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DR. ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748), is the most eminent of all our devotional poets. His Hymns and Psalms have been more used in religious services than all the other compositions of the same kind in the language. His Divine and Moral Songs for Children are without a rival in that not unimportant part of national literature.
A SUMMER EVENING.
How fine has the day been, how bright was the sun,
And foretells a bright rising again.
Just such is the Christian; his course he begins,
And melts into tears; then he breaks out and shines,
But when he comes nearer to finish his race,
Like a fine setting sun, he looks richer in grace,
And gives a sure hope at the end of his days,
ONE HUNDREDTH PSALM.
Before Jehovah's awful throne,
His sovereign power, without our aid,
We are his people, we his care,
Our souls and all our mortal frame:
What lasting honours shall we rear,
We'll crowd thy gates with thankful songs,
Wide as the world is thy command,
Vast as eternity thy love,
Firm as a rock thy truth must stand,
When rolling years shall cease to move.
How fair is the rose! what a beautiful flower,
The glory of April and May!
But the leaves are beginning to fade in an hour, And they wither and die in a day.
Yet the rose has one powerful virtue to boast,
Above all the flowers of the field;
When its leaves are all dead, and its fine colours lost,
So frail is the youth and the beauty of men,
Then I'll not be proud of my youth nor my beauty,
But gain a good name by well-doing my duty;
PHILIP DODDRIDGE (1702-1751), has also written many beautiful Hymns. His paraphrase of the Epicurean motto "While we live, let us live,” (Dum vivimus vivamus), was pronounced by Johnson, the best epigram in the language.
Live while you live, the epicure would say,
And give to God each moment as it flies.
I live in pleasure, when I live to thee.
EDWARD YOUNG (1681-1765), was the author of several poems, the most considerable of which is the Night Thoughts. This is written in a highly artificial style, and has more of epigrammatic point than any other work in the language. Almost as a matter of course, the poet is often brilliant at the expense of higher and more important qualities. Still, there are many noble passages, where he seems to speak as from inspiration. The truths of religion are enforced with a commanding energy and persuasion. Epigram and repartee are for the time forgotten, and the poet speaks out with a sincerity and earnestness that carry home conviction to every understanding. The extracts which follow, are all taken from the Night Thoughts.
THE ADVANTAGES OF RETIREMENT.
Blest be that hand divine, which gently laid
And meditate on scenes more silent still;
Eager ambition's fiery chase I see;
Burst law's enclosure, leap the mounds of right,
THE CHANGES AND VARIED APPEARANCES OF CREATION.
Look nature through, 't is revolution all;
All change, no death; day follows night, and night
Blows Autumn and his golden fruits away,
Then melts into the Spring: soft Spring, with breath
As in a wheel, all sinks to reascend:
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man!
How passing wonder He who made him such!
Who centred in our make such strange extremes,