Sleep'st Thou indeed? or is Thy spirit fled, At large among the dead? Whether in Eden bowers Thy welcome voice Wake Abraham to rejoice, Or in some drearier scene Thine eye controls The thronging band of souls; That, as Thy blood won earth, Thine agony Might set the shadowy realm from sin and sorrow free.
Where'er Thou roam'st, one happy soul, we know, Seen at Thy side in woe, Waits on Thy triumphs—even as all the blest With him and Thee shall rest. Each on his cross; by Thee we hang a while, Watching Thy patient smile, Till we have learned to say, "'Tis justly done, Only in glory, LORD, Thy sinful servant own."
Soon wilt Thou take us to Thy tranquil bower To rest one little hour, Till Thine elect are numbered, and the grave Call Thee to come and save: Then on Thy bosom borne shall we descend Again with earth to blend, Earth all refined with bright supernal fires, Tinctured with holy blood, and winged with pure desires.
Meanwhile with every son and saint of Thine Along the glorious line, Sitting by turns beneath Thy sacred feet We'll hold communion sweet, Know them by look and voice, and thank them all For helping us in thrall, For words of hope, and bright examples given To show through moonless skies that there is light in Heaven.
O come that day, when in this restless heart Earth shall resign her part, When in the grave with Thee my limbs shall rest, My soul with Thee be blest! But stay, presumptuous—CHRIST with Thee abides In the rock's dreary sides: He from this stone will wring Celestial dew If but this prisoner's heart he faithful found and true.
When tears are spent, and then art left alone With ghosts of blessings gone, Think thou art taken from the cross, and laid In JESUS' burial shade; Take Moses' rod, the rod of prayer, and call Out of the rocky wall The fount of holy blood; and lift on high Thy grovelling soul that feels so desolate and dry.
Prisoner of Hope thou art—look up and sing In hope of promised spring. As in the pit his father's darling lay Beside the desert way, And knew not how, but knew his GOD would save E'en from that living grave, So, buried with our LORD, we'll chose our eyes To the decaying world, till Angels bid us rise.
And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen. St. Luke xxiv. 5, 6.
Oh! day of days! shall hearts set free No "minstrel rapture" find for thee? Thou art this Sun of other days, They shine by giving back thy rays:
Enthroned in thy sovereign sphere, Thou shedd'st thy light on all the year; Sundays by thee more glorious break, An Easter Day in every week:
And week days, following in their train, The fulness of thy blessing gain, Till all, both resting soil employ, Be one Lord's day of holy joy.
Then wake, my soul, to high desires, And earlier light thine altar fires: The World some hours is on her way, Nor thinks on thee, thou blessed day:
Or, if she think, it is in scorn: The vernal light of Easter morn To her dark gaze no brighter seems Than Reason's or the Law's pale beams.
"Where is your Lord?" she scornful asks: "Where is His hire? we know his tasks; Sons of a King ye boast to be: Let us your crowns and treasures see."
We in the words of Truth reply, (An angel brought them from this sky,) "Our crown, our treasure is not here, 'Tis stored above the highest sphere:
"Methinks your wisdom guides amiss, To seek on earth a Christian's bliss; We watch not now the lifeless stone; Our only Lord is risen and gone."
Yet e'en the lifeless stone is dear For thoughts of Him who late lay here; And the base world, now Christ hath died, Ennobled is and glorified.
No more a charnel-house, to fence The relics of lost innocence, A vault of ruin and decay; Th' imprisoning stone is rolled away:
'Tis now a cell, where angels use To come and go with heavenly news, And in the ears of mourners say, "Come, see the place where Jesus lay:"
'Tis now a fane, where Love can find Christ everywhere embalmed and shined: Aye gathering up memorials sweet, Where'er she sets her duteous feet.
Oh! joy to Mary first allowed, When roused from weeping o'er His shroud, By His own calm, soul-soothing tone, Breathing her name, as still His own!
Joy to the faithful Three renewed, As their glad errand they pursued! Happy, who so Christ's word convey, That he may meet them on their way!
So is it still: to holy tears, In lonely hours, Christ risen appears: In social hours, who Christ would see Must turn all tasks to Charity.
MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. Acts x. 34, 35.
Go up and watch the new-born rill Just trickling from its mossy bed, Streaking the heath-clad hill With a bright emerald thread.
Canst thou her bold career foretell, What rocks she shall o'erleap or rend, How far in Ocean's swell Her freshening billows send?
Perchance that little brook shall flow The bulwark of some mighty realm, Bear navies to and fro With monarchs at their helm.
Or canst thou guess, how far away Some sister nymph, beside her urn Reclining night and day, 'Mid reeds and mountain fern,
Nurses her store, with thine to blend When many a moor and glen are past, Then in the wide sea end Their spotless lives at last?
E'en so, the course of prayer who knows? It springs in silence where it will, Springs out of sight, and flows At first a lonely rill:
But streams shall meet it by and by From thousand sympathetic hearts, Together swelling high Their chant of many parts.
Unheard by all but angel ears The good Cornelius knelt alone, Nor dreamed his prayers and tears Would help a world undone.
The while upon his terraced roof The loved Apostle to his Lord In silent thought aloof For heavenly vision soared.
Far o'er the glowing western main His wistful brow was upward raised, Where, like an angel's train, The burnished water blazed.
The saint beside the ocean prayed, This soldier in his chosen bower, Where all his eye surveyed Seemed sacred in that hour.
To each unknown his brother's prayer, Yet brethren true in dearest love Were they—and now they share Fraternal joys above.
There daily through Christ's open gate They see the Gentile spirits press, Brightening their high estate With dearer happiness.
What civic wreath for comrades saved Shone ever with such deathless gleam, Or when did perils braved So sweet to veterans seem?
TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring His disciples word. St. Matthew xxviii. 8.
TO THE SNOWDROP.
Thou first-born of the year's delight, Pride of the dewy glade, In vernal green and virgin white, Thy vestal robes, arrayed:
'Tis not because thy drooping form Sinks graceful on its nest, When chilly shades from gathering storm Affright thy tender breast;
Nor for yon river islet wild Beneath the willow spray, Where, like the ringlets of a child, Thou weav'st thy circle gay;
'Tis not for these I love thee dear - Thy shy averted smiles To Fancy bode a joyous year, One of Life's fairy isles.
They twinkle to the wintry moon, And cheer th' ungenial day, And tell us, all will glisten soon As green and bright as they.
Is there a heart that loves the spring, Their witness can refuse? Yet mortals doubt, when angels bring From Heaven their Easter news:
When holy maids and matrons speak Of Christ's forsaken bed, And voices, that forbid to seek The hiving 'mid the dead,
And when they say, "Turn, wandering heart, Thy Lord is ris'n indeed, Let Pleasure go, put Care apart, And to His presence speed;"
We smile in scorn: and yet we know They early sought the tomb, Their hearts, that now so freshly glow, Lost in desponding gloom.
They who have sought, nor hope to find, Wear not so bright a glance: They, who have won their earthly mind, Lees reverently advance.
But where in gentle spirits, fear And joy so duly meet, These sure have seen the angels near, And kissed the Saviour's feet.
Nor let the Pastor's thankful eye Their faltering tale disdain, As on their lowly couch they lie, Prisoners of want and pain.
O guide us, when our faithless hearts From Thee would start aloof, Where Patience her sweet skill imparts Beneath some cottage roof:
Revive our dying fires, to burn High as her anthems soar, And of our scholars let us learn Our own forgotten lore.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself? Numbers xvi. 9.
First Father of the holy seed, If yet, invoked in hour of need, Thou count me for Thine own Not quite an outcast if I prove, (Thou joy'st in miracles of love), Hear, from Thy mercy-throne!
Upon Thine altar's horn of gold Help me to lay my trembling hold, Though stained with Christian gore; - The blood of souls by Thee redeemed, But, while I roved or idly dreamed, Lost to be found no more.
For oft, when summer leaves were bright, And every flower was bathed in light, In sunshine moments past, My wilful heart would burst away From where the holy shadow lay, Where heaven my lot had cast.
I thought it scorn with Thee to dwell, A Hermit in a silent cell, While, gaily sweeping by, Wild Fancy blew his bugle strain, And marshalled all his gallant train In the world's wondering eye.
I would have joined him—but as oft Thy whispered warnings, kind and soft, My better soul confessed. "My servant, let the world alone - Safe on the steps of Jesus' throne Be tranquil and be blest."
"Seems it to thee a niggard hand That nearest Heaven has bade thee stand, The ark to touch and bear, With incense of pure heart's desire To heap the censer's sacred fire, The snow-white Ephod wear?"
Why should we crave the worldling's wreath, On whom the Savour deigned to breathe, To whom His keys were given, Who lead the choir where angels meet, With angels' food our brethren greet, And pour the drink of Heaven?
When sorrow all our heart would ask, We need not shun our daily task, And hide ourselves for calm; The herbs we seek to heal our woe Familiar by our pathway grow, Our common air is balm.
Around each pure domestic shrine Bright flowers of Eden bloom and twine, Our hearths are altars all; The prayers of hungry souls and poor, Like armed angels at the door, Our unseen foes appal.
Alms all around and hymns within - What evil eye can entrance win Where guards like these abound? If chance some heedless heart should roam, Sure, thought of these will lure it home Ere lost in Folly's round.
O joys, that sweetest in decay, Fall not, like withered leaves, away, But with the silent breath Of violets drooping one by one, Soon as their fragrant task is done, Are wafted high in death!
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out at Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children at Sheth. Numbers xxiv. 16, 17.
O for a sculptor's hand, That thou might'st take thy stand, Thy wild hair floating on the eastern breeze, Thy tranced yet open gaze Fixed on the desert haze, As one who deep in heaven some airy pageant sees.
In outline dim and vast Their fearful shadows cast This giant forms of empires on their way To ruin: one by one They tower and they are gone, Yet in the Prophet's soul the dreams of avarice stay.
No sun or star so bright In all the world of light That they should draw to Heaven his downward eye: He hears th' Almighty's word, He sees the angel's sword, Yet low upon the earth his heart and treasure lie.
Lo! from you argent field, To him and us revealed, One gentle Star glides down, on earth to dwell. Chained as they are below Our eyes may see it glow, And as it mounts again, may track its brightness well.
To him it glared afar, A token of wild war, The banner of his Lord's victorious wrath: But close to us it gleams, Its soothing lustre streams Around our home's green walls, and on our church-way path.
We in the tents abide Which he at distance eyed Like goodly cedars by the waters spread, While seven red altar-fires Rose up in wavy spires, Where on the mount he watched his sorceries dark and dread.
He watched till morning's ray On lake and meadow lay, And willow-shaded streams that silent sweep Around the bannered lines, Where by their several signs The desert-wearied tribes in sight of Canaan sleep.
He watched till knowledge came Upon his soul like flame, Not of those magic fires at random caught: But true Prophetic light Flashed o'er him, high and bright, Flashed once, and died away, and left his darkened thought.
And can he choose but fear, Who feels his GOD so near, That when he fain would curse, his powerless tongue In blessing only moves? - Alas! the world he loves Too close around his heart her tangling veil hath flung.
Sceptre and Star divine, Who in Thine inmost shrine Hash made us worshippers, O claim Thine own; More than Thy seers we know - O teach our love to grow Up to Thy heavenly light, and reap what Thou hast sown.
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. St. John xvi. 21.
Well may I guess and feel Why Autumn should be sad; But vernal airs should sorrow heal, Spring should be gay and glad: Yet as along this violet bank I rove, The languid sweetness seems to choke my breath, I sit me down beside the hazel grove, And sigh, and half could wish my weariness were death.
Like a bright veering cloud Grey blossoms twinkle there, Warbles around a busy crowd Of larks in purest air. Shame on the heart that dreams of blessings gone, Or wakes the spectral forms of woe and crime, When nature sings of joy and hope alone, Reading her cheerful lesson in her own sweet time.
Nor let the proud heart say, In her self-torturing hour, The travail pangs must have their way, The aching brow must lower. To us long since the glorious Child is born Our throes should be forgot, or only seem Like a sad vision told for joy at morn, For joy that we have waked and found it but a dream.
Mysterious to all thought A mother's prime of bliss, When to her eager lips is brought Her infant's thrilling kiss. O never shall it set, the sacred light Which dawns that moment on her tender gaze, In the eternal distance blending bright Her darling's hope and hers, for love and joy and praise.
No need for her to weep Like Thracian wives of yore, Save when in rapture still and deep Her thankful heart runs o'er. They mourned to trust their treasure on the main, Sure of the storm, unknowing of their guide: Welcome to her the peril and the pain, For well she knows the bonus where they may safely hide.
She joys that one is born Into a world forgiven, Her Father's household to adorn, And dwell with her in Heaven. So have I seen, in Spring's bewitching hour, When the glad Earth is offering all her best, Some gentle maid bend o'er a cherished flower, And wish it worthier on a Parent's heart to rest.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. St. John xvi 7.
My Saviour, can it ever be That I should gain by losing Thee? The watchful mother tarries nigh, Though sleep have closed her infant's eye; For should he wake, and find her gone. She knows she could not bear his moan. But I am weaker than a child, And Thou art more than mother dear; Without Thee Heaven were but a wild; How can I live without Thee here!
"'Tis good for you, that I should go, "You lingering yet awhile below;" - 'Tis Thine own gracious promise, Lord! Thy saints have proved the faithful word, When heaven's bright boundless avenue Far opened on their eager view, And homeward to Thy Father's throne, Still lessening, brightening on their sight, Thy shadowy car went soaring on; They tracked Thee up th' abyss of light.
Thou bidd'st rejoice; they dare not mourn, But to their home in gladness turn, Their home and God's, that favoured place, Where still He shines on Abraham's race, In prayers and blessings there to wait Like suppliants at their Monarch's gate, Who bent with bounty rare to aid The splendours of His crowning day, Keeps back awhile His largess, made More welcome for that brief delay:
In doubt they wait, but not unblest; They doubt not of their Master's rest, Nor of the gracious will of Heaven - Who gave His Son, sure all has given - But in ecstatic awe they muse What course the genial stream may choose, And far and wide their fancies rove, And to their height of wonder strain, What secret miracle of love Should make their Saviour's going gain.
The days of hope and prayer are past, The day of comfort dawns at last, The everlasting gates again Roll back, and, lo! a royal train - From the far depth of light once more The floods of glory earthward pour: They part like shower-drops in mid air, But ne'er so soft fell noon-tide shower, Nor evening rainbow gleamed so fair To weary swains in parched bower.
Swiftly and straight each tongue of flame Through cloud and breeze unwavering came, And darted to its place of rest On some meek brow of Jesus blest. Nor fades it yet, that living gleam, And still those lambent lightnings stream; Where'er the Lord is, there are they; In every heart that gives them room, They light His altar every day, Zeal to inflame, and vice consume.
Soft as the plumes of Jesus' Dove They nurse the soul to heavenly love; The struggling spark of good within, Just smothered in the strife of sin, They quicken to a timely glow, The pure flame spreading high and low. Said I, that prayer and hope were o'er? Nay, blessed Spirit! but by Thee The Church's prayer finds wings to soar, The Church's hope finds eyes to see.
Then, fainting soul, arise and sing; Mount, but be sober on the wing; Mount up, for Heaven is won by prayer, Be sober, for thou art not there; Till Death the weary spirit free, Thy God hath said, 'Tis good for thee To walk by faith and not by sight: Take it on trust a little while; Soon shalt thou read the mystery right In the full sunshine of His smile.
Or if thou yet more knowledge crave, Ask thine own heart, that willing slave To all that works thee woe or harm Shouldst thou not need some mighty charm To win thee to thy Saviour's side, Though He had deigned with thee to bide? The Spirit must stir the darkling deep, The Dove must settle on the Cross, Else we should all sin on or sleep With Christ in sight, turning our gain to loss.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER—ROGATION SUNDAY
And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time. Deuteronomy ix. 20.
Now is there solemn pause in earth and heaven; The Conqueror now His bonds hath riven, And Angels wonder why He stays below: Yet hath not man his lesson learned, How endless love should be returned.
Deep is the silence as of summer noon, When a soft shower Will trickle soon, A gracious rain, freshening the weary bower - O sweetly then far off is heard The clear note of some lonely bird.
So let Thy turtle-dove's sad call arise In doubt and fear Through darkening skies, And pierce, O Lord, Thy justly-sealed ear, Where on the house-top, all night long She trills her widowed, faltering song.
Teach her to know and love her hour of prayer, And evermore, As faith grows rare, Unlock her heart, and offer all its store In holier love and humbler vows, As suits a lost returning spouse.
Not as at first, but with intenser cry, Upon the mount She now must lie, Till Thy dear love to blot the sad account Of her rebellious race be won, Pitying the mother in the son.
But chiefly (for she knows Thee angered worst By holiest things Profaned and curst), Chiefly for Aaron's seed she spreads her wings, If but one leaf she may from Thee Win of the reconciling tree.
For what shall heal, when holy water banes! Or who may guide O'er desert plains Thy loved yet sinful people wandering wide, If Aaron's hand unshrinking mould An idol form of earthly gold?
Therefore her tears are bitter, and as deep Her boding sigh, As, while men sleep, Sad-hearted mothers heave, that wakeful lie, To muse upon some darling child Roaming in youth's uncertain wild.
Therefore on fearful dreams her inward sight Is fain to dwell - What lurid light Shall the last darkness of the world dispel, The Mediator in His wrath Descending down the lightning's path.
Yet, yet awhile, offended Saviour, pause, In act to break Thine outraged laws, O spare Thy rebels for Thine own dear sake; Withdraw Thine hand, nor dash to earth The covenant of our second birth.
'Tis forfeit like the first—we own it all - Yet for love's sake Let it not fall; But at Thy touch let veiled hearts awake, That nearest to Thine altar lie, Yet least of holy things descry.
Teacher of teachers! Priest of priests! from Thee The sweet strong prayer Must rise, to free First Levi, then all Israel, from the snare. Thou art our Moses out of sight - Speak for us, or we perish quite.
Why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven. Acts i. 11
Soft cloud, that while the breeze of May Chants her glad matins in the leafy arch, Draw'st thy bright veil across the heavenly way Meet pavement for an angel's glorious march:
My soul is envious of mine eye, That it should soar and glide with thee so fast, The while my grovelling thoughts half buried lie, Or lawless roam around this earthly waste.
Chains of my heart, avaunt I say - I will arise, and in the strength of love Pursue the bright track ere it fade away, My Saviour's pathway to His home above.
Sure, when I reach the point where earth Melts into nothing from th' uncumbered sight, Heaven will o'ercome th' attraction of my birth. And I shall sink in yonder sea of light:
Till resting by th' incarnate LORD, Once bleeding, now triumphant for my sake, I mark Him, how by seraph hosts adored, He to earth's lowest cares is still awake.
The sun and every vassal star, All space, beyond the soar of angel wings, Wait on His word: and yet He stays His car For every sigh a contrite suppliant brings.
He listens to the silent tear For all the anthems of the boundless sky - And shall our dreams of music bar our ear To His soul-piercing voice for ever nigh?
Nay, gracious Saviour—but as now Our thoughts have traced Thee to Thy glory-throne So help us evermore with thee to bow Where human sorrow breathes her lowly moan.
We must not stand to gaze too long, Though on unfolding Heaven our gaze we bend Where lost behind the bright angelic throng We see CHRIST'S entering triumph slow ascend.
No fear but we shall soon behold, Faster than now it fades, that gleam revive, When issuing from his cloud of fiery gold Our wasted frames feel the true sun, and live.
Then shall we see Thee as Thou art, For ever fixed in no unfruitful gaze, But such as lifts the new-created heart, Age after age, in worthier love and praise.
SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 St. Peter iv. 10.
The Earth that in her genial breast Makes for the down a kindly nest, Where wafted by the warm south-west It floats at pleasure, Yields, thankful, of her very best, To nurse her treasure:
True to her trust, tree, herb, or reed, She renders for each scattered seed, And to her Lord with duteous heed Gives large increase: Thus year by year she works unfeed, And will not cease.
Woe worth these barren hearts of ours, Where Thou hast set celestial flowers, And watered with more balmy showers Than e'er distilled In Eden, on th' ambrosial bowers - Yet nought we yield.
Largely Thou givest, gracious Lord, Largely Thy gifts should be restored; Freely Thou givest, and Thy word Is, "Freely give." He only, who forgets to hoard, Has learned to live.
Wisely Thou givest—all around Thine equal rays are resting found, Yet varying so on various ground They pierce and strike, That not two roseate cups are crowned With drew alike:
E'en so, in silence, likest Thee, Steals on soft-handed Charity, Tempering her gifts, that seem so free, By time and place, Till not a woe the bleak world see, But finds her grace:
Eyes to the blind, and to the lame Feet, and to sinners wholesome blame, To starving bodies food and flame, By turns she brings; To humbled souls, that sink for shame, Lends heaven-ward wings:
Leads them the way our Saviour went, And shows Love's treasure yet unspent; As when th' unclouded heavens were rent. Opening His road, Nor yet His Holy Spirit sent To our abode.
Ten days th' eternal doors displayed Were wondering (so th' Almighty bade) Whom Love enthroned would send, in aid Of souls that mourn, Left orphans in Earth's dreary shade As noon as born.
Open they stand, that prayers in throngs May rise on high, and holy songs, Such incense as of right belongs To the true shrine, Where stands the Healer of all wrongs In light divine;
The golden censer in His hand, He offers hearts from every land, Tied to His own by gentlest band Of silent Love: About Him winged blessings stand In act to move.
A little while, and they shall fleet From Heaven to Earth, attendants meet On the life-giving Paraclete Speeding His flight, With all that sacred is and sweet, On saints to light.
Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, all Shall feel the shower of Mercy fall, And startling at th' Almighty's call, Give what He gave, Till their high deeds the world appal, And sinners save.
And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts ii. 2-4
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:
Around the trembling mountain's base The prostrate people lay; A day of wrath and not of grace; A dim and dreadful day.
But when he came the second time, He came in power and love, Softer than gale at morning prime Hovered His holy Dove.
The fires that rushed on Sinai down 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. 28.
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, 'Mid withered hues and sere, its lot be cast:
That is the heart for thoughtful seer, Watching, in trance nor dark nor clear, Th' appalling Future as it nearer draws: His spirit calmed the storm to meet, Feeling the rock beneath his feet, And tracing through the cloud th' eternal Cause.
That is the heart for watchman true Waiting to see what GOD will do, As o'er the Church the gathering twilight falls No more he strains his wistful eye, If chance the golden hours be nigh, By youthful Hope seen beaming round her walls.
Forced from his shadowy paradise, His thoughts to Heaven the steadier rise: There seek his answer when the world reproves: Contented in his darkling round, If only he be faithful found, When from the east the eternal morning moves.
Note: The expression, "calm delay," is borrowed from a friend, by whose kind permission the following stanzas are here inserted.
TO THE RED-BREAST.
Unheard in summer's flaring ray, Pour forth thy notes, sweet singer, Wooing the stillness of the autumn day: Bid it a moment linger, Nor fly Too soon from winter's scowling eye.
The blackbird's song at even-tide, And hers, who gay ascends, Filling the heavens far and wide, Are sweet. But none so blends, As thine, With calm decay, and peace divine.
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Matthew xviii. 21.
What liberty so glad and gay, As where the mountain boy, Reckless of regions far away, A prisoner lives in joy?
The dreary sounds of crowded earth, The cries of camp or town, Never untuned his lonely mirth, Nor drew his visions down.
The snow-clad peaks of rosy light That meet his morning view, The thwarting cliffs that bound his sight, They bound his fancy too.
Two ways alone his roving eye For aye may onward go, Or in the azure deep on high, Or darksome mere below.
O blest restraint! more blessed range! Too soon the happy child His nook of homely thought will change For life's seducing wild:
Too soon his altered day-dreams show This earth a boundless space, With sun-bright pleasures to and fro Sporting in joyous race:
While of his narrowing heart each year, Heaven less and less will fill, Less keenly, thorough his grosser ear, The tones of mercy thrill.
It must be so: else wherefore falls The Saviour's voice unheard, While from His pard'ning Cross He calls, "O spare as I have spared?"
By our own niggard rule we try The hope to suppliants given! We mete out love, as if our eye Saw to the end of Heaven.
Yes, ransomed sinner! wouldst thou know How often to forgive, How dearly to embrace thy foe, Look where thou hop'st to live; -
When thou hast told those isles of light, And fancied all beyond, Whatever owns, in depth or height, Creation's wondrous bond;
Then in their solemn pageant learn Sweet mercy's praise to see: Their Lord resigned them all, to earn The bliss of pardoning thee.
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things onto Himself. Philippians iii. 21.
Red o'er the forest peers the setting sun, The line of yellow light dies fast away That crowned the eastern copse: and chill and dun Falls on the moor the brief November day.
Now the tired hunter winds a parting note, And Echo hide good-night from every glade; Yet wait awhile, and see the calm heaves float Each to his rest beneath their parent shade.
How like decaying life they seem to glide! And yet no second spring have they in store, But where they fall, forgotten to abide Is all their portion, and they ask no more.
Soon o'er their heads blithe April airs shall sing, A thousand wild-flowers round them shall unfold, The green buds glisten in the dews of Spring, And all be vernal rapture as of old.
Unconscious they in waste oblivion lie, In all the world of busy life around No thought of them; in all the bounteous sky, No drop, for them, of kindly influence found.
Man's portion is to die and rise again - Yet he complains, while these unmurmuring part With their sweet lives, as pure from sin and stain, As his when Eden held his virgin heart.
And haply half unblamed his murmuring voice Might sound in Heaven, were all his second life Only the first renewed—the heathen's choice, A round of listless joy and weary strife.
For dreary were this earth, if earth were all, Tho' brightened oft by dear Affection's kiss; - Who for the spangles wears the funeral pall? But catch a gleam beyond it, and 'tis bliss.
Heavy and dull this frame of limbs and heart, Whether slow creeping on cold earth, or borne On lofty steed, or loftier prow, we dart O'er wave or field: yet breezes laugh to scorn
Our puny speed, and birds, and clouds in heaven, And fish, living shafts that pierce the main, And stars that shoot through freezing air at even - Who but would follow, might he break his chain?
And thou shalt break it soon; the grovelling worm Shall find his wings, and soar as fast and free As his transfigured Lord with lightning form And snowy vest—such grace He won for thee,
When from the grave He sprang at dawn of morn, And led through boundless air thy conquering road, Leaving a glorious track, where saints, new-born, Might fearless follow to their blest abode.
But first, by many a stern and fiery blast The world's rude furnace must thy blood refine, And many a gale of keenest woe be passed, Till every pulse beat true to airs divine,
Till every limb obey the mounting soul, The mounting soul, the call by Jesus given. He who the stormy heart can so control, The laggard body soon will waft to Heaven.
TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The heart knoweth his own bitterness: and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. Proverbs xiv. 10.
Why should we faint and fear to live alone, Since all alone, so Heaven has willed, we die, Nor e'en the tenderest heart, and next our own, Knows half the reasons why we smile and sigh?
Each in his hidden sphere of joy or woe Our hermit spirits dwell, and range apart, Our eyes see all around in gloom or glow - Hues of their own, fresh borrowed from the heart.
And well it is for us our GOD should feel Alone our secret throbbings: so our prayer May readier spring to Heaven, nor spend its zeal On cloud-born idols of this lower air.
For if one heart in perfect sympathy Beat with another, answering love for love, Weak mortals, all entranced, on earth would lie, Nor listen for those purer strains above.
Or what if Heaven for once its searching light Lent to some partial eye, disclosing all The rude bad thoughts, that in our bosom's night Wander at large, nor heed Love's gentle thrall?
Who would not shun the dreary uncouth place? As if, fond leaning where her infant slept, A mother's arm a serpent should embrace: So might we friendless live, and die unwept.
Then keep the softening veil in mercy drawn, Thou who canst love us, thro' Thou read us true; As on the bosom of th' aerial lawn Melts in dim haze each coarse ungentle hue.
So too may soothing Hope Thy heave enjoy Sweet visions of long-severed hearts to frame: Though absence may impair, or cares annoy, Some constant mind may draw us still the same.
We in dark dreams are tossing to and fro, Pine with regret, or sicken with despair, The while she bathes us in her own chaste glow, And with our memory wings her own fond prayer.
O bliss of child-like innocence, and love Tried to old age! creative power to win, And raise new worlds, where happy fancies rove, Forgetting quite this grosser world of sin.
Bright are their dreams, because their thoughts are clear, Their memory cheering: but th' earth-stained spright, Whose wakeful musings are of guilt and fear, Must hover nearer earth, and less in light.
Farewell, for her, th' ideal scenes so fair - Yet not farewell her hope, since thou hast deigned, Creator of all hearts! to own and share The woe of what Thou mad'st, and we have stained.
Thou knowst our bitterness—our joys are Thine - No stranger Thou to all our wanderings wild: Nor could we bear to think, how every line Of us, Thy darkened likeness and defiled,
Stands in full sunshine of Thy piercing eye, But that Thou call'st us Brethren: sweet repose Is in that word—the LORD who dwells on high Knows all, yet loves us better than He knows.
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs xvi. 31.
The bright-haired morn is glowing O'er emerald meadows gay, With many a clear gem strewing The early shepherd's way. Ye gentle elves, by Fancy seen Stealing away with night To slumber in your leafy screen, Tread more than airy light.
And see what joyous greeting The sun through heaven has shed, Though fast yon shower be fleeting, His beams have faster sped. For lo! above the western haze High towers the rainbow arch In solid span of purest rays: How stately is its march!
Pride of the dewy morning! The swain's experienced eye From thee takes timely warning, Nor trusts the gorgeous sky. For well he knows, such dawnings gay Bring noons of storm and shower, And travellers linger on the way Beside the sheltering bower.
E'en so, in hope and trembling Should watchful shepherd view His little lambs assembling, With glance both kind and true; 'Tis not the eye of keenest blaze, Nor the quick-swelling breast, That soonest thrills at touch of praise - These do not please him best.
But voices low and gentle, And timid glances shy, That seem for aid parental To sue all wistfully, Still pressing, longing to be right, Yet fearing to be wrong, - In these the Pastor dares delight, A lamb-like, Christ-like throng.