Page images
[ocr errors]

Their diligence of careful herds below.*

Our Panther, though like these she changed her

Yet, as the mistress of a monarch's bed, †
Her front erect with majesty she bore,
The crosier wielded, and the mitre wore.
Her upper part of decent discipline
Shewed affectation of an ancient line;
And fathers, councils, church and churches head,
Were on her reverend phylacteries ‡ read.

But what disgraced and disavowed the rest,
Was Calvin's brand, that stigmatized the beast.
Thus, like a creature of a double kind,
In her own labyrinth she lives confined;
To foreign lands no sound of her is come,
Humbly content to be despised at home.
Such is her faith, where good cannot be had,
At least she leaves the refuse of the bad :
Nice in her choice of ill, though not of best,
And least deformed, because reformed the least.
In doubtful points betwixt her differing friends,
Where one for substance, one for sign contends,

* A Popish advocate, in the controversy with Tennison, tells us exultingly, "That Martin Luther himself, Dr T's excellent instrument, after he had eat a feasting supper, and drank lutheranice, as the German proverb has it, was called into another world at two o'clock in the night, February 18, 1546." This was one of the reasons why his adversaries alleged, that Martin Luther set sail for hell in the manner described by Sterne, in his tale from Slawkenbergius.

The king being owned the head of the church of England, contrary to the doctrine of the other reformed churches.

Phylacteries are little scrolls of parchment worn by the Jews on their foreheads and wrists, inscribed with sentences from the law. They are supposed, as is expressed by the phrase in the original, to have the virtue of preserving the wearer from danger and evil.

Their contradicting terms she strives to join;
Sign shall be substance, substance shall be sign.
A real presence all her sons allow,

And yet 'tis flat idolatry to bow,

Because the god-head's there they know not how.
Her novices are taught, that bread and wine
Are but the visible and outward sign,

Received by those who in communion join;
But the inward grace, or the thing signified,
His blood and body, who to save us died, †
The faithful this thing signified receive:
What is't those faithful then partake or leave?
For, what is signified and understood,
Is, by her own confession, flesh and blood.
Then, by the same acknowledgment, we know
They take the sign, and take the substance too.
The literal sense is hard to flesh and blood,
But nonsense never can be understood.

Her wild belief on every wave is tost;
But sure no church can better morals boast.
True to her king her principles are found;
Oh that her practice were but half so sound! ‡
Stedfast in various turns of state she stood,
And sealed her vowed affection with her blood : §

* The Lutherans adopt the doctrine of consubstantiation; that is to say, they believe, that, though the elements are not changed into the body and blood of Christ by consecration, which is the Roman faith, yet the participants, at the moment of communicating, do actually receive the real body and blood. The Calvinists utterly deny the real presence in the eucharist, and affirm, that the words of Christ were only symbolical. The church of England announces a doctrine somewhat between these. Note XI.

+ Note XI.

‡ Note XII.


§/Alluding to the fate of the church and monarchy of England, which fell together in the great rebellion. See Note XI.

Nor will I meanly tax her constancy,
That interest or obligement made the tye,
Bound to the fate of murdered monarchy.
Before the sounding axe so falls the vine,
Whose tender branches round the poplar twine.
She chose her ruin, and resigned her life,
In death undaunted as an Indian wife :
A rare example! but some souls we see
Grow hard, and stiffen with adversity :
Yet these by fortune's favours are undone;
Resolved,* into a baser form they run,
And bore the wind, but cannot bear the sun.
Let this be nature's frailty, or her fate,
Or Isgrim's counsel, her new-chosen mate, †
Still she's the fairest of the fallen crew;
No mother more indulgent, but the true.

Fierce to her foes, yet fears her force to try,
Because she wants innate authority;

For how can she constrain them to obey,
Who has herself cast off the lawful sway?
Rebellion equals all, and those, who toil
In common theft, will share the common spoil.
Let her produce the title and the right,
Against her old superiors first to fight;
If she reform by text, even that's as plain
For her own rebels to reform again.
As long as words a different sense will bear,
And each may be his own interpreter,
Our airy faith will no foundation find,
The word's a weathercock for every wind:
The bear, the fox, the wolf, by turns prevail;
The most in power supplies the present gale.
The wretched Panther cries aloud for aid
To church and councils, whom she first betrayed;

* Resolved, i. e. dissolved.

The Wolf, or Presbytery.---See note XIII.

No help from fathers or tradition's train:
Those ancient guides she taught us to disdain,
And by that scripture, which she once abused
To reformation, stands herself accused.*
What bills for breach of laws can she prefer,
Expounding which she owns herself may err?
And, after all her winding ways are tried,
If doubts arise, she slips herself aside,

And leaves the private conscience for the guide.
If, then, that conscience set the offender free,
It bars her claim to church authority.

How can she censure, or what crime pretend,
But scripture may be construed to defend?
Even those, whom for rebellion she transmits.
To civil power, her doctrine first acquits;
Because no disobedience can ensue,
Where no submission to a judge is due ;
Each judging for himself by her consent,
Whom, thus absolved, she sends to punishment.
Suppose the magistrate revenge her cause,
Tis only for transgressing human laws.
How answering to its end a church is made,
Whose power is but to counsel and persuade?
O solid rock, on which secure she stands!
Eternal house, not built with mortal hands!
O sure defence against the infernal gate,
A patent during pleasure of the state!

Thus is the Panther neither loved nor feared,
A mere mock queen of a divided herd;
Whom soon by lawful power she might controul,
Herself a part submitted to the whole.

Then, as the moon who first receives the light
By which she makes our nether regions bright,
So might she shine, reflecting from afar
The rays she borrowed from a better star;

*Note XIV.


Big with the beams which from her mother flow,
And reigning o'er the rising tides below : *
Now, mixing with a savage crowd, she goes,
And meanly flatters her inveterate foes;
Ruled while she rules, and losing every hour
Her wretched remnants of precarious power.

One evening, while the cooler shade she sought, Revolving many a melancholy thought,

Alone she walked, and looked around in vain,
With rueful visage, for her vanished train :
None of her sylvan subjects made their court;
Levées and couchées passed without resort.
So hardly can usurpers manage well
Those, whom they first instructed to rebel:
More liberty begets desire of more;
The hunger still increases with the store.
Without respect, they brushed along the wood,
Each in his clan, and, filled with loathsome food,
Asked no permission to the neighbouring flood.
The Panther, full of inward discontent,

Since they would go, before them wisely went;
Supplying want of power by drinking first,
As if she gave them leave to quench their thirst.
Among the rest, the Hind, with fearful face,
Beheld from far the common watering place,
Nor durst approach; till with an awful roar
The sovereign Lion bade her fear no more. †
Encouraged thus, she brought her younglings nigh,
Watching the motions of her patron's eye,

* That is, if the church of England would be reconciled to Rome, she should be gratified with a delegated portion of innate authority over the rival sectaries; instead of being obliged to depend upon the civil power for protection.

+ Alluding to the exercise of the dispensing power, and the Declaration of Indulgence.


« PreviousContinue »