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PROGRESS OF IDOLATRY,
A POEM, IN TEN BOOKS.
THE THREE ORDEALS,
TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE,
IN FIVE CANTOS.
STUD LEY PRIORY,
AND OTHER POEMS.
WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES,
ETCHINGS OF THE PRINCIPAL HINDU DEITIES,
AND OTHER PLATES.
SIR ALEXANDER CROKE.
Printed by W. Baxter,
In these speculative times, when all creeds and opinions become the subjects of doubt and discussion, the Author thought it the duty of every sincere believer to support, as far as he was able, the doctrines to which he conscientiously adhered. It was his design therefore, in the longest of the following poems, to add the testimony of another disinterested layman to the truth and beauty of the Christian religion.
For this purpose, he has endeavoured to shew the general corruption of human nature and to prove the excellency of Christianity by contrasting it with the errors, the follies, and the gross absurdities, into which men are betrayed, when they deviate from the path of divine inspiration, and are guided solely by the light
of unassisted reason: to display God's wonderful goodness in interfering to counteract human frailty, and to recal mankind from their fatal wanderings : to point out the adulterations by which presumption and ignorance have corrupted these divine communications : relate the meritorious efforts which have been made to correct these errors, and the opposition which they encountered : that whilst many churches and sects have deviated, in different directions, from the pure standard of the Gospel, the Church of England was founded, both in doctrine and discipline, upon the Holy Scriptures and the practice of the early ages of Christianity: and, lastly, that the Divine Spirit has foretold the final destruction of idolatry and superstition, and the ultimate triumph and reign of our Saviour Jesus Christ. However various and extended therefore the subjects of the poem, it presents an unity of design, and a relation between the different parts.
The Author is aware that, upon these subjects, little novelty can be expected, and that little farther can be advanced than is to be found in the works of Barrow, Hooker, Stillingfleet, and other learned divines. Yet he thought that a short and plain statement of these truths might not be altogether useless, and that their appearing in a poetical dress might be some recommendation. Though he makes no pretensions to the lofty character of a poet, yet an early acquaintance with the most celebrated writers of that description, both ancient and modern, had rendered him familiar with poetical conceptions and language.
How far he may have succeeded in this attempt, his readers will decide : but he hopes that his motives may atone for any faults in the execution of the work. If he shall have contributed to convey any information upon a variety of important and interesting subjects to the young and inexperienced : if he shall have awakened the attention of the careless and thoughtless, or have brought doctrines already known to the recollection of those who are better informed : if he shall have confirmed any in their correct and orthodox principles, or excited any religious feelings in their minds: he will have accomplished every object he had in view, and will consider his labours as well rewarded.