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There fhould his brighter prefence fhine confefs'd,
There his almighty arm thy course arrest!
Could'ft thou the thickeft veil of night affume,
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 manfions of the filent grave,
Nor darker hell from his perception fave;
What pow'r, alas! thy footsteps can convey
Beyond the reach of omnipresent day?
In his wide grafp, 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 feat ;
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 fun's enliv'ning ray,
Breathes in the air, and beautifies the day!
Steals on our footsteps wherefoe'er we go,
And yields the pureft joys we taste below.
Should man his great immenfity deny,
Man might as well ufurp the vacant sky:
For were he limited in date, or view,
Thence were his attributes imperfect too;
His knowledge, pow'r, his goodness all confin'd,
And loft the notion of a ruling Mind!
Feeble the truft, 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 diftrefs pour out the heartless figh!
An abfent 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, fupreme 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-to fail!
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 flender 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 fay-ere yet the words proceed,
And ere we form th' intention, marks the deed!
But Confcience, fair vicegerent-light within,
Afferts its author, and reftores the scene!
Points out the beauty of the govern'd plan,
"And vindicates the ways of God to man.'
Then facred Muse, by the vaft profpect fir'd,
From heav'n defcended, as by heav'n infpir'd;
His all-enlight'ning Omniprefence own,
Whence first thou feel'ft thy dwindling prefence known;
His wide Omniscience, juftly grateful fing,
Whence thy weak science prunes its callow wing!
And blefs th' eternal-all-informing foul,
Whofe fight 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 fhines confefs'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 felf-deriv'd, for from himself he reigns!
If, alter'd by constraint, we could fuppose,
That God his fix'd ftability should lofe;
How startles reafon 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 fupreme, new rays acquire?
Or strong perfection raise its glories higher!
Abfurd!-his high meridian brightness glows,
Never decreases, never overflows!
Knows no addition, yields to no decay,
The facred blaze of inexhaustless day!
Below, thro' different forms does matter range,
And life fubfifts from elemental change,
Liquids condenfing fhapes terreftrial wear,
Earth mounts in fire, and fire diffolves in air;
While we, enquiring phantoms of a day,
Inconftant as the shadows we furvey!
With them, along Time's rapid current pass,
And hafte to mingle with the parent mass;
But Thou, Eternal Lord of life divine!
In youth immortal fhalt for ever shine!
No change shall darken thy exalted name,
From everlasting ages ftill the fame!
If God, like man, his purpose could renew,
His laws could vary, or his plans undo;
Defponding 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 defign;
Where, as in nature's fair according plan,
All fmiles benevolent and good to man.
Plac'd in this narrow clouded spot below,
Darkly we see around, and darkly know!
Religion lends the salutary beam,
That guides our reason thro' the dubious gleam;
Till founds the hour!-when he who rules the skies,
Shall bid the curtain of Omniscience rife!
Shall diffipate the mifts that veil our fight,
And fhow his creatures-all his ways are right!
Then when aftonish'd nature feels its fate,
And fetter'd Time shall know its latest date!
When earth fhall in the mighty blaze expire,
Heav'n melt with heat, and worlds diffolve in fire!
The universal system shrink away,
And ceafing orbs confefs th' Almighty sway!
Immortal He, amidst the wreck fecure,
Shall fit exalted, permanently pure!
As in the Sacred Bufh, fhall fhine the fame,
And from the ruin raife a fairer frame!
Far hence ye vifionary charming maids,
Ye fancy'd nymphs that haunt the Grecian fhades!
Your birth, who from conceiving fiction drew,
Yourselves producing phantoms as untrue;