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Charity, decent, modest, easy, kind,
Softens the high, and rears the abject mind!
Knows with just reins and gentle hand to guide
Betwixt vile shame, and arbitrary pride :
Not soon provok'd, she easily forgives;
And much she suffers, as she much believes ;
she brings wherever she arrives ;
She builds our quiet, as she forms our lives;
Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even,
And opens in each heart a little heaven.
Each other gift, which GOD on man bestows,
Its proper bounds and due restriction knows ;
To one fix'd purpose dedicates its power,
And, finishing its act, exists no more.
Thus, in obedience to what heav'n decrees,
Knowledge shall fail, and prophecy shall cease:
But lasting Charity's more ample sway,
Nor bound by time, nor subject to decay,
In happy triumph shall for ever live,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive.
As through the artist's intervening glass, Our eye perceives the distant planets pass, A little we discover; but allow
That more remains unseen than art can show : So whilst our mind its knowledge would improve, (Its feeble eye intent on things above)
High as we may, we lift our reason up,
By Faith directed, and confirm'd by Hope :
Yet we are able only to survey
Dawnings of beams and promises of day.
Heav'n's fuller effluence mocks our dazzled sight;
Too great its swiftness, and too strong its light.
But soon the mediate clouds shall be dispell'd;
The sun shall soon be face to face beheld
In all his robes, with all his glory on,
Seated sublime on his meridian throne.
Then constant Faith and holy Hope shall die,
One lost in certainty, and one in joy:
Whilst thou, more happy pow'r, fair Charity,
Triumphant sister, greatest of the three,
Thy office and thy nature still the same,
Lasting thy lamp, and unconsum'd thy flame,
Shalt still survive......
Shalt stand before the host of heaven confess'd, For ever blessing, and for ever bless'd.
FRAILTY AND FOLLY OF MAN.
GREAT Heav'n! how frail thy creature man is
How by himself insensibly betray'd!
In our own strength unhappily secure,
Too little cautious of the adverse pow'r ;
And by the blast of self-opinion mov'd,
We wish to charm, and seek to be belov'd.
On pleasure's flowing brink we idly stray,
Masters as yet of our returning way:
Seeing no danger, we disarm our mind ;
And give our conduct to the waves and wind:
Then in the flow'ry mead, or verdant shade,
To wanton dalliance negligently laid,
We weave the chaplet, and we crown the bowl,
And smiling see the nearer waters roll;
Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise,
Till the dire tempest mingles earth and skies;
And swift into the boundless ocean borne,
Our foolish confidence too late we mourn:
Round our devoted heads the billows beat;
And from our troubled view the lessen'd lands retreat.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.
THO' heaven's bright hosts with earth in concert
Their voice ethereal, and their notes divine:
Tho' myriad-worlds their whole oblations bring,
And nature strikes the universal string:
Tho' yet unform'd, unnumber'd orbs shall roll,
And pour at once the thunder of their soul!
Spread all the pow'rs of harmony abroad,
And concrete rise, to swell the grand applaud,
Strength to their King, and Glory to their GOD!
Yet would this high, this full accented choir,
Tho' flush'd with all that being could inspire,
Of transport's joy, or love's harmonic fire,
In vain assay, the Infinite to raise,
Exalt his greatness or support his praise!
Their utmost skill would disproportion'd prove,
And shame their efforts, while it show'd their love! Each foil'd attempt, diminish or debase
The glorious theme, and seal its own disgrace,
His dazzling heights their soaring strains elude,
And kind reproach their vent'rous gratitude.
Their loud acclaim, tho' shook th' Olympian sky,
In air dissolve and hallelujahs die.
No thund'ring echoes would the vaults resound;
Nor echoing murmurs answer to the sound.
Still as the night the loud acclaim would cease,
And conscious blush suffuse creation's face.
Lost from the moment that they first ascend,
Would miss their object, tho' attain'd its end.
In love receiv'd, who view'd their bold design,
The praise might take, yet just preserve the line.
Officious worlds their sacred distance keep,
And vocal joy in awful silence keep;
Sunk at his feet, with trembling homage own
Their zeal-presumption, and their art outdone.
The theme too mighty for creation's tongue,
The seraph's ardour, or the cherub's song.
As none but He, whose wisdom knows his pow'r,
Can comprehend, or can himself adore:
Define the nature, or prescribe the mode
Of service due, or worship meet for GOD.
Defective all the creature's utmost stretch,
How wide their compass, or how high their reach.
All short of him who shuns created sight,
And dwells in darkness from excess of light.