« PoprzedniaDalej »
What friend to scripture, then, sir, can displace
This inward witness of redeeming grace?
And rest the gospel on such outward view,
As any Turk may rest his Coran too?
Nay, he can own a written word, or work
That Christians do, and yet continue Turk.
Why do the Christian disputants so fill
The world with books, of a polemic skill,
When 'tis the sacred, and acknowledg'd one
That all their jarring systems build upon?
But that the Spirit does not rule their wit,
By which at first the sacred one was writ:
Of whose support great scholars stand in need,
As much as they who never learnt to read:
Unhappy they! but for that living guide,
Whom God himself has promis'd to provide!
A guide, to quote the blessed text again,
"For ever to abide with Christian men."
Fond of its books, poor Learning is afraid;
And higher guidance labours to evade :
Books have the Spirit in supreme display!
Men but in lower, ordinary way!
This strange account of men and books is true,
It seems, according to the promise too!
Such wild conceits all men have too much wit
Or learned, or unlearned, to admit;
But when some interest, or custom rules,
And chains obsequious wills to diff'rent schools,
The wisest, then, sir, will relinquish thought,
And speak, like parrots, just as they are taught.
What this should be, what spends in vain the fire
Of brisker tempers-let us next inquire.
WHEN Christians first receiv'd the joyful news→→→→ "Messiah come"-unmixt with worldly views; When the whole church with heav'nly grace was And (from the Spirit Comforter) possest [blest, One heart, one mind, one view to common good; Then was the real gospel understood.
Then was the time-to cite what you will find The preacher noting-" when the world combin'd Its pow'rs against it, but could not destroy; When holy martyrs, with enraptur'd joy, Encounter'd death; enabled to sustain Its utmost terror, and its utmost pain: At such a juncture, Heav'n's uncommon aid Shon forth, to help humanity display'd.
"But now"-his reason for abated grace, Diff'rence of primitive and present case"Now―ease, and honour" (mind the maxim, friend)
"On the profession of the faith attend:
At first, establish'd by diviner means,
On human testimony, now, it leans;
Supports itself, as other facts must do,
That rest on human testimony too;
Sufficient strength is the conviction there,
To make the present Christian persevere."
Here lies the secret-that may soon unfold
Why modern Christians fall so short of old;
Why they appear to have such diff'rent looks,
The men of spirit, and the men of books:
When racks and gibbets, torment and distress
Attended them who ventur'd to confess,
They had, indeed, a fixt, and firm belief,
To die for one who suffered like a thief;
Stretch'd on the wheel, or burning in the flame,
To preach a crucified Redeemer's name;
Courage like this compendious proof supply'd
Of Heav'n's true kingdom, into which they dy'd:
Thus was the wisdom of the world struck dumb,
And all the pow'rs of darkness overcome;
Gospel prevail'd, by its internal light,
And gave the subject for the pen to write.
But when the world, with a more fatal plan,
To flatter, what it could not force, began;
When ease, and honour, as the preacher saith,
Attended the profession of the faith;
Then wrought its mischief, in the too secure,
The secret poison, slower, but more sure:
Commodious maxims then began to spread,
And set up learning in the Spirit's stead:
The life diminish'd, as the books increas'd,
'Till men found out that miracles were ceas'd;
That, with respect to succours more sublime,
The gospel promise was but for a time;
That inspiration, amongst men of sense,
Was all a mere fanatical pretence:
And divers like discoveries, that grant
To ease, and honour, just what faith they want.
Faith to profess that wond'rous things of old
Did really happen, as the books have told;
But, with a caution, never to allow
The possibility of happ'ning now:
For, as the world went on, it might affect
An honourable ease, in some respect,
To own celestial comfort still inspir'd,
And suff'ring courage, as at first, requir'd;
Quite proper then; but equally unfit,
When once the sacred canon had been writ:
For upon that (is gravely here averr'd)
Part of the Spirit's office was transferr'd;
Books once compos'd, th' illuminating part
He ceas'd himself; and left to human art
To find, within his scriptural abode,
Th' enlight'ning grace that presence once be
These suppositions, if a man suppose,
You see th' immediate consequence that flows;
That men, and churches afterwards attack'd,
Are pre-demolish'd, by asserted fact;
Which, once advanc'd may, with the greatest ease
Condemn whatever Christians he shall please:
Owing to his forbearance, in some shape,
If aught the extensive havoc shall escape.
With such a fund of learning, and a skill
To make it serve what argument he will;
With choice of words, for any chosen theme,
With an alertness rulingly supreme;
What, sir, can single persons, or a sect,
When he is pleas'd to preach at 'em, expect?
Just what they meet with, in the present case-
All the dogmatic censure, and disgrace,
That a commanding genius can exert,
When it becomes religiously alert;
With narrow proofs, and consequences wide,
Sets all opponents of its rote aside;
The papists first, and then th' inferior fry,
Fanaties; vanquish'd with a-who but 1?
These are the modish epithets that strike
At true religion, and at false alike;
Of these reproaches infidels are full;
Their use in others verging down to dull:
How one, who is no infidel, applies
The hackney'd terms may next salute your
By reformation from the church of Rome
from faults and errours, I presume;
Against her truths to prosecute a war
Is protestant aversion push'd too far:
In them, should ease and honour not attend
The fair profession, one should be her friend.
She thinks that Christ has given to his bride,
His holy church, an ever present guide;
By whose divine assistance she has thought,
That miracles sometimes were really wrought;
That, by the virtue which his gifts inspire,
Great saints and martyrs have adorn'd her quire.
Now say the worst, that ever can be said,
Of that corruption which might overspread
This church in gen'ral-cast at her the stone,
They who possess perfection in their own;
Yet, were instructive volumes to enlarge
On bright exceptions to the gen'ral charge,
They that love truth, wherever it is found,
Would joy to see it, ev'n in Romish ground;
Where if corruption grew to such a size,
The more illustrious must examples rise
Of life and manners-these, you will agree,
Are true reformers, wheresoe'er they be.
Of all the churches, justly loth to claim
Exclusive title to a sacred name,
What one, I ask, has ever yet deny'd
The inspiration of the promis'd guide?
Our own-to which the def'rence that is due
Forbids no just respect for others too-
Believes, asserts, that what reform she made
Was not without the Holy Spirit's aid:
If to expect his gifts, however great,
Be popish, and fanatical, deccit,
She, in her offices of ev'ry kind,
Has also been fanatically blind.
What form, of her composing, can we trace
Without a pray'r for his unstinted grace?
Taught, by the sacred volumes, to infer
A Saviour's promise reaching down to her,
Greatly she values the recording books;
But, for fulfilling, in herself she looks.
That she may always think aright, and act,
By God's good Spirit, is her pray'd for fact;
Without his grace confessing, as she ought,
Her inability of act, or thought:
Nor does she fear fanatical pretence,
When asking aid in a sublimer sense;
Where she records, amongst the martyr'd host,
"A Stephen-filled with the Holy Ghost"—
She prays for that same plenitude of aid,
By which the martyr for his murd'rers pray'd;
That she, like him, in what she undergoes,
May love, and bless her persecuting foes.
Did but one spark of so supreme a grace Burn in the breast, when preaching is the case, How would a priest, unpersecuted, dare To treat, when mounted on a sacred chair, A church of Christ, or any single soul, By will enlisted on the Christian roll, With such a prompt, and contumelious ire, As love, nor blessing ever could inspire?
Altho' untouch'd with the celestial flame, How could an English priest mistake his aim? So far forget the maxims that appear, Throughout his church's liturgy, so clear? Wherein the Spirit's ever constant aid, Without a feign'd distinction, is display'd;
Without a rash attempting to explain,
By limitations foolish and profane,
When, and to whom, to what degree, and end,
God's graces, gifts, and pow'rs were to extend;
So far withdrawn-that Christians must allow
Of nothing extra-ordinary, now:
The vain distinction, which the world has found,
To fix an unintelligible bound
To gospel promise; equally sublime,
Nor limited by any other time
Than that, when want of faith, when earthly will,
Shall hinder Heav'n's intentions to fulfill.
If, not confining any promis'd pow'rs,
The Romish church be faulty, what is ours?
Does our own church, in her ordaining day,
Does any consecrating bishop say,
When on the future priest his hand is laid,
Receive the Spirit's ordinary aid?
Do awful words" Receive the Holy Ghost"-
Imply that he abides in books the most?
Books-which the Spirit who first rul'd the hand,
They say themselves, must teach to understand.
His inspiration, without limits too,
All churches own, whatever preachers do:
Not even miracles, tho' set aside
In private books, has any church deny'd:
How weak the proofs, which this discourse has
To justify the fashionable thought,
That gospel promises, of any kind,
By spirit, or by scripture, are confin'd
To apostolic, or to later times,
May be the subject of succeeding rhymes.
CONSISTING OF THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS,
FRAGMENTS, EPIGRAMS, &c.
WITH peaceful mind thy race of duty run;
God nothing does, or suffers to be done,
But what thou wouldst thyself, if thou couldst see,
Thro' all events of things, as well as he.
NATURAL knowledge is a moonshine light, And dreaming sages still kept sleeping by 't; But heav'nly wisdom, like the rising sun, Awakens nature, and good works are done.
LET thy repentance be without delay-
If thou defer it to another day,
Thou must repent for a day more of sin,
While a day less remains to do it in.
To be religious something it will cost;
Some riches, honours, pleasures will be lost;
But if thou countest the sum total o'er,
Not to be so will cost a great deal more.
HE that does good with an unwilling mind,
Does that to which he is not well inclin'd:
"Twill be reward sufficient for the fact,
If God shall pardon his obedient act.
IF outward comforts, without real thought Ofy inward holiness, are sought,
O! let me play the hypocrite no more!
But strive to cure my own obstructed sight!
Then shall I see, much clearer than before,
To set my undiscerning brother right.
ON THE EPICUREAN, STOIC, AND
THREE diff'rent schemes philosophers assign;
A Chance, a Fate, a Providence divine:
Which to embrace of these three sev'ral views,
Methinks it is not difficult to choose.
For first; what wisdom, or what sense, to cry
Things happen as they do- we know not why?
Or how are we advanc'd one jot, to know, [so?
When things once are that they must needs be
To see such order, and yet own no laws; Feel such effects, and yet confess no cause; What can be more extravagant and odd? He only reasons, who believes a God.
While I dwell in his presence 'tis then that I live,
And enjoy a content which he only can give:
In all other things I have labour'd to find
That truth which might fill an intelligent mind;
But I labour'd in vain, for it is he alone
That can give me instruction, and make himself
ON THE BLESSEDNESS OF DIVINE LOVE.
FAITH, Hope, and Love, were question'd, what they thought
Of future glory, which Religion taught:
Now Faith believ'd it, firmly, to be true;
And Hope expected so to find it too;
Love answer'd, smiling with a conscious glow,
"Believe? Expect? I know it to be so."