« ElőzőTovább »
ruder herd of mankind. The Vices have been painted like so many goddesses, the charms of wit have been added to debauchery, and the temptation heightened where Nature needs the strongest reftraints. With sweetness of sound and delicacies of expreflion they havegiven a relish to blasphemies of the harfhest kind; and when they rant at their Maker in fonorous numbers they fancy then selves to have acted the hero well.
Thus almost in vain have the Throne and the Pulpit cried “Reformation,” while the stage and licentious poems have waged open war with the pious design of church and state. The press has spread the poison far and scattered wide the mortal infection; unthinking youth have been enticed to fin beyond the vicious propenfities of Nature, plunged early into difcases and death, and sunk down to damnation in multitudes ! Was it for this that Poesy was endued with all those allurements that lead the mind away in a pleafing cap. tivity? was is for this she was furnished with so many intelle&ual charms that Me might seduce the heart from God, the original beauty, and the most lovely of beings? Can I ever be persuaded that those sweet and refiflefs forces of metaphor, wit, sound, and number, were given with this defign, that they should be all ranged under the banner of the great malicious fpirit to invade the rights of Heaven, and to bring fuiít and everlasting defruction upon men? How will thele allies of the nether world, the lewd and profane vcrfifiers, stand aghaft before the great Judge, when the blood of many souls whom they never saw shall be laid to the charge of their writings, and he dreadfully required at their hands ? The reverend Mr. Collier has set this awful scene before them in just and flaming colours. If the application were uot too rude and uncivil that noble stanza of my Lord Roscommon on Psal. cxlviii. might be addresied to them;
Yc dragons! whose contagious breath
This profanation and debasement of so divine an art has tempted some weaker Christians to imagine that poetry and vice are nearely akin, or at least that verse is fit only to recommend trifles and entertain our loofer hours, but it is too light and trivial a me. thod to treat any thing that is serious and facred. They submit indeed to use it in divine pfalmody, bat they love the driest translation cfthe pfalm best. They will venture to sing a dull hymn or two at church in tunes of equal dulness; but still they persuade themselves and their children that the beauties of poefy are vain and dangerous. All that arises a degree above Mr. Sternhold is too airy for worship, and hardly escapes the sentence of unclean and abominable. It is strange that persons that have the Bible in their hands Mould he led away by thoughtless prejudices to so wild and rash an opinion : let me entreat them not to indulge this four this cenforious humour too far, left the facred writers fall under the lash of their unlimited and unguarded reproaches: let me entreat them to look into their Bibles, and remember the style and way of writing that is used by the ancient prophets. Have they forgot or were they never told that many parts of The Old Testament are Hebrew verse ? and the figures are stronger, and the metaphors bolder, and the images more surprising and strange, than ever I read in any profane writer. When Deborah ngs her praises to the God of Israel while he marched from the field of Edom, she sets the “ earth a-trem“bling, the heavens drop, and the mountains diffolve, “from before the Lord. They fought from heaven, “the stars in their courses fought against Sisera : when “ the river of Kishon fwept them away, that ancient “river, the river Kishon. O my foul, thou hast trod“ den down strength,” Judg. V.4. &'c. When Eliphaz in the book of Job speaks his sense of the holiness of God he introduces a machine in a vision;“ Fear came “ upon me, trembling on all my bones, the hair of "my flesh stood up; a spirit passed by and stood fill, “ but its form was undiscernible; an image before “ mine eyes, and silence; then I heard a voice say“ing, Shall mortal man be more just than God?'' Sr. Job iv. When he describes the safety of the righteous he “hides him from the scourge of the tongue,
IN SEVEN VOLUMES.
WITH THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
Say, human Seraph! whence that charming force,
No vulgar themes thy pious Murse engage, : Yo scenes of luft pollute thy sacred page :
You in majestick numbers mount the skies,