THERE IS A GOD;
BY A. J. WILLIAMSON.
“Sure, there’s a righteous God, Nor is Religion vain; Thought men of vice may boast aloud, And men of grace complain.”
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR, AT THE CONFERENCE OFFICE,
NO. 9, WELLINGTON BUILDINGS, KING STREET.
J. H. LAWRENCE, PRINTER.
THE REV. JOSEPH STINSON,
President of the Methodist Conference, and General Superintendent of Missions,
THIS LITTLE WORK,
ILLUSTRATIVE OF RAPID CHANGE IN CHARACTER,
(A DISRUPTION AND CONFUSION OF THE OLD FOUNDATIONS,)
IS MOST RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY
IN THE GROWING PRIVILEGE OF
January 8th, 1839. [unnumbered page]
POETRY, somebody has said, is Truth clothed in the Garb of Fiction. This may be classical, but it is not true, for where falsehood has a claim truth dies. Poetry is Truth, indeed, naked or clothed, but she is indebted to her own excellent growth and manufacture for the comfort and elegance of her dress; nor does she owe even her ornaments to fiction, but to the ample treasury of her own resources. The Universe is hers, how can she be indebted to another? Truth clothed in the garb of Fiction! What a heathenish idea—what an impoverished one!
Yet it is easier, perhaps, to write Poetry than to define it. The iron in the ore is the same metal in that lady’s mirror. The diamond in her ear owes the display of its brilliance to the lapidary.
Again—Look at the heartless I go of an automaton hireling to serve you, and the winged benevolence of the poet’s I fly!
To be very plain—Let two persons have a desire to buy one of my pamphlets—One of them shall have a heart (poetically), and the other none. This pays me his shilling with an air that I feel no more indebted to, (since I have been schooled into economy of affection) than does the interstice between two teeth of a horizontal mill-wheel for the kiss of a perpendicular cog in the way of its revolution—much obliged—must help one another—hard times—good bye,—and so forth;—but the other—aye, look at the other about the same transaction—I wish to God, says his heart as you read it in his intelligent countenance, for he will seldom say it through a mistaken delicacy,—I wish to God I could afford to make it two for you, and the shilling comes charged to me with a charity that delicacy [unnumbered page] herself might fling her arms about and never tire of caressing. Now, it is quite clear that these two persons have each paid me a shilling for my pamphlet, but it is not true that one of them has paid me no more—and without the language and resources of Poetry, how shall I truly describe the fact? Mere words cannot do it—they must embody and shew forth all the social and particular relations that go to compose brotherly love and kindness: and if this be not understood it is for the same reason that, when Sir John Smyth and Sir John Herschell make mention of the sun, they have very different ideas about him. I know that I am not doing justice here, even to my own conceptions I the matter; but I have been walking all my life in the dark, and now that I have been suddenly admitted to the full gorgeousness of vision, the multitude and variety of its splendors are rather belligerent and imposing for me. I promise to do better by-and-by.
Poetry is Truth stepping forth from the dignity of retirement, and dazzling with the radiance of a thousand glories. How tame is the spirit that will not sympathize with the Horse when he snorts among the trumpets, ha! Ha!—(Have I found ye, my proud delight—my life’s triumph!) and smelleth the battle afar off,—the thunder of the captains, and the shouting! While the sun stands still and the moon, until vengeance is glutted with the terror and destruction of the adversaries.—Or, Poetry is a gentle girl—and fierce and wicked is the malignant fiend, whose soul acknowledges no gratitude to the Creator, for a ray of pity shed upon it from the holy eye of a Christian woman.
Poetry is Truth Naked—and here, I do wish, from my inmost soul, that I could get man, woman and child with me, from Victoria on the Throne to the humblest—aye meanest, altho’ I hate the word—of her subjects—Look at her,—at Poetry—sacred Poetry! At the Source and Fount of her own [page vi] purity and holiness—naked and not ashamed—and as she speaks let the heart listen:—
Our Father who art in Heaven!—Hath eternity no ear? Hallowed by Thy Name!—No gratitude? Thy Kingdom come!—Nor any understanding? Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven! Give us this day our daily bread! Forgive us our trespassers, as we forgive them that trespass against us—and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil! Yet, nobody but a Christian can understand this; and, therefore, nobody but Christians are Poets.
All the goodly familiarity in the foregoing sum of all poetry—Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven—is not only permitted, but enjoined upon us by Him who is Tenderness and Truth; and, when we want to express the enlargement of our ideas about such boundless goodness, the terms we make use of are hyperbolical—false—our language must be Truth in the garb of Fiction!
It won’t do, gentlemen, Poetry is Truth—naked or clothed—and they who deny this are——no Poets.
Having said this much about Poetry in general, it is fit that I should say something of my own in particular, which, as mere composition, I am sorry to say is very defective and unsatisfactory. It must be concluded to me that, at times, I look upon all that I have written to be either whining, sickly, trash—inflated bombast—or ridiculous bathos. At other times, however, I am of opinion that the language of the heart could not possible be better chosen, and dwell with much pleasure upon passages like the following:—
Hast Thou made fairer love than mine? Then, wherefore did I pray?
It now appears to me that, anxious suspicion and enquiry are really embodied in the first of these lines, and that the wreck of confidence, and heart broken, though still fond, reproach and despair are brought fully out in the picture of the other.
I look upon a line in my “Scriptural Exercises” [page vii] as the very climax of adorative entreaty, and so purely honest as to challenge even the scrutiny of omniscient justice—it is the last of the 4th stanza in the 7th Exercise,
“Cast me not off, my God, or lift me not so high!”
And the concluding lines of the piece at page 22, under the caption of “Pray without Ceasing,” were penned with a rushing fullness of spirit in my bosom that mountains were unable to resist. They were prophetic of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost to me and all to whom it is given to hold fellowship with my understanding, and as such I have ushered them into the world.
On the whole, to be fairly dealt by, the following little production should be read at proper intervals of entire leisure, with a conventional deference to the spirit present with me when I wrote one portion of it, and the power that governed me when I penned another. The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a lie to him who takes it from the Prophet’s mouth with the past, but, to the Christian with the Father and the Spirit in the past future it is true, to the very letter. So, in the essay to which I have last alluded, although I may not feel no anxiety about my daily bread, nor be always free from care about my raiment and shelter—I am really nearly without uneasiness about any thing, being, by far the greater portion of my time, night and day, in the most delightful communion with a proven spirit of unquestionable Truth. And let my work be so judged in charity.
To conclude, It is in the recollection of all men here, that I was sadly wretched and unhappy being, but a very short time since; that a wonderful change has come over my character and prospects; and that something like eccentricity is hardly to be avoided in this early stage of its development;—particularly, when I am struggling with an energy that forces, and plunges, and falls with me, at times, like the ungentle torrent of Niagara. [page viii]
THERE IS A GOD!
There is a God—How great a God! Who sees himself a God may see; The paths of proof, however trod, Lead from him to obscurity. Dost thou not see, that I exist, And look, with thee, at yonder sun? Shall we involve ourselves in Mist, To prove it no delusion? The sun thou see’st, and, therefore, thou Thyself art something shewn to be; Chance never made a watch, and—now, Be honest—could it fashion thee? Thy neighbor artist can combine Time’s varied movements—truly can; Must not the Artist be Divine, That made the time and made the man! There is a God—so near a Good, That I in Him, and He in me, Are terms, at times, so understood, I doubt my own identity. [unnumbered page] But is it strange, that He should come, In promise as in threat’ning true? Farewell the hope of Christendom, If one in Christ be something new! I sift myself more thoroughly Than unassisted thought conceives; Ask of my soul, to live or die Eternally, what it believes. And find, that, a divided* heart, Or partial trust, can never share His glory who gave all—not part— The pray’r, and then, the meed of pray’r. There is a God—long-suffering God! That looks on His creation spoil’d; And flings the witness all abroad, That we shall reap as we have toil’d. And I adjure thee—Infidel! By all my horror of deceit, That thou prepare, for heaven or hell, Before that righteous God we meet. Joy to the righteous—death to those Who scorn the Lamb that died to save; And death eternal to His foes, Is surer than the certain grave. For two escaped the general doom; And the last trumpet, through the sky, Shall triumph widely o’er the tomb;— But God spake to Eternity.
* John xvii. 23. [page 10]
[If the family members of a Watch were severally gifted with intelligence for the purpose, and one of them were told, or impressed with an idea that their Motion was not of themselves, but communicated by a power independent of them; there is not one of them, however humble in its sphere of operation, that could not easily trace the reception of it, periodically, to the embrace of a little instrument in the hand of Man.
If one of these creations should, in the prosecution of his search, find Man, on arriving at him, to a common extent, infidel in his principles; a conviction must follow that he was inferior to himself, inasmuch as he did not even, like him, possess the faculty of rational enquiry; and this would lead to the inevitable conclusion that the origin of Motion was not in him, but in a power superior to them both.
Upon farther enquiry, however, it would be found that, Man, deficient as he appeared to be in the knowledge of himself, had nevertheless made vast approximations to something like universal intelligence beyond himself. He had discovered the Motion sought, to be in the Heavens and in the earth—in things visible and invisible—to be in thought—to be in the power of progress, through then present enquiry—at least he has found it now—and can be traced on farther but to—rest—and here we are, consciously in a power that absolutely has no definition but infinite, inasmuch as every thing can be traced from it—the same every where itself, but giving birth to eternal variety—the life of all—the light of all—the Creator and Preserver of Motion—the Marker of Man who made his Watch—GOD.
Otherwise,—by a power analogous to that which set my little friend here, upon his inquest, I have been led to the Bible, where, in precisely the same way that I satisfy him as to the identity of his Maker, and the philosophy of Motion in his Manspring, I become acquainted with the Name—number, and place of residence of my Maker—for it requires an equal exertion of power to conceive of one thing as of another—the faith of acceptance being the same in both cases—and the scepticism that denies a God, does it from a self complacency that, in a Lardner, so late, ridicules the idea of steam navigation across the Atlantic—from an impudent assumption, to give it its true name, that wisdom is to be found but with its votaries, and that it must die with them. I shall not find it so difficult when I appear again before the public to prove to this kind of scepticism that there is a God.
Again—are we not with God?
Look at the two words of the interrogatory italicised above, and see how truly the first of them had never been written, unless you and I, reader, of whom it is the sign, had first been; and must it not be equally true of the latter?
What impudence of sophistry it is to say, that because there are false signs, the sign of God may not be true—what then is falsehood? Is it not opposition to the truth? And, What is Truth?
I am conscious of the existence of God—I am as sure of it, as I am sure that I am framing this paragraph in a friend’s store—I am conscious, [page 11] moreover, that others also, with me, are in communion with God; so perfectly conscious of it, that a presumption to the contrary is most amazing—amazing that a power which I know to be universal as my thought; has failed to convince every body of its existence—and, if I do not find that constant happiness which a knowledge of this description is calculated to inspire, it is because, the faith which I have accepted, is not fully participated by those to whom it is as incessantly and as entreatingly offered as it has been to me—because they still persist in doing despite to the Spirit of Grace by a submission to civil—a worshipping of the devil—as from the will of God, whose name and whose nature is love; whose ways are ways of pleasantness; and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore. I might be happy by a sacrifice of these relations, but I choose, rather, to suffer with them for a season, that in due time—in their time—I may present them to Him, faultless, whom I worship; than whom I know no other, nor desire to know; whose peace is with me now, and it is heaven; and whose promises are—of God.]
WHO WILL SHEW US ANY GOOD?
It is sweet in affliction to pray, On the Author of peace to repose; To be caught in the spirit, away From the clime where ingratitude grows. Oh! Yes, it is blissful to feel, That, the soul has a friend to receive it; As able and willing to heal, As the languishing hope to believe it. ‘Tis the merciless license of earth, To regard the meek sigh with disdain; And to mock, in its insolent mirth, At the living that, lonely, complain. Alas! The offences are here,— But the woes of the prophecy spoken, Are gathering in might to appear; And the hearts shall be bound that are broken. [page 12] Pure Spirit of promise, incline To the fondly submiss at thy throne; We burn with desire to be thine And we feel that the flame is thine own. Since worthy we seem in thy sight, Of such towering and tender emotion;— Oh! Come and envelope us quite, In the full blaze of Christian devotion.
PART OF THE 119TH PSALM:
Lord, how I love thy law! ‘tis here My daily meditation grows: Through the commandments, ever near, Made wiser than my foes. More light thy testimonies give, Than all my teachers ever bore; And, for thy precepts kept, I live Beyond the age’s lore. I’ve kept my feet—to keep thy word— From every way of evil free: Nor have I from thy judgments erred, For I am taught of thee. Sweetly thy words, as honey, teach! Yea, sweeter do thy precepts run! Through them I understanding reach And every false way shun. [page 13]
LINES OF A LIVING PORTRAIT.
There’s more of sweetness in that face, Than verse can e’er define; Fair innocence, and heavenly grace, And harmony divine. And there’s a light within that eye, That only God above Can fashion out of darkness, by The Omnipotence of Love! Around thee, dignity and truth, Their dearest charms diffuse; A trait’rous thought against thy youth, Doth heaven itself abuse. And thus, with tenderness entwined, True holiness unfolds; While perfect patience, all the mind Of God in Christ upholds. How blissful gush the fountains pure, Of hope in thy new heart;— For I, in my belief mature, Do see thee as thou art. An dear Religion’s* faithful beam, In thee diverges wide, From earth, and its most idle dream OF flatteries and pride.
* It is a pity that Religion has so few friends—heart-worshippers of her holiness and beauty—and it is a fearful truth, that, the spirit of unutterable glory which has wound itself in every possible way with my affections for eternity, is but seen in shadow, or altogether absent, beyond my more immediate relations. It is too late for me to withhold this truth from the light, through the fear of what man can do unto me, for it exercises so commanding an influence over me, that,subserviency to it, has become a matter of unavoidable necessity. Will those, then, with whom, in my [page 14] palmy days of worldly prosperity, I passed for a person of much sincerity and correct observation—as one, whose very sins were committed in defiance and contempt of his better understanding—not be generous enough to believe me honest now? And patient enough to weigh my sanity, when I tell them that, but for the exercise of infinite mercy in my behalf, I should have been, at this hour, the victim of my original transgression in Adam, among the lost forever? Will they not credit me when I, from my heart’s ever fearfully intelligent fibre, subscribe the testimony of my conviction to the truth of eternal torment—of utter—hopeless—sunless—starless—hideous, and damnable desolation, to the wretched unbeliever? Will they not trust to my horrible experience of the meaning of words, that the belief which they have hitherto professed has not been belief, but the acceptance of indolence—that their rest was the probationary absence of judgment—and that, without an entire change in them, and of them, as well as of all things in connexion with them, to them, it was in my knowledge that they would have been damned forever? May God witness that, a simple dependence on the sacrifice in Christ, is, at all times, and under all circumstances, a bar to temptation; and a certain step to the purity of enjoyment—to that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. I affirm this to be true fro an intimate knowledge of myself. There was a time, when, in the bitterness of my despair, and with the full consent of my heart and my head, I imprecated eternal curses on the conception that gave me being, and I am a living, a happy, and a glorious monument of its goodness and mercy—a practical illustration of the truth that Jesus Christ is able to save, even to the uttermost—and where now is the excuse for unbelief?
It is not to be found in eternity. [page 14]
Thou seek’st a better country, far From sinfulness and strife; And wedded thoughts, that will not mar The chastities of life. Ev’n thus do I, the prize in view, And grateful homage pay; To Him that gave a star so true, To shine upon my way. The world recedes behind me fast, The promise at the door; The ways of wisdom in the past, And hope and trust before. Tho’, huge, the mountains intervene, I cast them in the sea:— Strong is the arm on which I lean, Oh! Lean on it with me! [page 15]
STANZAS FOR MUSIC.
My heart is full of holy fire, And my thoughts are of Heaven above; Where God’s right hand shall awake the lyre, To measures of Lordly Love. To measures of Lordly Love, my soul, To measures of Lordly Love; When thou shalt be found with the random’d whole— Oh!—One in the Heavenly Dove! I breathe, methinks, in the balmy air, Of that high and that holy place; For the spirit is here that shall lead me there, To the light of my Father’s face. To the light of thy Father’s face, my soul, To the light of thy Father’s face:— Few, few are the envious years to roll, Between thee and that voiceless grace! Oh! Mighty, the thought in my bosom, springs, To its rest in the realms on high; And now to look down upon earthly kings, How it strains the mental eye! How it strains the mental eye, my soul, How it strains the mental eye!— Turn—turn to the star in yon glorious pole, And keep watch for the opening sky! He comes who swore, to believers true, They never should call in vain; And though hell should rise on thy misty view, Keep faith with the spotless stain. [page 16] Keep faith with the spotless stain, my soul, Keep faith with the spotless stain;— Oh! He speaks to thee, in no shadowy scroll, And he soon will be here to reign! To reign o’er all, in immortal youth, Transfigured without decay; From glory to glory, in truth—His Truth— A ruined Creation away. A ruined Creation away, my soul, A ruined Creation away;— Oh! Farewell, then, to the regions of dole, And welcome Eternal Day!
HAVE I AN INTEREST IN CHRIST?
Who gave those eyes of heavenly blue, Their sweet expression—soft and true? Who gave that check a warmth so rare,— And made the flowing tresses there, Enamored, in their loveliness, Of such a dear, abiding place? Who gave that lip its look—the smile That, present, leaves no room for guile? Who in that form delights to dwell, In beauty without parallel? Who once transfigur’d it in part, To give me a believing heart? Oh! None but God, whose love I see, Most lovely beaming thence on me! [page 17]
Come, let us reason, saith the Lord: Amen—so let it be— Why lingers happiness, implored So earnestly of thee? Why is a Seraph’s eye adorned, That shines no more for me? Why was it giv’n to ask a bliss, That cannot be obtained? ‘Twas never thine the traitor kiss— The invitation feign’d! Let who will slander thee in this, Remember, I disdain’d. I gave the world a heart to read, My faithful witness thou, Nor left undone in thought, word, deed, A Christian duty—how That heart was left alone to bleed, It matters little now. I prov’d the world’s full of treachery, And was content to go, Where thou who mad’st my soul could’st be Its refuge—here below I saw the impossible, and see,— Why am I chain’d to woe? A dawn more lovely than the dream Of Angel in his sphere, Broke o’er my darkness—bliss supreme, Seem’d to be with me here— Alas! Alas! It did but seem, My hot rebuke was near! [page 18] I love’d—O God, the love was thine, Why was it cast away? Hast thou made fairer love than mine? Then, wherefore did I pray? Holiness—Purity, Divine, Why am I sad to day? * * * * I must be wrong—my heart incline, TO thee—thou Better Way!
And I will give him the morning star—Rev.ii. 28.
Star of the Morning,—Oh! How dear, The influence that descends on me,— Lo! all things as they are appear; In thine own light I worship thee. And, surely, were the brightest gem, In angel thought my gift to-day; I’d place it in his diadem, TO win thy constant ray. Vainly aspir’d even Zion’s towers, To catch my hope, in darkness sped; Oh! What avail’d her living bowers, To one, like me, among the dead! But, blessed be thy holy light, That promises eternal day:— Star of the Morning—bless my sight, Ev’n with a constant ray. And there is one, who vigil keeps, With me thine effluence to enjoy; And talk of Him who never sleeps; And taste of bliss without alloy. [page 19] Oh! Let thy hallow’d radiance fall, Forever, on us into day:— Star of the Morning,—shed on all, Thine everlasting ray.
‘Tis daring high one must confess, To look on perfect loveliness; And kiss the hope that, to the brim, Hath fill’dthe cup of joy for him. I cast me on the world abroad, With here a let, and there a goad; And, desp’rate, let my spirit range, Through heaven, and earth, and hell, for change. I scann’d the past eternity, Look’d forward in the lost to be;— Wept for a hope—there was but one, And that hid under malison— Then turn’d me to the House of pray’r, And found my comfort—in despair. O, what a night of wretchedness— Of thick, of black, of damn’d, distress! How deep the gulph between its woe And grace this day, is God’s to know! A wonder o’er my soul prevail’d, How I that lov’d the Lord has fail’d; Unmindful that, in Him, I died, Forsaken, by my Father’s side. [page 20] But, oh! The resurrection bright,— The sweets of that seraphic light! The heavenly lustre of an eye, Lit with the glory from on high! And, then, the rapture of the sign, The creature and CREATOR mine! Grief, Grief,—thy reign will soon be o’er, I love—I worship—I adore!
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.
Lord, Jesus, Christ;—it may be sin, Short of perfection thus to stay; But, grateful as I am within, I have no heart to pray. What shall I ask of thee to give, That hath not been already given? Hast thou not died that I might live, Great Lord of earth and heaven! If, haply, for my daily bread, A sign proclaim my forfeit peace; In Thee behold the table spread, And joy, and hope, increase. If on my raiment I appear, At times, to throw an anxious care; A sweet, though a reproachful tear, The “Lillies’ still prepare. My shelter, in the Lord at length, Too long by mis-belief unblest, [page 21] Defies the storm in all its strength:— It rages, and I rest. I have no heart to pray—the flame Of gratitude enfolds me dumb: Yet,—Hallowed, Father, be Thy Name, Through all Thy Kingdom come!
The spirit and the bride say, come! And let him that heareth say come!—REV.
The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life.—JOHN.
Come, say the spirit and the bride, In God, the Father, sanctified By the Eternal Son: Come to thy rest—be happy here— Enjoy the love that casteth fear, Out, to the Evil One. And I believe, and I obey, Advance a step in Wisdom’s way, But only one, alas! For, at the next, broad in the eye Of wicked CURIOSITY I stand, and cannot pass. And, sinful too, UNWATCHFULNESS Obtrudes to mar where Christ would bless, And rends the sacred veil; Oh! How the sweet devotion there, Offends the pride of worldly care, That never shall prevail. [page 22] And IMPUDENCE, and IGNORANCE, Who prate of God yet live by chance; For chance He is to them— Trespass upon the Heavenly light, And shroud the loveliness in night, That, unknown, they condemn. (O, when the heart is all abroad, And gathering in its loves to God, With all their tender fires; How monstrous is the hollow smile Of vanity—the cross how vile, Of brutal, false, desires!) At foes like these the barriers fall, And lead to breaches in the wall, That guard the holiest place; But, courage, Zion,—shout with me,— Defeat and death assail them,—see The Faith that is of Grace. Come, say the spirit and the bride! I go, in Jesus crucified, The utmost bliss to dare; And come, ye understanding few, In mighty faith and witness true, The nuptial banquet share. I owe—but God alone can shew, What to your faith in him I owe, And only can repay; So, come to Him, and rev’rence still, My landmarks on the Holy Hill,— The light is surely Day! [page 23] How readest thou?
I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? Yes, Lord. JOHN, xi.25, 27.
I WILL NOT LET THEE GO.
My hope,—ye lov’d but ling’ring few,— Is of the Everlasting true; Of faith in him, who is the sum Of past, of present, and to come; And, save the height forever known The summit of comparison, It fills conception’s highest place, In growing glory, goodness, grace;— So sweet—so pure—so chaste—so fair— And holy—that it hides compare. What, though it tremblingly expand, Beneath the rigors of the land; Sigh for the airs of heavenly rest, That fan the arbors of the blest; And slowly lift its righteous head, Where rank fears yet are nourished:— It lives to smile on all regrets, Ev’n in a Sun that never sets! My gentle Hope—my MAIDEN hope— My heart’s trust in immortal scope; My fond—wise—faithful—Oh! To tell But half thy praises prassing well! The glorious Gospel light put on, And meet, with me, the Holy One, ‘Tis done—she knows He cannot lie, And lovestoo well to doubt and die. [page 24]