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Village Preaching Post by :dudave Category :Poems Author :John Castillo Date :November 2011 Read :3864

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Village Preaching

Speak unto us smooth things.” (Isaiah xxx. 10.)

Far over Cleveland’s lofty hills,
Water’d by rivulets and rills,
A lovely village doth appear,
And o’er the trees its chimneys rear

A church there is without a steeple,
And several unconverted people;
Though not much pious fruit appear,
The people still desire to hear.

To chapel oft they go and back,
In their old summer beaten track,
Where they the Holy Spirit grieve,
And pray for what they don’t believe.

Those preachers they like best to hear,
Whose doctrine is not too severe;
Who make no push extraordinary,
But tell their tale and let them be.

It happen’d on a certain day,
A stranger chanced to stroll that way;—
I’ll try to sketch him if I can,
Some call him an eccentric man.

One whom God’s Spirit had enlighten’d,
Whom his own sins had soundly frightened;
Who when by strong conviction pained,
Did pardon seek, which he obtained.

He knew he then accepted stood,
By faith in the atoning blood;
But saw the people’s sad condition,
And offer’d them his admonition.

A door was open in that place,
Where long had been the means of grace;
The means by many long neglected,
For fear they there should be detected.

A worthy woman there did live,
Who her advice did gratis give;
Who cared for both the flock and fold,
Like Deborah in days of old.

Like her she long had wish’d to see,
A glorious gospel victory;
And gave a friendly invitation,
To hear an extra exhortation.

The forms were set, and rostrum fix’d,
The preacher went and took his text:—
Sinners! your bleeding Saviour see,
He cries, “Ye will not come to me!”

He tried to tell what those shall win,
Who come to Christ and leave their sin;
How those shall fare in the great day,
Who all their life time stay away.

Having as he thought, clear’d his way,
They sang, and then began to pray;
He left his elevated station,
And went among his congregation,

Of the great things he’d dwelt upon,
He ask’d them questions, one by one,
And if advice or help was needing,
For penitents who then were pleading.

They still went on to sing and pray,
The good, old-fashioned gospel way;
And closer press’d the invitation,
Until ’twas time for separation.

But such unusual proceeding,
They say completely spoil’d the meeting;—
That preacher’s conduct is unstable,
Who cannot keep behind the table!

Preachers ought not to come so nigh,
Into the soul’s affairs to pry;
For whether they be saved or no,
Is more than they’ve a right to know.

Such bold presuming impudence,
To some might prove a great offence;—
Going and asking one by one,
How they for Heaven are getting on!

They say they’ll come to preaching still,
If she one promise will fulfil;
That is as long as she is able,
Will keep the man behind the table.

Those hearers now are far too thin,
Who like a lusty, loud “Amen!”
And folks have now a taste so fine,
A semiquaver breaks the line!

Ye men of God, the truth enforce,
You cannot press the thing too close,
If you would do the people good,
Or clear your conscience of their blood.

When your sermon is completed,
Then your aid is further needed;
To lift up still your warning voice,
Nor leave the people to their choice.

Though some, alas, are so precise,
And God’s rich blessings do despise,
Others may need your friendly care,
And will your counsel gladly hear.

If your advice when managed well,
Perchance might save some soul from Hell;
Oh think of this,—and if you’re able,
You may stand still behind the table.

If I should go that way once more,
And find the people as before;
They must have either chain or cable,
If they keep me behind the table.

(The end)
John Castillo's poem: Village Preaching

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