Know, what those bosoms wish Heaven must reveal;
And sure no bosom ever wish’d a hell.
But, left sustain’d by underpinning frail,
Our hopes and wits, our proofs and doctrines fail,
Admit a hell; but from its terrors take
Whate’er commands the guilty heart to quake.
Again the purgatorial whim revive,
And bid the soul by stripes and penance live.
And know, with search most deep, and wits most keen,
I’ve learn’d, that hell is but a school for sin;
Which yields, to heaven, the soul from guilt refin’d,
And, tho’ it mars the devils, mends mankind.
And thus the matter stands. When God makes man,
He makes him here religious, if he can;
If he cannot, he bids him farther go,
And try to be religious, down below;
But as his failure is his fault, ordains
His soul to suffer dire repentance’ pains,
Repentance, fearful doom of sinners vile!
The law’s whole curse, and nature’s highest ill!
If there the wretch repent, the work is done;
If not, he plunges to a lower zone,
A lower still, and still a lower, tries,
‘Till with such sinking tir’d, he longs to rise;
And finding there the fashion to repent,
He joins the throng, and strait to heaven is sent.
Heaven now his own he claims; nor can the sky
Preserve its honour, and its claim deny.