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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : TO THE HONOURABLE MR YORKE.

Youngs Night Thoughts by Edward Young

TO THE HONOURABLE MR YORKE.

NIGHT FOURTH.

THE CHRISTIAN TRIUMPH.

A much-indebted muse, O Yorke! intrudes.

Amid the smiles of fortune, and of youth,

Thine ear is patient of a serious song.

How deep implanted in the breast of man

The dread of death! I sing its sovereign cure.

Why start at Death? Where is he? Death arrived,

Is past; not come, or gone, he's never here.

Ere hope, sensation fails; black-boding man

Receives, not suffers, Death's tremendous blow.

The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave; 10

The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm;

These are the bugbears of a winter's eve,

The terrors of the living, not the dead.

Imagination's fool, and error's wretch,

Man makes a death, which nature never made;

Then on the point of his own fancy falls;

And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one.

But were death frightful, what has age to fear?

If prudent, age should meet the friendly foe,

And shelter in his hospitable gloom.20

I scarce can meet a monument, but holds

My younger; every date cries -- |Come away.|

And what recalls me? Look the world around,

And tell me what: the wisest cannot tell.

Should any born of woman give his thought

Full range, on just dislike's unbounded field;

Of things, the vanity; of men, the flaws;

Flaws in the best; the many, flaw all o'er;

As leopards, spotted, or, as Ethiops, dark;

Vivacious ill; good dying immature; 30

(How immature, Narcissa's marble tells!)

And at his death bequeathing endless pain;

His heart, though bold, would sicken at the sight,

And spend itself in sighs, for future scenes.

But grant to life (and just it is to grant

To lucky life) some perquisites of joy;

A time there is, when, like a thrice-told tale,

Long-rifled life of sweet can yield no more,

But from our comment on the comedy,

Pleasing reflections on parts well sustain'd, 40

Or purposed emendations where we fail'd,

Or hopes of plaudits from our candid Judge,

When, on their exit, souls are bid unrobe,

Toss fortune back her tinsel, and her plume,

And drop this mask of flesh behind the scene.

With me, that time is come; my world is dead;

A new world rises, and new manners reign:

Foreign comedians, a spruce band! arrive,

To push me from the scene, or hiss me there.

What a pert race starts up! the strangers gaze, 50

And I at them; my neighbour is unknown;

Nor that the worst: ah me! the dire effect

Of loitering here, of Death defrauded long;

Of old so gracious (and let that suffice), 54

My very master knows me not. --

Shall I dare say, peculiar is the fate?

I've been so long remember'd, I'm forgot.

An object ever pressing dims the sight,

And hides behind its ardour to be seen.

When in his courtiers' ears I pour my plaint, 60

They drink it as the nectar of the great;

And squeeze my hand, and beg me come to-morrow.

Refusal! canst thou wear a smoother form?

Indulge me, nor conceive I drop my theme:

Who cheapens life, abates the fear of death:

Twice told the period spent on stubborn Troy,

Court favour, yet untaken, I besiege;

Ambition's ill-judged effort to be rich.

Alas! ambition makes my little less;

Embittering the possess'd: Why wish for more? 70

Wishing, of all employments, is the worst;

Philosophy's reverse; and health's decay!

Were I as plump as stall'd theology,

Wishing would waste me to this shade again.

Were I as wealthy as a South Sea dream,

Wishing is an expedient to be poor.

Wishing, that constant hectic of a fool;

Caught at a court; purged off by purer air,

And simpler diet; gifts of rural life!

Bless'd be that hand divine, which gently laid 80

My heart at rest, beneath this humble shed.

The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas,

With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril;

Here, on a single plank, thrown safe ashore,

I hear the tumult of the distant throng,

As that of seas remote, or dying storms:

And meditate on scenes, more silent still;

Pursue my theme, and fight the fear of death.88

Here, like a shepherd gazing from his hut,

Touching his reed, or leaning on his staff,

Eager ambition's fiery chace I see;

I see the circling hunt, of noisy men,

Burst law's enclosure, leap the mounds of right,

Pursuing, and pursued, each other's prey;

As wolves, for rapine; as the fox, for wiles;

Till Death, that mighty hunter, earths them all.

Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?

What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame?

Earth's highest station ends in |Here he lies:|

And |Dust to dust| concludes her noblest song.100

If this song lives, posterity shall know

One, though in Britain born, with courtiers bred,

Who thought even gold might come a day too late;

Nor on his subtle death-bed plann'd his scheme

For future vacancies in Church or State;

Some avocation deeming it -- to die,

Unbit by rage canine of dying rich;

Guilt's blunder! and the loudest laugh of hell.

O my coevals! remnants of yourselves!

Poor human ruins, tottering o'er the grave! 110

Shall we, shall aged men, like aged trees,

Strike deeper their vile root, and closer cling,

Still more enamour'd of this wretched soil?

Shall our pale, wither'd hands, be still stretch'd out,

Trembling, at once, with eagerness and age?

With avarice, and convulsions, grasping hard?

Grasping at air! for what has earth beside?

Man wants but little; nor that little, long;

How soon must he resign his very dust,

Which frugal nature lent him for an hour! 120

Years unexperienced rush on numerous ills;

And soon as man, expert from time, has found 122

The key of life, it opes the gates of death.

When in this vale of years I backward look,

And miss such numbers, numbers too of such,

Firmer in health, and greener in their age,

And stricter on their guard, and fitter far

To play life's subtle game, I scarce believe

I still survive: and am I fond of life,

Who scarce can think it possible, I live? 130

Alive by miracle! or, what is next,

Alive by Mead! if I am still alive,

Who long have buried what gives life to live,

Firmness of nerve, and energy of thought.

Life's lee is not more shallow, than impure,

And vapid; sense and reason show the door,

Call for my bier, and point me to the dust.

O thou great arbiter of life and death!

Nature's immortal, immaterial Sun!

Whose all-prolific beam late call'd me forth 140

From darkness, teeming darkness, where I lay

The worm's inferior, and, in rank, beneath

The dust I tread on, high to bear my brow,

To drink the spirit of the golden day,

And triumph in existence; and could know

No motive, but my bliss; and hast ordain'd

A rise in blessing! with the patriarch's joy,

Thy call I follow to the land unknown;

I trust in thee, and know in whom I trust;

Or life, or death, is equal; neither weighs: 150

All weight in this -- O let me live to thee!

Though nature's terrors thus may be repress'd;

Still frowns grim Death; guilt points the tyrant's spear.

And whence all human guilt? From death forgot.

Ah me! too long I set at nought the swarm

Of friendly warnings, which around me flew; 156

And smiled, unsmitten: small my cause to smile!

Death's admonitions, like shafts upwards shot,

More dreadful by delay, the longer ere

They strike our hearts, the deeper is their wound;

O think how deep, Lorenzo! here it stings:

Who can appease its anguish? How it burns! 162

What hand the barb'd, envenom'd thought can draw?

What healing hand can pour the balm of peace?

And turn my sight undaunted on the tomb?

With joy, -- with grief, that healing hand I see;

Ah! too conspicuous! it is fix'd on high.

On high? -- What means my phrensy? I blaspheme;

Alas! how low! how far beneath the skies!

The skies it form'd; and now it bleeds for me -- 170

But bleeds the balm I want -- yet still it bleeds;

Draw the dire steel -- ah, no! the dreadful blessing

What heart or can sustain, or dares forego?

There hangs all human hope: that nail supports

The falling universe: that gone, we drop;

Horror receives us, and the dismal wish

Creation had been smother'd in her birth --

Darkness his curtain, and his bed the dust;

When stars and sun are dust beneath his throne!

In heaven itself can such indulgence dwell? 180

Oh, what a groan was there! a groan not his.

He seized our dreadful right; the load sustained;

And heaved the mountain from a guilty world.

A thousand worlds, so bought, were bought too dear;

Sensations new in angels' bosoms rise;

Suspend their song; and make a pause in bliss.

O for their song, to reach my lofty theme!

Inspire me, Night! with all thy tuneful spheres;

Whilst I with seraphs share seraphic themes,

And show to men the dignity of man; 190

Lest I blaspheme my subject with my song.

Shall Pagan pages glow celestial flame,

And Christian languish? On our hearts, not heads,

Falls the foul infamy: my heart! awake.

What can awake thee, unawaked by this,

|Expended deity on human weal?|

Feel the great truths, which burst the tenfold night

Of heathen error, with a golden flood

Of endless day: to feel, is to be fired;

And to believe, Lorenzo! is to feel.200

Thou most indulgent, most tremendous Power!

Still more tremendous, for thy wondrous love!

That arms, with awe more awful, thy commands;

And foul transgression dips in sevenfold night;

How our hearts tremble at thy love immense!

In love immense, inviolably just!

Thou, rather than thy justice should be stain'd,

Didst stain the cross; and work of wonders far

The greatest, that thy dearest far might bleed.

Bold thought! shall I dare speak it, or repress? 210

Should man more execrate, or boast, the guilt

Which roused such vengeance? which such love inflamed?

O'er guilt (how mountainous!), with outstretch'd arms,

Stern justice, and soft-smiling love embrace,

Supporting, in full majesty, thy throne,

When seem'd its majesty to need support,

Or that, or man, inevitably lost:

What, but the fathomless of thought divine,

Could labour such expedient from despair,

And rescue both? Both rescue! both exalt! 220

Oh, how are both exalted by the deed!

The wondrous deed! or shall I call it more?

A wonder in omnipotence itself! 223

A mystery no less to gods than men!

Not, thus, our infidels th' Eternal draw,

A God all o'er, consummate, absolute,

Full-orb'd, in his whole round of rays complete:

They set at odds Heaven's jarring attributes;

And, with one excellence, another wound;

Maim Heaven's perfection, break its equal beams,

Bid mercy triumph over -- God himself, 231

Undeified by their opprobrious praise:

A God all mercy, is a God unjust.

Ye brainless wits! ye baptized infidels!

Ye worse for mending! wash'd to fouler stains!

The ransom was paid down; the fund of heaven,

Heaven's inexhaustible, exhausted fund,

Amazing, and amazed, pour'd forth the price,

All price beyond: though curious to compute,

Archangels fail'd to cast the mighty sum: 240

Its value vast, ungrasp'd by minds create,

For ever hides, and glows, in the Supreme.

And was the ransom paid? It was: and paid

(What can exalt the bounty more?) for you.

The sun beheld it -- No! the shocking scene,

Drove back his chariot: midnight veil'd his face;

Not such as this; not such as nature makes;

A midnight nature shudder'd to behold;

A midnight new! a dread eclipse (without

Opposing spheres) from her Creator's frown! 250

Sun! didst thou fly thy Maker's pain? or start

At that enormous load of human guilt,

Which bow'd His blessed head; o'erwhelm'd His cross;

Made groan the centre; burst earth's marble womb,

With pangs, strange pangs! deliver'd of her dead?

Hell howl'd; and heaven that hour let fall a tear;

Heaven wept, that men might smile! Heaven bled, that man

Might never die! -- --

And is devotion virtue? 'Tis compell'd.259

What heart of stone but glows at thoughts like these?

Such contemplations mount us; and should mount

The mind still higher; nor ever glance on man,

Unraptured, uninflamed. -- Where roll my thoughts

To rest from wonders? Other wonders rise;

And strike where'er they roll: my soul is caught:

Heaven's sovereign blessings, clustering from the cross,

Rush on her, in a throng, and close her round,

The prisoner of amaze! -- In his bless'd life,

I see the path, and, in his death, the price,

And in his great ascent, the proof supreme 270

Of immortality. -- And did he rise?

Hear, O ye nations! hear it, O ye dead!

He rose! he rose! he burst the bars of death.

Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates!

And give the King of glory to come in.

Who is the King of glory? He who left

His throne of glory, for the pang of death:

Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates!

And give the King of glory to come in.

Who is the King of glory? He who slew 280

The ravenous foe, that gorged all human race!

The King of glory, he whose glory fill'd

Heaven with amazement at his love to man;

And with divine complacency beheld

Powers most illumined, wilder'd in the theme.

The theme, the joy, how then shall man sustain?

O the burst gates! crush'd sting! demolish'd throne!

Last gasp of vanquish'd Death! Shout earth and heaven!

This sum of good to man. Whose nature then

Took wing, and mounted with him from the tomb! 290

Then, then, I rose; then first humanity 291

Triumphant pass'd the crystal ports of light

(Stupendous guest!), and seized eternal youth,

Seized in our name. E'er since, 'tis blasphemous

To call man mortal. Man's mortality

Was then transferr'd to death; and heaven's duration

Unalienably seal'd to this frail frame,

This child of dust -- Man, all-immortal! hail;

Hail, Heaven! all lavish of strange gifts to man!

Thine all the glory; man's the boundless bliss.300

Where am I rapt by this triumphant theme?

On Christian joy's exulting wing, above

Th' Aonian mount? -- Alas! small cause for joy!

What if to pain immortal? if extent

Of being, to preclude a close of woe?

Where, then, my boast of immortality?

I boast it still, though cover'd o'er with guilt;

For guilt, not innocence, his life he pour'd;

'Tis guilt alone can justify his death;

Nor that, unless his death can justify 310

Relenting guilt in Heaven's indulgent sight.

If, sick of folly, I relent; he writes

My name in heaven with that inverted spear

(A spear deep-dipp'd in blood!) which pierced his side,

And open'd there a font for all mankind,

Who strive, who combat crimes, to drink, and live:

This, only this, subdues the fear of death.

And what is this? -- Survey the wondrous cure:

And at each step, let higher wonder rise!

|Pardon for infinite offence! and pardon 320

Through means that speak its value infinite!

A pardon bought with blood! with blood divine!

With blood divine of Him I made my foe!

Persisted to provoke! though woo'd and awed,

Bless'd and chastised, a flagrant rebel still! 325

A rebel, 'midst the thunders of his throne!

Nor I alone! a rebel universe!

My species up in arms! not one exempt!

Yet for the foulest of the foul, he dies,

Most joy'd, for the redeem'd from deepest guilt!

As if our race were held of highest rank;

And Godhead dearer, as more kind to man!| 332

Bound, every heart! and every bosom, burn!

O what a scale of miracles is here!

Its lowest round, high planted on the skies;

Its towering summit lost beyond the thought

Of man or angel! O that I could climb

The wonderful ascent, with equal praise!

Praise! flow for ever (if astonishment

Will give thee leave) my praise! for ever flow; 340

Praise ardent, cordial, constant, to high Heaven

More fragrant, than Arabia sacrificed,

And all her spicy mountains in a flame.

So dear, so due to Heaven, shall praise descend,

With her soft plume (from plausive angel's wing

First pluck'd by man) to tickle mortal ears,

Thus diving in the pockets of the great?

Is praise the perquisite of every paw,

Though black as hell, that grapples well for gold?

O love of gold! thou meanest of amours! 350

Shall praise her odours waste on Virtue's dead,

Embalm the base, perfume the stench of guilt,

Earn dirty bread by washing Æthiops fair,

Removing filth, or sinking it from sight,

A scavenger in scenes, where vacant posts,

Like gibbets yet untenanted, expect

Their future ornaments? From courts and thrones,

Return, apostate praise! thou vagabond!

Thou prostitute! to thy first love return, 395

Thy first, thy greatest, once unrivall'd theme.

There flow redundant; like Meander flow,

Back to thy fountain; to that parent Power,

Who gives the tongue to sound, the thought to soar,

The soul to be. Men homage pay to men,

Thoughtless beneath whose dreadful eye they bow

In mutual awe profound, of clay to clay,

Of guilt to guilt; and turn their back on thee,

Great Sire! whom thrones celestial ceaseless sing;

To prostrate angels, an amazing scene!

O the presumption of man's awe for man! -- 370

Man's author! end! restorer! law! and judge!

Thine, all; day thine, and thine this gloom of night,

With all her wealth, with all her radiant worlds:

What, night eternal, but a frown from thee?

What, heaven's meridian glory, but thy smile?

And shall not praise be thine? not human praise?

While heaven's high host on hallelujahs live?

O may I breathe no longer, than I breathe

My soul in praise to Him, who gave my soul,

And all her infinite of prospect fair, 380

Cut through the shades of hell great Love! by thee

O most adorable! most unadored!

Where shall that praise begin, which ne'er should end?

Where'er I turn, what claim on all applause!

How is night's sable mantle labour'd o'er,

How richly wrought with attributes divine!

What wisdom shines! what love! This midnight pomp,

This gorgeous arch, with golden worlds inlaid!

Built with divine ambition! nought to thee;

For others this profusion: Thou, apart, 390

Above! beyond! O tell me, mighty Mind!

Where art thou? Shall I dive into the deep,

Call to the sun, or ask the roaring winds, 393

For their Creator? Shall I question loud

The thunder, if in that th' Almighty dwells?

Or holds He furious storms in straiten'd reins,

And bids fierce whirlwinds wheel his rapid car?

What mean these questions? -- Trembling I retract;

My prostrate soul adores the present God:

Praise I a distant deity? He tunes 400

My voice (if tuned); the nerve, that writes, sustains:

Wrapp'd in his being, I resound his praise:

But though past all diffused, without a shore,

His essence; local is his throne (as meet),

To gather the dispersed (as standards call

The listed from afar): to fix a point,

A central point, collective of his sons,

Since finite every nature but his own.

The nameless He, whose nod is nature's birth;

And nature's shield, the shadow of his hand; 410

Her dissolution, his suspended smile!

The great First-Last! pavilion'd high he sits,

In darkness from excessive splendour borne,

By gods unseen, unless through lustre lost.

His glory, to created glory, bright,

As that to central horrors; he looks down

On all that soars; and spans immensity.

Though night unnumber'd worlds unfolds to view,

Boundless creation! what art thou? A beam,

A mere effluvium of his majesty: 420

And shall an atom of this atom-world

Mutter, in dust and sin, the theme of heaven?

Down to the centre should I send my thought

Through beds of glittering ore, and glowing gems,

Their beggar'd blaze wants lustre for my lay;

Goes out in darkness: if, on towering wing,

I send it through the boundless vault of stars! 427

The stars, though rich, what dross their gold to thee,

Great, good, wise, wonderful, eternal King!

If to those conscious stars thy throne around,

Praise ever-pouring, and imbibing bliss;

And ask their strain; they want it, more they want,

Poor their abundance, humble their sublime, 433

Languid their energy, their ardour cold,

Indebted still, their highest rapture burns;

Short of its mark, defective, though divine.

Still more -- this theme is man's, and man's alone;

Their vast appointments reach it not: they see

On earth a bounty not indulged on high;

And downward look for heaven's superior praise! 440

First-born of ether! high in fields of light!

View man, to see the glory of your God!

Could angels envy, they had envied here;

And some did envy; and the rest, though gods,

Yet still gods unredeem'd (their triumphs man,

Tempted to weigh the dust against the skies),

They less would feel, though more adorn, my theme.

They sung creation (for in that they shared);

How rose in melody, that child of love!

Creation's great superior, man! is thine; 450

Thine is redemption; they just gave the key:

'Tis thine to raise, and eternize, the song;

Though human, yet divine; for should not this

Raise man o'er man, and kindle seraphs here?

Redemption! 'twas creation more sublime;

Redemption! 'twas the labour of the skies;

Far more than labour -- it was death in heaven.

A truth so strange! 'twere bold to think it true;

If not far bolder still to disbelieve.459

Here pause, and ponder -- Was there death in heaven?

What then on earth? on earth, which struck the blow?

Who struck it? Who? -- O how is man enlarged, 462

Seen through this medium! How the pigmy towers!

How counterpoised his origin from dust!

How counterpoised to dust his sad return!

How voided his vast distance from the skies!

How near he presses on the seraph's wing!

Which is the seraph? Which the born of clay?

How this demonstrates, through the thickest cloud

Of guilt, and clay condensed, the son of heaven! 470

The double son; the made, and the re-made!

And shall heaven's double property be lost?

Man's double madness only can destroy.

To man the bleeding cross has promised all;

The bleeding cross has sworn eternal grace;

Who gave his life, what grace shall he deny?

O ye who, from this Rock of Ages, leap,

Apostates, plunging headlong in the deep!

What cordial joy, what consolation strong,

Whatever winds arise, or billows roll, 480

Our interest in the Master of the storm!

Cling there, and in wreck'd nature's ruins smile;

While vile apostates tremble in a calm.

Man! know thyself. All wisdom centres there;

To none man seems ignoble, but to man;

Angels that grandeur, men o'erlook, admire:

How long shall human nature be their book,

Degenerate mortal! and unread by thee?

The beam dim reason sheds shows wonders there;

What high contents! illustrious faculties! 490

But the grand comment, which displays at full

Our human height, scarce sever'd from divine,

By heaven composed, was publish'd on the Cross.

Who looks on that, and sees not in himself

An awful stranger, a terrestrial god? 495

A glorious partner with the Deity

In that high attribute, immortal life?

If a god bleeds, he bleeds not for a worm:

I gaze, and, as I gaze, my mounting soul

Catches strange fire, eternity! at thee;

And drops the world -- or rather, more enjoys:

How changed the face of nature! how improved! 502

What seem'd a chaos, shines a glorious world,

Or, what a world, an Eden; heighten'd all!

It is another scene! another self!

And still another, as time rolls along;

And that a self far more illustrious still.

Beyond long ages, yet roll'd up in shades

Unpierced by bold conjecture's keenest ray,

What evolutions of surprising fate! 510

How nature opens, and receives my soul

In boundless walks of raptured thought! where gods

Encounter and embrace me! What new births

Of strange adventure, foreign to the sun,

Where what now charms, perhaps, whate'er exists,

Old time, and fair creation, are forgot!

Is this extravagant? Of man we form

Extravagant conception, to be just:

Conception unconfined wants wings to reach him:

Beyond its reach, the Godhead only, more.520

He, the great Father! kindled at one flame

The world of rationals; one spirit pour'd

From spirit's awful fountain; pour'd himself

Through all their souls; but not in equal stream,

Profuse, or frugal, of th' inspiring God,

As his wise plan demanded; and when past

Their various trials, in their various spheres,

If they continue rational, as made,

Resorbs them all into himself again; 529

His throne their centre, and his smile their crown.

Why doubt we, then, the glorious truth to sing,

Though yet unsung, as deem'd, perhaps, too bold?

Angels are men of a superior kind;

Angels are men in lighter habit clad,

High o'er celestial mountains wing'd in flight;

And men are angels, loaded for an hour,

Who wade this miry vale, and climb with pain,

And slippery step, the bottom of the steep.

Angels their failings, mortals have their praise;

While here, of corps ethereal, such enroll'd, 540

And summon'd to the glorious standard soon,

Which flames eternal crimson through the skies.

Nor are our brothers thoughtless of their kin,

Yet absent; but not absent from their love.

Michael has fought our battles; Raphael sung

Our triumphs; Gabriel on our errands flown,

Sent by the Sovereign: and are these, O Man!

Thy friends, thy warm allies? and thou (shame burn

The cheek to cinder!) rival to the brute?

Religion's all. Descending from the skies 550

To wretched man, the goddess, in her left,

Holds out this world, and, in her right, the next;

Religion! the sole voucher man is man;

Supporter sole of man above himself;

Even in this night of frailty, change, and death,

She gives the soul a soul that acts a god.

Religion! Providence! an After-state!

Here is firm footing; here is solid rock!

This can support us; all is sea besides;

Sinks under us; bestorms, and then devours.560

His hand the good man fastens on the skies,

And bids earth roll, nor feels her idle whirl.

As when a wretch, from thick polluted air, 563

Darkness, and stench, and suffocating damps,

And dungeon horrors, by kind fate, discharged,

Climbs some fair eminence, where ether pure

Surrounds him, and Elysian prospects rise,

His heart exults, his spirits cast their load;

As if new-born, he triumphs in the change;

So joys the soul, when, from inglorious aims,

And sordid sweets, from feculence and froth 571

Of ties terrestrial, set at large, she mounts

To reason's region, her own element,

Breathes hopes immortal, and affects the skies.

Religion! thou the soul of happiness;

And, groaning Calvary, of thee! there shine

The noblest truths; there strongest motives sting;

There sacred violence assaults the soul;

There, nothing but compulsion is forborne.

Can love allure us? or can terror awe? 580

He weeps! -- the falling drop puts out the sun;

He sighs -- the sigh earth's deep foundation shakes.

If in his love so terrible, what then

His wrath inflamed? his tenderness on fire?

Like soft, smooth oil, outblazing other fires?

Can prayer, can praise avert it? -- Thou, my all!

My theme! my inspiration! and my crown!

My strength in age! my rise in low estate!

My soul's ambition, pleasure, wealth! -- my world!

My light in darkness! and my life in death! 590

My boast through time! bliss through eternity!

Eternity, too short to speak thy praise!

Or fathom thy profound of love to man!

To man of men the meanest, even to me;

My sacrifice! my God! -- what things are these!

What then art Thou? by what name shall I call thee? --

Knew I the name devout archangels use, 597

Devout archangels should the name enjoy,

By me unrivall'd; thousands more sublime,

None half so dear as that which, though unspoke,

Still glows at heart: O how omnipotence

Is lost in love! Thou great Philanthropist!

Father of angels! but the friend of man! 603

Like Jacob, fondest of the younger born!

Thou, who didst save him, snatch the smoking brand

From out the flames, and quench it in thy blood!

How art thou pleased, by bounty to distress!

To make us groan beneath our gratitude,

Too big for birth! to favour, and confound;

To challenge, and to distance all return! 610

Of lavish love stupendous heights to soar,

And leave praise panting in the distant vale!

Thy right, too great, defrauds thee of thy due;

And sacrilegious our sublimest song.

But since the naked will obtains thy smile,

Beneath this monument of praise unpaid,

And future life symphonious to my strain,

(That noblest hymn to heaven!) for ever lie

Entomb'd my fear of death! and every fear,

The dread of every evil, but thy frown.620

Whom see I yonder, so demurely smile?

Laughter a labour, and might break their rest.

Ye quietists, in homage to the skies!

Serene! of soft address! who mildly make

An unobtrusive tender of your hearts,

Abhorring violence! who halt indeed;

But, for the blessing, wrestle not with Heaven!

Think you my song too turbulent? too warm?

Are passions, then, the Pagans of the soul?

Reason alone baptized? alone ordain'd 630

To touch things sacred? Oh for warmer still! 631

Guilt chills my zeal, and age benumbs my powers;

Oh for an humbler heart, and prouder song!

Thou, my much-injured theme! with that soft eye,

Which melted o'er doom'd Salem, deign to look

Compassion to the coldness of my breast;

And pardon to the winter in my strain.

O ye cold-hearted, frozen, formalists!

On such a theme, 'tis impious to be calm;

Passion is reason, transport temper, here.640

Shall Heaven, which gave us ardour, and has shown

Her own for man so strongly, not disdain

What smooth emollients in theology,

Recumbent virtue's downy doctors preach,

That prose of piety, a lukewarm praise?

Rise odours sweet from incense uninflamed?

Devotion, when lukewarm, is undevout;

But when it glows, its heat is struck to heaven;

To human hearts her golden harps are strung;

High heaven's orchestra chants amen to man.650

Hear I, or dream I hear, their distant strain,

Sweet to the soul, and tasting strong of heaven,

Soft-wafted on celestial pity's plume,

Through the vast spaces of the universe,

To cheer me in this melancholy gloom?

Oh, when will death (now stingless), like a friend,

Admit me of their choir? Oh, when will death

This mouldering, old, partition-wall throw down?

Give beings, one in nature, one abode?

O Death divine! that givest us to the skies! 660

Great future! glorious patron of the past,

And present! when shall I thy shrine adore?

From nature's continent, immensely wide,

Immensely bless'd, this little isle of life,

This dark, incarcerating colony, 665

Divides us. Happy day! that breaks our chain;

That manumits; that calls from exile home;

That leads to nature's great metropolis,

And re-admits us, through the guardian hand

Of elder brothers, to our Father's throne;

Who hears our Advocate, and, through his wounds

Beholding man, allows that tender name.672

'Tis this makes Christian triumph a command:

'Tis this makes joy a duty to the wise;

'Tis impious in a good man to be sad.

See thou, Lorenzo! where hangs all our hope?

Touch'd by the Cross, we live; or, more than die;

That touch which touch'd not angels; more divine

Than that which touch'd confusion into form,

And darkness into glory; partial touch! 680

Ineffably pre-eminent regard!

Sacred to man, and sovereign through the whole

Long golden chain of miracles, which hangs

From heaven through all duration, and supports

In one illustrious and amazing plan,

Thy welfare, nature! and thy God's renown.

That touch, with charm celestial, heals the soul

Diseased, drives pain from guilt, lights life in death,

Turns earth to heaven, to heavenly thrones transforms

The ghastly ruins of the mouldering tomb.690

Dost ask me when? When He who died returns;

Returns, how changed! Where then the man of woe?

In glory's terrors all the Godhead burns;

And all his courts, exhausted by the tide

Of deities triumphant in his train,

Leave a stupendous solitude in heaven;

Replenish'd soon, replenish'd with increase

Of pomp, and multitude; a radiant band 698

Of angels new; of angels from the tomb.

Is this by fancy thrown remote? and rise

Dark doubts between the promise and event?

I send thee not to volumes for thy cure;

Read nature; nature is a friend to truth;

Nature is Christian; preaches to mankind;

And bids dead matter aid us in our creed.

Hast thou ne'er seen the comet's flaming flight?

Th' illustrious stranger passing, terror sheds

On gazing nations; from his fiery train

Of length enormous, takes his ample round 709

Through depths of ether; coasts unnumber'd worlds,

Of more than solar glory; doubles wide

Heaven's mighty cape; and then revisits earth,

From the long travel of a thousand years.

Thus, at the destined period, shall return

He, once on earth, who bids the comet blaze:

And, with him, all our triumph o'er the tomb.

Nature is dumb on this important point;

Or hope precarious in low whisper breathes;

Faith speaks aloud, distinct; even adders hear;

But turn, and dart into the dark again.720

Faith builds a bridge across the gulf of death,

To break the shock blind nature cannot shun,

And lands thought smoothly on the farther shore.

Death's terror is the mountain faith removes;

That mountain barrier between man and peace.

'Tis faith disarms destruction; and absolves

From every clamorous charge, the guiltless tomb.

Why disbelieve? Lorenzo! -- |Reason bids,

All-sacred reason.| -- Hold her sacred still;

Nor shalt thou want a rival in thy flame: 730

All-sacred reason! source, and soul, of all

Demanding praise, on earth, or earth above! 732

My heart is thine: deep in its inmost folds,

Live thou with life; live dearer of the two.

Wear I the blessed cross, by fortune stamp'd

On passive nature, before thought was born?

My birth's blind bigot! fired with local zeal!

No; reason re-baptized me when adult;

Weigh'd true, and false, in her impartial scale;

My heart became the convert of my head; 740

And made that choice, which once was but my fate.

|On argument alone my faith is built:|

Reason pursued is faith; and, unpursued

Where proof invites, 'tis reason, then, no more:

And such our proof, that, or our faith is right,

Or reason lies, and Heaven design'd it wrong:

Absolve we this? What, then, is blasphemy?

Fond as we are, and justly fond, of faith,

Reason, we grant, demands our first regard;

The mother honour'd, as the daughter dear.750

Reason the root, fair faith is but the flower;

The fading flower shall die; but reason lives

Immortal, as her Father in the skies.

When faith is virtue, reason makes it so.

Wrong not the Christian; think not reason yours:

'Tis reason our great Master holds so dear;

'Tis reason's injured rights his wrath resents;

'Tis reason's voice obey'd his glories crown;

To give lost reason life, he pour'd his own:

Believe, and show the reason of a man; 760

Believe, and taste the pleasure of a God;

Believe, and look with triumph on the tomb:

Through reason's wounds alone thy faith can die;

Which dying, tenfold terror gives to death,

And dips in venom his twice-mortal sting.

Learn hence what honours, what loud pæans , due 766

To those, who push our antidote aside;

Those boasted friends to reason, and to man,

Whose fatal love stabs every joy, and leaves

Death's terror heighten'd, gnawing on his heart.

Those pompous sons of reason idolized

And vilified at once; of reason dead,

Then deified, as monarchs were of old; 773

What conduct plants proud laurels on their brow?

While love of truth through all their camp resounds,

They draw pride's curtain o'er the noontide ray,

Spike up their inch of reason, on the point

Of philosophic wit, call'd argument;

And then, exulting in their taper, cry,

|Behold the sun!| and, Indian-like, adore.780

Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Love!

Thou maker of new morals to mankind!

The grand morality is love of thee.

As wise as Socrates, if such they were

(Nor will they bate of that sublime renown),

As wise as Socrates, might justly stand

The definition of a modern fool.

A Christian is the highest style of man:

And is there, who the blessed cross wipes off,

As a foul blot from his dishonour'd brow? 790

If angels tremble, 'tis at such a sight:

The wretch they quit, desponding of their charge,

More struck with grief or wonder, who can tell?

Ye sold to sense! ye citizens of earth!

(For such alone the Christian banner fly)

Know ye how wise your choice, how great your gain?

Behold the picture of earth's happiest man:

|He calls his wish, it comes; he sends it back,

And says, he call'd another; that arrives,

Meets the same welcome; yet he still calls on; 800

Till one calls him, who varies not his call,

But holds him fast, in chains of darkness bound,

Till nature dies, and judgment sets him free;

A freedom far less welcome than his chain.|

But grant man happy; grant him happy long;

Add to life's highest prize her latest hour;

That hour, so late, is nimble in approach,

That, like a post, comes on in full career:

How swift the shuttle flies that weaves thy shroud!

Where is the fable of thy former years? 810

Thrown down the gulf of time; as far from thee

As they had ne'er been thine; the day in hand,

Like a bird struggling to get loose, is going;

Scarce now possess'd, so suddenly 'tis gone;

And each swift moment fled, is death advanced

By strides as swift. Eternity is all;

And whose eternity? Who triumphs there?

Bathing for ever in the font of bliss!

For ever basking in the Deity!

Lorenzo! who? -- Thy conscience shall reply.820

O give it leave to speak! 'twill speak ere long,

Thy leave unask'd; Lorenzo! hear it now,

While useful its advice, its accents mild.

By the great edict, the divine decree,

Truth is deposited with man's last hour;

An honest hour, and faithful to her trust;

Truth, eldest daughter of the Deity;

Truth, of his council, when he made the worlds;

Nor less, when he shall judge the worlds he made;

Though silent long, and sleeping ne'er so sound, 830

Smother'd with errors, and oppress'd with toys,

That heaven-commission'd hour no sooner calls,

But from her cavern in the soul's abyss,

Like him they fable under Ætna whelm'd, 834

The goddess bursts in thunder, and in flame;

Loudly convinces, and severely pains.

Dark demons I discharge, and hydra-stings;

The keen vibration of bright truth -- is hell:

Just definition! though by schools untaught.

Ye deaf to truth! peruse this parson'd page, 840

And trust, for once, a prophet, and a priest;

|Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.|

THE RELAPSE.

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