Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poem: AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. MR. GEORGE WHITEFIELD. (Part Four)

But shall my partial, fond presumption dare
A stripling with apostles to compare?
Their powers miraculous he dared not claim,
Though still his gospel, and his God the same.
Commissioned by his God, the word of grace
(Where’er the Lord an open door displays) 270
Freely as he receives, he freely gives,
And daily dying, by the gospel lives;
Renews his strength, renews his prosperous toil
In every corner of our favoured isle,
And publishes salvation to the poor,
And spreads the joyous news from shore to shore.
For when the rich a proffered Christ reject,
And spurn the preacher with his odious sect,
Out of their temples cast, he strait obeys,
Goes forth to all the hedges and highways, 280
Arrests the most abandoned slaves of sin,
And forces the poor vagrants to come in,
To share the feast for famished souls designed,
And fill the house enlarged for all the sinful kind.
How beauteous on the mountain-tops appear
The feet of God’s auspicious messenger,
Who brings good tidings of a world forgiven,
Who publishes a peace ’twixt earth and heaven,
And cries to Zion, “He that purged thy stains,
Thy Saviour-God and King forever reigns!” 290
Soon as he thus lifts up his trumpet-voice,
Attentive thousands tremble, or rejoice:
Who faithfully the welcome truth receive,
Rejoice, and closer to their Saviour cleave:
Poor Christless sinners, wounded by the word
(Lively and sharper than a two-edg’d sword,
Spirit and soul almighty to divide)
Drop, like autumnal leaves, on every side,
Lamenting after him they crucified!
While God inspires the comfort, or the dread, 300
Wider, and wider still the cry is spread,
Till all perceive the influence from above,
O’erwhelmed with grief, or swallowed up in love.
What multitudes repent, and then believe,
When God doth utterance to the preacher give!
Whether he speaks the words of sober sense,
Or pours a flood of artless eloquence,
Ransacks the foul apostate creature’s breast,
And shows the man half devil, and half beast;
Or warmly pleads his dear Redeemer’s cause; 310
Or pity on the poor and needy draws:
“The deist scarce from offering can withhold,
And misers wonder they should part with gold:”
Opposers struck the powerful word admire
In speechless awe, the hammer and the fire,
While Whitefield melts the stubborn rocks, or breaks,
In consolation, or in thunder speaks,
From strength to strength, our young apostle, goes,
Pours like a torrent, and the land o’erflows,
Resistless wins his way with rapid zeal, 320
Turns the world upside down, and shakes the gates of hell!
Such for a length of years his glorious race
He ran, nor e’er looked back, or slacked his pace;
Starting afresh, on this alone intent,
And straining up the steep of excellent,
Forgetting still the things already done,
And reaching forth to those not yet begun,
Eager he pressed to his high calling’s prize,
By violent faith resolved to scale the skies,
And apprehend his Lord in paradise. 330
Through his abundant toils, with fixed amaze
We see revived the work of ancient days;
In his unspotted life with joy we see
The fervors of primeval piety:
A pattern to the flock by Jesus bought,
A living witness of the truths he taught,
Meek, lowly, patient, wise above his years,
Redeemed from earth, with all their hopes and fears,
Not to the vain desires of men he lived,
Not with delight their high applause received, 340
But praised the Lord for what his grace had done,
And simply lived to serve his will alone.
The heavenly principle of faith within,
The strong divine antipathy to sin,
The Spirit’s law, the meek ingrafted word,
The vital knowledge of an heart-felt Lord,
The nature new, th’ incorruptible seed,
Its power throughout his life and actions spread,
And showed the man regenerate from above,
By fraudless innocence, and childlike love. 350
For friendship formed by nature and by grace,
(His heart made up of truth and tenderness)
Stranger to guile, unknowing to deceive,
In anger, malice, or revenge to live,
He lived, himself on others to bestow,
A ministerial spirit, while here below,
Belov’d by all the lovers of his Lord,
By none but Satan’s synagogue abhorred.
Nor did their fierce abhorrence always last:
When on the right the gospel-net he cast, 360
The powerful charms of soft persuasion tried,
And showed them their Redeemer’s hands and side,
Love irresistible they could not bear,
Or stand against the torrent of his prayer,
By bleeding love their hatred he o’ercame,
And seized the lawful spoils, in Jesus’ name.