f The Wittenberg Door: Think and Smoke Tobacco

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Think and Smoke Tobacco

I am both a cigar and a pipe smoker (traditional pipes; not the kind that need water). I’m also a connoisseur of good, Reformed theology. What a treat it is to have these good gifts brought together by Scottish churchman Ralph Erskine (1685-1752) in Think and Smoke Tobacco. So grab your favorite pipe and read on!

Part I
This Indian weed now wither'd quite,
'Tho' green at noon, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The pipe so lily-like and weak,
Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.
Thou art ev'n such,
Gone with a touch.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the smoke ascends on high,
Then thou behold'st the vanity
Of worldly stuff,
Gone with a puff.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the pipe grows foul within,
Think on thy soul defil'd with sin;
For then the fire,
It does require.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Then to thyself thou mayest say
That to the dust
Return thou must.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Part II
Was this small plant for thee cut down?
So was the plant of great renown;
Which mercy sends
For nobler ends.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Doth juice medicinal proceed
From such a naughty foreign weed?
Then what's the pow'r
Of Jesse's flow'r?
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The promise, like the pipe, inlays,
And by the mouth of faith conveys
What virtue flows
From Sharon's rose.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

In vain th' unlighted pipe you blow;
Your pains in inward means are so,
'Till heav'nly fire
Thy heart inspire.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The smoke, like burning incense tow'rs
So should a praying heart of yours,
With ardent cries,
Surmount the skies.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)



Blogger pilgrim said...

I personally hate the smell of tobacco smoke, no matter the source-but I find cigars particularily offensive in the odor department.

Still I won't judge you for your habit. However I would add that we know a lot more about tobacco than they did in Erskine's time. Notice the one stanza asks if there is a medicinal benefit to tobacco--at that time that was a common belief, but now we know better.

11:16 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Pilgrim. I likewise won’t judge you for not partaking of this good gift. I disagree, though, that there’s no medicinal benefit: I find it an extremely relaxing pastime, as well as an effective means of calming and focusing the mind. In addition to those benefits, when enjoyed with others, it acts as a great facilitator of conversation.
f course, the liberty-pendulum swings both ways: you are at liberty to pass on this Indian weed, and I am likewise at liberty to enjoy it. What a wonderful God we server!

Thanks for stopping by, Pilgrim.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great poem! I always felt that way when I smoked my pipe or a nice cigar, but it was always a vague feeling. It's for the reasons in this poem that I felt that way; I just never knew it until now. Thanks! I think I'll go have a smoke now.

10:32 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

That's a great idea, W.E. I think I'll have one too!

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The cigar is a great resource. It is necessary to have traveled for a long time on a ship to understand that at least the cigar affords you the pleasure of smoking. It raises your spirits. Are you troubled by something? The cigar dissolves it. Are you subject to aches and pains (or bad temper)? The cigar will change your disposition. Are you harassed by unpleasant thoughts? Smoking a cigar puts one in a frame of mind to dispense with these. Do you ever feel a little faint from hunger? A cigar satisfies the yearning. If you are obsessed by sad thoughts, a cigar will take your mind off of them. Finally, don't you sometimes have some unpleasant remembrance or consoling thought? A cigar will reinforce this. Sometimes they die out, and happy are those who do not need to relight too quickly. I hardly need to say anything more about the cigar, to which I dedicate this little eulogy for past services rendered."
-- The Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, 1794

9:52 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Fantastic, David! Thanks.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The active ingredient of tobacco has some definite benefits, though a better system of delivering those benefits may be worth considering:


"Desi Erasmus"
Psalm 23
Westfield, NC

4:54 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Very interesting information. Thanks for providing it.

One note on the delivery system: I find smoking a cigar or a pipe to be very relaxing. I think we should likewise consider the health benefit of that.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Sir Greybeard said...

Catechizer and Deacon,

Glad to of come across your blog. I am searching for a recording of a Scotsman reading Ralph Erskine's Gospel sonnet, "Smoking Spirtualized". Wondering if you have any leads on this?

6:08 PM  

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