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First Line: No office seems more sacred and august
Last Line: And from the sermon vindicate the text.
Subject(s): Advice; Holy Ghost; Religious Education; Sermons; Speech; Talk; Teaching & Teachers; Holy Spirit; Sunday Schools; Yeshivas; Parochial Schools; Oratory; Orators; Educators; Professors

NO office seems more sacred and august,
Than that of preachers who fulfil their trust;
Working with God, and helping men to find
The Prince of life, the Saviour of mankind:
Who came himself a preacher, from on high,
Of peace to all, the distant and the nigh.

So said the saint whose preaching was the same,
To Jew, to Greek—Salvation thro' His name—
Who taught, thro' Him, to preach immortal life,
"Avoiding questions that engender strife;
"Patient, and meek, and gentle unto all,
"Instructing ev'n opposers without gall;
"If peradventure God might give them grace
"The truth, when kindly offer'd, to embrace."

If these conditions preaching may demand,
What must we think of the discourse in hand;
Which, when we read, is apter to suggest
A diff'rent temper in the preacher's breast;
A text perverted from its native scope;
A disappointment of all hearing hope?
Here is a long dispute, in his first head,
About what Doctor Middleton had said;
That "when the gift of tongues was first bestow'd,
"'Twas but an instantaneous sign, that shew'd
"The gospel's chosen minister; and then,
"That purpose signified, it ceas'd again:
"So was its type, the fiery tongue, a flash
"Of light'ning quickly vanish'd"—and such trash—
To which a minister, who knew the press,
Ill chose the the time, when preaching, to digress;
To take a text affording, thro' the whole,
Such grounds of comfort to a christian soul,
And then neglect; to preach a poor debate,
That could but shine at pamphleteering rate;
That, from the pulpit, must disgust the pew
Of sager Bench, and sober students too.

You may, hereafter, if you chose it, see
How they mistook,—both Middleton and he,—
The gift of tongues; how little, quite throughout,
They knew, tho' learned, what they were about:
In present lines, I shall but just relate
One instance of the, no uncommon, fate
Of learned men, who, in deep points exact,
Forget sometimes the most apparent fact.

Th' apostles, gifted by the Holy Ghost,
Began to speak with tongues at Pentecost;
"But did not"—so the preacher says—"begin
"To speak, before the multitude came in."
He urges roundly how, in this respect,
"The learned Middleton did not reflect,
"That in a private room they all were set,
"And tongues not spoken till the people met."

Now if you read the Pentecostal facts,
As you will find them written in the Acts,
From his reflection tho' the point lay hid,
The text affirms, expressly, that they did.
No learning wanted to determine this;
'Tis what a reading child could never miss;
This very gift, it is exceeding clear,
Was that which brought the multitude to hear:
Speaking with tongues, foregoing words proclaim;
The next—When this was nois'd abroad—they came.

Scarce to be thought that, studying the case,
With formal purpose to explain a place,
A man so learned, and acute, could make,
Could preach, could publish such a flat mistake:
But 'tis the fate of great and eager wits,
To trust their memory too much by fits.

To prove that Middleton's dispute was wrong
Takes up the pages, for a sermon, long:
Soon after this you'll see another start,
To fill his first division's second part:
For having touch'd upon the names of all
The gifts enumerated by saint Paul,
Then, in what sense the scripture was inspir'd,
Higher or lower, comes to be enquir'd:
The high he calls organical; the low
Partial and true; as he proceeds to shew.

This is the summary of what is said,
Touching the Holy Ghost, in his first head;
As Guide to truth, and aiding to excite,
To clear, to give the understanding light.
What makes it Sermon is the Text prefix'd,
Tho' scarce a word of it is intermix'd;—
Consistently enough, for it has none
Which suit the topics that he dwells upon:
Topics, without a dignity to grace
Text, office, audience, person, time, or place.

But were this all, and did not what he spake
Lead by degrees to serious mistake,
Taking a text, for form's sake, to prepare
The church to hear some shop-renown'd affair,
(Too oft the turn of the polite divine)
Would hardly merit your regard, or mine;
But, sir, it is not only misapplied—
This glorious text—but in effect denied;
Or misconceiv'd; and therefore cutting short,
At present, errors of less fatal sort,
Let us pursue this subject, in the text,
And from the Sermon vindicate the Text.

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