The Smooth Divine

Timothy Dwight  (1752-1817)

There smiled the smooth Divine, unused to wound

The sinner’s heart with hell’s alarming sound.

No terrors on his gentle tongue attend;

No grating truths the nicest ear offend.

That strange new-birth, that methodistic grace,

Nor in his heart nor sermons found a place.

Plato’s fine tales he clumsily retold,

Trite, fireside, moral seesaws, dull as old,—

His Christ and Bible placed at good remove,

Guild hell-deserving, and forgiving love.

‘Twas best, he said, mankind should cease to sin:

Good fame required it; so did peace within.

Their honors, well he knew, would ne’er be driven;

But hoped they still would please to go to heaven.

Each week he paid his visitation dues;

Coaxed, jested, laughed; rehearsed the private news;

Smoked with each goody, thought her cheese excelled;

Her pipe he lighted, and her baby held.

Or placed in some great town, with lacquered shoes,

Trim wig, and trimmer gown, and glistening hose,

He bowed, talked politics, learned manners mild,

Most meekly questioned, and most smoothly smiled;

At rich men’s jests laughed loud, their stories praised,

Their wives’ new patterns gazed, and gazed, and gazed;

Most daintly on pampered turkeys dined,

Nor shrunk with fasting, nor with study pined:

Yet from their churches saw his brethren driven,

Who thundered truth, and spoke the voice of heaven,

Chilled trembling guilt in Satan’s headlong path,

Charmed the feet back, and roused the ear of death.

“Let fools,” he cried, “starve on, while prudent I

Snug in my nest shall live, and snug shall die.”

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