« PreviousContinue »
For mortify'd he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not fee.
True priests, he said, and preachers of the word,
Were only stewards of their sovereign lord ;
Nothing was their's; but all the public store :
Intrust a riches, to relieve the poor.
Who, lhould they steal, for want of his relief,
He judg'd himself accomplice with the thief.
Wide was his parish; not contracted close
In streets, but here and there a ftraggling house;
Yet still he was at hand, without request,
To serve the sick; to fuccour the distress'd :
Tempting, on foot, alone, without affright,
The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this, the good old man perforin'd alone,
Nor (par’d his pains ; for curate he had none.
Nor durft he trust another with his care;
Nor rode himself to Paul's, the public fair,
To chaffer for preferment with his gold,
Where bishoprics and finecures are sold.
But duly watch'd his flock, by night and day;
And from the prowling wolf redeem'd the
prey : And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tam'd, the penitent he cheard :
Nor to rebuke the rich offender fear'd.
His preaching much, but more his practice wrought
(A living lermon of the truths he taught);
For this by rules severe his life he squar’d:
That all might see the doctrine which they heard.
For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest
(The gold of heaven, who bear the God impress’d):
But when the precious coin is kept unclean,
The sovereign's image is no longer seen.
If they be foul on whom the people trust,
the baser brass contract a ruft.
The prelate, for his holy life he priz'd;
The worldly pomp of prelacy despis'd.
His Saviour came not with a gaudy show ;
Nor was his kingdom of the world below.
Patience in want, and poverty of mind,
These marks of church and churchmen he design'd,
And living taught, and dying left behind.
The crown he wore was of the pointed thorn :
In purple he was crucify'd, not born.
They who contend for place and high degree,
Are not his fons, but those of Zebedee.
Not but he knew the signs of earthly power
Might well become Saint Peter's successor;
The holy father holds a double reign,
The prince may keep his pomp, the fisher must be plain.
Such was the saint; who shone with every grace,
Reflecting, Moses like, his Maker's face.
God saw his image lively was express'd ;
And his own work, as in creation bless’d.
The tempter saw him too with envious eye ;
And, as on Job, demanded leave to try.
He took the time when Richard was depos’d,
And high and low with happy Harry clos d.
This prince, though great in arms, the priest withstood :
Near though he was, yet not the next of blood.
Had Richard unconstrain'd, resign'd the throne,
A king can give no more than is his own :
The title stood entail'd, had Richard had a fon.
Conquest, an odious name, was laid aside,
Where all fubmitted, none the battle try'd.
The senseless plea of right by providence
Was, by a flattering priest, invented since;
And lafts no longer than the present fway;
But juftifies the next who comes in play.
The people's right remains; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He join'd not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Much to himself he thought; but little spoke; And, undepriv’d, his benefice forfook.
Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretch'd: And like a primitive apostle preachd. Still chearful ; ever constant to his call.; By many follow'd; lov’d by most, admir’d by all. With what he begg'd, his brethren he reliev'd; And gave the charities himself receivid. Gave, while he taught; and edify'd the more, Because he shew'd, by proof, 'twas easy to be poor.
He went not with the crowd to see a shrine; But fed us, by the way, with food divine,
In deference to his virtues, I forbear To Mew you what the rest in orders were : This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright, He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light.