Hannah More was a wildly popular author in her day because she had the common touch and a style that perfectly suited the tastes of her time. Here is one of her doctrinal poems (from volume 5 of her collected works), in which she carries out a homey reconciliation of faith and works in less than 100 zippy little lines. (I’ve broken it into stanzas to make it a little easier on the eye.)
Dan and Jane, or, Faith and Works. A Tale.
Good Dan and Jane were man and wife,
And lived a loving kind of life.
One point, however, they disputed
And each by turns his mate confuted.
‘Twas Faith and Works, this knotty question,
They found not easy of digestion.
While Dan for Faith alone contended,
Jane equally Good Works defended.
“They are not Christians, sure, but Turks,
Who build on Faith and scoff at Works,”
Quoth Jane; while eager Dan replied,
“By none but Heathens Faith’s denied.
I’ll tell you, wife,” one day quoth Dan,
“A story of a right good man:
A Patriarch sage, of ancient days,
A man of Faith whom all must praise;
In his own country he possess’d
Whate’er can make a wise man blest,
His was the flock, the field, the spring,
In short, a little rural king.
Yet pleas’d he quits his native land,
By Faith in the Divine command.
God bade him go; and he, content,
Went forth, not knowing where he went:
He trusted in the promise made,
And, undisputing, straight obey’d.
The heavenly word he did not doubt,
But proved his Faith by going out.”
Jane answer’d with some little pride:
“I’ve an example on my side;
And though my tale be somewhat longer,
I trust you’ll find it vastly stronger.
I’ll tell you, Daniel, of a man,
The holiest since the world began
Who now God’s favour is receiving,
For prompt obeying, not believing.
One only son this man possess’d,
In whom his righteous age was blest;
And more to mark the grace of heaven
This son by miracle was given.
And from this child, the word Divine,
Had promised an illustrious line.
When lo! at once a voice he hears,
Which sounds like thunder in his ears!
God says, ‘Go sacrifice thy son!’
‘This moment, Lord, it shall be done.’
He goes, and instantly prepares,
To slay this child of many pray’rs,
Now here you see the grand expedience,
Of Works, of actual, sound obedience.
This was not Faith, but act and deed;
The Lord commands the child shall bleed:
Thus Abraham acted,” Jenny cried,
“Thus Abraham trusted,” Dan replied.
“Abraham!” quoth Jane, “why that’s my man.”
“No, Abraham’s he I mean,” says Dan.
“He stands a monument of Faith.”
“No, ’tis for Works the Scripture saith.”
“‘Tis for Obedience I commend him.”
Thus he, thus she; both warmly feel,
And lose their temper in their zeal.
Too quick each other’s choice to blame,
They did not see each meant the same.
At length, “Good wife,” said honest Dan,
“We’re talking of the self-same man.
The Works you praise, I own indeed,
Grow from that Faith for which I plead.
And Abraham, whom for Faith I quote
For Works deserves especial note.
‘Tis not enough of Faith to talk:
A man of God with God must walk.
Our doctrines are at last the same,
They only differ in the name.
The Faith, I fight for, is the root;
The Works, you value, are the fruit.
How shall you know my creed’s sincere,
Unless in Works my Faith appear?
How shall I know a tree’s alive,
Unless I see it bear and thrive?
Your Works not growing on my root,
Would prove they were not genuine Fruit.
If Faith produce no Works, I see,
That Faith is not a living tree.
Thus Faith and Works together grow;
No separate life they e’er can know.
They’re soul and body, hand and heart;
What God hath join’d let no man part!”