Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

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.
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 profuse :
Frequent in park with lady at his side,
Ambling and prattling scandal 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
Of ladyships—a stranger to the poor ;
Ambitious of preferment for its gold,
And well prepar'd, by ignorance and sloth,
By infidelity and love o' the world,
To make God's work a sinecure ; a slave
To his own pleasures and his patron's pride :
From such apostles, oh, 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,
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 ;
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 loath
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,
As with the di'mond 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 though much ad-

mir'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 prest 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-
Whoe'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 hand 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 recognize 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 ;

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
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 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.

Oh, 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 rivel'd lips of toothless, bald Decrepitude ; and in the looks of lean

And craving poverty ; and in the bow

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
Of light divine. But Egypt, Greece, and Rome,
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.

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 ?
Or does he sit regardless of his works?
Has man within him an immortal seed?.
Or does the tomb take all ? If he survive

« PoprzedniaDalej »