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THE DAY OF JUDGMENT:

A POETICAL ESSAY.

1 THY justice, heavenly King! and that great day,
2 When Virtue, long abandon'd and forlorn,
3 Shall raise her pensive head; and Vice, that erst
4 Rang'd unreprov'd and free, shall sink appall'd,
5 I sing adventurous. But what eye can pierce
6 The vast immeasurable realms of space
7 O'er which Messiah drives his flaming car
8 To that bright region, where enthron'd he sits
9 First-born of heaven, to judge assembled worlds,
10 Cloath'd in celestial radiance! Can the Muse,
11 Her feeble wing all damp with earthly dew,
12 Soar to that bright empyreal, where around,
13 Myriads of angels, God's perpetual choir,
14 Hymn Halelujah's; and in concert loud
15 Chaunt songs of triumph to their Maker's praise?
16 Yet will I strive to sing, albeit unus'd
17 To tread poetic soil. What tho' the wiles
18 Of Fancy me enchanted ne'er could lure
19 To rove o'er fairy lands; to swim the streams
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20 That thro' her vallies weave their mazy way;
21 Or climb her mountain tops; yet will I raise
22 My feeble voice to tell what harmony
23 (Sweet as the music of the rolling spheres)
24 Attunes the moral world: that Virtue still
25 May hope her promis'd crown; that Vice may dread
26 Vengeance, tho' late; that reasoning Pride may own
27 Just tho' unsearchable the ways of heaven.
28 Sceptic! whoe'er thou art, who say'st the soul,
29 That divine particle, which God's own breath
30 Inspir'd into the mortal mass, shall rest
31 Annihilate, 'till Duration has unroll'd
32 Her never-ending line; tell, if thou know'st,
33 Why every nation, every clime, tho' all
34 In laws, in rites, in manners disagree,
35 With one consent expect another world,
36 Where wickedness shall weep? Why Paynim bards,
37 Fabled Elysian plains, Tartarean lakes,
38 Styx and Cocytus? Tell, why Hali's sons
39 Have seign'd a paradise of mirth and love,
40 Banquets, and blooming nymphs? Or rather tell,
41 Why, on the brink of Orellana's stream,
42 Where never Science rear'd her sacred torch,
43 Th' untutor'd Indian dreams of happier worlds
44 Behind the cloud-topt hill? why in each breast
45 Is plac'd a friendly monitor, that prompts,
46 Informs, directs, encourages, forbids?
47 Tell, why on unknown evil grief attends,
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48 Or joy on secret good? Why conscience acts
49 With tenfold force, when sickness, age, or pain,
50 Stands tottering on the precipice of Death?
51 Or why such horror gnaws the guilty soul
52 Of dying sinners; while the good man sleeps
53 Peaceful and calm, and with a smile expires?
54 Look round the world, with what a partial hand
55 The scale of bliss and misery is sustain'd!
56 Beneath the shade of cold obscurity
57 Pale Virtue lies! no arm supports her head,
58 No friendly voice speaks comfort to her soul,
59 Nor soft-ey'd Pity drops a melting tear;
60 But, in their stead, Contempt and rude Disdain
61 Insult the banish'd wanderer: on she goes
62 Neglected and forlorn: Disease, and Cold,
63 And Famine, worst of ills, her steps attend:
64 Yet patient, and to heaven's just will resign'd,
65 She ne'er is seen to weep, or heard to sigh.
66 Now turn your eyes to yon sweet-smelling bower,
67 Where flush'd with all the insolence of wealth
68 Sits pamper'd Vice! For him th' Arabian gale
69 Breathes forth delicious odours! Gallia's hills
70 For him pour nectar from the purple vine;
71 Nor think for these he pays the tribute due
72 To heaven: of heaven he never names the name,
73 Save when with imprecations dark and dire
74 He points his jest obscene. Yet buxom Health
75 Sits on his rosy cheek; yet Honour gilds
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76 His high exploits; and downy pinion'd Sleep
77 Sheds a soft epiate o'er his peaceful couch.
78 See'st thou this, righteous Father! See'st thou this,
79 And wilt thou ne'er repay? Shall good and ill
80 Be carried undistinguish'd to the land
81 Where all things are forgot? Ah! no; the day
82 Will come, when Virtue from the cloud shall burst
83 That long obscur'd her beams; when Sin shall fly
84 Back to her native hell; there sink eclips'd
85 In penal darkness; where nor star shall rise,
86 Nor ever sunshine pierce th' impervious gloom.
87 On that great day the solemn trump shall sound,
88 (That trump which once in heaven on man's revolt
89 Convok'd the astonish'd seraphs) at whose voice
90 Th' unpeopled graves shall pour forth all their dead.
91 Then shall th' assembled nations of the earth
92 From every quarter, at the judgment-seat
93 Unite; Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks,
94 Parthians, and they who dwelt on Tyber's banks,
95 Names fam'd of old: or who of later age,
96 Chinese and Russian, Mexican and Turk,
97 Tenant the wide Terrene; and they who pitch
98 Their tents on Niger's banks; or where the sun
99 Pours on Golconda's spires his early light,
100 Drink Ganges' sacred stream. At once shall rise,
101 Whom distant ages to each other's sight
102 Had long denied; before the throne shall kneel
103 Some great progenitor, while at his side
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104 Stands his descendant thro' a thousand lines.
105 Whate'er their nation, and whate'er their rank,
106 Heroes and patriarchs, slaves and scepter'd kings,
107 With equal eye the God of all shall see;
108 And judge with equal love. What tho' the great
109 With costly pomp and aromatic sweets
110 Embalm'd his poor remains; or thro' the dome
111 A thousand tapers shed their gloomy light,
112 While solemn organs to his parting soul
113 Chaunted slow orisons? Say, by what mark
114 Dost thou discern him from that lowly swain
115 Whose mouldering bones beneath the thorn bound turf
116 Long lay neglected? All at once shall rise;
117 But not to equal glory: for, alas!
118 With howlings dire and execrations loud
119 Some wail their fatal birth. First among these
120 Behold the mighty murtherers of mankind;
121 They who in sport whole kingdoms slew; or they
122 Who to the tottering pinnacle of power
123 Waded thro' seas of blood! How will they curse
124 The madness of ambition; how lament
125 Their dear-bought laurels; when the widow'd wife
126 And childless mother at the judgment-seat
127 Plead trumpet-tongu'd against them! Here are they
128 Who sunk an aged father to the grave:
129 Or with unkindness hard and cold disdain
130 Slighted a brother's sufferings: Here are they
131 Whom fraud and skilful treachery long secur'd;
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132 Who from the infant virgin tore her dower,
133 And eat the orphan's bread: who spent their stores
134 In selfish luxury; or o'er their gold
135 Prostrate and pale ador'd the useless heap.
136 Here too who stain'd the chaste connubial bed;
137 Who mix'd the poisonous bowl; or broke the ties
138 Of hospitable friendship: and the wretch
139 Whose listless soul sick with the cares of life
140 Unsummon'd to the presence of his God
141 Rush'd in with insult rude. How would they joy
142 Once more to visit earth; and, tho' oppress'd
143 With all that Pain and Famine can inflict,
144 Pant up the hill of life? Vain wish! the Judge
145 Pronounces doom eternal on their heads,
146 Perpetual punishment. Seek not to know
147 What punishment! for that th' Almighty Will
148 Has hid from mortal eyes: and shall vain man
149 With curious search refin'd presume to pry
150 Into thy secrets, Father! No: let him
151 With humble patience all thy works adore,
152 And walk in all thy paths: so shall his meed
153 Be great in heaven, so haply shall he 'scape
154 The immortal worm and never-ceasing fire.
155 But who are they, who bound in ten-fold chains
156 Stand horribly aghast? This is the crew
157 Who strove to pull Jehovah from his throne,
158 And in the place of heaven's Eternal King
159 Set up the phantom Chance. For them in vain
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160 Alternate seasons chear'd the rolling year;
161 In vain the sun o'er herb, tree, fruit, and flower
162 Shed genial influence, mild; and the pale moon
163 Repair'd her waning orb. Next these is plac'd
164 The vile blasphemer, he, whose impious wit
165 Profan'd the sacred mysteries of faith,
166 And 'gainst the impenetrable walls of heaven
167 Planted his feeble battery. By these stands
168 The arch Apostate: he with many a wile
169 Exhorts them still to foul revolt. Alas!
170 No hope have they from black despair, no ray
171 Shines thro' the gloom to chear their sinking souls:
172 In agonies of grief they curse the hour
173 When first they left Religion's onward way.
174 These on the left are rang'd: but on the right
175 A chosen band appears, who fought beneath
176 The banner of Jehovah, and defy'd
177 Satan's united legions. Some, unmov'd
178 At the grim tyrant's frown, o'er barbarous climes
179 Diffus'd the gospel's light; some, long immur'd
180 (Sad servitude!) in chains and dungeons pin'd;
181 Or rack'd with all the agonies of pain
182 Breath'd out their faithful lives. Thrice happy they
183 Whom heaven elected to that glorious strife!
184 Here are they plac'd, whose kind munificence
185 Made heaven-born Science raise her drooping head;
186 And on the labours of a future race
187 Entail'd their just reward. Thou amongst these
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188 Good SEATON! whose well-judg'd benevolence
189 Fostering fair Genius bad the Poet's hand
190 Bring annual offerings to his Maker's shrine,
191 Shalt find the generous care was not in vain.
192 Here is that favourite band, whom mercy mild,
193 God's best lov'd attribute, adorn'd; whose gate
194 Stood ever open to the stranger's call;
195 Who fed the hungry, to the thirsty lip
196 Reach'd out the friendly cup; whose care benign
197 From the rude blast secur'd the pilgrim's side;
198 Who heard the widow's tender tale; and shook
199 The galling shackle from the prisoner's feet;
200 Who each endearing tye, each office knew
201 Of meek-ey'd heaven-descended Charity.
202 O Charity, thou nymph divinely fair!
203 Sweeter than those whom antient Poets bound
204 In amity's indissoluble chain,
205 The Graces! How shall I essay to paint
206 Thy charms, celestial maid; and in rude verse
207 Blazon those deeds thyself didst ne'er reveal?
208 For thee nor rankling envy can infect,
209 Nor rage transport, nor high o'erweening pride
210 Puff up with vain conceit; ne'er didst thou smile
211 To see the sinner as a verdant tree
212 Spread his luxuriant branches o'er the stream;
213 While like some blasted trunk the righteous fall,
214 Prostrate, forlorn. When prophesies shall fail,
215 When tongues shall cease, when knowledge is no more,
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216 And this great day is come; thou by the throne
217 Shalt sit triumphant. Thither, lovely maid,
218 Bear me, O bear me on thy soaring wing,
219 And thro' the adamantine gates of heaven
220 Conduct my steps, safe from the fiery gulph
221 And dark abyss where Sin and Satan reign!
222 But, can the Muse, her numbers all too weak,
223 Tell how that restless element of fire
224 Shall wage with seas and earth intestine war,
225 And deluge all creation? Whether (so
226 Some think) the comet, as thro' fields of air
227 Lawless he wanders, shall rush headlong on
228 Thwarting th' Ecliptic where th' unconscious earth
229 Rolls in her wonted course; whether the sun
230 With force centripetal into his orb
231 Attract her long reluctant; or the caves,
232 Those dread Vulcanos where engendering lye
233 Sulphureous minerals, from their dark abyss
234 Pour streams of liquid fire; while from above,
235 As erst on Sodom, heaven's avenging hand
236 Rains fierce combustion. Where are now the works
237 Of art, the toil of ages? Where are now
238 Th' imperial cities, sepulchres and domes,
239 Trophies and pillars? Where is Egypt's boast,
240 Those lofty pyramids, which high in air
241 Rear'd their aspiring heads, to distant times
242 Of Memphian pride a lasting monument?
243 Tell me where Athens rais'd her towers? Where Thebes
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244 Open'd her hundred portals? Tell me where
245 Stood sea-girt Albion? Where imperial Rome
246 Propt by seven hills sat like a sceptred Queen,
247 And aw'd the tributary world to peace?
248 Shew me the rampart, which o'er many a hill,
249 Thro' many a valley stretch'd its wide extent,
250 Rais'd by that mighty monarch, to repel
251 The roving Tartar, when with insult rude
252 'Gainst Pekin's towers he bent th'unerring bow.
253 But what is mimic Art? Even Nature's works,
254 Seas, meadows, pastures, the meandering streams,
255 And everlasting hills shall be no more.
256 No more shall Teneriff cloud-piercing height
257 O'er-hang th' Atlantic Surge. Nor that fam'd cliff,
258 Thro' which the Persian steer'd with many a sail,
259 Throw to the Lemnian Isle its evening shade
260 O'er half the wide Aegean. Where are now
261 The Alps that confin'd with unnumber'd realms,
262 And from the Black Sea to the Ocean stream
263 Stretch'd their extended arms? Where's Ararat,
264 That hill on which the faithful Patriarch's Ark
265 Which seven long months had voyaged o'er its top
266 First rested, when the Earth with all her sons,
267 As now by streaming cataracts of fire,
268 Was whelm'd by mighty waters? All at once
269 Are vanish'd and dissolv'd; no trace remains,
270 No mark of vain distinction: heaven itself
271 That azure vault with all those radiant orbs
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272 Sinks in the universal ruin lost.
273 No more shall planets round their central sun
274 Move in harmonious dance; no more the moon
275 Hang out her silver lamp; and those fix'd stars
276 Spangling the golden canopy of night,
277 Which oft the Tuscan with his optic glass
278 Call'd from their wonderous height, to read their names
279 And magnitude, some winged minister
280 Shall quench; and (surest sign that all on earth
281 Is lost) shall rend from heaven the mystic bow.
282 Such is that awful, that tremendous day,
283 Whose coming who shall tell? for as a thief
284 Unheard, unseen, it steals with silent pace
285 Thro' night's dark gloom. Perhaps as here I sit
286 And rudely carol these incondite lays,
287 Soon shall the hand be check'd, and dumb the mouth
288 That lisps the faultering strain. O! may it ne'er
289 Intrude unwelcome on an ill-spent hour;
290 But find me wrapt in meditations high,
291 Hymning my great Creator!
291 "Power supreme!
292 " O Everlasting King! to thee I kneel,
293 "To thee I lift my voice. With fervent heat
294 " Melt all ye elements? And thou, high heaven,
295 "Shrink, like a shrivell'd scroll? But think, O Lord,
296 " Think on the best, the noblest of thy works;
297 "Think on thine own bright Image! Think on him,
298 " Who died to save us from thy righteous wrath;
299 "And 'midst the wreck of worlds remember man!"

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Title (in Source Edition): THE DAY OF JUDGMENT: A POETICAL ESSAY.
Themes: religion
Genres: blank verse
References: DMI 32131

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. III. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 61-71. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1136; OTA K093079.003)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.