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FRAILTY AND FOLLY OF MAN.
GREAT Heav'n! how frail thy creature man is
How by himself insensibly betray'd!
In our own strength unhappily secure,
Too little cautious of the adverse pow'r;
And by the blast of self-opinion mov'd,
We wish to charm, and seek to be belov'd.
On pleasure's flowing brink we idly stray,
Masters as yet of our returning way:
Seeing no danger, we disarm our mind;
And give our conduct to the waves and wind:
Then in the flow'ry mead, or verdant shade,
To wanton dalliance negligently laid,
We weave the chaplet, and we crown the bowl,
And smiling see the nearer waters roll;
Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise,
Till the dire tempest mingles earth and skies;
And swift into the boundless ocean borne,
Our foolish confidence too late we mourn:
Round our devoted heads the billows beat;
And from our troubled view the lessen'd lands
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.
HEB. i. 8.
THO' heaven's bright hosts with earth in concert
Their voice ethereal, and their notes divine:
Tho' myriad-worlds their whole oblations bring,
And nature strikes the universal string:
Tho' yet unform'd, unnumber'd orbs shall roll,
And pour at once the thunder of their soul!
Spread all the pow'rs of Harmony abroad,
And concrete rise, to swell the grand applaud,
Strength to their King, and Glory to their GOD!
Yet would this high, this full accented choir,
Tho' flush'd with all that being could inspire,
Of transport's joy, or love's harmonic fire,
In vain assay, the Infinite to raise,
Exalt his greatness, or support his praise!
Their utmost skill would disproportion'd prove,
And shame their efforts, while it shew'd their love!
Each foil'd attempt, diminish or debase
The glorious theme, and seal its own disgrace.
His dazzling heights their soaring strains elude,
And kind reproach their vent'rous gratitude.
Their loud acclaim, tho' shook th' Olympian sky,
In air dissolve, and hallelujahs die.
No thund'ring echoes would the vaults resound;
Nor echoing murmurs answer to the sound.
Still as the night the loud acclaim would cease,
And conscious blush suffuse creation's face.
Lost from the moment that they first ascend,
Would miss their object, tho' attain'd its end.
In love receiv'd, who view'd their bold design,
The praise might take, yet just preserve the line.
Officious worlds their sacred distance keep,
And vocal joy in awful silence keep;
Sunk at his feet, with trembling homage own
Their zeal-presumption, and their art outdone.
The theme too mighty for creation's tongue,
The seraph's ardour, or the cherub's song.
As none but He, whose wisdom knows his pow'r,
Can comprehend, or can himself adore :
Define the nature, or prescribe the mode
Of service due, or worship meet for GOD.
Defective all the creature's utmost stretch,
How wide their compass, or how high their reach.
All short of him, who shuns created sight,
And dwells in darkness from excess of light.
Known to himself-his own eternal theme;
Nor adds creation, nor detracts from him.
To him alone existence owes her form,
From tow'ring cherubs to the trodden worm.
"Twixt these compris'd creation's gradual plan",
And form❜d between his fav'rite likeness, man †.
Plac'd at the head of this terrestrial frame,
He treads on dust, yet glows seraphic flame:
In whose compound th' amazing contrasts meet,
Heav'n in his eye, and nature at his feet.
Monarch on earth, see earth her tribute bring,
His God's vicegerent and his creature's king:
On whom conferr'd the high deputed sway,
Creation waits to homage, or obcy.
While he, who made, alike remov'd from all,
Without compare his own original!
Above all essence, as beyond all name;
In all things various, yet in all the same!
And whom to liken is but to blaspheme!
* The difference of situation, abilities, and other prerogatives, may be compared to a gradual rise, or fall: but the essence of beings capable, and incapable, of knowing God, is different beyond all degrees, and admits of no comparison.
+ With regard to man in his present state of probation, his situation is low; but in the essence of his nature, and the kingdom prepared for him, the Scriptures give him the preference to all that is created.
Admits no change, nor bears gradation's forms,
Nor more like angels than he is like worms.
But as he made, can with his word destroy
The sparkling cherub, or the spangling fly.
With equal ease invert created modes;
Make angels reptiles, or those reptiles gods.
Sole what he is, and all he will or can;
And all he was, ere yet of old began
Or stars to shine, or seasons to return;
Ere sang creation, or its sons were born.
LORD over all! Himself his first regard!
And whom to worship is its own reward.
The creatures honour and their high employ,
His will their being, and his smile their joy.
'Tis favour all, that deigns an ear to lend;
While angels prostrate, or archangels bend.
His height supreme, Himself alone can tell;
And equal hard to rival as excel.
Broad flames of light arobe his radiant seat,
Heav'n is his throne, while earth receives his feet:
To whom all creatures are as nothing seen:
The mountains atoms, and those atoms men.
Vain then the hope, and vain the attempt to raise
An equal tribute to unequall'd praise!
Suffice for man-suffice for angels this,
Who serves with trembling cannot serve amiss.