Recalling the late controversies, the Panther ask the Hind how she had survived, to which the Hind responds with a question about the Anglican doctrine of the sacrament. The Panther inquires about infallibility, and there follows a long exchange about the authority of church doctrine. As night draws on, the Hind invites the Panther to partake of what her humble dwelling affords.
Edmond Malone: "The Hind at one time is afraid to drink at the common brook, because she may be worried; but walking home with the Panther, talks by the way of the Nicene Fathers, and at last declares herself to be the catholick church. This absurdity was very properly ridiculed in the CITY MOUSE and COUNTRY MOUSE of Montague and Prior; and in the detection and censure of the incongruity of the fiction chiefly the value of their performance; which, whatever reputation it might obtain by the help of temporary passions, seems to readers almost a century distant, not very forcible or animated" Critical and Miscellaneous Prose Works of John Dryden (1800) 2:533-34n.
Thomas Arnold: "In 1687, some months after his conversion, Dryden published the Hind and Panther, a controversial allegory in heroic metre in three books, the Roman Church being represented by the Hind, and the Church of England by the Panther. Allegory, however, the poem is not, for over the greater portion of it there is no second meaning in reserve; the obvious sense is the only one. The interlocutors and mute personages are called by the names of birds and beasts, and that is all. Instead of Bossuet and Burnet, we have the Hind and the Panther; but the expressions which are put in the mouths of the animals are, for the most part, precisely those which might have been put in the mouths of the divines.... The Independents, Quakers, Free-thinkers, Anabaptists, Socinians, and Presbyterians, are ... enumerated under the emblems of the Bear, the Hare, the Ape, the Boar, the Fox, and the Wolf. The Lion, whose business, as king of beasts, is to keep order in the forest, is, of course, James II.... The first two books are taken up with doctrinal discussions" A Manual of English Literature (1862; 1885) 301-02.
Dame, said the Panther, times are mended well,
Since late among the Philistines you fell,
The toils were pitch'd, a spacious tract of ground
With expert huntsmen was encompass'd round;
Th' Enclosure narrow'd; the sagacious pow'r
Of hounds and death, drew nearer ev'ry hour.
'Tis true, the younger Lyon 'scaped the snare,
But all your priestly calves lay struggling there;
As sacrifices on their Altars laid;
While you, their carefull mother wisely fled
Not trusting destiny to save your head.
For, whate'er promises you have apply'd
To your unfailing church, the surer side
Is four fair leggs in danger to provide.
And what e'er tales of Peter's chair you tell,
Yet, saving reverence of the miracle,
The better luck was yours to 'scape so well.
As I remember, said the sober Hind,
Those toils were for your own dear self design'd,
As well as me; and with the self same throw,
To catch the quarry, and the vermin too,
(Forgive the sland'rous tongues that call'd you so)
How e'er you take it now, the common cry
Then ran you down for your rank loyalty;
Besides, in Popery they thought you nurst,
(As evil tongues will ever speak the worst,)
Because some forms, and ceremonies some
You kept, and stood in the main question dumb.
Dumb you were born indeed, but, thinking long
The Test it seems at last has loos'd your tongue.
And, to explain what your forefathers meant,
By real presence in the sacrament,
After long fencing pushed against a wall,
Your salvo comes, that he's not there at all:
There chang'd your faith, and what may change may fall.
Who can believe what varies every day,
Nor ever was, nor will be at a stay?
Tortures may force the tongue untruths to tell,
And I ne'er owned myself infallible,
Reply'd the Panther; grant such Presence were,
Yet in your sense I never own'd it there.
A real vertue we by faith receive,
And that we in the sacrament believe.
Then said the Hind, as you the matter state,
Not onely Jesuits can equivocate;
For real, as you now the word expound,
From solid substance dwindles to a sound.
Methinks, an Aesop's fable you repeat,
You know who took the shadow for the meat:
Your churches substance thus you change at will,
And yet retain your former figure still.
I freely grant you spoke to save your life;
For then you lay beneath the butcher's knife.
Long time you fought, redoubl'd batt'ry bore,
But, after all, against yourself you swore;
Your former self; for ev'ry hour your form
Is chop'd and chang'd, like winds before a storm.
Thus fear and int'rest will prevail with some,
For all have not the gift of martyrdome.
The Panther grin'd at this, and thus reply'd;
That men may err was never yet deny'd.
But, if that common principle be true,
The Canon, Dame, is level'd full at you.
But, shunning long disputes, I fain wou'd see
That wondrous wight, infallibility.
Is he from heav'n this mighty champion come,
Or lodg'd below in subterranean Rome?
First, seat him somewhere, and derive his race,
Or else conclude that nothing has no place.
Suppose (though I disown it) said the Hind,
The certain mansion were not yet assign'd,
The doubtfull residence no proof can bring
Against the plain existence of the thing.
Because Philosophers may disagree,
If sight b' emission, or reception be,
Shall it be thence inferr'd, I do not see?
But you require an answer positive,
Which yet, when I demand, you dare not give;
For fallacies in Universals live.
I then affirm that this unfailing guide
In Pope and gen'ral councils must reside;
Both lawfull, both combin'd; what one decrees
By numerous votes, the other ratifies:
On this undoubted sense the church relies.
'Tis true, some Doctours in a scantier space,
I mean in each apart contract the place.
Some, who to greater length extend the line,
The church's after-acceptation join.
This last circumference appears too wide;
The church diffused is by the Council tied,
As members by their representatives
Obliged to laws, which Prince and Senate gives:
Thus some contract, and some enlarge the space;
In Pope and council, who denies the place,
Assisted from above with God's unfailing grace?
Those Canons all the needfull points contain;
Their sense so obvious, and their words so plain,
That no disputes about the doubtfull Text
Have, hitherto the lab'ring world perplext:
If any shou'd in after times appear,
New Councils must be call'd, to make the meaning clear.
Because in them the pow'r supreme resides,
And all the promises are to the guides.
This may be taught with sound and safe defence:
But mark how sandy is your own pretence,
Who, setting Councils, Pope, and Church aside,
Are ev'ry man his own presuming guide.
The sacred books, you say, are full and plain,
And ev'ry needfull point of truth contain;
All who can read, Interpreters may be:
Thus though your sev'ral churches disagree,
Yet ev'ry Saint has to himself alone
The secret of this Philosophick stone.
These principles you jarring sects unite,
When diff'ring Doctours and disciples fight.
Though Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, holy chiefs,
Have made a battel Royal of beliefs;
Or like wild horses, sevral ways have whirl'd
The tortur'd Text about the christian World;
Each Jehu lashing on with furious force,
That Turk or Jew cou'd not have us'd it worse.
No matter what dissension leaders make,
Where ev'ry private man may save a stake,
Rul'd by the Scripture and his own advice
Each has a blind by-path to Paradise;
Where driving in a circle slow or fast,
Opposing sects are sure to meet at last.
A wondrous charity you have in store
For all reform'd to pass the narrow door:
So much, that Mahomet had scarcely more.
For he, kind Prophet, was for damning none,
But Christ and Moyses were to save their own:
Himself was to secure his chosen race,
Though reason good for Turks to take the place,
And he allow'd to be the better man,
In virtue of his holier Alcoran.
True, said the Panther, I shall ne'er deny
My breth'ren may be sav'd as well as I:
Though Huguenots contemn our ordination,
Succession, ministerial vocation;
And Luther, more mistaking what he read,
Misjoins the sacred Body with the Bread;
Yet, Lady, still remember I maintain,
The Word in needfull points is onely plain.
Needless, or needfull I not now contend,
For still you have a loop-hole for a friend,
(Rejoin'd the matron) but the rule you lay
Has led whole flocks, and leads them still astray
In weighty points, and full damnation's way.
For, did not Arius first, Socinus now,
The Son's eternal god-head disavow?
And did not these by Gospel Texts alone
Condemn our doctrine, and maintain their own?
Have not all hereticks the same pretence
To plead the Scriptures in their own defence?
How did the Nicene council then decide
That strong debate, was it by Scripture try'd?
No, sure to that the Rebel would not yield,
Squadrons of Texts he marshal'd in the field;
That was but civil war, an equal set,
Where Piles with piles, and eagles Eagles met.
With Texts point-blank and plain he faced the Foe:
And did not Sathan tempt our Saviour so?
The good old Bishops took a simpler way;
Each ask'd but what he heard his Father say,
Or how he was instructed in his youth,
And by traditions force upheld the truth.
The Panther smil'd at this, and when, said she,
Were those first Councils disallowed by me?
Or where did I at sure tradition strike,
Provided still it were Apostolick?
Friend, said the Hind, you quit your former ground,
Where all your Faith you did on Scripture found:
Now 'tis tradition join'd with holy writ,
But thus your memory betrays your wit.
No, said the Panther; for in that I view,
When your tradition's forg'd, and when 'tis true.
I set 'em by the rule, and, as they square,
Or deviate from undoubted doctrine there
This Oral fiction, that old Faith declare.
(Hind.) The Council steer'd it seems, a diff'rent course,
They try'd the Scripture by tradition's force:
But you tradition by the Scripture try;
Pursued by Sects, from this to that you fly,
Nor dare on one foundation to rely.
The word is then depos'd, and in this view,
You rule the Scripture, not the Scripture you.
Thus said the Dame, and, smiling, thus pursu'd,
I see tradition then is disallow'd,
When not evinc'd by Scripture to be true,
And Scripture, as interpreted by you.
But here you tread upon unfaithfull ground;
Unless you cou'd infallibly expound.
Which you reject as odious Popery,
And throw that doctrine back with scorn on me.
Suppose we on things traditive divide,
And both appeal to Scripture to decide;
By various texts we both uphold our claim,
Nay, often ground our titles on the same:
After long labour lost, and times expence,
Both grant the words, and quarrel for the sense.
Thus all disputes for ever must depend;
For no dumb rule can controversies end.
Thus, when you said tradition must be try'd
By Sacred Writ, whose sense yourselves decide,
You said no more, but that your selves must be
The judges of the Scripture sense, not we.
Against our church tradition you declare,
And yet your Clerks wou'd sit in Moyses chair:
At least 'tis proved against your argument,
The rule is far from plain, where all dissent.
If not by Scriptures, how can we be sure,
(Replied the Panther) what tradition's pure?
For you may palm upon us new for old;
All, as they say, that glitters, is not gold.
How but by following her, reply'd the Dame,
To whom deriv'd from sire to son they came;
Where ev'ry age do's on another move,
And trusts no farther than the next above;
Where all the rounds like Jacob's ladder rise,
The lowest hid in earth, the topmost in the skyes.
Sternly the salvage did her answer mark,
Her glowing eye' balls glitt'ring in the dark,
And said but this, since lucre was your trade,
Succeeding times such dreadfull gaps have made
'Tis dangerous climbing: to your sons and you
I leave the ladder, and its omen too.
(Hind.) The Panther's breath was ever fam'd for sweet,
But from the Wolfe such wishes oft I meet:
You learn'd this language from the blatant beast,
Or rather did not speak, but were possess'd.
As for your answer 'tis but barely urg'd;
You must evince tradition to be forg'd;
Produce plain proofs; unblemish'd authors use
As antient as those ages they accuse;
Till when, 'tis not sufficient to defame:
An old possession stands, till Elder quits the claim.
Then for our int'rest, which is nam'd alone
To load with envy, we retort your own.
For when traditions in your faces fly,
Resolving not to yield, you must decry:
As when the cause goes hard, the guilty man
Excepts, and thins his jury all he can;
So when you stand of other aid bereft,
You to the twelve Apostles wou'd be left.
Your friend the Wolfe did with more craft provide
To set those toys traditions quite aside:
And Fathers too, unless when reason spent,
He cites 'em but sometimes for ornament.
But, Madam Panther, you, though more sincere,
Are not so wise as your Adulterer:
The private spirit is a better blind,
Than all the dodging tricks your authours find.
For they, who left the Scripture to the crowd,
Each for his own peculiar judge allow'd;
The way to please 'em was to make 'em proud.
Thus: with full sails they ran upon the shelf;
Who cou'd suspect a cozenage from himself?
On his own reason safer 'tis to stand,
Than be deceiv'd and damn'd at second hand.
But you who Fathers and traditions take,
And garble some, and some you quite forsake,
Pretending church auctority to fix,
And yet some grains of private spirit mix,
Are like a Mule made up of diff'ring seed,
And that's the reason why you never breed:
At least not propagate your kind abroad,
For home-dissenters are by statutes aw'd.
And yet they grow upon you ev'ry day,
While you (to speak the best) are at a stay,
For sects that are extremes abhor a middle way:
Like tricks of state, to stop a raging flood,
Or mollify a mad-brain'd Senate's mood:
Of all expedients never one was good.
Well may they argue, (nor can you deny)
If we must fix on church authority,
Best on the best, the fountain, not the flood;
That must be better still, if this be good.
Shall she command, who has herself rebell'd?
Is antichrist by antichrist expell'd?
Did we a lawfull tyranny displace,
To set aloft a bastard of the race?
Why all these wars to win the Book, if we
Must not interpret for ourselves, but she?
Either be wholly slaves or wholly free.
For purging fires traditions must not fight;
But they must prove Episcopacy's right:
Thus those led horses are from service freed;
You never mount 'em but in time of need.
Like mercenary's, hir'd for home defence,
They will not serve against their native Prince.
Against domestick foes of Hierarchy
These are drawn forth, to make fanaticks fly;
But, when they see their country-men at hand,
Marching against 'em under church-command,
Straight they forsake their colours, and disband.
Thus she, nor cou'd the Panther well enlarge
With weak defence against so strong a charge;
But said, for what did Christ his Word provide,
If still his church must want a living guide?
And if all-saving doctrines are not there,
Or sacred Pen-men cou'd not make 'em clear,
From after ages we should hope in vain
For truths which men inspir'd, cou'd not explain.
Before the Word was written, said the Hind:
Our Saviour preach'd his faith to humane kind,
From his Apostles the first age receiv'd
Eternal truth, and what they taught, believ'd.
Thus, by tradition faith was planted first,
Succeeding flocks succeeding Pastours nurs'd.
This was the way our wise Redeemer chose,
(Who sure could all things for the best dispose,)
To fence his fold from their encroaching foes.
He cou'd have writ himself, but well foresaw
Th' event wou'd be like that of Moyses law;
Some difference wou'd arise, some doubts remain,
Like those which yet the jarring Jews maintain.
No written laws can be so plain, so pure,
But wit may gloss, and malice may obscure,
Not those indited by his first command,
A Prophet grav'd the text, an Angel held his hand.
Thus faith was e'er the written word appear'd,
And men believ'd not what they read, but heard.
But since th' Apostles cou'd not be confin'd,
To these, or those, but severally design'd
Their large commission round the world to blow;
To spread their faith, they spread their labours too.
Yet still their absent flock their pains did share,
They hearken'd still, for love produces care.
And as mistakes arose, or discords fell,
Or bold seducers taught 'em to rebell,
As charity grew cold, or faction hot,
Or long neglect their lessons had forgot,
For all their wants they wisely did provide,
And preaching by Epistles was supply'd:
So, great Physicians cannot all attend,
But some they visit, and to some they send.
Yet all those letters were not writ to all;
Nor first intended but occasional.
Their absent sermons; nor, if they contain
All needfull doctrines, are those doctrines plain.
Clearness by frequent preaching must be wrought,
They writ but seldome, but they daily taught.
And what one Saint has said of holy Paul,
He darkly writ, is true apply'd to all.
For this obscurity could heav'n provide
More prudently than by a living guide,
As doubts arose, the difference to decide?
A guide was therefore needfull, therefore made,
And, if appointed, sure to be obey'd.
Thus, with due rev'rence to th' Apostles writ,
By which my sons are taught, to which, submit;
I think, those truths, their sacred works contain,
The church alone can certainly explain,
That following ages, leaning on the past,
May rest upon the Primitive at last.
Nor wou'd I thence the word no rule infer,
But none without the church interpreter.
Because, as I have urg'd before, 'tis mute,
And is itself the subject of dispute.
But what th' Apostles their successors taught,
They to the next, from them to us is brought,
Th' undoubted sense which is in scripture sought.
From hence the church is arm'd, when errours rise,
To stop their entrance, and prevent surprise;
And safe entrench'd within, her foes without defies.
By these all festring sores her councils heal,
Which time or has disclos'd, or shall reveal,
For discord cannot end without a last appeal.
Nor can a council national decide,
But with subordination to her Guide:
(I wish the cause were on that issue try'd.)
Much less the scripture; for suppose debate
Betwixt pretenders to a fair estate,
Bequeath'd by some legatour's last intent;
(Such is our dying Saviour's Testament:)
The will is prov'd, is open'd, and is read;
The doubtfull heirs their diff'ring titles plead:
All vouch the words their int'rest to maintain,
And each pretends by those his cause is plain.
Shall then the testament award the right?
No, that's the Hungary for which they fight;
The field of battel, subject of debate,
The thing contended for, the fair estate.
The sense is intricate, 'tis onely clear
What vowels and what consonants are there.
Therefore 'tis plain, its meaning must be try'd
Before some judge appointed to decide.
Suppose, (the fair apostate said,) I grant,
The faithfull flock some living guide should want,
Your arguments an endless chase pursue:
Produce this vaunted Leader to our view,
This mighty Moyses of the chosen crew.
The Dame, who saw her fainting foe retir'd,
With force renew'd, to victory aspir'd;
(And looking upward to her kindred sky,
As once our Saviour own'd his Deity,
Pronounc'd his words — she whom ye seek am I.)
Nor less amaz'd this voice the Panther heard,
Than were those Jews to hear a god declar'd.
Then thus the matron modestly renew'd,
Let all your prophets and their sects be view'd,
And see to which of 'em yourselves think fit
The conduct of your conscience to submit:
Each Proselyte wou'd vote his Doctor best,
With absolute exclusion to the rest:
Thus wou'd your Polish Diet disagree,
And end as it began in Anarchy:
Your self the fairest for election stand,
Because you seem crown-gen'ral of the land,
But soon against your superstitious lawn
Some Presbyterian Sabre wou'd be drawn:
In your establish'd laws of sov'raignty
The rest some fundamental flaw wou'd see,
And call Rebellion gospel-liberty.
To church-decrees your articles require
Submission mollify'd, if not entire;
Homage deny'd, to censures you proceed;
But when Curtana will not doe the deed,
You lay that pointless clergy-weapon by,
And to the laws, your sword of justice, fly.
Now this your sects the more unkindly take,
(Those prying varlets hit the blots you make)
Because some ancient friends of yours declare,
Your onely rule of faith the Scriptures are,
Interpreted by men of judgment sound,
Which ev'ry sect will for themselves expound:
Nor think less rev'rence to their doctours due
For sound interpretation, than to you.
If then, by able heads, are understood
Your brother prophets, who reformed abroad,
Those able heads expound a wiser way,
That their own sheep their shepherd shou'd obey.
But if you mean your selves are onely sound,
That doctrine turns the reformation round,
And all the rest are false reformers found.
Because in sundry points you stand alone,
Not in communion join'd with any one;
And therefore must be all the church, or none.
Then, till you have agreed whose judge is best,
Against this forc'd submission they protest:
While sound and sound a diff'rent sense explains
Both play at hard-head till they break their brains:
And from their chairs each other's force defy,
While unregarded thunders vainly fly.
I pass the rest, because your church alone
Of all usurpers best cou'd fill the throne.
But neither you, nor any sect beside
For this high office can be qualify'd,
With necessary gifts requir'd in such a guide.
For that, which must direct the whole, must be
Bound in one bond of faith and unity:
But all your sev'ral churches disagree.
The Consubstantiating church and Priest
Refuse communion to the Calvinist;
The French reform'd, from preaching you restrain,
Because you judge their ordination vain:
And so they judge of yours, but Donors must ordain.
In short, in doctrine, or in discipline,
Not one reform'd can with another join:
But all from each, as from damnation, fly;
No union, they pretend, but in Non-Popery.
Nor, shou'd their members in a synod meet;
Cou'd any church presume to mount the seat
Above the rest, their discords to decide;
None wou'd obey, but each wou'd be the guide:
And face to face dissentions wou'd encrease;
For onely distance now preserves the peace.
All in their turns accusers, and accus'd;
Babel was never half so much confus'd.
What one can plead, the rest can plead as well;
For amongst equals lies no last appeal,
And all confess themselves are fallible.
Now, since you grant some necessary guide,
All who can err are justly laid aside:
Because a trust so sacred to confer
Shows want of such a sure interpreter:
And how can he be needfull who can err?
Then, granting that unerring guide we want,
That such there is you stand obliged to grant:
Our Saviour else were wanting to supply
Our needs, and obviate that necessity.
It then remains, that church can onely be
The guide, which owns unfailing certainty;
Or else you slip your hold, and change your side,
Relapsing from a necessary guide.
But this annex'd condition of the crown,
Immunity from errours, you disown;
Here then you shrink, and lay your weak pretensions down.
For petty royalties you raise debate;
But this unfailing universal state
You shun; nor dare succeed to such a glorious weight.
And for that cause those promises detest
With which our Saviour did his Church invest:
But strive t' evade, and fear to find 'em true,
As conscious they were never meant to you:
All which the mother church asserts her own,
And with unrivall'd claim ascends the throne.
So when of old th' Almighty father sate
In Council, to redeem our ruin'd state,
Millions of millions at a distance round,
Silent the sacred Consistory crown'd,
To hear what mercy mixt with justice cou'd propound.
All prompt, with eager pity, to fulfill
The full extent of their Creatour's will:
But when the stern conditions were declar'd,
A mournfull whisper through the host was heard,
And the whole hierarchy, with heads hung down,
Submissively declin'd the ponderous proffer'd crown.
Then, not till then, th' eternal Son from high
Rose in the strength of all the Deity;
Stood forth t' accept the terms, and underwent
A weight which all the frame of heav'n had bent,
Nor he Himself cou'd bear, but as omnipotent.
Now, to remove the least remaining doubt,
That ev'n the blear-ey'd sects may find her out,
Behold what heav'nly rays adorn her brows,
What from his Wardrobe her belov'd allows,
To deck the wedding-day of his unspotted spouse.
Behold what marks of majesty she brings;
Richer than ancient heirs of Eastern kings:
Her right hand holds the sceptre and the keys,
To show whom she commands, and who obeys;
With these to bind, or set the sinner free
With that t' assert spiritual Royalty.
One in herself not rent by schism, but sound,
Entire, one solid shining Diamond,
Not sparkles shatter'd into sects like you,
One is the church, and must be to be true:
One central principle of unity.
As undivided, so from errours free,
As one in faith, so one in sanctity.
Thus she, and none but she, th' insulting rage
Of Hereticks oppos'd from age to age:
Still when the Gyant-brood invades her throne
She stoops from heav'n, and meets 'em halfway down,
And with paternal thunder vindicates her crown.
But like Aegyptian Sorcerers you stand,
And vainly lift aloft your magick wand,
To sweep away the swarms of vermin from the land:
You cou'd, like them, with like infernal force
Produce the plague, but not arrest the course.
But when the boils and botches, with disgrace
And publick scandal sat upon the face,
Themselves attack'd, the Magi strove no more,
They saw God's finger, and their fate deplore;
Themselves they cou'd not cure of the dishonest sore.
Thus one, thus pure, behold her largely spread,
Like the fair ocean from her mother bed;
From East to West triumphantly she rides,
All shoars are water'd by her wealthy Tides.
The Gospel's-sound, diffus'd from Pole to Pole,
Where winds can carry, and where waves can roll.
The self same doctrine of the Sacred page
Convey'd to ev'ry clime, in ev'ry age.
Here let my sorrow give my satyr place,
To raise new blushes on my British race;
Our sayling ships like common shoars we use,
And through our distant colonies diffuse
The draught of Dungeons, and the stench of stews.
Whom, when their home-bred honesty is lost,
We disembogue on some far Indian coast:
Thieves, Panders, Palliards, sins of ev'ry sort,
Those are the manufactures we export;
And these the Missionairs our zeal has made:
For, with my country's pardon be it said,
Religion is the least of all our trade.
Yet some improve their traffick more than we,
For they on gain, their onely God, rely:
And set a publick price on piety.
Industrious of the needle and the chart
They run full sail to their Japonian Mart:
Preventing fear, and, prodigal of fame
Sell all of Christian to the very name;
Nor leave enough of that to hide their naked shame.
Thus, of three marks which in the Creed we view,
Not one of all can be apply'd to you:
Much less the fourth. In vain, alas you seek
Th' ambitious title of Apostolick:
God-like descent! 'tis well your bloud can be
Prov'd noble in the third or fourth degree:
For all of ancient that you had before
(I mean what is not borrow'd from our store)
Was Errour fulminated o'er and o'er.
Old Heresies condemn'd in ages past,
By care and time recover'd from the blast.
'Tis said with ease, but never can be prov'd,
The church her old foundations has remov'd,
And built new doctrines on unstable sands:
Judge that, ye winds and rains; you prov'd her, yet she stands.
Those ancient doctrines charg'd on her for new,
Shew when, and how, and from what hands they grew.
We claim no pow'r when Heresies grow bold
To coin new faith, but still declare the old.
How else cou'd that obscene disease be purg'd
When controverted texts are vainly urg'd?
To prove tradition new, there's somewhat more
Requir'd, than saying, 'twas not used before.
Those monumental arms are never stirr'd,
Till Schism or Heresy call down Goliah's sword.
Thus, what you call corruptions, are in truth,
The first plantations of the gospel's youth,
Old standard faith: but cast your eyes again,
And view those errours which new sects maintain
Or which of old disturb'd the churches peacefull reign,
And we can point each period of the time,
When they began, and who begot the crime;
Can calculate how long th' eclipse endur'd,
Who interpos'd, what digits were obscur'd:
Of all which are already pass'd away,
We know the rise, the progress and decay.
Despair at our foundations then to strike
Till you can prove your faith Apostolick;
A limpid stream drawn from the native source;
Succession lawfull in a lineal course.
Prove any church, oppos'd to this our head,
So one, so pure, so unconfin'dly spread,
Under one chief of the spiritual state,
The members all combin'd, and all subordinate.
Shew such a seamless coat, from schism so free,
In no communion join'd with heresie:
If such a one you find, let truth prevail:
Till when, your weights will in the balance fail:
A church unprincipl'd kicks up the scale.
But if you cannot think, (nor sure you can)
Suppose in God what were unjust in man,
That he, the fountain of eternal grace,
Should suffer falshood for so long a space
To banish truth, and to usurp her place:
That seven successive ages should be lost
And preach damnation at their proper cost;
That all your erring ancestours should dye,
Drown'd in th' Abyss of deep Idolatry;
If piety forbid such thoughts to rise,
Awake and open your unwilling eyes:
God hath left nothing for each age undone
From this to that wherein he sent his Son:
Then think but well of him, and half your work is done.
See how his church, adorn'd with ev'ry grace
With open arms, a kind forgiving face,
Stands ready to prevent her long lost sons embrace.
Not more did Joseph o'er his brethren weep,
Nor less himself cou'd from discovery keep,
When in the croud of suppliants they were seen,
And in their crew his best-loved Benjamin.
That pious Joseph in the church behold,
To feed your famine, and refuse your gold;
The Joseph you exil'd, the Joseph whom you sold.
Thus, while with heav'nly charity she spoke,
A streaming blaze the silent shadows broke:
Shot from the skyes a cheerfull azure light;
The birds obscene to forests wing'd their flight,
And gaping graves receiv'd the wandring guilty sprite.
Such were the pleasing triumphs of the sky,
For James his late nocturnal victory;
The pledge of his Almighty patron's love,
The fire-works which his angels made above.
I saw myself the lambent easie light
Gild the brown horrour and dispell the night;
The messenger with speed the tidings bore;
News, which three lab'ring nations did restore,
But heav'ns own Nuncius was arriv'd before.
By this, the Hind had reach'd her lonely cell;
And vapours rose, and dews unwholsome fell;
When she, by frequent observation wise,
As one who long on heav'n had fix'd her eyes,
Discern'd a change of weather in the skyes.
The Western borders were with crimson spread,
The moon descending look'd all flaming red;
She thought good manners bound her to invite
The stranger Dame to be her guest that night.
'Tis true, coarse dyet and a short repast,
(She said) were weak inducements to the tast
Of one so nicely bred, and so unus'd to fast.
But what plain fare her cottage cou'd afford,
A hearty welcome at a homely board
Was freely hers; and, to supply the rest,
An honest meaning and an open breast.
Last, with content of mind, the poor man's Wealth,
A grace-cup to their common Patron's health.
This she desir'd her to accept and stay,
For fear she might be wilder'd in her way,
Because she wanted an unerring guide;
And then the dewdrops on her silken hide
Her tender constitution did declare,
Too Lady-like a long fatigue to bear,
And rough inclemencies of raw nocturnal air.
But most she fear'd that travelling so late,
Some evil minded beasts might lye in wait;
And without witness wreak their hidden hate.
The Panther, though she lent a listening ear,
Had more of Lyon in her than to fear:
Yet wisely weighing, since she had to deal
With many foes, their numbers might prevail,
Return'd her all the thanks she cou'd afford;
And took her friendly hostess at her word.
Who ent'ring first her lowly roof, (a shed
With hoary moss and winding Ivy spread,
Honest enough to hide an humble Hermit's head,
Thus graciously bespoke her welcome guest:
So might these walls, with your fair presence blest,
Become your dwelling-place of everlasting rest,
Not for a night, or quick revolving year,
Welcome an owner, not a sojourner.
This peacefull seat my poverty secures,
War seldom enters but where wealth allures;
Nor yet despise it, for this poor abode,
Has oft receiv'd, and yet receives a god;
A god victorious of the Stygian race
Here laid his sacred limbs, and sanctified the place.
This mean retreat did mighty Pan contain;
Be emulous of him, and pomp disdain,
And dare not to debase your soul to gain.
The silent stranger stood amaz'd to see
Contempt of wealth, and wilfull poverty:
And, though ill habits are not soon controll'd,
A while suspended her desire of gold.
But civilly drew in her sharpen'd paws,
Not violating hospitable laws,
And pacify'd her tail, and lick'd her frothy jaws.
The Hind did first her country Cates provide;
Then couch'd herself securely by her side.