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For though with judgment we on things reflect,
CANTO II. The fear of hell, or aiming to be blest, Savonrs too much of private interest. This mov'd not Moses, nor the zealous Paul, Who for their friends abandon'd soul and all : A greater yet from Heav'n to hell descends, To save and make his enemies his friends, What line of praise can fathom such a love, Which reach'd the lowest bottom from above? The royal prophet', that extended grace From Heav'n to earth, measur'd but half that space. The law was regnant, and confin’d his thought; Hell was not conquer'd when that poet wrote:
Heav'n was scarce heard of until He came down, To make the region where love triumphs known.
That early love of creatures yet uumade, To frame the world the Almighty did persuade; For love it was that first created light, Mov'd on the waters, chas'd away the night From the rude Chaos, and bestow'd new grace On things dispos'd of to their proper place: Some to rest here, and some to shine above; Earth, sea, and Heav'n, were all the effects of love. And love would be return'd: but there was none That to themselves or others yet were known: The world a palace was without a guest, Till one appears that must excel the rest: One! like the Author, whose capacious mind Might, by the glorious work, the Maker find; Might measure Heav'n, and give each star a name; With art and courage the rough ocean tame; Over the globe with swelling sails might go, And that 'tis round by his experience know: Make strongest beasts obedient to his will, Aud serve his use the fertile earth to till. When by his word God had accomplish'd all, Man to create he did a council call; Employ'd his hand, to give the dust he took A graceful figure and majestic look ; With his own breath convey'd into his breast Life, and a soul fit to command the rest; Worthy alone to celebrate his name For such a gift, and tell from whence it came. Birds sing his praises in a wilder note, But not with lasting numbers and with thought, Man's great prerogative! but above all His grace abounds in his new favourite's fall.
If he create, it is a world he makes; If he be angry, the creation slakes : From bis just wrath our guilty parents fled; He curs'd the earth, but bruis’d the serpent's head. Amidst the storm his bounty did exceed, In the rich promise of the Virgin's seed : Though justice death, as satisfaction, craves, Love finds a way to pluck us from our graves.
Not willing terror should his image move;-
Legions of angels, which he might have us’d, (For us resolv'd tu perish) he refus'd: While they stood ready to prevent his loss, Love took him up, and nail'd him to the cross. linmortal love! which in his bowels reign'd, That we might be by such great love constrain'd To make return of love. Upon this pole Dar duty does, and our religion, roll. To love is to believe, to hope, to know; 'Tis an essay, a taste of Heav'n below!
He to proud potentates would not be known; Of those that lov’d him he was hid from none. Till love appear we live in anxious doubt; But smoke will vanish when that flame breaks out
This is the fire that would consume our dross,
Could we forbear dispute, and practise love,
He that alone would wise and mighty be,
"Tis with our minds as with a fertile ground, Wanting this love they must with' weeds abound, (Unruly passions) whose effects are worse Than thorns and thistles springing from the curse.
To glory man, or misery, is born,
His pride and vain ambition are so vast,
Impendent death and guilt that threatens hell, Are dreadful guests, which here with mortals dwell; And a vex'd conscience, mingling with their joy Thoughts of despair, does their whole life annoy; But love appearing, all those terrors fly; We live contented, and contented die. They in whose breast this sacred love has place, Death as a passage to their joy embrace. Clouds and thick vapours, which obscure the day, The sun's victorious beams may chase away: