Charity, decent, modest, easy, kind,
Softens the high, and rears the abject mind;
Knows with just reins, and gentle hand, to guide
Betwixt vile shame and arbitrary pride.
Not soon provoked, she easily forgives;
And much she suffers, as she much believes.
Soft peace she brings wherever she arrives;
She builds our quiet, as she forms our lives;
Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even,
And opens in each heart a little heaven.
Each other gift, which God on man bestows,
Its proper bounds, and due restriction knows;
To one fix'd purpose dedicates its power;
And finishing its act, exists no more.
Thus, in obedience to what Heaven decrees,
Knowledge shall fail, and prophecy shall cease;
But lasting Charity's more ample sway,
Nor bound by time, nor subject to decay,
In happy triumph shall for ever live,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise
As through the artist's intervening glass,
Our eye observes the distant planets pass,
A little we discover, but allow
That more remains unseen than art can show;
So whilst our mind its knowledge would improve,
Its feeble eye intent on things above,
High as we may we lift our reason up,
By faith directed, and confirm'd by hope;
Yet are we able only to survey
Dawnings of beams and promises of day;
Heav'n's fuller effluence mocks our dazzled
Too great its swiftness, and too strong its
But soon the mediate clouds shall be
The Son shall soon be face to face beheld,
In all his robes, with all his glory on,
Seated sublime on his meridian throne.
Then constant Faith, and holy Hope shall vie,
One lost in certainty, and one in joy:
Whilst thou, more happy pow'r, fair Charity,
Triumphant sister, greatest of the three,
Thy office, and thy nature still the same,
Lasting thy lamp, and unconsumed thy flame,
Shall still survive—
Shall stand before the host of heav'n
For ever blessing, and for ever blest.