John Byrom

On Clergymen Preaching Politics

Indeed, Sir Peter, I could wish, I own,
That parsons would let politics alone;
Plead, if they will, the customary plea,
For such like talk, when o'er the dish of tea:
But when they tease us with it from the pulpit,
I own, Sir Peter, that I cannot help it.

If on their rules a justice should intrench,
And preach, suppose a sermon, from the bench,
Would you not think your brother magistrate
Was a little touched in his hinder pate?
Now which iw worse, Sir Peter, on the total
The lay vagary, or the sacredotal?

In ancient times, when preachers preached indeed
Their sermons, ere the learned learnt to read,
Another spirit, and another life,
Shut the church doors against all party strife:
Since then, how often heard, from sacred rostrums,
The lifeless din of Whig and Tory nostrums!

'Tis wrong, Sir Peter, I insist upon't;
To common sense 'tis plainly an affront:
The parson leaves the Christian in a lurch,
Whene'er he brings his politics to church;
His cant, on either side, if he calls preaching,
The man's wrong-headed, and his brains want bleaching.

Recall the time from conquering William's reign,
And guess the fruits of such a preaching vein:
How oft its nonsense must have veered about,
Just as the politics were in, or out:
The pulput governed by no gospel data,
But new success still mending old errata.

Were I a king (God bless me) I should hate
My chaplains meddling with affairs of state;
Nor would my subjects, I should think, be fond,
Whenever theirs the Bible went beyond.
How well, methinks, we both should live together,
If these good folks would keep within their tether!



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