The Harp of Canaan;
SELECTIONS FROM THE POETS
BIBLE HISTORICAL INCIDENTS.
ARRANGED CHRONOLOGICALLY BY
REV. J. DOUGLAS BORTHWICK,
Author of “Cyclopaedia of History & Geography,” & “The British American Reader.”
“I’ll sing, first in night’s diadem For ever, and for evermore THE STAR!—the STAR OF BETHLEHEM.”
RICHARD WORTHINGTON, GREAT ST. JAMES STREET.
Entered according to Act of Provincial Parliament, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, by REV. JOHN DOUGLAS BORTHWICK in the Office of the Registrar of the Province of Canada.
PRINTED BY JOHN LOVELL, ST. NICHOLAS STREET.
VENERABLE W.T. LEACH, D. C. L., L. L. D.,
ARCHDEACON OF MONTREAL,
PROFESSOR OF LOGIC, &C., IN MCGILL UNIVERSITY
MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
THIS WORK IS DEDICATED,
As a small token of respect for high literary attainments, and endeavours to elevate the standard of English Literature in Lower Canada,
BY THE AUTHOR.
MONTREAL, XMAS, 1866. [unnumbered page]
|The Creation||Dr. Addison||13|
|The Creator’s Works||Wallace||14|
|The Beauties of Creation||Bishop Heber||15|
|The First Sabbath||Milton||17|
|God Visible in all Nature||Cowper||21|
|Adam’s First Sensations||Milton||23|
|The Garden of Eden||Milton||24|
|Eve and Adam||Milton||26|
|Adam, Where Art Thou?||Ragg||27|
|Adam and Everlasting Paradise||Milton||29|
|Eve’s First Born||Mrs. Sigourney||30|
|Cain, Where is thy Brother Abel?||Ragg||32|
|Cain on the Sea Shore||From the German of Stolberg||34|
|Enoch Walked with God||Mrs. Hemans||35|
|Subsiding to the Waters of the Deluge||Milton||40|
|To the Rainbow||Campbell||41|
|The Destruction of Sodom||Croly||43|
|Abraham’s Sacrifice||Mrs. Leprohon||44|
|Abraham at Machpelah||Mrs. Sigourney||46|
|Jacob Wrestling with the Angel||Wesley||50|
|The Burial of Jacob||Rev. J. D. Burns||53|
|The Finding of Moses||Grahame||56|
|The Two Horsemen||T. Greenwood||258|
|The Saviour’s Second Coming||Milman||261|
|The Song of the Hundred and Forty and Four Thousand||J. Montgomery||263|
|The Lost Day||Sir Walter Scott||264|
|The Final Judgement||Pollock||264|
|The Pleasure of Heaven||Jenson||266|
|The Better Land||Mrs. Hemons||267|
|The City of Rest||Hymn of the Ages||269|
In issuing this volume of Sacred Poetry to the favourable notice of the Public, the author begs leave to say that he has carried out an idea which he had entertained for some time. Whilst many volumes of poetry, both original and selected, have within the last few years been printed in England and America, none have been produced of the same character and arrangement with this, so far as is known to him. It is unnecessary to recommend this collection; the pieces will speak for themselves far more eloquently than can be done by any other pen than that of the poet; and the world-wide renown and the illustrious names of many of the authors are a sufficient guarantee for their merit.
Poetry, of all the forms of the printed words, is by far the most expressive and effective. It has a much greater effect on the mind of the reader or hearer than say other, and therefore most important it is that this effect should be for good and not for evil. Much of the Poetry, or what is termed Poetry, and prized as such, is not inspired by the light from Heaven above. Such is peculiarly hurtful to young minds. In this collection nothing is offered to the public but what is perfectly pure. There is not a word in it which cannot agree with the Great Standard of our morality; and if it cause one holy aspiration, one heavenly feeling, one food thought to arise within the breast, one teat of heartfelt sympathy to flow; if it awaken in the bosom of any, one feeble determination to conquer through good or bad report, to prow on and forward, still [unnumbered page] more vigorously is the battle of life, or in the pilgrimage to Heaven whilst reading the incidents in the career of our ever most Divine Lord and Master Jesus Christ, or of His Holy Apostles, or in the recorded events of the Prophets and Patriarchs of old, one very great aim and design of the work will be accomplished. “Verse,” says the celebrated Sir Philip Sidney, “far exceedeth prose in the knitting up of the memory,” and the earliest advantage which is found to arise from the practice of hearing and reading passages of poetry is an improvement of this faculty. In no way is the memory capable of being made more useful than by treasuring up some choice productions of poetic genius, and especially when these productions are founded on the great events of the Sacred Scriptures. And one very great advantage of the following compilation is, that as nothing doctrinal or denominational has been admitted, so it is fit to be read by all classes of the community.
The author willingly avails himself of some very beautiful observations of the illustrious Milton as to the end, scope, object and usefulness of religious poetry. “Poetical abilities,” he says, “wheresoever they are found, are the inspired gift of God, but rarely bestowed. They are of power to imbreed and cherish in great people the seeds of virtue and public civility; to allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in right time, to celebrate, in glorious and holy hymns the throne and equipage of God’s almightiness, and what He works and what He suffers to be wrought, with high providence in His church; to sing victorious agonies of martyrs and saints; the deeds and triumphs of just and pious nations, doing valiantly, through faith, against the enemies of Christ; to deplore the general relapses of kingdoms and states from justice and God’s true worship.
“Lastly, whatsoever is religion is holy and sublime, in virtue amiable or grave, whatsoever hath passion or admiration in all the [unnumbered page] changes of that which is called fortune from without, or the wily subtleties and refluxes of man’s thoughts from within; all these things, with a solid and treated smoothness to paint out and describe, teaching over the whole book of sanctity and virtue, through all the instances of example, with such delight to those especially of a soft and delicious temper, who will not so much as look upon Truth herself, unless they see her elegantly dressed; that whereas the paths of honesty and good life appear now rugged and difficult though they may be indeed easy and pleasant, they will appear to all men both easy and pleasant, though they were rugged and difficult indeed.”
The greater number of the pieces in this collection are well known, but some are original. To Mrs. Leprohon, the gifted poetess, the author would return his sincere thanks for the two very beautiful poems received from her, which appear here for the first time in print, viz., “Abraham’s Sacrifice,” and “The Ten Lepers,” as well as for her other pieces. To the Hon. Thos. D’Arcy McGee he is under great obligation for his poems, and chiefly for his “Prelude to Christmas,” which, amidst the diversity of the calls upon his time and mind, he kindly wrote for the “Harp of Canaan.” To others also who have sent pieces or their works and allowed extracts therefrom, he returns thanks; and lastly, to the kind public who have so liberally subscribed for the whole edition previous to its publication, thereby evincing approval of the labours of the author and an appreciation of his design.
MONTREAL, XMAS., 1865. [page xii]
The Harp of Canaan.
HISTORICAL INCIDENTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue ethereal sky, And spangled heav’ns, a shining frame, Their great Original proclaim. Th’ unweary’d sun, from day to day, Does his Creator’s pow’r display; And publishes to ev’ry land The work of an Almighty hand. Soon as the ev’ning shades prevail, The moon takes up the wondrous tale, And nightly to the list’ning earth, Repeats the story of her birth; While all the stars that round her burn, And all the planets in their turn, Confirm the tidings as they roll, And spread the truth from pole to pole. [unnumbered page] What though in solemn silence all Move round the dark terrestrial ball? What though no real voice, nor sound, Amidst their radiant orbs be found? In Reason’s ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious voice; For ever singing, as they shine, “The hand that made us is divine.”
THE CREATOR’S WORKS.
There’s not a star whose twinkling light Illumes the distant earth, And cheers the solemn gloom of night, But mercy gave it birth. There’s not a cloud whose dews distil Upon the parching clod, And clothe with verdure vale and hill, That is not sent by God. There’s not a place on earth’s vast round, In ocean deep, or air, Where skill and wisdom are not found, For God is everywhere. Around, beneath, below, above, Wherever space extends, There heaven displays its boundless love, And power with mercy blends.
Wallace. [page 14]
THE BEAUTIES OF CREATION
I praised the earth, in beauty seen, With garlands gay of various green; I prais’d the sea, whose ample field Shone glorious as a silver shield, And earth and ocean seem’d to say, Our beauties are but for a day. I prais’d the sun, whose chariot roll’d On wheels of amber and of gold; I prais’d the moon, whose softer eye Glem’d sweetly through the summer sky; And moon and sun in answer said, “Our days of light are numbered!” O God! O Good beyond compare! If thus thy meaner works are fair! If thus thy bounties gild the span Of ruin’d earth and winful man, How glorious must the mansion be Where thy redeem’d shall dwell with Thee!
—Meanwhile the Son On his great expedition now appear’d, Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown’d Of Majesty divine; sapience and love Immense, and all his Father in Him shone. [page 15] About his chariot, numberless were pour’d Cherub, and seraph, potentates, and thrones, And virtue, wing’d spirits, and chariots wing’d From th’ armory of God, where stand of old Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodg’d Against a solemn day, harness’d at hand, Celestial equipage! and now came forth Spontaneous, for within them spirit liv’d, Attendant on their Lord: heaven open’d wide Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound! On golden hinges moving, to let forth The King of Glory, in his powerful Word And Spirit coming to create new worlds. On heavenly ground they stood; and from the shore They view’d the vast immeasurable abyss, Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild, Up from the bottom turn’d by furious winds And surging waves, as mountains, to assault Heaven’s height, and with the centre mix the pole. Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace! Said them th’ omnific Word; your discord end: Nor stay’d; but on the wings of cherubim Uplifted, in paternal glory rode Far into Chaos heard his voice. Him all his train Follow’d in bright procession, to behold Creation, and the wonders of his might. Then stay’d the fervid wheels; and in his hand He took the golden compasses, prepar’d In God’s eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things. [page 16] One foot he center’d, and the other turn’d Round through the vast profundity obscure, And said, “Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds. This be thy just circumference, O world!”
THE FIRST SABBATH.
Genesis II. 1, 2, 3.
Here finish’d he, and all that he had made, View’d, and behold all was entirely good; So even and morn accomplish’d the sixth day: Yet, not till the Creator, from his work Desisting, though unwearied, up return’d, Up to the heaven of heavens, his high abode; Thence to behold this new created world, The addition of his empire, how it show’d In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair, Answering his great idea. Up he rode, Follow’d with acclamation, and the sound Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned Angelic harmonies; the earth, the air Resounded (thou remember’st, for thou heard’st,) The heavens and all the constellations rung, The planets in their station listening stood, While the bright pomp ascended jubilant, “Open, ye everlasting gates!” they sung, “Open, ye heavens, your living doors; let in “The great Creator from his work return’d [page 17] “Magnificent, his six days’ work, a world; “Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deign “To visit oft the dwellings of just men, “Delighted; and with frequent intercourse “Thither will send his winged messengers “On errands of supernal grace.”—So sung The glorious train ascending: he through heaven, That open’d wide her blazing portals, led To God’s eternal house direct the way; A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold, And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear Seen in the galaxy, that milky-way Which nightly, as a circling zone, thou seest Powder’d with stars. And now on earth the seventh Evening rose in Eden, for the sun Has set, and twilight from the east came on, Forerunning night; when at the holy mount Of heaven’s high-seated top, the imperial throne Of Godhead fixed for ever firm and sure, The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down With his great Father there; and, from his work Now resting, bless’d and hallow’d the seventh day, As resting on that day from all his work. But not in silence holy kept: the harp Had work and rested not; the solemn pipe, And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop, All sounds on fret by string or golden wire, Temper’d soft tunings, intermix’d with voice Choral or unison: of incense clouds, Fuming from golden censers, hid the mount. Creation and the six days’ acts they sung: “Great are thy works, Jehovah! infinite [page 18] “Thy power! what thought can measure thee, or tongue “Relate thee? Greater now in thy return “Than from the giant angels: thee that day “Thy thunders magnified; but to create “Is greater than created to destroy. “Who can impair thee, Mighty King, or bound “Thy empire? Easily the proud attempt “Of spirits apostate, and their counsels vain, “Thou hast repell’d; while impiously they thought “Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw “The number of thy worshippers. Who seeks “To lessen thee, against his purpose serves “To manifest the more thy might: his evil “Thou usest, and from thence createst more good. “Witness this new-made world, another heaven “From heaven-gate not far, founded in view “On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea; “Of amplitude almost immense, with stars “Numerous, and every star perhaps a world “Of destined habitation; but thou know’st “Their seasons: among these the seat of men, “Earth with her nether ocean circumfused, “Their pleasant dwelling place. Thrice happy men “And sons of men whom God hath thus advanced! “Created in his image there to dwell “And worship him; and in reward to rule “Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air, “And multiply a race of worshippers “Holy and just; thrice happy, if they know “Their happiness, and persevere upright!” So sung they, and the empyrean rung With hallelujahs: thus was the Sabbath kept.
Milton. [page 19]
Ay! gloriously thou standest there, Beautiful, boundless firmament! That, swelling wide o’er earth and air, And round the horizon bent, With thy bright vault and sapphire wall, Dost overhang and circle all; Far, far below thee, tall grey trees Arise, and piles built up of old, And hills, whose ancient summits freeze In the fierce light and cold; The eagle soars his utmost height, Yet far thou stretchest o’er his flight. Thou hast thy frowns: with thee on high The storm has made his airy seat, Beyond that soft blue curtain lie His stores of hail and sleet. Thence the consuming lightnings break, There the strong hurricanes awake. Yet art thou prodigal of smiles— Smiles, sweeter than thy frowns are stern: Earth sends, from all her thousands isles, A shout at their return. The glory that comes down from thee Bathes, in deep joy, the land and sea. The sun, the gorgeous sun is thine, The pomp that brings and shuts the day, The clouds that round him change and shine, The sirs that fan his way. [page 20] Thence look the thoughtful stars, and there The meek moon walks the silent air. The sunny Italy may boast The beauteous tints that flush her skies; And lovely round the Grecian coast May thy blue pillars rise: I only know how fair they stand Around my own beloved land. And they are fair—a charm is theirs That earth, the proud green earth has not— With all the forms, and hues, and airs That haunt her sweetest spot. We gaze upon thy calm pure sphere, And read of Heaven’s eternal year. Oh, when, amid the throng of men, The heart grows sick of hollow mirth, How willingly we turn us then Away from this cold earth, And look into thy azure breast For seats of innocence and rest!
GOD VISIBLE IN ALL NATURE
There lives and works A soul in all things, and that soul is God. The beauties of the wilderness are His, That make so gay the solitary place, Where no eye sees them; and the fairer forms That cultivation glories in are His. [page 21] He sets the bright procession on its way, And marshals all the order of the year; He marks the bounds which Winter may not pass, And blunts his pointed fury; in its case, Russet and rude, folds up the tender germ, Uninjured, with inimitable art; And, ere one flowery season fades and dies, Designs the blooming wonders of the next. The Lord of all Himself through all diffused, Sustains, and is the life of all that lives. Nature is but a name for an effect, Whose cause is God. . . . One Spirit—His Who wore the platted thorns, with bleeding brown— Rules universal nature. Not a flower But shows some touch, in freckle, streak, or strain, Of his unrivalled pencil. He inspires Their balmy odours, and imparts their hues, And bathes their eyes with nectar, and includes, In grains as countless as the sea-side sands, The forms with which he sprinkles all the earth. Happy who walks with him! whom, what he finds Of flavour or of scent in fruit or flower, Or what he views of beautiful or grand In Nature, from the broad majestic oak To the green blade that twinkles in the sun, Prompts with remembrance of a present God.
Cowper. [page 22]
ADAM’S FIRST SENSATION.
Genesis II. 7.
As new waked from soundest sleep, Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid, In balmy sweat which with his beams the Sun Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed. Straight toward heaven my wondering eyes I turned And gazed a while the ample sky; till, raised By quick instinctive motion, up I sprung, As thitherward endeavouring, and upright Stood on my feet. About me round I saw Hill, dale, and shadowy woods, and sunny plains, And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these Creatures that lived and moved, and walked or flew Birds on the branches warbling. All things smiled With fragrance and with joy my heart o’erflowed. Myself I then perused, and limb by limb Surveyed and sometimes went, and sometimes ran With supple joints, as lively vigour led: But who I was, or where, or from what cause, Knew not. To speak I tried, and forthwith spake; My tongue obeyed, and readily could name Whate’er I saw. “Thou Sun,” said I, “fair light, And thou enlightened Earth, so fresh and gay, Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains, And ye that live and move, fair creature, tell, Tell, if you saw, how I came thus, how here? Not of myself! By some great Maker, then, In goodness and in power pre-eminent: [page 23] Tell me how may I know him, how adore, From whom I have that thus I move and live, And feel that I am happier than I know.”
THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
Genesis II. 8-14.
Southward through Eden went a river large, Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill Passed underneath ungulf’d; for God had thrown That mountain as his garden mould, high raised Upon the rapid current, which through veins Of porous earth, with kindly thirst up drawn, Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill Watered the garden; thence united fell Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood, Which from his darksome passage now appears: And now divided into four main streams, Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm And country, whereof here needs no account; But rather to tell how, if Art could tell How, from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks, Rolling on orient pearls and sands of gold, With many error under pendent shades, Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain, Both where the morning sun first warmly smote [page 24] The open field, and where the unpierced shade Imbrowned the noontide bowers: thus was this place. A happy rural seat of various view;— Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm Others, whose fruit, burnished with golden rind, Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true, If true, here only, and of delicious taste: Betwixt them lawn and level downs, and flocks Grazing the tender herb, were interposed, Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap Of some irriguous valley spread her store, Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose: Another side, umbrageous grots and caves Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine Lays forth her purple grapes, and gently creeps Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring waters fall Down the slope hills, dispersed, or in a lake, That to the fringed bank with myrtle crowned Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams. The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs, Breathing the smell of field and grove; attune The trembling leaves, while universal Pun, Knit with the Grace and the Hours in dance, Led on the eternal Spring.
Milton. [page 25]
Genesis II. 22.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep I first awaked, and found myself reposed Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where And what I was, whence thither brought, and how. Not distant far from thence, a murmuring sound Of waters issued from a vase, and spread Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved Pure as the expanse of heaven. I thither went With unexperienced thought, and laid me down On the green bank, to look into the clear Smooth lake, that to me seem’d another sky. As I bent down to look, just opposite A shape within the watery gleam appear’d, Bending to look on me: I started back, It started back; but pleased I soon return’d, Pleased it return’d as soon with answering looks Of sympathy and love.
EVE TO ADAM
With thee conversing I forget all time; All seasons, and their change, all please alike. Sweet in he breath of Morn, her rising sweet, With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun, When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams on herb, tree, fruit, and flower, [page 26] Glistering with dew: fragrant the fertile Earth After soft showers; and sweet the coming on Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night, With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon, And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train. But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends With charm of earliest birds; nor rising Sun On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower, Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers, Nor grateful Evening mild; nor walk by Moon Or glittering star-light, without thee, is sweet.
“ADAM, WHERE ART THOU?”
Genesis iii. 9.
Adam, where art thou? monarch, where? It is thy Maker calls: What means that look of wild despair What anguish now enthralls? Why in the wood’s embowering shade, Dost thou attempt to hide, From him whose hand thy kingdom made, And all thy wants supplied? Go hide again, thou fallen one, The crown has left thy brow; The robe of purity is gone, And thou art naked now. [page 27] Adam, where art thou? monarch, where? Assert thy high command? Call forth the tiger from his lair, To lick thy kingly hand; Control the air, control the earth, Control the foaming sea; They own no more thy heavenly birth, Or heaven-stamp’d royalty. The brutes no longer will caress But share with thee thy reign; For the sceptre of thy righteousness, Thy hands have snapped in twain. Adam, where art thou? monarch, where? Thou wondrous thing of clay; Ah! let the earthworm now declare, Who claims thee as his prey; Thy mother, oh thou mighty one, For thee re-opes her womb; Thou to the narrow house art gone, Thy kingdom is thy tomb; The truth from Godhead’s lips that came, There in thy darkness learn; Of dust was formed thy beauteous frame, And shall to dust return. Adam, where art thou? where! ah where? Behold him raised above, An everlasting life to share, In the bright world of love. The hand he once ’gainst heaven could raise, Another sceptre holds; [page 28] His brows where new-born glories blaze, Another crown enfolds. Another robe’s flung over him, More fair than was his own; And with the fire-tongued seraphim, He dwells before the throne. But whence could such a change proceed? What power could raise him there? So late by God’s own voice decreed Transgression’s curse to bear. Hark! hark! he tells—a harp well strung His grateful arms embrace; Salvation is his deathless song, And grace, abounding grace; And sounds through all the upper sky A strain with wonders rife, That life hath given itself to die, And bring death back to life.
ADAM AND EVE LEAVING PARADISE.
Genesis iii. 23, 24.
So spake our Mother Eve; and Adam heard Well-pleased, but answered not: for now too nigh The Archangel stood; and from the other hill To their fixed station, all in bright array, The Cherubim descended; on the ground Gliding meteorous, as evening mist Risen from a river o’er the marish glides, [page 29] And gathers ground, fast at the labourer’s heel Homeward returning. High in front advanced The brandished sword of God before them blazed, Fierce as a comet; which, with torrid heat And vapours as the Lybian air adust, Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat In either hand the hast’ning Angel caught Our lingering parents; and to th’eastern gate Led them direct and down the cliff as fast To the subjected plain: then disappeared. They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld Of Paradise; so late their happy seat! Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms. Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; The world was all before them, where to choose Their place of rest, and Providence their guide. They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, Through Eden took their solitary way.
EVE’S FIRST BORN.
“I have gotten a man from the lord.”-Gensis iv. 1.
For the first time, a lovely scene Earth saw, and smiled— A gentle form with pallid mien, Bending o’er a new-born child, The pang, the anguish, and the woe That speech hath never told, Fled, as the sun with noontide glow Dissolves the snow-wreath cold, Leaving the bliss that none but mothers know, While he, the partner of her heaven-taught joy, Knelt in adoring praise beside the beauteous boy. She, first of all our mortal race, Learned the ecstacy to trace The expanding form of infant grace, From her own life-spring fed; To mark each radiant hour, Heaven’s sculpture still more perfect growing, More full of power; The little foot’s elastic tread, The rounded cheek, like rose-bud glowing, The fringed eye with gladness flowing As the pure blue fountains roll; And then those lisping sounds to hear, Unfolding to her thrilling ear The strange, mysterious, never-dying soul, And with delight intense To watch the angel-smile of sleeping innocence. No more she mourned lost Eden’s joy, Or wept her cherished flowers, In their primeval bowers, By wrecking tempests riven; The thorn and thistle of the exile’s lot She heeded not, So all absorbing was her sweet employ To rear the incipient man, the gift her God had given.
Mrs. Sigourney. [page 31]
“CAIN, WHERE IS THY BROTHER ABEL”
Genesis iv. 9.
Where is thy brother Abel? Thou murderer, answer, where? He talked with thee on yonder plain, Beside the altar there; Sweet peace was in his eye serene, And his heart was fill’d with love; As he pointed thy unbended soul To Him who reigns above. Where is thy brother Abel? Thou fratricide, ah! where? Thy heart, in childhood’s earlier hours, His joy or grief could share; Ye danced beneath the same green tree; In the same bower ye played; And oft have wandered hand in hand, Beneath the grove’s deep shade. Where is thy brother Abel? Unfeeling one, ah! where? Lock’d in each other’s fond embrace, Ye once could know no care; Nor the silence nor the gloom of night Could wake an anxious fear, While in each other’s arms ye lay, Or felt each other near. [page 32] Where is thy brother Abel? Ungrateful one, ah! where? His lips dwelt long upon thy name As he breathed his morning prayer; He begged that Heaven would fix thy faith, On Him that is to come, To take away the curse of sin, And bring God’s outcasts home. Where is thy brother Abel? Thy red hands answer where, No light is in his sunken eye, No smiles his cold cheeks bear; His lips are closed; his tongue is sealed; His locks are wet with gore; The cooling breeze revives him not, ’Twill wake him now no more. His blood has raised its voice to heaven, And calls for vengeance loud; Yet money still, with smiling face, Looks o’er the thunder cloud; But a fugitive and a vagabond, Thou now on earth shalt be, Though the latest breath that passed his lip Was spent in prayer for thee.
Ragg. [page 33]
CAIN ON THE SEA-SHORE.
Genesis iv. 14.
Woe is me! oh where, oh where Doth my spirit drive me? where? These wild torrents roll to me Abel’s blood!—It is the sea! E’en to earth’s remotest verge Vengeance doth me onward urge! Where no tongue did o’er complain, Abel’s blood has banished Cain! Woe is me! My brother’s blood Thunders in the roaring flood! In the rocky beach’s sound! In the cavern’s loud rebound! As the waves beat round the rock, So my spirit feels the shock Of grief and rage, anguished mood, Dread of Heaven, Abel’s blood! Open, waves, your surging tide! For the earth, when Abel died, Drank the blood of him I slew, Heard the curse of vengeance too! Open, waves, your surging tide! And disclose your bed all wide! Ah ’tis vain! revenge has might In the realm of ancient night! [page 34] In the darkest, deepest deep, Abel’s shade would near me keep— Near me, though I took my flight To the highest mountain’s height. Should this frame dissolve away, Of the whirlpool-storm the prey, Yet, oh yet, would Cain still dread Heaven’s anger on his head! Knowing now no end, no age, My tormented spirit’s rage (Time’s remotest bound’ries past) Through unceasing years will last. Vengeance on my head I drew, Th’ instant I my brother slew! Woe is me! oh woe is me! Dread of Heaven follows me!
From the German of Stolberg.
“ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD.”
Genesis v. 24.
He walked with God, in holy joy, While yet his days were few; The deep glad spirit of the boy To love and reverence grew. Whether, each nightly star to count The ancient hills he trod, Or sought the flowers by stream and fount— Alike he walked with God. [page 35] The graver noon of manhood came, The time of cares and fears; One voice was in his heart—the same It heard through childhood’s years. Amid fair tents, and flocks and swains, O’er his green pasture sod, A shepherd king on eastern plains, The patriarch walked with God! And calmly, brightly, that pure life Melted from earth away; No cloud it knew, no parting strife, No sorrowful decay; He bow’d him not, like all beside, Unto the spoiler’s rod, But join’d at once the glorified Where angels walk with God! So let us walk!—the night must come To us that comes to all; We through the darkness must go home, Hearing the tempest’s call. Closed is the path for evermore Which without death he trod; Not so that way wherein of yore His footsteps walk’d with God.
Mrs. Hemans. [page 36]
Genesis vi. vii. viii. ix.
Morn came: but the broad light, which hung so long In heaven, forsook the showering firmament, The clouds went floating on their fatal way. Rivers had grown to seas: the great sea swollen, Too mighty for its bounds, broke on the land, Roaring and rushing, and each flat and plain Devoured. Upon the mountains now were seen Gaunt men and women hungering with their babes Eyeing each other, or, with marble looks, Measuring the space beneath, swift lessening. At times a swimmer from a distant rock Less high, came struggling with the waves, but sank Back from the slippery soil. Pale mothers then Wept without hope, and aged heads struck cold By agues, trembling like autumnal leaves; And infants mourned, and young boys shrieked with fear. Stout men grew white with famine. Beautiful girls, Whom once the day languished to look on, lay On the wet earth, and rung their drenching hair; And fathers saw them there dying, and stole Their scanty fare, and, while they perished, thrived. Then terror died, and grief, and proud despair, Rage, and remorse, infinite agony, Love in its thousand shapes, weak and sublime, Birth-strangled; and strong passion perished. The young, the old, weak, wise, the bad, the good, Fell on their faces, struck,—whilst over them Washed the wild waters, in their clamorous march. Still fell the flooding rains. Great Ossa stood [page 37] Lone, like a peering Aly, when vapours shroud Its sides unshaken in the restless waves. But from the weltering deeps Pelion arose, And shook his piny forehead at the clouds, Moaning; and crowned Olympus all his snows Lost from his hundred heads, and shrank aghast Day, eve, night, morning, came and passed away, No sun was known to rise and none to set: ’Stead of its glorious beams a sickly light Paled the broad east what time the day is born; At others a thick mass, vapours and black In form like solid marble, roofed the sky, Yet gave no shelter. Still the ravenous wolf Howled; the wild foxes, and the household dog Grown wild, upon the mountains fought and fed Each on the other. The great eagle still In his home brooded, inaccessible; Or, when the gloomy morning seemed to break, Floated in silence on the shoreless seas. Still the quick snake unclasped its glittering eyes, Or shivering hung about the roots of pines; And still all round the vultures flew and watched The tumbling waters thick with bird and beast; Or, dashing in the midst their ravenous beaks, Plundered the rolling billows of their dead. Beneath the headlong torrents, towns and towers Fell down; temples all stone, and brazen shrines, And piles of marble, Palace and Pyramid (Kings’ homes or towering graves) in a breath were swept Crumbling away. Masses of ground, and trees Uptorn and floating, hollow rocks brute-crammed, Vast herds, and bleating flocks, reptiles, and beasts [page 38] Bellowing, and vainly with the choking waves Struggling, were hurried out,—but none returned: All on the altar of the giant sea Offered, like twice ten thousand hecatombs. Still fell the flooding rains, still the earth shrank! And ruin held his strait terrific way. Fierce lightnings burnt the sky, and the loud thunder (Breast of fiery air) howled from his cloud, Exalting toward the storm eclipsed moon. Below, the ocean rose boiling and black And flung its monstrous billows far and wide, Crumbling the mountain joints and summit hills: Then its dark throat is bared, and rocky tusks, Where with enormous waves on their broad backs The demons of the deep were raging loud: And the sea lion and the whale were swung, Like atoms round and round. Mankind was dead; And birds whose active wings once cut the air, The beasts that cut the water, all were dead: And every reptile of the woods had died, Which crawled or stung, and every curling worm: The untamed tiger in his den, the mole In his dark home—were choked; the darting ounce, And the blind adder, and the stork fell down Dead;—and the stifled mammoth, a vast bulk, Was washed far out amongst the populous foam. And there the serpent, which, few hours ago, Could crack the panther in his scaly folds, Lay lifeless, like a weed, beside his prey. And now, all o’er the deep, corses were strewn, Wide floating millions, like the rubbish flung Forth when a plague prevails, the rest down sucked, Sank buried in the world-destroying seas.
Procter. [page 39]
SUBSIDING OF THE WATERS OF THE DELUGE.
Genesis viii. 6-14.
He looked and saw the ark hull on the flood, Which now abated; for the clouds were fled, Driven by a keen north wind, that blowing dry, Wrinkled the face of Deluge, as decayed; And the clear Sun on his wide watery glass Glazed hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew, As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole With soft foot towards the Deep; who now had stopt His sluices, as the Heaven his windows shut. The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground, Fast on the top of some high mountain fixed. And now the tops of hill, as rocks, appear; With clamour thence the rapid currents drive, Towards the retreating sea, their furious tide. Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies, And after him the surer messenger, A dove, sent forth once and again to spy Green tree or ground, whereon his foot may light: The second time returning, in his bill An olive leaf he brings, pacific sign: Anon, dry ground appears, and from his ark The ancient Sire descends, with all his train, Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout, Grateful to Heaven, over his head beholds A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow Conspicuous with three listed colours gay, Betokening pence from God, and covenant new.
Milton. [page 40]
TO THE RAINBOW.
Genesis ix. 12-17.
Triumphal arch, that fill’st the sky When storms prepare to part, I ask not proud Philosophy To teach me what thou art. Still seem, as to my childhood’s sight, A mid-way station given, For happy spirits to alight Betwixt the earth and heaven. Can all, that optics teach, unfold Thy form to please me so, As when I dreamt of gems and gold Hid in thy radiant bow? When Science from Creation’s face Enchantment’s veil withdraws, What lovely visions yield their place To cold material laws! And yet, fair bow, no fabling dreams, But words of the Most High, Have told why first thy robe of beams Was woven in the sky. When o’er the green undeluged earth Heaven’s covenant thou didst shine, How came the world’s grey fathers forth, To watch thy sacred sign. [page 41] And when its yellow lustre smiled, O’er mountains yet untrod, Each mother held aloft her child, To bless the bow of God. Methinks, thy jubilee to keep, The first-made anthem rang On earth, delivered from the deep, And the first poet sang. Nor ever shall the Muse’s eye, Unraptured greet thy beam; Theme of primeval prophecy, Be still the poet’s theme! The earth to thee her incense yields, The lark thy welcome sings, When glittering in the freshened fields, The snowy mushroom springs. How glorious is thy girdle cast O’er mountain, tower, and town, Or mirrored in the ocean vast, A thousand fathoms down! As fresh in yon horizon dark, As young thy beauties seem, As when the eagle from the ark First sported in thy beam. For, faithful to its sacred page, Heaven still rebuilds thy span, Nor lets the type grow pale with age, That first spoke peace to man.
Campbell. [page 42]
THE DESTRUCTION OF SODOM.
Genesis xix. 24-28.
The wind blows chill across those gloomy waves; Oh! how unlike the green and dancing main! The surge is foul, as if it rolled o’er graves: Stranger, here lie the cities of the plain. Yes, on that plain, by wild waves covered now, Rose palace once and sparkling pinnacle; On pomp and spectacle beamed morning’s glow, On pomp and festival the twilight fell. Lovely and splendid all,—but Sodom’s soul Was stained with blood, and pride, and perjury; Long warned, long spared, till her whole heart was foul, And fiery vengeance on its clouds nigh. And still she mocked, and danced, and, taunting, spoke Her sportive blasphemies against the Throne: It came! The thunder on her slumber broke: God spake the word of wrath!—Her dream was done. Yet; in her final night, amid her stood Immortal messengers, and pausing Heaven Pleaded with man; but she was quite imbued, Her last hour waned, she scorned to be forgiven! ’Twas done! down poured at once the sulphurous shower, Down stooped, in flame, the heaven’s red canopy. Oh! for the arm of God, in that fierce hour! ’Twas vain: nor help of God or man was nigh. [page 43] They rush, they bound, they howl, the men of sin; Still stooped the cloud, still burst the thicker blaze; The earthquake heaved. Then sank the hideous din; Yon wave of darkness o’er their ashes strays.
The noontide sun streamed brightly down On Moriah’s mountain crest, The garden blaze of his vivid rays Tinged sacred Jordan’s breast; Whilst towering palms and flowerets sweet, Drooped low ’neath Syria’s burning heat. In the sunny glare of the sultry air, Toiled up the mountain side, The Patriarch sage in stately age, And a youth in health’s gay pride, Bearing in eyes and in features fair, The stamp of his mother’s beauty rare. She had not known when one rosy dawn Ere they’d started on their way, She had smoothed with care, his clustering hair, And knelt with him to pray, That his father’s hand and will alike, Were nerved at his young heart to strike. [page 44] The Heavenly Power that with such dower Of love fills a mother’s heart, Ardent and pure, that can all endure, Of her life itself a part, Knew too well that love beyond all price, To ask of her such a sacrifice. Though the noble boy with laughing joy Had borne on the mountain road, Th’ holocaust wood, which in mournful mood, His sire had helped to load, Type of Him who dragged up Calvary, The cross on which He was to die. The hot breath of noon began, ah! soon, On his youthful frame to tell, On the ivory brow, flushed, wearied, now, It laid its burning spell. And listless—heavy—he journeyed on, The smiles from his lips and bright eyes gone. Once did he say, on their toilsome way, “Father, no victim is near,” But with heavy sigh and tear dimmed eye, In accents sad though clear, Abraham answered; “the Lord our Guide, A fitting holocaust will provide.” The altar made and the fuel laid, Lo! the victim stretched thereon Is Abraham’s son, his only one, Who at morning’s blushing dawn, Had started with smiles that care defied, To travel on at his father’s side. [page 45] With grief-struck brow, the Patriarch now, Bares the sharp and glittering knife, On that mournful pyre, oh hapless Sire! Must he take his darling’s life; Will fails not, though his eyes are dim, God gave his Boy—he belongs to Him. With anguish riven, he casts towards heaven, One look, imploring wild, That doth mutely pray for strength to slay, His own, eye! his only child; When forth on the air swells a glad command, And an angel stays his trembling hand. The offering done—father and son, Come down Mount Moriah’s steeps, Joy gleaming now, on Abraham’s brow, In his heart thanksgiving deep; Whilst from His far and resplendent Throne, With love, Heaven’s King on both looks down.
ABRAHAM AT MACHPELAH.
Densely wrapped in shades Olive and terebinth, its vaulted door Flecked with the untrained vine and matted grass, Behold Machpelah’s cave. [page 46] A voice weeping? Lo, yon aged man Bendeth beside his dead. Wave after wave Of memory rises, till his lonely heart Sees all its treasures floating on the flood Like rootless weeds. The earliest dawn of love Is present with him, and a form of grace Whose beauty held him, and a form of grace Whose beauty held him ever in its thrall: And then the morn of marriage, gorgeous robes And dulcet music and the rites that bless The Eastern bride. Full many a glowing scene Made happy by her tenderness, returns To mock his solitude. Again their home Gleams through the oaks of Mamre. There he sat Rendering due rites of hospitality To guests who bore the folded wing of Heaven Beneath their vestments. And her smile was there Among the angels. When her clustering curls Wore Time’s chill hoar frost, with what glad surprise What holy triumphs of exulting faith He saw, fresh blooming in her withered arms, A fair young babe, the heir of all his wealth, For ever blending with that speechless joy Which thrilled his soul when first a father’s name Fell on his ear, is that pale, placid brow O’er which he weeps. Yet had he seen it wear Another semblance, tinged with hum of thought Perchance, unlovely in that trial hour [page 47] When to sad Hagar’s mute reproachful eyes He answered nought, but on her shoulder bound The cruse of water and the loaf, and sent Her and her son unfriended wanderers forth Into the wilderness. Say, who can mourn Over the smitten idol, by long years Cemented with his being, yet perceive No dark remembrance that he fain would blot, Troubling the tear? If there were no kind deed Omitted, no sweet healing word of love Expected yet unspoken; no sharp tone. That jarred discordant on the quivering nerve, For which the weeper fain would rend the tomb To cry, “Forgive!” oh! let him kneel and praise God, amid all his grief. We may not say If aught of penitence was in the pang That rung his laboring breast, while o’er the dust Of Sarab, at Machpelah’s watery tomb, The proud and princely Abraham bowed him down A mourning stranger, ’mid the sons of Heth.
Genesis xxviii. 10.
The sun was sinking on the mountain zone That guards thy vain of beauty, Palestine! And lovely from the desert rose the moon Yet lingering on the horizon’s purple line, Like a pure spirit o’er its earthly shrine. [page 48] Up Padan-aram’s height abrupt and bare A pilgrim toil’d, and oft on day’s decline Look’d pale, then paused for eve’s delicious air; The summit gain’d, he knelt and breathed his evening prayer. He spread his cloak and slumber’d—darkness fell Upon the twilight hills; a sudden sound Of silver trumpets o’er him seem’d to swell; Clouds heavy with the tempest gather’d round; Yet was the whirlwind in its caverns bound: Still deeper roll’d the darkness from on high, Gigantic volume upon volume wound, Above, a pillar shooting to the sky, Below, a mighty sea, that spread incessantly. Voices are heard—a choir of golden strings, Low winds, whose breath is loaded with the rose, Then chariot wheels—the nearer rush of wings; Pale lightning round the dark pavilion glows, It thunders—the resplendent gates unclose: Far as the eye can glance, on height o’er height, Rise fiery waving wings, and star-crown’d brows, Millions on millions, brighter and more bright, Till all is lost in one supreme, unmingled light. But, two beside the sleeping pilgrim stand, Like cherub-kings, with lifted, mighty plume, Fix’d, sun-bright eyes, and looks of high command; They tell the patriarch of his glorious doom; Father of countless myriads that shall come, Sweeping the land like billows of the sea, Bright as the stars of heaven from twilight’s gloom, Till He is given whom angels long to see, And Israel’s splendid line is crown’d with Deity.
Croly. [page 49]
JACOB WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL.
Genesis xxxii. 24.
Part the First.
Come, O Thou traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see; My company before is gone, And I am left alone with Thee; With Thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day. I need not tell Thee who I am; My misery and sin declare: Thyself hast called me by my name; Look on thy hands, and read it there: But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou? Tell me thy name, and tell me now. Is vain Thou strugglest to get free, I never will unloose my hold; Art Thou the Man that died for me? The secret of thy love unfold: Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I thy name, thy nature know. Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal Thy now, unutterable name? Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell? To know it now, resolved I am: Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I thy name, thy nature know. [page 50] What though my shrinking flesh complain, And murmur to contend so long? I rise superior to my pain: When O am weak, then I am strong, And when my all of strength shall fail, I shall with the God-man prevail.
Part the Second.
Yield to me now, for I am weak, But confident in self-despair, Speak to my heart, in blessings speak; Be conquer’d by my instant prayer: Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move, And tell me if thy name be Love. ’Tis Love!—‘tis Love! Thou diedst for me; I hear thy whisper in my heart: The morning breaks, the shadows flee; Pure, Universal Love, Thou art: To me, to all, thy bowels move; Thy nature and thy name is Love. My prayer hath power with God; the grace Unspeakable I now receive; Through faith I see Thee face to face; I see Thee face to face, and live; In vain I have not wept and strove; Thy nature and thy name is Love. I know Thee, Saviour, who Thou art, Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend: Nor wilt Thou with the night depart, [page 51] But stay and love me to the end: Thy mercies never shall remove; Thy nature and thy name is Love. Contented now upon my thigh I halt, till life’s short journey end; All helplessness, all weakness, I On Thee alone for strength depend; Nor have I power from Thee to move: Thy nature and thy name is Love. Lame as I am, I take the prey; Hell, earth, and sin, with case o’ercome; I leap for joy, pursue my way, And, as a bounding hart, fly home; Through all eternity, to prove, Thy nature and thy name is Love.
Wesley. [page 52]
THE BURIAL OF JACOB.
Gensis I. 7-15.
It is a solemn cavalcade, and slow, That comes from Egypt; never had the land, Save when a Pharaoh died, such pomp of woe Behold; never was bier by such a band Of princely mourners followed, and the grand Gloom of that strange funeral armament Saddened the wondering cities as it went. In Goehen he had died, that region fair Which stretches east from Nilus to the wave Of the great Gulf; and since he could not bear To lay his ashes in an alien grave, He charged his sons to bear him to the cave Where slumbered all his kin, that from life’s cares And weariness his dust might rest with theirs. For seventy days through Egypt ran the cry Of woe, for Joseph wept: and now there came Along with him the rank and chivalry Of Pharaoh’s court,—the flower of Egypt’s fume; High captains, chief estates, and lords of name, The prince, the priest, the warrior, and the sage, Made haste to join in that sad pilgrimage. The hoary elders in their robes of state Were there, and sceptred judges; and the night Of their pavilions pitched without the gate Was pleasant; chariots with their trappings bright Stood round,—till all were met, and every rite Was paid;—then at a signal the array Moved with a heavy splendour on its way. [page 53] Its very gloom was gorgeous; and the sound Of brazen chariots, and the measured feet Of stately pacing steeds upon the ground, Seemed, by its dead and dull monotonous beat, A burden so that march of sorrow meet; With music Pharaoh’s minstrels would have come Had Joseph wished,—’twas better they were dumb. They pass by many a town then famed or feared, But quite forgotten now; and over ground Then waste, on which in after time were reared Cities whose names were of familiar sound For centuries,—Bubastus, and renowned Pelusium, whose glories in decay Gorged the lean desert with a splendid prey. The fiery sons of Ishmael, as they scour The stony glens of Paran with their hordes, Watch their array afar, but dread their power; Here first against mankind they drew their swords In open warfare; as the native lords Of the wild region held their free career, And fenced the desert with the Arab spear. But unmolested now the mourners pass, Till distant trees, like signs of land, appear, And pleasantly they feel the yielding grass Beneath their feet, and in the morning clear They see with joy the hills of Canaan near; The camels scent the freshness of the wells, Far hidden in the depth of leafy dells. [page 54] At length they reach a valley opening fair With harvest field and homestead in the sweep Of olive-sprinkled hills, where they prepare The solemn closing obsequies to keep; For an appointed time they rest, and weep With ceaseless lamentation, and the land Rings with a grief it cannot understand. The rites thus duly paid, they onward went Across the eastern hills, and rested not Till, slowly winding up the last ascent, They see the walls of Hebron, and the spot To him they bore so dear and unforgot, Where the dark cypress and the sycamore Weave their deep shadows round the rock-hewn door. Now Jacob rests where all his kindred are,— The exile from the land in which of old His fathers lived and died, he comes from far To mix his ashes with their mortal mould. There where he stood with Esau, in the cold Dim passage of the vault, with holy trust His sons lay down the venerable dust. The laid him close by Leah, where she sleeps Far from her Syrian home, and never knows That Reuben kneels beside her feet and weeps, Nor glance of kindly recognition throws Upon her stately sons from that repose; His Rachel rests far-sundered from his side, Upon the way to Bethlehem, where she died. [page 55] Sleep on, O weary saint! thy bed is bless’d; Thou, with the pilgrim-staff of faith, hast pass’d Another Jordan into endless rest: Well may they sleep who can serenely cast A look behind, while darkness closes fast Upon their path, and breathe thy parting word,— “For Thy salvation I have waited, Lord!”
Rev. J.D. Burns.
THE FINDING OF MOSES.
Exodus ii. 1-11.
Slow glides the Nile; amid the margin flags, Closed in a bulrush ark, the babe is left,— Left by a mother’s hand. His sister waits Far off; and pale, ’tween hope and fear, beholds The royal maid surrounded by her train, Approach the river bank,—approach the spot Where sleeps the innocent: she see them stoop With meeting plumes; the rushy lid is ope’d And wakes the infant smiling in his tears, As when along a little mountain lake, The summer south-wind breathes, with gentle sigh, And parts the reeds, unveiling as they bend, A water-lily floating on the wave.
Grahame. [page 56]
I’ve almost reach’d the place—with cautious steps I must approach the spot where he is laid, Lest from the royal gardens any see me. Poor babe! ere this; the pressing calls of hunger Have broke thy short repose; the chilling waves, Ere this, have drench’d thy little shivering limbs. What must my babe have suffered—No one sees me, But soft, does no one listen! Ah! how hard, How very hard for fondness to be prudent! Now is the moment to embrace and feed him. Where’s Miriam, she has left her little charge, Perhaps through fear; perhaps she was detected. How wild is thought! how terrible is conjecture! A mother’s fondness frames a thousand fears, With thrilling nerve feels every real ill, And shapes imagined miseries into being. Ah me! Where is he? soul-distracting sight! He is not there—he’s lost, he’s gone, he’s drown’d! Toss’d by each beating surge my infant floats. Cold, cold, and watery is thy grave, my child! Oh no—I see the ark—Transporting sight! I have it here. Alas, the ark is empty! The casket’s left, the precious gem is gone! You spared him, pitying spirits of the deep But vain your mercy; some insatiate beast, Cruel as Pharaoh, took the life you spared— And I shall never, never see my boy!
Hannah Mare. [page 57]
THE SEVENTH PLAGUE OF EGYPT.
Exodus ix. 23-35.
’Twas morn—the rising splendour rolled On marble towers and roofs of gold; Hall, court and gallery, below, Were crowded with a living flow; Egyptian, Arab, Nubian, there,— The bearers of the bow and spear, The hoary priest, the Chaldee sage, The slave, the gemmed and glittering page— Helm, turban and tiara, shone A dazzling ring round Pharaoh’s throne. There came a man—the human tide Shrank backward from his stately stride; His cheek with storm and tide was tanned; A shepherd’s staff was in his hand; A shudder of instinctive fear Told the dark king what step was near; On through the host the stranger came, It parted round his form like flame. He stooped not at the foot-stool stone, He clasped not sandal, kissed not throne; Erect he stood amid the ring, His only words—“Be just, O king!” Oh Pharaoh’s cheek the blood flushed high, A fire was in his sullen eye: Yet on the chief of Israel No arrow of his thousands fell; All mute and moveless as the grave Stood chilled the satrap and the slave. [page 58] “Thou’rt come,” at length the monarch spoke Haughty and high the words outbroke: “Is Israel weary of its lair, The forehead peeled, the shoulder bare? Take back the answer to your hand: Go, reap the wind! go, plough the sand! Go, vilest of the living vile, To build the never-ending pile, Till, darkest of the nameless dead, The vulture on their flesh is fed! What better asks the howling slave Than the base life our bounty gave?” Shouted in pride the turban’d peers, Unclasp’d to heaven the golden spears. “King! thou and thine are doomed!—Behold!” The prophet spoke—the thunder rolled! Along the pathway of the sun Sailed vapory mountains, wild and dun. “Yet there is time,” the prophet said: He raised his staff—the storm was stayed: “King! be the word of freedom given: What art thou, man, to war with Heaven?” There came no word—the thunder broke! Like a huge city’s final smoke;— Thick, lurid, stifling, mixed with flame, Through court and hall the vapours came. Loose as the stubble in the field, Wide flew the men of spear and shield; Scattered like foam along the wave, Flew the proud pageant, prince and slave: [page 59] Or, in the chains of terror bound, Lay, corpse-like, on the smouldering ground. “Speak, King!—the wrath is but begun!— Still dumb?—then, Heaven, thy will be done!” Echoed from earth a hollow roar Like ocean on the midnight shore! A sheet of lightning o’er them wheeled, The solid ground beneath them reeled; In dust sank roof and battlement; Like webs the giant walls were rent; Red, broad, before his startled gaze The monarch saw his Egypt blaze. Still swelled the plague—the flame grew pale Burst from the clouds the charge of hail With arrow keenness, iron weight, Down poured the ministers of fate; Till man and cattle, crushed, congealed, Covered with death the boundless field. Still swelled the plague—uprose the blast, The avenger fit to be the last; On ocean, river, forest, vale, Thunder’d at once the mighty gale. Before the whirlwind flew the tree, Beneath the whirlwind roar’d the sea, A thousand ships were on the wave—: Where are they?—ask that foaming grave Down go the hope, the pride of years, Down go the myriad mariners; The riches of earth’s richest zone Gone! Like a flash of lightning, gone! [page 60] And, lo! that first fierce triumph o’er, Swells ocean on the shrinking shore; Still onward, onward, dark and wide, Engulfs the land the furious tide. Then bowed thy spirit, stubborn king, Thon serpent reft of fang and sting; Humbled before the prophet’s knee, He groaned, “Be injured Israel free!” To heaven the sage upraised his wand; Back rolled the deluge from the land; Back to its caverns sank the gale; Fled from the noon the vapors pale; Broad burned again the joyous sun: The hour of wrath and death was done.
THE FIRST BORN OF EGYPT.
Exodus. xii. 29. 30.
O’er Pharaoh’s wide domain, The sun went brightly down, On many a lofty fane, And many an ancient town:— The revel song was breath’d, The starry lamps were fair, The banquet crowns were wreath’d, And all were joyful there. [page 61] But, ere the morning smil’d On temple, stream, and flower, A wailing strange and wild Went up from tent and tower:— The ruler’s porphyry halls, The shepherd’s reedy shed, The dungeon’s sunless walls, All mourn’d an inmate—dead. For sudden wrath went forth O’er that rebellious land, Which deem’d of little worth Jehovah’s dread commend; And smote the eldest-born With an avenging sword, Of those who dared to scorn His high and awful word. The monarch’s wail is loud, The stubborn heart is bent, The lofty neck is bow’d, The Hebrew chain is rent; Vain in the warrior’s trust;— The despot’s iron rod Lies broken in the dust Before a frowning God.
Rev. Dr. Lyons. [page 62]
THE FIRST BORN OF EGYPT
When life is forgot, and night hath power, And mortals feel no dread, When silence and slumber rule the hour, And dreams are round the head; God shall smite the first-born of Egypt’s race; The destroyer shall enter each dwelling place— Shall enter and choose his dead. “To your homes,” said the leader of Israel’s host, “And slaughter a sacrifice: “Let the life-blood be sprinkled on each door-post, “Nor stir till the morning rise: And the angel of vengeance shall pass you by, “He shall see the red stain, and shall not come nigh, “Where the hope of your household lies.” The people hear, and the bow them low— Each to his house hath flown: The lamb is slain, and with blood they go, And sprinkle the lintel-stone; And the doors they close when the sun hath set, But few in oblivious sleep forget The judgement to be done. ’Tis midnight—yet they hear no sound Along the lone still street; No blast of pestilence sweeps the ground, No tramp of unearthly feet; Nor rush as of harpy wing goes by, But the calm moon floats on the cloudless sky, Mid her wan light clear and sweet. [page 63] Once only, shot like an arrowy ray, A pale blue flash was seen, It pass’d so swift, the eye scarce could say That such a thing had been; Yet the beat of every heart was still, And the flesh crawled fearfully and chill, And back flowed every vein. The courage of Israel’s bravest quail’d As the view of that awful light, Though knowing the blood of their off ring avail’d To shield them from its might; They felt ’twas the Spirit of Death had past, That the brightness they saw, his cold glance had cast On Egypt’s land that night. That his fearful eye had unwarn’d struck down, In the darkness of the grave, The hope of that empire, the pride of its crown, The first-born of lord and slave;— The lovely, the tender, the ardent, the gay; Where are they?—all wither’d in ashes away, At the terrible death-glare it gave. From the couches of slumber ten thousand cries Burst forth ’mid the silence of dread— The youth by his living brother lies, Sightless, and dumb, and dead! The infant lies cold at his mother’s breast: She had kissed him alive, as she sank to rest; She awakens—his life hath fled. [page 64] And shrinks from the palace-chambers break— Their inmates are steeped in woe, And Pharaoh has found his arm too weak To arrest the mighty blow: Wail, king of the Pyramids! Egypt’s throne Cannot lighten thy heart of a single organ, For thy kingdom’s heir laid low. Wail, king of the Pyramids! Death heath cast His shafts through thine empire wide, But o’er Israel in bondage his rage hath past, No first-born of her’s hath died— Go Satrap! command that the captive be free, Lest their God in fierce anger should smite even thee, On the crown of thy purple pride.
THE PASSAGE OF THE RED SEA.
Exodus xiv. 18-31.
Full many a coal-black tribe and cany spear, The hireling guards of Misraim’s throne, were there. From distant Cush they trooped, a warrior train, Sirvah’s green isle and Sennaar’s marly plain: On either wing their fiery coursers check The parched and sinewy sons of Amalek: While close behind, inured to feast on blood, Deck’d in Behemoth’s spoils, the tall Shangalls strode. Mid Blazing helms and bucklers rough with gold, Saw ye how swift the scythed chariots rolled? [page 65] Lo, these are they, whom, lords of Afric’s fates, Old Thebes had poured through all her hundred gates, Mother of armies!—How the emeralds glowed, Where, flushed with power and vengeance, Pharaoh rode! And stoled in white, those brazen wheels before, Osiris’ ark his swarthy wizards bore; And, still responsive to the trumpet’s cry, The priestly sistrum murmured—Victory!— Why swell these shouts that rend the desert’s gloom? Why come ye forth to combat? warriors, whom? These flocks and herds, this faint and weary train Red from the scourge, and recent from the chain? God of the Poor, the poor and friendless save! Giver and Lord of Freedom, help the slave! North, south, and west, the sandy whirlwinds fly, The circling horns of Egypt’s chivalry. On earth’s last margin throng the weeping train: Their cloudy guide moves on, “and must we swim the main!” Mid the light spray their snorting camels stood, Nor bathes a fetlock in the nauseous flood, He comes, their lender comes! the man of God, O’er the wide waters lifts his mighty rod, And onward treads: the circling waves retreat, In hoarse, deep murmurs, from his holy feet; And the chased surges, inly roaring, show The hard wet sand and coral hills below. With limbs that falter and with hearts that swell, Down, down, they pass a steep and slippery dell, Around them rise, in pristine chaos hurl’d, The ancient rocks, the secrets of the world; And flowers that blush beneath the ocean green, And caves, the sea-calves’ low-roofed haunt are seen. [page 66] Down, safely down the narrow pass they tread; The beetling waters storm above their head: While far behind retires the sinking day, And fades on Edom’s hills its latest ray. Yet not from Israel fled the friendly light, Or dark to them, or cheerless, came the night. Still in their van, along that dreadful road, Blazed broad and fierce the brandished sword of God. Its meteor glare a tenfold lustre gave, On the long mirror of the rosy wave: While its blest beams a Sunlike heat supply, Warm every cheek, and dance in every eye. To them alone, for Misraim’s wizard train Invoke for light their monster-gods in vain: Clouds heaped on clouds their struggling sight confine, And tenfold darkness broods above their line. Yet on they fare, by reckless vengeance led, And range unconscious through the ocean’s bed, Till midway now, that strange and fiery form Showed his dread visage, lightening through the storm: With withering splendour blasted all their might, And brake their chariot-wheels, and marred their courser’s flight. “Fly, Misraim, fly!” The ravenous floods they see, And fiercer than the floods, the Deity. “Fly, Misraim, fly!” From Edom’s coral strand Again the Prophet stretched his dreadful wand: With one wild crash the thundering waters sweep, And all is waves, a dark and lonely deep— Yet o’er these lonely waves such murmurs past, As mortal wailing swelled the nightly blast: [page 67] And strange and sad, the whispering surges bore The groans of Egypt to Arabia’s shore. Oh! welcome came the morn, where Israel stood In trustless wonder by the avenging flood! Oh! welcome came the cheerful morn, to show The drifted wreck of Zoan’s pride below; The mangled limbs of men, the broken ear, A few sad relics of a nation’s war: Alas, how few! Then soft as Elim’s well, The precious tears of new-born freedom fell. And he, shoes hardened heart alike had borne The house of bondage, and the oppressor’s scorn, The stubborn slave, by hope’s new beams subdued, In faltering accents sobbed his gratitude— Till, kindling into warmer real, around The virgin timbrel waked its silver sound: And in fierce joy no more by doubt supprest, The struggling spirit throbbed in Miriam’s breast. She, with bare arms, and fixing on the sky The dark transparence of her lucid eye, Poured on the winds of heaven her wild sweet harmony. “Where now,” she sang, “the tall Egyptian spear? “On’s sunlike shield, and Zoan’s chariot, where? “Above their ranks the whelming waters spread. “Shout, Israel, for the Lord hath triumphed!” And every pause between, as Miriam sang, From tribe to tribe the martial thunder rang; And loud and far their stormy chorus spread, “Shout, Israel, for the Lord hath triumphed!”
Bishop Heber. [page 68]
WITH STRENGTH OF HIS RIGHT HAND.
Exodus sv. 2-8.
With strength of His right hand He brought His people forth, And shed o’er Zoan’s land The fury of His wrath— Darkness, fire, and storm, Disease, and death, and woe, Till Egypt’s power was gone, And Pharaoh’s pride was low. The sea its Maker saw, And from His presence fled, When as a man of war, His host Jejovah led— Congeal’d on either side, The mighty billows rose, A passage firm and wide To open from His foes. Egyptian maidens mourn’d, With wailings of despair, For nevermore return’d The objects of their care— On them had pass’d the fire, And blasting of the breath Of God’s avenging ire— The bitterness of death. [page 69] Who shall resist the Lord, Who made the South and North, Who spread the skies abroad, And call’d the morning forth? He, vast Behemoth made! He set the ocean bars! He, earth’s foundations laid, While sang the morning stars!
Rev. Thos. Fyles.
THE SONG OF MIRIAM.
Exodus xv. 20, 21.
Hark to the sound of the timbrel, By the side of Egypt’s waters; ’Tis the song and the dance of triumph, Of Israel’s dark-eyed daughters: O’er many a neck so swan-like, The ’loose black locks are flowing; And many a lip is smiling, And many a cheek is glowing; And those dark eyes are beaming, And those warm hearts are leaping; And those light forms are swimming, The measured dance-step keeping: And this is the song, As they sail along, Miriam, Miriam leads the throng! [page 70] “Oh, sing to Jehovah! who gloriously, Hath triumph’d, hath triumph’d, and no one but He; Oh, sing! for Jehovah, victoriously, The horse and his rider hath sunk in the sea!” Now the heights of Pi-hahiroth Catch the echo softly beating; Now the rocks of Baal-zephon Answer to the light retreating; Now across the sunny ocean, Floats the music of soft voices; And above, the sly is cloudless, As if Nature’s self rejoices: And the song is sweetly sounding, And the step is lightly twining, And the timbrel gaily ringing, And the eye with pleasure shining. “Oh, sing to Jehovah! who gloriously, Hath triumph’d, hath triumph’d, and no one but He; Oh sing! for Jehovah, victoriously, The horse and his rider hath sunk in the sea!”
THE OLD TESTAMENT GOSPEL.
Israel, in ancient days, Not only had a view Of Sinai in a blaze, But learned the Gospel too; The types and figures were a glass In which they saw a Saviour’s face. [page 71] The Paschal sacrifice, And blood-besprinkled door, Seen with enlighten’d eyes, And once applied with power, Would touch the need of other blood, To reconcile an angry God. The lamb, the dove, set forth His perfect innocence, Whose blood of matchless worth, Should be the soul’s defence: For he who can for sin stone Must have no failings of his own. The scape-goat on his head! The people’s trespass bore, And to the desert led, Was to be seen no more: In him our Surety seem’d to say, “Behold, I bear your sins away.” Dipt in his fellow’s blood, The living bird went free; The type well understood, Express’d the sinner’s plea; Described a guilty soul enlarged, And by a Saviour’s death discharged. Jesus, I love to trace, Throughout the sacred page, The footsteps of thy grace, The same in every age! O grant that I may faithful be To clearer light vouchsaf’d to me!
Crowly. [page 72]
Numbers xxiii, xxiv.
He waved his wand? dark spirits knew That rod. Yet none obeyed its call; And twice the mystic sign he drew, And twice beheld them bootless all; Then knew, the seer, Jehovah’s hand And crushed the scroll, and broke the wand. “I feel Him like a burning fire— When I would curse, my lips are dumb; But from those lips, ’mid hate and ire Unchecked the words of blessing come; They come—and on his people rest A people by the curser blest: I see them from the mountain top, How fait their dwellings on the plain, Like trees that crown the valley’s slope Like waves, that glitter on the main! Strong, strong the lion slumbering there— Who first shall rouse him from his lair? Crouch, Amelek! an thou, vain king! Crouch by thine altars—vainer still! Hear ye the royal shouts that ring From Israel’s camp beneath the hill? They have a God amidst their tents; Banner at once and battlements! [page 73] A star shall break through yonder skies, And beam on every nation’s sight; From yonder ranks a sceptre rise, And how the nations to its might: I see their glorious strength afar— All hail, mild sceptre! hail, bright star! And who am I, for whom is flung Aside the shrouding veil of time? The seer whose rebel soul is rung By wrath, and prophecy, and crime: The future as the past I see— Won, then, for Moab! woe for me.” On Poor’s top the wizard stood, Around him Moab’s princes bowed; He bade—and altars streamed with blood And incense wrapped him like a shroud, But vain the rites of earth and hell— He spake—a mastered oracle!
Judges v. 28-30.
“Why comes he not? why comes he not, My brave and noble son? Why comes he not with his warlike men, And the trophies his sword has won? How slowly roll his chariot-wheels! How weary is the day! Pride of thy mother’s lonely heart, Why dost thou still delay? [page 74] He comes not yet! will he never come To gladden these heavy eyes, That have watched and watched from morn till eve, And again till the sun did rise? Shall I greet no more his look of joy, Nor hear his manly voice? Why comes he not with the spoils of war, And the damsels of his choice?” Years rushed along in their ceaseless course, But Sisera came no more, With his “mighty men” and his captive maids, As he oft had come before. A woman’s hand had done the deed That laid a hero low;— A woman’s heart had felt the grief That childless mothers know.
Rev. John Rende.
Rejoice, ye tribes of Israel, the Lord was on your side, Your fierce and daring enemies have fallen in their pride. In vain the heathen strove against Jehovah’s awful word, For Ammon’s proud presumptuous sons have perished by the sword. From Aroer to Minnith and to Abel’s fertile plain, Of twenty noble cities the “mighty men” are slain; Rejoice, thou son of Oilead, the Lord hath heard thy vow,— Thy foes are crushed, thy fathers’ sons before thy presence bow. [page 75] It is an hour of triumph to the warrior and his band, An hour of stern rejoicing to all the chosen land, When the conqueror of Ammon, the valiant of his race, Beholds once more with well-earned joy his long-lost native place. But who is this advancing with gay attendant crowd? Oh! Jephthah! dost remember now the vow that thou hast vowed? Why is thy face so ghastly pale? why sinks thy noble head? Thy daughter’s blood must now atone for all that thou hast shed! Honour and pomp and victory are all forgotten now, And clouds of darkest anguish sweep across the father’s brow, He speaks—his words are words of death: he orders—is obeyed— And lonely mountains mourn the fate of Israel’s queenly maid. Rejoice, ye tribes of Israel, the Lord was on your side, Your fierce, presumptuous enemies have fallen in their pride! But, Jephthah, thou art childless now, lift up thy voice and weep! No sound of wailing can disturb thy daughter’s dreamless sleep!
Rev. John Reade.
SAMSON’S LAMENT FOR THE LOSS OF HIS SIGHT.
Judges xvi. 21.
O Loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! Light, the prime work of God, to me’s extinct, And all her various objects of delight Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased, Inferior to the vilest now become Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me: They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, [page 76] Within doors, or without, still as a fool, In power of others, never in my own; Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. O dark, dark, dark amid the blaze of noon, Irrevocably dark, total eclipse, Without all hope of day! O first created beam, and light was over all; Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree? The sun to me is dark, And silent as the moon, When she deserts the night, Hid in her vacant interlunar cave! Since light so necessary is to life, and almost life itself, if it be true That light is in the soul, She all in every part; why was the sight To such a tender ball as the eye confined, So obvious and so easy to be quenched? And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused, That she might look, at will, through every pore Then had I not been thus exiled from light, As in the land of darkness, yet in light, To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but O, yet more miserable! Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave! Buried, yet not exempt By privilege of death and burial From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs; But made hereby obnoxious more To all the miseries of life, Life in captivity.
Milton. [page 77]
THE HEBREW MOTHER
I. Samuel I. 28.
The rose was in rich bloom on Sharon’s plain, When a young mother, with her First-born thence Went up to Zion; for the boy was vow’d Unto the temple-service. By the hand She led him, and her silent soul, the while, Oft as the dewy laughter of his eye Met her sweet serious glance, rejoic’d to think That aught so pure, so beautiful, was hers, To bring before her God. So pass’d they on, O’er Judah’s hills; and wheresoe’er the leaves Of the broad sycamore made sounds at noon, Like lulling rain-drops or the olive-boughs, With their cool dimness, cross’d the sultry blue Of Syria’s heaven, she paus’d that he might rest; Yet from her own meek eyelids chas’d the sleep That weigh’d their dark fringe down, to sit and watch The crimson deepening o’er his cheek repose, As at a red flower’s heart: and where a fount Lay, like a twilight star, midst palmy shades, Making its banks green gems along the wild, There too she linger’d, from the diamond wave Drawing clear water for his rosy lips, And softly parting clusters of jet curls, To bathe his brow. At last the Fane was reach’d, The earth’s One Sanctuary; and rapture hush’d Her bosom, us before her, thro’ the day [page 78] It rose, a mountain of white marble, steep’d In light like floating gold.—But when that hour Waned to the farewell moment, when the boy Lifted, through rainbow-gleaming tears, his eye Beseechingly to hers, and, half in fear, Turn’d from the white-rob’d priest, and round her arm Clung e’en as ivy clings; the deep spring-tide Of nature then swell’d high; and o’er her child Bending, her soul brake forth in mingled rounds Of weeping and sad song.—“Alas!” she cried, “Alas, my boy! thy gentle grasp is on me, The bright tears quiver in thy pleading eyes, And now fond thoughts arise, And silver cords again to earth have won me, And like a vine thou claspest my full heart— How shall I hence depart?— How the lone paths retrace, where thou wert playing So late along the mountain at my side? And I, in joyous pride, By every place of flowers my course delaying, Wove, e’en as pearls, the lilies round thy hair, Beholding thee so fair! And oh! the home whence thy bright smile hath parted! Will it not seem as if the sunny day Turn’d from its door away, While, thro’ its chambers wandering weary-hearted, I languish for thy voice, which, past me still, Went like a singing rill? [page 79] Under the palm-trees, thou no more shalt meet me, When from the fount at evening I return, With the full water-urn! Nor will thy sleep’s low, dove-like murmurs greet me, As midst the silence of the stars I wake, And watch for thy dear sake. And thou, will slumber’s dewy cloud fall round thee, Without arms, when darkness as a veil hath wound thee, To fold my neck; and lift up, in thy fear. A cry which none shall hear? What have I said, my child?—will HE not bear thee, Who the young ravens heareth from their nest? Will HE not guard thy rest, And, in the hush of holy midnight near thee, Breathe o’er thy soul, and fill its dreams with joy? Thou shalt sleep soft, my boy! I give thee to thy God!—the God that gave thee, A well-spring of deep gladness to my heart! And precious as thou art, And pure as dew of Hermon, He shall have thee, My own, my beautiful, my undefiled! And thou shalt be His child! Therefore, farewell! I go; my soul may fail me, As the stag panteth for the water-brooks, Yearning for thy sweet looks! But thou my First-born! droop not nor bewail me, Thou in the shadow of the Rock shalt dwell, The Rock of Strength—Farewell!”
Mrs. Hemans. [page 80]
THE CHILD SAMUEL.
I. Samuel iii. 1-18.
Hushed was the evening hymn, The temple courts were dark; The lamp was burning dim Before the sacred Ark, When suddenly a voice divine Rang through the silence of the shrine. The old man meek and mild, The priest of Israel slept; His watch the temple child, The little Levite kept; And what from Eli’s sense was sealed, The Lord to Hannah’s son revealed. O give me Samuel’s ear, The open ear, O Lord, Alive and quick to hear Each whisper of Thy word; Like him to answer at Thy call, And so obey Thee first of all. O give me Samuel’s heart, A lowly heart that waits, Where in Thy house Thou art, Or watches at Thy gates; By day and night, a heart that still Moves at the breathing of Thy will. [page 81] O give me Samuel’s mind, A sweet, unmurmuring faith, Obedient and resigned To Thee in life and death; That I may read with child-like eyes, Truths that are hidden from the wise.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
I. Samuel xvii.
When Israel’s host in Elah’s valley lay, O’erwhelm’d with shame, and trembling with dismay, They saw how fierce Goliath proudly trod Before their ranks and braved the living God. On Israel’s ranks he cast a withering look, And Elah’s valley trembled as he spoke. “Ye slaves of Saul, why thus in proud parade Of martial threatening, stand your ranks arrayed? Though high your vaults, and unsubdued your pride, A single arm the contest may decide. Send forth the best and bravest of your hosts, To prove in me what might Philistia boasts; And if your champion fall beneath my hand, Let Israel own Philistia’s high command: But if his better arm the triumph gain, Her yielding sons shall wear the victor’s chain. You, and your God who rules the cloudy sky, Armies of Israel I this day defy!” [page 82] Through Israel’s curdling veins cold horror ran, And each sunk warrior felt no longer man: One heart alone its wonted fire retains, One heart alone the giant’s threats disdains: David, the last of Jesse’s numerous race, Deep in his bosom feels the dire disgrace, That e’er a godless Philistine, so proud, His single prowess thus should vaunt aloud. Before his prince, magnanimous he stands, And lifts the imploring eye and suppliant hands, With modest grace, to let him prove the fight, And die or conquer in his country’s right. The king and nobles with attention hung To hear the aspirings of a mind so young, But deem his darings, in the unequal strife, Were but a fond and useless waste of life. Then David thus: “As erst my flocks I kept, Pale shone the moon-beam, and the hamlet slept; In that still hour a shaggy bear I spied Snuff the night-gale, and range the valley-side; He seized a lamb,—and by this hand he died, And when a lion, made by hunger bold, From Jordan’s swelling streams o’erleap’d the fold; The brindled savage in my hands I tore, Caught by the beard, and crush’d him in his gore, The God that saved me from the infuriate bear And famish’d lion, still has power to spare; And something whispers, if the strife I meet, Soon shall the boaster fall beneath my feet.” [page 83] Moved by his words the king and chieftains yield; His spirit laud, and arm him for the field: In royal mail his youthful limbs they dress’d, The greaves, the corslet, shield, and threatening crest. But ill those youthful limbs with arms accord, And ill that hand can yield the imperial sword; Whence wisdom cautions—these to lay aside, And choose the arms whose power he oft had tried. Straight in his hand the well-proved sling he took, And in his scrip five pebbles from the brook; These all his earthly arms:—but o’er his head, Had Faith divine her sheltering aegis spread. His bosom beats with generous ardour high, And new-born glories kindle in his eye; Swift o’er the field he bounds with vigour light, Marls the gigantic foe, and claims the fight. Now men of Israel, pour your ardent prayer: “God of our fathers, to thy sovereign care We trust our champion, for to Thee belong Strength for the weak, and weakness for the strong: Arm him with might to vindicate Thy name, To smite the proud, and blot out Israel’s shame; Let angels round him spread the guardian shield, And oh! restore in triumph from the field!” Philistia’s chief now mark’d with high disdain, The light-arm’d stripling rushing to the plain; Saw, with a scornful smile his airy tread, And downy check suffused with rosy red; His pliant limbs not cased in shining mail, No shield to ward, no sabre to assail; [page 84] But clad like shepherd-swain,—when swains advance To hand the fair, and frolic in the dance. Fierce from his breast the growling thunder broke, And Elah’s valley trembled as he spoke. “O powerful Dagon! wherefore was I born? Am I a dog?—the theme of children’s scorn? Cursed be thy God! cursed thou, presumptuous boy! But come—draw nigh—and glut my furious joy. Thy feeble body, crush’d beneath my power, The birds shall mangle, and the dogs devour.” Then Jesse’s son:—“Accoutred for the field, Proudly thou marchest with thy spear and shield: But I unarm’d, yet, rechless of thy boasts, Approach, protected by the God of Hosts; That righteous power, whom thy infuriate pride, With tongue blaspheming, has this day defied. Me, of our race the humblest, has He sped, From thy broad trunk to lop thy impious head, And through thy armies wasting vengeance spread:— That all may know, through earth’s wide realms abroad, To trust the righteous cause to Israel’s God. He saves not by the shield, by spears, or swords:— No more.—Advance—the battle is the Lord’s.” With giant stride the lowering foe draws nigh, Strength in his arm, and fury in his eye; In thought, already gives the ruthless wound, And the scorn’d youth transfixes to the ground. While David, rapid as the fleetest wing, Whirls round his head the quick revolving sling, Aims with experienced eye, the avenging blow At the broad visage of the advancing foe. — [page 85] How booms the thong, impatient to be free, Wing’d with resistless speed, and arm’d with destiny!— ’Tis gone—loud whizzing flies the ponderous stone!— That dirge of death—hark! heard ye Dagon groan? It strikes—it crashes through the fractured bone! Struck in his full career, the giant feels The bolt of death;—his mountain-body reels— And nerveless, headlong, thunders to the ground.— Loud bursts of joy along the vale resound: Shout! men of Israel, shout—till earth and sky, With replication loud, re-echo victory! See, see him now, as flushed with honest pride, He draws the sabre from the giant’s side: Now on the groaning trunk behold him tread, And from the shoulders lop the ghastly head! Shout! men of Israel, shout you’re here’s praise! Send it immortal down to future days! Let farthest Dan his triumph loud proclaim And Sheba’s springs resound his glorious name; In Jesse’s son, O Bethlehem! rejoice; And Salem, thou exalt thy grateful voice; Thy victor hail triumphant in the Lord; Girt with the grisly spoils, he waves the reeking sword. Daughters of Israel, loud his praises sing! With harp and timbrel hail your future king. By mighty Saul a thousand bite the plain, But mightier David has ten thousand slain!
Drummond [page 86]
SAUL AND DAVID.
I. Samuel xviii, 10, 11.
Deep was the furrow in the royal brow, When David’s hand, lightly as vernal gales Rippling the brook of Kidron, skimmed the lyre; He sang of Jacob’s youngest son, the child Of his old age, sold to the Ishmaelite; His exaltation to the second power In Pharaoh’s realm; his brethren thither sent; Suppliant they stood before his face—well known, Unknowing—till Joseph fell upon the neck Of Benjamin, his mother’s son, and wept. Unconsciously the warlike shepherd paused; But when he saw, down the yet quivering string, The tear-drop trembling glide, abashed, he checked, Indignant at himself, the bursting flood, And, with a sweep impetuous, struck the chords. From side to side his hands traversely glance Like lightning ’thwart a stormy sea; his voice Arises mid the clang, and straightway calms The harmonious tempest to a solemn swell, Majestical, triumphant, for he sings Of Arad’s mighty host by Israel’s arms Subdued; of Israel through, the desert led He sings; of him who was their leader, called By God Himself from keeping Jethro’s flock To be a ruler o’er the chosen race. Kindles the eye of Saul; his arm is poised;— Harmless the javelin quivers in the wall.
Grahame. [page 87]
SAUL IN THE CAVE OF ENGEDI.
I. Samuel xxiv. 4.
Stay, stay, injurious king; oh, father stay, If I may yet so style you. Why dost thou Listen to those who say I am disloyal? Lo, in this hour, and in this very cave, How easily could I not have ta’en your life; As some did bid me do, but I refrained, “I will not harm,” I said, “the Lord’s Anointed.” In proof of which behold here your robe’s skirt, Which sole I took, yet could as easily Have ta’en your life as it. Yes, look on this Upbraiding proof; yes, look on this dumb witness, Then stand convicted of injustice toward me. Believe, oh, cruel and suspicious king, That since I took but this and spared your life,— At last, believe me honest. Oh, my father, Why hast thou ever deemed that I was other? Why dost thou hunt me like a beast o’th’forest? Let the Lord judge between us; let the Lord Be mine Avenger: for I will not harm you. Oh, that your majesty should have dread of me!— Have dread of one so poor and weak as I! For what could I do (even were I so minded) Against your majesty? But I will nothing: Let the Lord judge between us; let Him enquire; Yes, let Him plead my cause still with your anger; Let Him from it at length deliver me.
Charles Heavysege. [page 88]
I. Samuel xxviii. 7-21.
Thou, whose spell can rise the dead, Bid the prophet’s form appear— “Samuel, raise thy buried head!— King, behold the phantom seer!” Earth yawned; he stood, the centre of a cloud; Light changed its hue, returning from his shroud; Death stood all glassy in his fixed eye; His hand was withered and his veins were dry; His foot, in bony whiteness, glittered there, Shrunken and sinewless, and ghastly bare; From lips that moved not, and unbreathing frame, Like caverned winds, the hollow accents came. Saul saw, and fell to earth as falls the oak At once when blasted by the thunder stroke. “Why is my sleep disquieted? Who is he that calls the dead? Is it thou—oh king? Behold Bloodless are these limbs and cold: Such are mine, and such shall be Thine to-morrow when with me; Ere the coming day is done, Such shalt thou be, such thy son. Fare thee well, but for a day; Then we mix our mouldering clay;— Thou, thy race, lie pale and low, Pierced by shafts of many a bow; And the falchion by thy side To thy heart thy hand shall guide; Crownless, breathless, headless fall Son and Sire, the house of Saul!”
Byron. [page 89]
II. Samuel xviii. 30.
The waters slept. Night’s silvery veil hung low On Jordan’s bosom, and the eddies curled Their glassy rings beneath it, like the still Unbroken beating of the sleeper’s pulse. The reeds bent down the stream: the willow-leaves, With a soft cheek upon the lulling tide, Forgot the lifting winds; and the long stems, Whose flowers the water, like a gentle nurse, Bears on its bosom, quietly gave way, And leaned, in graceful attitudes, to rest. How strikingly the course of nature tells, By its light heed of human suffering, That it was fashioned for a happier world! King David’s limbs were weary. He had fled From far Jerusalem: and now he stood, With his faint people, for a little rest Upon the shore of Jordan. The light wind Of morn was stirring, and he bared his brow To its refreshing breath; for he had worn The mourner’s covering, and he had not felt That he could see his people until now. They gathered round him on the fresh green bank, And spoke their kindly words; and, as the sun Rose up in heaven, he knelt among them there, And bowed his head upon his hands to pray. Oh! when the heart is full—when bitter thoughts Come crowding thickly up for utterance, [page 90] And the poor common words of courtesy Are such a very mockery—how much The bursting heart may pour itself in prayer! He prayed for Israel; and his voice went up Strongly and fervently. He prayed for those Whose love had been his shield; and his deep tones Grew tremulous. But oh! for Absalom— For his estranged, misguided Absalom— The proud, bright being, who had burst away In all his princely beauty, to defy The heart that cherished him—for him he poured, In agony that would not be controlled, Strong supplication, and forgave him there, Before his God, for his deep sinfulness.
* * * * * *
The pall was settled. He who slept beneath Was straightened for the grave; and, as the folds Sunk to the still proportions, they betrayed The matchless symmetry of Absalom. His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls Were floating round the tassels as they swayed To the admitted air, as glossy now As when in hours of gentle dalliance, bathing The snowy fingers of Judea’s girls. His helm was at his feet: his banner, soiled With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid Reversed, beside him: and the jewelled hilt, Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade, Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow. The soldiers of the king trod to and fro, Clad in the garb of battle; and their chief, The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier, [page 91] And guard upon the dark pall steadfastly, As if he feared the slumberer might stir. A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form Of David entered, and he gave command, In a low tone to his few followers, And left him with his dead. The King stood still Till the last echo died: their throwing off The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back The pall from the still features of his child, He bowed his head upon him, and broke forth In the resistless eloquence of woe!— “Alas! my noble boy! that thou shouldst die! Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair! That death should settle in thy glorious eye, And leave his stillness in this clustering hair! How could he mark thee for the silent tomb, My proud boy, Absalom! “Cold is thy brow, my son! and I am chill, As to my bosom I have tried to press thee, How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill, Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee, And hear thy sweet ‘My Father,” from these dumb And cold lips, Absalom! “The grave hath won thee. I shall hear the gush Of music, and the voices of the young; And life will pass me in the mantling blush, And the ark tresses to the soft wind flung; But thou no more, with thy sweet voice, shalt come To meet me, Absalom! [page 92] “And oh! when I am stricken, and my heart, Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken, How will its love for thee, as I depart, Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep taken! It were so sweet, amid death’s gathering gloom, To see thee, Absalom! “And now, farewell! ’Tis hard to give thee up, With death so like a gentle slumber on thee— And thy dark sin!—Oh I could drink the cup, If from this woe its bitterness had won thee. May God have called thee, like a wanderer, home, My erring Absalom!” He covered up his face, and bowed himself A moment on his child; then, giving him A look of melting tenderness, he clasped His hands convulsively, as if in prayer; And, as a strength were given him of God, He rose up calmly and composed the pall Firmly and decently, and left him there, As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.
BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.
I. Kings vi.
In ancient times, when Israel’s king that famous fabric reared, In which his glory and his wealth so manifest appeared, He in his wisdom first gave heed to Heaven’s great law to man, And Order, beauteous and sublime, through all the process ran. [page 93] No sound of axe or metal tool through all the time was heard, No craftsman broke the harmony with one discordant word; For so the work was portioned out, by Solomon, the wise, From corner-stone to capital, no discord could arise. Eleven hundred men, thrice told, as Master Masons wrought, And eighty thousand Fellow Crafts the quarried marble sought; While entered as Apprentices, were seventy thousand more, Who, through the progress of the work, the heavy burdens bore. A vast fraternity they were—a labour vast to share, Who always on the level met, and parted on the Square: And three Grand Masters gave the rules, by which the work was done: The King of Israel, King of Tyre, and He—the Widow’s son. The columns and pilasters were of Parian marble wrought, The timbers from the famous groves of Lebanon were brought; Of cedar, fir, and olive wood, the stately walls were made, And all within, and all without, with gold was overlaid. Thus two great structures had a birth—the one of wood and stone, The other framed and fashioned of Fraternal love alone: The one was joined in all its parts by cunning work of art; The other, by the ligaments that bind the human heart. The one stood out in bold relief against the vaulted sky; The other raised no towering front to greet the vulgar eye: The one was all resplendent with its carving and its gold; The other’s beauty kept concealed beneath its mystic fold. Age after age has rolled away with time’s unceasing tide, And generations have been born, have flourished, and have died, Since wrought our ancient brethren on that Temple’s massive walls, And thronged its lofty colonnades, and walked its spacious halls. [page 94] The Temple with its wondrous strength, hath yielded unto time— The Brotherhood that flourished there still lives and lasts sublime: The one, a mere material thing, hath long since passed away— The other holds its vigorous life, untouched by time’s decay. Long may it live, through coming years its excellence to prove, And Masons ever find delight in offices of love, Till summoned hence, the glory of that Upper Lodge to see, When the Grand Master shall confer on each his last degree.
How fair, in page of Holy Writ, Judea’s Temple stands! ’Twas God himself who fashion’d it By means of mortal hands: ’Twas He conceiv’d the grand design— The gates—the massive wall; The outer courts—the inner shrine— The “Holiest of all.” Majestical its rose beneath The Master-builder’s eye, And soon, within its courts, the breath Of incense rose on high; While priests, by altars stain’d with blood Were loud in praise and pray’r, And over all, Shechinah stood To show that God was there. [page 95] That temple charms no more the sight— Its stones are prostrate laid— Its holy pomp, each solemn rite, Were doom’d of old to fade: They were but shadows of the things Which Christians now possess— They grey of early dawn which brings The Sun of Righteousness. But God, our God, has Temples still, In which the faithful meet, To hear their loving Master’s will, And hymn His praises sweet. ’Tis there, their spirits seem to leave This world for one above, As they the pledges sweet receive Of Jesus’ dying love. And other Temples yet than these God has upon this earth; ’Tis only He, perchance, that sees Their unpretending worth. They are not temples built of stone, Adorn’d by human skill; But, hearts that worship Him alone, And love to do His will. In those still shrines some fav’rite sin Each day a victim dies; And from those silent courts within Sweet pray’rs, like incense, rise. [page 96] There dwells a peace, which nought can mar, To soothe all earthly pains— There, brighter than Sheehinah far, God’s blessed Spirit reigns! That Spirit breathes upon the soul, And warms it into life; ’Tis ever present to control The evil that is rife; It seals it as a child of grace,— As one of Jesus’ band; And gives an earnest of the bliss Of Heaven’s promis’d land.
ev. H.F. Darnell.
I. Kings xix. 4-19.
On Horeb’s rock the prophet stood,— The Lord before him passed: A hurricane in angry mood Swept by him strong and fast; The forest fell before its force, The rocks were shivered in its course: God was not in the blast; ’Twas but the whirlwind of His breath, Announcing danger, wreck, and death. [page 97] It ceased. The air grew mute,—a cloud Came, muffling up the sun, When, through the mountain, deep and loud An earthquake thundered on; The frightened eagle sprang in air, The wolf ran howling from his lair; God was not in the storm; ’Twas but the rolling of His car, The tramping of His steeds from far. ’Twas still again,—and Nature stood And calmed her ruffled frame; When swift from heaven a fiery flood To earth devouring came; Down to the depth the ocean fled,— The sickening sun looked wan and dead: Yet God filled not the flame; ’Twas but the terror of His eye, That lightened through the troubled sky. At last, a voice all still and small Rose sweetly on the ear; Yet rose so shrill and clear, that all In heaven and earth might hear; It spoke of peace, it spoke of love, It spoke as angels speak above: And God himself was there; For, O! it was a Father’s voice, That bade the trembling heart rejoice. [page 98] Speak, gracious Lord, speak ever thus, And let thy terrors prove But harbingers of peace to us, But heralds of thy love; Come through the earthquake, fire, and storm, Come in thy mildest, sweetest form, And all our fears remove; One word from Thee is all we claim— Be that one word, a Saviour’s name!
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB.
II. Kings xix. 35.
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen: Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, That host on the morrow lay withered and strown. For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still! And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf. [page 99] And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown. And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord?
CHORAL HYMN OF THE JEWISH MAIDENS.
King of kings! and Lords of lords! Thus we move, our sad steps timing, To our cymbal’s feeblest chiming Where thy house it rest accords. Chased and wounded birds are we, Through the dark air fled to Thee; To the shadow of Thy wings, Lord of lords! and King of kings! Behold, O Lord! the heathen tread The branches of thy fruitful vine, That its luxurious tendrils spread O’er all the hills of Palestine. And now the wild boar comes to waste Even us, the greenest bough and last That, drinking of thy choicest dew, On Zion’s hill in beauty grew. [page 100] No! by the marvels of thine hand, Thou still wilt save thy chosen land, By all thy ancient mercies shown, By all our fathers’ foes o’erthrown; By the Egyptian’s car-borne host, Scattered on the Red-Sea coast; By that wide and bloodless slaughter Underneath the drowning water. Like us in utter helplessness, In their last and worst distress,— On the sand and sea-weed lying, Israel poured her doleful sighing; While before the deep sea flowed, And behind fierce Egypt rode— To their fathers’ God they prayed, To the Lord of Hosts for aid. On the margin of the flood With lifted rod the prophet stood; And the summoned east wind blew, And aside it sternly threw The gathered waves, that took their stand, Like crystal rocks, on either hand; Or walls of sea-green marble piled, Round some irregular city wild. Then the light of morning lay On the wonder-paved way, Where the treasures of the deep In their caves of coral sleep. The profound abysses, where Was never sound from upper air, Rang with Israel’s chanted words, “King of kings! and Lord of lords!” [page 101] Then with bow and banner glancing, On exulting Egypt came, With her chosen horsemen prancing, And her cars on wheels of flame; In a rich a boastful ring All around her furious king. But the Lord from out His cloud, The Lord looked down upon the proud; And the host drave heavily Down the deep bosom of the sea. With a quick and sudden swell Prone the liquid ramparts fell; Over horse and over car, Over every man of war, Over Pharaoh’s crown of gold, The loud thundering billows rolled. As the level waters spread, Down the sank, they sank like lead, Down without a cry or groan. And the morning sun that shone On myriads of bright armed men, Its meridian radiance then Cast on a wide sea, heaving as of yore, Against a silent, solitary shore. Then did Israel’s maidens sing, Then did Israel’s timbrels ring, To Him, the King of kings! that in the sea, The Lord of lords! had triumphed gloriously. And our timbrel’s flashing chords, King of kings! and Lord of lords! Shall they not attuned be. [page 102] Once again to victory! Lo! a glorious triumph now Lo! against Thy people come A mightier Pharoah! wilt not Thou Craze the chariot-wheels of Rome? Will not, like the Red Sea wave, Thy stern anger overthrow? And from worse than bondage save, From sadder than Egyptian woe, Those whose silver cymbals glance, Those who lead the suppliant dance; Thy race, the only race that sings “Lord of lords! and King of kings!”
Fallen is thy throne, O Israel! Silence is o’er thy plains! Thy dwellings all lie desolate, Thy children weep in chains. Where are the dews that fed thee On Etham’s barren shore? That fire from heaven that led thee Now lights thy path no more! Lord thou didst love Jerusalem; Once she was all thine own: Her love thy fairest heritage, Her power thy glory’s throne: Till evil came and blighted Thy long-loved olive tree, And Salem’s shrines were lighted For other gods than Thee. [page 103] Then sank the star of Solyma, Then pass’d her glory’s day, Like heath that in the wilderness The light wind whirls away. Silent and waste her bowers, Where once the mighty trod, And sunk those guilty towers Where Baal reign’d as God. “Go!” said the Lord, “ye conquerors, Steep in her blood your swords, And raze to earth her battlements, For they are not the Lord’s. Tell Zion’s mournful daughter O’er kindred bones she’ll tread, And Hinnom’s vale of slaughter Shall hide but half her dead.” But soon shall other pictured scenes In brighter vision rise, When Zion’s sun shall sevenfold shine On all her mourner’s eyes; And on her mountains beauteous stand The messengers of peace; “Salvation by the Lord’s right hand,” They shout and never cease.
Moore. [page 104]
Reft of thy sons, amid thy foes forlorn, Mourn, widow’s queen! forgotten Zion, mourn! Is this thy place, sad city, this thy throne, Where the wild desert rears its craggy stone? While suns unbless’d their angry lustre fling, And way-worn pilgrims seek the scanty spring? Where now thy pomp, which kings with envy view’d? Where now thy might, which all those kings subdued? No martial myriads muster at thy gate; No suppliant nation in thy temple wait; No prophet-bards, the glittering courts among, Wake the full lyre, and swell the tide of song; But lawless Force and meagre Want are there, And the quick-darting eye of restless Fear, While cold Oblivion, ’mid thy ruins laid, Folds his dank wing beneath the ivy shade.
HYMN OF THE CAPTIVE JEWS.
God of the thunder! from whose cloudy seat The fiery winds of desolation flow: Father of vengeance! that with purple feet, Like a full wine-press treadst the world below: The embattled armies wait thy sign to slay, Nor springs the beast of havoc on his prey, Nor withering Famine walks his blasted way, Till Thou the guilty land hast sealed for woe. [page 105] God of the rainbow! at whose gracious sign The billows of the proud their rage suppress; Father of mercies! at one word of Thine An Eden blooms in the waste wilderness! And fountains sparkle in the arid sands, And timbrels ring in maiden’s glancing hands, And marble cities crown the laughing lands, And pillared temples rise Thy name to bless. O’er Judah’s land Thy thunders broke, O Lord! The chariots rattled o’er her sunken gate, Her sons were wasted by the Assyrian sword, E’en her foes wept to see her fallen state: And heaps her ivory palaces became, Her princes wore the captive’s garb of shame, Her temple sank amid the smouldering flame, For Thou didst ride the tempest-cloud of fate. O’er Judah’s land Thy rainbow, Lord, shall beam, And the sad city lift her crownless head; And songs shall wake, and dancing footsteps gleam, Where broods o’er fallen streets the silence of the dead The sun shall shine on Salem’s gilded towers, On Carmel’s side our maidens cull the flowers, To deck, at blushing eve, their bridal bowers, And angel-feet the glittering Sion tread. Thy vengeance gave us to the stranger’s hand, And Abraham’s children were led forth for slaves; With fettered steps we left our pleasant land, Envying our fathers in their peaceful graves. [page 106] The stranger’s bread with bitter tears we steep, And when our weary eyes should sink to sleep, ’Neath the mute midnight we steal forth to weep, Where the pale willows shade Euphrates waves. The born in sorrow shall bring forth in joy; Thy mercy, Lord, shall lead Thy children home. He that went forth a tender yearling boy, Yet, ere he die, to Salem’s streets shall come. And Canaan’s vines for us their fruits shall bear, And Hermon’s bees their honeyed stores prepare; And we shall kneel again in thankful prayer, Where, o’er the cherub-seated God, full blazed irradiate dome.
HYMN OF THE HEBREW MAID.
“By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down.”—Psalm cxxxvii, 1.
When Israel, of the Lord beloved, Out from the land of bondage came, Her father’s God before her moved, An awful guide in smoke and flame. By day along the astonish’d lands The cloudy pillar glided slow; By night Arabia’s crimson’d sands Return’d the fiery pillar’s glow. There rose the choral hymn of praise, And trump and timbrel answered keen; And Zion’s daughters poured their lays, With priest’s and warrior’s voice between. [page 107] No portents now our foes amaze, Forsaken Israel wanders lone; Our fathers would not know Thy ways, And Thou hast left them to their own. But present still, though now unseen, When brightly shines the prosperous day, Be thoughts of Thee a cloudy screen To temper the deceitful ray. And oh! when stoops on Judah’s path In shade and storm the frequent night, Be Thou long-suff’ring, slow to wrath, A burning and a shining light: Our harps we left by Babel’s streams, The tyrants’ jest, the Gentiles’ scorn No censer round our altar beams, And mute are timbrel, trump, and horn: But Thou hast said,—“The blood of goat, The flesh of rams I will not prize; A contrite heart, an humble thought, Are mine accepted sacrifice.”
Sir. Walter Scott.
BY THE WATERS OF BABYLON.
The sun flashed on the royal domes Of Babylon the great— The captives sat upon the stones Without the water gate; The river through the willows rushed, Where they their harps hath hung, For sorrow all their songs had hushed And all their harps unstrung. [page 108] Forth came a thoughtless city throng, And round the mourners drew— “Come, sing to us a Sion song, And string your harps anew.” “Ah no, not so!” the captives said, Not in a stranger land Song from our hearts is banished, And skill from every hand.” “Jerusalem! dear Jerusalem, Could thy sons sing orp lay, And thou that art all earth to them So fallen and far away? Oh, Sion! may the tongue or hand, That first forgets thee, rot— If thou art fallen, dear native land, Thou art not quite forgot.” The Babylonian troop are gone, In thoughtful mood, away— The rivers and their tears flow on, And none their grief gainsay; Their sad harps on the willows swing, Their lips in secret pray— That yet in Sion they may sing, Their native Sion lay.
Hon. T. D’Arcy McGee. [page 109]
Isaiah xxix. 1-8.
Ariel! Ariel! City of our God, How art thou fallen! no more the voice of prayer Ascends from thy proud temple; nor repair The tribes of Judah, o’er the sacred sod, To worship where their fathers’ feet have trod. How long, oh God, how long wilt Thou forbear? How long the oppressor of thy people spare? How long must Israel bow beneath thy rod? Thou hast, O Lord, from Egypt brought a vine, Prepared room, and planted it. The land Was cover’d with its shadow, oh, return, Revisit it, and cause thy face to shine; And place upon thy servant thy right hand; So we to call upon thy name shall learn.
The last part of this poem is taken from Isaiah’s prophetic description of Christ’s kingdom.
Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song: To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong. The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades, The dreams of Pindus and th’Aonian maids, Delight no more. O Thou my voice inspire, Who touched Isaiah’s hallowed lips with fire! [page 110] Rapt into future times the bard begun! A virgin shall conceive, a virgin bear a son! From Jesse’s root behold a Branch arise, Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies: Th’ ethereal Spirit o’er its leaves shall move, And on its tops descend the mystic Dove. Ye heavens! from high the dewy nectar pour, And in soft silence shed the kindly shower; The sick and weak, the healing plant shall aid, From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade. All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail; Returning Justice lift aloft her scale; Peace o’er the world her olive-wand extend, And white-robed Innocence from heaven descend. Swift fly the years, and rise th’ expected morn! O spring to light! auspicious Babe, be born! See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring With all the incense of the breathing spring: See lofty Lebanon his head advance: See nodding forests on the mountain dance. See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise, And Carmel’s flowery top perfume the skies! Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers. Prepare the way! a God, a God appears: A God, a God! the vocal hills reply: The rocks proclaim th’approaching Deity. Lo, earth receives Him from the bending skies: Sink down, ye mountains: and ye valleys, rise: With heads declined, ye cedars, homage pay: Be smooth, ye rocks, ye rapid floods, give way! The Saviour comes, by ancient bards foretold! Hear him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold! [page 111] He from thick films shall purge the visual ray, And on the sightless eyeball pour the day; ’Tis He the obstructed paths of sound shall clear, And bid now music charm the unfolding ear: The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego, And leap exulting like the bounding roe. No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear; From every face He wipes off every tear. In adamantine chains shall death be bound, And hell’s grim tyrant feel the eternal wound. As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care, Seeks freshest pasture and the purest air; Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs; By day o’ersees them, and by night protects; The tender lambs he raises in his arms, Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms; Thus shall mankind His guardian care engage,— The promised Father of the future age. No more shall nation against nation rise, Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes, Nor fields with gleaming steel be covered o’er, The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more; But useless lances into scythes shall bend, And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end: Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son Shall finish what his short-lived sire begun; Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield, And the same hand that sowed shall reap the field; The swain in barren deserts with surprise Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise; And starts, amidst the thirsty wilds, to hear New falls of water murmuring in his ear. [page 112] On rifted rocks, the dragon’s late abodes, The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods. Waste, sandy valleys, once perplexed with thorn, The spiry fir and stately box adorn; To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed, And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed: The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead, And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead: The steer and lion at one crib shall meet, And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim’s feet. The smiling infant in his hand shall take The crested basilisk and speckled snake; Pleased, the green lustre of the scales survey, And with their forked tongue shall innocently play. Rise, crowned with light, imperial Salem, rise! Exalt thy towery head, and lift thy eyes! See a long race thy spacious courts adorn See future sons and daughters yet unborn, In crowding ranks on every side arise, Demanding life, impatient for the skies: See barbarous nations at thy gates attend, Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend: See thy bright altars thronged with prostrate kings, And heaped with products of Sabaean springs. For thee Idume’s spicy forests blow, And seeds of gold in Orphir’s mountains glow. See heaven its sparkling portals wide display, And break upon thee in a flood of day! No more the rising sun shall gild the morn, Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn, But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays, One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze, [page 113] O’erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine Revealed, and God’s eternal day be thine! The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay, Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away: But fixed His word, His saving power remains: Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns.
BABYLON IS FALLEN.
Fallen is stately Babylon! Her mansions from the earth are gone, For ever quenched, no more her beam Shall gem Euphrates’ voiceless stream. Her mirth is hushed, her music fled—All, save her very name, is dead; And the lone river rolls his flood, Where once a thousand temples stood. Queens of the golden East! afar Thou shonest, Assyria’s morning star! Till God, by righteous anger driven, Expelled thee from thy place in Heaven. For false and treacherous was thy ray, Like swampy lights that lead astray: And o’er the splendour of thy name Rolled many a cloud of sin and shame. [page 114] For ever fled thy princely shrines, Rich with their wreaths of clustering vines; Priest, censer, incense—all are gone From the deserted altar-stone. Belshazzar’s halls are desolate, And vanished their imperial state; Even as the pageant of a dream That floats unheard on Memory’s stream. Fallen is Babylon! and o’er The silence of her hidden shore, Where the gaunt satyr shrieks and sings, Hath mystery waved his awful wings. Concealed from eyes of mortal men, Or angels’ more pervading ken, Or angels’ more pervading ken, The ruined city lies—unknown Her site to all, but God alone.
THE CITIES OF OLD.
“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! All her gates are desolate.”—LAMENTATIONS I. 1—4.
Where are the cities which of old in mighty grandeur rose? Amid the desert’s burning sands, or girt with frozen snows; Is there no vestige now remains, their wond’rous tale to tell, Of how they blazed like meteor-stars, and how, like them, they fell? Hark! hark! the voice of prophecy comes o’er the desert wide, Come down, come down, and in the dust thy virgin beauties hide, Oh, “Daughter of Chalden,” thou no more enthroned shalt be, For the desert and the wilderness alone shall tell of thee. [page 115] Though old Euphrates still rolls on his everlasting stream, Thy brazen gates and golden halls are as they ne’er had been, Where stood thy mossy tower-crowned walls, and palaces of pride, The dragon and the wild beast now therein securely hide. The “besom of destruction” o’er thee hath swept its way In wrath, because thine impious hand on God’s Anointed lay: Thou “Lady of the Kingdoms,” Chaldea’s daughter proud, Thy gold is dim, thy music mute, and darkness now thy shroud. Lament, ye seas, and howl, ye isles, for Tyre’s virgin daughter, Who sits a queen enthroned upon the wide far-flowing water, Who said, “I am above all else with perfect beauty crowned, And helm and shield in comeliness hang on my walls around; “My merchant-princes bear the wealth of every land and clime, The choicest things that earth can give, in sea, or air, are mine, The vestments rich of purple dye, alone are made by me, And kings that robe can only wear, the robe of sovereignty.” And haughty Zidon, she stood enrobed in dazzling light, The precious stone her covering was, with pearl and diamond bright; The ruby and the emerald, the sapphire’s glowing gem, Blazed on her star-embroider’d vest, and on her diadem. Thou “City of a hundred gates,” through whose folding leaves of brass, Ten thousand men in arm’d array, from each at once might pass, Could not thy warriors and thy walls thee from the spoilers save! Alas! alas! thy gates are down, thy heroes in the grave. [page 116] And where those sumptuous summer-homes, those bowers of kingly pride, That rose amid the “palm-tree shade,” far in the desert wide? Where that gigantic structure, the temple of the sun? Is thy day of beauty too gone by, thy race of glory run? Imperial “Mistress of the World,” where are thy triumphs now? For dark, and dim, and lustreless, are the jewels on thy brow; The proud stream at thy feet rolls on, as it was wont of old, And bears within its azure depths what time may not unfold. The seven hills thy ancient throne, the hand of time defy, But now the marble coronets in broken fragments lie, The stately arch, the pillar’d dome, the palace and the hall, No more behold in banner’d pride, the gorgeous festival. Thy Caesars, and thy citizens, the emperor, and slave, Alike rest in the silent tomb, or in the silent grave; Even there thy noble ladies, in deeds of virtue bold, And there is Messalina now, in her robe of woven gold. And thou, beloved Jerusalem, tho’ desolate thou art, Thy honoured name enchrined shall be in every Christian’s heart, Tho’ the harp of Jesse’s son now lies neglected, mute, and still, Yet Abraham’s God cannot forget his own most holy hill. The silver trumpet yet shall wake in thee a joyous sound, Thy golden altars be once more with sweetest incense crown’d; Yet not the blood of bulls or goats that shall be offered there, But the sweet incense of the heart, in notes of praise and prayer. The seven-branch lustre yet shall shed its rays of holy light, On every clustered capital, with sculptured traceries bright, And He whose presence dwelt between the cherubims of gold, Shall to his bright pavilion come, as He was wont of old. [page 117] For Israel’s King of David’s line, the Crowned, the Crucified, Who languished in Gethaemane and who on Calv’ry died, Yes, he shall come, and gather in of every clime and hue, Barbarian, Scythian, Indian, Greek; the Gentile and the Jew. No light of sun or moon shall then again be needed there, Nor echoing fountains cast their floods into the balmy air, But He who is the light and life, in the temple-throne shall dwell, His brightest crown Salvation is, his name Immanuel. And down the streets of purest gold, bright as transparent glass, Diffusing health and happiness o’er nations as they pass, The everlasting streams of life their healing waters pour, And he who tastes those crystal floods, shall faint with thirst no more!
In thought, I saw the place domes of Tyre; The gorgeous treasures of her merchandise; And her proud people in their brave attire, Thronging her streets for sport or sacrifice. I saw the precious stones and spiceries, The singing girl with flower-wreathed instrument; And slaves whose beauty asked a monarch’s price— Forth from all lands all nations to her went, And kings to her in embassy were sent. I saw, with gilded prow and silken sail, Her ships that of the sea had government: O gallant ships! ’gainst you what might prevail? She stood upon her rock, and in her pride Of strength and beauty, waste and woe defied. [page 118] I looked again—I saw a lonely shore, A rock amid the waters, and a waste Of trackless sand;—I heard the black seas roar, And winds that rose and fell with gusty haste, There was one scathed tree, by storm defaced, Round which the sea-birds wheeled with screaming cry, Ere long came on a traveller, slowly paced; Now east, then west, he turned with curious eye, Like one perplexed with an uncertainty. Awhile he looked upon the sea, and then Upon a book, as if it might supply The things he lacked:—he read, and gazed again; Yet, as if unbelief so on him wrought, He might not deem this shore the shore he sought. Again I saw him come;—’twas eventide;— The sun shone on the rock amidst the sea; The winds were hushed; the quiet billows sighed With a low swell; the birds winged silently Their evening flight around the scathed tree: The fisher safely put into the bay, And pushed his boat ashore;—then gathered he His nets, and, hastening up the rocky way, Spread them to catch the sun’s warm evening ray. I saw that stranger’s eye gaze on the scene: “And this was Tyre!” said he, “how has decay Within her palaces a despot been! Ruin and silence in her courts are met, And on her city rock the fisher spreads his net!”
Mary Hewitt. [page 119]
THE VISION IN THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES.
Ezekiel xxxvii. 1-15.
He walked the vale, where thickly spread, And whitening all the ground, The bones of thousand thousand dead Lay scattered all around; And like the leaves, all sear and dry, When autumn’s blast hath swept the sky, Those bones might there be found; And not less thickly were they seen, Than leaves when autumn’s blast hath been. He stood within that gloomy vale— He stood—that hallowed seer; A voice was heard upon the gale, It sounded in his ear; It bade him speak that mighty spell, Which not e’en powerful death can quell, But listens to in fear. That word of mystic power he spoke— An awful sound the stillness broke. Bone linked to bone, with rustling sound, As when, through autumn’s trees, The withered leaves fall quickly round Upon the mournful breeze; And o’er each bone, on that wide plain, Thus linked, the flesh returned again,— Each lay, as if disease Its all transforming work had done, Ere yet corruption has begun. [page 120] But still devoid of living breath, Those countless numbers lay; Still held within the grasp of death, In horrible array: Their eyes were fixed and glazed,—each brow Was cold and pale as winter’s snow; Each form, but moulded clay; Thus silently and grimly spread, They seem’d a nation of the dead. Again the heaven-breathed voice was heard— Again the seer obeyed— Again he spoke the mystic word— Again its power displayed. “Come, winds of heaven, and breathe around”— The winds rushed by with hollow sound— And o’er those corses played; “Come, winds of heaven, breathe o’er the slain, That they may wake to life again.” They brooded on those forms—they sped Revivifying breath;— I saw that mighty host of dead Wake from their sleep of death; Light danced in every eye—each breast Began to heave—no more at rest, The heart throbbed strong beneath, The blood flowed warm in every vein, Life started to its seat again.
Anon. [page 121]
The king was on his throne, The satraps thronged the hall; A thousand bright lamps shone O’er that high festival. A thousand cups of gold, In Judah deemed divine— Jehovah’s vessels hold The godless heathen’s wine. In that same hour and hall The fingers of a hand Came forth against the wall, And wrote as if on sand: The fingers of a man: A solitary hand Along the letters ran, And traced them like a wand. The monarch saw and shook, And bade no more rejoice; All bloodless waxed his look, And tremulous his voice. “Let the men of lore appear, The wisest of the earth, And expound the words of fear, Which marr our royal mirth.” [page 122] Chaldea’s seers are good, But here they have no skill; And the unknown letters stood Untold and awful still. And Babel’s men of age Are wise and deep in lore, But now they were not sage, They saw—but knew no more. A captive in the land, A stranger and a youth, He heard the king’s command, He saw that writing’s truth. The lamps around were bright, The prophecy in view; He read it on that night,— The morrow proved it true. “Belshazzar’s grave is made, His kingdom passed away, He, in the balance weighed, Is light and worthless clay. The shroud, his robe of state, His canopy the stone; The Mede is at his gate! The Persian on his throne!”
Joy holds her court in great Belshazzar’s hall, Where his proud lords attend their monarch’s call. [page 123] The rarest dainties which the teeming East Pours from her bounteous lap, adorn the feast. O’er silver fountains perfumed waters play, And gems add lustre to the blaze of day: The brightest tears of rich Assyria’s vine In the broad gold with deeper crimson shine: Mirth dips his pinions in the rosy bowl, And Music pours his raptures o’er the soul: While the high domes and fretted roofs prolong Each dying echo of the choral song. But, lo! the Monarch rises.—“Pour,” he cries, “To the great gods, the Assyrian deities; “Pour forth libations of the rosy wine “To Nebo, Bel, and all the powers divine. “Those golden vessels crown, which erewhile stood “Fast by the oracle of Judah’s God; “Till that accursed race provoked the ire “And vengeful arm of my immortal sire. “Hail to the Gods, whose omens in the night “Beamed on my soul through visions of delight.” Ah! wretched mortal, worthless worm of clay! Thou grovelling reptile, born but to decay! The Almighty’s wrath shall soon in tempest rise, And scatter wide thine impious sacrifice, Roll back the torrent of thy guilty pride, And whelm thee, boaster, in its refluent tide. Such is thine own impending fate, O king! Else, why that start, that livid cheek? why fling The untested goblet from thy palsied hand? Why shake thy joints? thy feet forget to stand! Where roams thine eye? which seems in wild amaze To shun some object, yet returns to gaze; [page 124] Then shrinks again appalled, as if the tomb Had sent a spirit from its inmost gloom, Dread as the phantom which in night’s dark hour Revealed the terrors of the Almighty’s power; When o’er the couch of Eliphaz it stood, And froze the life-streams of his curdling blood. Awful the horror, when Belshazzar raised His arm, and pointed where the vision blazed! For see! enrobed in flame, a mystic shade, As of a hand, a red right-hand, displayed! And slowly moving o’er the wall, appear Letters of fate, and characters of fear! ’Tis that Almighty hand, that shakes the pole, Wings the swift bolt, and bids the thunder roll. Breathless they stand in deathlike silence; all Fix their glazed eyeballs on the dreaded wall: It seems as if a magic spell had bound Each form in ivy fetters; not a sound Is heard, except some throbbing pulse proclaims That life still lingers in their sinking frames. See! now the vision brightens, now ’tis gone; Like meteor flash, like heaven’s own lighting flown! But, though the band hath vanished, still appear Those mystic characters of fate and fear; Baffling each effort vainly made to scan Such revelation of the Lord to man. “Quick bring the Prophet;—let his piercing eye “Scan these dim outlines of futurity: Fix their glazed eyeballs on the dreaded wall: It seems as if a magic spell had bound Each form in icy fetters; not a sound Is heard, except some throbbing pulse proclaims That life still lingers in their sinking frames. See! now the vision brightens, now ’tis gone; Like meteor flash, like heaven’s own lightning flown! But, though the band hath vanished, still appear Those mystic characters of fate and fear; Baffling each effort vainly made to scan Such revelation of the Lord to man. “Quick bring the Prophet;—let his piercing eye “Scan these dim outlines of futurity: “And, oh! in mercy let his tongue proclaim “The mystery of that visionary flame.” The holy prophet came, with brow serene, With spirit speaking eye, and lofty mieu. [page 125] To whom Belshazzar:—“Prophet, by thine aid “Be our sad doubts and anxious cares allayed. “Our sage Chaldeans now in vain explore “The secret wonders of their magic lore. “See the dire portents that our hearts appal; “Read thou the lines upon that dreaded wall. “Nor shall thy skill and high deserts forego “The richest gifts a monarch can bestow.” Unutterably awful was the eye Which met the monarch’s; and the stern reply Fell heavy on his soul. “Thy gifts withhold, “Nor tempt the Spirit of the Lord with gold. “Did memory fail thee? was they father’s lot “So lightly noted, and so soon forgot? “Him God exalted; him the Almighty gave “Power to cast down, set up, destroy, or save. “But when the hand that raised him, he defied, “It smote him, and he withered in his pride; “An awful wreck of man, outcast of heaven, “From human haunts, from social converse driven. “At length relenting heaven his pride subdued, “Restored his reason, and his form renewed. “Then humbly bent beneath the hand that shed “Mercies or judgments on his chastened head, “The covering shield he blessed, or kissed the rod, “And bowed submissive to the will of God. “But thou, unmindful of thy sire’s release, “His pride and fall, his penitence and peace, “Hast braved the fury of the living Lord, “Profaned his vessels, and his rites abhorred. “Proud monarch, hear what these dread words reveal! “That let on which the Eternal sets his seal. [page 126] “Thy kingdom numbered, and thy glory flown, “The Mede and Persian revel on thy throne. “Weighed in the balance, thou hast kicked the beam; “See to yon western sun the lances gleam, “Which, ere his orient rays adorn the sky, “Thy blood shall sully with a crimson dye.” This fate foretold, the strains prophetic cease. But ere the prophet’s feet depart in peace, The chain of gold upon his neck they cast, The robe of scarlet gird around his waist; And proclamations through the land declare Daniel third ruler, next Assyria’s heir. In the dire carnage of that night’s dread hour, Crushed ’mid the ruins of his crumbling power, Belshazzar fell; though secret was the blow, Unknown the hand that laid the tyrant low.
Hour of an empire’s overthrow! The Princes from the feast were gone— The idle flame was burning low— ’Twas midnight upon Babylon. That night the first was wild and high; That night was Zion’s God profaned; The seal was set to blasphemy; The last deep cup of wrath was drained. [page 127] ’Mid jewelled roof and silken pall, Belshazzar on his couch was flung;— A burst of thunder shook the hall— He heard—but ’twas no mortal tongue! “King of the east! the trumpet calls, That calls thee to a tyrant’s grave; A curse is on thy palace walls— A curse is on thy guardian wave. “A surge is in Euphrates bed, That never filled its bed before;— A surge that, e’er the moon be red, Shall load with death its haughty shore. “Behold a tide of Persian steel— A torrent of the Median car; Like flame their gory banners wheel;— Rise, king, and arm thee for the war!” Belshazzar gazed—the voice was past— The lofty chamber filled with gloom— But echoed on the sudden blast The rushing of a mighty plume. He listened—all again was still; He heard no clarion’s iron clang; He heard the fountain’s gushing rill— The breeze that through the roses sang. He slept;—in sleep wild murmurs came— A visioned splendour fired the sky; He heard Belshazzar’s taunted name— He heard again the prophet cry— [page 128] “Sleep, Sultan! ’tis thy final sleep; Or wake, or sleep the guilty dies; The wrongs of those who watch and weep Around thee and thy nation, rise.” He started:—’mid the battle’s yell, He saw the Persian rushing on;— He saw the flames around him swell; Thou’rt ashes, King of Babylon!
THE FALL OF NINEVEH.
The days of old return;—I breathe the air Of the young world; I see her giant sons, Like to a gorgeous pageant in the sky Of summer’s evening, cloud on fiery cloud Thronging upheaved,—before me rise the walls Of the Titanic city,—brazen gates,— Towers,—temples,—palaces enormous piled,— Imperial NINEVEH, the earthly queen! In all her golden pomp I see her now,— Her swarming streets,—her splendid festivals,— Her sprightly damsels to the timbrel’s sound Airily bounding, and their ankles chime,— Her lusty sons, like summer-morning gay,— Her warriors stern,—her rich-robed rulers grave: I see her halls sunbright at midnight shine,— I hear the music of her banquetings; I hear the laugh, the whisper, and the sigh. [page 129] A sound of stately treading towards me comes,— A silken wafting on the cedar-floor: As from Arabia’s flowering groves, an air Delicious breathes around,—tall, lofty-browed,— Pale and majestically beautiful,— In vesture gorgeous as the clouds of morn,— With slow, proud step, her glorious dames sweep by. Again I look,—and lo! around the walls Unnumbered hosts in flaming panoply,— Chariots like fire, and thunder-bearing steeds! I hear the shouts of battle: like the waves Of the tumultuous sea they roll and rush!— In flame and smoke the imperial city sinks! Her walls are gone, her palaces are dust— The desert is around her, and within Like shadows have the mighty passed away. Whence, and how came the ruin? by the hand Of the oppressor were the nations bowed; They rose against him, and prevailed; for he, The haughty monarch who the earth could rule, By his own furious passions was o’er-ruled: With pride his understanding was made dark, That he the truth knew not; and by his lusts, And by the fierceness of his wrath the hearts Of men he turned from him. So, to kings Be he example, that the tyrannous And iron rod breaks down at length the hand That wields it strongest; that by virtue alone And justice, monarchs sway the hearts of men; For there hath God implanted love of these, And hatred of oppression, which unseen [page 130] And noiseless though it work, yet in the end, E’en like the viewless elements of the storm, Brooding in silence, will in thunder burst! So let the nations learn, that not in wealth, Nor in the grosser pleasures of the sense, Nor in the glare of conquest, nor the pomp Of vassal kings, and tributary lands, Do happiness and lasting power abide;— That virtue unto man best glory is, His strength, and truest wisdom;—and that guilt, Though for a season it the heart delight, Or to worse deeds the bad man do make strong,— Brings misery yet, and terror, and remorse, And weakness and destruction in the end: So if the nations learn, then not in vain The mighty one hath been, and is no more!
I. Maccabees ii. 40-44.
Darkness o’ershadows Israel all, Woe and death and lamentation; The Heathen laughs on Sion’s wall, The Temple all is desolation; A dumb demoniac shape of stone Enthroned upon God’s holy altar, Where children of the Faith kneel down And fearful Priests thro’ false rites falter [page 131] Buried the Book of God, the spirit Of Moses and of David gone— Lost the traditions they inherit, Their Sabbath scoffed and spat upon; Meek recusants with bent necks bare Beseech swift death from fire and sword. Of all deliverance in despair Die, rather than deny their Lord. But other men of hardier mood, In Modin’s mountains wandered free, Their temple the o’erarching wood, The cave their solemn sanctuary; Men who had sworn they would not die Like shamble sheep a willing prey; Had sworn to smite the foe though he Assailed them on the Sabbath day. Their Chiefs were Judas—Israel’s shield Her sword, her staff, her morning star, The first in every fatal field To bear the burden of the war; And Simon sage, the man of lore, Whose downeast eyes read coming signs; Whose thoughts were spies, skilled to explore Afar the invader’s dark designs. Oh, valiant Assidean chiefs, How well your Father’s will ye wrought, How lifted Israel from her griefs, And bore her on your shields aloft; “She shall not perish,”—so you swore— “They shall not root us out of earth, Our Father’s God we dare adore And rule the realm, that gave us birth.” [page 132] Oh noble pair, with awful odds Seron, Lysias, Nicanor, come! Their trust is in their Syrian gods, But Israel’s hope is in her Own; How valiantly year after year Ye gird your loins for warfare grand! How proud, at last your flag you rear, On a regenerated land!
Hon. T.D. McGee.
A HEBREW MELODY.
Malachi. iii. 1.
On Carmel’s brow the wreathy vine Had all its honours shed, And o’er the vales of Palestine A sickly paleness spread; When the old seer, by vision led, And energy sublime, Into that shadowy region sped, To muse on distant time. He saw the valleys far and wide, But sight of joy was none; He look’d o’er many a mountain side, But silence reigned alone, Save that a boding voice sung on, By wave and waterfall, As still, in harsh and heavy tone, Deep unto deep did call. [page 133] On Kison’s strand and Ephrata The hamlets thick did lie; No wayfarer between he saw, No Asherite passed by: No maiden at her task did ply, No sportive child was seen; The lonely dog barked wearily Where dwellers once had been. Oh! beauteous were the palaces On Jordan wont to be, And still they glimmered to the breeze, Like stars beneath the sea! But vultures held their jubilee Where harp and cymbal rung, And there, as if in mockery, The baleful satyr sung. But who had seen that Prophet’s eye On Carmel that reclined! It looked not on the times gone by But those that were behind: His grey hair streamed upon the wind, His hands were raised on high, As mirror’d on his mystic mind Arose futurity. He saw the feast in Bozrah spread, Prepared in ancient day; Eastward, away the eagle sped, And all the birds of prey. “Who’s this,” he cried, “comes by the way Of Edom, all divine, Travelling in splendour, whose array, Is red, but not with wine?” [page 134] Blest be the herald of our King That comes to set us free! The dwellers of the rock shall sing, And utter praise to thee! Tabor and Hermon yet shall see Their glories glow again, And blossoms spring on field and tree, That ever shall remain. “The happy child in dragon’s way Shall frolic with delight; The lamb shall round the leopard play, And all in love unite; The dove on Zion’s hill shall light, That all the world must see. Hail to the journeyer, in his might, That comes to set us free!”
WATCHMAN! WHAT OF THE NIGHT.
Watchman! tell us of the night, What its signs of promise are: Traveller! o’er yon mountain’s height See that glory-beaming star! Watchman! doth its beauteous ray Aught of hope or joy foretell? Traveller! yes! it brings the day, Promis’d day of Israel. [page 135] Watchman! tell us of the night; Higher yet that star ascends: Traveller! blessedness and light Peace and truth its course portends. Watchman! will its beams alone Gild the spot that gave them birth? Traveller! ages are its own, And it bursts o’er all the earth. Watchman! tell us of the night, For the morning seems to dawn: Traveller! darkness takes its flight, Doubt and terror are withdrawn. Watchman! let thy wand’rings cease; Hie thee to thy quiet home: Traveller! lo! the Prince of Peace, Lo! the Son of God is come.
Bowring. [page 136]
HISTORICAL INCIDENTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
He came not in his people’s day Of miracle and might, When awe-struck nations owned their sway, And conquest crown’d each flight;— When nature’s self with wonder saw, Her ancient power, her boasted law, To feeble man give way— The elements of earth and heaven Israel stayed—for Judah riven! Pillar and cloud Jehovah gave, High emblems of his grace; And clove the rock, and smote the wave, Moved mountains from their place;— But judgement was with mercy blent— In thunder was the promise sent— Fierce lightning veiled his face; The jealous God—the burning law— Were all the chosen people saw. [page 137] Behold them—pilgrim tribes no more— The promis’d land their own; And blessings theirs of sea and shore; To other realms unknown: From age to age a favoured line, Of mighty kings and seers divine, A temple and a throne; Not then, but in their hour of shame, Woe, want, and weakness—then “He came.” Not in the earthquake’s rending force, Not in the blasting fire; Not in the strong wind’s rushing course, Came He, their soul’s desire! Forerunners of his coming these, Proclaiming over earth and seas, As God, his might and ire: The still, small voice—the hovering dove, Proved him Messiah—spoke him “Love!” Of life the way, of light the spring Eternal, undefiled; Redeemer, Prophet, Priest, and King— Yet came he as a child! And Zion’s favoured eye grown dim, Knew not her promised Lord in Him The lowly and the mild! She saw the manger, and the tree, And scornful cried—“Can this be He!”
Anon. [page 138]
A PRELUDE FOR CHRISTMAS.
The seer—that same Prophet child Who dwelt in Sennaar undefil’d— Foretold with fire anointed lips The elder law’s Apocalypse: How, prone on Tigris shore, he saw The vision filled with acts of awe— All Heaven’s designs in earthly things The course of kingdoms and of kings— Th’ Egyptian’s, Persian’s, Grecian’s fate: But saddest scene! saw Sion’s state— The second temple overthrown From pinnacle to corner stone— The eternal sacrifice supprest By unbelievers from the west, Dense darkness in Judean skies Till Michael, Israel’s Prince, arise— And He, the Saint of saints, descend On earth, captivity to end! Round rolled the times, and Asia knew What Daniel saw. Then Rome outgrew All other bounds. War’s last wild roar Lay hushed on the Cantabrian shore— The Idol of the two-fold face Looked on his temple’s empty space [page 139] From the far frontier of the Medes To where day stalls his weary steeds All men adored at Caesar’s nod, And frantic cried—a god! a god! Then when the day had come, and hour, Augustus spake the word of power, And kings and consuls, east and Western U. Flew to obey their lord’s behest— “Number the nations who obey Throughout the world the Roman sway.” Then throng’d to tryst earth’s ev’ry tribe Kindred to kin, from ev’ry side; O’er seas and Alps lost exiles came, Rivers reversed—some source to claim: Ganges to Gades—floods of men Thronged fleet and port and foot-marked glen— The very desert seemed to be Peopled by Caesar’s dread decree— “Number the nations who obey Throughout the world the Roman sway.” Lo! from their Galilean home Where two of Caesar’s subjects come! Like loving sire and daughter, they Hold reverent converse on their way. Afoot and simply clad, yet grace Abundant shines in either face: He, Heli’s son, a serious man, Whom every sign speaks artisan: She, fairest of all Israel’s fair All heavenly goodness in her air, Conscious of royal David’s blood And of her holy motherhood, [page 140] Turns to her guide with filial ear, Well pleased his reverent speech to hear. December’s breath breathes keen and chill On Jacob’s well from Ebal’s hill, The wintry sun looks worn and dim On Sichem from Mount Gerizim, As paces slowly from the North That mother near her baby’s birth, Through ways Samarian, rude and wild, Borne and not bow’d, by such a child! For thou Ephrata art to be The Man-God’s destined nursery! For Thee alone, the star shall rise! For Thee alone the morning skies Shall brighten to the angelic song, Above the troubled shepherd throng! For Thee, those Angel-aided seers By Ader’s tower, shall calm their fears, And ravished by the heavenly strain, Shall seek their Lord beyond the plain! For Thee, the star-led Magi bring, From the far East their offering! For Thee, shall guilty Herod quiver, Ephrata! blessed be thou for ever! Draw we the veil—this mystery Is all too bright for mortal eye;— How shall it then by mortal tongue In earthly strain, be fitly sung? [page 141] In Heaven alone, by His own choir, Where dwells the glorified Desire, Can worthily be raised the psalm That hailed on Earth the dread I AM.
Hon. T.D. McGee.
A VOICE FROM THE DESERT.
A voice from the desert comes awful and still, “The Lord is advancing—prepare ye the way,” The word of Jehovah he comes to fulfil, And o’er the dark world pour the splendour of day. Bring down the proud mountain, though towering to heaven, And be the lone valley exalted on high; The rough path and crooked be made smooth and even, For Zion! your King, your Redeemer is nigh. The beams of salvation His progress illume, The lone dreary wilderness wings of her God; The rose and the myrtle shall suddenly bloom, And the olive of peace spread its branches abroad.
Drummond. [page 142]
HYMN ON THE NATIVITY.
O lovely voices of the sky, That hymn’d the Saviour’s birth! Are ye not singing still on high, Ye that sang, “Peace on earth?” To us yet speak the strains Wherewith, in days gone by, Ye bless’d the Syrian swains, O voices of the sky! O clear and shining light, whose beams That hour Heaven’s glory shed Around the palms, and o’er the streams, And on the Shepherd’s head; Be near, through life and death, As in that holiest night Of Hope, and Joy, and Faith, O clear and shining light! O star which led to Him, whose love Brought down man’s ransom free; Where art thou?—’Midst the hosts above, May we still gaze on thee?— In heaven thou art not set, Thy rays earth might not dim— Send them to guide us yet! O star which led to Him!
Mrs. Hemans. [page 143]
THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.—St. Luke I. 28.
Oh! Thou who deignest to sympathize With all our frail and fleshy ties, Maker, yet Brother dear, Forgive the too presumptuous thought If, calming wayward grief, I sought To gaze on Thee too near. Yet sure ’twas not presumptuous, Lord, ’Twas thine own comfortable word That made the lesson known: Of all the dearest bonds we prove, Thou countest sons’ and mothers’ love Most sacred, most thine own. When wandering here a little span Thou took’st on Thee to rescue man, Thou hadst no earthly sire; That wedded love we prize so dear, As if our heaven and home were here, It lit in Thee no fire. On no sweet sister’s faithful breast Would’st thou thine aching forehead rest, On no kind brother lean: But who—oh perfect filial heart, E’er did like Thee a true son’s part Endearing, firm, serene? [page 144] Thou wept’st, meek maiden, mother mild, Thou wept’st upon thy sinless child, Thy very heart was riven: And yet, that mourning matron here, Would deem thy sorrows bought too dear By all on this side Heaven? A Son that never did amiss, That never shamed His mother’s kiss, Nor crossed her fondest prayer: Even from the tree He deigned to bow For her His agonized brow Her, His sole earthly care. Ave Maria! Blessed Maid! Lily of Eden’s fragrant shade, Who can express the love That nurtured thee so pure and sweet, Making thy heart a shelter meet For Jesus? Holy Dove! Ave Maria! Mother blest, To whom caressing and caressed Clings the Eternal Child: Favoured beyond Archangels’ dream, When first on thee with tenderest gleam Thy new-born Saviour smiled.— Blessed in the womb that bear Him—blessed The bosom where His lips were pressed, But also blessed are they Who hear His word and keep it well, The loving homes where Christ shall dwell, And never pass away.
The Christian Year. [page 145]
GOD WITH US.
While to Bethlehem we are going, Tell me now—to cheer the road, Tell me why this lovely Infant Quitted His divine abode, “From what world to bring to this Peace; which of all earthly blisses, Is the brightest, purest bliss.” Wherefore from His throne exalted Came He on this earth to dwell, All His pomp a humble manger, All His court a narrow cell? “From that world to bring to this Peace; which of all earthly blisses, Is the brightest, purest bliss.” Why did He, the Lord eternal, Mortal pilgrim deign to be; He who fashioned for His glory Boundless immortality? “From that world to bring to this Peace; which of all earthly blisses, Is the brightest, purest bliss.”
From the Spanish. [page 146]
A BETHLEHEM HYMN.
He is come, the Christ of God,— Left for us His glad abode, Stooping from His throne of bliss, To this darksome wilderness. He has come, the Prince of Peace; Come to bid our sorrows cease, Come to scatter with His light, All the shadows of our night. He, the Mighty King, has come! Making this poor earth His home, Come to bear our sins’ sad load; Son of David, Son of God. He has come, whose name of grace Speaks deliverance to our race, Left for us His glad abode, Son of Mary, Son of God. Unto us a child is born! No’er has earth beheld a morn Among all the morns of time, Half so glorious in its prime. Unto us a Son is given! He has come from God’s own heaven; Bringing with Him from above, Holy peace and holy love.
Bonar. [page 147]
What are these ethereal strains, Floating o’er Judea’s plains? Burning spirit’s throng the sky, With their lofty minstrelsy! Hark! they break the midnight trance With the joyous utterance, “Glory to God and peace to men, Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Quench, ye types, your feeble ray, Shadows, ye may melt away; Prophecy, your work is done, Gospel ages have begun! Temple! quench your altar fires, For these radiant angel-choirs, To a ruined world proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem. Pillowed is His infant head On a borrowed manger bed! He, around whose throne above, Angels hymmed their songs of love, Now is wrapt by virgin’s hands, In earth’s meanest swaddling bands; Once adored by seraphim,— Now a babe of Bethlehem. [page 148] Eastern sages from afar, Guided by a mystic star, Followed till its lustre mild Brought them to the heavenly child. May each providence to me Like a guiding meteor be, Bringing nearer unto Him Once the Babe of Bethlehem!
Rev. J. R. MacDuff.
When Jordan hushed his waters still, And silence slept on Zion hill; When Bethlehem’s shepherds thro’ the night, Watched o’er their flocks by starry light; Hark! from the midnight hills around, A voice of more than mortal sound, In distant hallelujahs stole, Wild murmuring o’er the raptured soul. Then swift to every startled eye, New streams of glory light the sky; Heaven bursts her azure gates to pour Her spirits to the midnight hour. On wheels of light, on wings of flame, The glorious hosts of Zion came; High heaven with songs of triumph rung, While thus they struck their harps and sung: [page 149] O Zion! lift thy raptured eye, The long-expected hour is nigh; The joys of nature rise again, The Prince of Salem comes to reign. See, Mercy, from her golden urn, Pours a rich stream to them that mourn, Behold, she binds with tender care, The bleeding bosom of despair. He comes! to cheer the trembling heart, Bid Satan and his host depart; Again the day-star gilds the gloom, Again the bowers of Eden bloom; O Zion! lift thy raptured eye, The long-expected hour is nigh; The joys of Nature rise again, The Prince of Salem comes to reign.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old, From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold:— “Peace on the earth—good will to men From Heaven’s all gracious King”— The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing. [page 150] Still through the cloven skies they come, With peaceful wings unfurled, And still their heavenly music floats O’er all the weary world; Above its sad and lowly plains They bend on heavenly wing, And ever o’er its Babel sounds The blessed angels sing! Yet with the woes of sin and strife, The world has suffered long, Beneath the angel strain have rolled Two thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not The love song which they bring, O! hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing! And ye, beneath life’s crushing road, Whose forms are bending low, Who toil along the climbing way With painful steps and slow; Look now! for glad and golden hours Come swiftly on the wing— O! rest beside the weary road, And hear the angels sing! For lo, the days are hastening on By prophet bards foretold, When with the ever-circling years Comes round the age of gold; When peace shall over all the earth Its ancient splendour fling, And the whole world send back the song Which now the angels sing!
Rev. E. H. Sears [page 151]
THE SAVIOUR’S BIRTH.
St. Luke ii. 8-21.
Angels, from the realms of glory Wing your flight o’er all the earth! Ye who sang creation’s story Now proclaim Messiah’s birth! Come, and worship; Worship Christ, the new-born King! Shepherds, in the field abiding, Watching o’er your flocks by night God with man is now residing, Yonder shines the Infant-light: Come, and worship; Worship Christ, the new-born King! Saints, before the altar bending, Watching long in hope and fear! Suddenly the Lord, descending, In his temple shall appear: Come, and worship; Worship Christ, the new-born King!
Anon. [page 152]
Christians, awake! salute the happy morn, Whereon the Saviour of mankind was born; Rise to adore the mystery of love, Which hosts of Angels chanted from above: With them the joyful tidings first begun, Of God Incarnate, and the Virgin’s Son. Then to the watchful shepherds it was told, Who heard the angelic herald’s voice, “Behold, I bring good tidings of a Saviour’s birth, To you, and all the nations upon earth; This day hath God fulfill’d His promised word, This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord.” He spake; and straightway the celestial choir In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire; The praises of redeeming love they sang, And heaven’s whole orb with hallelujahs rang; God’s highest glory was their anthem still, Peace upon earth, and unto men good-will. To Bethlehem straight the enlighten’d shepherds ran, To see the wonders God had wrought for man; Then to the wonders God had wrought for man; Then to their flocks, still praising God, return, And their glad hearts within their bosoms burn; To all, the joyful tidings they proclaim; The first Apostles of the Saviour’s fame. Oh! may we keep and ponder in our mind God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind. [page 153] Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss, From the poor manger to the bitter cross; Tread in His steps, assisted by His grace, Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place. Then may we hope, the angelic hosts among, To join, redeem’d, a glad triumphant throng: He that was born upon this joyful day, Around us all His glory shall display: Saved by His love, incessant we shall sing Eternal praise to heaven’s Almighty King.
O come, all ye faithful, Joyfully triumphant; O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem; Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels; O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. God of God, Light of Light, Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb; Very God, Begotten, not created; O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. [page 154] Sing, choirs of Angels, Sing in exultation, Sing, all ye powers of heaven above; Glory to God In the highest, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning, JESUS, to Thee be glory given; Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing; O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
For Thou wast born of woman, Thou didst come, O Holiest! to this world of sin and gloom, Not in thy dread omnipotent array; And not by thunders strew’d; Was thy tempestuous road; Nor indignation burnt before Thee on thy way. But Thee a soft and naked child, Thy mother undefiled, In the rude manger laid to rest From off her virgin breast. [page 155] The heavens were not commanded to prepare A gorgeous canopy of golden air; Nor stoop’d their lamps th’ enthroned fires on high A single silent star Came wandering from afar, Gliding uncheck’d and clam along the liquid sky; The eastern sages leading on, As at a kingly throne, To lay their gold and odours sweet Before thy infant feet. The earth and ocean were not hush’d to hear Bright harmony from ev’ry starry sphere; Nor at thy presence brake the voice of song; From all the cherub choirs, And seraph’s burning lyres, Pour’d through the host of heaven the charmed clouds along; One angel troop the strain began, Of all the race of man, By simple shepherds heard alone, That soft hosanna’s tone.
St. Luke ii. 13-20.
What sudden blaze of song Spreads o’er th’ expanse of heaven? In waves of light it thrills along, Th’ angelic signal given— “Glory to God!” from yonder central fire Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry quire; [page 156] Like circles widening round Upon a clear blue river, Orb after orb, the wondrous sound Is echoed on for ever: “Glory to God on high, on earth be peace, “And love towards men of love—salvation and release.” Yet stay, before thou dare To join the festal throng; Listen and mark what gentle air First stirr’d the tide of song; ’Tis not; “the Saviour born in David’s home, “To Whom for power and health obedient worlds should come.” ’Tis not; “the Christ the Lord:”— With fix’d adoring look The choir of Angels caught the word, Nor yet their silence broke: But when they heard the sign, where Christ should be, In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony. Wrapp’d in His swaddling bands, And in His manger laid, The Hope and Glory of all lands Is come to the world’s aid: No peaceful home upon His cradle smil’d Guests rudely went and came, where slept the royal child. But where Thou dwellest, Lord, No other thought should be, Once duly welcom’d and ador’d, How should I part with Thee? Bethlehem must lose Thee soon but Thou wilt grace The single heart to be Thy sure abiding place. [page 157] Thee, on the bosom laid Of a pure virgin mind, In quiet ever, and in shade, Shepherd and sage may find; They who have bowed untaught to nature’s sway, And they, who follow Truth along her star-pav’d way. The pastoral spirits first Approach Thee, Babe divine For they in lowly thoughts are mers’d Meet for Thy lowly shrine: Sooner than they should miss where Thou dost dwell, Angels from Heaven will stoop to guide them to Thy cell. Still as the day comes round For Thee to be reveal’d, By wakeful shepherds Thou art found, Abiding in the field All through the wintry heaven and chill night air, In music and in light Thou dawnest on their prayer. O faint not ye for fear— What though your wandering sheep, Reckless of what they see and hear Lie lost in wilful sleep? High Heaven in mercy to your sad annoy Still greets you with glad tidings of immortal joy, Think on th’ eternal home The Saviour left for you: Think on the Lord most holy, come To dwell with hearts untrue: So shall ye tread untir’d His pastoral ways, And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.
The Christian Year. [page 158]
THE MADONNA AND CHILD.
When from thy beaming throne, Oh High and Holy One! Thou camest to dwell with those of mortal birth No ray of living light Flashed on the astonished sight, To shew the Godhead walked his subject earth. Thine was no awful form,— Shrouded in mist and storm,— Of seraph, walking on the viewless wind; Nor didst thou deign to wear The port, sublimely fair, Of angel heralds, sent to bless mankind. Made like the sons of clay, Thy matchless glories lay In form of feeble infancy concealed; No pomp of outward sign Proclaimed the Power Divine; No earthly state the heavenly guest revealed! Thou didst not choose thy home Beneath a lordly dome; No royal diadem wreathed thy baby brow; Nor on a soft couch laid, Nor in rich vest arrayed, But with the poorest of the poor wert Thou! [page 159] Yet she, whose gentle breast Was thy glad place of rest, In her the royal blood of David flowed, Men passed her dwelling by With proud and scornful eye, But angels knew and loved her mean abode There softer strains she heard Than song of evening bird, Or tuneful minstrel in a queenly bower; And o’er her dwelling lone A brighter radiance shone, Than ever glittered from a monarch’s tower. For there the mystic star, That sages led from far, To pour their treasures at her Infant’s feet, Still shed its golden light; There, through the calm, clear night, Were heard angelic voices, strangely sweet. Oh happiest thou of all Who bore the deadly thrall, Which for one mother’s crime to all was given; Her first of mortal birth Brought death to reign on earth, But Thine brings light and life again from heaven!
Dale. [page 160]
THE STABLE AT BETHLEHEM.
T’was not a palace proud and fair, He chose for His first home; No dazz’ling pile of grandeur rare, With pillar’d hall and dome;— Oh no! a stable, humble, poor— Received Him at His birth; And thus was born, unknown, obscure— The Lord of Heaven and Earth. No band of anxious menials there, To tend the new born child, Joseph alone and Mary fair, Upon the infant smiled; No broidered linens fine had they Those little limbs to fold, No baby garments rich and gay, No tissues wrought with gold. Come to your Saviour’s lowly bed, Ye vain and proud of heart! And learn with bowed and humbled head The lesson t’will impart;— T’will teach ye not to prize too high, The riches vain of earth— But lay up in yon glorious sky, Treasures of truer worth. [page 161] And ye, poor stricken sons of grief, Sad “outcasts” of this life, Come, too,—ye’ll find a sure relief For your hearts’ bitter strife; Look at Bethlehem’s stable poor, Your Saviour’s lowly cot, Will it not teach ye to endure, Aye, yes, to bless your lot?
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning Dawn on our darkness, and lend us Thine aid! Star of the East, the horizon adorning, Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid! Cold on his cradle the dewdrops are shining! Low lies his bed with the beasts of the stall! Angels adore him in slumber reclining, Maker, and Monarch, and Saviour of all! Say shall we yield him, in costly devotion, Odours of Edom and offerings divine; Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean, Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine. Vainly we offer each ample oblation; Vainly with gold would His favour secure; Richer by far is the heart’s adoration; Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor. [page 162] Brightest and best of the sons of the morning, Dawn on our darkness, and lend us Thine aid! Star of the East, the horizon adorning, Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid!
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
When marshall’d on the nightly plain, The glittering host bestud the sky; One star alone, of all the train, Can fix the sinner’s wandering eye. Hark! hark to God the chorus breaks From every host, from every gem; But one alone the Saviour speaks— It is the Star of Bethlehem. Once on the raging seas I rode, The storm was loud—the night was dark— The ocean yawn’d—and rudely blow’d The wind that toss’d my foundering bark: Deep horror then my vitals froze; Death-struck, I ceas’d the tide to stem; When suddenly a star arose— It was the Star of Bethlehem. It was my guide, my light, my all, It bade my dark forebodings cease; And thro’ the storm and danger’s thrall It led me to the port of peace. [page 163] Now safely moor’d—my perils o’er, I’ll sing, first in night’s diadem, For ever, and for evermore, The star!—the Star of Bethlehem!
RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN.
St. Matthew ii. 16-18.
Weep, weep not o’er thy children’s tomb, O Rachel! weep not so: The bud is cropt by martyrdom, The flower in heaven shall blow. Firstlings of faith! the murderer’s knife Hath miss’d its deadly sim; The God, for whom they gave their life, For them to suffer came. Though evil were their days and few, Baptized in blood and pain, He knows them whom they never know, And they shall live-again. Then weep not o’er thy children’s tomb, O Rachel! weep not so: The bud is cropt by martyrdom, The flower in heaven shall blow.
Bishop Blair. [page 164]
THE HOLY INNOCENTS. “These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and the Lamb.”—Rev. xiv. 4.
Say, ye celestial guards, who wait In Bethlehem round the Saviour’s palace gate, Say, who are these on golden wings, That hover o’er the new born King of kings, Their palms and garlands telling plain That they are of the glorious martyr train, Next to yourselves ordained to praise His name, and brighten as on Him they gaze? But where their spoils and trophies? where The glorious dint a martyr’s shield should bear? How chance no cheek among them wears The deep worn trace of penitential tears, But all is bright and smiling love, As if fresh-born from Eden’s happy grove, They had flown here, their king to see, Nor ever had been theirs of dark mortality. Ask, and some angel will reply, “Those like yourselves, were born to sin and die, But ere the poison root was grown, God set His seal and mark’d them for his own. Baptized in blood for Jesus’ sake, Now underneath the Cross their bed they make Nor to be scar’d from that sure rest By frighten’d mothers’ shriek or warrior’s waving crest.” [page 165] Mindful of these, the first-fruits sweet Borne by the suffering Church her Lord to greet, Blessed Jesus over loved to trace The “innocent brightness” of an infant’s face. He raised them in His Holy arms, He blessed them from the world and all its harms; Heirs though they were of sin and shame, He blessed them in His own and in His father’s name. Then, as each fond unconscious child On the everlasting Parent sweetly smiled, (Like infants sporting on the shore, That tremble not at Ocean’s boundless roar,) Were they not present to thy thought, All souls, that in their cradles Thou hast bought? But chiefly these, who died for Thee That thou might’st live for them a sadder death to see. And next to these. Thy gracious word Was as a pledge of benediction, stored For Christian mothers, while they moan Their treasured hopes, just born, baptized and gone. Oh! joy for Rachel’s broken heart! She and her babes shall meet no more to part; So dear to Christ her pious haste To trust them in His arms, for ever safe embraced. She does not grudge to leave them there, Where to behold them was her heart’s first prayer; She dares not grieve—but she must weep, As her pale placid martyr sinks to sleep, Teaching so well and silently How, at the Shepherd’s call, the lambs should die,— How happier for them life the end Of souls that infant-like beneath their burthen bend.
The Christian Year. [page 166]
Yet once more; and once more, awake my Harp, From silence and neglect—one lofty strain, Lofty, yet wilder than the winds of heaven; And speaking mysteries more than words can tell, I ask of thee, for I, with hymning high, Would join the dirge of the departing year. Yet with no wintry garland from the woods Wrought of the leafless branch, or ivy near, Wreathe I thy tresses, dark December! now; Me higher quarrel calls, with loudest song, And fearful joy to celebrate the day Of the Redeemer.—Near two thousand suns Have set their seals upon the rolling lapse Of generations, since the day-spring first Beam’d from on high! Now to the mighty mass Of that increasing aggregate we add One unit more. Space, in comparison, How small, yet mark’d with how much misery; Wars, famines, and the fury pestilence, Over the nations hanging her dread scourge; The oppress’d, too, in silent bitterness, Weeping their sufferance; and the arm of wrong, Forcing the scanty portion from the weak, And steeping the lone window’s couch with tears. So has the year been character’d with woe, In Christian land, and mark’d with wrongs and crimes: Yet ’twas not thus He taught—not thus He lived, Whose birth we this day celebrate with prayer And much thanksgiving—He a man of woes, [page 167] Went on the way appointed:—path, though rude, Yet borne with patience still:—He came to cheer The broken-hearted, to raise up the sick, And on the wandering and benighted mind To pour the light of truth.—O task divine! O more than angel teacher! He had words To soothe the barking waves, and hush the winds: And when the soul was toss’d with troubled seas, Wrapp’d in thick darkness and the howling storm, He, pointing to the star of peace on high, Arm’d it with holy fortitude, and bade it smile At the surrounding wreck.— When with deep agony his heart was rack’d, Not for himself the tear-drop dew’d his cheek, For them He wept, for them to Heaven He pray’d, His persecutors—“Father, pardon them, They know not what they do.” Angels of Heaven, Ye who beheld Him fainting on the cross, And did him homage, say, may mortal join The hallelujahs of the risen God? Will the Seraphim in light divine? Yes, He will deign, the Prince of Peace will deign, For mercy to accept the hymn of faith, Low though it be and humble.—Lord of life, The Christ, the Comforter, thine advent now, Fills my uprising soul,—I mount, I fly Far o’er the skies, beyond the rolling orbs; The bonds of flesh dissolve, and earth recedes, And care, and pain, and sorrow are no more.
Kirke White. [page 168]
St. Luke ii. 21-39.
Bless’d are the pure in heart, For they shall see our God, The secret of the Lord is theirs, Their soul is Christ abode. Might mortal thought presume To guess an angel’s lay— Such are the notes that echo through The courts of Heaven to-day. Such the triumphal hymns On Sicon’s Prince that wait, In high procession passing on Toward His temple-gate. Give ear, ye kings—bow down, Ye rulers of the earth— This, this is He; your Priest by grace, Your God and king by birth. No pomp of earthly guards Attends with sword and spear, And all defying, dauntless look, Their monarch’s way to clear! Yet are there more with Him Than all that are with you— The armies of the highest heaven, All righteous, good, and true. [page 169] Spotless their robes and pure, Dipped in the sea of light That hides the unapproached shrine From men’s and angel’s sight. His throne, thy bosom blest, Oh mother, undefiled— That throne, if aught beneath the skies Become the sinless child. Lost in high thoughts “whose son “The wondrous Babe might prove,” Her guiltless husband walks beside, Bearing the harmless dove. Meet emblem of His vow, Who, on this happy day, His dove-like soul—best sacrifice Did on God’s altar lay. But who is he, by years Bow’d but erect in heart, Whose prayers are struggling with his tears! “Lord, let me now depart; “Now hath thy servant seen Thy saving health, Oh Lord: ’Tis time that I depart in peace According to thy word.” Yet swells the pomp: once more Comes forth to bless her God, Full fourscore years, meek widow, she Her heavenward way hath trod. [page 170] She who to earthly joys So long had given farewell, Now sees unlooked for, Heaven on earth Christ in His Israel. Wide open from that hour The temple gates are set, And still the saints rejoicing there The Holy child have met. Now count His train to-day, And who may meet Him, learn: Him child-like sires, and maidens find, Where pride can nought discern. Still to the lowly soul He doth Himself impart, And for his cradle and His throne Chooseth the pure in heart.
The Christian Year.
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE.
Softly the sunbeams gleamed athwart the Temple proud and high, Built up by Israel’s wisest king to the Lord of earth and sky, Lighting its gorgeous, sculptured roof, and each shining mystic fold Of the sacred Veil from gaze profane, shielding the Ark of old. Ne’er had man’s boasted art e’er wrought a scene more rich and bright, Agate and porphyry—precious gems—cedar and iv’ry white, Marbles of perfect polish and hue—sculptures and tintings rare Costly satin and sandal woods embalming the sacred air. [page 171] But see—lo! stealing up yonder aisle, ’mid forest of columns high, Comes a female form with timid step and downcast modest eye; A girl—to judge by the fresh young bloom adorning that lovely face, With looks of gold and vestal brow, and a form of childish grace. Yet, no, see those soft slight arms close fold a helpless, new-born child, Late entered on this world of woe—still pure, still undefiled; Whilst the two white doves she humbly lays before the altar there, Tell, despite her girlish years, she knows a matron’s joy and care. No fairer sight could heart have asked than that mother and that Babe, E’en had He been the child of sin—born to wrath and the grave, But how must Angelic hosts have looked in breathless rapture on, Knowing that Child was the Temple’s Lord—the Word—th’ Eternal Son! Whilst she was that Virgin Mother pure, fairest of Adam’s race— Whom Heaven’s Archangel, bending low, had hailed as full of grace, Mother of that Saviour God, she held, close clasped unto her breast, That Mary, humble, meek, and poor, whom all ages have called blessed.
Mrs. Leprohon. [page 172]
OUR SAVIOUR’S BOYHOOD.
St. Luke ii. 51, 52.
With what a flood of mighty thought, Each Christian breast must swell, When wandering back through ages past, Reflection, memory, dwell On Nazareth’s blessed and sacred sod; And the boyhood of the Saviour God. Softly we picture to ourselves, That brow serene and fair, Pure—passionless—the long rich curls, Of wavy golden hair; And those deep, wond’rous, star-like eyes, Holy and calm as midnight skies. We see Him in the work-shop shed, With Joseph, wise and good, Obedient to His guardian’s word, Docile and meek of mood; The mighty Lord of Heaven and Earth, Toiling like man of lowly birth. Or else with his young mother fair, That sinless, spotless one, Who watched with such fond, reverent care, Her high and glorious Son, Knowing a matron’s joys, griefs, pride, And yet a Virgin pure beside. [page 173] All marvelled at the strange, shy grace Of Mary’s gentle Son; Young mothers envied her the Boy, That love from all hearts won; And wishing His face, sweet and mild, Asked low of Heaven such a child. Amid the youth of Nazareth, He mingled not in mirth, And yet all felt most strangely drawn, Towards His modest worth; Despite that quiet, wond’rous Child, Ne’er laughed, perchance, nor even smiled. How could He, say! when clearly rose Before His spirit’s gaze, The cruel Cross—the griefs, reserved His Manhood’s future days; And worse than all, the countless host, That, spite his pangs, would yet be lost. Silent—reserved—He held His way, From morn till evening still, His thoughts e’er bent on working out His mighty Father’s will; Whilst angels bent in ecstacy ’Bove the Boy God of Galilee.
Mrs. Leprohon. [page 174]
CHRIST IN THE WILDERNESS
St. Matthew. iv. 1-12, & St. Luke iv. 1-13.
So saying, he took (for still he knew his power Not yet expired) and to the wilderness Brought back the Son of God, and left Him there, Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose, As daylight sunk, and brought in lowering Night, Her shadowy offspring; unsubstantial both, Privation mere of light, and absent day. Our Saviour, meek, and with untroubled mind, After his aery jaunt, though hurried sore, Hungry and cold, betook him to His rest, Wherever, under some concourse of shades, Whose branching arms, thick intertwined, might shield From dews and damps of night His sheltered head: But, sheltered, slept in vain; for at His head The tempter watched, and soon with ugly dreams Disturbed His sleep! And either tropic now ’Gan thunder, and both ends of heaven; the clouds From many a horrid rift, abortive poured Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire In ruin reconciled; nor slept the winds Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad From the four hinges of the world, and fell On the vexed wilderness, whose tallest pines, Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks, Bowed their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts, Or town up sheer. I’ll wast Thou shrouded then, O patient Son of God, yet only stood’st Unshaken! Nor yet stay’d the terror there; [page 175] Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round Envisioned Thee; some howled, some yelled, some shrieked, Some bent at Thee their fiery darts, while Thou Sat on unappalled in calm and sinless peace! Thus passed the night as foul, till morning fair Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amiee grey; Who with her radiant finger stilled the roar Og thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds, And grisly spectre, which the fiend had raised To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire. And now the sun with more effectual beams Had cheered the face of earth, and dried the wet From drooping plant, or dropping tree: the birds, Who all things now behold more fresh and green, After a night of storm so ruinous, Cleared up their choicest notes in bush and spray, To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
THE SAVIOUR PERFORMING MIRACLES.
St. Matthew xl. 4.
Full of mercy, full of love, Look upon us from above, Thou who taught the blind man’s night To entertain a double light, Thine and the day’s (and that thine too), The lame away his crutches threw, The parched crust of leprosy, Returned unto its infancy, [page 176] The dumb amazed was, to hear His unchained tongue to strike his ear, Thy powerful mercy did e’en chase The devil from his usurped place, Where Thou Thyself shouldst dwell, not he, Oh let Thy love our pattern be! Let thy mercy teach one brother To forgive and love another, They, copying Thy mercy here, Thy goodness may hereafter rear Our souls unto Thy glory—when Our dust shall cease to be with men.
St. Matthew viii. 1-5.
“Room for the leper! room!” And as he came, The cry passed on—“Room for the leper! room!” Sunrise was slanting on the city gates Rosy and beautiful, and from the hills The early-risen poor were coming in, Duly and cheerfully, to their toil, and up Rose the sharp hammer’s clink, and the far hum Of moving wheels and multitude astir, And all that in a city murmur swells, Unheard but by the watcher’s weary ear, Aching with night’s dull silence, or the sick Hailing the welcome light, and sounds that chase The death-like images of the dark away. [page 177] “Room for the leper!” And aside they stood, Matron, and child, and pitiless manhood—all Was met him on his way—and let him pass. And onward through the open gate he came A leper, with the ashes on his brow, Sackcloth about his loins, and on his lip A covering, stepping painfully and slow, And with a difficult utterance, like one Whose heart is with an iron nerve put down, Crying, “Unclean! Unclean!” ’Twas now the depth Of the Judaean summer, and the leaves, Whose shadow lay so still upon the path, Had budded on the clear and flashing eye Of Judah’s loftiest noble. He was young, And imminently beautiful, and life Mantled in eloquent fulness on his lip, And sparkled in his glance; and in his mien There was a gracious pride that every eye Followed with benisons—and this was he! With the soft air of summer there had come A torpor on his frame, which not the speed Of his best barb, nor music, nor the blast Of the bold huntsman’s horn, nor aught that stirs The spirit to its bent, might drive away. The blood beat not as wont within his veins; Dimness crept o’er his eye; a drowsy sloth Fettered his limbs like palsy, and his port, With all his loftiness, seemed struck with old. Even his voice was changed—a languid moan Taking the place of the clear, silver key; [page 178] And brain and sense grew faint, as if the light, And very air, were steeped in sluggishness, He strove with it awhile, as manhood, till the rein Slackened within his grasp, and in its poise The arrowy jeered like an aspen shook, Day after day he lay as if in sleep; His skin grew dry and bloodless, and white as ales Circled with livid purple, covered him. And then his nails grew black, and fell away From the dull flesh about them, and the hues Deepened beneath the hard unmoistened scales, And from their edges grow the rank white hair, --And Helon was a leper! Day was breaking When at the altar of the temple stood The holy priest of God. The incense lamp Burned with a struggling light, and a low chant Swelled through the hollow arches of the roof Like an articulate wail, and there alone, Wasted to ghastly thinness, Helon knelt. The echoes of the melancholy strain Died in the distant aisles, and he rose up, Struggling with weakness, and bowed down his head Unto the sprinkled ashes, and put off His costly raiment for the leper’s garb, And with the sackcloth round him, and his lip Hid in a loathsome covering, stood still, Waiting to hear his doom:— [page 179] Depart! depart, O child Of Israel, from the temple of thy God, For He has smote thee with his chastening rod, And to the desert wild, From all thou lovest, away thy feet must flee, That from thy plague His people may be free. Depart, and come not near The busy mart, the crowded city, more; Nor set thy foot a human threshold o’er. And stay thou not to hear Voices that call thee in the way; and fly From all who in the wilderness pass by. Wet not thy burning lip In streams that to a human dwelling glide: Nor rest thee where the covert fountains bide; Nor kneel thee down to dip The water where the pilgrim bends to drink, By desert well, or river’s grassy brink. And pass not thou between The weary traveller and the cooling breeze, And lie not down to sleep beneath the trees Where human tracks are seen; Nor milk the goat that browseth on the plain, Nor pluck the standing corn, or yellow grain. And now depart and when Thy heart is heavy, and thine eyes are dim, Lift up thy prayer beseechingly to Him Who, from the tribes of men, Selected thee to feel his chastening rod. Depart, oh leper! and forget not God! [page 180] And he went forth—alone; not one, of all The many whom he loved, nor she whose name Was woven in the fibres of the heart Breaking within him now, to come and speak Comfort unto him. Yea, he went his way, Sick, and heart-broken, and alone, to die; For God hath cursed the leper! It was noon, And Helon knelt beside a stagnant pool In the lone wilderness, and bathed his brow, Hot with the burning leprosy, and touched The loathsome water to his parched lips, Praying that he might be so blessed—to die! Footsteps approached, and with no strength to flee, He drew the covering closer on his lip, Crying, “Unclean! Unclean!” and, in the folds Of the coarse sackcloth, shrouding up his face, He fell upon the earth till they should pass. Nearer the stranger came, and bending o’er The leper’s prostrate form, pronounced his name, —“Helon!”—the voice was like the master-tone Of a rich instrument—most strangely sweet; And the dull pulses of disease awoke, And for a moment beat beneath the hot And leprous scales with a restoring thrill. “Helon, arise!” and he forgot his curse, And rose and stood before Him. Love and awe Mingled in the regard of Helon’s eye As he beheld the stranger. He was not In costly raiment clad, nor on His brow The symbol of a princely lineage wore; [page 181] No followers at His back, nor in his hand Buckler, or sword, or spear;—yet in His mien Command sat throned serene, and, if He smiled, A kindly condescension graced His lips, The lion would have crouched to in his lair; His garb was simple, and His sandals worn; His statue modelled with a perfect grace; His countenance, the impress of a God, Touched with the open innocence of a child; His eye was blue and calm, as is the sky In the serenest noon; His hair unshorn, Fell on His shoulders; and His curling beard The fulness of perfected manhood bore. He looked on Helon earnestly awhile, As if His heart was moved, and stopping down, He took a little water in His hand, And laid it on his brow, and said, “Be clean!” And lo! the scales fell from him, and his blood Coursed with delicious coolness through his veins, And his dry palms grew moist, and on his brow The dewy softness of an infant stole. His leprosy was cleansed, and he fell down Prostrate at Jesus’ feet, and worshipped Him.
N. P. Willis.
THE WIDOW OF NAIN AND HER SON.
St. Luke viii. 11-18.
Wake not, O mother, sounds of lamentation! Weep not, O widow, weep not hopelessly! Strong is His arm, the Bringer of Salvation, Strong is the Word of God to succour thee! [page 182] Bear forth the cold corpse, slowly, slowly bear him: Hide his pale features with the sable pall: Chide not the sad one wildly weeping near him: Widow’d and childless, she has lost her all! Why pause the mourners? Who forbids our weeping? Who the dark pomp of sorrow has delay’d? “Set down the bier—he is not dead but sleeping: Young man, arise!”—He spake, and was obey’d! Change then, O sad one! grief to exultation; Worship and fall before Messiah’s knee; Strong was His arm, the Bringer of Salvation; Strong was the Word of God to succour thee!
THE WINDOW OF NAIN.
She saw him—Death’s untimely prey, Struck with the blight of slow decline: She watched his vigour waste away, His ardent spirit droop and pine. The rose upon his cheek, she knew, Bloomed not with health’s transparent hue: It was a softer, fainter glow— A tint of fading loveliness, Which told, a canker lurked below: So gleams o’er fields of wintry snow The pale moon cold and comfortless. And oft she marked within his eye A wild unwonted brilliancy— [page 183] The lovely but delusive ray Of nature sinking to decay; And oft she caught his stifled moan— It breathed a deep and hollow tone, Which told of death, e’er life was gone. At times, when fever’s burning flush Heightened consumption’s hectic blush, Fond hope—the latest still to leave, The first to flatter and deceive— Once more would brighten—but to fly When that false flush forsook his cheek, And spoke the pang he would not speak, And froze her fears to certainty. Nor deem it strange, that hope had power To soothe her soul in such an hour; Where time has rent the lordly tower, And moss entwines the arches gray, Springs many a light and lovely flower That lends a lustre to decay. Thus, while existence wanes away, Consumption’s fevered cheek will bloom, And beauty’s brightest beams will play, In mournful glory o’er the tomb.
* * * * *
Whate’er his inward pangs might be, He told not—mute, and meekly still He bowed him to Jehovah’s will, Nor murmured at the stern decree; For gently falls the chastening rod On him whose hope is in his God: For her, too, who beside his bed Still watched with fond maternal care, [page 184] For her he breathed the pious prayer— The tear of love and pity shed. Oft would he bid her try to rest, And turn his pallid face away, Lest some unguarded look betray The pangs nor sigh nor sound expressed. When torture racked his breast, ’twas known By sudden shivering starts alone; Yet would her searching glance espy The look of stifled agony— For what can ’scape a mother’s eye? She deemed in health she loved him more Than ever mother leved before; But oh! when thus in cold decay, So placid, so resigned he lay, And she beheld him waste away, And marked that gentle tenderness Which watched and wept for her distress; Then did her transient firmness melt To tears of love, more deeply felt: And dearer still he grew—and dearer— E’en as the day of death drew nearer.
THE WOMAN THAT WAS A SINNER.
Luke vii. 86-90.
Low at the Saviour’s feet A guilty sinner bends; Up to His loving face A tearful glance she sends: [page 185] “Can one Himself so pure, Of lineage so high, The loathsome sight endure Of one so vile as I?” Around His weary feet Her loving arms are cast, Whilst tears of sorrow sweet Fall o’er them thick and fast; Her long and flowing hair— The pride of woman’s eye, Is not esteem’d too fair To cleanse and wipe them dry. How doth each warm caress Her clinging lips impart, In language mute express The yearnings of her heart? That ointment rich and rare Her poverty could bring— Its odours sweet declare ’Tis no mean offering. The Pharisee and Scribe, Exalted in their pride, Can gaze in silent scorn, Or turn their eyes aside; Can gather up their robes, And feign a pious fear, Lest they should be defil’d E’en by her passing near; But from “the Sinner’s Friend”— Her gracious loving Lord— No scornful looks descend, No proud, no angry word: [page 186] “Can he a prophet be,” Their wond’ring looks would say— And suffer such as she Within His sight to stay?” “Yes, sepulchres of sin! Who, whited fairly o’er, Are dark and foul within, And rotten at the core; Yes, His keen gaze can pierce Each human bosom through, And to His searching eyes She’s purer far than you! “She whom the righteous spurn— Whom Publicans revile— Whom sin’s most loathsome marks Deface, degrade, defile; Though on her guilty soul Be many a deep, foul stain, Her faith in Jesus’ blood Shall wash it pure again! “But you—your lengthy pray’rs, Hypocrisy and pride, Long robes and public alms, Your God will not abide. You have your poor reward In man’s approving look, But His indignant wrath Such insult cannot brook.” “Proud host, to thy high guest No water gavest thou; Thou gavest Him no kiss On pallid cheek or brow; [page 187] Not even olive oil Didst thou vouchsafe to shed, In sweetly-soothing streams, Upon that holy head. “But she, with gushing tears, Hath wash’d His wayworn feet; And hath not ceas’d to press Fond kisses soft and sweet: With those fair-flowing locks, Which grace her downcast head, Those feet were fondly dried— With rarest ointment spread.” “Ye Pharisaic tribe, Who boast yourselves so clear From sin’s polluting stains, Look to your souls, and fear! Ye feel no need of mercy, But claim a place above; And thus for Christ your Saviour, How little is your love! “But ye who, bow’d with sin, Have counted Jesus dear, Ye in whose hearts the streams Of love run deep and clear,— Look, penitents, to Heaven! The Saviour loveth such— ‘To you much is forgiven, For you have loved much!’”
Rev. H. F. Darnell. [page 188]
THE MEMORIAL OF MARY.
St. Luke vii. 96-60.
Thou hast thy record in the monarch’s hall; And on the waters of the far mid sea; And where the mighty mountain-shadows fall, The Alpine hamlet keeps a thought of thee; Where’er, beneath some Oriental tree, The Christian traveller rests—where’er the child Looks upward from the English mother’s knee, With earnest eye in wondering reverence mild, There art thou known—where’er the Book of Light Bears hope and healing, there, beyond all blight, Is borne thy memory, and all praise above: Oh! say what deed so lifted thy sweet name, Mary! to that pure silent place of fame? One lowly offering of exceeding love.
THE NIGHT IN GALILEE.
St. Matthew viii. 23-28.
Tossed by the ruthless sea, Driven by the faithless storm, A little bark right gallantly, Uprears its little form. But, in vain it breasts the wave, With its puny wings outspread; No human aid can save That bark from a wat’ry bed. [page 189] A sickness, as of death, Seizes the little crew,— And each man holds his breath, For their moments can be but few. But, amid the thick’ning gloom, A Spectre seems to rise, As from the hideous tomb, That yawns before their eyes. And clearer, and more clear, That awful vision grows,— And the wild, shrill cry of fear, With the voice of the tempest rose. But words of love and peace, Are heard ’mid the storm and dark,— And Jesus brings release To the little sinking bark. So, oft on the sea of life, When our little bark is tossed, And amid foul passions’ strife, Our every hope seems lost, Jesus is walking near, To still each rising wave,— Our drooping hearts to cheer,— Our drowning souls to save.
Rev. John Read. [page 190]
THE NIGHT IN GALILEE
The storm was loud, the ship was tossed On dark Gennesareth; Their faith the twelve apostles lost, Then face to face with death. But safe they were in their alarm Upon that raging sea, No angry wind nor wave could harm Those who were dear to Thee. And ever in the darkest night, And in the wildest hour, Thy love, oh Lord, can bring me light, Thy voice put forth its power. Light which, in shining, will impart A holy joy and peace, Power which can still the restless heart, And bid the tempest cease. Why should this fluttering heart have fear In darkness or in death, While Thou my Saviour still art near, To help is trembling faith. Thy doubt as if Thou couldst deceive, Why droop in hopeless grief, While I can cry—Lord I believe, Oh help my unbelief.
Anon. [page 191]
THE HEALING OF THE DAUGHTER OF JAIRUS.
St. Matthew ix. 18-27.
The same silvery light That shone upon the lone rock by the sea, Slept on the ruler’s lofty capitals, As at the door he stood, and welcomed in Jesus and his disciples. All was still. The echoing vestibule gave back the slide Of their loose sandals, and the arrowy beam Of moonlight, slanting to the marble floor, Lay like a spell of silence in the rooms, As Jairus led them on. With hushing steps He trod the winding stair; but ere he touched The latchet, from within a whisper came, “Trouble the master not; for she is dead!” And his faint hand fell nerveless at his side, And his step faltered, and his broken voice Choked in its utterance; but a gentle hand Was laid upon his arm, and in his ear The Saviour’s voice sunk thrillingly and low, “She is not dead, but sleepeth.” They passed in. The spice-lamps in the alabaster urns Burned dimly, and the white and fragrant smoke Curled indolently on the chamber walls. The silken curtains slumbered in their folds,— Not even a tassel stirring in the air,— And, as the Saviour stood beside the bed, [page 192] And prayed inaudibly, the ruler heard The quickening division of his breath As he grew earnest inwardly. There came, A gradual brightness o’er his calm, sad face; And drawing nearer to the bed, he moved The silken curtains silently apart, And looked upon the maiden. Like a form Of matchless sculpture in her sleep she lay,— The linen vesture folded on her breast, And over it her white transparent hands, The blood still rosy in their tapering nails. A line of pearl ran through her parted lips, And in her nostrils spiritually thin, The breathing curve was mockingly like life; And round beneath the faintly tinted skin Ran the light branches of the azure veins; And on her cheek the jet lash overlay, Matching the arches penciled on her brow. Her hair had been unbound, and falling loose Upon her pillow, hid her small round ears In curls of glossy blackness, and about Her polished neck, scarce touching it, they hung, Like airy shadows floating as they slept. ’Twas heavenly beautiful. The Saviour raised Her hand from off her bosom, and spread out The snowy fingers in his palm, and said, “Maiden! arise!” and suddenly a flash Shot o’er her forehead, and along her lips [page 193] And through her cheek the rallied colour ran; And the still outline of her graceful form Stirred in the linen venture; and she clasped The Saviour’s hand, and, fixing her dark eyes Full on His beaming countenance,—AROSE!
N. P. Willis.
THE RAISING OF JAIRUS’S DAUGHTER.
They have watched her last and quivering breath, And the maiden’s soul has flown; They have wrapt her in the robes of death, And laid her dark and alone. But the mother casts a look behind, Upon that fallen flower,— Nay, start not,—’twas the gathering wind: Those limbs have lost their power. And tremble not at that cheek of snow, O’er which the faint light plays; ’Tis only the crimson curtain’s glow, Which thus deceives thy gaze. Didst thou not close that expiring eye, And feel the soft pulse decay! And did not thy lips receive the sigh, Which bore her soul away? She lies on her couch, all pale and hushed, And heeds not thy gentle tread, And is still as the spring-flower by traveller crushed, Which dies on its snowy bed. [page 194] The mother has flown from that lonely room, And the maid is mute and pale: Her ivory hand is cold as the tomb, And dark is her stiffened nail. Her mother strays with folded arms, And her head is bent in woe; She shuts her thoughts to joy or charms; Nor tear attempts to flow. But listen! what name salutes her ear? It comes to a heart of stone; “Jesus,” she cries, “has no power here; My daughter’s life has flown.” He leads the way to that cold white couch, And bends o’er the senseless form; Can His be less than a heavy touch? The maiden’s hand is warm! And the fresh blood comes with a roseate hue, While Death’s dark terrors fly; Her form is raised, and her step is true, And life beams bright in her eye.
THE WOMAN OF CANAAN.
St. Mark vii. 24-81.
Prayer an answer will obtain, Though the Lord awhile delay, None shall seek His face in vain, None be empty sent away. [page 195] When the woman came from Tyre, And for help to Jesus sought, Though he granted her desire, Yet, at first, he answered not. Could she guess at His intent, When He to His followers said,— “I to Israel’s sheep am sent, Dogs must not have the children’s bread?” She was not of Israel’s seed, But of Canaan’s wretched race; Thought herself a dog indeed— Was not this a hopeless case? Yet, although from Canaan sprung, Though a dog herself she styled, She had Israel’s faith and tongue, And was owned by Abram’s child. From His word she draws a plea, Though unworthy children’s bread, ’Tis enough for one like me, If with crumbs I may be fed. Jesus then His heart revealed, “Woman, cans’t thou thus believe? I to thy petition yield All that thou cans’t wish, receive.” ’Tis a pattern set for us, How we ought to wait and pray; None who plead and wrestle thus, Will be empty sent away.
Newton. [page 196]
THE TEN LEPERS.
St. Luke xvii. 11-20.
’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee, Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea, ’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn, The Master and Disciples to Jerusalem journeyed on. And behold as they were entering a hamlet still and fair, A strange, imploring wailing rang out on the quiet air, Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow, And they moaned forth “Jesus, Master, on us have mercy now!” Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star, And His mournful gaze quick rested on ten lepers, who, afar, Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed, Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed. Not unto Him prayed vainly, those sore-afflicted ten, Ah! He yearned too fondly over the erring sons of men; Ever sharing in their sorrows, though He shunned their mirthful feasts, Kindly now He told the Lepers, “Show yourselves unto the priests.” When, miracle of mercy! as they turned them to obey, And towards the holy Temple, quickly take their hopeful way, Lo, the hideous scales fell off them, health’s fountains were unsealed, Their skin grew soft as infants—their leprosy was healed. Oh! man, so oft an ingrate, to thy thankless nature true, Thyself, see in those Lepers, who did as thou dost do; Nine went their way rejoicing, healed in body—glad in soul— Nor thought of once returning to thank Him who made them whole. [page 197] One only, a Samaritan, a stranger to God’s word, Felt his joyous, panting bosom, with gratitude deep stirred, And without delay he hastened, in the dust at Jesus’ feet, To east himself in worship, in thanksgiving warm and meet. Slowly questioned him, then Jesus, with majesty divine, “Ten were cleansed from their leprosy—where are the other nine? Is there none but this one stranger—unlearned in God’s ways, His name or mighty power, to give word of thanks or praise?” The sunbeams’ quivering glories softly touched that God-like head, The olives blooming round Him, sweet shade and fragrance shed. Whilst o’er His sacred features, a tender sadness stole, “Rise, go thy way,” He murmured, “thy faith hath made thee whole!”
Pale was his brow, his flashing eye
Had fever’s restless brilliancy!
The burning flush of hectic bloom,
But whisper’d of the hastening tomb;
The quivering lip all vainly strove
To breathe the wonted tones of love,
Yet trembled in a voiceless prayer
To Him, the Almighty Comforter.
He was the loved of many a heart,
O was he doom’d with all to part?
His bright young brow with hope’s fair wreath
In rich and fragrant loveliness, [page 198]
Had long been garlanded, nor breath
Of care awoke to chase
The fairy hues of golden light
That flash’d athwart his pathway bright:
O fair are youth’s enchanted dreams!
Its vernal joys, its rainbow gleams!
Its tones of melody that fling
Sweet music as the voice of spring.
Amidst her own bright blossoming!
Yet were they fleeting, as the pride
Of calm yet gorgeous eventide;—
Their beauty as a vision fair,
Was melting in immortal air;
Their melody was hasting by,
A dream alone of memory.
But glories of a brighter shore
That sufferer’s musings glided o’er;
His spirit at life’s welling stream
Had quench’d its thirstings deep,
His heart had hail’d a heavenly beam,
Had joy’d the fruits to reap
Of peace and holiness that bloom’d
Afresh when earthly hope was tomb’d:
And visions of the and of light
Burst on his raptured, dazzled sight,
The crown, the harp, the starry throne,
The glory of the great Three-One!
The angel throng, the seraph lays,
The symphony of ceaseless praise,
The music of unearthly lyres,
The rapture of celestial fires!
What though affection’s sweetest ties
Might seek to win him from the skies![page 199]
Fond eyes of love with tearful rays
Rest on him in deep earnest gaze;
Sad tones from kindred bosoms speak
Of hearts that sorrow nigh did break;
Wild, bursting sobs of anguish tell
Of love unknown, unsearchable;
Yet was his heart his treasure high,
In climes of immortality!
A sister’s love! that hallow’d light
Who, who may quench in rayless night?
Have we not shared one childhood’s home,
One bower where sorrow might not come?
Have we not round one happy hearth
Our bright hopes mingled, and our mirth?
Have not the same fond eyes of love
Watch’d o’er our cradle-rest, whilst wove
Bright Fancy many a wreath of hope,
In love’s deep shrine to treasure up?
Have we not bent in twilight’s hour,
Our simple orison to pour,
To Him who o’er our vernal way
Had flung a pure, a heavenly ray?
Have not our young gay dreams of light,
Ere time their loveliness might blight,
Together blent, while each glad hour,
Breeze, sunshine, fragrancy, and shower,
Shed on their joyousness, and bade
Them glow as ne’er in gloom to fade?
O sacred is that spell! a light
Flung o’er life’s changeful pilgrimage:
A star amid its care’s deep night!
A balm its sorrow to assuage! [page 200]
Such love around the sufferer clung:
Fond hearts, by withering anguish wrung,
Bent o’er his weary couch, as fain
To banish agony: yet vain
Each sister’s sorrowing tenderness,
Each throb of anguish and distress!
But must they part? The love of years,
The mingled joys, and hopes, and fears,
Long blended in each kindred heart,—
O must they prove the severing dart?
Deep love! above the radiant sky
Lift up thy mourning, tearful eye!
Thou hast no dwelling-place below,
Where sin and sorrow, care and woe,
May blight not with their mildew breath
The brightest of thy treasured wreath!
’Tis past! e’en hope must vanish now!
Upon the bright and youthful brow,
Where raven locks in clustering pride,
Its marble paleness seek to hide,
Is set the signet stamp of death;
The weary pulse, the quivering breath,
The gushing purple flood of life,
The sign, the tear, the mortal strife,
Have ceased,—and on the drooping eye
The grave’s dark shadow mournfully,
Hath fallen in the violet gloom
That speaks but of the quiet tomb.
Young life hath pass’d, away! away!
The loved, the cherish’d,—he is clay! [page 201]
Eve on the steeps of Judah’s hills
Her golden light was streaming;
The melody of sounding rills
Amid the olives gleaming,
But lent to stillness deeper power,
And flung a charm o’er sunset’s hour.
Within their lonely, silent home,
The mourners wept in hopeless gloom;
The voice that to their spirits brought
A thrill of happiness e’er sought;
The eye, whose radiant glance of light
Might chase the clouds of sorrow’s night;
The heart that shared their every woe,
All, all, alas! in dust lay low.
Around them stood a sorrowing band,
Who strove the balm to pour,
That friendship’s eye, and heart, and hand
On stricken ones would shower;
Still, still they wept: O to their grief
What earthly power might bring relief?
E’en sympathy’s unutter’d spell
But proved the lost one loved too well!
Lo! tidings of a guest revered,
By more than human ties enddear’.
Is to the house of mourning borne,
And o’er the sisters’ hearts forlorn,
Doth rush the whelming thought—had He
The stranger, at their loved one’s side
Stood in the hour of agony,
He had not in his spring-morn died!
Too late! the mortal pang was o’er,
Nor aught might wake the sleeper more! [page 202]
Yet hastens Marths, swift to greet
Her Lord and Master;—at His feet
She fell, and breathed her woe’s deep tide,
“Hadst Thou been here, he had not died!”
O was it but a joyous dream
That flung a bright yet trembling gleam
O’er her dark spirit’s midnight gloom,
That bade it rise above the tomb?
One moment and a weeping band
Around the pitying Saviour stand;
In vain the mourners strive to stem
Their hopeless grief,—doth He condemn?
Or bid the sorrowing cease to shed
The tear of anguish o’er the dead?
No! in His spirit’s depths He groans,
While weeping Mary’s piercing moans
Thrill’d to His bosom’s inmost shrine,
And He, the Incarnate God Divine,
The Lord of Life, His throne who left
For earth’s sad sojourn,—lo, He wept!
O He had known the cherish’d ties
That link fond human sympathies!
And oft with him who lowly laid
Within the dark grave’s rayless shade,
Had blent in converse sacred,—sweet,
In communing for bright worlds meet,
“He loved him!” hallow’d is the spell
Affection o’er the soul doth fling,
Since He, the God Invisible,
Disdain’d not its deep communing! [page 203]
They led Him to the rock-hewn bed
Where slept in dreamless rest the dead:
Athwart its stillness deep were thrown
The shadows of a gloom more lone.
Why doth He bid the circling group
The stone from that dark cell lift up?
Hath not decay its victim found?
Hath not the worm its pale form wound?
What recks it? ’Tis the word of Him
Who spake the world from chaos dim!
The cave is oped, and to the skies
The Saviour lifts His pleading eyes,
Then with a voice of heavenly might
He bids the dead awake to light!
And he the loved, the wept, the mourn’d,
To life and beauty hath return’d!
Hath ’scaped from death’s relentless hand,
And bendeth with the adoring band!
THE RAISING OF LAZARUS.
’Tis still thine hour, O Death! Thine, Lord of Hades, is the kingdom still; Yet twice thy sword unstained hath sought its sheath, Though twice upraised to kill; And once again the tomb Shall yield its captured prey; A mightier arm shall pierce the pathless gloom, And rend the prize away: Nor comes thy Conqueror armed with spear or sword— He hath no arms but Prayer—no weapon but His Word. [page 204] Tis now the fourth sad morn Since Lazarus, the pious and the just, To his last home by sorrowing kinsmen borne Hath parted, dust to dust, The grave-worm revels now Upon his mouldering clay— And He, before whose ear the mountains bow— The rivers roll away In conscious awe—He only can revive Curruption’s withering prey, and call the dead to live! Yet still the sisters keep Their sad and silent vigil at the grave, Watching for Jesus—“Come He not to weep? He did not come to save!” But now one straining eye Th’ advancing Form hath traced;— And soon, in wild, resistless agony Have Martha’s arms embraced The Saviour’s feet—“O Lord! hadst thou been nigh— But speak the word e’en now, it shall be heard on high!” They led Him to the cave— The rocky bed, where now in darkness slept Their brother, and His friend—then at the grave They paused—for “JESUS WEPT,” O Love, sublime and deep! O Hand and Heart divine! He comes to rescue, though He deigns to weep— The captive is not thine O Death! thy bands are burst asunder now— There stands beside the grave a Mightier far than thou. [page 205] “Come forth,” He cries, “thou dead!” O God! what means that strange and sudden sound, That murmurs from the tomb—that ghastly head, With funeral fillets bound? It is a LIVING FORM— The loved, the lost, the won, Won from the grave, corruption, and the worm— “And is not this the Son Of God?” they whispered—while the sisters poured Their gratitude in tears; for they had known the Lord.
CHRIST AND THE LITTLE ONES.
“Suffer little children to come unto me”—St. Matthew xix. 19-16.
“The Master has come over Jordan,” Said Hannah, the mother, one day; “He is healing the people who throng Him, With a touch of His finger, they say. And now I shall carry the children, Little Rachel and Samuel and John, I shall carry the baby, Esther, For the Lord to look upon.” The father looked at her kindly, But he shook his head and smiled; “Now who but a doting mother Would think of a thing so wild? [page 206] If the children were tortured by demons, Or dying of fever—’twere well— Or had they the taint of the leper, Like many is Israel.” “Nay, do not hinder me, Nathan, I feel such a burden of care,— If I carry it to the Master Perhaps I shall leave it there. If He lay His hand on the children, My heart will be lighter, I know, For a blessing for ever and ever Will follow them as they go.” So ever the hills of Judah, Along by the vine-rows green, With Esther asleep on her bosom, And Rachel her brothers between; ’Mong the people who hung on His teaching, Or waited His touch and His word, Through the row of proud Pharisees listening, She pressed to the feet of the Lord. “Now why shouldst thou hinder the Master,” Said Peter, “with children like these? “Seest not how from morning till evening He teacheth, and healeth disease?” Then Christ said, “Forbid not the children, Permit them to come unto Me!” And He took in His arms little Esther, And Rachel He sat on His knee; [page 207] And the heavy heart of the mother Was lifted all earth-care above, As He laid His hands on the brothers, And blest them with tenderest love; As He said of the babes in His bosom, “Of such are the kingdom of heaven”— And strength for all duty and trial, That hour to her spirit was given.
Julia Gill, in Little Pilgrim.
CHRIST AND THE LITTLE ONES.
“Suffer that little children come to me: Forbid them not.” Emboldened by His words, The mothers onward press; but—finding vain The attempt to reach the Lord—they trust their babes To strangers’ hands; the innocents alarmed Amid the throng of faces all unknown, Shrink, trembling, till their wandering eyes discern The countenance of Jesus—beaming love And pity; eager, then, they stretch their arms, And, cowering, lay their heads upon His breast.
Grahame. [page 208]
CHRIST BLESSING LITTLE CHILDREN.
It was a lonely village, girt with hills Beyond the banks of Jordan, where our Lord Turned from the city, to forego a while The toils and tumults of Jerusalem. Nature had quietly and quaintly wrought In that wild haunt. The gray, primeval rocks Made solemn contrast to the tender green That mantled timidly around their base, And to the slightly rooted shrubs, that sprang From creft and crevice. There, a multitude Followed his footsteps, eager to lay down The burdens of their mortal misery, And He, with touch divine, had sealed them all. But then, another differing train drew near, Whose tread, gazelle-like, told no mournful tale Of paralytic lore,—and whose bright eyes Wide open, in their simple wonderment Revealed unbroken league with health and joy. Some had been wandering o’er the pasture fields With the young lambs, and in their tiny hands Were the young lambs, and in their tiny hands Were the blue flax-flower and the lily-buds, While through the open portals of their hearts, Sweet odours led sweet thoughts in tireless plays. Others, from shady lanes and cottage doors, The dark-eyed Jewish mothers, gathering, brought Unto the feet of Christ. [page 209] “Ye may not press Upon the Master; he is wearied sore; Hence! Go your way.” So the disciples spake,— As with impatient gesture they repelled The approaching groups. But Jesus, unto whom The smile of guileless trusting innocence Was dear, reproved their arrogance, and said, “Suffer the little ones to come to me; Of such as these my Father’s kingdom is.” With what high rapture beat the matron heart, When these fair infants in His sheltering arms Were folded, and amid their lustrous curls His hand benignant laid. Oh, blissful hour! None save a mother’s thrilling love can know The tide of speechless ecstacy, when those, When she hath brought with pain into the world, Find refuge with the unforsaking Friend. Like holiest dews upon the opening flower, The Saviour’s blessing fell. So sweet its tones Breathed on the ear, that men of pride and strife, The venal Scribe and boastful Pharisee, Started to feel a balm-drop in their souls Softening the adamant; while humble Faith Exulted, as through parting clouds she saw The children’s angels near the Father’s throne.
Mrs. Sigourney. [page 210]
CHRIST’S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.
The air is filled with shouts, and trumpets sounding; A host are at thy gates, Jerusalem, Now is their van the Mount of Olives rounding; Observe them, Judah’s lion-banners gleam, Twined with he palm and olive’s peaceful stem. Now swell the nearer sounds of voice and string, As down the hill-side pours the living stream; And to the cloudless heaven Hosannas ring— “The son of David comes—the Conqueror, the King!” The cuirassed Roman heard; and grasped his shield, And rush’d in fiery haste to gate and tower; The Pontiff from his battlement beheld The host, and knew the falling of his power, He saw the cloud on Sion’s glory lower, Still down the marble road the myriads come, Spreading the way with garment, branch and flower, And deeper sounds are mingling “woe to Rome! The day of freedom dawns; rise, Israel, from thy tomb.” Temple of beauty—long that day is done; Thy wall is dust; thy golden cherubim In the fierce triumphs of the foe are gone; The shades of ages on thy altars swim: Yet still a light is there, though wavering dim; And has its holy light been watched in vain? Or lives it not until the finished time, When He who fixed, shall break His people’s chain, And Sion be the lov’d, the crown’d of God again? [page 211] He comes, yet with the burning bolt unarmed; Pale, pure, prophetic, God of Majesty! Though thousands, tens of thousands round Him swarm’d, None durst abode that depth divine of eye; None durst the waving of his robe draw nigh. But at his feet was laid the Roman’s sword; There Lazarus knelt to see his King pass by; There Jairus, with its age’s child adored, “He comes, the King of kings; Hosanna to the Lord!”
CHRIST’S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.
Ride on! ride on in majesty! Hark, all the tribes Hosanna cry! Thy humble beast pursues his road, With palms and scatter’d garments strew’d. Ride on! ride on in majesty! In lonely pomp ride on to die! Oh Christ! thy triumphs now begin O’er captive death and conquer’d sin. Ride on! ride on in majesty! The winged squadrons of the sky Look down, with sad and wondering eyes, To see the approaching sacrifice! Ride on! ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die! Bow thy meek head to mortal pain, Then take, O God! thy power and reign!
Milman. [page 212]
JESUS WEEPING OVER JERUSALEM.
St. Luke xix. 41-45.
Salem, who in proud disdain, My faithful Prophets slew, And soon, the cup of guilt to drain, Wilt slay thy Saviour too. How had my love thy children blest, Their deeds of blood forgot; And led them to eternal rest? But they consented not. Now shall thy house be desolate, Thy glory now shall close,— Nor leave one trance of ruined state, To tell where Salem rose. Nor shalt thou thy Redeemer see, Nor hail thy crown restored; Till thou shalt say, “How blest is He Whom Thou hast sent, Oh! Lord!”
THE SAVIOUR COMFORTING HIS DISCIPLES.
St. John xiv. xv.xvi.
Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe In God, believe also in me, his Son. Doubt not but in the compass of the heavens My Father will provide for all his saints Mansions of peace, seats of eternal bliss, Where spirits made perfect after death shall dwell, And rest from earthly toils; thither I go To seal your sure election, and prepare [page 213] For you, my faithful servants, an abode That, as in sorrow here, so there in bliss With me, your Lord, now dying for your sakes, Ye may surmount the grave, and ever live In heavenly communion undisturbed. Lament not, therefore, if I now depart, Your provident precursor, for ye know Whither I go, and also know the way.
JESUS PASSING OVER KEDRON.
St. John xviii. i.
Thou soft flowing Kedron, by thy silver stream, Our Saviour, at midnight, when Cynthia’s pale beam Shone bright on the waters, would often-times stray, And lose in thy murmurs the toils of the day. How damp were the vapors that fell on His head! How hard was His pillow! how humble His bed! The angels, astonished, grew sad at the sight, And followed their Master with solemn delight! Oh! Garden of Olivet—dear honored spot! The fame of thy wonders shall ne’er be forgot! The theme most transporting to seraphs above, The triumph of sorrow, the triumph of love. Come Saints and adore Him, come bow at his feet; Oh! give Him the glory, the praise that is meet! Let joyful hosannas unceasing arise, And join the full chorus that gladdens the skies.
Marie De Fleury. [page 214]
St. Mark xiv. 26-43.
Night, and the world do rest! the golden moon, Bright in her glory, tracks her lumined way; And thousand stars at midnight’s solemn noon, Blend soften’d radiance with her shadowy ray: Hill, glade, and dell, and fountain’s flashing spray, And silvery streamlet glow in chasten’d light, The night-bird hath awoke her pensive lay ’Mid olive-groves that scale the mountain’s height, And earth doth calmly smile as wrapt in vision bright. The world doth rest! Not all—the weary heart Perchance may sigh o’er pleasure vanished; Dim eyes may weep ’neath sorrows ceaseless smart Fond bosoms wail the parted and the dead: For earth hath many a tale of glory fled; Her brightest homes have records of deep woe; O sweetest blossoms withering blight is shed, Nor lives for aye youth’s fair and spring-time glow, Joy hath on earth no shrine where sorrow may not flow. But hither come! Gethsemane may speak Of more than mortal, more than earthly woe! Ye, ye may tell of hearts that care doth break, Of fragile forms that hopeless sink below: Come hither! God—the God Incarnate know! A world’s deep burden is He doomed to bear! All guilt, all sorrow, all of man’s dark woe, He, He hath taken to his soul, and there Behold Him prostrate laid!—list, list his groaning prayer. [page 215] “My father hear! if this deep, bitter cup, This cup of agony untold,—intense, This cup unmingled with one soothing drop Of mercy from thy footstool,—if it hence May pass away, my Father! then dispense, Nor bid Me feel thy vengeance! yet if love Can this permit not, then mine innocence The weight, the curse of man’s offences prove! Thy will be ever done by all who live and move!” He ceased,—no voice was heard,—no answer woke Amid the olive foliage whispering peace; No tone from heaven athwart the stillness broke, To win the sorrowing heart from weariness: The sad disciples in His last distress Have yielded to soft slumber, and alone He wrestles with the Eternal, till the press Of torturing thought o’erwhelms Him; yet His moan Of agony intense hath reach’d the Father’s throne. Again He kneels: “My Father! if Thy love Can other means devise,—if this sad cup May yet pass from Me,—Thou, thy wrath remove, Then, then my Father!—yet if human hope Doth rest on sacrifice once offer’d up, And through Thy Son alone the lost may claim Their full, their free redemption; then the cup It take of agony, and woe, and shame, Thy will, not mine, be done! adored Thy glorious name!” Ye agony hath whelm’d Him; from His brow The crimson blood is starting! low He lies, But from His lip escapes its burden now— “Thy will, not mine, be done! my sacrifice Be e’er by Thee accepted!— [page 216] Lo! the skies Their radiant portals open, and a tone— A tone angelic, bids the mourner rise! And might is given to brave the storm alone! Salvation’s work is wrought! He bled for man to atone!”
“I DO NOT KNOW THE MAN.”
Matt. xxvi. 72.
Dost thou not know Me? hast thou then forgot The poor lone man by yonder distant sea? I call’d and thou didst choose my mournful lot,— Yes, thou didst leave thy al to follow Me. Dost though not know Me?—Yet this smitten face Should not be strange to those dim, dazzled eyes, Which late beheld on Tabor’s secret place The sun, now setting, in such glory rise. Dost thou not know Me? Ah, what form had he, Who, when thy life was sinking in the abyss, So quickly stretch’d His hand to rescue thee! Look! Mine is bound,—but was that hand like this? And can the sheep its bleeding shepherd smite! Say, of whose broken body didst thou eat? Dost thou not know Me yet? Who but this night Knelt down, O my beloved, to wash thy feet? In dark Gethsemane the weight of woe Press’d drops of blood from this thorn-tortured brow;— But ah! they lead Me to the Cross!—I go;— Thou weepest:—tell Me dost thou know Me now?
Anon. [page 217]
THE PASSION OF CHRIST.
Yes! Thou didst die for me, O Son of God; By Thee the throbbing flesh of man was worn; Thy naked feet the thorns of sorrow trod, And tempests beat thy houseless head forlorn;— Thou, that wert wont to stand Alone, on God’s right hand, Before the ages were, the Eternal, Eldest Born. Thy birthright in the world was pain and grief; Thy love’s return, ingratitude and hate: The limbs Thou healedst brought thee no relief; The eyes Thou opendst calmly viewed thy fate: Thou, that wert wont to dwell In peace; tongue cannot tell, Nor heart conceive the bliss of thy celestial state. They dragged Thee to the Roman’s solemn hall, Where the proud judge in purple splendour sate; Thou stood’st a meek and patient criminal, Thy doom and death from human lips to wait;— Whose throne shall be the world In final ruin hurl’d With all mankind to hear their everlasting fate. Thou wert alone in that fierce multitude, When “Crucify Him,” yelled the general shout; No hand to guard thee ’mid those insults rude, Nor lip to bless in all that frantic rout:— Whose lightest whispered word The adamantine arms from all the heavens broke out. [page 218] They bound Thy temples with the twisted thorn; Thy bruised feet went languid on with pain; The blood from all Thy flesh with scourges torn, Deepen’d Thy robe of mockery’s crimson grain: Whose native vesture bright Was the unapproached light, The sandal of whose foot the rapid hurricane. They smote Thy check with many a ruthless palm, With the cold spear Thy shuddering side they pierc’d; The draught of bitterest gall was all the balm They gave t’ enhance Thy unslak’d burning thirst:— Thou, at whose words of peace Did pain and anguish cease, And the long-buried dead their bonds of slumber burst. Low bow’d Thy head convuls’d and droop’d in death, Thy voice sent forth a sad and wailing cry, Slow struggled from Thy breast the parting breath, And every limb was wrung with agony: That head, whose veilless blaze Filled angels with amaze, When at that voice sprang forth the rolling suns on high. And Thou wert laid within the narrow tomb, Thy clay-cold limbs with shrouding grave clothes bound. The dealed stone confirm’d Thy mortal doom; Lone watchmen walk’d Thy desert burial-ground:— Whom heav’n could not contain, Nor the immeasurable plain Of vast infinitely enclose or circle round, [page 219] For us, for us, Thou didst ensure the pain, And Thy meek spirit bowed itself to shame, To wash our souls from sin’s infecting stain, T’ avert the Father’s wrathful vengeance-flame Thou who couldst nothing win, By saving worlds from sin, Not aught of glory add to Thy all-glorious name.
Oh! Sacred head now wounded, With grief and scorn weighed down; Oh! sacred brow—surrounded With thorns, Thy only crown! Once on a throne of glory, Adorned with light divine, Now, all despised and gory; I joy to call Thee mine. Oh! noblest brow, and dearest, In other days the world All feared when Thou appeared’st; What shame on Thee is hurled? How art Thou pale with anguish? With sore abuse and scorn; How does that visage languish, Which once was bright as morn. [page 220] On me, as Thou art dying, Oh, turn Thy pitying eye; To Thee for mercy crying, Before the Cross I lie. Thine, Thine the bitter passion, Thy pain is all for me; Mine, mine the deep transgression, My sins are all on Thee. What language can I borrow, To thank Thee—dearest friend; For all Thy dying sorrow, Of all my woes, the end? Then can I leave Thee ever? Oh, do not Thou leave me! Lord! let me never, never Outlive my love to Thee. If I, a wretch, should leave Thee, Oh! Jesus, leave not me; In faith may I receive Thee, When death shall set me free. When strength and comfort languish, And I must hence depart,— Release me thou from anguish, By Thy own wounded heart. But near me, when I’m dying, Oh! show Thy Cross to me; And for my succour flying, Come Lord, and set me free. This heart, new faith receiving, From Jesus shall not rove; For he who dies believing, Dies safely through Thy love.
Paul Gerhardt. [page 221]
St. Mark xv.
City of God! Jerusalem, Why rushes out thy living stream? The turbaned priest, the hoary seer, The Roman in his pride are there! And thousands, tens of thousands, still Cluster round Calvary’s wild hill. Still onward rolls the living tide, There rush the bridegroom and the bride; Prince, beggar, soldier, Pharisee, The old, the young, the bond, the free; The nation’s furious multitude, All maddening with the cry of blood. ’Tis glorious morn;—from height to height Shoot the keen arrows of the light; And glorious in their central shower, Palace of holiness and power, The temple on Moriah’s brow, Looks a new risen sun below. but woe to hill, and woe to vale! Against them shall come forth a wail: And woe to bridegroom and to bride! For death shall on the whirlwind ride: And woe to thee, resplendent shrine, The sword is out for thee and thine. [page 222] Hide, hide thee in the heavens, thou sun, Before the deed of blood is done! Upon that temple’s haughty steep Jerusalem’s last angels weep; They see destruction’s funeral pall Blackening o’er Sion’s sacred wall. Like tempests gathering on the shore, They hear the coming armies’ roar: They see in Sion’s hall of state The sign that maketh desolate— The idol—standard—pagan spear, The tomb, the flame, the massacre. They see the vengeance fall; the chain, The long, long age of guilt and pain: The exile’s thousand desperate years, The more than groans, the more than tears; Jerusalem, a vanish’d name, Its tribes earth’s warning, scoff, and shame. Still pours along the multitude, Still rends the heavens the shout of blood, But on the murderer’s furious van, Who totters on? A weary man; A cross upon His shoulders bound— His brow, His frame, one gushing wound. And now He treads on Calvary, What slave upon that hill must die? What hand, what heart, in guilt imbrued, Must be the mountain-vulture’s food? There stand two victims gaunt and bare, Two culprit emblems of despair. [page 223] Yet who the third? The yell of shame Is frenzied at the sufferer’s name; Hands clenched, teeth gnashing, vestures torn, The curse, the taunt, the laugh of scorn, All that the dying hour can sting, Are round Thee now, Thou thorn-crown’d King! Yet cursed and tortured, taunted, spurned, No wrath is for the wrath returned, No vengeance flashes from the eye; The sufferer calmly waits to die: The sceptre reed, the thorny crown, Wake on that pallid brow no frown. At last the word of death is given, The form is bound, the nails are driven; Now triumph, Scribe and Pharisee! Now, Roman, bend the mocking knee! The cross is reared. The deed is done. There stands Messiah’s earthly throne! This was the earth’s consummate hour; For this had blazed the prophet’s power; For this had swept the conqueror’s sword, Had ravaged, raised, cast down, restored; Persepolis, Rome, Babylon, For this ye sank, for this ye shone. Yet things to which earth’s brightest beam Were darkness—earth itself a dream; Foreheads on which shall crowns be laid, Sublime, when sun and stars shall fade, Worlds upon worlds—eternal things— Hung on thy anguish, King of kings! [page 224] Still from His lip no curse has come, His lofty eye had looked no doom; No earthquakes burst, no angel brand Crushes the black, blaspheming band, What say those lips by anguish riven? “God, be my murderers forgiven!” He dies, in whose high victory, The slayer, death himself, shall die! He dies! by whose all-conquering tread Shall yet be crushed the serpent’s head; From his proud throne to darkness hurled, The god and tempter of this world. He dies, creation’s awful Lord, Jehovah, Christ, Eternal Word: To come in thunder from the skies; To bid the buried world arise; The earth his footstool, heaven his throne; Redeemer! may thy will be done.
Bound upon th’ accursed tree, Faint and bleeding, who is He? By the eyes so plae and dim, Streaming blood, and writhing limb, By the flesh with scourges torn, By the crown of twisted thorn, By the side so deeply pierced, By the baffled burning thirst, By the dropping death-dew’d brow, Son of Man, ’tis Thou, ’tis Thou! [page 225] Bound upon th’ accursed tree, Dread and awful, who is He? By the sun at noon-day pale, Shivering rocks and rending veil, By earth that trembles at His doom, By yonder saints who burst their tomb, By Eden, promised ere He died To the felon at His side, Lord! our suppliant knees we bow, Son of God, ’tis Thou, ’tis Thou! Bound upon th’ accursed tree, Sad and dying, who is He? By the last and bitter cry, The ghost given up in agony; By the lifeless body laid In the chamber of the dead; By the mourners come to weep Where the bones of Jesus sleep; Crucified! we know Thee now; Son of Man, ’tis Thou, ’tis Thou! Bound upon th’ accursed tree, Dread and awful, who is He? By the prayer for them that slew, “Lord, they know not what they do!” By the spoil’d and empty grave, By the souls He died to save, By the conquest He hath won, By the saints before His throne, By the rainbow round His brow, Son of God, ’tis Thou, ’tis Thou!
Milman. [page 226]
No graven image of divinest mould, No sparkling diamond laid in purest gold, No crown on any earthly monarch’s brow, To be compared with, Cross of Christ, art thou. Nimbi of light surround thee, sacred thing, Mysterious signal of high heaven’s King; Thou brightenest as I gaze, grow, brighten on, Until He come again, the Judge upon His throne. Perhaps in farthest zones that boast an orb To shine the glory of the Creative Word, The business of mighty Seraphim may be To search the mystery that lies in thee. Salvation to the penitent,—what sign Could still the avenger’s awful wrath but thine, When Cain, the wandering, in the early earth Was driven an exile from his place of birth? The King’s broad mark, the touch of hands profane From consecrated things could once restrain. When Judah’s sacred city, gone astray From God and swerved to each forbidden way, Was doomed to slaughter, then, as the vision shews, The murderous weapon glanced aside from those Upon whose foreheads, by some holy hand, The wonder-working signal had been penned. Honoured of God and high in human praise, Through all memorials of the ancient days, Creation’s heroes gloried that they bore thee, The heavenliest beauties on their white breasts wore thee; [page 227] On gilded banners in the dread field of war, On holy temple tops that gleamed afar, On rugged cliff and hoary mountain’s head, On antique tombs raised o’er the mighty dead, Hast thou been lifted up to show the road A soul may travel to the blest realms of God.
Ven. Archdeacon Leach.
Greater the cross—the nearer heaven, Godless, to whom no cross is given! The noisy world in masquerade Forgets the grave, the worm, the shade; Blest is yon dearer child of God, On whom He lays the cross, the rod. Blest, by whom most the cross is known; God whets us on His grinding stone; Full many a garden’s dressed in vain, Where tears of sorrow never rain. In fiercest flames the gold is tried, In griefs the Christian’s purified. ’Midst crosses, Faith her triumph knows; The palm-tree pressed more vigorous grows; Go, tread the grapes beneath thy feet— The stream that flows is full and sweet; In trouble, virtues grow and shine, Like pearls beneath the ocean brine. [page 228] Crosses abound; love seeks the skies; Blow the rough winds, the flames arise; When hopeless gloom the welkin shrouds, The sun comes laughing through the clouds; The cross makes pure affections glow, Like oil that on the fire we throw. Who wears the cross prays oft and well; Bruised herbs send forth the sweetest smell; Were ships ne’er tossed by stormy wind, The Pole-star who would care to find? Had David spent no darksome hours, His sweetest song had ne’er been ours. From trouble springs the longing hope: From the deep vale we mount the slope; Who treads the desert’s dreariest way, For Canaan most will long and pray; Here finds the trembling dove no rest, Flies to the ark, and builds her nest. Heavy the cross, e’en death is dear, The sufferer sings—his end is near; From sin and pain he bursts away; Trouble shall die that very day. The cross, yon silent grave adorning, Bespeaks a bright, triumphant morning. Greater the cross, the leveller rays The crown prepared of God displays; Treasure, by many a conqueror worn— Who wears it now before the throne, Oh! think upon that jewel fair, And heaviest griefs are light as air. [page 229] Dear Lamb of God, enhance Thy cross More and yet more; all else is dross; Let ne’er murmur mar my rest, Plant Thy own patience in my breast; To guard me, faith, hope, love combine, Until the glorious crown be mine.
JESUS, REMEMBER CALVARY.
My sufferings all to Thee are known, Tempted in every point like me; Regarding grief—regard Thine own: Jesus, remember Calvary. For whom dids’t Thou the Cross endure? Who nailed Thy body to the tree? Did not Thy death my life procure? Oh, let Thy mercy answer me! Art Thou not touched with human woe? Hath pity left the Son of Man? Dost Thou not all my sorrows know, And claim a share in all my pain? Thou wilt not break a bruised reed, Nor quench the smallest spark of grace, Till through the soul thy power is spread, Thine all-victorious righteousness.
C. Wesle. [page 230]
To Christ, the Prince of Peace, And Son of God Most High; The Father of the world to come,— Sing we with holy joy. Deep in His heart for us, The wound of love He bore; That love which still He kindles in The hearts that Him adore. Oh! fount of endless life! Oh! spring of fountains clear! Oh! flame celestial, cleansing all, Who unto Thee draw near. Hide me in Thy dear heart, For thither so I fly; There seek Thy grace through life, in death,— Thine immortality.
St. Mark xvi.
He is risen, He is risen! Tell it with a joyful voice, He has burst his three days’ prison, Let the whole wide earth rejoice: Death is conquer’d, man is free, Christ has won the victory. [page 231] Come, ye sad and fearful-hearted, With glad smile and radiant brow: Lent’s long shadows have departed, All His woes are over now; And the passion that He bore, Sin and pain, can vex no more. Come, with high and holy hymning, Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay; Not one darksome cloud is dimming Yonder glorious morning ray, Breaking o’er the purple East; Brighter far our Easter feaster. He is risen, He is risen! He has op’d the eternal gate; We are free from sin’s dark prison, Risen to a holier state: And a brighter Easter beam On our longing eyes shall stream.
THE TWO MARTS.
Oh dark day of sorrow, Amazement and pain; When the promise was blighted The given was ta’en! When the Master no longer A refuge should prove; And evil was stronger Than mercy and love! [page 232] Oh dark day of sorrow, Abasement and dread, When the Master beloved Was one with the dead! We sate in our anguish Afar off to see, For we surely believed not This sorrow could be! But the trust of our spirits Was all overthrown; And we wept, in our anguish, Astonished, alone! At even they laid Him With aloes and myrrh, In fine linen wound, in A new sepulchre. There, there will we seek Him: Will wash Him with care; Anoint Him with spices: And mourn for Him there. Oh strangest of sorrow! Oh vision of fear! New grief is around us— The Lord is not here!
Women why shrink ye With wonder and dread?— Seek not the living Where slumbers the dead! [page 233] Weep not, nor tremble: And be not dismayed; The Lord hath arisen! See where He was laid! The grave-clothes, behold them; The spices the bier; The napkin that bound Him; But He is not here! Death could not hold Him, The grave is a prison That keeps not the living; The Christ has arisen!
THE LORD JESUS.
Why are ye troubled? Why weep ye and grieve? What the prophets have written Why slowly believe? ’Tis I, be not doubtful! Why ponder ye so? Behold in My body The marks of My woe! The willing hath suffered; The chosen been slain; The end is accomplished! Behold Me again! Death has been conquered— The grave has been riven— For sin a remission Hath freely been given! [page 234] Fearless in spirit, Yet meek as the dove, Go preach to the nations This gospel of love. For the night of the mighty Shall o’er you be cast; And I will be with you, My friends, to the last. I go to the Father, But I will prepare Your mansions of glory, And welcome you there. There life never ending; There bliss that endures; There love never changing, My friends, shall be yours! But the hour is accomplished, My children, we sever— But be ye not troubled, I am with you for ever!
The Lord is ascending!— Rich welcomes to give Him: See, angels descending!— The heavens receive Him! See, angels, archangels Bend down to adore!— The Lord hath ascended, We see Him no more! [page 235] The Master is taken; The Friend hath departed; Yet we are not forsaken, Nor desolate-hearted! The Master is taken; The holy, the kind; But the joy of His presence, Remaineth behind! Our hearts burned within us To hear but the word Which He spake, ere our spirits Acknowledged the Lord! The Lord hath ascended! Our hope is secure, We trusted not lightly;— The promise is sure; The Lord hath ascended; And we his true-hearted, Go forth with rejoicing, Though He hath departed!
JOURNEY TO EMMAUS.
St. Luke xxiv. 13-35.
It happened on a solemn eventide Soon after He that was our Surety died, Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined, The scene of all those sorrows left behind, [page 236] Sought their own village, busied as they went In musings worthy of the great event; They spake of Him they loved, of Him whose life, Though blameless, had incurred perpetual strife, Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts, A deep memorial graven on their hearts. The recollection, like a vein of ore The further traced, enriched them still the more; They thought Him, and they justly thought Him, one Sent to do more than He appeared t’ have done: To exalt a people and to place them high Above all else, and wondered He should die. Ere yet they brought their journey to an end, A stranger joined them, courteous as a friend, And asked them, with a kind engaging air, What their affliction was, and begged a share. Informed, He gathered up the broken thread, And, truth and wisdom gracing all He said, Explained, illustrated, and searched so well The tender theme on which they chose to dwell, That reaching home, “The night,” they said, “is near, We must not now be parted—sojourn here.” The new acquaintance soon became a guest, And made so welcome at their simple feast, He blessed the bread, but vanished at the word, And left them both exclaiming, “’Twas the Lord! Did not our hearts feel all He deigned to say, Did they not burn within us by the way?”
JESUS A KING.
Jesus, the Conqueror, reigns, In glorious strength arrayed; His Kingdom over all maintains, And bids the earth be glad. Ye sons of men rejoice, In Jesus’ mighty love: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, To Him who rules above. Extol His kingly power; Adore th’ exalted Son, Who died, but lives to die no more, High on His Father’s throne. Our Advocate with God, He undertakes our cause; And spreads through all the earth abroad, The triumph of HIS CROSS.
Campbell. [page 238]
Acts i. 9-11.
Bright portals of the sky, Embossed with sparkling stars; Doors of eternity, With adamantine bars: Your arras rich uphold, Loose all your bolts and springs; Ope wide your leaves of gold, That in your roofs may come the King of kings! Scarfed in a rosy cloud, He doth ascend the air; Straight doth the moon Him shroud With her resplendent hair. The next encrystalled light Submits to Him its beams; And He doth trace the height Of that fair lamp which flames of beauty streams. He towers those golden bounds, He did to sun bequeath; The higher wandering rounds Are found His feet beneath. The milky-way comes near, Heaven’s axle seems to bend Above each turning sphere, That, robed in glory, Heaven’s King may ascend. Oh! well-spring of this all! Thy Father’s image vive; Word—that from nought did call, What is—doth reason—live! [page 239] The soul’s eternal food, Earth’s joy—delight of Heaven; All truth, love, beauty, good, To Thee, to Thee, be praises ever given. Now each ethereal gate To Him hath opened been; And glory’s King in state His palace enters in. Now come is this High Priest, In this most holy place; Not without blood addressed, With glory heaven, the earth to crown with grace. Oh! Glory of the heaven! Oh! Sole Delight of earth! To Thee all power be given; God’s uncreated birth. Of mankind lover true, Endurer of his wrong; Who dost the world renew, Still be Thou our salvation and our song.
Drummond. [page 240]
There His triumphant chariot waits, And angels chant the solemn lay; Lift up your heads, ye heavenly gates, Ye everlasting doors give way. Loose all your bars of massy light, And wide unfold the etherial scene; He claims these mansions as His right, Receive the King of Glory in. Who is the King of Glory? who? The Lord who all our foes o’ercame; The world, sin, death, and hell, o’erthrew, And Jesus is the Conqueror’s name. Lo! His triumphant chariot waits, And angels chant the solemn lay: Lift up your heads ye heavenly gates, Ye everlasting doors give way! Who is the King of Glory? who? The Lord of glorious power possess’d; The King of saints and angels too, God over all, forever blessed.
Acts ii. 1-13.
When God of old came down from heaven, In power and wrath He came; Before His feet the clouds were riven, Half darkness and half flame: [page 241] But when He came the second time, He came in power and love; Softer than gale at morning prime Hover’d His holy Dove. The fires, that rush’d on Sinai down In sudden torrents dread, Now gently light, a glorious crown, On every sainted head. And as on Israel’s awe-struck ear The voice exceeding loud, The trump, that Angels quake to hear, Thrill’d from the deep, dark cloud; So, when the Spirit of our God Came down His flock to find, A voice from heaven was heard abroad, A rushing, mighty wind. It fills the Church of God; it fills The sinful world around; Only in stubborn hearts and wills No place for it is found. Come Lord, come Wisdom, Love, and Power, Open our ears to hear; Let us not miss the accepted hour; Save, Lord, by love or fear.
Anon. [page 242]
Acts vii. 53.
As rays around the source of light, Stream upward ere he glow in sight, And watching by his future flight, Set the clear heavens on fire; So on the King of Martyrs wait Three chosen bands in royal state, And all earth owns—of good and great— Is gathered in that choir. One presses on, and welcomes death, One calmly yields his willing breath,— Nor slow, nor hurrying, but in faith, Content to die or live; And some, the darlings of their Lord, Play smiling with the flame and sword, And, ere they speak to His sure word, Unconscious witness give. Foremost and nearest to His throne, By perfect robes of triumph known,— And likest Him in look and tone, The holy Stephen kneels; With steadfast gaze as when the sky Flew open to His fainting eye, Which, like a fading lamp, flashed high,— Seeing what death conceals. Well might you guess what vision bright Was present to his raptured sight, Even as reflected streams of light, Their solar source betray; [page 243] The glory which our God surrounds, The Son of Man—th’ atoning wounds— He sees them all, and earth’s dull bounds Are melting fast away. He sees them all—no other view Could stamp the Saviour’s likeness true, Or with His love so deep embrue Men’s sullen heart and gross— “Jesus, do Thou my soul receive; Jesus, do Thou my foes forgive;” He who would learn that prayer, must live Under the holy Cross. He, though He seems on earth to move, Must glide in air like gentle dove, From you unclouded depths above Must draw His purer breath; Till men behold his angel face All radiant with celestial grace, Martyr all o’er, and meet to trace The lines of Jesus’ death.
The Christian Year. [page 244]
A council-room in old Jerusalem Is filled with eager faces. Men who feel The blood of Abraham in their veins are there, Some born ’neath Sion, others from afar, (In Africa, in Asia, and in Rome, Long held in bondage) suffered to return, To worship in the city of their God, To pray for the deliverance that should come By Him whom all the prophets prophesied. He came—unto His own; they knew Him not, And the glad tidings that He brought they scorned. He left them with a self-imposed curse On them and on their children. Even now That curse is growing to accomplishment In that doomed city; soon, no stone shall rest Upon another, in its holiest place. The meek, the lowly, loving Man of Griefs Wept over it with keenest sympathy, Such as no human heart e’er felt before. His words of peace they heard not, nay, they mocked, Reviled and buffeted and spat upon, Condemned and crucified the King of kings. So came, so died the Saviour of the world. Only a few of all the favoured seed Of Abram, who beheld the Son of God, Believed on Him and worshipped; and to these, His seed, the travail of His soul, He gave The promise of His presence to “the end,” “I will not leave you orphans, I will send Another Comforter.” [page 245] With sorrowing eyes, The true disciples saw the gates of death Close on their Lord and Master. But He rose Triumphant from the grave, and they beheld His well-loved form once more and heard Him speak, In words that made their hearts within them burn, “Go forth beginning at Jerusalem, And preach remission of their sins to man,” He blessed them and the opening clouds received His body from their sight. They were alone— Not long; the promise given was fulfilled; The Spirit came: the Heavenly Comforter, Proceeding from the Father and the Son, Who taught them all things, filled their souls with joy, And gave them strength and courage to declare That Christ had suffered for a guilty world. And many souls were added to the Church Of such as should be saved. These kept the Faith, Through toils and persecution, scorn and shame. Jerusalem, that crucified her King, Jerusalem that shed the prophet’s blood, Still thirsted, and insatiate asked for more— Now, in that council-room with craving eyes They look upon their prey. His face is bright, As in an angel’s, whom the smile of God Has lightened with the glory of His love. But ah! those eyes had seen the Son of God, In all His awful agony, undimmed. His death and resurrection Stephen preached. [page 246] Full of the Holy Spirit, faith and power, And many miracles and wonders wrought, Convincing sinners of the Truth he spake, Till even priests themselves obeyed the Faith. Then wicked men arose, and with hard words, Disputed Stephen’s. Vainly they withstood, Celestial wisdom hovered round his lips. Then, full of rage and falsehood they suborned Men, like themselves, unprincipled, who said That Stephen had blasphemed the holy place, The law, and Moses who had given it. And the high-priest demanded a reply— Are these things so? But Stephen, undismayed By all that proud tribunal’s scorn and hate Spake boldly as the Spirit moved his lips, Beginning with the father of their race, His call, his promise of posterity, His prompt obedience, his unshaken faith, He told them all their sinful history, Their disobedience, their ingratitude, Their base idolatry. How through all their sin, God still was with them, and by prophets spake Of Him the Just One, that should come to save His chosen people Israel, from their sins, Yea, all the world, if they would but believe; And how they slew those prophets, and at last, (The consummation of their heinous sin) Betrayed and murdered Him they had foretold:— And as their fathers did, so did they still. He ceased. His words had out them to the heart, And full of demon rage they gnashed their teeth: [page 247] But he had spoken only words of love; Dove-like, his indignation had no gall. He boldly spoke the truth to save their souls. For this he was ordained and sent to preach, That all might fuel the deadly weight of sin, And look to Christ that He might give them rest. He had borne fearless witness to the Truth Amidst its enemies; and not in vain, For ’midst those enemies was one whom God Had chos’n for high and holy purposes, Who afterwards remembered all his words, The martyr seed was sown in goodly soil. He ceased, and looking steadfastly to heaven, Beheld God’s glory inexpressible, And Jesus Christ standing at God’s right hand. He told his vision. They impenitent, And tenfold more filled with demoniac rage, Smothered his voice with cries and stopped their ears, And rushed with one accord, a fiendish crowd, Upon their victim, and with murderous force, Cast him without the city and with stones, (Meet emblems of their hardened hearts) they slew Stephen the crowned king martyr of the Cross, “That they might be forgiven for their sins,” Was his last prayer;—and so he fell asleep.
Rev. John Reade. [page 248]
Bleeding and crushed the martyr lies The frowning rock beneath, With face upturn’d to yonder skies, And still, suspended breath; But peace and joy are with him now, The light of Heaven gleams on his brow, All damp with dews of death. Stern eyes glare on that mangled form— Fierce shouts rise on the air; He heedeth not the angry storm Which rages round him there: He sees the throng—the angel-throng; His ears are full of holy song— His soul is full of pray’r! Softly his spirit soars away, And wings its flight on high; He sinks upon his couch o clay, ’Mid this rude lullaby. Wrapt in a sleep as sweet and mild As e’er he slumber’d, when a child, Beneath his mother’s eye. To early tomb that corpse is borne— With loving kindness drest; Whilst many a Christian friend, forlorn, Weeps sadly on his breast; Yes, many are the tear-drops shed, And softly is the dark earth spread Above his place of rest. [page 249] First on the bright, but crimson page Of martyr’d men of God, Who, slain for Christ, in every age Have cried from earth’s dark sod! Many another, faint and worn, Mangled and crushed, defaced and torn, Must tread where thou hast trod. When earth’s sharp trials fall thick on me, And break my spirit down, God give me grace to think of thee, And dare the world’s dark frown! God grant me steadfast to abide, That I may worship at thy side, And wear the saintly crown!
Rev. H. F. Darnell.
ST. PETER IN PRISON.
Acts xii. 1-19.
Thou thrice denied, yet thrice beloved, Watch by thine own forgiven friend; In sharpest perils faithful proved, Let his soul love Thee to the end. The prayer is heard—else why so deep His slumber on the eve of death? And wherefore smiles he in his sleep As one who drew celestial breath? He loves and is beloved again— Can his soul choose but be at rest? Sorrow hath fled away, and pain Doth not invade the guarded nest. [page 250] He dearly loves, and not alone, For his winged thoughts are soaring high— Where never yet frail heart was known To breathe in vain affection’s sigh. He loves and weeps—but more than tears Have sealed Thy welcome and his love— One look lives in him, and endears Crosses and wrongs where’er he rove. That gracious tending look, Thy call To win him to himself and Thee; Salute the sorrow of his fall, Which else were ru’d too bitterly. Even through the veil of sleep it shines, The memory of that kindly glance; An angel, watching by, divines, And spares awhile his blissful trance. Or haply, to his native lake, His vision wafts him back to talk With JESUS, ere his flight he take, As in that solemn evening walk, When to the bosom of his friend, The Shepherd, He whose name is Good, Did His dear lambs and sheep commend, Both bought and nourished with His blood. Then laid on him th’ inverted tree, Which, firm embraced with heart and arm, Might cast o’er hope and memory, O’er life and death, its awful charm. [page 251] With lightening heart he bears it on, His passport through th’ eternal gates To his sweet home—so nearly won, He seems, as by the door he waits— The unexpressive notes to hear Of angel song and angel motion, Rising and falling on the ear, Like waves in joy’s unbounded ocean. His dream is changed—the Tyrant’s voice Calls to that last of glorious deeds— But as he rises to rejoice, No Herod, but an angel leads. He dreams he sees a lamp flash bright, Glancing around his prison room— But ’tis a gleam of heavenly light That fills up all the ample gloom. The flame, that in a few short years, Deep through the chambers of the dead Shall pierce, and dry the fount of tears, Is waving o’er his dungeon-bed. Touched, he upstarts—his chains unbind— Through darksome vault, up massy stair, His dizzy, doubting footsteps wind, To freedom and cool midnight air. Then all himself, all joy and calm, Through for a while his hand forego; Just as it touched the Martyr’s palm, He turns him to his task below. [page 252] The pastoral staff, the keys of Heaven, To wield awhile in grey-haired might; Then from his cross to spring forgiven, And follow JESUS out of sight.
The Christian Year.
THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.
Acts ix. 4—9.
The mid-day sun, with fiercest glare, Broods o’er the hazy, twinkling air, Along the level sand; The palm-trees’ shade unwavering lies, Just as thy towers, Damascus, rise, To greet you wearied band. The leader of that martial crew Seems bent some mighty deed to do, So steadily he speeds; With lips firm closed, and fixed eye, Like warrior when the fight is nigh, Nor talk nor landscape heeds. What sudden blaze is round him poured, As though all heaven’s refulgent hoard In one rich glory shone? One moment—and to earth he falls: What voice his inmost heart appals? Voice heard by him alone. [page 253] For to the rest both words and form Seem lost in lightning and in storm, While Saul in wakeful trance— Sees deep within that dazzling field His persecuted Lord revealed, With keen, yet pitying glance; And hears the meek, upbraiding call As gently on his spirit fall, As if th’ Almighty Son Were prisoner yet on this dark earth, Nor had proclaimed His royal birth, Nor His great power begun. “Ah! wherefore persecut’st Thou me?” He heard and saw, and sought to free His strained eye from the sight; But heaven’s high magic bound it there, Still gazing, though untaught to bear Th’ unsufferable light. “Who art Thou, Lord?” he falters forth: So shall sin ask of heaven and earth At the last awful day; “When did we see Thee suffering nigh, And passed Thee with unheeding eye? Great God of Judgment Day?” Ah! little dream our listless eyes, What glorious presence they despise, While in our room of life; To power or fame we rudely press— Christ is at hand to scorn or bless, Christ suffers in our strife. [page 254] And though heaven’s gates long since have closed, And our dear Lord in bliss reposed, High above mortal ken; To every car in every land (Though meek ears only understand), He speaks as He did then. “Ah! wherefore persecute ye Me? ’Tis hard ye so in love should be, With your own endless woe; Know, though at God’s right hand I live, I feel each wound you reckless give, To the least saint below.” “I in your care, my brethren, left, Not willing ye should be bereft Of waiting on your Lord; The meanest offering ye can make— A drop of water—for love’s sake, In heaven, be sure, is stored.” Oh! by those gentle tones and dear, When Thou hast stayed our wild career, Thou only hope of souls; Ne’er let us cast one look behind, But in the thought of Jesus find What every thought controls. As to thy last Apostle’s heart Thy lightning glance did then impart Zeal’s never dying fire; So teach us on Thy shrine to lay Our hearts, and let them day by day, Intenser blaze, and higher. [page 255] And as each mild and winning note (Like pulses that round harp-strings float When the full strain is o’er,) Left lingering on his inward car, Music that taught, as death drew near, Love’s lesson more and more. So, as we walk our earthly round, Still may the echo of that sound Be in our memory stored; “Christians! behold your happy state, Christ is in those who on Him wait? Make much of your dear Lord!”
The Christian Year.
CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.
Whose is that sword—that voice and eye of flame? That heart of unextinguishable ire? Who bears the dungeon keys, and bonds and fire; Along his dark and withering path he came— Death in his looks, and terror in his name, Tempting the might of Heaven’s eternal sire. Lo, the light shone! the sun’s veiled beams expire— A Saviour’s self, a Saviour’s lips proclaim! Whose is yon form stretched on the earth’s cold bed? With smitten soul, and tears of agony, Mourning the past? Bowed is the lofty head— Rayless the orbs that flushed with victory, Over the raging waves of human will The Saviour’s spirit walked—and all was still.
Roscoe. [page 256]
THE SECOND ADVENT.
Thou art the King of Glory, blessed Lord! The Father’s everlasting Son; Eternally the co-existent Word: And now, for victories won In human flesh, Thee all the heavens adore, Who at the Father’s right hand reignest evermore. All power in heaven and earth Thou wieldest there, The Lord of Hades and of death, The keys of that dark empire Thou dost bear, O’er all things that have breath, Thy rule extends, by hell in vain opposed: Thou openest, none can shut nor force what Thou hast closed. Not yet are all things put beneath Thy feet; Not yet the kingdoms of this world Are Thine; nor yet, consummate his defeat, The Prince of Darkness hurled Down into hell’s unfathomable void, Nor Death, man’s final foe, with Death’s dark king, destroyed. But Heaven and Earth and Hell, or with glad zeal Or blind concurrence, work thy will. The day that shall the perfect scheme reveal, And all thy word fulfill, Is drawing on; and Earth is ripening fast As for the sickle. Soon shall sound that signal blast. [page 257] We know that Thou art coming, mighty Lord! To be the judge of quick and dead; To give thy faithful servants their reward: To crush the Serpent’s head: Lord, in thy merits and thy grace unbounded I put my trust; O let me never be confounded.
THE TWO HORSEMEN.
Revelation vi. S.
He cometh! he cometh! the death-dealing king, His pale steed is fleet as the hurricane’s wing: Around him are ravening the monsters of hell, Earth shrinks from their aspect, and shakes with their yell. He cometh! he cometh! with sword dripping gore: Desolation behind him, and terror before: His banner of darkness above him is spread, With pestilent vapour earth smokes at his tread. Her kings and her captains oppose him in vain; Her mantle no longer can cover her slain; The great are down-trampled, the mighty ones fail, And their armies are scattered like leaves on the gale. The beasts of the forest exult o’er their prey, Grim Slaughter mows onward his merciless way, Gaunt Famine, and livid Disease, at his side, O’er monarchs and nations triumphantly ride. [page 258] And now from their slumber the tempests awaken: They rage, and the stars from their orbits are shaken The sun gathers blackness, the moon turns to blood, The heavens pass away; and the isles from the flood, And the mountains from earth, at the tumult retreat The prince and the peasant—the abject, the great— The youthful, the aged—the fearful, the brave— The strong man, the feeble—the freeman, the slave, To caverns and dens for a hiding-place run; But who the keen eye of Jehovah can shun? From His face to conceal them, despairing they call To the rocks and the mountains upon them to fall: In vain; for the day of decision at last Has dawned, and the season of mercy is past: He cometh from heaven, with the sword and the rod, Who shall tread in his fury the wine-press of God. His angel the fowls is inviting aloud To the carnage of steeds and their riders to crowd, Whose flesh shall be mangled, whose blood shall be spilled, That the vultures and ravens may eat and be filled.
Rev. xix. 11—16.
He cometh! He cometh! how glorious the sight! His horse as the snow newly fallen is white; On His head are the crowns that betoken His power, From His eyes flash red lightnings His foes to devour. [page 259] In blood has the vesture been dipped that He wears, And a name on His thigh and His vesture He bears; The Sovereign of sovereigns, that loftiest of names, The Lord of all lords, its possessor proclaims. And white are the horses, as snow without stain, Of the thousands of thousands who ride in His train; And white and unspotted the robes He has given To be worn on this day by the armies of heaven. The bow in His hand, lo! unerring He bends, With the sword from His mouth every spirit He rends, By His rod are down smitten all they that oppose, And from conquering to conquer resistless He goes. But see, where His presence the darkness illumes, How lovely the aspect creation assumes! New heavens, a new earth, a new ocean arise, That fill every heart with a welcome surprise. A city majestic and spacious appears, Which sin cannot enter, where dried are all tears; With beauty resplendent, from dangers secure; Where fruits are perennial, and waters as pure As He who erects it, the blessed await: With shoutings of triumph they enter the gate, With God, their Redeemer, for ever to reign, And it closes on all, but the Lamb and His train.
T. Greenwood. [page 260]
THE SAVIOUR’S SECOND COMING.
Even thus, amid thy pride and luxury, O earth! shall that last coming burst on thee, That secret coming of the Sun of Man, When all the cherub-thronging clouds shall shine Irradiate with his bright advancing sign: When that great Husbandman shall wave his fan, Sweeping like chaff, thy wealth and pomp away: Still in the noon-tide of that nightless day, Shalt thou thy wonted dissolute course maintain. Along the busy mart and crowded street, The buyer and the seller still shall meet, And marriage feasts begin their jocund strain: Still to the pouring out the cup of woe; Till earth, a drunkard, reeling to and fro, And mountains molten by His burning feet, And heaven His presence own, all red with furnace heat. The hundred-gated cities then, The towers and temples, named of men Eternal and the thrones of kings; The gilded summer-palaces, The courtly bowers of love and ease, Where still the bird of pleasure sings; Ask ye the destiny of them? Go, gaze on fallen Jerusalem! Yea, mightier names are in the fatal roll, ’Gainst earth and heaven God’s standard is unfurl’d, The skies are shrivelled like a burning scroll, And the vast common doom ensepulchres the world. [page 261] Oh! who shall then survive? Oh! who shall stand and live? When all that hath been is no more: When for the round earth hung in air, With all its constellations fair In the sky’s azure canopy; When all the breathing earth, and sparkling sea, Is but a fiery deluge without shore, Heaving along the abyss profound and dark, A fiery deluge and without an ark. Lord of all power, when Thou art there alone, On Thy eternal, fiery wheeled throne, That in its high meridian noon Needs not the perished sun or moon: When Thou art there in Thy presiding state, Wide-aceptered monarch o’er the realm of doom, When from the sea-depths, from earth’s darkest womb The dead of all the ages round Thee walk; And when the tribes of wickedness are strown, Like forest leaves in th’ autumn of Thine ire: Faithful and true! Thou still wilt save Thine own! The saints shall dwell within th’ unharming fire, Each white robe spotless, blooming every palm, Even safe as we, by this still fountain side, So shall the Church, Thy bright and mystic Bride, Sit on the stormy gulf, a halcyon bird of calm. Yes, ’mid yon angry and destroying rigns, O’er us the rainbow of Thy mercy shines; We hail, we bless the covenant of its beam, Almighty to avenge, almightiest to redeem!
Milman. [page 262]
THE SONG OF THE HUNDRED AND FORTY AND FOUR THOUSAND.
Revelations xiv. 1—3.
Who are these in bright array, This innumerable throng, Round the altar night and day, Hymning one triumphant song? “Worthy is the Lamb once slain, Blessing, honour, glory, power, Wisdom, riches, to obtain, New dominion every hour.” These through fiery trials trod, These from great affliction came; Now before the throne of God, Seal’d with His almighty name; Clad in raiment pure and white, Victor-palms in every hand, Through their dear Redeemer’s might, More than conquerors they stand. Hunger, thirst, disease unknown, On immortal fruits they feed; Them, the Lamb amidst the throne, Shall to living fountains lead: Joy and gladness banish sighs, Perfect love dispels all fears, And for ever from their eyes, God shall wipe away the tears.
J. Montgomery. [page 263]
THE LAST DAY.
“The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth able, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”—3 Peter iii. 10.
The day of wrath, that dreadful day, When heaven and earth shall pass away! What power shall be the sinner’s stay? How shall he meet that dreadful day? When, shriv’lling like a parched scroll, The flaming heavens together roll, And louder yet, and yet more dread, Swells the high trump that wakes the dead. Oh! on that day, that wrathful day, When man to judgment wakes from clay, Be Thou, O Christ! the sinner’s stay, Though heaven and earth shall pass away.
Sir Walter Scott.
THE FINAL JUDGMENT.
Rev. xx. 11—15, and xxi. 1—4.
This done, the Omnipotent, Omniscient Judge, Rose infinite, the sentence to pronounce— The sentence of eternal love or bliss! All glory heretofore seen or conceived; All majesty annihilated, dropped That moment from remembrance, and was lost; And silence, deepest hitherto esteemed, Seemed noisy to the stillness of this hour. [page 264] Comparisons I seek not, nor should find, If sought: that silence which all being held When God Almighty’s Son from off the walls Of heaven the rebel angels threw, accursed, So still, that all creation heard them fall Distinctly in the lake of burning fire, Was now forgotten, and every silence else. All being rational, created, then Around the judgment seat, intensely listened; No creature breathed: man, angel, devil, stood And listened; the spheres stood still and every star Stood still and listened and every particle Remotest in the womb of matter, stood Bending to hear, devotional and still. And then upon the wicked first, the Judge Pronounced the sentence written before of old: “Depart from me, ye curs’d, into the fire Prepared eternal in the gulf of Hell, Where ye shall weep and wail for evermore, Reaping the harvest which your wins have sown.”
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This done, the glorious Judge turning to right With countenance of love unspeakable, Beheld the righteous, and approved them thus: “Ye blessed of My Father, come; ye just Enter the joy eternal of your Lord; Receive your crowns, ascend and sit with me, At God’s right hand in glory evermore.” [page 265]
THE PLEASURES OF HEAVEN.
Revelations. xxi. 22—20.
There all the happy souls that ever were, Shall meet with gladness in one theatre; And each shall know there one another’s face, By beatific virtue of the place. There shall the brother with the sister walk, And sons and daughters with their parents talk; But all of God: they still shall have to say, But make Him all in all their theme that day; That happy day that never shall see night! Where He will be all beauty to the sight; Wine or delicious fruits unto the taste; A music in the ears will ever last; Unto the scent, a spicery or balm; And to the touch, a flower, like soft as palm. He will all glory, all perfection be, God in the Union and the Trinity! That holy, great, and glorious mystery, Will there revealed be in majesty, By light and comfort of spiritual grace; The vision of our Saviour face to face, In His humanity! to hear Him preach The price of our redemption, and to teach, Through His inherent righteousness in death, The safety of our souls and forfeit breath! What fulness of beatitude is here! What love with mercy mixed doth appear! To style us friends who were by nature foes! Adopt us heirs by grace, who were of those[page 266] Had lost ourselves; and prodigally spent Our native portions and possessèd rent! Yet have all debts forgiven us; an advance By imputed right to an inheritance In His eternal kingdom, where we sit Equal with angels, and co-heirs of it.
THE BETTER LAND.
“I hear thee speak of the better land; Thou call’st its children a happy band: Mother! oh where is that radiant shore?— Shall we not seek it, and weep no more? Is it where the flower of the orange blows, And the fire-flies dance through the myrtle boughs?” “Not there, not there, my child!” “Is it where the feathery palm trees rise, And the date grows ripe under sunny skies? Or midst the green islands of glittering seas, Where fragrant forests perfume the breeze, And strange, bright birds, on their starry wings, Bear the rich hues of all glorious things?” “Not there, not there, my child!” “Is it far away, in some region old, Where the rivers wander o’er sands of gold?— Where the burning rays of the ruby shine, And the diamond lights up the secret mine, And the pearl gleams forth from the coral strand?— Is it there, sweet mother, that better land?” “Not there, not there, my child!” [page 267] “Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy! Ear hath not heard its deep songs of joy, Dreams cannot picture a world so fair,— Sorrow and death cannot enter there; Time doth not breathe on its fadeless bloom, For, beyond the clouds, and beyond the tomb, It is there, it is there, my child!”
THE CITY OF REST.
“And the name of that city is rest.”
O birds from out the east, O birds from out the west, Have ye found that happy city in all your quest? Tell me, tell me, from earth’s wandering may the heart find glad surcease? Can ye show me as an earnest any olive branch of peace? I am weary of life’s troubles, of its sin, and toil, and care; I am faithless, crushing in my heart so many a fruitless prayer. O birds from out the east, O birds from out the west, Can ye tell me of that City the name of which is Rest? Say, doth a dreamy atmosphere that blessed city crown? Are there couches spread for sleeping softer than the cider down? Does the silver sound of waters falling ’twixt its marble walls, Hush its solemn silence even into stiller intervals? Doth the poppy shed its influence there, or doth the fabled moly With its leafy-laden Lethe lade the eyes with slumber holy? Do they never wake to sorrow, who after toilsome quest, Have entered in that City the name of which is Rest? [page 268] Doth the fancy wile not there for aye? Is the restless soul’s endeavour Hushed in a rhythm of solemn calm, forever and forever? Are human natures satisfied of their intense desire? Is there no more good beyond to seek, or do they not aspire? But weary, weary of the ore within its yellow sun, Do they lie and eat its lotus leaves, and dream life’s toil is done? O tell me do they there forget what here hath made them blest? Nor sigh again for home and friends in the City named Rest? O little birds fly east again,—O little birds fly west; Ye have found no happy city in all your weary quest, Still shall ye find no spot of rest wherever ye may stray, And still like you the weary soul must wing its weary way; There sleepeth no such city within the wide earth’s bound, Nor hath the dreaming fancy yet its blissful portals found. We are but children crying here upon a mother’s breast, For life and peace and blessedness, and for Eternal Rest? Bless God, I hear a still, small voice, above life’s clamorous din, Saying, faint not, thou weary one, thou yet may’st enter in; That City is prepared for those who well do win the fight, Who tread the wine-press till its blood hath washed their garments white. Within it is no darkness, nor any baleful flower Shall there oppress thy weeping eyes with stupefying power, It lieth calm within the light of God’s peace-giving breast, Its walls are called SALVATION, the City’s name is REST.
Hymns of the Ages.