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The Convocation: A Poem



When Vertue's Standard Ecclesiasticks bear,
Their sacred Robe the noblest Minds revere.
All to its Guidance do their Thoughts submit,
But such who triumph in licentious Wit;
And nauseous Mirth as high Desert esteem,
When rais'd by Scorn upon Religion's Theme
As Kings by Right Divine o'er Nations sway,
As the most worthy, their high Pow'rs obey;
Homage by all is to the Priesthood born,
And none but Fools their Heav'nly Pastors scorn.

Yet censure not the Muse's Freedom here:
If urg'd by Errors, she must seem severe!
Tho' keen her Satyr, she no Envy bears;
Tho' Priests she lashes, she their Function spares.
Nor for ill Members such the Clergy calls,
But on their Shame, and not their Glory, falls.

Of all the Plagues with which the World is curst,
Time has still prov'd that Priestcraft is the worst.
By some, what Notions thro' the World are spread?
On Falshoods grounded, and from Int'rest bred;
Errour has still the giddy World perplext,
Whilst Scripture gilds it with some sacred Text.
This wild Opinions Strife and Faction brings,
The Bane of Nations, the Misrule of Kings.
Priests oft profane what they from Heav'n derive;
Some live by Legends, some by Murders thrive,
Some sell their Gods, and Altar-Rites deface,
With Doctrines some the Brain-sick People craze.

The Pagan prey on slaughter'd Wretches Fates,
The Romish fatten on the best Estates,
The British stain what Heav'n has right confest,
And Sectaries the Scriptures falsly wrest.

Amongst the Tribe, how few are, as they ought,
Clear in their Souls, instructive in their Thought!
The Good, like Prophets, shew their Precepts pure;
The Ill with Craft the Heav'nly Light obscure;
False to their Trust, they lead their Flocks astray,
And with their Errors cloud the sacred Way.

Tho' artless Numbers may my Verses throng,
Yet now Religion's Cause inspires my Song:
Undaunted then, my Muse, thy Purpose say,
And for the Church thy warmest Zeal display!
An Erring Prelate let thy Lays proclaim,
And sing the Convocation's sacred Fame.

When dire Confusion bore a dreadful Hand,
And sore Divisions shook the guilty Land;
When Schisms rent the Church, Faction the State,
And Schoolmens Quarrels did new Broils create;
'Midst Crowds of Libels publish'd to enrage,
Writ to corrupt, but not t'improve the Age,
Forth to the World from a Learn'd Author came
Two, which bear Censures equal to their Fame:
By some admired, and by some contemn'd,
Prais'd by the Vulgar, by his Peers condemn'd.
If from Sincerity Faith ought can claim,
Hard Deprivations theirs aloud proclaim.

Next, Ordination to explode he seems,
Orders are Trifles, Church-Commissions Dreams!
The Sense it self these Explanations own,
Which none unbyass'd, can as just disown.

What more can Deists to the Church reply?
They in this wise her Sacraments deny;
Against her Canons and her Forms combine,
And with such Wretches will a Bishop joyn?

The Topmost Sequel next, of his Essays,
The Pulpit trumpets, and the Press displays.
New Doctrines still advanc'd, the World alarm,
And, all his Brethren with Resentment warm.
Ye Pow'rs! If Priests thus their own Craft betray,
If what they should conceal, themselves display,
Atheists may well mysterious Rights deride,
Nor suffer sacred Faith as Reason's Guide.

But whilst th'Infection thro' the Nation flies,
A Rev'rend Author to the Work replies.
Oh SNAPE! what Charms thy Genius here bestows;
Where nervous Sense in candid Smoothness flows.
Sublime thy Thought! with no harsh Stile defil'd,
Bold in thy Charge! yet in Expressions mild:
Reason Divine in each illustrious Page,
Points out those Errors, which you here engage.

So Henry wrote, by Heav'n inspir'd, when he
From Luther's Errors strove the Faith to free:
When that great Title in Return was born,
Which has e're since by British Kings been worn.

The Gospel's Light does here such Clouds dispel,
As Magus's Witchcraft by th'Apostle fell.
So wrote that Tribe in sacred Annals past,
When Nations yielded, and the Faith embrac'd.

The Clergy now in Convocation meet,
And in Debate on these new Doctrines sit.
No Contest in th'inferiour House arose;
But one Consent these dang'rous Errors shews.
None cou'd oppose! So plain did they appear:
Nor Doubts could rise their Innocence to clear.

He, who a Priest, a Prelate's Doctrine blam'd,
Is, now a Prelate, here himself arraign'd.
He, who did once a worthy Doctor gall,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:50 min read
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Richard Savage

Richard Savage was an English poet. He is best known as the subject of Samuel Johnson's Life of Savage, on which is based one of the most elaborate of Johnson's Lives of the English Poets. more…

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