Page images
PDF

Or holy discipline, to glorious war
The sacramental host of God's elect:

849
Are all such teachers? would to Heav'n all were!
But hark--the doctor's voice!--fast wedg'd between
Two empiricks he stands, and with swoln cheeks
Inspires the news, his trumpet. Keener far
Than all invective is his bold harangue,
While through that public organ of report

355 He hails the clergy; and, defying shame, Announces to the world his own and theirs! He teaches those to read whom schools dismissid, And colleges, untaught: sells accent, tone, And emphasis in score, and gives to pray’r 860 Thadagio and andante it demands. He grinds divinity of other days Down into modern use; transforms old print To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes Of gall’ry critics by a thousand arts,

365 Are there who purchase of the doctor's ware? 0, name it not in Gath!-it cannot be, That grave and learned clerks should need such aid. He doubtless is in sport, and does but droll, Assuming thus a rank unknown before

370 Grand caterer and dry-nurse of the church!

I venerate the man, whose heart is warm, Whose hands are pure, whose doctrine and whose life, Coincident, exhibit lucid proof That he is honest in the sacred cause.

375 To such I render more than mere respect. · Whose actions say that they respect themselves. But loose in morals and in manners vain, In conversation frivolous, in dress Extreme, at once rapacious and profusez

380 Frequent in park with lady at his side, Ambling and prattling scandel as he goes; & But rare at home, and never at his books, Or with his pen, save when he scrawls a card; Constant at routs, familiar with a round

[ocr errors]

Of ladyships, a stranger to the poor;
Ambitious of preferment for its gold,
And well prepared by ignorance and sloth,
By infidelity and love of world,
To make God's work a sinecure; a slave 390
To his own pleasures and his patron's pride;
From such apostles, O ye mitred heads,
Preserve the church! and lay not careless hands
On skulls that cannot teach, and will not learn.

Would I describe a preacher such as Paul, 395
Were he on Earth, would hear, approve, and own,
Paul should himself direct me. I would trace
His master-strokes, and draw from his design.
I would express him simple, grave, sincere;
In doctrine uncorrupt; in language plain,
And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste,
And natural in gesture; much impress'd
Himself, as conscious of his awful charge,
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds .
May feel it too; affectionate in look,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.
Behold the picture!-Is it like?-Like whom!
The things that mount the rostrum with a skip,
And then skip down again; pronounce a text; 410
Cry-hem; and reading what they never wrote
Just fifteen minutes; huddle up their work,
And with a well-bred whisper close the scene!

In man or woman, but far most in man, And most of all in man that ministers

415 And serves the altar, in my soul I loathe All affectation. 'Tis my perfect scorn; Object of my implacable disgust. What!--will a man play tricks--will he indulge A silly fond conceit of his fair form, And just proportion, fashionable mien, And pretty face, in presence of his God? Or will he seek to dazzle me with tropes,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

As with the diamond on his lilly hand,
And play his brilliant parts before my eyes,
When I am hungry for the bread of life?
He mocks his Maker, prostitutes and shames,
His noble office, and, instead of truth,
Displaying his own beauty, starves his flock.
Therefore avaunt all attitude and stare,

430
And start theatrick, practis'd at the glass!
I seek divine simplicity in him
Who handles things divine; and all besides,
Though learn’d with labour, and though much admir'd
By curious eyes and judgment ill-form'd,

435 To me is odious as the nasal twang Heard at the conventicle where worthy men, Misled by custom, strain celestial themes Through the press'd nostril, spectacle-bestrid. Some, decent in demeanor while they preach, 440 That task perform’d, relapse into themselves; And, having spoken wisely, at the close Grow. wanton, and give proof to ev'ry eye, Whoe'er was edify'd, themselves were not! Forth comes the pocket-mirror. First we stroke 445 An eye-brow; next compose a straggling lock; Then with an air most gracefally performid, Fall back into our seat; extend an arm, And lay it at its ease with gentle care, With handkerchief in hand depending low; 450 The better hand more busy gives the nose Its bergamot, or aids th' indebted eye With op’ra glass, to watch the moving scene, And recognise the slow retiring fair.Now this is fulsome; and offends me more Than in a churchman slovenly neglect And rustic coarseness would. A heavenly mind May be indifferent to her house of clay, And slight the hovel as beneath her care; But how a body so fantastic, trim,

460

[ocr errors]

And quaint, in its deportment and attire,
Can lodge a heav'nly mind-demands a doubt,

He that negotiates between God and man,
As God's ambassador, the grand concerns
Of judgment and of mercy, should beware

465
Of lightness in his speech. 'Tis pitiful
To court a grin, when you should woo a soul:
To break a jest, when pity would inspire
Pathetick exhortation; and t’ address
The skittish fancy with facetious tales,
When sent with God's commission to the heart!
So did not Paul. Direct me to a quip
Or merry turn in all he ever wrote,
And I consent you take it for your text,
Your only one till sides and benches fail.
No: he was serious in a serious cause,
And understood too well the weighty terms,
That he had ta'en in charge. He would not stoop
To conquer those by jocular exploits,
Whom truth and soberness assail'd in vain. 480

O Popular Applause! what heart of man
Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms?
The wisest and the best feel urgent need
Of all their caution in thy gentlest gales;
But swell'd into a gust—who, then, alas!

485
With all his canvass set, and inexpert,
And therefore heedless, can withstand thy pow'r?
Praise from the rivell’d lips of toothless, bald
Decrepitude, and in the looks of lean
And craving Poverty, and in the bow
Respectful of the smutch'd artificer,
Is oft too welcome and may much disturb
The bias of the purpose. How much more,
Pour'd forth by beauty, splendid and polite,
In language soft as adoration breathes?
Ah, spare your idol, think him human still.
Charms he may have, but he has frailties too!
Dote not too much nor spoil what ye admire.

All truth is from the sempiternal source

Drew from the stream below. More favour'd we
Drink when we choose it, at the fountain head.
To them it flow'd much mingled and defild
With hurtful errour, prejudice, and dreams

505 · But falsely. Sages after sages strove

In vain to filter off a crystal draught
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanc'd
The thirst than slak'd it, and not seldom bred
Intoxication and delirum wild.

510
In vain they push'd inquiry to the birth
And spring-time of the world; ask’d, Whence is man?
Why form'd at all? and wherefore as he is?
Where must he find his maker? with what rites
Adore him? Will he hear, accept and bless?. 515
Or does he sit regardless of his works?
Has man within him an immortal seed?
Or does the tomb take all? If he survive
His ashes, where? and in what weal or wo?
Knots worthy of solution, which alone

520 A Deity could solve. Their answers, vague' ii And all at random, fabulous and dark, Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life Defective and unsanction’d, prov'd too weak To bind the roving appetite, and lead

525 Blind nature to a God not yet reveal’d. 'Tis revelation that satisfies all doubts, Explains all mysteries, except her own, And so illuminates the path of life That fools discover it, and stray no more.

530

[ocr errors]

My man of moralş, nurtur'd in the shades
Of Academus-is this false or true?
Is Christ the abler teacher or the schools
If Christ, then why resort at ev'ry turn
To Athens, or to Rome, for wisdom short

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »