1758 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Hervey

J. B., "On Mr. Hervey's Theron and Aspasio" London Magazine 27 (August 1758) 422-23.



Tho' Calvin's system long had stood,
Espous'd by many wise and good;
None e'er attempted to explain
Its doctrines, in thy pleasing vein;
The lively page attracts our view,
And all we read, at least seems true;
Convinc'd still fully, as we go,
The pious author thinks them so.

However others may debase,
By wild extremes, th' effects of grace;
Faith and good works concur in thee,
And practice proves thy theory;
(Works counted yet, but worthless dross)
Whose glory's only in the cross:
In that bless'd ransom mortals must,
And great atonement always trust;
The basis laid, with lawful hand,
Firm will the sacred structure stand.
Religion in her native air,
And dress, appears divinely fair;
The pow'r, not the cold form alone,
In charming language here is shewn;
And whilst, in beauteous scenes, your pen
Describes th' Almighty's gifts to men—
This lower world — our hearts you raise,
To willing songs of grateful praise;
Yet still that love which we adore,
Gave, in his son, ten thousand more.

Polemick criticks, if they will,
May write, refine, and boast their skill;
Reject these tenets, and despise
The comforts which from thence arise;
The real christian still remains,
And, silent, marks their learned pains;
No mean pursuits his labours claim,
But endless happiness his aim.

Who heav'n can reach, 'twere hard to say,
If Hervey should not find the way;
And he that gains so rich a prize,
May smile at all beneath the skies.

Well grounded as his hope, be mine,
When I this transient life resign;
Boldly I then might drop the clay,
And stretch for an eternal day;
Nor wish, on earth, one moment's stay.