The Sacrilegious Thief

A villain to Jove’s altar came
To light his candle in the flame,
And robb’d the god in dead of night,
By his own consecrated light:
Then thus an awful voice was sent,
As with the sacrilege he went:
“Though all this gold and silver plate
As gifts of evil men I hate;
And their removal from the fane
Can cause the Deity no pain;
Yet, caitiff, at th’ appointed time,
Thy life shall answer for thy crime.
But, for the future, lest this blaze,
At which the pious pray and praise,
Should guide the wicked, I decree
That no such intercourse there be.”
Hence to this day all men decline
To light their candle at the shrine;
Nor from a candle e’er presume
The holy light to re-illume.
How many things are here contain’d,
By him alone can be explain’d
Who could this useful tale invent.
In the first place, herein is meant,
That they are often most your foes
Who from your fost’ring hand arose.
Next, that the harden’d villain’s fate
Is not from wrath precipitate,
But rather at a destined hour.
Lastly, we’re charg’d with all our pow’r,
To keep ourselves, by care intense,
From all connexions with offence. [more info]

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