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Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous harvest, to the prayer he makes,
When, Isaac like, the solitary saint
Walks forth to meditate at eventide,
And thinks on her who thinks not for herself ;
Forgive him then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an idler in the best,
If, author of no mischief and some good,
He seeks his proper happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine.
Nor, though he tread the secret path of life,
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease,
Account him an incumbrance on the state,
Receiving benefits and rendering none.
His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example, and though small
His influence, if that influence all be spent
In soothing sorrow and in quenching strife,
In aiding helpless indigence, in works
From which at least a grateful few derive
Some taste of comfort in a world of wo;
Then let the supercilious great confess
He serves his country, recompenses well
The state, beneath the shadow of whose vine
He sits secure, and in the scale of life
Holds no ignoble, though a slighted place.
The man whose virtues are more felt than seen,
Must drop indeed the hope of public praise ;
But he may boast, what few that win it can,
That, if his country stand not by his skill,
At least his follies have not wrought her fall.
Polite refinement offers him in vain
Her golden tube, through which a sensual world
Draws gross impurity, and likes it well;
The neat conveyance hiding all the offence.
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode,
Because that world adopts it. If it bear
The stamp and clear impression of good sense,
And be not costly, more than of true worth,
He puts it on, and for decorum sake
Can wear it e'en as gracefully as she.
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not soon deceived ; aware that what is base .
No polish can make sterling ; and that vice,
Though well perfumed and elegantly dressed,
Like an unburied carcass tricked with flowers,
Is but a garnished nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renowned in ancient song ; not vexed with care,
Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfilled,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all,
That men have deemed substantial since the fall,
Yet has the wondrous virtue to educe
From emptiness itself a real use ;
And while she takes, as at a father's hand,
What health and sober appetite demand,
From fading good derives, with chemic art,
That lasting happiness, a thankful heart.
Hope, with uplifted foot, set free from earth,
Pants for the place of her ethereal birth,
On steady wings sails through th' immense abyss,
Plucks amaranthine joys from bowers of bliss,
And crowns the soul, while yet a mourner here,
With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear.
Hope, as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast
The Christian vessel, and defies the blast.
Hope! nothing else can nourish and secure
His newborn virtues and preserve him pure.
Hope ! let the wretch, once conscious of the joy,
Whom now despairing agonies destroy,
Speak, for he can, and none so well as he,
What treasures centre, what delights, in thee.
Had he the gems, the spices, and the land
That boasts the treasure, all at his command ;
The fragrant grove, th' inestimable mine,
Were light, when viewed against one smile of thine.
ON A BILL OF MORTALITY. Could I, from heaven inspired, as sure presage
To whom the rising year shall prove his last, As I can number in my punctual page,
And item down the victims of the past ! How each would trembling wait the mournful sheet,
On which the press might stamp him next to die ; And, reading here his sentence, how replete
With anxious meaning, heavenward turn his eye! Time then would seem more precious than the joys
In which he sports away the treasure now; And prayer more seasonable than the noise
Of drunkards, or the music-drawing bow. Then doubtless many a trifler, on the brink
Of this world's hazardous and headlong shore, Forced to a pause, would feel it good to think,
Told that his setting sun must rise no more. Ah! self-deceived ! Could I prophetic say
Who next is fated, and who next to fall, The rest might then seem privileged to play, But, naming none, the voice now speaks to All.
Observe the dappled foresters, how light
They bound and airy o'er the sunny glade-
One falls—the rest, wide scattered with affright,
Vanish at once into the darkest shade.
Had we their wisdom, should we, often warned,
Still need repeated warnings, and at last,
A thousand awful admonitions scorned,
Die self-accused of life run all to waste ? Sad waste! for which no after thrift atones :
The grave admits no cure for guilt or sin ; Dew-drops may deck the turf that hides the bones,
But tears of godly grief ne'er flow within. Learn then, ye living ! by the mouths be taught
Of all these sepulchres, instructors true, That, soon or late, death also is your lot,
And the next opening grave may yawn for you.
RELIGION NOT ADVERSE TO PLEASURE. Religion does not censure or exclude Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued ; To study, culture, and with artful toil To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil ; To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands The grain, or herb, or plant, that each demands ; To cherish virtue in an humble state, And share the joys your bounty may create; To mark the matchless workings of the power That shuts within its seed the future flower ; Bids these in elegance of form excel, In color these, and those delight the smell ; Sends nature forth, the daughter of the skies, To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes ; To teach the canvass innocent deceit, Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheetThese, these are arts pursued without a crime, That leave no stain upon the wing of time.
THE ENCHANTMENT DISSOLVED.
BLINDED in youth by Satan's arts,
The world to our unpractised hearts
A flattering prospect shows ;
Our fancy forms a thousand schemes
Of gay delights, and golden dreams,
And undisturbed repose.
So in the desert's dreary waste,
By magic power produced in haste,
(As ancient fables say,)
Castles, and groves, and music sweet,
The senses of the traveller meet,
And stop him in his way.
But while he listens with surprise,
The charm dissolves, the vision dies;
'Twas but enchanted ground : Thus if the Lord our spirits touch, The world, which promised us so much,
A wilderness is found.
At first we start, and feel distressed,
Convinced we never can have rest
In such a wretched place;
But He whose mercy breaks the charm,
Reveals his own Almighty arm,
And bids us seek his face.
Then we begin to live indeed,
When from our sin and bondage freed
By this beloved Friend :
We follow Him from day to day,
Assured of grace through all the way,
And glory at the end.