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So its bright orb, th' aspiring flame would join,
But the vaft diftance mocks the fond defign.
If he almighty! whofe decree is fate,
Could, to display his power, fubvert his ftate;
Bid from his plaftic hand a greater rife,
Produce a master ! and refign his skies!
Impart his incommunicable flame,
The mystic number of th' eternal name!
Then might revolting reafon's feeble ray,
Afpire to queftion God's all-perfect day!
Vain task! the clay in the directing hand,
The reason of its form might fo demand,
As man presume to question his dispose,
From whom the power, he thus abuses, flows.
Here point, fair mufe! the worship God requires,
The foul inflam'd with chafte and holy fires!
Where love celeftial warms the happy breaft,
Where from fincerity the thought's exprefs'd;
Where genuine piety and truth refin'd,
Reconfecrate the temple of the mind:
With grateful flames the living altars glow,
And God defcends to vifit man below.
Thro' the unmeasurable tracts of space,
Go, mufe divine! and prefent godhead trace;
See where by place, uncircumfcrib'd as time,
He reigns extended, and he shines sublime!
Should't thou above the heaven of heavens afcend,
Could't thou below the depth of depths defcend;
Could thy fond flight beyond the starry sphere,
The radiant morning's lucid pinions bear;
There should his brighter presence shine 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 save;
What power, alas! thy footfeps 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 heaven his feat;
Enthron'd he dictates-and his word is fate.
Nor want his fhining images below,
In ftreams 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 enlivening 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, power, 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 distress pour out the heartless figh;
An abfent God no abler to defend,
Protect, or punish, than an abfent friend;
Distant 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 fecond chaos turn,
And nature for her great supporter mourn !
Even the weak embryo, ere to life it breaks,
From his high power its flender texture takes ;
While in his book the various parts inroll'd
Increafing, own eternal wisdom's mould.
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 prospect fir'd,
From heaven defcended, as by heaven infpir'd;
His all-enlightening omnipresence own,
Whence first thou feel'ft thy dwindling prefence
His wide omniscience, juftly grateful, fing, [known;
Whence thy weak science prunes its callow wing!
And bless th' eternal, all-informing foul,
Whofe fight pervades, whose knowledge fills the
As the eternal and omnifcient mind,
By laws not limited, nor bounds confin'd,
Is always independent, always free,
Hence fhines confefs'd immutability!
Change, whether the fpontaneous child of will,
Or birth of force,is imperfection ftill."
But he, all-perfect, in himself contains
Power felf-deriv'd, for from himself he reigns!
If, alter'd by constraint, we could fuppofe,
That God his fix'd stability should lose;
How startles reafon at a thought so strange!
What power can force omnipotence to change?
If from his own divine productive thought,
Were the yet ftranger alteration wrought;
Could excellence fupreme new rays acquire?
Or ftrong 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 fhadows we survey,
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 shalt for ever shine!
No change fhall 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 cheerless wing,
Religion deaden to a lifeless thing:
Where could we, rational, repose our trust,
But in a power immutable as juft?