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He found the laurel only-happier you
Th' unfading laurel, and the virgin too*!
Now think, if Pleasure have a thought to spare;
If God himself be not beneath her care;
If Business, constant as the wheels of time,
Can pause an hour to read a serious rhime;
If the new mail thy merchants now receive,
Or expectation of the next give leave;
Oh think, if chargeable with deep arrears
For such indulgence gilding all thy years,
How much, though long neglected, shining yet,
The beams of heav'nly truth have swell d the debt.
When persecuting zeal made royal sport
With tortur'd innocence in Mary's court,
And Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake,
Enjoy'd the show, and danc'd about the stake;
The sacred book, it's value understood,
Receiv'd the seal of martyrdom in blood.
Those holy men, so full of truth and grace,
Seem to resection of a diff'rent race,
Meek, modest, venerable, wise, sincere,
In such a cause they could not dare to fear;
Alluding to the grant of Magna Charta, which was extorted from King John by the barons at Runnymede near Windsor.
They could not purchase Earth with such a prize,
Or spare a life too short to reach the skies.
From them to thee convey'd along the tide,
Their streaming hearts pour'd freely, when they died,
Those truths, which neither use nor years impair,
Invite thee, woo thee, to the bliss they share.
What dotage will not vanity maintain ?
What web too weak to catch a modern brain?
The moles and bats in full assembly find,
On special search, the keen-ey'd eagle blind.
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now!
Prove it—if better, I submit and bow.
Wisdom and Goodness are twin-born, one heart
Must hold both sisters, never seen apart.
So then--as darkness overspread the deep,
Ere Nature rose from her eternal sleep,
And this delightful Earth, and that fair sky,
Leap'd out of nothing, call'd by the Most High;
By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might;
And He, whose pow'r mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, form'd thee for his praise.
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suff'ring, his unquestion'd will;
'Tis to believe what men inspir'd of old,
Faithful, and faithfully inform'd, unfold:
Candid and just, with no false aim in view,
To take for truth, what cannot but be true;
To learn in God's own school the Christian part,
And bind the task assign'd thee to thine heart:
Happy the man there seeking and there found,
happy the nation where such men abound.
How shall a verse impress thee? by what namé
Shall I adjure thée not to court thy shame?
By theirs, whose bright example unimpeach'd
Directs thee to that eminence they reach'd,
Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sires ?
Or his, who touch'd their hearts with hallow'd fires?
Their names, alas! in vain reproach an age,
Whom all the vanities they scorn'd engage!
And His, that seraphs tremble at, is hung
Disgracefully on ev'ry trifler's tongue,
Or serves the champion in forensic war
To flourish and parade with at the bar.
Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea,
If int’rest move thee, to persuade ev’n thee;
By ev'ry charm, that smiles upon her face,
By joys possess’d, and joys still held in chase,
If dear society be worth a thought,
And if the feast of freedom cloy thee not,
Reflect that these, and all that seems thine own,
Held by the tenure of his will alone,
Like angels in the service of their Lord,
Remain with thee, or leave thee at his word;
That gratitude and temp'rance in our use
Of what he gives, unsparing and profuse,
Secure the favour, and enhance the joy,
That thankless waste, and wild abuse destroy.
But above all reflect, how cheap soe'er
Those rights, that millions envy thee, appear,
And, though resolv'd to risk them, and swim down
The tide of pleasure, heedless of His frown,
That blessings truly sacred, and when giv'n
Mark’d with the signature and stamp of Heav'n,
The word of prophecy, those truths divine,
Which make that Heav'n, if thou desire it, thine,
(Awful alternative! believ'd, belov'd,
Thy glory, and thy shame if unimprov’d)
Are never long vouchsaf'd, if push'd aside
With cold disgust or philosophic pride!
And that, judicially withdrawn, disgrace,
Errour, and darkness occupy their place.
A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot Not quickly found, if negligently sought, Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small, Endur'st the brunt, and dar'st defy them all: And wilt thou join to this bold enterprise A bolder still, a contest with the skies? Remember, if He guard thee and secure, Whoe'er assails thee, thy success is sure; But if He leave thee, though the skill and pow'r Of nations, sworn to spoil thee and devour, Were all collected in thy single armi, And thou couldst laugh away the fear of harnı, That strength would fail, oppos'd against the push And feeble onset of a pigmy rush.
Say not (and if the thought of such defence Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence) What nation amongst all my foes is free From crimes as base as any charg'd on me? Their measure fill'd, they too shall pay
the debt; Which God, though long forborn, will not forget. But know that Wrath divine, when most severe, Makes justice still the guide of his career, And will not punish, in one mingled crowd, Them without light, and thee without a cloud.