impatience roll
60 O'er scenes of future ill.
61 Let Faith suppress each rising fear,
62 Each anxious doubt exclude:
63 Thy Maker's will has plac'd thee here,
64 A Maker wise and good!
65 He to thy every trial knows
66 Its just restraint to give,
67 Attentive to behold thy woes,
68 And faithful to relieve.
69 Then why thus heavy, O my Soul!
70 Say why, distrustful still,
71 Thy thoughts with vain impatience roll
72 O'er scenes of future ill.
73 Tho' griefs unnumber'd throng thee round,
74 Still in thy God confide,
75 Whose singer marks the Seas their bound,
76 And curbs the headlong Tide.