EPISTLE TO A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”—2 Timothy ii. 15.
My youthful brother, oft I long
To write to you in prose or song;
With no pretence to judgment strong,
But warm affection—
May truest friendship rivet long
Our close connection!
With deference, what I impart
Receive with humble grateful heart,
Nor proudly from my counsel start,
I only lend it—
A friend ne’er aims a poisoned dart—
He wounds, to mend it.
A graduate you’ve just been made,
And lately passed the Mitred Head;
I trust, by the Blest Spirit, led,
And Shepherd’s care:
And not a wolf, in sheepskin clad,
As numbers are.
The greatest office you sustain
For love of souls, and not of gain:
Through your neglect should one be slain,
The Scriptures say,
Your careless hands his blood will stain,
On the Last Day.
But if pure truths, like virgin snows,
You loud proclaim, to friends and foes,
Consoling these, deterring those—
To heaven you’ll fly;
Though stubborn sinners still oppose,
And graceless die.
Divide the word of truth aright,
Show Jesus in a saving light,
Proclaim to all they’re dead outright
Till Grace restore them:
The great Redeemer, full in sight,
Keep still before them.
Dare not, like some, to mince the matter—
Nor dazzling tropes and figures scatter,
Nor coarsely speak nor basely flatter,
Nor grovelling go:
But let plain truths, as Life’s pure water,
The sinner level with the dead,
The Lamb exalt, the Church’s Head,
His holiness, adoring spread,
With godly zeal:
Enforce, though sinless, how He bled
For sinners’ weal.
Pourtray how God in thunder spoke
His fiery Law, whilst curling smoke,
In terror fierce, from Sinai broke,
Midst raging flame!
Then Jesu’s milder blood invoke,
And preach His name.
Remember still to fear the Lord,
To live, as well as preach, His word,
And wield the Gospel’s two-edged sword,
Though dangers lower—
Example only can afford
To precept power.
And dress nor slovenly nor gay,
Nor sternly act; nor trifling play;
Still keep the golden middle way
Whate’er betide you;
And ne’er through giddy pleasures stray,
Though fools deride you.
As wily serpent ever prove,
Yet harmless as the turtle-dove,
Still winning souls by guileful love
And deep invention—
So once the great Apostle strove
With good intention.
And inly to thyself take heed,
Oft prove your heart, its pages read,—
Self-knowledge will, in time of need,
Your wants supply;
Who knows himself, from dangers freed,
Where’er he lie.
So God will own the labours done,
Approving see His honoured Son,
And honoured Law; and numbers won
Of souls immortal,
Through grace, will onward conquering run
To heaven’s bright portal.
And on that last and greatest day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
A perfect band, in bright array,
Will form your crown,
Your joys triumphant wide display,
And sorrows drown.
And now farewell, my youthful friend—
Excuse these lines, in candour penned;
To me as freely counsel lend,
With zeal as fervent—
For you will pray, till life does end,
Your humble servant.