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THE MODERN PRIEST

Ignatius, born somewhere, no matter where,
Trained up in school, and taught to say his prayer,
Tired with his task at the academy,
Jump’d over all to university:
The books he read, and read, then laid them down,
But little wiser when his task was done;
But college pedantry bore such a sway,
That soon he gained a soaring diploma,
Dubb’d like a knight on a commencement day,
Gladly he quit his task, and went his way.
He thought of doctor, lawyer, prince and priest,
And made remarks in earnest or in jest,
“Should I turn doctor, I must stem the cold,
And break my rest, to gain the shining gold;
Must make my patients think their lives and blood
Are in my hands, or I can do no good.
When men believe in witches, witches are;
But when they don’t believe there are none there;
When men believe in doctors, doctors heal,
At sight of whom their patients easy feel.
If I’m a lawyer, I must lie and cheat,
For honest lawyers have no bread to eat;
‘Tis rogues and villains feed the lawyers high,
And sue the men that gold and silver buy.
Should I be statesman, I must use disguise,
And, if a priest, hear nothing else but lies;
State tricks, intrigues, and arts would me confound,
And truth and honesty nowhere be found.
This way of getting money is a risk,
I judge it better to become a priest.
Preaching is now a science and a trade,
And by it many grand estates are made;
The money which I spent at grammar school
I’ll treble now by teaching sacred rule.
My prayers I’ll stretch out long, my sermons short,
The last write down, the first get all by rote;
While others labor six days, I but one,
For that day’s work I’ll gain a pretty sum.
For fifty-two days labor in a year,
The sum of eighty pounds my heart shall cheer.”
So asses heads for three score pieces sold,
When famines were severe, in days of old.
Ignatius thus resolved to rise by rule,
And to a grave divine he went to school,
The science of divinity engag’d,
And read the sacred volume page by page.
The Bible was so dark, the style so poor,
He gained but little from the sacred store;
Pool, Whitby, Burchett, Henry, Yorick, Gill,
He read, to find what was Jehovah’s will,
Gravity, rhetoric, and pulpit airs
He studied well, and how to form his prayers.
At length his master gave him commendation,
That he was qualified to preach salvation.
And with his commendation gave him more
Than twenty notes that he had us’d before;
These for his models, and his learned guides,
Helped him to form his work with equal sides,
In composition he did pretty well,
And what he could not read, he’d softly spell.
A day appointed for him to perform,
Notice was giv’n and many took th’ alarm.
At the appointed hour the people came,
To hear the will of God revealed to men.
At length Ignatius came all dress’d in black,
With sacerdotal bands and three shap’d hat.
Under his arm the holy book appeared,
And in it were the notes he had prepared:
He bow’d, and bow’d, and to the pulpit steered,
Went up the stairs, and in the desk appeared,
First he address’d the throne of God supreme;—
His master’s prayer, new-moddled, did for him;
Fifty-nine minutes long, prays and repeats,—
He clos’d, and all the people took their seats.
The sacred volume next he gravely spread,
Before his eyes upon his elbow bed,
And so it happened, that Ignatius hit
The very place where all his notes were writ.
His text he told, and then began to read
What he had written, with a school-boys heed!
If he presumed to look upon the folks,
His thumb stood sentinel upon his notes.
Short were the visits that his eyes could pray;
He watch’d his notes lest he should miss his way.
At the conclusion, with an angry tone,
He said his gospel came from God alone.
From this, the preacher travell’d all around,
To see where globes and salaries were found;
Many loud calls he had where land was poor,
People were indigent, and had no store.
The calls he heard, but gravely answer’d, ’ no;
To other places God calls me to go!’
At length a vacant place Ignatius found,
Where land was good, and wealth did much abound:
A call they gave him which he did embrace,
’Vox populi, pox Dei,’ was the case.
A handsome settlement they gave, a farm,
With eighty pounds, and wood to keep him warm.
All things were ready for his consecration,
A sacred council came fox ordination.
The candidate was first examined well,
To see if he in knowledge did excel;
The first of John he hem’d and hammered thro,’
Some things forgot, but most he never knew,
But as he’d spent his time and money both,
To fit himself to wear the sacred cloth,
All things considered, ’twas believed that he
Was a proficient in divinity.
Lineal succession rites were then perform’d,
Their hands impos’d, Ignatius gravely warr ’d
The sacred care of act the flock to take,
In Love, and not for filthy lucre’ sake.

Elder John Leland

The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland
Published originally 1845
Pages 193 – 195