IF there be prophets on whose spirits rest
Past things, revealed like future, they can tell
What Powers, presiding o'er the sacred well
Of Christian Faith, this savage Island blessed
With its first bounty. Wandering through the west,
Did holy Paul a while in Britain dwell,
And call the Fountain forth by miracle,
And with dread signs the nascent Stream invest?
Or He, whose bonds dropped off, whose prison doors
Flew open, by an Angel's voice unbarred?
Or some of humbler name, to these wild shores
Storm-driven; who, having seen the cup of woe
Pass from their Master, sojourned here to guard
The precious Current they had taught to flow?
6 'Did Holy Paul' etc.
Stillingfleet adduces many arguments in support of this opinion,
but they are unconvincing. The latter part of this Sonnet refers
to a favourite notion of Roman Catholic writers, that Joseph of
Arimathea and his companions brought Christianity into Britain,
and built a rude church at Glastonbury; alluded to hereafter, in a
passage upon the dissolution of monasteries.