Clodhopping Oracles of Man

From scenes obscure, did heaven his * * * * * call,
That moral Newton, and that second Paul.
He, in clear view, saw sacred systems roll,
Of reasoning worlds, around their central soul;
Saw love attractive every system bind,
The parent linking to each filial mind;
The end of heaven’s high works resistless shew’d,
Creating glory, and created good;
And, in one little life, the gospel more
Disclos’d, than all earth’s myriads kenn’d before.
Beneath his standard; lo what number rise,
To dare for truth, and combat for the skies!
Arm’d at all points, they try the battling field,
With reason’s sword and faith’s etherial shield.
To ward this fate all irreligion can,
Whate’er sustains, or flatters sinning man;
Whate’er can conscience of her thorns disarm,
Or calm, at death’s approach, the dread alarm;
Whate’er like truth, with error cheats mankind;
Whate’er, like virtue, taints with vice the mind;
I preach’d, I wrote, I argued, pray’d, and lied,
What could my friends, or even myself, beside?
But, tho’ with glad successes often crown’d,
Unceasing fears my troubled path surround.
While with each toil my friends the cause sustain,
Their toils, their efforts, and their arts are vain.
Even plodding * * * * * * * * did but little good,
Who taught, the foul of man was made of mud:
Cold mud was virtue; warmer mud was sin;
And thoughts the angle-worms, that crawl’d within:
Nor taught alone; but wife, to precept join’d
A fair example, in his creeping mind.
In vain thro realms of nonsense * * * * * * * ran
The great Clodhopping oracle of man.
Yet faithful were his toils: What could he more?
In Satan’s cause he bustled, bruised, and swore;
And what the due reward, from me shall know,
For gentlemen of equal worth below.
To vengeance then, my soul, to vengeance rise,
Assert thy glory and assault the skies.

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

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