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That vice triūmphs, and virtne suffers here,
(A brand that sovereign Justice cannot bear)
Our reason prompts as to a future state,
The last appeal from fortune and from fate,
Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar’d,
The bad meet punishment; the good, reward.
Thus man, by his own strength, to Heav'n would
And would pot be oblig'd to God for more. [soar,
Vain, wretched creature, how art thou misled,
To think thy wit these god-like notions bred!
These truths are not the product of thy mind,
But dropt from Heav'n, and of a nobler kind.
Reveald Religion first inform’d thy sight,
And Reason saw not, till Faith sprung the light.
Hence all thy natural worship takes the source;
"sis revelation what thon think'st discourse:
Else how coin'st thou to see these truths so clear,
Which so obscure'to Heathens did appear?
Not Plato these, nor Aristotle found,
Nor he whose wisdom oracles renown'd.
Hast thou a wit so deep, or so sublime,
Or canst thou lower dive, or higher climb?
Canst thou by reason more of Godhead know
Than Plutarch, Seneca, or Cicero?
Those giant wits, in happier ages born,
When arms and arts did Greece and Rome adorn,
Knew no such system; no such piles could raise
Of natural worship, built on pray’r and praise,
To one sole God:
Nor did remorse, to expiate sin, prescribe,
But slew their fellow-creatures for a bribe :
The guitless victim groan'd for their offence,
And cruelty and blood was penitence.
If sheep and oxen could atone for men,
Ah! at how cheap a rate the rich might sin!
And great oppressors might Heaven's wrath beguile,
By offeriøg his own creatures for a spoil!
Dar’st thou, poor worm, offend Infinity?
And must the terms of peace be given by thee?
Then thou art justice in the last appeal;
Thy easy God instructs thee to rebel;
And, like a king remote and weak, must take
What satisfaction thou art pleas’d to make.
But if there be a pow'r too just and strong
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong,
Look humbly upward, see his will disclose
The forfeit first, and then the fine impose :
A mulct thy poverty could never pay,
Had not Eternal Wisdom found the way,
And with celestial wealth supplied thy store;
His justice makes the fine, his mercy quits the score.
See God descending in thy human frame,
The' offended suffering in the offender's name;
All thy misdeeds to him imputed see,
And all his righteousness devolvid op thee.
For granting we have siop'd, and that the offence Of man is made against Omnipotence, Some price that bears proportion must be paid, And infinite with infinite be weigh'd. Sce then the Deist lost; remorse for vice Not paid, or, paid, inadequate in price: What farther means can reason now direct? Or what relief from human wit expect? That shows us sick; and sadly are we sure Still to be sick, till Heav'n reveal the cure: If then Heaven's will must needs be understood, (Which must, if we wagt cure, and Heav'n be good)
Let all records of will reveal'd be shown,
With Scripture all in equal balance thrown,
And our one sacred Book will be that one.
Proof needs not here; for whether we compare
That impious, idle, superstitious ware
Of rites, lustrations, offerings, which before,
In various ages, various countries bore,
With Christian faith and virtues, we shall find
None answering the great ends of human kind,
But this one rule of life; that shows us best
How God may be appeas’d, and mortals blest.
Whether from length of time its worth we draw,
The word is scarce more ancient than the law.:
Heaven's early care prescrib:d for every age,
First in the soul, and after in the page:
Or whether more abstractedly we look,
Or on the writers, or the written Book,
Whence but from Heav'q, could men unskill'd in
In several ages, born, in several parts,
Weave such agreeing truths? or how, or why
Should all copspire to cheat us with a lie?
Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price.
If on the Book itself we cast our view,
Concurrent heathens prove the story true :
The doctrine? miracles, which must convince,
For Heav'ŋ in them appeals to human sense ;
And though they prove not, they confirm the çanse,
When what is taught agrees with Nature's laws.
Then for the style; majestic and divine, It speaks no less than God in every line: Commanding words, whose force is still the same As the tirst tiat that produc'd gur frame.
All faiths beside or did by arms ascend,
Or sense indulg'd has made mankind their friend:
This only doctrine does our lusts oppose,
Unfed by Nature's soil in which it grows,
Cross to our interests, curbing sense and sin,
Oppress'd without, and undermin’d within,
It thrives through pain; its own tormentors tires;
And with a stubborn patience still aspires.
To what can reason such effects assign
Transcending nature, but to laws divine?
Which in that sacred volume are contain’d,
Sufficient, clear, and for that use ordain'd.
But stay; the Deist here will urge anew,
No supernatural worship can be true;
Because a general law is that alone
Which must to all and every where be known;
A style so large as not this Book can claim,
Nor aught that bears Reveald Religion's name:
"Tis said the sound of a Messiah's birth
Is gone through all the habitable earth;
But still that text must be confin'd alone
To what was then iphabited and known;
And what provision could from thence accrue
To Indian souls, and worlds discover'd new ?
In other parts it helps, that ages past [brac'd,
The Scriptures there were known, and were em-
Till sin spread once again the shades of night:
What's that to these who never saw the light?
Of all objections this indeed is chief, To startle reason, stagger frail belief: We grant, 'tis true, that Heav'n from human sense Has hid the secret paths of Providence : But boundless wisdom, boundless mercy, may Find, e'en for those bewilder'd souls, a way :
If from his nature foes may pity claim,
Much more may strangers who ne'er heard his name:
And though no name be for salvation known,
But that of his eternal Son alone;
Who knows how far transcending goodness can
Extend the merits of that Son to man?
Who knows what reasons may his mercy lead,
Or ignorance invincible may plead?
Not only charity bids hope the best,
But more the great Apostle has exprest;
That, . if the Gentiles (whom no law inspir'd)
By nature did what was by law requird;
They who the written rule had never known
Were to themselves both rule and law alone;
'To Nature's plain indictment they shall plead,
And by their conscience be condemnd or freed.'
Most righteous doom! because a rule reveal'd
Is none to those from whom it was conceal'd.
Then those who follow'd Reason's dictates right
Liv'd up, and lifted high their natural light;
With Socrates may see their Maker's face,
While thousand rubric martyrs want a place.
Nor doth it balk my charity to find
The' Egyptian Bishop of another mind :
For though his Creed eternal truth contains,
'Tis hard for man to doom to endless pains
All who believ'd not all bis zcal reqnir'd,
Upless he first could prove he was inspir'd.
Then let us either think he meant to say-
This faith, where publish’d, was the only way ;
Or else conclude that, Arius to confute,
The good old man, too eager in dispute,
Flew high, and, as his Christian fury rose,
Damo'd all for heretics wbo durst oppose.