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Moral Evil No Accident - Poem by Thomas Odiorne
Ope, Light of Life! and, with a ray divine,
Illume the soul of thy devoted Bard,
While he, with reverential awe profound,
Attempts to show, (if 'tis no crime to show,)
Wherefore to human lot such woes befel;
And where lies all the guilt, and all the blame!
O! Thou who knowest! why was man so doom'd?
Or why permitted was that subtle fiend
To tempt mankind? Oh! how could God have seen,
Uncheck'd, such ruin of his glorious works?
Was it against his predetermin'd will,
And not within his potence to prevent?
Or was it that, unconscious of mishap,
His ever-waking eye, omniscient, slept,
His purpose disappointed? Oh, not so!
His counsel stands, his honour still endures.
Man was made free, and fell as Heaven ordain'd;
Not by constraint, for then 'twere not his fault;
Nor was he left to self-directing chance;
For that had render'd his delinquent state
Uncertain, which, 'tis granted, was foreknown,
But could foreknowledge of th' event exist,
Before th' Eternal had the means decreed,
By which th' event should surely come to pass?
Impossible! as soon might earth a crop
Produce, devoid of seed; or sightless eyes
Delight in visual prospect. Lift thy view,
O man! survey the realms of Nature vast!
Does observation find a movement there,
Moral or physical, without a cause?
Or will the voice of common sense aver,
That creatures their existence can prolong,
Or e'en a thought possess, or act perform,
Void of th' all-moving energy divine?
Truly, they might as well themselves have made,
Before they had existence; or, of life
Possess'd, annihilate the living soul.
Adapted to his transient station here,
(Nor can he fail of answ'ring the design,
For which Eternal Wisdom him ordain'd,)
Man, acting in the view of motive, acts
Divinely mov'd, dependent and yet free;
Conscious, spontaneous, and responsible.
Will any hence assert, that God himself
Is author, so to incur the guilt of sin?
Or so to exonerate mankind from blame?
Presumptuous; most irreverent, indeed,
Were such suggestions! Why should erring man
Take on himself to use blasphemous words,
Though one allege, that he who fashion'd man,
Made him for grand designs and useful ends,
And, to secure those ends, ordain'd his deeds?
Void of intention what do deeds imply?
If to speak thus be shocking to good-will,
Grant he ordain'd the means which terminate
The choice, but left it to mankind to choose,
Th' internal motive all their own. What then?
Is not the moral evil, too, their own?
So it appears to me; if otherwise,
How can the Righteous One adjudge the world?
Wherefore, O man! charge not on Deity
The blame of thy transgression, nor revile
His fix'd decrees respecting human deeds,
But with devout and humble soul submit
Will to his will, and conduct to his law.
As to man's fall, it might become to say,
That, at the time of trial, him to prove
Of self-wrought worth deficient, God withheld
From him his all-restraining agency,
So man might know the weakness of himself,
Nor fall as angels fell, past hope, by pride
Of self-sufficient merit, nor conceit
That, as his acts of goodness were his own,
Those acts were self-originate; and hence
Lose sight of glory due alone to Him,
Who of all goodness is himself the source;
So by man's fall his error might appear;
Then, if restor'd, his gratitude enhanc'd,
And virtue fix'd inalienably firm.
Hence, God's exclusive title to all praise,
For goodness in himself and good bestow'd,
Might ever to all finite creatures shine,
Conspicuous, as the most important end,
Or first and final cause of all his works.
Thus, ever obvious should it seem, that He,
Who never but in vast perfection dwells,
Immutably benign in holiness,
Could ne'er have been of moral ill the cause,
In manner to impeach his character;
But man, to voluntary freedom left,
Lost his first relish, and became corrupt.
Indulging his imagination vain,
By which the sway of animal desire
Th' ascendance gain'd o'er Reason's godlike power,
He sensual things to holy joys preferred,
And transient pleasure to eternal good.
Nor can we further sin's existence trace,
Than to the culprit who performs the deed.
'Tis there the conscience fixes the soul stain.
Discerning good from ill, and right from wrong,
Man feels the moral bond upon his heart,
Convicted of the fitness of that law,
Which claims all-duteous love to the Supreme,
From every creature gifted with the power,
Falsehood from truth, and right from wrong to know.
And, hence, a breach of that eternal code
Divine, so fit, so just in its demands,
Excites an awful consciousness of blame
Obnoxious, fearful of impending wrath.
Two points are obvious—truths of prime regard:
That man a free and moral agent is,
Yet as dependent. At first glance of thought,
That may appear a paradox to some,
Though demonstration, like the potent breeze,
Which from the sun dispels the darkling mist,
From seeming error shows the truth in beams.
Grant first, that man a moral agent is,
Of which the soul has proof within herself,
And Reason's voice, by common science taught,
Aside from Revelation's sacred light,
Can thence demonstrate his dependent state.
Indeed, all moral exercise itself implies,
Perceptive motive, and spontaneous act;
A will all free, or not in duty bound;
A heart oblig'd, or not inclin'd to obey.
And since the conscience teaches right and wrong,
Inculcates good, and disapproves of ill,
The chain of truth, by Reason's eye discern'd,
Us to a self-existent Power conducts,
Great Author of all substance, motion, mind;
All, all dependent, and dependent too,
Not for constituent attributes alone,
As his efficient, ceaseless agency,
Direct or indirect, in every thing
Mov'd or that moves, is indispensable;
E'en to the use of properties bestow'd.
Cause and effect, occasion and attempt,
Comprise the physical and moral worlds.
Through Nature vast, and through the works of Art,
No discord reigns, nor harmony prevails,
Unless by means of some disposing power.
So in the moral: not a transient thought
Arises, no internal act exists,
But from some motive or exterior view.
Through inlets of the senses, objects strike
Perception's eye, and various thoughts impart,
Whence principles we form, and systems raise.
Through such a process, thus by Heaven ordain'd,
Materials we derive, with which is rear'd
The superstructure of th' immortal mind.
At first the notions, then the feelings rise.
Objective motive in the mental view,
Essential to the soul's activity,
Pleases the mind, and terminates the will,
Which, by its acts, our fate decides, and takes,
In time, its impress for eternity.
Nor in decisions thus mechanical,
(If moral exercise may be so called,)
Is man's responsibility impair'd,
Or freedom of his mind infring'd. Devoid
Of bias, no one can in fact be free,
Void of dependence, none accountable.
Without a motive, the machine would sleep,
Of moral movement, all in voidy gloom
Involv'd; as when ideal Chaos sat,
Pond'ring for ages on nonentity.
Yet, notwithstanding such necessity,
In correspondence with eternal things,
The soul, quite conscious of her free estate,
Conscious of ill desert and virtue's praise,
Knows that the great Original above,
Who ordinates in wisdom infinite,
Has, for a breach of his command, a right
To punish, and for good desert reward.
But still, to illucidate this argument,
As is the pleasantness of mental view,
Or seeming fitness of its object, to confer
Desir'd enjoyment, so th' assent of will,
Virtuous or vicious. Thus the soul, perverse,
Acts but within the precincts of the fall,
And only evil in her evil state.
Nor can she possibly to love of good
Her moral taste dispose, howe'er inclin'd
The life to regulate by outward rule.
Indeed, 'twere gross absurdity to think,
That she can self-originate a power,
To act against her nature; but since laws
Restrain, and custom frowns on vice; 'tis true,
Man's sphere of liberty so far extends,
As that he puts the garb of virtue on,
But for the credit of good character;
Since who would wear the hag habiliments
Of vice, in sight of a contemptuous world,
Unless he love to sin with appetite
Below all shame? Nay, man may exercise
The tender sympathies of social life,
And all those virtues of humanity,
Which link the kindred to the kindred kind,
And wake a hope which heaven-born bosoms love,
Fond of the thought, that what seems fair is good,
And still be void of holy principle.
For, in th' eternal code that governs hosts
Angelic, and which ought to govern men,
There is a statute irreversible,
That selfish motive leads to wrongful ends,
Against the general good.—A principle
Discordant, it not only does not prompt
Disinterested deeds; but stands oppos'd
To every effort for another's weal,
Which comes in competition with its own.
Inflate with pride, and by ambition led,
Had it the power to erect a monarchy
Of its own choosing, self would be supreme,
And general good be turned to general ill.
Thanks to propitious Heaven, it is not thus!
So man, in his confin'd and alien state,
Can only act from a corrupted source,
Act how he will; as ever will he act,
(Oft most perverse,) until, by Heaven's decree,
His heart be chang'd into a holy frame.
To test the fact, observe the stupid sot!
His cup his idol, sin his soul's delight—
Lo, he prefers his present sense to please,
E'en at the certain risk of endless bliss!
Nor does the fascination, though it hold
Resistless sway, infringe upon his choice;
Nor, till some stronger motive him deter,
Will he reverse his detrimental course.
Although so fix'd in his depravity,
(Or, if one please, propensity of will,)
That 'twere as hard for him to change his mind,
As 'twere for Nature's pillars to give way
At his command,—would that excuse from blame?
And he may say, by way of boasting slur,
That he as honest lives, as those who seem
More righteous;—and 'tis truly pitiful,
That human nature is so deeply marr'd,
That the most pure are liable to err,
And none from deeds of scandal are exempt.
Yet, though the truly pious sometimes fail,
Their sins belong not to their character;
Seeing they hate them from their inmost soul.
And though their failings should be magnify'd
By slanderous tongues, officious; though a brute,
In form, and strut, and gesture of a man,
After much wall'wing in the mire of sin,
Approach along, “to whiten by their side;”
That circumstance itself would show, that e'en
The faults of virtue are respectable
In the comparison. But Charity,
Sweet nurse of goodness! ever keeps in store
Some cordial nice, some fit restorative,
For transient lapses of infirmity,
Seeing there's no perfection here on earth.
Still, as the moral standard is the soul,
And outward actions alter not the heart;
How can man judge with certainty of man,
By the bare rectitude of outward life?
He cannot; from th' exterior, who can tell
The secret motive of the viewless soul?
No mortal; save where selfishness is gross,
And flagrant vice is habit; for misdeeds,
Presumptuous, speak right out. But otherwise,
The judgment is precarious; as in man,
The creature of conjecture, much is wrong.
Yet, if the character appear upright,
And judge one must, 'twere fitter far, to judge
In charity; well-knowing that himself
Like favour needs; as, every day he lives,
Did not some gracious drops of pity, shed
From weeping skies, absolve some evil thought,
Or some remaining pravity away,
He might have doubts about his own blest hope.
Again: Observe the miser's eager hand!
With bribes familiar, stratagems, and frauds,
Will it e'er turn to wash itself from guilt,
Unless from Heaven a miracle descend,
And renovate the temper of his soul?
Or mark the principle on either side!
Say, can an honest man his neighbour's goods
Purloin, and do the thing his soul abhors?
Or knowingly commit a downright fraud?
Or can Benevolence, as firmly fix'd
As rooted principle in evil man,
Deny her nature, and her relish lose
For deeds which meet th' approving smile of Heaven?
No; to do good is her congenial wish;
The view that terminates her choice lies there.
Nor seems it from the want of light most clear,
But on account of prejudice perhaps,
That erring man a self determ'ning power
Should urge, as requisite to moral deed;
Since the control of objects, e'er so strong,
Does not imply infringement on the will;
But is, as 'twere, the pivot of the choice.
Besides, 'tis not the freedom of the mind,
(Although its acts are ne'er of freedom void,)
But 'tis the nature of the moral zest,
Of which we rightly predicate desert:—
A man may ponder murder in his heart,
And not commit the crime; or should he wreak
His utmost vengeance, still, in either case,
His blame would lie in malice. Need we ask
How his perverse intention was produc'd,
Whether he self-determin'd his design,
Or whether it resulted from some harm
Conceiv'd, before we can pronounce his guilt?
Let common sense and conscious truth decide.
We loathe the man who harbours vengeful thoughts;
His ill designs we justly criminate,
Though frustrate; and, in judging of mankind,
Soon as we find th' intention to be bad,
(As nought can justify such ill desert,)
We seek no further, (or we need not seek
Further, if sin itself be truly sin,)
How that malign intention was produc'd.
But if, against all conscious evidence,
And all the light which Nature can impart,
Vain wisdom and perverted reason plead,
Either the mind must independent be,
And self-determine its spontaneous acts,
Or else be clear from all desert of blame—
A strange conclusion! in that case would man
Become as God, accountable to none.
Hail, finite independence elevate!
Arise, O mortal! now respect thyself!
No more by rudely elements inthrall'd,
Go deck thy form in ever-blooming youth,
And in defiance of the wrecks of time,
Make thyself younger with increase of year!
Originating thy volition's bent,
Go renovate thy nature, and henceforth,
Firm fix'd in virtue uncorruptible,
Display on earth thy godlike dignity!
Why under power of motive, captive led,
Spontaneous, subject to external laws?
Hark! Revelation speaks; and Reason gives
Grateful assent, that there is one, but one,
Omniscient, independent, and self-mov'd.
Enthron'd upon the vasty universe,
He reigns alone, adorable Supreme;
Whate'er is wonderful, sublime, or fair,
Came by his word; and all things he ordain'd,
Moral and physical, for wisest ends;
Exhibiting, in manifold respects,
As acted out in creatures rational,
Vice her own punishment, deserving ill;
Virtue her own reward, as in herself
Most lovely; so that all may understand
Th' eternal diff'rence betwixt right and wrong,
And know Heaven's throne is built on rectitude.
If that be true, (and fools alone may doubt,)
Where at his exit goes yon infidel?
For if that one be good, (as sure he is,)
Then just he must condemn, or gracious save,
Without respect to persons, as desert
In life shall character the souls of men.
And since Unerring Wisdom laid the plan,
Nor fails of power to execute his will,
He must control, and order for the best,
With ceaseless care, the universe at large,
Nor human conduct leave to random chance.
But how he operates—O who can tell?
Who comprehend a viewless—an unknown?
Who trace the secrets of his agency?
Silence becomes all human wisdom here.
Still we believe, that 'tis in such a way,
As constitutes our freedom, not destroys;
Produces obligation, not impairs;
While man himself is author—man alone
Is subject to the penalty of sin.
Yet, that a certainty, infallible,
Waits the Most High, respecting human deeds,
According to the destin'd course of things,
Is quite demonstrable from attributes
Essential to Perfection Infinite.
How else could God accomplish his designs,
Momentous, which on human deeds depend?
Or where the faithful word of prophesy,
Were its fulfilment at the risk of means
Fortuitous, and agents uncontrol'd?
The man who reasons with consistent views,
Will to the great, primeval Cause ascend,
And to that cause ascribe mere accidents.
Had lifeless matter power to move itself,
Or could contingencies themselves produce,
Chimeras might substantial form assume,
Crowd from their poise the balanc'd elements,
The harmony of system be derang'd,
Fear come, and worse than anarchy prevail.
Hence, when we look through fields immense of space,
And mark the globes that all their rounds perform,
And bring each circle to a moment's point;
When we behold, amongst accordance there,
Such strange phenomena; the comet that,
Through infinite extent, conveys the news;
Or, dimly seen, the spots upon the sun;
Or the red star that shoots the pestilence;
Convicted of design, we turn and say,
There is, there must be, an Essential Cause,
E'en for those casual haps which we call chance;
For they are in their place as requisite,
To the just order of events on earth,
As things of magnitude; and, in the hand
Of secret-working purpose, turn, oft turn,
The scale of nations, and determine fate.
What if, misplacing his incautious foot,
One meet his exit?—would he go uncall'd?
No, thou wilt answer, 'twere his destin'd lot.
So says the voice of wisdom; so the soul,
Convinc'd that there's a ruling power above.
In sober Reason's eye, that looks abroad,
And sees on minor causes final ends
Dependent, seems it that the Hand which form'd,
And furnish'd with such splendid garniture,
The heavens stupendous, should, with partial views,
Leave them devoid of conduct and design?
Seems it not fitter, that the least affairs
Should meet his notice, and, combin'd at large,
Have their determin'd order and result?
Amidst the rapid series of events,
Multudinous, from time's all teeming birth,
Stunn'd by the roar of elements, the broils
Of passion's rage, and war's confus'd, strange noise;
Seems it that Chance, th' ideal goddess Chance,
Could hear the voice prophetic, and fulfil,
By adventitious means, events foretold?
Seems it not rather, to the view of Faith,
That, o'er th' immense expanse of rolling worlds,
An eminent Intelligence presides;
Who, while he comprehends the vast machines,
Regards as requisite each trivial part,
Bound by his own perfection infinite,
To exclude whate'er might deleterious prove?
If so, from moral evil greater good
Than otherwise must come; and though the fall,
View'd in itself, is loss; in its effects,
Distressful; there is glory in advance.
Hence, notwithstanding man's disastrous lapse,
'Tis rightly argu'd, that the scheme divine
Was disconcerted never, nor can hosts
Of hostile powers e'er frustrate its intent.
Although th' apostasy a thousand woes
Occasion'd, what a scope of grand display,
What int'rest to the moral world it gives,
Vast and increasing with the roll of years!
'Tis the great hinge on which the drama turns,
Of the whole human species;—earth the stage;
All ages the duration of the play;
Performers, real characters in life;
Angels spectators; scen'ry Nature's self;
Earth's Master-Builder, manager; all modes
Of human being, doing, suff'ring, wrought
Into the general plot; the purpose great,
And great the crisis, man's eternal doom;
And, at the close or grand catastrophe,
The risen dead arraign'd before the Judge;
Virtue triumphant, Vice dismay'd:—the whole
Resulting in the wondrous Author's praise;—
Who, above every other dramatist,
Not only form'd the structure of the play,
But made its actors, and awards their fate.
END OF PART FIRST.
Thus, in the dispensation that exists,
There is a prospect in the future world,
As each one's merit—Hold! it is not so!
Beneath the throne eternal duty lies,
Reward by promise only, not of right.
What merit can a creature claim? or who,
At best, can raise a balance on his side?
Imagine one that never sinn'd, and what
Can he demand? Nought;—duty still comes short;
Heaven's holiest seraph can perform no more.—
In creatures, no inherent merit lies;
The utmost of their best performances,
Pays but the int'rest of the debt they owe,
Whose principal they never can discharge.
Hence, as the law abatement grants to none,
Nor for the least offence excuse accepts;
And as no culprit can his soul redeem,
Nor sinless angel expiation make;
Soon as the great transgression had occurr'd,
There was a pause in heaven for half an hour.
Divinity itself was mov'd, and thousand hosts,
Like statues on a gaze, with pond'ring eyes
Tow'rds earth, stood leaning, horror-struck and griev'd.
Beyond the power of finite arm to save,
And to created minds no way reveal'd,
By which a fit atonement could be made;
All, all as 'twere, seem'd lost, and Wisdom's self
In her great purpose put upon defeat.
At length, upon the battlements of heaven,
From the thick crowds of gazing hosts retir'd,
Ithuriel, elevate with thoughts sublime,
Softly to Radiel thus his soul address'd:
Mysterious change! Impervious to the view,
Clouds and thick darkness hang about the throne!
Oh! who can scan the ways of Providence?
So recent, such a falling-off from heaven,
Amongst th' angelic hosts, and now, on earth,
The noble creature man, whom we had thought
Doom'd to make good the breach—he also gone!
And tempted too by Heaven's eternal foe!
How diff'rent were the nature of events,
Left to the management of finite powers!
We should, no doubt, have render'd man secure,
Beyond a liability to fall.
Would any less than Deity himself
Have thought to have permitted moral ill,
To enter his new empire, when his nod,
Or his red thunderbolt projected, might,
With ease, have frustrated the tempter's aim,
And stiffen'd him at once with dire dismay?
To whom thus Radiel, fond of argument:
That which was best to be permitted, best
It was it should have taken place; of course,
Those means were best, which should its certainty
Secure. But man may plead, that moral ill
Was not intended in the scheme divine;
It therefore must have crept in unawares;
Or, if predestin'd, must excuse from blame;
And so Eternal Justice were impeach'd
In dooming him to death; and thence infer,
That to be just, were not to be divine;
Or, to inflict a punishment deserv'd,
Were inconsistent with benev'lent views.
With sapient words, Ithuriel thus rejoin'd:
Man, implicated in the guilt himself,
May thus on grounds of selfishness pretend,
And strive against conviction to believe;
But conscience, ever intent upon reproof,
Will from such gross conceptions grant no peace.
As to man's views of moral right and wrong,
'Twere proper to suppose him prone to err;
Especially while partial reason, dim,
Takes its own twilight as the test of truth.
But he who dwells in light invisible,
In whom is all perfection, ever reigns
Benevolent as wise; and he as well
Might be unlovely, as unjust. Indeed,
So bright, so glorious is his character,
And so dispos'd is he, and able too,
To manage for the best his vast concerns,
Evil is made subservient to best ends;
And from the fall a greater good may come,
Than had man still remain'd in innocence.
But how predestination can subsist,
Without abatement of the moral bond,
And sentence on the guilty be enforc'd,
Consistently with rectitude divine,
Requires no great exertion to conceive,
Still leaving man accountable and free.
But how strict justice can with punishment
Of sin dispense, and keep a level beam
The while, is more than thought can comprehend.
Nor can invention figure to itself
The bulk of merit, which should poise the scale.
It therefore seems impossible, that man
Should be restor'd; unless in Deity
Some undiscover'd attribute exist,
Henceforth to be disclos'd; as when, sublime
His justice was display'd in casting down,
Headlong, th' apostate host that sinn'd in heaven.
But what that attribute can be, it were
As difficult for reason to suggest,
As 'twere for one, not having ears, to hear;
Or, void of eyes, to picture to his ken,
The genial hue of nature. Question'd, he
Might speak of its similitude, and say,
'Tis like the soft smooth down, or like the smell
Of savoury odours. But the light divine
Must pour upon our darkling view its ray,
Before we can explain, or e'en conceive,
Of what that attribute consists; for though
Fancy, from known materials, may construct
New combinations, 'tis beyond her power
To figure to herself a thing distinct,
Of which no likeness nature has display'd.
He ceas'd; when Radiel his assent express'd,
But 'twere most glorious in his view, he said,
Were Justice so appeas'd, that man at last,
Should she triumphant o'er the powers malign,
And occupy th' abodes from whence they fell;
Now a drear waste of solitary realms.
Prophetic of divine good news to earth,
And looking tow'rds the glory, lo! he cry'd,
I seem to see th' unfolding Deity!
He spoke. In robes of glorious excellence,
Sweet Mercy from the secret place advanc'd,
And Justice took her hand. In shouts sublime,
Rapt joy resounded through the spacious hall,
And distant regions rung with festive sound.
Silence ensu'd; when, not in thunder's roar,
But in a still small voice, Jehovah spake.
To all ye seraphim and loyal hosts,
Who stand adoring round the throne supreme,
Be it well known: That in the secret place
Of love divine, a sacred fount is op'd,
Of living waters, in behalf of man,
In view of which, justice forbears to frown.
But still there is a threat i' the covenant:—
The soul that does not drink assur'dly dies.
Th' archangel Gabriel, be it known to all,
Is my commission'd messenger to earth,
To offer terms of peace, acceptible,
That whosoe'er repents, and turns to God,
Shall taste of these ethereal streams, and live.
Against the wilful, penal law remains,
Its rigour unabated—endless wo,
Not for the least offence, (as God is just,)
Nor pardon possible, but on such terms.
Angels! ye all are min'string spirits now—
Man is entitled to benev'lent love.
Go render service to the future heirs
Of bliss immortal. Thus Jehovah spake.
Instant a song divine, too exquisite
For human ears, (had human ears been there,)
Serenely spread along the expanse of heaven;
While, on the cloud around the holy place,
In tok'n of peace, a radiant bow appear'd,
The joy of angels, glorious to the throne!
In looks benign, with smiles ineffable,
Mercy, descending, now commenc'd her work
Of love on earth. Nor could the character,
Divine, have been to finite view display'd,
Save from the circumstance of moral ill.
Nor could soft Pity, bending o'er distress,
Have e'er enjoy'd her sympathising spell,
Or into sorrow's wound her balsam pour'd.
So long as man had free from guilt remain'd,
He never had rejoic'd in Mercy's smile.
Mercy descends on none but criminals;
And, but for sin and penalty incurr'd,
Important attributes, develop'd now
In character, were dormant and unknown.
The human soul, in its primeval state,
Like a young bud sequester'd from the sun,
Shone not, in all its lovely innocence,
As shines the glory of the soul redeem'd.
But why, secreted in th' Eternal Mind,
The riches of redeeming grace so long,
While angels who had trespass'd were, devoid
Of hope, cast off? However that may seem
To those who stood; to us, of feebler views,
'Tis most mysterious. It may be, that man,
A species, a whole order in the chain
Of being, were less proper to be lost,
And hence (though not of title or desert)
An object of more fit regard. Besides,
The woman's Seed to bruise the serpent's head,
Was, in the view of Justice infinite,
An indispensable in point of law,
To make amends. Aught else could not avail.
'Twas the sole mean by which salvation were
In nature possible. In vision saw
The patriarchs this, enraptur'd with desire.
Th' expected triumph of Messiah's reign,
By types prefigur'd, and by seers presag'd,
Cheer'd the glad nations to the midst of years;
When, lo! the scatter'd rays of prophesy,
Converging to the compass of a star,
Stood resting o'er the Babe of Bethlehem!
God was made manifest that man might live.
O! 'twas a gladly voice, by Heaven inspir'd,
Which angels with triumphant rapture swell'd,
Chanting the birth of that auspicious Child,
Who, growing into years, eternal truth
Unfolded, and the boding gloom dispell'd,
Which had for ages held the world in doubt
Of a hereafter of the human soul;
When man, elated with a hope sublime,
Expanded into consequence, and joy'd
In his existence! Lo! a star salutes
The wilder'd traveller! Behold the sun,
After a long dull train of low'ring days,
Comes in the glory of unclouded morn!
So beam'd the Gospel light upon the world;
And Nature's self in fairer splendour shone,
The more seem'd Wisdom to disclose her plan
For man's redemption. Everlasting life,
Rais'd from the slumb'ring relics of the tomb,
Was an event, in Faith's illumin'd eye,
Replete with views ineffably divine.
Time, all eventful time, that, like a blast
Upon the wilderness, delights in waste,
And, in the track of his o'erwhelming wheels,
Leaves pompous cities, empires, governments,
In ruins, open'd on the searching view
Of new-born sages, new accomplishments
In that eternal plan, which has o'erturn'd
The nations, and was still to overturn,
Till the last trumpet should have spent its blast.
Yet, in those years, was wisdom set at nought,
Faith in the God contemptuously refus'd,
And down through ages bold blasphemers scoff'd.
But in an era, when proud learning vaunts,
And philosophic Reason condescends
The laws to mend of Wisdom infinite,
And, like a fallen angel rob'd in light,
Deprives of its divinity the Cross,
And blots out half the pen of truth has taught,
What bard can please who sings the plan divine?
Alas! conjecture on conjecture void
Of wisdom! What about a future state
Can man, aside from Revelation, know?
Reason, not lumin'd by a ray from Heaven,
Is like a moon that never saw the sun.
Dark, it no borrow'd light reflects, to cheer
The soul of the benighted traveller.
He, self-bewilder'd mortal! who his view
Turns from meridian splendour, and, misled
By the pale meteor of the night through bogs
And upland mazes, meets some fatal brink,
Grasps at a phantom to prevent his fall:
But down, inevitably down he goes.
Through vain philosophy and boasted light,
A broader passage, and an easier way,
Than that which Inspiration has reveal'd,
He feigns to have discover'd, and, in pride
Of self-importance, his own reason makes
The test and standard of eternal right.
Presumptuous! let him pass the confines first,
His theory with facts compare—and what?
Confounded and undone. Deluded man!
So vast thy stretch of reason, thou o'erlook'st
Reason's first hint; that a defect in God,
Or in the system of his government,
Or in the sacred page by Truth inspir'd,
Is quite impossible. Behold, the word
Of holy Prophets and Apostles, casts
Blindness on human wisdom black as night;
And human Reason, heedless of that word,
Groping in darkness, stumbles on to death!
Still in each breast a monitor presides,
To warn, reprove, although she toil in vain;
For so perverse and blinded is the will,
She makes but here and there a proselyte.
Her counsels, 'tis confess'd, are just, wise, good;
Her arguments conclusive; yet, alas!
There's something so beset, so prone in wrong,
She to free-thinkers preaches as to stones,
Their hearts so cas'd in prejudice. But some
Her admonitions and reproofs esteem,
Above all estimate; as seeming done
In kindness, mixing in the cup of life
Peace, void of which there's doubt in what may come.
But, in relation to our thoughts of men,
“This I hold firm:” That hearts sincere and pure
Deserve our charity, though error them mislead;
For goodness not in knowledge lies—the wise
Themselves do err. But, 'gainst the contrite soul,
No writ of error lies in Heaven's high court,
Howe'er the head may have decided wrong
As to the minor precepts of the law.
Here, then, I make up judgment. But, one day,
Should it appear like bigotry in me,
To place the test of virtue in the heart;
And should I, now grown grey in error, find,
That in the form of goodness lies the power;
I must confess it an essential point,
And freely will I change my sentiments.
But that can never while my reason lasts.
No! never shall that prostituted day
Lower o'er my head, when I shall have believ'd
That true religion lies in form alone,
However fair; or lure me to embrace
That latitudinarian charity,
Which gives to infidels the dexter hand
Of fellowship, however bland they seem
As social friends, howe'er correct their lives!
A bare morality of deed overt,
(As to the current usage of the phrase,)
Is goodness in the negative at best;
A cloak for the transgression of the soul;
A plaster to disguise, not heal, the wound.
True, it is fair in sight of human view,
Whether to gain respect, or shun the law;
But faulted in the chancery of Heaven.
As to the nature of the thing itself,
Some call it habit, education, love
Of order,—any thing conformable
To the mere fashion of good character.
But one should put his soul into his deeds;
Nor badly neither, but in love to man.
High Heaven takes cognizance of secret thoughts;
Heart-acts alone determine good or ill;
Heart-acts alone are premium'd in the skies;
And they decide the future destiny.
But to return: From what internal sense
Makes obvious, as in this assay discuss'd,
Join'd with what lumin'd reason dictates, one
May verily conceive, how human deeds
Are render'd so subservient to events,
As not to violate the rights of will,
Nor in the least excuse from praise or blame.
If in the heart all moral evil lies—
Suppose man's acts inevitably fix'd;—
What then? From the bare manner of the deed,
What is inferr'd? or what does it decide?
Does it e'er change the nature of the will,
Which, in whatever manner it might act,
Were still the same in essence, good or bad?
That should to common sense appear absurd.
Therefore, to cast upon the sacred truth
Of holy Inspiration, as to the decrees
Eternal, such opprobrious epithets,
As some have utter'd in excuse for guilt—
Does it not savour of much ignorance?
Or of a heart replete with partial views?
Man a probationer is put to proof;
And, like a tree that takes deep root and soars
Amidst the buffeting of elements and shifts
Of seasons, best his loftier powers displays,
When most beset by perils all around;
And gains, by Heaven-refreshing beams betimes,
A growth far nobler than if innocent,
With half his talents never brought to use.
The knowledge of both good and evil gives
By contrast good a richer zest, as pain
Serves, when abated, to enhance delight.
Suffering itself to virtuous ends inures,
And short privation makes enjoyment sweet.
Health after sickness, pleasure after pain,
Hope from despair, and holy joys for gifts
Receiv'd, attended with exalted views
Of the divine perfections, how could man
Have known, but from the fall which gave them birth?
Or how the soul her destiny attain,
While here inthrall'd within this house of clay?
But, having gain'd her freedom through the grave,
Rising from ruins she ascends renew'd.
Yes! all enraptur'd, lo, she bears away,
The moral world laid open to her view!
Thus, only, man through imperfection gains
Perfection, try'd in dreadful scenes. To bring
Good out of ill is God's prerogative;
To manifest himself the final cause,
Wherefore to human lot such woes befell.
Comments about Moral Evil No Accident by Thomas Odiorne
Poems About Nature
- 1. Moral Evil No Accident , Thomas Odiorne
- 2. A Woman And Her Beauty. , Nebe Albert
- 3. We Brag That India Is The Land Of Sages .. , Dr. Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadh ..
- 4. Amazing Grace Of Nature , thanishq kokare
- 5. Science, Nature, Love , Michael Wride
- 6. Nature , Surya Shaji
- 7. Natured.....All , Rafique Farooqi
- 8. Nature Destroys Nature , Natasha Caroline Norville
- 9. Natures Beauty , skywin shajilal
- 10. Nature Of Nature , Md. Ziaul Haque
- 11. Nature's Gifts , Naseeru Taneemu Annuree
- 12. A Prayer At Dawn , Terry Dawson
- 13. Nature Is Around Us , Andres Gonzalez
- 14. Of Old Age , John Denham
- 15. A Conversation Between Nature And I , Bakare Oluwagbenga Michael
- 16. Nature`s Child , James Mcqueen Williams
- 17. These Are Ever My Favourites! , sundaram chandrakalaadhar
- 18. Nature Forgive Us! ! ! ! , Patrick Scott Hogg
- 19. Hearts That Love Nature , Amatulla Mohammadi
- 20. Nature's Beauty And Bounty , dikshant bhandari
- 21. Nature , B M Aswathy
- 22. Nature The Guardian Of Earth's Beauty , Prateek Gupta
- 23. The Block Party , Alexander Keli Mutua
- 24. Nature Of Kashmir , JAVIAD MAQBOOL
- 25. Frustration , Joshua Bosworth
- 26. Cloudy Army* (2003) , David Joel Rodriguez
- 27. Help Will Come Your Way , Srishti chaplot
- 28. My Beautiful Nature , genesis learny
- 29. The Art Of Preserving Health. Book Ii , John Armstrong
- 30. The Battaile Of Poictiers , Charles Aleyn
- 31. I Believe In God , Dr Shamim ali
- 32. Nature, As I See It , Jeanette Telusma Herbert
- 33. Nature's Warning , Slava Olchevski
- 34. Close To Nature , umaprosad das
- 35. Answers , Jeff Rushton
- 36. Sons Of Adam! Daughters Of Eve! , Urmila Reghunath
- 37. Nature And Humans , Somanathan Iyer
- 38. A Look By Nature , RISHAD MKPNR
- 39. I Write These Lines Upon A Sheet Of Paper , David Mitchell
- 40. Morning Melodies.. , Darshan Joshi
- 41. Nature To Nurture , Chase Kersey
- 42. Man Distills Nature , Jan Freundschuh
- 43. Festus - Vii , Philip James Bailey
- 44. The Seen And The Unseen , Abram Joseph Ryan
- 45. Do You Not See… , QalmeTari Misterres of Death ..
- 46. The World Is Not Worth Trusting , Eche Ononukwe
- 47. Hado , Abdullah alHemaidy
- 48. Teacher , SAKISABRE Saki
- 49. ''Nature Has A Loving Smile'' , Ovi Odiete
- 50. When My Heart Missed A Beat , Dave Tanwar
New Nature Poems
- When The Black Dog Comes Stalking, Terry Dawson
- Baboons, Terry Dawson
- The Sad Ballad Of Mopane Jack, Terry Dawson
- A Prayer At Dawn, Terry Dawson
- The Myth Of Keeping Universal Time (Opin.., Varanasi Ramabrahmam
- We Are Scent Of Nature, Aftab Alam
- An Adolescent's View Of Nature, Chris Chen
- The Troubadour Of Dawn, Terry Dawson
- Pollution And Nature., Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
- A Letter To Nature., Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
- carpe diem