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And yet we will not hear. What mail defends
Our untouch'd hearts? What miracle turns off
The pointed thought, which from a thousand quivers
Is daily darted, and is daily shunn’d?
We stand as in a battle, throngs on throngs
Around us falling; wounded oft ourselves ;
Though bleeding with our wounds, immortal still !
We see time's furrows on another's brow,
And death entrench’d, preparing his assault ;
How few themselves, in that just mirror, see !
Or, seeing, draw their inference as strong!
There death is certain ; doubtful here: He must,
And soon ; We may, within an age, expire.
Though gray our heads, our thoughts and aims are green ;
Like damaged clocks, whose hand and bell dissent;
Folly sings Six, while Nature points at Twelve.
Must I then forward only look for death?
Backward I turn mine eye, and find him there.
Man is a self-survivor every year.
Man, like a stream, is in perpetual flow.
Death 's a destroyer of quotidian prey.
My youth, my noontide, his; my yesterday;
The bold invader shares the present hour.
Each moment on the former shuts the grave.
While man is growing, life is in decrease ;
And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
Our birth is nothing but our death begun;
As tapers waste, that instant they take fire.
Our dying friends come o'er us like a cloud,
To damp our brainless ardours; and abate
That glare of life which often blinds the wise :
Our dying friends are pioneers, to smooth
Our rugged pass to death ; to break those bars
Of terror and abhorrence Nature throws
'Cross our obstructed way; and thus to make
Welcome, as safe, our port from every storm.
Each friend by fate snatch'd from us, is a plume
Pluck'd from the wing of human vanity,
Which makes us stoop from our aërial heights,
And, damp'd with omen of our own decease,
On drooping pinions of ambition lower'd,
Just skim earth's surface, ere we break it up,
O'er putrid earth to scratch a little dust,
And save the world a nuisance. Smitten friends
Are angels sent on errands full of love ;
For us they languish, and for us they die :
And shall they languish, shall they die, in vain ?
Ungrateful, shall we grieve their hovering shades,
Which wait the revolution in our hearts ?
Shall we disdain their silent, soft address;
Their posthumous advice, and pious prayer ?
Senseless, as herds that graze their liallow'd graves,
Tread under foot their agonies and groans ;
Frustrate their anguish, and destroy their deaths ?
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours :
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands despatch ;
How much is to be done! My hopes and fears
Start up alarm’d, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-On what ? a fathomless abyss !
A dread eternity! how surely mine !
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour ?
On Piety humanity is built ;
And on humanity, much happiness ;
And yet still more on piety itself.
A soul in commerce with her God, is heaven ;
Feels not the tumults and the shocks of life;
The whirls of passions, and the strokes of heart:
A Deity believed, is joy begun;
A Deity adored, is joy advanced ;
A Deity beloved, is joy matured.
Each branch of piety delight inspires ;
Faith builds a bridge from this world to the next,
O’er death's dark gulf, and all its horror hides ;
Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy,
That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still;
Prayer ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream
Of glory on the consecrated hour
Of man, in audience with the Deity.
Who worships the Great God, that instant joins
The first in heaven, and sets his foot on hell.
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed !
A man on earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships on seas, while in, above the world.
With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm;
All the black cares and tumults of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.
Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred and the slave,
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewilder'd in the vale: or all unlike!
His full reverse in all! What higher praise ?
What stronger demonstration of the right?
The present all their care; the future his.
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to fame; his bounty he conceals;
Their virtues varnish nature, his exalt;
Mankind's esteem they court, and he his own;
Theirs the wild chase of false felicities,
His the composed possession of the true.
Alike throughout is bis consistent peace,
All of one colour, and an even thread;
While, part-colour'd shreds of happiness,
Withideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robe; each puff of fortune blows
The tatters by, and shews their nakedness.
He sees with other eyes than theirs : where they
Behold a sun, he spies a Deity;
What makes them only smile, makes him adore;
Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees;
An empire, in his balance, weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship, as divine;
His hopes immortal blow them by, as dust
That dins his sight, and shortens his survey,
Which longs in ite to lose all bound.
Titles and hone they prove his fate)
He lays aside to
No dignity they wo in aught besides.
They triumph in external which conceal
Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse.
Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And nothing thinks so great in man as man.
Too dear he holds his interest to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade;
Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey.
They kindle at the shadow of a wrong:
Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on heaven,
Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe;
Nought but what wounds his virtue wounds his peace.
A cover'd heart their character defends;
A cover'd heart denies him half his praise.
With nakedness his innocence agrees ;
While their broad foliage testifies their fall.
Their no-joys end, where his full feast begins:
His joys create, theirs murder, future bliss.
To triumph in existence, his alone;
And his alone triumphantly to think
His true existence is not yet begun.
His glorious course was, yesterday, complete;
Death, then, was welcome; yet life still is sweet.
Born near Haverfordwest in South Wales, April 10, 1711, after passing through Christ Church, Oxford, JOHN GAMBOLD became vicar of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, where he remained till 1748, when he joined the United Brethren. Thereafter he officiated as minister of the Moravian Chapel, Fetter Lane, London, and eventually as a bishop of the United Brethren, until the close of his pious and useful life, which ended where it began, at Haverfordwest, September 13, 1771.
The Mystery of Life.
So many years I've seen the sun,
And call'd these eyes and hands my own,
A thousand little acts I've done,
And childhood have, and manhood known:
O what is life! and this dull round
To tread, why was a spirit bound?
So many airy draughts and lines,
And warm excursions of the mind,
Have fill'd my soul with great designs,
While practice grovell’d far behind:
O what is thought! and where withdraw
The glories which my fancy saw ?
So many tender joys and woes
Have on my quivering soul had power ;
Plain life with heightening passions rose,
The boast or burden of their hour:
O what is all we feel ! why fled
Those pains and pleasures o'er my head ?
So many human souls divine,
So at one interview display'd,
Some oft and freely mix'd with mine,
In lasting bonds my heart have laid :
O what is friendship! why impress'd
On my weak, wretched, dying breast?