Charity

The wicked boast their vain deceits;
But I have still a heart that beats
On thy eternal throne,
That holy thoughts with flame inspire:
Oh, Charity! the votive lyre
Ascends to thee alone.

In vain, had I an Angel's tongue,
Celestial strains by me were sung,
With zeal and rapture crown'd;
Apart from thee, my boasted fame
Is but the echo of a name,
The cymbal's tinkling sound.

Or what avails it, if I soar?
The dark abyss if I explore,
And view the scenes unborn?
Unless the heart like thee could love,
An idle dream the mist would prove,
And vanish ere the morn.

Could faith of mine the mountain shake,
And where the rock no force could break
If currents were to rise;
Could I re-animate the dust,
And life infuse into the bust,
How vain the envy'd prize!

If all my heritage of lands,
With all the labour of my hands,
Were treasures for the poor;
For Christian zeal were I to burn,
Or patience upon crosses learn,
What wreaths could I ensure?

Unless, in pity shed on me,
A ray were to descend from thee,
And make the temper bless'd!
Unless thy sister, Peace , would come,
And make the heart a constant home,
How vain is all the rest!

As morning's beam dispels the shade,
Whose mantle had the night array'd,
Is Envy chac'd by thee;
Revenge and Malice — lost in air,
And victims of their own despair,
Away like shadows flee.

Foe to the vicious — not enrag'd!
From selfish objects disengag'd!
From no proud summits hurl'd!
From all ambition's glare exempt!
And, with a dignify'd contempt,
Superior to the world!

In judgment thou art never blind,
Or to remission disinclin'd,
If tears of Nature plead;
Thy faith, in mercy to believe,
Thy joy, the converts to receive,
And bind the wounds that bleed.

Prophetic light will bar the door,
The gift of tongues will be no more,
And miracles will end:
But Charity , in youth divine,
Susceptible of no decline,
To no decay shall bend.

Here faint the mirrour, dim the view;
But the Reveal'd his brightest hue
Will dart on earth and skies:
The Sun , too distant for access,
No more shall dreams and visions bless,
But cheer familiar eyes.

Of all the gems that grace the heart,
And Virtue's cheering light impart,
There is not one like thee:
Their lustre fades, their beams decay,
The dust of years, and swept away,
But thine from death are free.
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