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That hides divinity from mortal eyes,
And all the mysteries to faith proposed
Insulted and traduced, are cast aside
As useless, to the moles and to the bats.
They now are deem'd the faithful, and are praised,
Who constant only in rejecting thee,
Deny thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal,
And quit their office for their error's sake.
Blind and in love with darkness! yet even these
Worthy, compared with sycophants, who knee
Thy name, adoring, and then preach thee man.
So fares thy church. But how thy church may fare
The world takes little thought; who will may preach,
And what they will. All pastors are alike
To wandering sheep, resolved to follow none.
Two gods divide them all, Pleasure and Gain.
For these they live, they sacrifice to these,
And in their service wage perpetual war
With conscience and with thee. Lust in their hearts,
And mischief in their hands, they roam the earth
To prey upon each other; stubborn, fierce,
High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace.
Thy prophets speak of such; and noting down
The features of the last degenerate times,
Exhibit every lineament of these.
Come then, and added to thy many crowns
Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest,
Due to thy last and most effectual work,
Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a world!
He is the happy man, whose life even now Shows somewhat of that happier life to come; Who doomed to an obscure but tranquil state
Is pleased with it, and were he free to choose 25,
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the fruit
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one
Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home.
The world o'erlooks him in her busy search
Of objects more illustrious in her view;
And occupied as earnestly as she,
Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world.
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded flies, and such he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a heaven unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveal'd.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemployed,
And censured oft as useless. Stillest 26 streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
25 He has a heart, as Marvel expresses it, to make his destiny Elia, vol. ii. p. 206. his choice.
20 How seldom do we look through the form and circumstances of affairs into their real importance; and how much are we led to rate them by the stir and noise with which they are attended! But we might reflect that the most perfect and beneficial agency is exerted without precipitation or tumult; that all the planetary revolutions are performed in majestic order and silence, and with less impression upon the senses than the motions of a water mill.
Rural Philosophy, by Ely Bates.
That flutters least is longest on the wing 27.
Ask him indeed what trophies he has raised,
Or what achievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer-none.
His warfare is within. There unfatigued
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights,
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself,
And never-withering wreaths, compared with which
The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds 28.
Perhaps the self-approving haughty world,
(That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks
Scarce deigns to notice him, or if she see
Deems him a cipher in the works of God,)
Receives advantage from his noiseless hours
Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes
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,
Like virtue, thriving most where little seen.
Are often those of whom the noisy world
Excursion, p. 7.
28 He deserves the name of a great and good man, who serves God, and is a friend to mankind, and receives the most ungrateful returns from the world, and endures them with a calm and composed mind; who dares look scorn and death and infamy in the face, who can stand forth unmoved and patiently bear to be derided as a fool and an idiot, to be pointed out as a madman and an enthusiast, to be reviled, &c. He who can pass through these trials is a conqueror indeed, and what the world calls courage scarcely deserves that name when compared to this behaviour. Jortin's Discourses, ii. p. 125.
And think on her, who thinks not for herself.
Forgive him then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, and idler in the best,
If author of no mischief and some good,
He seek 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 960
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 woe,
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 29: 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 even as gracefully as she 30.
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 dress'd,
Like an unburied carcase trick'd with flowers,
Is but a garnish'd 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
Renown'd in ancient song; not vex'd with care
Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away 31! and so at last
31 And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage.
Thus sheltered, free from care and strife
May I enjoy a calm through life,
Unhurt by sickness blasting rage,
And slowy mellowing in age
When fate extends its gathering gripe.
29 Though wrong the mode, comply; more sense is shown In wearing others' follies than your own.
Young. Satire iv. 30 Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
Pope. Essay on Crit. ii. 338.