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Ambitious of preferment for its gold,
And well-prepard, by ignorance and sloth,
By infidelity and love of world,
To make §. work a sinecure; a slave
To his own pleasures and his patron's pride;
From such apostles, O, ye mitred heads,
Preserve the church 1 and lay not careless hands
On sculls, that cannot teach, and will not learn.
Y. Would I describe a preacher, such as Paul,
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, . 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;
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
And serves the altar, in my soul I loathe
All affectation. "Tis my perfect scorn;
Object of my implacable disgust.
What i". 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,
As with the diamond on his lily 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, And start theatric, practis'd at the glass! I seek divine simplicity in him, Who handles things divine; and all besides, Though learn'd with labour, and tho' much admir'd By curious eyes and judgments ill inform’d, To me is odious as the nasal twang Heard at conventicle, where worthy men, Misled by custom, strain celestial themes Through the press'd nostril, spectacle-bestrid. Some decent in demeanour while they preach, That task perform’d, relapse into themselves; And, having spoken wisely, at the close Grow wanton, and give proof to ev’ry eye, Who'er was edified themselves were not! Forth comes the pocket mirror.—First we stroke An eye-brow; next compose a straggling lock; Then with an air most gracefully perform'd Fall back into our seat, extend an arm, And lay it at its ease with gentle care, With handkerchief in of depending low; 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 heav'nly mind May be indiff'rent to her house of clay, And slight the hovel as beneath her care; But how a body so fantastic, trim, \nd quaint, in its deportment and attire, n 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
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
Pathetic exhortation: and to 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 tak’n in charge. He would not stoop
To conquer those by jocular exploits.
Whom truth and soberness assail'd in vain.
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!
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 sempitermal source
Of light divine. But Egypt, Greece and Rom
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 defil’d With hurtful error, prejudice, and dreams Illusive of philosophy, so call’d, 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 delirium wild. In vain they push’d inquiry to the birth [man? And spring-time of the world; ask'd, “Whence is 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? Or does he sit regardless of his works 2 Has man within him an immortal seed? Or does the tomb take all 2 If he survive His ashes, where? and in what weal or woe?” Knots worthy of solution, which alone A Deity could solve. Their answers, vague And |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 Blind nature to a God not yet reveal’d. , Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts, Explains all mysteries except her own, ; And so illuminates the path of life, That fools discover it, and stray no more. Now tell me, dignified and sapient sir, My man of morals, 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 * man’s occasions, when in him reside ce, knowledge, comfort—an unfathom'd store?
How oft, when Paul has serv'd us with a text,
Has Epictetus, Plato, Tully, preach'd
Men that, if now alive, would sit content
And humble learners of a Saviour's worth,
Preach it who might. Such was their love of truth,
Their thirst of knowledge, and their candour too!
* And thus it is.-The pastor, either vain
By nature, or by flattery made so, taught
To gaze at his own splendour, and t” exalt
Absurdly, not his office, but himself;
Or unenlighten’d, and too proud to learn;
Or vicious, and not therefore apt to teach;
Perverting often by the stress of lewd
And loose example, whom he should instruct;
Exposes, and holds up to broad disgrace,
The nobiest function, and discredits much
The brightest truths that man has ever seen.
For ghostly counsel, if it either fall
Below the exigence, or be not back’d
With show of love, at least with hopeful proof
Of some sincerity on the giver's part;
Or be dishonour’d in th’ exterior form
And mode of its conveyance by such tricks
As move derision, or by foppish airs
And histrionic mumm'ry, that let down
The pulpit to the level of the stage;
Drops from the lips a disregarded thing.
The weak, perhaps, are mov’d, but are not taught,'
While prejudice in men of stronger minds
Takes deeper root, confirm'd by what they see.
A relaxation of religion’s hold
Upon the roving and untutor'd heart
Soon follows, and, the curb of conscience snapp'd,
The laity run wild-But do they now?
Note their extravagance, and be convinc'd.
As nations, ignorant of God, contrive
wooden one; so we, no longer taught
By monitors that mother church supplies.