The Pulpit


The pulpit, therefore…
(and I name it filled with solemn awe, that bids me well beware with what intent I touch that holy thing)

The pulpit…
(where the satirist has at last, strutting and vaporing in an empty school, spent all his force, and made no proselyte)

I say the pulpit…
(in the sober use of its legitimate powers)

must stand acknowledged, while the world shall stand, the most important and effectual guard, support, and ornament of virtue’s cause.

There stands the messenger of truth.

There stands the legate of the skies;
His theme divine
His office sacred
His credential clear

By him the violated law speaks out its thunders
And by him, in strains as sweet as angels use,
The gospel whispers peace.

He ‘stablishes the strong, restores the weak,
Reclaims the wanderer, binds the broken heart,
And armed himself in panoply complete of heavenly temper,
Furnishes with arms bright as his own,
And trains, by every rule of holy discipline, to glorious war,
The sacramental host of God’s elect.

– William Cowper, 1731-1800, Poet Laureate of England, Friend of John Newton