Immagini della pagina


“ Short was her joy; for soon th' insulting maid | They came, and, usual salutations paid, By Heaven's decreo in this cold grave was laid. With words premeditated thus he said : And as in unrepented sin she dy'd, (pride: “ What you have often counsell'd, to reinove Dooin'd to the same bad place is punish'd for her My vain pursuit of unregarded love ; Because she deemed I well deserv'd to die, By thrift my sinking fortune to repair, And made a merit of her cruelty.

(cast, Though late yet is at last become my care : There, then, we met; both try'd, and both were My heart shall be my own; my vast expense And this irrevocable sentence pass'd;

Reduc'd to bounds, by timely providence :
That she, whom I so long pursu'd in vain, This only I require ; invite for me
Should suffer from my hands a lingering pain : Honoria, with her father's family,
Renew'd to life that she might daily die,

Her friends, and mine; the cause I shall display, I daily doom'd to follow, she to fly;

On Friday next; for that's th' appointed day.” No more a lover, but a mortal foe,

Well pleas'd were all his friends, the task was ligt, I seek her life (for love is none below);

The father, mother, daughter, they invite; As often as my dogs with better speed

Hardly the dame was drawn to this repast; Arrest her flight, is she to death decreed :

But yet resolv'd, because it was the last. Then with this fatal sword, on which I dy'd, The day was come, the guests invited came, I pierce her open back, or tender side,

And, with the rest, th' inexorable dame : And tear that harden'd heart from out her breast, A feast prepar'd with riotous expense, Which, with her entrails, makes my hungry hounds Much cost, more care, and most magnificence. a feast.

The place ordain'd was in that haunted grove, Nor lies she long, but, as her Fates ordain, Where the revenging ghost pursu'd his love : Springs up to life, and fresh to second pain,

The tables in a ud pavilion spread, Is sav'd to-day, to-morrow to be slain.”

With flowers below, and tissue overhead : This, vers’d in death, th' infernal knight relates, The rest in rank, Honoria, chief in place, And then for proof fulfill'd the common fates ; Was artfully contriv'd to set her face Her heart and bowels through her back he drew, To front the thicket, and behold the chase. And fed the hounds that help'd him to pursue, The feast was serv'd, the time so well forecast, Stern look'd the fiend, as frustrate of his will, That just when the desert and fruits were plac'd, Not half suffic'd, and greedy yet to kill.

The fiend's alarm began ; the hollow sound And now the soul, expiring through the wound, Sung in the leaves, the forest shook around. Jlad left the body breathless on the ground, Air blacken'd, rollid the thunder, groan'd the When thus the grisly spectre spoke again :

ground. “ Behold the fruit of ill-rewarded pain :

Nor long before the loud laments arise, As many months as I sustain'd her hate,

Of one distress'd, and mastiffs' mingled cries; So many years is she condemned by Fate

And first the dame came rushing through the wool To daily death; and every several place,

And next the famish'd hounds that sought their food, Conscious of her disdain and my disgrace,

And grip'd her flanks, and oft essay'd their jaws in Must witness her just punishment; and be

blood. A scene of triumph and revenge to me!

Last came the felon, on his sable steed, As in this grove I took my last farewell,

Arm'd with his naked sword, and urg'd his dogs to As on this very spot of earth I fell,

She ran, and cry'd, her flight directly bent As Friday saw me die, so she my prey,

(A guest unbidden) to the fatal tent, mert Becomes ev'n here, on this revolving day.” The scene of death, and place ordain'd for punish

Thus while he spoke the virgin from the ground Loud was the noise, aghast was every guest, Upstarted fresh, already clos'd the wound,

The women shriek'd, the men forsook the feast; And, unconcern'd for all she felt before,

The hounds at nearer distance hoarsely bay'd; Precipitates her flight along the shore :

The hunter close pursu'd the visionary maid, (aid

. The hell-hounds, as ungorg'd with flesh and blood, She rent the Heaven with loud laments, imploring Pursue their prey, and seek their wonted food : The gallants, to protect the lady's right, The fiend remounts his courser, mends his pace; Their faulchions brandish'd at the grisly sprite ; And all the vision vanish'd from the place.

High on his stirrups he provok'd the fight. Long stood the noble youth oppress'd with awe Then on the crowd he cast a furious look, And stupid at the wondrous things he saw, [law. And wither'd all their strength before he spoke : Surpassing common faith, transgressing Nature's “ Back on your lives ; let be," said he, “my prej, He would have been asleep, and wish'd to wake, And let my vengeance take the destin'd way: But dreams, he knew, no long impression make, Vain are your arms, and vainer your defence, Though strong at first ; if vision, to what end, Against th' eternal doom of Providence : But such as must his future state portend ? Mine is th' ungrateful maid by Heaven design'd: His love the damsel, and himself the fiend, Mercy she would not give, nor mercy shall she find." But yet, reflecting that it could not be

At this the former tale again he told From Heaven, which cannot impious acts decree, With thundering tone, and dreadful to behold: Resolv'd within himself to shun the snare,

Sunk were their hearts with liorrour of the crime, Which Hell for his destruction did prepare ; Nor needed to be warn'd a second time, And, as his better genius should direct,

But bore each other back : some knew the face, From an ill cause to draw a good effect.

And all had heard the much-lamented case Inspir'd from Heaven he homeward took his way, of him who fell for love, and this the fatal place Nor pall'd his new design with long delay :

And now th' infernal minister advanc'd, But of his train a trusty servant sent,

Seiz'd the due victim, and with fury lanc'd
To call his friends together at his tent.

Her back, and, piercing through her inmost heart
Drew backward as before th' offending part;


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The reeking entrails next he tore away,

Darkling and desperate, with a staggering pace, And to his meagre mastiffs made a prey.

Of death afraid, and conscious of disgrace ; The pale assistants on each other star'd,

Fear, Pride, Remorse, at once her heart assail'd, With gaping mouths for issuing words prepar'd; Pride put Remorse to fight, but Fear prevail'd. The still-born sounds upon the palate hung, Friday, the fatal day, when next it came, [game, And dy'd imperfect on the faultering tongue. Her soul forethought the fiend would change his The fright was general ; but the female band And her pursue, or Theodore be slain, (plain. (A helpless train) in more confusion stand : And two ghosts join their packs to hunt her o'er the With horrour shuddering, on a heap they run, This dreadful image so possess'd her mind, Sick at the sight of hateful justice done ; [their own. That, desperate any succour else to find, For conscience rung th’alarm, and made the case She ceas'd all farther hope ; and now began

So, spread upon a lake with upward eye, To make reflection on th' unhappy man. A plump of fowl behold their foe on high; Rich, brave, and young, who past expression lov'd, They close their trembling troop; and all attend Prbof to disdain, and not to be remov'd : On whom the sowsing eagle will descend.

Of all the men respected and admir'd, But most the proud Honoria fear'd th' event, Of all the dames, except herself, desir'd : And thought to her alone the vision sent.

| Why not of her ? preferr'd above the rest Her guilt presents to her distracted mind By him with knightly deeds, and open love profess’d? Heaven's justice, Theodore's revengeful kind, So had another been, where he his vows address'd. And the same fate to the same sin assign'd. This quell'd her pride, yet other doubts remain'd, Already sees herself the monster's prey,

That, once disdaining, she might be disdain'd.
And feels her heart and entrails torn away. The fear was just, but greater fear prevail'd,
'Twas a mute scene of sorrow, mix'd with fear; Fear of her life by hellish hounds assailid:
Still on the table lay th’ unfinish'd cheer : He took a lowering leave ; but who can tell,
The knight and hungry mastiffs stood around, What outward hate might inward love conceal ?
The mangled dame lay breathless on the ground; Her sex's arts she knew; and why not, then,
When on a sudden, re-inspir'd with breath, Might deep dissembling have a place in men ?
Again she rose, again to suffer death ;

Here hope began to dawn; resolv'd to try,
Nor staid the hell-hounds, nor the hunter staid, She fix'd on this her utmost remedy:
But follow'd, as before, the flying maid :

Death was behind, but hard it was to die.
Th’ avenger took from earth th' avenging sword, 'Twas time enough at last on Death to call,
And mounting light as air his sable steed he spurr'd: The precipice in sight: a shrub was all,
The clouds dispell'd, the sky resum'd her light, That kindly stood betwixt to break the fatal fall.
And Nature stood recover'd of her fright.

One maid she had, belov'd above the rest ; But fear, the last of ills, remain'd behind,

Secure of her, the secret she confess'd; And horrour heavy sat on every mind.

And now the cheerful light her fears dispellid, Nor Theodore encourag'd more the feast,

She with no winding turns the truth conceal'd, But sternly look’d, as hatching in his breast But put the woman off, and stood reveal'd: Some deep designs; which when Honoria view'd, With faults confess'd commission'd her to go, The fresh impulse her former fright renew'd; If pity yet had place, and reconcile her foe. She thought herself the trembling dame who fled, The welcome message made, was soon receiv'd; And him the grisly ghost that spurr'd th' infernal 'Twas to be wish'd, and hop'd, but scarce believ'd; steed :

Fate seem'd a fair occasion to present; The more dismay'd, for when the guests withdrew, He knew the sex, and fear'd she might repent, Their courteous host, saluting all the crew, (adieu; Shou'd he delay the moment of consent. Regardless pass'd her o'er; nor grac'd with kind There yet remain'd to gain her friends (a care That sting infix'd within her haughty mind The modesty of maidens well might spare); The downfall of her empire she divin'd;

But she with such a zeal the cause embrac'd, And her proud heart with secret sorrow pin'd. (As women, where they will, are all in haste) Home as they went, the sad discourse renew'd The father, mother, and the kin beside, Of the relentless dame to death pursu'd,

Were overborne by fury of the tide ; And of the sight obscene so lately view'd.

With full consent of all she chang'd her state ; None durst arraign the righteous doom she bore, Resiștless in her love, as in her hate. Ev'n they who pity'd most, yet blam'd her more: By her example warn’d, the rest beware : The parallel they needed not to name,

More easy, less imperious, were the fair ;
But in the dead they damn'd the living dame. And that one hunting, which the Devil design'd
At every little noise she look'd behind,

For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
For still the knight was present to her mind :
And anxious oft she started on the way,
And thought the horseman-ghost came thundering
for his prey.

Return'd, she took her bed with little rest,
But in short slumbers dreamt the funeral feast :
Awak’d, she turn'd her side, and slept again ; Din as the borrow'd beams of Moon and stars
The same black vapours mounted in her brain, To lonely, weary, wandering travellers,
And the same dreams return'd with double pain. Is reason to the soul : and as on high,

Now forc'd to wake, because afraid to sleep, Those rolling fires discover but the sky, Her blood all fever'd, with a furious leap

Not light us here ; so Reason's glimmering ray She sprang from bed, distracted in her mind, Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way, And fear'd, at every step, a twitching sprite behind. But guide us upward to a better day.


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

And as those nightly tapers disappear

Canst thon by reason more of godhead know
When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere; Than Plutarch, Seneca, or Cicero?
So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight;

Those giant wits in happier ages born,
So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light. When arms and arts did Greece and Rome adorn,
Some few, whose lamp shone brighter, have been led Knew no such system : no such piles could raise
From cause to cause, to Nature's secret head; Of natural worship, built on prayer and praise
And found, that one first principle must be : To one sole God."
But what, or who, that universal He;

Nor did remorse to expiate sin prescribe : Whether some soul encompassing this ball

But slew their fellow-creatures for a bribe : Unmade, unmov'd; yet making, moving all; The guiltless victim groan'd for their offence: Or various atoms, interfering dance,

And cruelty and blood was penitence. Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance ; If sheep and oxen could atone for men, Or this great all was from eternity;

Ah! at how cheap a rate the rich might sin ! Not ev'n the Stagirite himself could see ;

And great oppressors might Heaven's wrath beguile, And Epicurus guess'd as well as he ;

By offering his own creatures for a spoil ! As blindly grop'd they for a future state ;

Dar'st thou, poor worm, offend Infinity ? As rashly judg'd of providence and fate :

And must the terms of peace be given by thee? But least of all could their endeavours find

Then thou art Justice in the last appeal ; What most concern’d the good of human kind: Thy easy God instructs thee to rebel : For happiness was never to be found;

And, like a king remote and weak, must take But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground. What satisfaction thou art pleas'd to make. One thought content the good to be enjoy'd; But if there be a power too just and strong, This every little accident destroy'd :

To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong; The wiser madmen did for virtue toil;

Look humbly upward, see his will disclose A thorny, or at best a barren soil :

The forfeit first, and then the fine impose: In pleasure some their glutton souls would steep; A mulct thy poverty could never pay, But found their line too short, the well too deep; Had not Eternal Wisdom found the way: And leaky vessels which no bliss could keep. And with celestial wealth supply'd thy store : Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll, His justice makes the fine, his mercy quits the scure. Without a centre where to fix the soul :

See God descending in thy human frame; In this wild maze their vain endeavours end : Th' offended suffering in th' offender's name : How can the less the greater comprehend ?

All thy misdeeds to him imputed see, Or finite reason reach Infinity ?

And all his righteousness devolv'd on thee. For what could fathom God were more than He. For, granting we have sinn'd, and that th' offence

The deist thinks he stands on firmer ground; Of man is made against Omnipotence, Cries supexa, the mighty secret's found :

Some price that bears proportion must be paid;
God is that spring of good; supreme, and best ; And infinite with infinite be weighd.
We made to serve, and in that service blest. See then the deist lost : remorse for vice,
If so, some rules of worship must be given, Not paid; or, paid, inadequate in price:
Distributed alike to all by Heaven :

What farther means can reason now direct,
Else God were partial, and to some deny'd Or what relief from human wit expect?
The means his justice should for all provide. That shows us sick; and sadly are we sure
This general worship is to praise and pray: Still to be sick, till Heaven reveal the cure :
One part to borrow blessings, one to pay:

If then Heaven's will must needs be understood, And when frail Nature slides into offence,

Which must, if we want cure, and Heaven be geach The sacrifice for crimes is penitence.

Let all records of will reveal'd be shown; Yet, since the effects of providence, we find, With Scripture all in equal balance thrown, Are variously dispens'd to human kind;

And our one sacred book will be that one. That Vice triumphs, and Virtue suffers here,

Proof needs not here; for whether we compare A brand that sovereign justice cannot bear; That impious, idle, superstitious ware Our reason prompts us to a future state :

Of rites, lustrations, offerings, which before, The last appeal from fortune and from fate : In various ages, various countries bore, Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar'd; With Christian faith and virtues, we shall find The bad meet punishment, the good reward. None answering the great ends of human kind Thus nian by his own strength to Heaven would But this one rule of life, that shows us best

How God may be appeas'd, and mortals blest. And would not be oblig'd to God for more. Whether from length of time its worth we draw, Vain wretched creature, how art thou misled The word is scarce more ancient than the law : To think thy wit these god-like notions bred! Heaven's early care prescrib'd for every age; These truths are not the product of thy mind, First, in the soul, and after, in the page. But dropt from Heaven, and of a nobler kind. Or, whether more abstractedly we look, Reveal'd religion first inform’d thy sight,

Or on the writers, or the written book, And reason saw not till faith sprung the light. Whence, but from Heaven, could men unskilld in Hence all thy natural worship takes the source :

arts, 'Tis revelation what thou think'st discourse. In several ages born, in several parts, Else how com'st thou to see these truths so clear, Weave such agreeing truths ? or how, or why, Which so obscure to heathens did appear ?

Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie? Not Plato these, nor Aristotle found :

Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice, Nor he whose wisdom oracles renown'd.

Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price. Hast thou a wit so deep, or so sublime,

If on the book itself we cast our view,

[ocr errors]

soar :

OrraneLe 1



[ocr errors]


The doctrine, miracles; which must convince, Then let us either think he meant to say
For Heaven in them appeals to human sense : This faith, where publish'd, was the only way;
And though they prove not, they confirm the cause, Or else conclude, that, Arius to confute,
When what is taught agrees with Nature's laws. The good old man, too eager in dispute,
Then for the style, majestic and divine,

Flew high; and as his Christian fury rose,
It speaks no less than God in every line :

Damn'd all for heretics who durst oppose. Commanding words; whose force is still the same Thus far my charity this path has try'd; As the first fiat that produc'd our frame.

A much unskilful, but well-meaning guide : (bred All faiths beside, or did by arms ascend;

Yet what they are, ev'n these crude thoughts were Or sense indulg'd has made mankind their friend : By reading that which better thou hast read. This only doctrine does our lusts oppose :

Thy matchless author's work : which thou, my friend, Unfed by Nature's soil, in which it grows;

By well translating better dost commend: Cross to our interests, curbing sense and sin ; Those youthful hours which, of thy equals most Oppress'd without, and undermin’d within, In toys have squander'd, or in vice have lost, It thrives through pain ; its own tormentors tires; Those hours hast thou to nobler use employ'd ; And with a stubborn patience still aspires.

And the severe delights of truth enjoy'd. To what can reason such effects assign

Witness this weighty book, in which appears Transcending nature, but to laws divine;

The crabbed toil of many thoughtful years, Which in that sacred volume are contain'd; Spent by the author, in the sifting care Sufficient, clear, and for that use ordain'd?

Of rabbins old sophisticated ware But stay : the deist here will urge anew, From gold divine ; which he who well can sort No supernatural worship can be true :

May afterwards make algebra a sport. Because a general law is that alone

A treasure, which country-curates buy, Which must to all, and every where, be known : They Junius and Tremellius may defy : A style so large as not this book can claim, Save pains in various readings, and translations ; Nor ought that bears reveal'd religion's name. And without Hebrew make most learn'd quotations. Tis said the sound of a Messiah's birth

A work so full with various learning fraught, Is gone through all the habitable Earth :

So nicely ponder'd, yet so strongly wrought, But still that text must be confin'd alone

As Nature's height and Art's last hand requir'd : To what was then inhabited and known :

As much as man could compass, uninspir'd. And what provision could from thence accrue Where we may see what errours have been made To Indian souls, and worlds discover'd new? Both in the copier's and translator's trade : In other parts it helps, that, ages past,

How Jewish, popish, interests have prevail'd, The Scriptures there were known, and were embrac'd, And where infallibility has fail'd. Till sin spread once again the shades of night : For some, who have his secret meaning guess'd, What's that to these, who never saw the light ? Have found our author not too much a priest : Of all objections this indeed is chief

For fashion-sake he seems to have recourse
To startle reason, stagger frail belief :

To pope, and councils, and tradition's force :
We grant, 'tis true, that Heaven from human sense | But he that old traditions could subdue,
Has hid the secret paths of providence :

Could not but find the weakness of the new :
But boundless wisdom, boundless mercy, may If Scripture, though deriv'd from heavenly birth,
Find ev'n for those bewilder'd souls, a way: Has been but carelessly preserv'd on Earth;
If from his nature foes may pity claim,

If God's own people, who of God before Much more may strangers who ne'er heard his name. Knew what we know, and had been promis'd more, And though no name be for salvation known, In fuller terms, of Heaven's assisting care, But that of his eternal Son's alone;

And who did neither time nor study spare Who knows how far transcending goodness can To keep this book untainted, unperplext, Extend the merits of that Son to man?

Let in gross errors to corrupt the text, Who knows what reasons may his mercy lead ; Omitted paragraphs, embroild the sense, Or ignorance invincible may plead ?

With vain traditions stopt the gaping fence, Not only charity bids hope the best,

Which every common hand pull'd up with ease : But more the great apostle has exprest:

What safety from such brushwood-helps as these? " That if the Gentiles, whom no law inspir’d, If written words from time are not securd, By nature did what was by law requir'd ;

How can we think have oral sounds endur'd ?
They, who the written rule had never known, Which thus transmitted, if one mouth has fail'd,
Were to themselves both rule and law alone : Immortal lies on ages are intailid :
To nature's plain indictment they shall plead ; And that some such have been, is prov'd too plain ;
And by their conscience be condemn'd or freed." If we consider interest, church, and gain.
Most righteous doom! because a rule reveald

O but, says one, tradition set aside,
Is none to those from whom it was conceal’d. Where can we hope for an unerring guide ?
Then those who follow'd reason's dictates right; For since th' original Scripture has been lost,
Liv'd up, and lifted high their natural light; All copies disagreeing, maim'd the most,
With Socrates may see their Maker's face,

Or christian faith can have no certain ground,
While thousand rubric-martyrs want a place. Or truth in church-tradition must be found.
Nor does it baulk my charity, to find

Such an omniscient church we wish indeed ; Th' Egyptian bishop of another mind :

'Twere worth both Testaments ; cast in the creed : For though his creed eternal truth contains, But if this mother be a guide so sure, "Tis hard for man to doom to endless pains

As can all doubts resolve, al truth secure,
All who believ'd not all his zeal requir'd;

Then her infallibility, as well
Unless he first could prove he was inspir’d. Where copies are corrupt or lame, can tell ;

[ocr errors]


Restore lost canon with as little pains,

But first they would assume, with wondrous art, As truly explicate what still remains :

Themselves to be the whole, who are but part Which yet no council dare pretend to do;

Of that vast frame the church ; yet grant they were Unless like Esdras they could write it new : The handers-down, can they from thence infer Strange confidence still to interpret true,

A right t' interpret ? or would they alone, Yet not be sure that all they have explain'd Who brought the present, claim it for their own? Is ir. the blest original contain'd.

The book's a common largess to mankind; More safe, and much more modest 'tis, to say Not more for them than every man design'd: God would not leave mankind without a way : The welcome news is in the letter found; And that the Scriptures, though not every where The carrier's not commission'd to expound. Free from corruption, or entire, or clear,

It speaks itself, and what it does contain, Are uncorrupt, sufficient, clear, entire,

In all things needful to be known is plain. In all things which our needful faith require. In times o'ergrown with rust and ignorance, If others in the same glass better see,

A gainful trade their clergy did advance : 'Tis for themselves they look, but not for me : When want of learning kept the laymen low, For my salvation must its doom receive,

And none but priests were authoris'd to know : Not from what others, but what I believe.

When what small knowledge was, in them did dwell; Must all tradition then be set aside ?

And he a god who could but read and spell;
This to affirm, were ignorance or pride.

Then mother-church did mightily prevail :
Are there not many points, some needful sure She parcel'd out the Bible by retail :
To saving faith, that Scripture leaves obscure ? But still expounded what she sold or gave;
Which every sect will wrest a several way,

To keep it in her power to damn and save :
For what one sect interprets, all sects may : Scripture was scarce, and, as the market went,
We hold, and say we prove from Scripture plain, Poor laymen took salvation on content;
That Christ is God; the bold Socinian

As necdy men take money good or bad : From the same Scripture urges he's but man. God's word they liad not, but the priest's they had. Now what appeal can end th' important suit ? Yet whate'er false conveyances they made, Both parts talk loudly, but the rule is mute. The lawyer still was certain to be paid.

Shall I speak plain, and in a nation free In those dark times they learn'd their knack so well, Assume an honest layman's liberty ?

That by long use they grew infallible : I think, according to my little skill,

At last a knowing age began t' inquire To my own mother-church submitting still, If they the book, or that did them inspire : That many have been sav'd, and many may, And, making narrower search, they found, though Who never heard this question brought in play

late, Th' unletter'd Christian, who believes in gross, That what they thought the priest's, was thcir estate: Plods on to Heaven; and ne'er is at a loss : Taught by the will produc'd, the written word, For the straight-gate would be made straighter yet, How long they had been clieated on record. Were none admitted there but men of wit. Then every man who saw the title fair, The few by Nature form’d, with learning fraught, Claim'd a child's part, and put in for a share : Born to instruct, as others to be taught,

Consulted soberly his private good; Must study well the sacred page; and see

And sav'd himself as cheap as e'er he could. Which doctrine, this, or that, does best agree 'Tis true, my friend, and far be flattery hence, With the whole tenour of the work divine : This good had full as bad a consequence : And plainliest points to Heaven's reveal'd design ; The book thus put in every vulgar hand, Which exposition flows from genuine sense, Which each presum'd he best could understand, And which is fore'd by wit and eloquence.

The common rule was made the common prey; Not that tradition's parts are useless here :

And at the mercy of the rabble lay. When general, old, disinterested, clear :

The tender page with horny fists was gallid; That ancient fathers thus expound the page, And he was gifted most that loudest bawld: Gives truth the reverend majesty of age :

The spirit gave the doctoral degree: Confirms its force by biding every test ;

And every member of a company For best authorities, next rules, are best.

Was of his trade, and of the Bible free. And still the nearer to the spring we go

Plain truths enough for needful use they found ; More limpid, more unsoild, the waters flow, But men would still be itching to expound : Thus first traditions were a proof alone ;

Each was ambitious of th' obscurest place, Could we be certain such they were, so known : No measure ta'en from knowledge, all from grace. But since some flaws in long descent may be, Study and pains were now no more their care ; They make not truth, but probability.

Texts were explain’d by fasting and by prayer : Ev'n Arius and Pelagius durst provoke

This was the fruit the private spirit brought; To what the centuries preceding spoke.

Occasion'd by great zeal and little thought. Such difference is there in an oft-told talc :

While crowds unlearn'd, with rude devotion warm, But truth by its own sinews will prevail.

About the sacred viands buz and swarm. Tradition written therefore more commends The fly-blown text creates a crawling brood; Authority, than what from voice descends :

And turns to maggots what was meant for food. And this, as perfect as its kind can be,

A thousand daily sects rise up and die ; Rolls down to us the sacred history:

A thousand more the perish'd race supply: Which, from the universal church receiv'd,

So all we make of Heaven's discover'd will, Is try'd, and after, for itself believ'd.

Is, not to have it, or to use it ill. The partial papists would infer from hence The danger's much the same; on several shelves Their church, in last resort, should judge the sense. If others wreck 1", wreck ourselves.

« IndietroContinua »