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Elfe how com'ft thou to see these truths fo clear,
Which fo obfcure to heathens did appear?

Not Plato thefe, nor Ariftotle found:
Nor he whofe wifdom oracles renown'd.
Haft thou a wit fo deep, or fo fublime,
Or canst thou lower dive, or higher climb ?
Canft thou by reafon 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 fuch piles could raise
Of natural worship, built on prayer and praise
To one fole God.

Nor did remorfe to expiate fin prescribe :
But flew their fellow-creatures for a bribe :
The guiltless 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 fin!
And great oppreffors might heaven's wrath beguile,
By offering his own creatures for a spoil!

Dar'ft thou, poor worm, offend Infinity?

And must the terms of peace be given by thee?
Then thou art Juftice in the laft appeal;
Thy eafy God inftructs thee to rebel :
And, like a king remote and weak, must take
What fatisfaction thou art pleas'd to make.

But if there be a power too just and strong,
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong;

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Look humbly upward, fee his will disclose
The forfeit firft, and then the fine impofe:
A mul&t thy poverty could never pay,
Had not eternal wifdom found the way:

And with celeftial wealth fupply'd thy ftore:

His juftice makes the fine, his mercy quits the score.
See God defcending in thy human frame;

Th' offended suffering in th' offender's name:

All thy mifdeeds to him imputed see,
And all his righteousness devolv’d on thee.

For, granting we have finn'd, and that th' offence

Of man is made against Omnipotence,

Some price that bears proportion must be paid;
And infinite with infinite be weigh'd.

See then the Deift loft: remorfe for vice,
Not paid; or, paid, inadequate in price :
What farther means can reafon now direct,
Or what relief from human wit expect?
That fhews us fick; and fadly are we fure
Still to be fick, till heaven reveal the cure:
If then heaven's will muft needs be understood,

Which muft, if we want cure, and heaven be good,
Let all records of will reveal'd be shown ;
With fcripture all in equal balance thrown,
And our one facred book will be that one.
Proof needs not here; for whether we compare
That impious, idle, fuperftitious ware
Of rites, luftrations, offerings, which before,
In various ages, various countries bore,


With chriftian faith and virtues, we shall find
None answering the great ends of human kind
But this one rule of life, that shews us beft
How God may be appeas'd, and mortals blest.
Whether from length of time its worth we draw,
The word is fcarce more ancient than the law:
Heaven's early care prefcrib'd for every age;
First, in the foul, and after, in the page.
Or, whether more abstractedly we look,
Or on the writers, or the written book,

Whence, but from heaven, could men unskill'd in arts,
In feveral ages born, in feveral parts,

Weave fuch agreeing truths? or how, or why,
Should all confpire to cheat us with a lye?
Unafk'd their pains, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price.
If on the book itself we caft our view,
Concurrent heathens prove the ftory true :
The doctrine, miracles; which must convince,
For heaven in them appeals to human sense :
And though they prove not, they confirm the cause,
When what is taught agrees with nature's laws.
Then for the ftile, majestic and divine,

It fpeaks no less than God in every line :
Commanding words; whofe force is still the fame
As the firft fiat that produc'd our frame.
All faiths befide, or did by arms afcend;
Or fenfe indulg'd has made mankind their friend :
This only doctrine does our lufts oppose:
Unfed by nature's foil, in which it grows ;


Crofs to our interefts, curbing fenfe and fin;
Opprefs'd without, and undermin'd within,

It thrives through pain; it's own tormentors tires ;
And with a stubborn patience still aspires.
To what can reason such effects affign
Transcending nature, but to laws divine ;
Which in that facred volume are contain'd ;
Sufficient, clear, and for that ufe ordain'd?
But stay the deift here will urge anew,
No fupernatural worship can be true:
Because a general law is that alone

Which muft to all, and every where, be known:
A ftile fo large as not this book can claim,
Nor ought that bears reveal'd religion's name.
'Tis faid the found of a Meffiah's birth
Is gone through all the habitable earth :
But ftill that text must be confin'd alone
To what was then inhabited and known:
And what provifion could from thence accrue
To Indian fouls, and worlds difcover'd new?
In other parts it helps, that ages past,

The fcriptures there were known, and were embrac'd,
Till fin fpread once again the fhades of night:
What's that to thefe, who never faw the light?

Of all objections this indeed is chief

To ftartle reafon, ftagger frail belief:

We grant, 'tis true, that heaven from human sense
Has hid the fecret paths of providence :

But boundless wisdom, boundless mercy, may
Find ev'n for those bewilder'd fouls, 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 falvation known,

But that of his eternal Son's alone;

Who knows how far tranfcending goodness can

Extend the merits of that Son to man?

Who knows what reafons may his mercy



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 infpir'd;
By nature did what was by law requir'd;
They, who the written rule had never known,
Were to themselves both rule and law alone
To nature's plain indictment they fhall plead;
And by their conscience be condemn'd or freed."
Moft righteous doom! because a rule reveal'd
Is none to those from whom it was conceal'd.
Then those who follow'd reafon'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 does it baulk my charity, to find
Th' 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 his zeal requir'd;
Unless he first could prove he was infpir'd.
Then let us either think he meant to fay
This faith, where publifh'd, was the only way;


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