With different colour glows each ray
That joins to feed the solar day.
Yet, each commingling as they pass,
They lose distinction in the mass,
Where Iris-hues, grown tintless quite,
Stand wondering at their own pure White.
Yet prove that White with sifting lens,
No more it cheats the dazzled sense;
But, re-transmuted to the view,
Beams back its red—or green—or blue.
Nor less, in every church gregarious,
Opinion's colours are as various.
Nor less each hue with other locks,
To form the pure white Orthodox;
That scorns all other shade—sectarian!—
Plain Quaker-drab, or half-tint Arian.
But if—as philosophic use is—
We try Experimentum Crucis;
To find if what so whitely beams
Be, in good sooth, the thing it seems;
From moral lens, in varying streak,
How soon the lines diverge and break!
Observe how rule of faith refracts
From doctrine—here; and, there, from facts.
How many a lurking tinge comes out;
What intersecting lines of doubt.
And that broad stripe of scepticism,
See, how it flashes from the prism.
In prudence, now, we break the glass;
We must view churches but in mass.
Nor split too nicely at the focus
Opinions, jumbled hocus-pocus.
Churches! Churches! hence take heed;
And give the tolerance which ye need.
Your whitest orthodox effulgence
Worth no one ray—from wise indulgence.