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First Line: Twas a good sermon; but a close review
Last Line: As that a line, if straight, can be but one.
Subject(s): Humanity; Mankind; Redemption; Human Race

'TWAS a good sermon; but a close review
Would bear one passage to be alter'd too;
Because it did not, in the least, agree
With the plain text (as it appear'd to me)
Nor with your comment, on what God had done
To save mankind, by his Redeeming Son.

You did, if I remember right, admit
That Other means, if He had so thought fit,
Might have obtain'd the salutary views
As well as those which he was pleas'd to choose;
That it was too presumptuous to confine,
To those alone, th' Omnipotence Divine;
As if a Wisdom Infinite could find
No other method how to save mankind:
Tho' that, indeed, which had been fix'd upon,
Was, in effect, become the only one.

Now this, however well design'd, to raise
An awful sense, by its respectful phrase,
An adoration of the boundless pow'rs
Of the ALMIGHTY, when compar'd with ours;
To sink in humble rev'rence, and profound,
All human thoughts of fixing any bound
To an Unerring Wisdom, which extends
Beyond what finite reason comprehends;
Yet, if examin'd by severer test,
It is, at least, incautiously express'd;
And leaves the subtlest of the gospel's foes,
The Deists, this objection to propose,
To which they have, and will have a recourse,
And still keep urging its unanswer'd force:

"If there was no necessity," they say,
"For saving men in this mysterious way,
"What proof can the divines pretend to bring,
"(While they confess the nature of the thing
"Does not forbid,) that the celestial scenes
"Will not be open'd by some other means?
"What else but book authority, at best,
"Asserts this way, exclusive of the rest,
"Of equal force, if the Almighty's will
"Had but appointed them to save from ill?
"This way, in which the Son of the Most High
"Is, by his Father's pleasure, doom'd to die,
"For satisfaction of paternal ire;
"Which (when they make religion to require)
"Confounds all sense of justice, by a scheme
"The most unworthy of the Great Supreme:
"As other ways might have obtain'd the end,
"Nature, and reason force us to attend
"To huge absurdities which follow this,
"And, since it was not needful, to dismiss."

This is the Bourdon of deistic song,
Which rising volumes labour to prolong;
Take this away, the rest would all remain
As flat and trifling, as it is profane;
But this remaining, hither they retreat,
And lie secure from any full defeat.

But when the need most absolute is shewn
Of man's redemption, by the means alone,
The birth, and life, and death, and re-ascent,
Thro' which the one Theandric Saviour went,
To quench the wrath of nature in the race
Of men, (not God, in whom it has no place,)
Then scripture, sense, and reason coincide,
And all conspire to follow the One Guide;
Of possibilities to wave the talk,
In which it is impossible to walk;
And raise the soul to seek and find the good,
By this one method, which no other could.

Then true religion, call it by the name
Christian or natural, is still the same;
From CHRIST deriv'd, as Healer of the soul,
Or nature, made by his re-entrance whole;
Who is, in ev'ry man, th' enlight'ning ray,
The faith and hope of love's redeeming day;
The only name or pow'r that can assure
Nature's religion, that is, nature's cure.
But if salvation might have been bestow'd
By other means, than what the sacred code
Declares throughout, the Deists will soon say,
"The means, that might be possible, still may:"
And, led to think that scripture is at odds
With nature, take some other to be God's:
Thus may a no necessity, allow'd,
Tend to increase the unbelieving crowd.

As Adam died, and in him all his race,
Not to the life of nature, but of grace,
There could be no new birth of it, or growth,
But from a parent union of them both;
Such as, in ev'ry possible respect,
JESUS incarnate only could effect;
From Him alone, who had the life, could men
Have it restor'd, renew'd, reviv'd again:
But—I am trespassing too much, I fear,
And preaching, when my province is to hear—

Millions of ways could we suppose beside,
This, we are sure, which saving love has tried,
Must be the best, must be the straightest line
Of action, when consider'd as divine;
This way alone then must as sure be gone,
As that a line, if straight, can be but one.

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