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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 21! 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 power?
Praise from the rivel'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 22
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;
21 The love of praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Reigns more or less, and glows, in every heart;
The proud to gain it, toils on toils endure,
The modest shun it but to make it sure.
22 Another lean unwashed artificer.
Young. Satire i.
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 chuse it, at the fountain head.
To them it flow'd much mingled and defiled
With hurtful error, prejudice, and dreams
Illusive of philosophy, so call'd,
But falsely. Sages after sages strove
In vain, to filter off a chrystal draught
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanced
The thirst than slaked it, and not seldom bred
Intoxication and delirium wild.
In vain they push'd enquiry to the birth
And spring-time of the world, asked, 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
His ashes, where? and in what weal or woe?
Knots worthy of solution, which alone
A Deity could solve. Their answers vague
And all at random, fabulous and dark,
Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life
Defective and unsanction'd, proved 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, nurtured in the shades
Of Academus, is this false or true?
Is Christ the abler teacher, or the schools?
If Christ, then why resort at every turn
To Athens or to Rome for wisdom short
Of man's occasions, when in Him reside
Grace, knowledge, comfort, an unfathom'd store?
How oft when Paul has served 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 23. 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 to 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 noblest 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
23 Men whose life, learning, faith, and pure intent
Would have been held in high esteem with Paul.
With show of love, at least with hopeful proof
Of some sincerity on the giver's part;
Or be dishonour'd in the exterior form
And mode of its conveyance, by such tricks
As move derision, or by foppish airs
And histrionic mummery, that let down
The pulpit to the level of the stage,
Drops from the lips a disregarded thing 2.
The weak perhaps are moved, 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 snapt,
The laity run wild.—But do they now?
Note their extravagance, and be convinced.
As nations ignorant of God, contrive
A wooden one, so we, no longer taught
By monitors that mother church supplies,
Now make our own. Posterity will ask
(If e'er posterity see verse of mine,)
Some fifty or an hundred lustrums hence,
What was a monitor in George's days?
My very gentle reader, yet unborn,
Of whom I needs must augur better things,
Since Heaven would sure grow weary of a world
Productive only of a race like us,
A monitor is wood. Plank shaven thin.
We wear it at our backs. There closely braced
And neatly fitted, it compresses hard
24 Flaunts and goes down an unregarded thing.
Pope. Moral Essays, ii. 252.
The prominent and most unsightly bones,
And binds the shoulders flat. We prove its use
Sovereign and most effectual to secure
A form not now gymnastic as of yore,
From rickets and distortion, else, our lot.
But thus admonish'd we can walk erect,
One proof at least of manhood; while the friend
Sticks close, a Mentor worthy of his charge.
Our habits costlier than Lucullus wore,
And by caprice as multiplied as his,
Just please us while the fashion is at full,
But change with every moon. The sycophant
That waits to dress us, arbitrates their date,
Surveys his fair reversion with keen eye;
Finds one ill made, another obsolete,
This fits not nicely, that is ill conceived,
And making prize of all that he condemns,
With our expenditure defrays his own.
Variety's the very spice of life
That gives it all its flavour. We have run
Through every change that fancy at the loom
Exhausted, has had genius to supply,
And studious of mutation still, discard
A real elegance a little used
For monstrous novelty and strange disguise.
We sacrifice to dress, till household joys
And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry,
And keeps our larder lean. Puts out our fires,
And introduces hunger, frost, and woe,
Where peace and hospitality might reign.
What man that lives and that knows how to live,
Would fail to exhibit at the public shows