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Pensantur trutina.-Hor. Lib. II, Epist. 1.
Man, on the dubious waves of errour toss'd,
His ship half founder'd, and his compass lost,
Sees, far as human optics may command,
A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land:
Spreads all bis canvass, ev'ry sinew plies;
Pants for't, aims at it, enters it, and dies!
Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes,
His well-built systems, philosophic dreains;
Deceitful views of future bliss farewell!
He reads his sentence at the flames of Hell.
Hard lot of man-to toil for the reward
Of virtue, and yet lose it! Wherefore hard?
He that would win the race must guide his horse
Obedient to the customs of the course;
Else, though unequall’d to the goal he flies,
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize.
Grace leads the right way: if you choose the wrong,
Take it and perish; but restrain your tongue;
Charge not, with light sufficient, and left free,
Your wilful suicide on God's decree.
O how unlike the complex works of man,
Heav'n's easy, artless, unincumber'd plan!
No meretricious graces to beguile,
No clust'ring ornaments to clog the pile;
From ostentation as from weakness free,
It stands like the cerulean arch we see,
Majestic in it's own simplicity.
Inscrib'd above the portal, from afar
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul-quick’ning words-BELIEVE AND
Toomany,shock’dat whatshould charm them most, Despise the plain direction, and are lost.
Heav'n on such terms! (they cry with proud disdain)
Incredible, impossible, and vain!
Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey;
And scorn, for it's own sake, the gracious way.
These are the sober, in whose cooler brains
Some thought of immortality remains;
The rest too busy or too gay to wait
On the sad theme, their everlasting state,
Sport for a day, and perish in a night,
The foam upon the waters not so light.
Who judg’d the pharisee? What odious cause
Expos’d him to the vengeance of the laws?
Had he seduc'd a virgin, wrong'd a friend,
Or stabb’d a man to serve some private end?
Was blasphemy his sin? Or did he stray
From the strict duties of the sacred day?
Sit long and late at the carousing board?
(Such were the sins with which he charg’d his Lord)
No--the man's morals were exact, what then?
'Twas his ambition to be seen of men;
His virtues were his pride; and that one vice
Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price;
He wore them as fine trappings for a show,
A praying, synagogue-frequenting, beau.
The self-applauding bird, the peacock see-
Mark what a sumptuous pharisee is he!
Meridian sunbeams tempt him to unfold
His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold:
He treads as if, some solemn music near,
His measur'd step were govern'd by his ear;
And seems to say-Ye meaner fowl, give place,
I am all splendour, dignity, and grace!
Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes, Though he too has a glory in his plumes. He, christian like, retreats with modest mien To the close copse, or far sequester'd green, And shines without desiring to be seen. The plea of works, as arrogant and vain, Heay'n turns from with abhorrence and dis
Not more affronted by avow'd neglect,
Than by the mere dissembler's feign'd respect.
What is all righteousness, that men devise?
What—but a sordid bargain for the skies?
But Christ as soon would abdicate his own,
As stoop from Heav'n to sell the proud a throne.
His dwelling a recess in some rude rock, 79 Book, beads, and maple-dish, his meagre
stock; In shirt of hair, and weeds of canvass, dress’d, Girt with a bell-rope, that the pope has bless'd; Adust with stripes told out for ev'ry crime, And sore tormented long before his time; His pray'r preferr'd to saints, that cannot aid; His praise postpon’d, and never to be paid; See the sage hermit, by mankind admir’d, With all that bigotry adopts inspir’d, Wearing out life in his religious whim, Till his religious whimsy wears out him. His works, his abstinence, his zeal allow'd, You think him humble-God accounts him proud;