Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd

The Superior Advantages Of Christianity Stated And Exemplified

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Hush! let the mind be sooth'd and calm'd in peace,
Each worldly care, each angry passion cease;
Imagination's fairest forms decay,
Unrivall'd Reason hold her boundless sway;
Whence and what are we? Whither do we tend?
Where shall the varied course of mortals end!
Must all our pow'rs engross'd by joys of earth,
Forget for ever their etherial birth?
No; Heav'n forbid!--the restless, tow'ring mind
Strives hard, a nobler place of rest to find;
Whilst heav'nly flames inspire the conscious breast,
Which seeks--but seeks in vain its native rest;
Defil'd by sin, distrest by grief and woe,
Asserts its claim more solid joys to know;
Still pressing onward looks beyond the tomb,
And starting, fearful views eternal gloom.
Yes; speak ye spirits of the mighty dead,
Ye, whom the hope of heav'n rejoicing led;
Ye shades of Plato, Socrates, and you,
Who find, we trust, that rest ye never knew;
Did not your struggling souls impatient fly,
Beyond the earth, and pant for realms on high?
Did ye not feel some hope of future good,
"Tho' dimly seen and faintly understood;"
And did no fears your anxious thoughts infest,
And say--the grave may be your only rest;
And melancholy wrapt in deepest gloom,
Say--all your pow'rs may vanish in the tomb?
Yes; thus perplex'd in darkness long you lay,
With many a feeble glimpse of brighter day,
Till death did all your hopes and fears destroy,
These chas'd in flight--those crown'd with endless joy.

In strains seraphic, godlike Maro sung,
While mingled fears and hopes his bosom wrung;
These all his soul arous'd with heav'nly fire,
Those hush'd, in tears, the poet's tuneful lyre
Imagination lent her friendly aid,
And painted fairest prospects soon to fade;
Describ'd some fancied state of joy and woe,
Then paus'd and hop'd some state of bliss to know;
Till all his comfort in the maze o'erthrown,
His Orpheus' griefs might seem the poet's own.

See sweetly touching on the tender strings,
Orpheus, unhappy bard, with tears he sings;
With vent'rous step forsaking earth and light,
To tread the dreary shores of hell and night;
Afflicted love inspir'd the hero's strain,
Nor was the force of love and music vain;
His strains thro' Pluto's frigid bosom thrill,
The furies weep,--"Ixion's wheel stands still,"
The wand'ring shades the notes seraphic hear,
Now swell with joy--now weep, now start with fear;
Grim Cerberus with wonder licks his feet,
Those hearts which never glow'd, with pity beat;
The tortur'd find relief--the monarch hears,
And hell transported sinks in gentlest tears;
The bard o'ercomes--and ravish'd Pluto yields,
Whilst shouts re-echo thro' Tartarean fields;
Opprest with bliss the poet speeds his way,
Whose heart o'ercharg'd forbids the joyful lay;
His wife he holds--her pulse begins to glow,
And Orpheus' tears with sweet impatience flow;
The day now gleaming, shows surrounding gloom,
The awful portals of the dreary tomb;
A sudden joy the husband's heart possest,
With quicker transport beats his glowing breast;
Impatient now, he lifts his longing eyes,
Ah see! her color fades, she falls, she dies!--
His piercing shrieks the ear of hell might move,
If hell could pardon, or if hell could love;
"And now farewell!" she cries with quiv'ring tongue,
"My breast again with hellish tortures wrung.
"Farewell! our union cruel Fate forbids,
"And second death sits heavy on my lids;
"Alas! redeem'd in vain, I hasty go,
"'Mid wretched shades where Stygian waters flow;
"My quick departure now the fates ordain,
"No longer here I stretch my arms in vain;
"I hear them call! shades wrap mine eyes in night,
"And thy dear image flits before my sight;
"The clay-cold tyrant stops my feeble breath;
"Again I sink and close my eyes in death!"
She speaks and flies an empty shade in air,
And leaves her husband fill'd with deep despair;
Who stands as struck by Heav'n's command to stone,
While thrice Avernus echoes ev'ry groan.
Then raves in anguish round the darksome cave,
Then stands as silent as the dreary grave;
Eurydice! with falt'ring accents weak,
Thy name is all the wretched bard can speak;
Still sighing thee, he keeps the darksome way,
And loves the shades, impatient of the day;
Here, long he wept, thro' all his youthful prime,
Till death dismiss'd his shade to join with thine.

Thus wrapt in deepest clouds of error's gloom,
Lay all the earth, as dreary as the tomb,
Save where the glimm'ring stars, that beam'd between,
Gleam'd o'er the horror of the dreadful scene;
Save from the east some feeble ray display'd
Its partial beams to show the deeper shade;
The mind then sought in vain a place of rest,
The wisest only knew their darkness best;
Till o'er the hills arose the radiant morn,
Smil'd on the world, a dreary waste forlorn;
Angelic hosts the glorious advent sung,
And Heav'n resounding with the chorus rung;--
Then Truth celestial like a seraph bright,
Chas'd all the clouds, and put the shades to flight;
Shook o'er the joyful earth her azure wing,
And breath'd around an universal spring;
Pour'd on the darksome mind her quick'ning ray,
And made mankind rejoice with perfect day;
Disclos'd to mortal minds th' Almighty's plan,
Heav'n stooping here, and God redeeming man;
Display'd the worlds beyond the narrow tomb,
And gave us prospect of a Life to come;
Religion meek diffus'd her joys around,
And bade new flow'rs adorn the barren ground;
Then gloomy Superstition took her flight,
And slowly sought her native caves of night;
Envy and Malice shudd'ring, grimly fled,
And Vice and Rapine, Lust and Folly bled;
O'er ev'ry flow'r she pour'd a deeper bloom,
Increas'd the fragrance of each sweet perfume;
Caus'd hearts long sunk in deep despair to sing,
Brought equal joys to subject or to king;
Hush'd all the clangor of unruly strife,
And conq'ring Death display'd Eternal Life;
The grave o'ercame--bade all their foes forgive,
And told the grief-worn wretch, believe and live;
Made all the earth resound Jehovah's love,
Joy here below, and endless bliss above.
Speak ye who long opprest with griefs and fears,
Pierc'd night with sighs and steep'd your couch in tears;
Ye, who have known a mind with guilt opprest,
And felt the struggles of an aching breast;
Whose wounded hearts Religion's balm hath heal'd,
Who taste the blessings of the Truth reveal'd,
Say, would you change your state for Eastern pride,
For all the di'monds India's mines supplied;
Would ye for all that regal pomp supplies,
Resign your title to the blissful skies?--
Tho' show'rs of wealth, of fame, of glory fall,
For one calm moment ye would scorn them all;
Smile if ye saw your earthly comforts flown,
And fix'd secure, rely on Heav'n alone.

Yes; now we dare to look with placid eye,
On all the varied pageant passing by;
'Mid ev'ry storm and ev'ry tempest trust
A God most holy, merciful, and just;
He who will bend from Heav'n his list'ning ear,
To hear the suppliant sigh, and mark the tear;
The feeblest wish--the lowest groan to know,
And bid the lab'ring breast with comfort glow;
The force of vengeance and of war disarm,
And soothe the angry passions to a calm;
The burden of the weary saint to bear,
Or joyful hear the lisping infant's pray'r;
Th' opprest, the wretched, captive to defend,
To prove the orphan's, and the widow's friend;
On weak or strong, alike His blessings fall,
The God, the Father, and the Friend of all.

Far in the shades that glad the lonely vale,
Where flow'ring shrubs with fragrance scent the gale;
Behold, within the humble cottage shed,
The youthful tribe with care and labor bred;
No costly banquet trembling slaves prepare,
No di'monds blaze, no rubies sparkle there;
Tho' friendless, poor, neglected, and unknown,
Religion there erects her humble throne;
There, e'en 'mid want dwells happiness sincere,
There flows Affection's simplest--fairest tear;--
Grateful they live and own their God in all,
Meet at His throne and at His footstool fall;
And when they sing in simply grateful lays,
E'en angels listen and approve the praise.
No pomp, no splendid temple glistens here,
But filial love is mix'd with holy fear;
No dazzling splendor of accursed gold,
But nobler gems their purer rays unfold;
Where ev'ry virtue's noblest lustre shines,
Beyond the transient blaze of earthly mines;
See parents grey, and youthful children weak,
Join in the wild, their Maker's praise to speak;
And Heav'n gives all the Happiness it can,
The noblest bliss, the fairest lot of man;
Its sure protection 'mid the darksome shade,
And daily joys which never pall or fade;
Love, peace, a heart that's ne'er with anguish rent,
Love toward their God--with gratitude--content.
Joys pure as those celestial seraphs know,
Which give delight and Heav'n begun below;

But see Affliction's offspring nobly die,
And own Religion's mounts beyond the sky;
Where the good father in life's joyful prime,
(Like a fair flow'r cut off before its time),
Extended lies, on bed of sickness weak,
Whilst clammy drops bedew his pallid cheek;
His tott'ring frame with Death's dread tortures wrung,
And the last words just quiv'ring on his tongue;
Whilst near his bed, his still attentive wife,
Her children clasping, begs her husband's life;
Watches each sigh, and counts each heaving breath,
With tend'rest cares beguiles the pains of death;
Calm resignation sits upon his brow--
Where, dreaded Death, are all thy terrors now?
He smiles and calls thee--then on all that's dear,
He thinks, and drops for them one tender tear;
Kisses each drop from ev'ry friendly eye,
And raptur'd cries--"and is it thus to die?
"Weep not for me, the pang that rends your heart,
Is all that now I feel of death's cold dart;
"Soon shall we meet again, to part no more,
"When death and sin, and grief shall all be o'er;"
Celestial spirits stop the dying breath,
And gently close the eyes in welcome death;
Cherubic harps the spirit call away,
And bid it mount to realms of endless day.

O happy state! Life's fretful fever past,
He sweetly sleeps--and silent rests at last;
For him the lovely garlands blushing blow,
To deck his tomb where living waters flow;
With all the earliest chaplets of the spring,
Beneath the shading seraph's watchful wing;
Who pleas'd stoops down the orphan's sigh to hear,
And views with sympathy affection's tear.

Speak ye proud sceptics, laughing Heav'n to scorn,
Poor wretched outcasts splendidly forlorn;
Say, do like this your proudest triumphs please,
Are all your fancied joys as fair as these?
Will flatt'ry, or will prouder Science save,
Or snatch you sickly from the yawning grave?
When on the trembling verge of life you shrink,
And views eternity's detested brink;
Can all the pow'rs of reason or of sense,
This blest serenity of soul dispense;
Will all your pow'rs of reason, fancy, wit,
The spirit for eternal pleasures fit?
When all the mist dispers'd, your weeping eyes
Behold the punishments you dar'd despise;
Each hope delusive from your bosom swept,
Of each pretended friend, and joy bereft;
When God, a righteous judge appears in ire,
And fills you now with half infernal fire;
What would you give to see him mildly nod,
And know the Rock of Ages for your God?
O, 'tis for you I weep, for you I pray,
Leave woe for gladness, night for perfect day;
Believe and live--arise and taste of Heav'n,
Your penitence received--your sins forgiv'n.

Celestial spirit, wave thy azure wings,
And shed those odors seldom shed for kings;
Sent from the blissful regions of the skies,
To watch the ground where fair Eliza lies;
Where 'mid the weeping cypress' shading gloom,
Youth, virtue, beauty, find an early tomb;
O give me something of that strain divine,
Which equals her's, angelic, rivals thine;
Then would I paint her death in plaintive strain,
Nor try to move the sceptic's heart in vain;
But I forbear--to pierce that heart of stone,
Almighty Spirit, is thy work alone!

Didst thou from heav'nly hosts avert thine eye,
O shade belov'd, to hear the friendly sigh?
Didst thou behold the last endearing kiss,
And drop a tear--"if souls can weep in bliss?"
When borne on cherubs' wings aloft to Heav'n,
Would not one sigh, one sorrow be forgiv'n?
Too fair a flow'r to blossom here below,
Death snatch'd her hence in heav'nly fields to blow;
Forgive the fond, yet cruel, soft desire,
At once we envy--pity and admire;
But this our wish, our pray'r, our efforts be,
O lovely shade to live and die like thee!"

O were thou here the sceptic's soul to move,
And bid his bosom warm in heav'nly love;
Then should his bosom glow with love divine,
And viewing thee should learn to envy thine;
And whilst thy actions all thy words approv'd,
Love thy Religion, while thy deeds he lov'd;
Then see how Revelation's clearest light,
From Nature's self removes the cloud of night,
Displays Heav'ns guardian arm and noblest plan,
Reviving Nature and redeeming Man.

See where the moss-grown arch o'erhangs the plain,
Where desolation holds her dreary reign;
Where statues half effac'd now mould'ring lie,
And bid the passing swain prepare to die;
Warriors who once had drench'd the world in gore,
And tyrants lie--to harm mankind no more;
Within the ruin'd abbey's awful shade,
In lowly tombs the humbler poor are laid;
Here death and time their conq'ring powers evince,
And here a beggar lies, and there a prince;
That bard whose soul was warm'd with heav'nly fire,
Now clay-cold lies, nor strings his crumbling lyre;
Where o'er some lowly tomb affection weeps,
And unlamented near Ambition sleeps;
Virtue and vice's contests here are past,
Man's pow'rs are lost and scatter'd by the blast,
The hand of death has stopp'd each tuneful tongue,
O'erthrown the good, the bad--the old, the young;
Alike they equal sleep--no sound is heard,
None but the croaking of some lonely bird;
Where 'mid the silent walls and list'ning trees,
Despair seems hanging on each whisp'ring breeze;
Stops the affrighted trav'ller's heaving breath,
And chills his soul with images of death;
With deep reflections, Nature sable-clad,
Invites the soul to be sublimely sad,
And ignorant of heav'n's extended plan,
To mourn the weakness and the woes of man;
Or else no kindred griefs, no joys he knows,
The hard insulter of his nature's woes;
To see man's hopes and pow'rs, and passions sleep,
E'en he at length self-satisfied shall weep.
Oh when we see Ambition's raging hand,
Bathe in the blood of myriads o'er the sand;
See ev'ry hour some laurel'd robber plan
The curst invasion of the Rights of Man;
Revenge some rousing, big to deeds untold,
Some lure of pleasure, and some thirst for gold;
And these triumphant hold their reckless sway,
Bid Virtue yield, and Honesty obey;
Injustice triumph--Virtue made her slave,
To pine in chains or find an early grave;
See all the noblest, just arise, then fall,
Behold the fatal tomb prepar'd for all;
Genius which scarce infinity could bound,
Lie cold in death, and quenched in the ground;
That spark which promis'd to a flame to rise,
More large than earth--just glimm'ring falls and dies;
When scarce the laurels for the poet bloom,
Their only office is to--deck his tomb;
Our darken'd eyes must turn upon the ground,
Our hearts afflicted with a piercing wound;
Whilst Heav'n the tender sympathy approves,
And owns the feelings that it gives and loves,
Still must the smart afflict e'en breasts of steel,
And those the best who most acutely feel.

But see, celestial Truth with balmy wings,
The clouds dispers'd, a healing cordial brings,
Lifts the dark curtain of the dreary tomb,
And darts a heav'nly ray 'mid endless gloom;
Shows Sin and Death eternal captives bound,
And Nature rising from her deadly wound;
Forbids our constant tears for man to flow,
And bids us calm behold our nature's woe;
Shows that for good the plans of ill succeed,
And calm a Gracchus sees, or Cato bleed;
Here good and bad alike must yield to fate,
But all requited in a future state;
When wisdom, justice, mercy crown the plan,
And Heav'n's mysterious paths are known to man;
Soon fell Ambition waking now for good,
Shall cease to rage and bathe her sword in blood:
Unruly passions waking now his will,
Shall own his sway who speaks--and all is still;
The hardest heart shall humbly bow to Heav'n,
And chang'd shall melt in love--and be forgiv'n.

Such pleasing scenes Heav'ns gracious word displays,
That pleasing light that guides the Christian's ways,
Faith, Hope, and Joy, descending from above,
Its noblest object, Universal Love;
A God descending to repair our fall,
To shed his blood to raise, to ransom all;
And thus give worlds to know Heav'n's noblest plan,
Is peace, and love and happiness to man,
And all our woes and passions rightly scann'd,
The gentle scourges of a Father's hand.

Sons of Ambition, Cruelty and Lust,
Behold your God, thus mercifully just;
Tho' steel'd like Tigers in the Lybian sands,
Or tawny Lions fed in savage lands,
Who ever warring in th' ensanguin'd field,
Have felt your hearts to love and mercy steel'd;
Draw heav'nly feelings from a Saviour's love,
And melting fix your hopes on realms above.
Let he, whose eyeballs roll'd with wild despair,
Long worn by guilt, nor dar'd to rise in pray'r,
Melt in contrition at the glorious view,
Let tears of love his pallid cheeks bedew;
Behold the offer'd rest, vouchsaf'd by Heav'n,
Fly to the cross--be humbled--and forgiv'n!

Now raptur'd Nature seeks her rank again,
For all are brothers here, and all are men;
And from all nations, hasting to the skies,
Let one eternal song of praise arise;
Be banish'd sin and woe and guilt and fear,
When Love shall twine unfading garlands here!

Hark! 'tis the final trump, that rocks the ground,
Thro' all infinity its notes resound;
Now Nature pale thro' all her systems shakes,
Death shudders, and the slumb'ring dust awakes;
The grave gives up his countless myriads dead,
And sea sends thousands from her azure bed;
Ten thousand nations from the earth arise,
And borne on dusky air ascend the skies;
The clouds retire at Heav'n's almighty nod,
And Death and Hell in chains obey their God;
When from the darkness springs a seraph bright,
And pours amid the gloom a flood of light;
Sweeps systems, suns, and worlds, which feebly glare,
Like glitt'ring sparkles from his waving hair;
And while all sink before th' Almighty throne,
And Nature heaves her last convulsive groan;
He, while a rainbow veils his radiant head,
In thunder speaking, fills the worlds with dread;
Swears, while he heaves the oceans and the sky,
"Here Time shall end his course, and Death shall die;"
Then heav'n obeys, suns, systems die away,
And sink dissolv'd in God's ætherial day,
Absorb'd as dew-drops die before the sun,
Their thousand glitt'ring stars absorb'd by one;
Lost and forgotten--at th' Almighty nod,
While myriads "tremble at the throne of God,"
And while His righteous hand the thunders forms,
To blast his foes with wrath's eternal storms;
And angry Justice frowning by his side,
On clouds of flame bids all his seraphs ride,
To crush mankind, or with revengeful breath,
To sweep them all to everlasting death;
The Saviour comes, his wounded side displays,
He pleads his blood--and wrath divine obeys;
The storms are hush'd--and all the terrors fly,
And Love sits ruling in the cloudless sky;
The shouts of joy thro' all creation ring,
And men and angels hallelujahs sing;
Heav'n's deep foundations start with wild amaze,
And worlds and suns resound with love and praise.

Scenes rise on scenes of joy and glad surprise,
New worlds, new heav'ns adorn the glorious skies;
When the last flame that o'er the system hangs,
Gives sweet oblivion to ten thousand pangs;
One object, next their God, their minds employs--
The long perspective of eternal joys.

But stop my ardent mind--be humbled here,
And sink in gratitude, in love and fear;
Be this my object, hope, and end and pray'r,
To tune my lyre to nobler measures there;
Bid strains of heav'nly love and praises flow,
Secure, when here this breast shall cease to glow;
When Time shall hurl these worlds to Chaos' womb,
And buried 'neath them find an endless tomb;
Sink with the suns he conquer'd far away,
And fall absorb'd in one eternal day.

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Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd