Page images
PDF
EPUB

To creep

about the smoother branches, near The place they first took life, but stay not there; But to the op’ning buds repair their way, And seize with eager haste their destin'd prey; There feed and grow, then swarm about, or swung By waving breezes as they dangling hung, In slimy strings, from tree to tree, or fall Prone on the earth; from whence again they crawl To every bush of undergrowth, and there Feed, well-delighted, till they strip it bare.

Behold! the farmer now with great surprise, In expectation what may happen, cries: “Should these devouring worms increase as fast, The season coming, as they did the last; The summer-leaves will not suffice for meat, But all the grass and standing corn, they'll eat; Our cattle all must die for want of food, Thro' this voracious, this enormous brood. Our garners emptied, and there's no relief To be expected from the wheaten sheaf. Then meager famine, anguish and distress, Must needs ensue, nor can we hope for less."

But here, behold, a long forbearing God, Who spar'd to strike, altho' he shook the rod, Forbade their eating either corn or grass, Nor had they power to taste them as they pass; But, ere they to their full perfection rise, They pine with famine, wanting fresh supplies. The sun shone bright and with unusual heat, Upon their weak, defenceless substance beat: In quest of food and shade, on heaps they die, In dust and on the trunks of trees they lie; No more an eating worm, no more a breeding fly.

A lively emblem this, of mortal man;
How soon he's ended, and how late began!
Fruit-trees surviv’d; but in the woods were seen
Vast numbers, never more to show their green.

Soon after this, as many yet can tell,
In divers parts a dread contagion fell;
A loathsome illness on the human kind,
Which pain'd the body and disturb'd the mind.
Some, blind and raving on their couches laid;
The flesh of some upon their bones decay'd.
Botches and boils, and burning sores were spread,
And in the flesh of some; live worms in numbers bred.
Few that obnoxious lay to the complaint,
Could cease from terror, or escape the taint.
Now rooms with beds, and beds with sick were stow'd;
“ Drink, drink!” they cry'd, but few regarded food.
While weeping mothers over children cry,-
“What shall I do, my dear?” Lo! others die.
A day of trouble this,-a scene of grief,
Where few escap'd, and few could grant relief.

These judgments past, yet timely look for more,
The mighty Jah hath many yet in store;
Or in the air, or in the fire are found,
Or in the swelling floods, or under ground;
These elements alone may work our fall,
Obsequious made to their great Master's call:
Yea, despicable things in size or form,
As flies or locusts, lice or rats, or worm:
Witness the plagues of Egypt, and the event
Of swarms of mice upon Philistia sent.

A worm uncommon, and of middle size,
Upon the rip’ning corn was seen to rise,
In latter years, that prey'd upon the grain,
Threat'ning to make the farmer's labour vain;

[ocr errors]

And left, in time of harvest, up and down,
In divers parts, the sign of famine's frown.
But ah! how blind! how dull and stupid we!
But few consider,-many do not see.

Besides the former threat’nings, there has been,
Within the city's sumptuous chambers seen,
Some tokens of the pestilence to spread,
When
young

and old' were number'd with the dead; To check, with awful stroke, the swelling tide Of foolish mirth, of vanity and pride; Dictating lessons of another kind; True love and fear, and lowliness of mind; Inviting all to worship and revere The Majesty on High, that he might spare.

The rod withdrawn, the former course renew'd, Or with a double energy pursu’d. Some, like the sow returning to the mire, Strive who shall most impiety acquire. Religion they esteem as idle tales; And gospel Truth, with these, as nought avails. The proud are not reclaim’d, the obdurate still Bend all their force to gratify their will: As frozen rivers strengthen after thaw, They harder grow, and spurn the sacred law.

Again, the ALMIGHTY stretched forth his hand, An earthquake sounded loudly through the land: And as an awful trumpet, did alarm; But mercy still kept off the stroke of harm. The country felt it, but the city most; Some trembling fear’d, while others idly boast. A topic here did from the shock arise, To rich and poor, to simple and to wise; Who some few days in sober converse spent, But, free from danger as they thought, content:

Instead of mending rather waxing worse,
In luxury and pride, each country's curse.
While gaming-tables, pomp and wine appear,
Expelling virtue and true godly fear.
A proof how blind, how stupid mortals are,
To see and feel, and still refuse to hear!

But may not warnings from Jamaica's fate,
With other places of a later date,
Peruvian Lima, Lisbon, Portugal,
Alarm us with their sudden fearful fall.
May all consider on what solid ground
Dangers are 'scap'd, and safety only found.
'Tis not, in vice to lavish out the day,
But walking in an humble, virtuous way.
For every dispensation, plague or war,
Earthquakes or famine, only reach so far
As God sees meet; at whose disposing will,
They rise or fall, or save alive, or kill.

Some may, of earthquakes, search to find the cause,
And explicate the depths of nature's laws: .
While the great Cause of causes lies conceal'd,
And not to carnal man, by all his search, reveal'd.

We feel the wind, and hear it when it blows, But know not whence it comes, nor where it goes. We see the mists and vapours as they rise, They leave their centre and possess the skies: We see the clouds disturb'd, tumultuous roll, And cloth’d in sackcloth garb from pole to pole: We see the flashy lightning, how it flies, And hear the claps of thunder with surprise: We see the heav'ns frown, and hear the earth Groan underneath, as labouring for a birth. If these from natural causes all proceed, 'Tis by the God of nature so decreed:

Vol. XII.-27

'Tis from the first Great Cause, these causes are, So far they reach, and only just so far. 'Tis He that makes the sun to set and rise, And fixes constellations in the skies. He gives the planetary orbs their sway, They never miss their path, nor go astray. 'Tis He that makes the ocean's waves to roar, And sets their bounds within the oozy shore. 'Tis He directs the lightning where to fall, Or spend in open air the fiery ball. 'Tis He that binds the sulphur under clay, And gives it orders when to force its way; To move the earth, or throw a mountain down, To shake a kingdom, or to sink a town.

Ye Pennsylvanians now, of each degree, Who've ears to hear, and who have eyes to see; Tho' my unpolish'd style may scarcely find A tame reception in a lofty mind; Yet some, perhaps, in cool and silent hours, May, like the frugal bee, from meanest flowers Some honey gain, and treasure up for use, When the cold winter will no stock produce;Attend !-ye first, who by permission stand To deal out equal justice in the land; Attend! without distinction to your state, Or of the lower rank, or high or great; And let a poor petitioner, who fears His country's fall, have audience in your ears: Both you who make the laws, and execute,And patiently attend an humble suit. For Christ's sake, for your own and country's too, Distribute equal justice where 'tis due. In all respects your conduct search and weigh, Spare not the rich, nor make the poor a prey.

« PreviousContinue »