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THE BEST ADVOCATE OF VIRTUE.
THE pulpit, therefore (and I name it fill'd
With solemn awe, that bids me well beware
With what intent I touch that holy thing)
The pulpit (when the sat’rist has at last,
Strutting and vap'ring in an empty school,
Spent all his force and made no proselyte)
I say the pulpit (in the sober use
Of its legitimate, peculiar pow'rs)
Must stand acknowledg’d, while the world shall
The most important and cflctual guard,
Support, and ornament, of virtue's cause.
There stands the messenger of truth: there stands
The legate of the skies !-1 Iis theme divine,
His office sacred, his credentials clear.
By him the violated law speaks out
Its thunders; and by him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the gospel whispers peace.
He stablishes the strong, restores the weak,
Reclaims the wand'rer, binds the broken heart,
And, arm’d himself in panoply complete
Of heav'nly temper; furnishes with arms,
Bright as his own, and trains, by ev'ry rule
Of holy discipline, to glorious war,
The sacramental host of God's clect!
Are all such teachers ?would to heav'n all were!
But hark—the doctor's voicelfast wedg’d between
Two empirics he stands, and with swoln checks
Inspires the news, his trumpet. Keener far
Than all invective is his bold harangue,
While through that public organ of report
lle hails the clergy; and, defying shame,
Announces to the world his own and their's!
He teaches those to read, whom schools dismiss’d,
And colleges, untaught; sells accent, tone,
And emphasis in score, and gives to pray’r
Th’ adagio and andante it demands,
Ile grinds divinity of other days
Down into modern use; transforms old print • To zig-zag manuscript, and cheats the eyes
Of gall'ry critics-by a thousand arts.
Are there who purchase of the doctor's ware?
Oh, name it not in Gath!-it cannot be,
That grave and learned clerks should need such aid.
He doubtless is in sport, and does but droll,
Assuming thus a rank unknown before-
Grand caterer and dry-nurse of the church !
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 of world, To make God's work a sinecure; a slave
To his own pleasures and his patron's pride: I'rom such apostles, oh, ye mitred heads, Preserve the church! and lay not careless hands On sculls that cannot teachi, 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 lunguage plain,
In: plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste, And natural in gesture; inuch impress'd Ilimself, as conscious of his awful charge, And anxious mainly that the tiock he feeds May feel it tov; affectionate in look, And tonder in address, as well becomes A messenger
of grace to guilty men. Behold the pictur!-- Is it like?-Like whom? The things that mount the rostrum with a skip, And then skip down again; pronounce a test; Cry-hem; and reading what they nerer 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 cli’mond on his lily hand,
And play his brilliant parts before my eyes,
When I am hungry for the bread of lite?
He mocks his Maker, prostitutes and shames
His noble office, and, instead of truth,
Displaying liis own beauty, starves liis flock!
Therefore avaunt all attitude, and stare,
And start theatric, practised at the glass !
I seek divine simplicity in him
Who handles things divine; and all besides,
Though learn'd with labour, and though much
By curious eyes and judgments ill-inform’d,
To me is odious as the nasal twang