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PARAPHRASE ON THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER
FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
DID sweeter sounds adorn my flowing tongue,
Than ever man pronounc'd or angel sung;
Had I all knowledge, human and divine,
That thought can reach, or science can define;
And had I pow'r to give that knowledge birth,
In all the speeches of the babbling earth;
Did Shadrach's zeal my glowing breast inspire,
To weary tortures, and rejoice in fire;
Or had I faith like that which Israel saw,
When Moses gave them miracles, and law;
Yet, gracious Charity, indulgent guest,
Were not thy pow'r exerted in my breast;
Those speeches would send up unheeded pray'r,
That scorn of life would be but wild despair:
A tymbal's sound were better than my voice,
My faith were form, my eloquence were noise.
Charity, decent, modest, easy kind,
Softens the high, and rears the abject mind!
Knows with just reins and gentle hand to guide
Betwixt vile shame, and arbitrary pride:
Not soon provok'd, she easily forgives;
And much she suffers, as she much believes;
Soft peace she brings wherever she arrives;
She builds our quiet, as she forms our lives;
Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even,
And opens in each heart a little heaven.
Each other gift, which GoD on man bestows
Its proper bounds and due restriction knows;
To one fix'd purpose dedicates its power,
And finishing its act, exists no more.
Thus, in obedience to what heav'n decrees,
Knowledge shall fail, and prophecy shall cease:
But lasting Charity's more ample sway,
Nor bound by time, nor subject to decay,
In happy triumph shall for ever live,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive.
As through the artist's intervening glass, Our eye perceives the distant planets pass, A little we discover; but allow
That more remains unseen than art can show: So whilst our mind its knowledge would improve, (Its feeble eye intent on things above)
High as we may, we lift our reason up,
By Faith directed, and confirm'd by Hope:
Yet we are able only to survey
Dawnings of beams and promises of day.
Heav'n's fuller effluence mocks our dazzled sight;
Too great its swiftness, and too strong its light.
But soon the mediate clouds shall be dispell'd;
The sun shall soon be face to face beheld
In all his robes, with all his glory on,
Seated sublime on his meridian throne.
Then constant Faith and holy hope shall die,
One lost in certainty, and one in joy:
Whilst thou, more happy pow'r, fair Charity,
Triumphant sister, greatest of the three,
Thy office and thy nature still the same,
Lasting thy lamp, and unconsum'd thy flame,
Shalt still survive-
Shalt stand before the host of heaven confest,
For ever blessing, and for ever blest.
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
Their voice æthereal, 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.