Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FOUR EPISTLES: MIRACLE AT THE FEAST OF PENTECOST: 4, by JOHN BYROM



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FOUR EPISTLES: MIRACLE AT THE FEAST OF PENTECOST: 4, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I have with attention, dear vicar, repass'd
Last Line: And, speaking or silent, am yours to command,
Subject(s): Bible; Hebrew Literature; Language Poetry; Religion; Theology


I HAVE with attention, dear Vicar, repass'd
Your obliging reply to the lines in my last;
Am sorry 'tis final, yet cannot but say
That your patience to hear me, has gone a great way,
And extinguish'd all right to require any more,
If I put you to prove two and two to make four,
Very difficult task!—as one cannot deny,
When there's nothing more plain to demonstrate it by.

But if two and two, four, I am thinking, has claim
To self evident truth, has this comment the same?
The new tongues, which are mention'd in promising page,
Are the old ones subsisting for many an age:
Is it really as plain, as that four is twice two,
That in no other sense they could ever be new,
But as new to the speaker,—John, Peter, or Paul,—
While the tongues in themselves had no newness at all?

Were this a true thesis, and right to maintain,
Yet "two halves are one whole" is, however, more plain,
Till the proof which is wanted shall make it appear
How the two propositions are equally clear.
This proof may be had from the Chapter, you say,
Which relates what was done on the Pentecost day,—
The best of all proofs;—but, to do the fair thing,
Give me leave to examine what reasons you bring.

That γλωσσαι is LANGUAGES oft, if
you seek
In the Septuagint, or the New Testament Greek,
Acknowledge you must.— Yes, 'tis really the case—
Ταις ημεραις
γλωσσαις in this very place
Must mean IN OUR LANGUAGES;—sense, you must own,
Is the same as in τηδιαλεχτω
ημων,
In our languages, or in our dialect. Yes,
Two and two making four is not plainer than this.

But how it flows hence that in cited St. Mark
It has no other meaning, I'm quite in the dark.
Few words of a language are always confin'd
To a meaning precisely of just the same kind:
For the roots of the Hebrew in Hutchinson's school
I remember they had such a kind of a rule,
But the reach of its proof has been out of my pow'r,
Tho' I've talk'd with their master full many an hour.

I believe that by grace, which the Spirit instill'd,
"They shall speak with new tongues" was exactly fulfill'd
In our Saviour's Disciples; that, grace being got,
They did so speak in tongues as before they could not
With respect to good strangers partaking of grace;
For "speak with NEW TONGUES" with NEW LANGUAGES place,
And the promise fulfill'd we may very well call,
By one Spirit-form'd tongue which instructed them all.

If the bold Alexandrian stroke of a "No"
Had been "Yes" in my last (and it would have been so
If the facts had requir'd it) what could it have shewn,
Tho' the text had this meaning, if not this alone?
For how do "all languages spoken in one"
Disagree with the promise insisted upon?
I allow it fulfill'd; let the Vicar allow
The fulfilling itself to determine the how.

God's wonderful works when disciples display'd,
And spake by the Spirit's omnipotent aid,
Ev'ry one understood in a language his own,
Loquentibus illis, λαλουντων
αυτων
"While they spake" at the first; for, good Greek and good sense
Forbid us to form an unwritten pretence
For dividing of tongues, when the Spirit's descent
Gave at once both to speak and to know what was meant.

But thus to interpret, it seems, you forbid,
By placing the stop as old Gregory did,
Who thought as you think; tho' you bring, I agree,
At least a more plausible reason than he,
From a passage that suits with your meaning alone,
Acts the tenth, "for they heard" ηχουον
γαρ αυτων
Λαλουντων "them speaking," and
γλωσσαις "in tongues,"
Where indeed to that Greek that construction belongs.

By transposing two words the grammatical lot
Shews when they are absolute, when they are not;
But be it "them speaking," as you would collect,
"In our languages," still it will never affect
The force of those reasons from which 'tis inferr'd
That at once they were spoken, at once they were heard;
Nor of those which deny that TONGUES, quatenus new,
Mean always precisely what LANGUAGES do.

That evidence, Vicar, which here you have brought,
Cross-examin'd, will certainly favour this thought;
For Cornelius converted, and company too,
Without intervention of languages new,
How can any one think, but from prejudice bred,
Tho' honest, from what he has often heard said,
That then they were all on a sudden inspir'd
To speak with strange tongues, when no reason requir'd?

But now being got to the end of a tether
Prescrib'd to your trouble, I leave to you whether
Tongues any where else, in the sense you assert,
Were spoken to purpose, that is, to convert?
Or whether your patience can bear to excuse
A reply to your hints on the sense that I choose?
In the mean time I thank you for favours in hand;
And, speaking or silent, am yours to command,





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