Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE TRUE GROUNDS OF ETERNAL AND IMMUTABLE RECTITUDE, by JOHN BYROM



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THE TRUE GROUNDS OF ETERNAL AND IMMUTABLE RECTITUDE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Th' eternal mind, ev'n heathens understood
Last Line: Is one divine, immutable good-will.
Subject(s): Future Life; Retribution; Eternity; After Life


TH' Eternal Mind, ev'n heathens understood,
Was infinitely powerful, wise, and good:
In their conceptions, who conceiv'd aright,
These three essential attributes unite:
They saw, that, wanting any of the three,
Such an All-perfect Being could not be.

For pow'r, from wisdom suff'ring a divorce,
Would be a foolish, mad, and frantic force:
If both were join'd, and wanted goodness still,
They would concur to more pernicious ill:
However nam'd, their action could but tend
To weakness, folly, mischief without end.

Yet some of old, and some of present hour,
Ascribe to God an arbitrary pow'r;
An absolute decree; a mere command,
Which nothing causes, nothing can withstand:
Wisdom and goodness scarce appear in sight;
But all is measur'd by resistless might.

The verbal question comes to this, in fine,
"Is good, or evil, made by Will Divine,
"Or such by nature? Does command enact
"What shall be right, and then 'tis so in fact?
"Or is it right, and therefore, we may draw,
"From thence the reason of the righteous law?"

Now, tho' tis proof, indisputably plain,
That all is right, which God shall once ordain;
Yet, if a thought shall intervene between
Things and commands, 'tis evidently seen
That good will be commanded: men divide
Nature and laws, which really coincide.

From the Divine, Eternal Spirit springs
Order, and rule, and rectitude of things;
Thro' outward nature, His apparent throne,
Visibly seen, intelligibly known:
Proofs of a boundless pow'r, a wisdom's aid,
By goodness us'd, eternal and unmade.

Cudworth perceiv'd, that what divines advance
For sov'reignty alone is fate or chance:
Fate, after pow'r had made its forcing laws;
And chance, before, if made without a cause:
Nothing stands firm, or certain, in a state
Of fatal chance or accidental fate.

Endless perfections, after all, conspire,
And to adore excite and to admire;
But to plain minds, the plainest pow'r above
Is native goodness, to attract our love:
Centre of all its various power and skill
Is one divine, immutable good-will.





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