Part 3 out of 5
In sudden torrents dread,
Now gently light, a glorious crown,
On every sainted head.
Like arrows went those lightnings forth
Winged with the sinner's doom,
But these, like tongues, o'er all the earth
Proclaiming life to come:
And as on Israel's awe-struck ear
The voice exceeding loud,
The trump, that angels quake to hear,
Thrilled 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.
Nor doth the outward ear alone
At that high warning start;
Conscience gives back th' appalling tone;
'Tis echoed in the heart.
It fills the Church of God; it fills
The sinful world around;
Only in stubborn hearts and wills
No place for it is found.
To other strains our souls are set:
A giddy whirl of sin
Fills ear and brain, and will not let
Heaven's harmonies come in.
Come Lord, Come Wisdom, Love, and Power,
Open our ears to hear;
Let us not miss th' accepted hour;
Save, Lord, by Love or Fear.
MONDAY IN WHITSUN-WEEK
So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all
the earth; and they left off to build the city. Genesis xi. 8
Since all that is not Heaven must fade,
Light be the hand of Ruin laid
Upon the home I love:
With lulling spell let soft Decay
Steal on, and spare the giant sway,
The crash of tower and grove.
Far opening down some woodland deep
In their own quiet glade should sleep
The relics dear to thought,
And wild-flower wreaths from side to side
Their waving tracery hang, to hide
What ruthless Time has wrought.
Such are the visions green and sweet
That o'er the wistful fancy fleet
In Asia's sea-like plain,
Where slowly, round his isles of sand,
Euphrates through the lonely land
Winds toward the pearly main.
Slumber is there, but not of rest;
There her forlorn and weary nest
The famished hawk has found,
The wild dog howls at fall of night,
The serpent's rustling coils affright
The traveller on his round.
What shapeless form, half lost on high,
Half seen against the evening sky,
Seems like a ghost to glide,
And watch, from Babel's crumbling heap,
Where in her shadow, fast asleep,
Lies fallen imperial Pride?
With half-closed eye a lion there
Is basking in his noontide lair,
Or prowls in twilight gloom.
The golden city's king he seems,
Such as in old prophetic dreams
Sprang from rough ocean's womb.
But where are now his eagle wings,
That sheltered erst a thousand kings,
Hiding the glorious sky
From half the nations, till they own
No holier name, no mightier throne?
That vision is gone by.
Quenched is the golden statue's ray,
The breath of heaven has blown away
What toiling earth had piled,
Scattering wise heart and crafty hand,
As breezes strew on ocean's sand
The fabrics of a child.
Divided thence through every age
Thy rebels, Lord, their warfare wage,
And hoarse and jarring all
Mount up their heaven-assailing cries
To Thy bright watchmen in the skies
From Babel's shattered wall.
Thrice only since, with blended might
The nations on that haughty height
Have met to scale the Heaven:
Thrice only might a Seraph's look
A moment's shade of sadness brook -
Such power to guilt was given.
Now the fierce bear and leopard keen
Are perished as they ne'er had been,
Oblivion is their home:
Ambition's boldest dream and last
Must melt before the clarion blast
That sounds the dirge of Rome.
Heroes and kings, obey the charm,
Withdraw the proud high-reaching arm,
There is an oath on high:
That ne'er on brow of mortal birth
Shall blend again the crowns of earth,
Nor in according cry
Her many voices mingling own
One tyrant Lord, one idol throne:
But to His triumphs soon
HE shall descend, who rules above,
And the pure language of His love,
All tongues of men shall tune.
Nor let Ambition heartless mourn;
When Babel's very ruins burn,
Her high desires may breathe; -
O'ercome thyself, and thou mayst share
With Christ His Father's throne, and wear
The world's imperial wreath.
TUESDAY IN WHITSUN-WEEK
When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them. St.
John x. 4.
(Addressed to Candidates for Ordination.)
"Lord, in Thy field I work all day,
I read, I teach, I warn, I pray,
And yet these wilful wandering sheep
Within Thy fold I cannot keep.
"I journey, yet no step is won -
Alas! the weary course I run!
Like sailors shipwrecked in their dreams,
All powerless and benighted seems."
What? wearied out with half a life?
Scared with this smooth unbloody strife?
Think where thy coward hopes had flown
Had Heaven held out the martyr's crown.
How couldst thou hang upon the cross,
To whom a weary hour is loss?
Or how the thorns and scourging brook
Who shrinkest from a scornful look?
Yet ere thy craven spirit faints,
Hear thine own King, the King of Saints;
Though thou wert toiling in the grave,
'Tis He can cheer thee, He can save.
He is th' eternal mirror bright,
Where Angels view the FATHER'S light,
And yet in Him the simplest swain
May read his homely lesson plain.
Early to quit His home on earth,
And claim His high celestial birth,
Alone with His true Father found
Within the temple's solemn round:-
Yet in meek duty to abide
For many a year at Mary's side,
Nor heed, though restless spirits ask,
"What, hath the Christ forgot His task?"
Conscious of Deity within,
To bow before an heir of sin,
With folded arms on humble breast,
By His own servant washed and blest:-
Then full of Heaven, the mystic Dove
Hovering His gracious brow above,
To shun the voice and eye of praise,
And in the wild His trophies raise:-
With hymns of angels in His ears,
Back to His task of woe and tears,
Unmurmuring through the world to roam
With not a wish or thought at home:-
All but Himself to heal and save,
Till ripened for the cross and grave,
He to His Father gently yield
The breath that our redemption sealed:-
Then to unearthly life arise,
Yet not at once to seek the skies,
But glide awhile from saint to saint,
Lest on our lonely way we faint;
And through the cloud by glimpses show
How bright, in Heaven, the marks will glow
Of the true cross, imprinted deep
Both on the Shepherd and the sheep:-
When out of sight, in heart and prayer,
Thy chosen people still to bear,
And from behind Thy glorious veil,
Shed light that cannot change or fail:-
This is Thy pastoral course, O LORD,
Till we be saved, and Thou adored; -
Thy course and ours--but who are they
Who follow on the narrow way?
And yet of Thee from year to year
The Church's solemn chant we hear,
As from Thy cradle to Thy throne
She swells her high heart-cheering tone.
Listen, ye pure white-robed souls,
Whom in her list she now enrolls,
And gird ye for your high emprize
By these her thrilling minstrelsies.
And wheresoe'er in earth's wide field,
Ye lift, for Him, the red-cross shield,
Be this your song, your joy and pride -
"Our Champion went before and died."
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye
believe if I tell you of heavenly things? St. John iii. 12
Creator, Saviour, strengthening Guide,
Now on Thy mercy's ocean wide
Far out of sight we seem to glide.
Help us, each hour, with steadier eye
To search the deepening mystery,
The wonders of Thy sea and sky.
The blessed Angels look and long
To praise Thee with a worthier song,
And yet our silence does Thee wrong. -
Along the Church's central space
The sacred weeks, with unfelt pace,
Hath borne us on from grace to grace.
As travellers on some woodland height,
When wintry suns are gleaming bright,
Lose in arched glades their tangled sight; -
By glimpses such as dreamers love
Through her grey veil the leafless grove
Shows where the distant shadows rove; -
Such trembling joy the soul o'er-awes
As nearer to Thy shrine she draws:-
And now before the choir we pause.
The door is closed--but soft and deep
Around the awful arches sweep,
Such airs as soothe a hermit's sleep.
From each carved nook and fretted bend
Cornice and gallery seem to send
Tones that with seraphs hymns might blend.
Three solemn parts together twine
In harmony's mysterious line;
Three solemn aisles approach the shrine:
Yet all are One--together all,
In thoughts that awe but not appal,
Teach the adoring heart to fall.
Within these walls each fluttering guest
Is gently lured to one safe nest -
Without, 'tis moaning and unrest.
The busy world a thousand ways
Is hurrying by, nor ever stays
To catch a note of Thy dear praise.
Why tarries not her chariot wheel,
That o'er her with no vain appeal
One gust of heavenly song might steal?
Alas! for her Thy opening flowers
Unheeded breathe to summer showers,
Unheard the music of Thy bowers.
What echoes from the sacred dome
The selfish spirit may o'ercome
That will not hear of love or home!
The heart that scorned a father's care,
How can it rise in filial prayer?
How an all-seeing Guardian bear?
Or how shall envious brethren own
A Brother on the eternal throne,
Their Father's joy, their hops alone?
How shall Thy Spirit's gracious wile
The sullen brow of gloom beguile,
That frowns on sweet Affection's smile?
Eternal One, Almighty Trine!
(Since Thou art ours, and we are Thine,)
By all Thy love did once resign,
By all the grace Thy heavens still hide,
We pray Thee, keep us at Thy side,
Creator, Saviour, strengthening Guide!
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
So Joshua smote all the country, . . . and all their kings; he left
none remaining. Joshua x. 40.
Where is the land with milk and honey flowing,
The promise of our God, our fancy's theme?
Here over shattered walls dank weeds are growing,
And blood and fire have run in mingled stream;
Like oaks and cedars all around
The giant corses strew the ground,
And haughty Jericho's cloud-piercing wall
Lies where it sank at Joshua's trumpet call.
These are not scenes for pastoral dance at even,
For moonlight rovings in the fragrant glades,
Soft slumbers in the open eye of Heaven,
And all the listless joy of summer shades.
We in the midst of ruins live,
Which every hour dread warning give,
Nor may our household vine or fig-tree hide
The broken arches of old Canaan's pride.
Where is the sweet repose of hearts repenting,
The deep calm sky, the sunshine of the soul,
Now Heaven and earth are to our bliss consenting,
And all the Godhead joins to make us whole.
The triple crown of mercy now
Is ready for the suppliant's brow,
By the Almighty Three for ever planned,
And from behind the cloud held out by Jesus' hand.
"Now, Christians, hold your own--the land before ye
Is open--win your way, and take your rest."
So sounds our war-note; but our path of glory
By many a cloud is darkened and unblest:
And daily as we downward glide,
Life's ebbing stream on either side
Shows at each turn some mouldering hope or joy,
The Man seems following still the funeral of the Boy.
Open our eyes, Thou Sun of life and gladness,
That we may see that glorious world of Thine!
It shines for us in vain, while drooping sadness
Enfolds us here like mist: come Power benign,
Touch our chilled hearts with vernal smile,
Our wintry course do Thou beguile,
Nor by the wayside ruins let us mourn,
Who have th' eternal towers for our appointed bourne.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we
have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. 1
St. John iii. 13, 14.
The clouds that wrap the setting sun
When Autumn's softest gleams are ending,
Where all bright hues together run
In sweet confusion blending: -
Why, as we watch their floating wreath
Seem they the breath of life to breathe?
To Fancy's eye their motions prove
They mantle round the Sun for love.
When up some woodland dale we catch
The many-twinkling smile of ocean,
Or with pleased ear bewildered watch
His chime of restless motion;
Still as the surging waves retire
They seem to gasp with strong desire,
Such signs of love old Ocean gives,
We cannot choose but think he lives.
Wouldst thou the life of souls discern?
Nor human wisdom nor divine
Helps thee by aught beside to learn;
Love is life's only sign.
The spring of the regenerate heart,
The pulse, the glow of every part,
Is the true love of Christ our Lord,
As man embraced, as God adored.
But he, whose heart will bound to mark
The full bright burst of summer morn,
Loves too each little dewy spark,
By leaf or flow'ret worn:
Cheap forms, and common hues, 'tis true,
Through the bright shower-drop' meet his view;
The colouring may be of this earth;
The lustre comes of heavenly birth.
E'en so, who loves the Lord aright,
No soul of man can worthless find;
All will be precious in his sight,
Since Christ on all hath shined:
But chiefly Christian souls; for they,
Though worn and soiled with sinful clay,
Are yet, to eyes that see them true,
All glistening with baptismal dew.
Then marvel not, if such as bask
In purest light of innocence,
Hope against mope, in love's dear task,
Spite of all dark offence.
If they who hate the trespass most,
Yet, when all other love is lost,
Love the poor sinner, marvel not;
Christ's mark outwears the rankest blot.
No distance breaks this tie of blood;
Brothers are brothers evermore;
Nor wrong, nor wrath of deadliest mood,
That magic may o'erpower;
Oft, ere the common source be known,
The kindred drops will claim their own,
And throbbing pulses silently
Move heart towards heart by sympathy.
So it is with true Christian hearts;
Their mutual share in Jesus' blood
An everlasting bond imparts
Of holiest brotherhood:
Oh! might we all our lineage prove,
Give and forgive, do good and love,
By soft endearments in kind strife
Lightening the load of daily life.
There is much need; for not as yet
Are we in shelter or repose,
The holy house is still beset
With leaguer of stern foes;
Wild thoughts within, bad men without,
All evil spirits round about,
Are banded in unblest device,
To spoil Love's earthly paradise.
Then draw we nearer day by day,
Each to his brethren, all to God;
Let the world take us as she may,
We must not change our road;
Not wondering, though in grief, to find
The martyr's foe still keep her mind;
But fixed to hold Love's banner fast,
And by submission win at last.
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner
that repenteth. St. Luke xv. 10.
O hateful spell of Sin! when friends are nigh,
To make stern Memory tell her tale unsought,
And raise accusing shades of hours gone by,
To come between us and all kindly thought!
Chilled at her touch, the self-reproaching soul
Flies from the heart and home she dearest loves,
To where lone mountains tower, or billows roll,
Or to your endless depth, ye solemn groves.
In vain: the averted cheek in loneliest dell
Is conscious of a gaze it cannot bear,
The leaves that rustle near us seem to tell
Our heart's sad secret to the silent air.
Nor is the dream untrue; for all around
The heavens are watching with their thousand eyes,
We cannot pass our guardian angel's bound,
Resigned or sullen, he will hear our sighs.
He in the mazes of the budding wood
Is near, and mourns to see our thankless glance
Dwell coldly, where the fresh green earth is strewed
With the first flowers that lead the vernal dance.
In wasteful bounty showered, they smile unseen,
Unseen by man--but what if purer sprights
By moonlight o'er their dewy bosoms lean
To adore the Father of all gentle lights?
If such there be, O grief and shame to think
That sight of thee should overcloud their joy,
A new-born soul, just waiting on the brink
Of endless life, yet wrapt in earth's annoy!
O turn, and be thou turned! the selfish tear,
In bitter thoughts of low-born care begun,
Let it flow on, but flow refined and clear,
The turbid waters brightening as they run.
Let it flow on, till all thine earthly heart
In penitential drops have ebbed away,
Then fearless turn where Heaven hath set thy part,
Nor shudder at the Eye that saw thee stray.
O lost and found! all gentle souls below
Their dearest welcome shall prepare, and prove
Such joy o'er thee, as raptured seraphs know,
Who learn their lesson at the Throne of Love.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the
manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made
subject to vanity, not willingly, but by the reason of Him who hath
subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall
be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole
creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Romans viii 19-22.
It was not then a poet's dream,
An idle vaunt of song,
Such as beneath the moon's soft gleam
On vacant fancies throng;
Which bids us see in heaven and earth,
In all fair things around,
Strong yearnings for a blest new birth
With sinless glories crowned;
Which bids us hear, at each sweet pause
From care and want and toil,
When dewy eve her curtain draws
Over the day's turmoil,
In the low chant of wakeful birds,
In the deep weltering flood,
In whispering leaves, these solemn words -
"God made us all for good."
All true, all faultless, all in tune
Creation's wondrous choir,
Opened in mystic unison
To last till time expire.
And still it lasts; by day and night,
With one consenting voice,
All hymn Thy glory, Lord, aright,
All worship and rejoice.
Man only mars the sweet accord
O'erpowering with "harsh din"
The music of Thy works and word,
Ill matched with grief and sin.
Sin is with man at morning break,
And through the livelong day
Deafens the ear that fain would wake
To Nature's simple lay.
But when eve's silent footfall steals
Along the eastern sky,
And one by one to earth reveals
Those purer fires on high,
When one by one each human sound
Dies on the awful ear,
Then Nature's voice no more is drowned,
She speaks, and we must hear.
Then pours she on the Christian heart
That warning still and deep,
At which high spirits of old would start
E'en from their Pagan sleep.
Just guessing, through their murky blind
Few, faint, and baffling sight,
Streaks of a brighter heaven behind,
A cloudless depth of light.
Such thoughts, the wreck of Paradise,
Through many a dreary age,
Upbore whate'er of good and wise
Yet lived in bard or sage:
They marked what agonizing throes
Shook the great mother's womb:
But Reason's spells might not disclose
The gracious birth to come:
Nor could the enchantress Hope forecast
God's secret love and power;
The travail pangs of Earth must last
Till her appointed hour.
The hour that saw from opening heaven
Redeeming glory stream,
Beyond the summer hues of even,
Beyond the mid-day beam.
Thenceforth, to eyes of high desire,
The meanest thing below,
As with a seraph's robe of fire
Invested, burn and glow:
The rod of Heaven has touched them all,
The word from Heaven is spoken:
"Rise, shine, and sing, thou captive thrall;
Are not thy fetters broken?
"The God Who hallowed thee and blest,
Pronouncing thee all good -
Hath He not all thy wrongs redrest,
And all thy bliss renewed?
"Why mourn'st thou still as one bereft,
Now that th' eternal Son
His blessed home in Heaven hath left
To make thee all His own?"
Thou mourn'st because sin lingers still
In Christ's new heaven and earth;
Because our rebel works and will
Stain our immortal birth:
Because, as Love and Prayer grow cold,
The Saviour hides His face,
And worldlings blot the temple's gold
With uses vile and base.
Hence all thy groans and travail pains,
Hence, till thy God return,
In Wisdom's ear thy blithest strains,
Oh Nature, seem to mourn.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the
night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word I will let
down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great
multitude of fishes: and their net brake. St. Luke v. 5, 6.
"The livelong night we've toiled in vain,
But at Thy gracious word
I will let down the net again:-
Do Thou Thy will, O Lord!"
So spake the weary fisher, spent
With bootless darkling toil,
Yet on his Master's bidding bent
For love and not for spoil.
So day by day and week by week,
In sad and weary thought,
They muse, whom God hath set to seek
The souls His Christ hath bought.
For not upon a tranquil lake
Our pleasant task we ply,
Where all along our glistening wake
The softest moonbeams lie;
Where rippling wave and dashing oar
Our midnight chant attend,
Or whispering palm-leaves from the shore
With midnight silence blend.
Sweet thoughts of peace, ye may not last:
Too soon some ruder sound
Calls us from where ye soar so fast
Back to our earthly round.
For wildest storms our ocean sweep:-
No anchor but the Cross
Might hold: and oft the thankless deep
Turns all our toil to loss.
Full many a dreary anxious hour
We watch our nets alone
In drenching spray, and driving shower,
And hear the night-bird's moan:
At morn we look, and nought is there;
Sad dawn of cheerless day!
Who then from pining and despair
The sickening heart can stay?
There is a stay--and we are strong;
Our Master is at hand,
To cheer our solitary song,
And guide us to the strand.
In His own time; but yet a while
Our bark at sea must ride;
Cast after cast, by force or guile
All waters must be tried:
By blameless guile or gentle force,
As when He deigned to teach
(The lode-star of our Christian course)
Upon this sacred beach.
Should e'er thy wonder-working grace
Triumph by our weak arm,
Let not our sinful fancy trace
Aught human in the charm:
To our own nets ne'er bow we down,
Lest on the eternal shore
The angels, while oar draught they own,
Reject us evermore:
Or, if for our unworthiness
Toil, prayer, and watching fail,
In disappointment Thou canst bless,
So love at heart prevail.
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan
said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt
not die. 2 Samuel xii. 13.
When bitter thoughts, of conscience born,
With sinners wake at morn,
When from our restless couch we start,
With fevered lips and withered heart,
Where is the spell to charm those mists away,
And make new morning in that darksome day?
One draught of spring's delicious air,
One steadfast thought, that GOD is there.
These are Thy wonders, hourly wrought,
Thou Lord of time and thought,
Lifting and lowering souls at will,
Crowding a world of good or ill
Into a moment's vision; e'en as light
Mounts o'er a cloudy ridge, and all is bright,
From west to east one thrilling ray
Turning a wintry world to May.
Would'st thou the pangs of guilt assuage?
Lo! here an open page,
Where heavenly mercy shines as free
Written in balm, sad heart, for thee.
Never so fast, in silent April shower,
Flushed into green the dry and leafless bower,
As Israel's crowned mourner felt
The dull hard stone within him melt.
The absolver saw the mighty grief,
And hastened with relief; -
"The Lord forgives; thou shalt not die:"
'Twas gently spoke, yet heard on high,
And all the band of angels, used to sing
In heaven, accordant to his raptured string,
Who many a month had turned away
With veiled eyes, nor owned his lay,
Now spread their wings, and throng around
To the glad mournful sound,
And welcome, with bright open face,
The broken heart to love's embrace.
The rock is smitten, and to future years
Springs ever fresh the tide of holy tears
And holy music, whispering peace
Till time and sin together cease.
There drink: and when ye are at rest,
With that free Spirit blest,
Who to the contrite can dispense,
The princely heart of innocence,
If ever, floating from faint earthly lyre,
Was wafted to your soul one high desire,
By all the trembling hope ye feel,
Think on the minstrel as ye kneel:
Think on the shame, that dreadful hour
When tears shall have no power,
Should his own lay th' accuser prove,
Cold while he kindled others' love:
And let your prayer for charity arise,
That his own heart may hear his melodies,
And a true voice to him may cry,
"Thy GOD forgives--thou shalt not die."
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the
wilderness? St. Mark viii. 4.
Go not away, thou weary soul:
Heaven has in store a precious dole
Here on Bethsaida's cold and darksome height,
Where over rocks and sands arise
Proud Sirion in the northern skies,
And Tabor's lonely peak, 'twixt thee and noonday light.
And far below, Gennesaret's main
Spreads many a mile of liquid plain,
(Though all seem gathered in one eager bound,)
Then narrowing cleaves you palmy lea,
Towards that deep sulphureous sea,
Where five proud cities lie, by one dire sentence drowned.
Landscape of fear! yet, weary heart,
Thou need'st not in thy gloom depart,
Nor fainting turn to seek thy distant home:
Sweetly thy sickening throbs are eyed
By the kind Saviour at thy side;
For healing and for balm e'en now thine hour is come.
No fiery wing is seen to glide,
No cates ambrosial are supplied,
But one poor fisher's rude and scanty store
Is all He asks (and more than needs)
Who men and angels daily feeds,
And stills the wailing sea-bird on the hungry shore.
The feast is o'er, the guests are gone,
And over all that upland lone
The breeze of eve sweeps wildly as of old -
But far unlike the former dreams,
The heart's sweet moonlight softly gleams
Upon life's varied view, so joyless erst and cold.
As mountain travellers in the night,
When heaven by fits is dark and bright,
Pause listening on the silent heath, and hear
Nor trampling hoof nor tinkling bell,
Then bolder scale the rugged fell,
Conscious the more of One, ne'er seen, yet ever near:
So when the tones of rapture gay
On the lorn ear, die quite away,
The lonely world seems lifted nearer heaven;
Seen daily, yet unmarked before,
Earth's common paths are strewn all o'er
With flowers of pensive hope, the wreath of man forgiven.
The low sweet tones of Nature's lyre
No more on listless ears expire,
Nor vainly smiles along the shady way
The primrose in her vernal nest,
Nor unlamented sink to rest
Sweet roses one by one, nor autumn leaves decay.
There's not a star the heaven can show,
There's not a cottage-hearth below,
But feeds with solace kind the willing soul -
Men love us, or they need our love;
Freely they own, or heedless prove
The curse of lawless hearts, the joy of self-control.
Then rouse thee from desponding sleep,
Nor by the wayside lingering weep,
Nor fear to seek Him farther in the wild,
Whose love can turn earth's worst and least
Into a conqueror's royal feast:
Thou wilt not be untrue, thou shalt not be beguiled.
EIGHT SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the
Lord. 1 King xiii. 26.
Prophet of God, arise and take
With thee the words of wrath divine,
The scourge of Heaven, to shake
O'er yon apostate shrine.
Where Angels down the lucid stair
Came hovering to our sainted sires
Now, in the twilight, glare
The heathen's wizard fires.
Go, with thy voice the altar rend,
Scatter the ashes, be the arm,
That idols would befriend,
Shrunk at thy withering charm.
Then turn thee, for thy time is short,
But trace not o'er the former way,
Lest idol pleasures court
Thy heedless soul astray.
Thou know'st how hard to hurry by,
Where on the lonely woodland road
Beneath the moonlight sky
The festal warblings flowed;
Where maidens to the Queen of Heaven
Wove the gay dance round oak or palm,
Or breathed their vows at even
In hymns as soft as balm.
Or thee, perchance, a darker spell
Enthralls: the smooth stones of the flood,
By mountain grot or fell,
Pollute with infant's blood;
The giant altar on the rock,
The cavern whence the timbrel's call
Affrights the wandering flock:-
Thou long'st to search them all.
Trust not the dangerous path again -
O forward step and lingering will!
O loved and warned in vain!
And wilt thou perish still?
Thy message given, thine home in sight,
To the forbidden feast return?
Yield to the false delight
Thy better soul could spurn?
Alas, my brother! round thy tomb
In sorrow kneeling, and in fear,
We read the Pastor's doom
Who speaks and will not hear.
The grey-haired saint may fail at last,
The surest guide a wanderer prove;
Death only binds us fast
To the bright shore of love.
NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire:
and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings xix. 12.
In troublous days of anguish and rebuke,
While sadly round them Israel's children look,
And their eyes fail for waiting on their Lord:
While underneath each awful arch of green,
On every mountain-top, God's chosen scene,
Of pure heart-worship, Baal is adored:
'Tis well, true hearts should for a time retire
To holy ground, in quiet to aspire
Towards promised regions of serener grace;
On Horeb, with Elijah, let us lie,
Where all around on mountain, sand, and sky,
God's chariot wheels have left distinctest trace;
There, if in jealousy and strong disdain
We to the sinner's God of sin complain,
Untimely seeking here the peace of Heaven -
"It is enough. O Lord! now let me die
E'en as my fathers did: for what am I
That I should stand where they have vainly striven?" -
Perhaps our God may of our conscience ask,
"What doest thou here frail wanderer from thy task?
Where hast thou left those few sheep in the wild?"
Then should we plead our heart's consuming pain,
At sight of ruined altars, prophets slain,
And God's own ark with blood of souls defiled;
He on the rock may bid us stand, and see
The outskirts of His march of mystery,
His endless warfare with man's wilful heart;
First, His great Power He to the sinner shows
Lo! at His angry blast the rocks unclose,
And to their base the trembling mountains part
Yet the Lord is not here: 'Tis not by Power
He will be known--but darker tempests lower;
Still, sullen heavings vex the labouring ground:
Perhaps His Presence thro' all depth and height,
Best of all gems that deck His crown of light,
The haughty eye may dazzle and confound.
God is not in the earthquake; but behold
From Sinai's caves are bursting, as of old,
The flames of His consuming jealous ire.
Woe to the sinner should stern Justice prove
His chosen attribute;--but He in love
Hastes to proclaim, "God is not in the fire."
The storm is o'er--and hark! a still small voice
Steals on the ear, to say, Jehovah's choice
Is ever with the soft, meek, tender soul;
By soft, meek, tender ways He loves to draw
The sinner, startled by His ways of awe:
Here is our Lord, and not where thunders roll.
Back, then, complainer; loath thy life no more,
Nor deem thyself upon a desert shore,
Because the rocks the nearer prospect close.
Yet in fallen Israel are there hearts and eyes
That day by day in prayer like thine arise;
Thou know'st them not, but their Creator knows.
Go, to the world return, nor fear to cast
Thy bread upon the waters, sure at last
In joy to find it after many days.
The work be thine, the fruit thy children's part:
Choose to believe, not see: sight tempts the heart
From sober walking in true Gospel ways.
TENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it.
St. Luke xix. 41.
Why doth my Saviour weep
At sight of Sion's bowers?
Shows it not fair from yonder steep,
Her gorgeous crown of towers?
Mark well His holy pains:
'Tis not in pride or scorn,
That Israel's King with sorrow stains
His own triumphal morn.
It is not that His soul
Is wandering sadly on,
In thought how soon at death's dark goal
Their course will all be run,
Who now are shouting round
Hosanna to their chief;
No thought like this in Him is found,
This were a Conquerer's grief.
Or doth He feel the Cross
Already in His heart,
The pain, the shame, the scorn, the loss?
Feel e'en His God depart?
No: though He knew full well
The grief that then shall be -
The grief that angels cannot tell -
Our God in agony.
It is not thus He mourns;
Such might be martyr's tears,
When his last lingering look he turns
On human hopes and fears;
But hero ne'er or saint
The secret load might know,
With which His spirit waxeth faint;
His is a Saviour's woe.
"If thou had'st known, e'en thou,
At least in this thy day,
The message of thy peace! but now
'Tis passed for aye away:
Now foes shall trench thee round,
And lay thee even with earth,
And dash thy children to the ground,
Thy glory and thy mirth."
And doth the Saviour weep
Over His people's sin,
Because we will not let Him keep
The souls He died to win?
Ye hearts, that love the Lord,
If at this, sight ye burn,
See that in thought, in deed, in word,
Ye hate what made Him mourn.
ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and
oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants,
and maidservants? 2 Kings v. 26.
Is this a time to plant and build,
Add house to house, and field to field,
When round our walls the battle lowers,
When mines are hid beneath our towers,
And watchful foes are stealing round
To search and spoil the holy ground?
Is this a time for moonlight dreams
Of love and home by mazy streams,
For Fancy with her shadowy toys,
Aerial hopes and pensive joys,
While souls are wandering far and wide,
And curses swarm on every side?
No--rather steel thy melting heart
To act the martyr's sternest part,
To watch, with firm unshrinking eye,
Thy darling visions as thy die,
Till all bright hopes, and hues of day,
Have faded into twilight gray.
Yes--let them pass without a sigh,
And if the world seem dull and dry,
If long and sad thy lonely hours,
And winds have rent thy sheltering bowers,
Bethink thee what thou art and where,
A sinner in a life of care.
The fire of God is soon to fall
(Thou know'st it) on this earthly ball;
Full many a soul, the price of blood,
Marked by th' Almighty's hand for good,
To utter death that hour shall sweep -
And will the saints in Heaven dare weep?
Then in His wrath shall GOD uproot
The trees He set, for lack of fruit,
And drown in rude tempestuous blaze
The towers His hand had deigned to raise;
In silence, ere that storm begin,
Count o'er His mercies and thy sin.
Pray only that thine aching heart,
From visions vain content to part,
Strong for Love's sake its woe to hide
May cheerful wait the Cross beside,
Too happy if, that dreadful day,
Thy life be given thee for a prey.
Snatched sudden from th' avenging rod,
Safe in the bosom of thy GOD,
How wilt thou then look back, and smile
On thoughts that bitterest seemed erewhile,
And bless the pangs that made thee see
This was no world of rest for thee!
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
And looking up to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha,
that is, Be opened. St. Mark vii. 34.
The Son of God in doing good
Was fain to look to Heaven and sigh:
And shall the heirs of sinful blood
Seek joy unmixed in charity?
God will not let Love's work impart
Full solace, lest it steal the heart;
Be thou content in tears to sow,
Blessing, like Jesus, in thy woe:
He looked to Heaven, and sadly sighed -
What saw my gracious Saviour there,
"With fear and anguish to divide
The joy of Heaven-accepted prayer?
So o'er the bed where Lazarus slept
He to His Father groaned and wept:
What saw He mournful in that grave,
Knowing Himself so strong to save?"
O'erwhelming thoughts of pain and grief
Over His sinking spirit sweep; -
What boots it gathering one lost leaf
Out of yon sere and withered heap,
Where souls and bodies, hopes and joys,
All that earth owns or sin destroys,
Under the spurning hoof are cast,
Or tossing in th' autumnal blast?
The deaf may hear the Saviour's voice,
The fettered tongue its chain may break;
But the deaf heart, the dumb by choice,
The laggard soul, that will not wake,
The guilt that scorns to be forgiven; -
These baffle e'en the spells of Heaven;
In thought of these, His brows benign
Not e'en in healing cloudless shine.
No eye but His might ever bear
To gaze all down that drear abyss,
Because none ever saw so clear
The shore beyond of endless bliss:
The giddy waves so restless hurled,
The vexed pulse of this feverish world,
He views and counts with steady sight,
Used to behold the Infinite.
But that in such communion high
He hath a fount of strength within,
Sure His meek heart would break and die,
O'erburthened by His brethren's sin;
Weak eyes on darkness dare not gaze,
It dazzles like the noonday blaze;
But He who sees God's face may brook
On the true face of Sin to look.
What then shall wretched sinners do,
When in their last, their hopeless day,
Sin, as it is, shall meet their view,
God turn His face for aye away?
Lord, by Thy sad and earnest eye,
When Thou didst look to Heaven and sigh:
Thy voice, that with a word could chase
The dumb, deaf spirit from his place;
As Thou hast touched our ears, and taught
Our tongues to speak Thy praises plain,
Quell Thou each thankless godless thought
That would make fast our bonds again.
From worldly strife, from mirth unblest,
Drowning Thy music in the breast,
From foul reproach, from thrilling fears,
Preserve, good Lord, Thy servants' ears.
From idle words, that restless throng
And haunt our hearts when we would pray,
From Pride's false chime, and jarring wrong,
Seal Thou my lips, and guard the way:
For Thou hast sworn, that every ear,
Willing or loth, Thy trump shall hear,
And every tongue unchained be
To own no hope, no God, but Thee.
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
And He turned Him onto His disciples, and said privately, Blessed
are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you,
that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which
ye see, and have not seen them: and to hear those things which ye
hear, and have not heard them. St. Luke x. 23, 24.
On Sinai's top, in prayer and trance,
Full forty nights and forty days
The Prophet watched for one dear glance
Of thee and of Thy ways:
Fasting he watched and all alone,
Wrapt in a still, dark, solid cloud,
The curtain of the Holy One
Drawn round him like a shroud:
So, separate from the world, his breast
Might duly take and strongly keep
The print of Heaven, to be expressed
Ere long on Sion's steep.
There one by one his spirit saw
Of things divine the shadows bright,
The pageant of God's perfect law;
Yet felt not full delight.
Through gold and gems, a dazzling maze,
From veil to veil the vision led,
And ended, where unearthly rays
From o'er the ark were shed.
Yet not that gorgeous place, nor aught
Of human or angelic frame,
Could half appease his craving thought;
The void was still the same.
"Show me Thy glory, gracious Lord!
'Tis Thee," he cries, "not Thine, I seek."
Na, start not at so bold a word
From man, frail worm and weak:
The spark of his first deathless fire
Yet buoys him up, and high above
The holiest creature, dares aspire
To the Creator's love.
The eye in smiles may wander round,
Caught by earth's shadows as they fleet;
But for the soul no help is found,
Save Him who made it, meet.
Spite of yourselves, ye witness this,
Who blindly self or sense adore;
Else wherefore leaving your own bliss
Still restless ask ye more?
This witness bore the saints of old
When highest rapt and favoured most,
Still seeking precious things untold,
Not in fruition lost.
Canaan was theirs; and in it all
The proudest hope of kings dare claim:
Sion was theirs; and at their call
Fire from Jehovah came.
Yet monarchs walked as pilgrims still
In their own land, earth's pride and grace:
And seers would mourn on Sion's hill
Their Lord's averted face.
Vainly they tried the deeps to sound
E'en of their own prophetic thought,
When of Christ crucified and crowned
His Spirit in them taught:
But He their aching gaze repressed,
Which sought behind the veil to see,
For not without us fully blest
Or perfect might they be.
The rays of the Almighty's face
No sinner's eye might then receive;
Only the meekest man found grace
To see His skirts and live.
But we as in a glass espy
The glory of His countenance,
Not in a whirlwind hurrying by
The too presumptuous glance,
But with mild radiance every hour,
From our dear Saviour's face benign
Bent on us with transforming power,
Till we, too, faintly shine.
Sprinkled with His atoning blood
Safely before our God we stand,
As on the rock the Prophet stood,
Beneath His shadowing hand. -
Blessed eyes, which see the things we see!
And yet this tree of life hath proved
To many a soul a poison tree,
Beheld, and not beloved.
So like an angel's is our bliss
(Oh! thought to comfort and appal)
It needs must bring, if used amiss,
An angel's hopeless fall.
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where
are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to
God, save this stranger. St. Luke xvii. 17, 18.
Ten cleansed, and only one remain!
Who would have thought our nature's stain
Was dyed so foul, so deep in grain?
E'en He who reads the heart -
Knows what He gave and what we lost,
Sin's forfeit, and redemption's cost, -
By a short pang of wonder crossed
Seems at the sight to start:
Yet 'twas not wonder, but His love
Our wavering spirits would reprove,
That heavenward seem so free to move
When earth can yield no more
Then from afar on God we cry,
But should the mist of woe roll by,
Not showers across an April sky
Drift, when the storm is o'er,
Faster than those false drops and few
Fleet from the heart, a worthless dew.
What sadder scene can angels view
Than self-deceiving tears,
Poured idly over some dark page
Of earlier life, though pride or rage,
The record of to-day engage,
A woe for future years?
Spirits, that round the sick man's bed
Watched, noting down each prayer he made,
Were your unerring roll displayed,
His pride of health to abase;
Or, when, soft showers in season fall
Answering a famished nation's call,
Should unseen fingers on the wall
Our vows forgotten trace:
How should we gaze in trance of fear!
Yet shines the light as thrilling clear
From Heaven upon that scroll severe,
"Ten cleansed and one remain!"
Nor surer would the blessing prove
Of humbled hearts, that own Thy love,
Should choral welcome from above
Visit our senses plain:
Than by Thy placid voice and brow,
With healing first, with comfort now,
Turned upon him, who hastes to bow
Before Thee, heart and knee;
"Oh! thou, who only wouldst be blest,
On thee alone My blessing rest!
Rise, go thy way in peace, possessed
For evermore of Me."
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. St. Matthew, vi.
Sweet nurslings of the vernal skies,
Bathed in soft airs, and fed with dew,
What more than magic in you lies,
To fill the heart's fond view?
In childhood's sports, companions gay,
In sorrow, on Life's downward way,
How soothing! in our last decay
Memorials prompt and true.
Relics ye are of Eden's bowers,
As pure, as fragrant, and as fair,
As when ye crowned the sunshine hours
Of happy wanderers there.
Fall'n all beside--the world of life,
How is it stained with fear and strife!
In Reason's world what storms are rife,
What passions range and glare!
But cheerful and unchanged the while
Your first and perfect form ye show,
The same that won Eve's matron smile
In the world's opening glow.
The stars of heaven a course are taught
Too high above our human thought:
Ye may be found if ye are sought,
And as we gaze, we know.
Ye dwell beside our paths and homes,
Our paths of sin, our homes of sorrow,
And guilty man where'er he roams,
Your innocent mirth may borrow.
The birds of air before us fleet,
They cannot brook our shame to meet -
But we may taste your solace sweet
And come again to-morrow.
Ye fearless in your nests abide -
Nor may we scorn, too proudly wise,
Your silent lessons, undescried
By all but lowly eyes:
For ye could draw th' admiring gaze
Of Him who worlds and hearts surveys:
Your order wild, your fragrant maze,
He taught us how to prize.
Ye felt your Maker's smile that hour,
As when He paused and owned you good;
His blessing on earth's primal bower,
Ye felt it all renewed.
What care ye now, if winter's storm
Sweep ruthless o'er each silken form?
Christ's blessing at your heart is warm,
Ye fear no vexing mood.
Alas! of thousand bosoms kind,
That daily court you and caress,
How few the happy secret find
Of your calm loveliness!
"Live for to-day! to-morrow's light
To-morrow's cares shall bring to sight,
Go sleep like closing flowers at night,
And Heaven thy morn will bless."
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is
your glory. Ephesians iii. 13.
Wish not, dear friends, my pain away -
Wish me a wise and thankful heart,
With GOD, in all my griefs, to stay,
Nor from His loved correction start.
The dearest offering He can crave
His portion in our souls to prove,
What is it to the gift He gave,
The only Son of His dear love?
But we, like vexed unquiet sprights,
Will still be hovering o'er the tomb,
Where buried lie our vain delights,
Nor sweetly take a sinner's doom.
In Life's long sickness evermore
Our thoughts are tossing to and fro:
We change our posture o'er and o'er,
But cannot rest, nor cheat our woe.
Were it not better to lie still,
Let Him strike home and bless the rod,
Never so safe as when our will
Yields undiscerned by all but God?
Thy precious things, whate'er they be,
That haunt and vex thee, heart and brain,
Look to the Cross and thou shalt see
How thou mayst turn them all to gain.
Lovest thou praise? the Cross is shame:
Or ease? the Cross is bitter grief:
More pangs than tongue or heart can frame
Were suffered there without relief.
We of that Altar would partake,
But cannot quit the cost--no throne
Is ours, to leave for Thy dear sake -
We cannot do as Thou hast done.
We cannot part with Heaven for Thee -
Yet guide us in Thy track of love:
Let us gaze on where light should be,
Though not a beam the clouds remove.
So wanderers ever fond and true
Look homeward through the evening sky,
Without a streak of heaven's soft blue
To aid Affection's dreaming eye.
The wanderer seeks his native bower,
And we will look and long for Thee,
And thank Thee for each trying hour,
Wishing, not struggling, to be free.
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his
heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his
face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that
cometh according to the multitude of his idols. Ezekiel xiv. 4.
Stately thy walls, and holy are the prayers
Which day and night before thine altars rise:
Not statelier, towering o'er her marble stairs,
Flashed Sion's gilded dome to summer skies,
Not holier, while around him angels bowed,
From Aaron's censer steamed the spicy cloud,
Before the mercy-seat. O Mother dear,
Wilt thou forgive thy son one boding sigh?
Forgive, if round thy towers he walk in fear,
And tell thy jewels o'er with jealous eye?
Mindful of that sad vision, which in thought
From Chebar's plains the captive prophet brought.
To see lost Sion's shame. 'Twas morning prime,
And like a Queen new seated on her throne,
GOD'S crowned mountain, as in happier time,
Seemed to rejoice in sunshine all her own:
So bright, while all in shade around her lay,
Her northern pinnacles had caught th' emerging ray.
The dazzling lines of her majestic roof
Crossed with as free a span the vault of heaven,
As when twelve tribes knelt silently aloof
Ere GOD His answer to their king had given,
Ere yet upon the new-built altar fell
The glory of the LORD, the Lord of Israel.
All seems the same: but enter in and see
What idol shapes are on the wall portrayed:
And watch their shameless and unholy glee,
Who worship there in Aaron's robes arrayed:
Hear Judah's maids the dirge to Thammuz pour,
And mark her chiefs yon orient sun adore.
Yet turn thee, son of man--for worse than these
Thou must behold: thy loathing were but lost
On dead men's crimes, and Jews' idolatries -
Come, learn to tell aright thine own sins' cost, -
And sure their sin as far from equals thine,
As earthly hopes abused are less than hopes divine.
What if within His world, His Church, our LORD
Have entered thee, as in some temple gate,
Where, looking round, each glance might thee afford
Some glorious earnest of thine high estate,
And thou, false heart and frail, hast turned from all
To worship pleasure's shadow on the wall?
If, when the LORD of Glory was in sight,
Thou turn thy back upon that fountain clear,
To bow before the "little drop of light,"
Which dim-eyed men call praise and glory here;
What dost thou, but adore the sun, and scorn
Him at whose only word both sun and stars were born?
If, while around thee gales from Eden breathe,
Thou hide thine eyes, to make thy peevish moan
Over some broken reed of earth beneath,
Some darling of blind fancy dead and gone,
As wisely might'st thou in JEHOVAH'S fane
Offer thy love and tears to Thammuz slain.
Turn thee from these, or dare not to inquire
Of Him whose name is Jealous, lest in wrath
He hear and answer thine unblest desire:
Far better we should cross His lightning's path
Than be according to our idols beard,
And God should take us at our own vain word.
Thou who hast deigned the Christian's heart to call
Thy Church and Shrine; whene'er our rebel will
Would in that chosen home of Thine instal
Belial or Mammon, grant us not the ill
We blindly ask; in very love refuse
Whate'er Thou knowest our weakness would abuse.
Or rather help us, LORD, to choose the good,
To pray for nought, to seek to none, but Thee,
Nor by "our daily bread" mean common food,
Nor say, "From this world's evil set us free;"
Teach us to love, with CHRIST, our sole true bliss,
Else, though in CHRIST'S own words, we surely pray amiss.
EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will
I plead with you face to face. Like as pleaded with your fathers
in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you,
saith the Lord God. Ezekiel xx. 35, 36.
It is so--ope thine eyes, and see -
What viewest thou all around?
A desert, where iniquity
And knowledge both abound.
In the waste howling wilderness
The Church is wandering still,
Because we would not onward press
When close to Sion's hill.
Back to the world we faithless turned,
And far along the wild,
With labour lost and sorrow earned,
Our steps have been beguiled.
Yet full before us, all the while,
The shadowing pillar stays,
The living waters brightly smile,
The eternal turrets blaze,
Yet Heaven is raining angels' bread
To be our daily food,
And fresh, as when it first was shed,
Springs forth the SAVIOUR'S blood.
From every region, race, and speech,
Believing myriads throng,
Till, far as sin and sorrow reach,
Thy grace is spread along;
Till sweetest nature, brightest art,
Their votive incense bring,
And every voice and every heart
Own Thee their God and King.
All own; but few, alas! will love;
Too like the recreant band
That with Thy patient spirit strove
Upon the Red-sea strand.
O Father of long-suffering grace,
Thou who hast sworn to stay
Pleading with sinners face to face
Through all their devious way:
How shall we speak to Thee, O LORD,
Or how in silence lie?
Look on us, and we are abhorred,
Turn from us, and we die.
Thy guardian fire, Thy guiding cloud,
Still let them gild our wall,
Nor be our foes and Thine allowed
To see us faint and fall.
Too oft, within this camp of Thine,
Rebellions murmurs rise;
Sin cannot bear to see Thee shine
So awful to her eyes.
Fain would our lawless hearts escape,
And with the heathen be,
To worship every monstrous shape
In fancied darkness free.
Vain thought, that shall not be at all!
Refuse we or obey,
Our ears have heard the Almighty's call,
We cannot be as they.
We cannot hope the heathen's doom
To whom GOD'S Son is given,
Whose eyes have seen beyond the tomb,
Who have the key of Heaven.
Weak tremblers on the edge of woe,
Yet shrinking from true bliss,
Our rest must be "no rest below,"
And let our prayer be this:
"LORD, wave again Thy chastening rod,
Till every idol throne
Crumble to dust, and Thou, O GOD,
Reign in our hearts alone.
"Bring all our wandering fancies home,
For Thou hast every spell,
And 'mid the heathen where they roam,
Thou knowest, LORD, too well.
"Thou know'st our service sad and hard,
Thou know'st us fond and frail;
Win us to be loved and spared
When all the world shall fail.
"So when at last our weary days
Are well-nigh wasted here,
And we can trace Thy wondrous ways
In distance calm and clear,
"When in Thy love and Israel's sin
We read our story true,
We may not, all too late, begin
To wish our hopes were new.
"Long loved, long tried, long spared as they,
Unlike in this alone,
That, by Thy grace, our hearts shall stay
For evermore Thine own."
NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste,
and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men
bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the
king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men
loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and
the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Daniel iii. 24, 25.
When Persecution's torrent blaze
Wraps the unshrinking Martyr's head;
When fade all earthly flowers and bays,
When summer friends are gone and fled,
Is he alone in that dark hour
Who owns the Lord of love and power?
Or waves there not around his brow
A wand no human arm may wield,
Fraught with a spell no angels know,
His steps to guide, his soul to shield?
Thou, Saviour, art his Charmed Bower,
His Magic Ring, his Rock, his Tower.
And when the wicked ones behold
Thy favourites walking in Thy light,
Just as, in fancy triumph bold,
They deemed them lost in deadly night,
Amazed they cry, "What spell is this,
Which turns their sufferings all to bliss?
"How are they free whom we had bound?
Upright, whom in the gulf we cast?
What wondrous helper have they found
To screen them from the scorching blast?
Three were they--who hath made them four?
And sure a form divine he wore,
"E'en like the Son of God." So cried
The Tyrant, when in one fierce flame
The Martyrs lived, the murderers died:
Yet knew he not what angel came
To make the rushing fire-flood seem
Like summer breeze by woodland stream.
He knew not, but there are who know:
The Matron, who alone hath stood,
When not a prop seemed left below,
The first lorn hour of widowhood,
Yet cheered and cheering all, the while,
With sad but unaffected smile; -
The Father, who his vigil keeps
By the sad couch whence hope hath flown,
Watching the eye where reason sleeps,
Yet in his heart can mercy own,
Still sweetly yielding to the rod,
Still loving man, still thanking GOD; -
The Christian Pastor, bowed to earth
With thankless toil, and vile esteemed,
Still travailing in second birth
Of souls that will not be redeemed:
Yet stedfast set to do his part,
And fearing most his own vain heart; -
These know: on these look long and well,
Cleansing thy sight by prayer and faith,
And thou shalt know what secret spell
Preserves them in their living death:
Through sevenfold flames thine eye shall see
The Saviour walking with His faithful Three.
TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy, and ye strong
foundations of the earth. Micah vi. 2.
Where is Thy favoured haunt, eternal Voice,
The region of Thy choice,
Where, undisturbed by sin and earth, the soul
Owns Thy entire control? -
'Tis on the mountain's summit dark and high,
When storms are hurrying by:
'Tis 'mid the strong foundations of the earth,
Where torrents have their birth.
No sounds of worldly toil ascending there,
Mar the full burst of prayer;
Lone Nature feels that she may freely breathe,
And round us and beneath
Are heard her sacred tones: the fitful sweep
Of winds across the steep
Through withered bents--romantic note and clear,
Meet for a hermit's ear, -
The wheeling kite's wild solitary cry,
And, scarcely heard so high,
The dashing waters when the air is still
From many a torrent rill
That winds unseen beneath the shaggy fell,
Tracked by the blue mist well:
Such sounds as make deep silence in the heart
For Thought to do her part.
'Tis then we hear the voice of GOD within,
Pleading with care and sin:
"Child of My love! how have I wearied thee?
Why wilt thou err from Me?
Have I not brought thee from the house of slaves,
Parted the drowning waves,
And set My saints before thee in the way,
Lest thou shouldst faint or stray?
"What! was the promise made to thee alone?
Art thou the excepted one?
An heir of glory without grief or pain?
O vision false and vain!
There lies thy cross; beneath it meekly bow;
It fits thy stature now:
Who scornful pass it with averted eye,
'Twill crush them by-and-by.
"Raise thy repining eyes, and take true measure
Of thine eternal treasure;
The Father of thy Lord can grudge thee nought,
The world for thee was bought;
And as this landscape broad--earth, sea, and sky, -
All centres in thine eye,
So all God does, if rightly understood,
Shall work thy final good."
TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will
surely come, it will not tarry. Habakkuk ii. 3.
The morning mist is cleared away,
Yet still the face of Heaven is grey,
Nor yet this autumnal breeze has stirred the grove,
Faded yet full, a paler green
Skirts soberly the tranquil scene,
The red-breast warbles round this leafy cove.
Sweet messenger of "calm decay,"
Saluting sorrow as you may,
As one still bent to find or make the best,
In thee, and in this quiet mead,
The lesson of sweet peace I read,
Rather in all to be resigned than blest.
'Tis a low chant, according well
With the soft solitary knell,
As homeward from some grave beloved we turn,
Or by some holy death-bed dear,
Most welcome to the chastened ear
Of her whom Heaven is teaching how to mourn.
O cheerful tender strain! the heart
That duly bears with you its part,
Singing so thankful to the dreary blast,
Though gone and spent its joyous prime,
And on the world's autumnal time,