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A LETTER TO A LADY,

OCCASIONED BY HER DESIRING THE AUTHOR TO REVISE AND POLISH THE POEMS OF BISHOP KEN.

YOUR book again with thanks-of worthy men
One of the worthiest was bishop Ken.
Without offence to authors, far above
Ten men of learning is one man of love:
How many bishops, and divines renown'd,
Time after time, the catechism expound!
And which, of all, so help it to impart
Th' essential doctrine, purity of heart?

His choice of poetry, when civil rage O'erturn'd a throne, the last revolving age; When churches felt, as well as states, the shock That drove the pious pastor from his flock; His choice of subjects, not of party kind, But simply fit for ev'ry Christian mind, Are proofs of gen'rous virtue, and sublime, And high encomniums on the force of rhyme.

His rhymes, if those of Dryden, or of Pope, Excel on subjects of a diff'rent scope, It is because they only chose the mould Where ore shone brightest, whether lead, or gold: He, less concern'd for superficial glare, Made weight, and worth, his more especial care, They took the tinsel of the fabl'd Nine, He the substantial metal from the mine.

past

On theirs) might have more artificial cast';
But, in the main, his pieces, as they stand,
Could scarce be alter'd by a second hand:
Patchwork improvements, in the modern style,
Bestow'd upon some venerable pile,
Do but deface it-Poems to revise
That Ken has writ-another Ken must rise.

The dedication, where the case is shown Of a Greek saint, of old, so like his own; The preface, introduction, and the view To Jesus-point which all his works pursue— Arise to mind, and tempt to try the case Of representing the imperfect trace; To make, as memory can best recall Its leading thoughts, one preface out of all,

Imagine then the good old man reclin'd On couch, or chair, and musing in his mind, How to adjust the prefatory hint, To all the lines that he gave leave to print; Thinking on Gregory, whose former fate Bore such resemblance to his own of late; Thinking on Jesus, and oppress'd with pain, Inditing thus th' apologizing strain.

His phrase (sometimes same sentence may be The love of Jesus is a special theme.

"In all my pains I court the sacred Muse, Verse is the only laudanum I use; Verse, and the name of Jesus, in the line, The Christian's universal anodyne; To hymn his saving love to all mankind Softens my grief, and recreates my mind; Thy glory, Jesu, while my songs intend, May thy good spirit bless them to that end!

"Like destin'd Jonah cast into the deep, To save the vessel from the stormy sweep,

And, wafted providentially to shore,
I risk the boist'rous element no more;
But whilst alone I tread the distant strand,
Safe o'er the waves that all may come to land,
Whom once I call'd companions on the sea,
I pray to Jesus, whom the winds obey.

"Thus Nazianzen Gregory, of old, Whom faction drove from his beloved fold, Could will a Jonah's lot, to be cast o'er, If his dismission might the calm restore. However short of this illustrious saint, Yet I can find, from virtues that I want, A cause to pray that reigning feuds may cease, To hope in Jesus for a calming peace.

"The saint, expell'd by a tumultuous rage, Cheer'd with diviner songs his drooping age; With will resign'd, in his retir'd abode, On Christian themes compos'd the various ode: Thus, to my closet prompted to retire, Nothing on this side Heav'n do I require; Employ'd in hymns, tho' with unequal skill, To consecrate to Jesus all my will.

"With pain and sickness, when the saint was griev'd,

His anxious mind a sacred song reliev'd;
Oft, when oppress'd, the subject which he sang,
Mix'd with devotion, sweeten'd every pang;
So, being banish'd by unruly heat,
With hymns I seek to solace my retreat;
Be my confinement ever so extreme,

"When the apostate Julian decreed
That pagan poets Christians should not read,
The saint, who knew the subtle edict's cause,
Made verse to triumph o'er the tyrant's laws;
May I, while poetry is unrestrain❜d,

Tho' more in these, than pagan times, prophan,

Show, that what real charms it has belong
To Jesus, founder of the Christian song.

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"This prince of peace, this origine divine, Vouchsafe to aid the well intended line, To teach the reader's heart, and, by his grace, Make these poor labours useful in their place. O might they raise, in any single soul, One spark of love, one glimpse of the great whole, That will possess it, when by thee possess'd, Jesus! th' eternal song of all the bless'd."

A HINT TO CHRISTIAN POETS. WHERE now the Jove, the Phoebus, and the Nine, Invok'd in aid of Greek, and Roman line; The verse-inspiring oracle, and stream, Delphos, and Helicon, and every theme Of charming fictions, which the poets sung, To show the beauties of a reigning tongue?

The wars of gods, and goddesses, and men, Employ'd an Homer's, and a Virgil's pen: An Epicurus taught, that, with this ball, The gods, at ease, had no concern at all: And a Lucretius follow'd, to rehearse His Greek impieties, in Latin verse.

Such were the bibles of the Pagan age, Sung at the feast, and acted on the stage; Transform'd to pompous, or to luscious ode, As Bacchus, Mars, or Venus was the mode: Dumb deities, at wit's profuse expense, Worshipp'd with sounds that echoed to no sense.

The Christian bard has, from a real spring Of inspiration, other themes to sing; No vain philosophy, no fabled rhyme, But sacred story, simple and sublime, By holy prophets told; to whom belong The subjects worthy of the pow'rs of song.

Shun then, ye born with talents that may grace The most important truths, their hapless case; From ranting, high, theatrical bombast, To low sing-song of meretricious cast: Shun ev'ry step, by which a Pagan Muse Could lead her clients to the stage, or stews.

Let no examples tempt you to profane The gift-abhorrent of all hurtful strain: Contemn the vicious, tho' prevailing fame, That gains, by prostituting verse, a name: Take the forbearing hint; and all the rest Will rise spontaneous in your purer breast.

ON THE DISPOSITION OF MIND, REQUISITE FOR THE RIGHT USE AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

To hear the words of scripture, or to read,
With good effect, requires a threefold heed;
If incomplete, it only can produce
Hearings, and readings, of no sort of use.

The first, intention; or a fix'd design To learn the truth concerning things divine; If previous disposition be not good, How shall a serious point be understood?

The next, attention; not the outward part, But the fair listening of an honest heart:

Sound may, and figure, strike the ear and eye, But sense and meaning to the mind apply.

The last, retention; or the keeping pure, From hurtful mixtures, what is clear and sure: In vain the purpose, and the pains have been To gain a good, if not secur'd within.

Without intention truth no more can stay, Than seed can grow upon a public way; The more it is affecting, plain, and grand, The less will heedless persons understand.

Without attention 't will have no more fruit, Than seed on stony ground, for want of root; That makes a show with hasty shoots awhile, And then betrays the barrenness of soil.

Without retention all is lost at last, Like seed among the thorns and briars cast: So worldly cares, and worldly riches both, May mix with truth, and choke it in its growth.

As ground produces goodly crops of corn, If good, and free from footstep, stone, or thorn; That of good hearts has properties as plainTo seek the truth, receive it, and retain.

ON THE SAME SUBJECT, IN A LETTER TO MR.
PONTHIEU.

We ought to read, my worthy friend Ponthieu,
All holy scriptures, with a scripture view:
Writ for our learning, as their aim and scope
Is patience, comfort, and the blessed hope
Of everlasting life, a reader's aim,

To understand them right, should be the same.
The prosecution of this hpapier quest
If doubts and difficulties shall molest;
And huge debates, on passages obscure,
Be suffer'd to eclipse the plain and sure;
The more he reads, the more this rambling art
Will fill his head, but never touch his heart;
With controversial circumstances fill,

On which the learned have employ'd their skill,
With such success, that scarce the plainest text
Can be produc'd, but what they have perplext
In such a manner, that, while all assign
To scripture page authority divine,
The compliment is rather paid, for sake
Of such constructions as they please to make.
Down from the pope to the obscurest sect,
Too many proofs are seen of this effect;
Of making one same scripture a retreat
For ev'ry party's opposite conceit:
Profaner wits, observing this, mistook,
And laid the fault upon the Bible book;
Taking the same variety of ways,
By fancied meanings for its ancient phrase,
To cry it down, as sects were wont to use
Το it up, for their peculiar views.

As this excess, from age to age, has grown
To such a monstrous height within our own,
What a sincere, impartial, honest mind
In search of truth, does it require, to find!
What calm attention, what unfeign'd desire
To hear its voice does truth itself require!
In scripture phrase, what an unceasing pray'r
Should for its sacred influence prepare!
Because, whatever comments we recall,
The disposition of the mind is all.

Tis in this point (undoubtedly the main)
That sacred books do differ from prophane:
They do not ask, so much, for letter'd skill
To understand them, as for simple will:.
For as a single, or clear-sighted eye
Admits the light, like an unclouded sky,
So is the truth, by scripture phrase design'd,
Receiv'd into a well disposed mind;
By the same spirit, ready to admit
The written word, as they possess'd who writ;
Who writ, if Christians do not vainly boast,
By inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

In books so writ this great advantage lies,
That the first author of them never dies;
But is still present to instruct, and show,
To them who seek him, what they need to know;
Still, by his chosen servants, to unfold,

As he sees fit, the mysteries of old;
To re-confirm what any sacred pen
Has writ, by proof within the hearts of men.
This is the true and solid reason, why
No difficulties, now objected, lie
Against the volumes writ so long ago,
And in a language that few people know;
Subject, as books, to errours and mistakes,
Which oft transcribing, or translating makes;
While manners, customs, usages of phrase
Well known of old, but not so in our days,
For many obvious reasons, must elude
The utmost force of criticising feud:
Still, all editions verbally contain
The simple, necessary truths and plain,
Of gospel doctrine; and the spirit's aid,
Which is the chief, is not at all decay'd.

Nor can it hurt a reader to suspend His judgment, where he does not comprehend A darker text; however it appear, He knows it cannot contradict a clear: So that with all the helps, of ev'ry kind, The shortest, and the surest, is to mind When read, or heard, and inwardly digest The plainest texts, as rules to all the rest; To pray for that good spirit, which alone Can make its former inspirations known; The promis'd comforter, th' unerring guide, Who, by Christ's word, was always to abide Within his church, not only in the past, But in all ages, while the world should last; A church distinguish'd, in the sacred code, By his perpetual guidance and abode.

Such is the teacher whom our Saviour chose, And writ no books, as human learning knows; Loth as it is, of later years, to preach, That by this teacher he will always teach; Bless all the means of learning, or the want, To them who after his instructions pant: Of reading helps, what holy men express'd, When mov'd to write, are certainly the best; But for the real, understanding part, The book of books is ev'ry man's own heart.

Tho' ev'ry word in sacred page be true,
To give account, is all that it can do.

Now an account of things, as done, or said,
Is not a living letter, but a dead;
A picture only, which may represent,
But cannot give us what is really meant:
He that has got a map into his hand
May use the name, but knows it is not land.

So in the Bible when we come to look, (That is, by way of eminence, The Book) We must not fancy that it can bestow The things themselves, which we desire to know; It can but yield, however true and plain, Verbal directions how we may obtain.

Tho' a prescription be directly sure,
Upon the patient's taking it, to cure,
No one imagines that the worded bill
Becomes, itself, the remedy for ill;
The medicines taken, as the bill directs,
Procure the salutiferous effects.

Who then can place in any written code The Holy Ghost's, the Comforter's abode? "Constant abode - supreme illumination—1» What copy can be this, or what translation? The Spirit's dwelling, by th' attesting pen Of all th' inspir'd, is in the hearts of men.

Were books his constant residence indeed, What must the millions do who cannot read? When they, who can, so vary in their sense, What must distinguish true from false pretence? If they must follow where the learned guide, What diff'rent spirits in one book abide?

A STRICTURE

ON THE BISHOP OF GLOCESTER'S DOCTRINE of
GRACE.

WRITING, or scripture, sacred or profane,
Can only render history more plain
Of what was done, or said, by God or man,
Since the creation of the world began:

Genius for paradox, however bright,
Can not well justify this oversight:
Better to own the truth, for the truth's sake,
Than to persist in such a gross mistake:
Books are but books; th' illuminating part
Depends on God's good spirit, in the heart.

19

"The comforter," Christ said, "will come unto, Abide with, dwell in," (not your books, but)" you." Just as absurd an ink and paper throne For God's abode, as one of wood or stone: If to adore an image be idolatry, To deify a book is bibliolatry.

ON THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL. IN Paul's conversion we discern the case Of human talents, wanting heavenly grace: What persecutions, 'till he saw the light, Against the Christian church did he excite! By his own reason led into mistake, Amongst the flock what havoc did he make! Within himself when, verily, he thought, That, all the while, he did but what he ought.

"For though, according to the promise, his ordinary influence occasionally assists the faithful of all ages; yet his constant abode, and supreme illumination, is in the sacred scriptures of the New Testament."-P. 39. The Doctrine of Grace, &c. by the bishop of Glocester.

His use of reason cannot be deny'd, Nor legal zeal, nor moral life beside; Blameless as any Jew, or Greek could claim, Who show'd aversion to the Christian name; His fund of learning some are pleas'd to add; And yet, with all th' endowments which he had, From place to place, with eager steps, he trod, To persecute the real church of God.

When to Damascus, for the like intent, With the high-priest's authority he went; Struck to the ground, by a diviner ray, The reas'ning, legal, moral zealot lay; To the plain question put by Jesus" why Persecute me?" had only to reply, "What shall I do?"—bis reason, and his wrath Were both convinc'd, and he embrac'd the faith.

His outward lost, his inward sight renew'd, Truth in its native evidence he view'd; With three days fast he nourish'd his concern, And, a new conduct well prepar'd to learn, Good Auanias, whom he came to bind, Was sent to cure, and to baptise the blind: A destin'd martyr, to his Jewish zeal, Of Christian faith confers the sacred seal.

Of nobler use his reason, while it stood Without a conference with flesh and blood, Still, and submissive; when, within, begun The Father's revelation of the Son; Whom, 'till the Holy Spirit rise to show, No pow'r of thought can ever come to know; The saving mystery, obscur'd by sin, Itself must manifest itself, within.

Thus, taught of God, Paul saw the truth appear To his enlighten'd understanding clear: The pow'r of Christ himself, and nothing less, Could move its persecutor to profess: He learn'd, and told it from the real ground, And prov'd, to all the Christian world around, That true religion had its true foundation, Not in man's reason, but God's revelation.

CHARACTERS.

An humble Christian, to whose inward sight
God shows the truth, and then inspires to write;
Because of deeper certainties declar'd,
Than what the mind perceives, when unprepar'd,
From them, who measure all on which he treats,
By the fix'd standard of their own conceits,
Meets with contempt; and very few will own
The real truths, which he has really shown.

A sharp philosopher, who thinks to find By his own reason, his own strength of mind, Sublimer things, that lie so far beyond The scenes to which such forces correspond; From them, who love to speculate like him, And think all light, but that of reason, dim, Meets with admirers; tho' he reasons wrong, And draws the dupes, if plausible, along.

Yet, if there be a still superior light,
Than faculty of reason has, or sight;
Which all religion seems to pre-suppose,
That God on such, as rightly seek, bestows;
In higher matters how should he decide,
Who takes his reason, only, for his guide?

Now, tho' a searcher should no more despise The use of reason, than he should of eyes;

Such words as nature, reason, common sense, Furnish all writers with one same pretence; Altho', in many an acknowledg'd case, They must fall short, without superior grace: So that, in things of more momentous kind, Nature itself directs us not to mind, If sacred truth be heartily desir'd, The greatest reas'ners, but the most inspir'd.

Whence comes the value for the scripture page, So justly due, so paid thro' ev'ry age? Not writ by men of learning, and of parts, But honest, humble, and enlighten'd hearts: Who, when they reason'd, reason'd very well; And how enabl'd, let their writings tell: Not one of all, but who ascribes the force Of truth discover'd to an higher source.

Take these three men, so diffrent in their way, For instance, Behmen, Bolingbroke, and Hay': They all philosophize on sacred themes, And build on reason, the two last, their schemes: The first affirms, that his principia flow From what God's spirit gave him pow'r to know; As much a promis'd, as a certain guide, With Christ's disciples ever to abide.

A CONTRAST

BETWEEN HUMAN REASON AND DIVINE ILLUMI-
NATION, EXEMPLIFIED IN THREE DIFFERENT Prove to be just as manifold as man.

If Bolingbrokian reason must prevail, All inspiration is an idle tale: Writers by that, from Moses down to Paul, I spare to mention how he treats them all: Now if he err'd, whence did that errour spring? His reason told him there was no such thing; Foundress, in her philosophizing cast, Of all his first philosophy, and last.

Hay, better taught, and more ingenuous spark, Gropes with his reason betwixt light and dark; Now, gentle glimmerings of truth displays;. Now, lost in fancy's intricater maze, A motley mixture of such things has got, As reason could discover, and could not: Which all the builders on its boasted plan

This Behmen knew; and, in his humble way, Became enlighten'd by a steadier ray; First taught himself, by what he heard and saw, Of grace and nature he explained the law; That sacred Spirit, from which both arose, Taught him, of both, the secrets to disclose To them, who, using eyes, and reason too, Were fit for truth in a diviner view.

He does not write from reason; nor appeals, Of course, to what that faculty reveals; Yet, if the common privilege be mine, Reason may see, that something more divine

Religio Philosophi, or the Principles of Morality and Christianity, illustrated from a View of the Universe and of Man's Situation in it, by William Hay, Esq. a volume published in 1759, C. and not unjustly characterised by our poet.

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