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There should his brighter presence shine confess'd,
There his almighty arm thy course arrest!
Could'st thou the thickelt veil of night assume,
Or think to hide thee in the central gloom!
Yet there, all patient to his piercing fight,
Darkness itself would kindle into light:
Not the black mansions of the silent grave,
Nor darker hell from his perception save;
What pow'r, alas ! thy footsteps can convey
Beyond the reach of omnipresent day?
In his wide grasp, and comprehensive eye,
Immediate, worlds on worlds unnumber'd lie:
Systems inclos’d in his Idea roll,
Whofe all-informing mind directs the whole:
Lodg'd in his view, their certain ways they know;
Plac'd in that fight from whence can nothing go.
On earth his footstool fix'd, in heav’n his seat;
Enthron'd he dictates and his word is Fate.
Nor want his shining images below,
In streams that murmur, or in winds that blow;
His fpirit broods along the boundless flood;
Smiles in the plain, and whispers in the wood;
Warms in the genial sun's enliv’ning ray,
Breathes in the air, and beautifies the day!
Steals on our footsteps wherefoe'er we go,
And yields the purest joys we taste below.
Should man his great immensity deny,
Man might as well ufurp the vacant fky:
For were he limited in date, or view,
Thence were his attributes imperfect too;
His knowledge, pow'r, his goodness all confin’d,
And lost the notion of a ruling Mind!
Feeble the trust, and comfortless the sense,
Of a defective partial Providence!
Boldly might then his arm injustice brave,
Or innocence in vain his mercy crave;
Dejected virtue lift its hopeless eye!
And deep distress pour out the heartless figh!
An absent God no abler, to defend,
Protect, or punish, than an absent friend;
Diftant alike our wants or griefs to know,
To ease the anguish, or prevent the blow?
If he, supreme director, were not near,
Vain were our hope, and empty were our fear;
Unpunish'd vice would o'er the world prevail,
And unrewarded virtue toil-
The moral world a second chaos turn,
And nature for her great Supporter mourn!
Even the weak embryo, ere to life it breaks,
From his high pow'r its slender texture takes;
While in his book the various parts inroll’d,
Increasing, own eternal Wisdom's mold.
Nor views he only the material whole,
But pierces thought, and penetrates the foul!
Ere from the lips the vocal accents part,
Or the faint purpose dawns within the heart !
His steady eye the mental birth perceives,
Ere yet to us the new idea' lives!
Knows what we sayere yet the words proceed,
And ere we for th' intention, marks the deed!
But Conscience, fair vicegerent-light within,
Asserts its author, and restores the scene!
Points out the beauty of the govern'd plan,
" And vindicates the ways of God to man.”
Then facred Mufe, by the vast prospect fir'd,
From heav'n descended, as by heav'n inspir'd;
His all-enlightning Omnipresence own,
Whence first thou feel'st thy dwindling presence known;
His wide Omniscience, juftly grateful fing,
Whence thy weak science prunes its callow wing!
And bless th' eternal-all-informing soul,
Whose light pervades, whose knowledge fills the whole !
As the Eternal and Omniscient Mind,
By laws not limited, nor bounds confin'd;
Is always independent, always free,
Hence shines confess'd Immutability!
Change, whether the spontaneous child of will,
Or birth of force,-is imperfection still.
But he, all-perfect, in himself contains
Pow'r self-deriv'd, for from himself he reigns !
If, alter'd by constraint, we could suppose,
That God his fix'd stability should lose;
How startles reason at a thought so strange!
What pow'r can force Omnipotence to change?
If from his own divine productive thought,
Were the yet-stranger alteration wrought ;
Could excellence supreme, new rays acquire ?
Or strong perfection raise its glories higher !
Absurd !-his high meridian brightness glows,
Never decreases, never overflows!
Knows no addition, yields to no decay,
The sacred blaze of inexhaustless day!
Below, thro' different forms does matter range,
And life subsists from elemental change,
Liquids condenfing shapes terrestrial wear,
Earth mounts in fire, and fire dissolves in air;
While we, enquiring phantoms of a day,
Inconstant as the shadows we survey!
With them, along Time's rapid current pass,
And haste to mingle with the parent mass;
But Thou, Eternal Lord of life divine !
In youth immortal shalt for ever shine!
No change shall darken thy exalted name,
From everlasting ages still the same!
If God, like man, his purpose could renew,
His laws could vary, or his plans undo;
Desponding Faith would droop its chearless wing,
Religion deaden to a lifeless thing!
Where could we, rational, repose our trust,
But in a pow'r immutable as just?
How judge of revelation's force divine,
If truth unerring gave not the design;
Where, as in nature's fair according plan,
All smiles benevolent and good to man.
Plac'd in this narrow clouded spot below,
Darkly we see around, and darkly know!
Religion lends the falutary beam,
That guides our reason thro' the dubious gleam;
Till sounds the hour!--when he who rules the skies,
Shall bid the curtain of Omniscience rife!
Shall diffipate the mists that veil our sight,
And show his creatures all his ways are right!
Then when astonish'd nature feels its fate,
And fetter'd Time shall know its latest date!
When earth shall in the mighty blaze expire,
Heav'n melt with heat, and worlds dissolve in fire!
The universal system shrink away,
And ceasing orbs confefs th' Almighty sway!
Immortal He, amidst the wreck secure,
Shall fit exalted, permanently pure!
As in the Sacred Bush, shall shine the same,
And from the ruin raise a fairer frame!
Far hence ye visionary charming maids,
Ye fancy'd nymphs that haunt the Grecian shades!
Your birth, who from conceiving fiction drew,
Yourselves producing phantoms as untrue;