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“ It, unuwures, asserts immortal life.”
Surprising ! infidelity turns out
A creed, and a confession of our sins:
Apostates, thus, are orthodox divines.
Lorenzo ! with Lorenzo clash no more;
Nor longer a transparent vizor wear.
Think'st thou, religion only has her mask?
Our infidels are Satan's hypocrites,
Pretend the worst, and, at the bottom, fail.
When visited by thought (thought will intrude),
Like him they serve, they tremble and believe.
Is their hypocrisy so foul as this ;
So fatal to the welfare of the world ?
What detestation, what contempt, their due !
And, if unpaid, be thank'd for their escape
That Christian candour they strive hard to scorn :
If not for that asylum, they might find
A Hell on Earth ; nor 'scape a worse below.
With insolence, and impotence of thought, Instead of racking fancy, to refute, Reform thy manners, and the truth enjoy. — But shall I dare confess the dire result ? Can thy proud reason brook so black a brand ? From purer manners, to sublimer faith, Is Nature's unavoidable ascent; An honest deist, where the Gospel shines, Matur'd to nobler, in the Christian ends. When that blest change arrives, e'en cast aside This song superfluous; life immortal strikes Conviction, in a flood of light divine. A Christian dwells, like Uriel *, in the Sun;
Meridian evidence puts doubt to fight ;
And ardent hope anticipates the skies.
Of that bright Sun, Lorenzo! scale the sphere;
'T is easy! it invites thee; it descends
From Heaven to woo, and waft thee whence it
Read and revere the sacred page ; a page
Where triumphs immortality ; a page
Which not the whole creation could produce;
Which not the conflagration shall destroy:
'T is printed in the mind of gods for ever,
In Nature's ruins not one letter lost.
In proud disdain of what e'en gods adore, Dost smile? - Poor wretch! thy guardian angel
weeps. Angels, and men, assent to what I sing ; Wits smile, and thank me for my midnight dreams How vicious hearts fume phrenzy to the brain ! Parts push us on to pride, and pride to shame; Pert infidelity is wit's cockade, To grace the brazen brow that braves the skies, By loss of being, dreadfully secure. Lorenzo ! if thy doctrine wins the day, And drives my dreams, defeated, from the field; If this is all, if Earth a final scene, Take heed ; stand fast; be sure to be a knave, A knave in grain! ne'er deviate to the right : Shouldst thou be good -- how infinite thy loss ! Guilt only makes annihilation gain." Blest scheme ! which life deprives of comfort, death Of hope ; and which vice only recommends. If so, where, infidels! your bait, thrown out
To catch weak converts ? where your lofty boast Of zeal for virtue, and of love to man? Annihilation! I confess, in these.
What can reclaim you? Dare I hope profound Philosophers the converts of a song ? Yet know, its title * flatters you, not me ; Yours be the praise to make my title good; Mine, to bless Heaven, and triumph in your praise. But since so pestilential your disease, Though sovereign is the medicine I prescribe, As yet, I'll neither triumph, nor despair : But hope, ere long, my midnight dream will wake. Your hearts, and teach your wisdom - to be wise : For why should souls immortal, made for bliss, E'er wish, (and wish in vain !) that souls could die ? What ne'er can die, oh! grant to live ; and crown The wish, and aim, and labour of the skies; Increase, and enter on the joys of Heaven : Thus shall my title pass a sacred seal, Receive an imprimatur from above, While angels shout -- An Infidel Reclaim'd!
To close, Lorenzo ! spite of all my pains,
Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live for
Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all ?
This is a miracle; and that no more.
Who gave beginning, can exclude an end.
Deny thou art: then, doubt if thou shalt be.
A miracle with miracles enclos'd,
Is man: and starts his faith at what is strange ?
What less than wonders, from the wonderful;
What less than miracles, from God, can flow?
Admit a God that mystery supreme !
That cause uncaus'd! all other wonders cease;
Nothing is marvellous for him to do:
Deny him -- all is mystery besides :
Millions of mysteries ! each darker far,
Than that thy wisdom would, unwisely, shun.
If weak thy faith, why choose the harder side ?
We nothing know, but what is marvellous;
Yet what is marvellous, we can't believe.
So weak our reason, and so great our God,
What most surprises in the sacred page,
Or full as strange, or stranger, must be true.
Faith is not reason's labour, but repose.
To faith, and virtue, why so backward, man?
From hence: - The present strongly strikes us all ;
The future, faintly; can we, then, be men?
If men, Lorenzo! the reverse is right.
Reason is man's peculiar : sense, the brute's.
The present is the scanty realm of sense ;
The future, reason's empire unconfin'd:
On that expending all her godlike power,
She plans, provides, expatiates, triumphs, there ;
There builds her blessings ! there expects her praise ;
And nothing asks of fortune, or of men.
And what is reason? Be she, thus, defin'd;
Reason is upright stature in the soul.
Oh ! be a man ; and strive to be a god.
“ For what? (thou say'st) To damp the joys of life?"
No; to give heart and substance to thy joys.
That tyrant, hope ; mark how she domineers;
She bids us quit realities, for dreams;
Safety and peace, for hazard and alarm ;
That tyrant o'er the tyrants of the soul,
She bids ambition quit its taken prize,
Spurn the luxuriant branch on which it sits,
Though bearing crowns, to spring at distant game;
And plunge in toils and dangers - for repose.
If hope precarious, and of things, when gain'd,
Of little moment, and as little stay,
Can sweeten toils and dangers into joys;
What then, that hope, which nothing can defeat,
Our leave unask'd? Rich hope of boundless bliss !
Bliss, past man's power to paint it; time's to close !
This hope is Earth's most estimable prize :
This is man's portion, while no more than man:
Hope, of all passions, most befriends us here ;
Passions of prouder name befriend us less.
Joy has her tears; and transport has her death;
Hope, like a cordial, innocent, though strong,
Man's heart, at once, inspirits, and serenes ;
Nor makes him pay his wisdom for his joys;
'T is all our present state can safely bear,
Health to the frame ! and vigour to the mind.
A joy attemper'd! a chastis'd delight!
Like the fair summer evening, mild and sweet!
'Tis man's full cup; his Paradise below!
A blest hereafter, then, or hop'd, or gain'd,
Is all; our whole of happiness : full proof,
I chose no trivial or inglorious theme.
And know, ye foes to song! (well-meaning men,
Though quite forgotten half your Bible’s praise * !)
* The poetical parts of it.