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See how the wand'ring croud mistake their way,
And, toft about by their own error, stray!
THIS tumbles headlong from an unseen hill;
THAT lights on a blind path and wanders ftill.
With haste, but not good fpeed, THIS hurries on;
THAT moves no fafter than a fnail might run.
While to and fro another haftes in vain,
No fooner in the right, than out again.
HERE one walks on alone, whose boasted skil}
Invites another to attend him ftill;
Till among thorns or miry pools they tread,
THIS by his guide, THAT by himself mifled.
HERE one in a perpetual circle moves,
Another, THERE, in endless mazes roves;
And when he thinks his weary ramble done,
He finds (alas!) he has but just begun.
Thus ftill in droves, the blinded rabble ftray,
And led by error miss the narrow way.
O that my ways directed were by thee,
From the deceits of baneful error free!
Till all my motion, like a dart's, became
Swift as its fight, unerring as its aim.
And when thy law requires me to obey,
Let me not loiter, nor mistake the way :
But be thyfelf the BOW, thy LAW the white,
And I the ARROW deftin'd for the flight.
And when thou'rt pleas'd to fhew thy greatest skill, Make me the polish'd shaft t'obey thy will.
ON THE MISIMPROVEMENT OF TIME.
HE vernal flowers, unconfciqus of their bloom, From day to day exhale a fhort perfume; Regardless how the winged moments fly, They fpring and fiqurifh, propagate and die; The brutal tribes ferenely thoughtless graze The verdant fields, nor heed the flight of days; From stage to stage of life unthinking run, While, unperceiv'd, decrepid age creeps on; Fearlefs of future, and the paft forgot,
Happy thro' blindness, calm thrq3 want of thought,
They dream dull life away, then turn to earth,
Alike unmindful of their death or birth.
But I, distinguish'd with the awful power
Of reafon; born to be for evermore
A candidate for immortality,
An infant-heir of worlds, and ne'er to die ;-
Shall I, in life's fwift courfe move blindly on,
Mindless how far, or how, or where I run?
No: here I'll pause, from this advanc'd wide stage,
And view the progrefs of my fleeting age,
From my first being measur'd by the fun,
My days a round of thirty years have run:
But, meafur'd by my progress in the race
Of learning, wisdom, knowledge, virtue, grace,
They shrink into a short contracted span;
In these a BABE, in fize and years a MAN:
These feeds of life divine, as yet ungrown,
Or (O tremendous thought!) ev'n yet unsown;
My foot juft enter'd in the heav'nly road,
Unskill'd in the fair path which leads to God;
My work undone; my acquifitions small;
One day, alas! fufficient for them all.
How vig'rous, earthly trifles to pursue,
How flow while heaven's high objects are in view!
Pronouncing mortal things with ready tongue,
But lifping themes divine, and stammering long.
How faint my tafte for folid, manly joys!
Raptur'd with baubles, pleas'd with childish toys; To eat, and drink, and fleep, by instinct taught, Untrain❜d to manly exercife or thought!
In me, alas! how fadly reconcil'd
The wide extremes of man and of the child.
Ah! what have I been doing? how have fled
My years by ftealth, unnotic'd o'er my head ?-
Amaz'd! furpriz'd I afk, how came I here?-
Amaz❜d at thirty ere I was aware!...
Infenfibly from youth to riper age,
Swiftly we glide along this mortal ftage:
How quick old age advances in the rear!!
How near to youth! yet death, perhaps, more near.
So moves the reftlefs watch her little hand,
That turns perpetual while it feems to ftand;
Thus unperceiv'd the candle waftes away,
"Till darkness ends its counterfeited day:
And thus the fhadow on the dial cast,
Steals on, unnotic'd, till the hour be past.
The dream now disappears, th' enchanting dream, That smoothly bore me down time's rapid ftream: Reckless, and unaware!-I wake at last :
View life's fcant wretched voyage almoft paft,
And eye th' eternal ocean, fearful, wide, and vaft!
As when th' incautious youth, who lightly fails
On fore smooth stream urg'd by soft breathing gales,
Cafts off all fear, nor, till the awful found
Of boift'rous foods and billows roar around,
Can think of danger; then, with double fright,
Surveys the horrors of th' unwonted fight:
A boundless ocean all its terrors spreads,
To which the smooth deceitful current leads:
With like furprife I caft my eyes on thee,
'Tremendous ocean, vaft eternity!
Oh! why so often, why fo long forgot!
Why, when so near, thus abfent from my thought!
Why was I deaf to the tremendous rear
Of thofe dread waves which dah time's mould'ring
Where's now the anchor of unfhaken hope, [fhore?
And faith, almighty faith! thy cable rope?
Where lies the coaft unknown? My pilot-where?
JESUS, thou ruler of the feas, appear!
Speak the almighty mandate: " Peace; be ftill;"
The lawless waves will foon obey thy will:
Dart thro' thefe hideous glooms one chearful ray,
These hideous glooms will brighten into day.
If thou but fmile, the ocean's calm and clear,
And rocks, and mists, and darkness disappear.
If on life paft my guilty eye I turn,
My moments, as departing friends, I mourn:
Important friends and meffengers of love,
On kind designs commission'd from above:
My gentle tutors sent to educate,
A raw young pupil for the heavenly state,
Lib'ral difpenfers of unnumber'd means,
To form my foul for everlasting scenes;
All offer'd me their fervice as they pafs'd,
Though not allow'd to stay, and wing'd with haste,
Us'd all their efforts; all were us'd in vain ;
Slighted, and oh! with hands remorseless slain,
Ungrateful hands! guilt, horrid spectre! ftalks
Before my eyes, and haunts my fecret walks,
Demanding vengeance:-O my murder'd years!
Cannot these cries, thefe penitential tears
Recall you back to life? And are you gone
For ever, and no more to see the fun?
Oh might your light but bless my eyes again !
Fruitless, alas! the wifh, the hope as vain.-
Yet cannot grace, unbounded grace divine,
Relieve a confcience fo defil'd as mine?-
To thee, great GOD! I fly; " loft and undone,
I plead the well-spent moments of thy Son;
"I plead his death, who for his murd❜rers prays,
"And, O for me, I truft, the murd'rer of my days!"
Of thirty empires, and their vast affairs,
How mean the trust compar'd with thirty years!