Talks by the Way.

By James Boyd.

( Part 2
  Part 3)

Part 1.

C. OFT have I heard you say you love to watch
The slumbering night begin to move, and catch
The beams of morning, as like spears of light
They leaped the summit of the mountain's height,
And through the sullen night-cloud smote their way,
Turning the sable darkness into grey,
As on its axis leaning, the great world
Its huge bulk round its fiery centre hurled;
While up the azure slope Hyperion clomb,
Flooding with his effulgence vast the dome,
And bathing half the globe in light, while glum
The nether half in seas of darkness swum.

Thus have I seen this morning brought to birth,
Waking with soft embrace the pulse of earth,
While like to distant music drawing near,
The hum of life still louder smote mine ear,
Till o'er earth's bosom broad the living lay
Proclaimed the advent of bright busy day.

How sweet the breath of morn! so fresh! so new!
See in the meadow green, the drops of dew
Glitter, like suns in miniature; and see
How through each thicket, bush, and spreading tree,
The lord of day, like face of seraph, smiles
Through tears on man's abode of cares and toils.
And hark, forth from the throat of all the host
Of feathered fowl, convenient perched, or lost
In the ethereal blue, or in the range
And circle of our vision, o'er the grange
Darting, and wheeling round in airy rings,
Beating the heavenly waste with outstretched wings,
And making all the woodlands echo, songs
Rise unto Him to whom all praise belongs.
And hark, from yonder distant meadow broad
The whistle of the ploughman! as the sod
He turns, and pausing oft to contemplate
His furrows, well turned, regular, and straight;
While clouds of screaming sea-birds circle round,
Gathering their breakfasts from the upturned ground.
And from the right behind us through the wood
Voices of children rise in merry mood
From off the village green, mixed with the noise,
Which from the mill with harsh discordant voice
Draws our attention to the powerful saw
Which takes the forest giant in its jaw,
And with its teeth of iron, trunk and limb
Asunder rends, as it seems good to him
Who guides its power.

The deep sea there we view,
Smooth as a mill-pond, mirroring the blue.
And let the eye the wide bay wander o'er,
The mountain lying on the farther shore
Seems like a huge beast recumbant, asleep
Upon the very margin of the deep,
Under the drooping eave of the great vault,
Which, of serenest blue, and without fault
Of gloomy cloud, spans the circumference
Of the wide world. And in the distance hence,
Far to the north, around yon jutting rock
That rudely lifts its rugged sides to block
Our further gaze, the locomotive winds
Its serpent way, and like a blind thing finds
Its iron road. There scarcely visible,
Save for the line of smoke against the hill,
White as a crest of foam, in clamour great
It creepeth forward with its living freight
Along the margin of the placid bay,
Toward the busy city on its way,
Its journey finished then. Thus you and I
Shall soon our terminus of life descry.
And what remains when the unerring dart
Of death transfixeth the warm bounding heart?
When in the narrow house laid low, and when
Forgotten by the careless world, what then?

S. We cannot speak with certainty of mind;
We grope amid the darkness like the blind,
Or with the torch of science lifted high
Seek for the angel Truth in earth and sky.
Though not yet found, still ever and anon
We trace her footsteps, and we follow on.
What we have not discovered, by and by,
The coming generation may descry.
'Tis wisdom to pretend no more to know
Than one by proofs can demonstrate and show.
Not in the bigot and presumptive mind
May we be confident great light to find.
Not those who boast most of the larger light,
And not the arrogant are always right.
Not those who dogmatise, but those forsooth
Whose dogmatism is the naked truth
Laid bare beyond dispute to every soul
Whose mind is without bias, sane and whole.
With such I walk, I safer feel with those
Than with the dreamer, though he thinks he knows.

C. But what has science taught thee, let me ask,
Of sin, of guilt, of shame? What of the mask
Put on by all, the secrets black to hide
Within the bosom? What of lust and pride?
What of the soul bereaved by death — its cure?
The balm for broken hearts? and where the poor
May find a friend, one who for them shall care,
And prove more faithful than a brother? Where
The conscience smitten with a sense of guilt
May find relief? Where tears that have been spilt
In teeming torrents may at length be dried?
Where, and to what — to whom would science guide?
What of the great Creator's claims on man,
Unanswered since his history began?
If man has in his obligations failed,
And consequently miseries entailed
Which make his cup of sorrow overflow,
And fill his heart at times with speechless woe,
Is God indifferent to his estate?
Cares He not if man's miseries be great?
If his dark deeds flame red up to the sky
And truth his right to longer life deny,
So that the sinner must the sinner slay,
And guilt must headlong guilt drive hence away —
How feels the Judge of all about it? How
Can He in His dominion crime allow
Which human laws must punish? Can it be
The erring creature is more just than He?
Nay, more than this my soul and spirit crave,
Nor ye who know the truth my question waive,
Not only would I contemplate the might
Of the Omnipotent who day and night
Moves those vast worlds which first He did create,
And gave each one its path of glory great,
But I would know the feelings of His heart
Toward His creature who erst did depart
From Him, and all His kindnesses forgot,
Nor gave His claims more than a passing thought.
Is He austere, and hard, compassionless,
Indifferent to my sick soul's distress?
Have I to meet Him? Whom have I to meet?
Where shall I find Him? How approach His seat?
Is there forgiveness with Him? Is the fear
That makes the stout heart tremble to appear
Before Him, false, unreasonable, vain,
Fictitious, baseless? Is the crimson stain
Of which awakened conscience takes account
A sick-bed horror? What is the amount
I owe His throne? Do I owe anything?
What is that secret adder, that with sting
Sharp and envenomed punctures deep my breast —
That inward horror that disturbs my rest,
Telling me I am guilty? Is it true?
A friend, or fiend, or faithful witness? Who
Hath placed it there? companion of my life
Yet with my soul at everlasting strife.
Yes, tell me also, for my soul must know,
If peace into my spirit is to flow,
Does God regard His creature? If He does
Can He remove of all my ills the cause?
And can He have me back with Him? and how
In justice to Himself could He allow
Should He desire it, such a sinner near
To Him, and in His presence to appear?
If thy philosophers have found the way
Tell me, and I shall ponder what you say.

S. I do not for an instant give the thought
A lodging in my mind that man is not
As his Creator made him. All that lies
Concealed beyond death's boundary defies
The penetration of the mightiest mind;
To this we are as ever dark and blind.
That land we cannot at our will explore,
And none return who have passed heretofore.
The secret lies beyond our vision far
And what our Maker made us, that we are.

C. How can you lift your eyes and look abroad,
With faith in the existence of a God,
And view the grief, the anguish, and the woe,
The want, the misery, the ceaseless flow
Of scalding tears, the trespass done the weak,
The crime, the strife, the death that many seek
To ease them of their sorrows, or behold
By violence defenceless thousands rolled
Into the mire unwept, friendless as far
As arm of flesh goes, crushed beneath the car
Of barbarous oppression, and believe
That man is as God made him, nor did leave
His first estate? Upon the rapid wing
Of fancy, from the palace of the king
Down to the peasant's hut, move at thy will,
And with the spectacle presented fill
Thy soul, and publish what exists; or fly
To Afric's centre, where beneath the sky
Which like an oven's roof circles the earth,
The sable son of Ham is brought to birth,
And cradled in an ignorance as black
As the scorched skin upon his naked back;
Or visit China with her countless sons,
Or th' isles round which the broad Pacific runs —
North, south, east, west, this way and that way look
On freeman, bondman, monarch, peasant, duke,
From land to land, from ocean shore to shore,
Behold man's moral state the wide world o'er,
And then declare to me that lust and pride
Are not the brace of autocrats that ride
Mad-gallop on the bare neck of the world
With violence, their banner black, unfurled.
You dare not tell me this. Full well you know
That as I have described, man's state is so.
If fabulous the story of his fall,
And man remains as made — alas for all.
If I could think that this unhappy scene
Was as God willed it, and that He had been
From the beginning viewing with delight
Man groaning under death's unhallowed blight,
This theatre of woes, this savage den
Full of the groans and the laments of men,
If it be just as He would have it, then
Hope never would light up my life again.

S. Your view of things is much too full of gloom,
In my soul hope shall never cease to bloom.
Thou art on dangerous ground, and thou wouldst drag
Me down with thee into the treacherous slag
Thrown from the vortex of a vain belief,
Than which, believe me, I had just as lief
Be smothered by the fumes that upward float
From restless crater's open horrid throat.
Forgive me if I rather choose to stay
Where I can feel beneath my feet the way
Solid and firm. Whatever I may learn,
This side the veil, which helps me to discern,
Or rather to infer what lies beyond,
I treasure, but in truth I am not fond
Of superstitious speculations, built
On fancied notions about human guilt.
I am content that reason should direct;
Should I condemn the world's great Architect
Who hath enthroned her? Let her bear the rule
While I do graduate in Nature's school.
A little we have learned, things have appealed
Unto our reason out of nature's field,
Though all that is yet known is but a grain
Compared with what the earth and heaven contain.
But from whatever quarter truth appears
We give her welcome who our vision cheers,
While longing to behold her stepping forth
From her obscurity to swathe the earth,
And like the sun with overpowering ray
Turn the world's night into eternal day.

C. Vain hope. The heavy clouds of night still sleep
O'er human minds, as on the mighty deep
The sullen darkness lay, ere God's voice broke
The primal silence, and in power spoke:
"Let there be light," and light arose, so now
A moral mist encircles every brow,
God is as little known to-day as when
The unknown God was worshipped by the men
Of Athens. You have made no way. The prize
Is still in secret hidden from your eyes;
And muffled in this ignorance of God
This earth, through space, revolveth with her load
Of raving rebels, like a spectre lone
Among the heavenly bodies, cry and groan
Trembling upon her circumfluent air,
While from her ribs the flaming sun doth tear,
With hands of light, the sullen gloom away,
Rolled back by night upon the heels of day.
Thus ceaseless war 'twixt light and shade are waged,
As in the spiritual are engaged
Fell hosts with heavenly. The world arrayed
In panoply of mail infernal, made
In depths of nether gloom, its stubborn night
Defiance hurls at power of gospel light.
God is unknown, nor can her leaders show
Him whom it is eternal life to know.
The tidings glad of grace and love divine,
Speaking to thirsty souls of milk and wine,
Sets in its holy, living, gracious word
Before us God in Jesus seen and heard;
Lifts up the veil of everlasting gloom
And bids us look beyond the darksome tomb
To heaven, where life, the sweetest blessing sought,
And incorruptibility are brought
To light. The gospel man discards in pride,
And turns his eye from living light aside;
That mercy scorning, which his soul would save,
Feels his dark way down to his darker grave.

S. The superstitious fables that exist
Among the rude barbarians, the priest
May force upon the unenlightened mind,
Till the dim future seems so well defined,
The fires of fiercest persecution burn
In vain the zealot from the faith to turn.
Mere superstition! You and I agree.
To him 'tis truth in spite of you and me.
But I contend, your purer christian creed
No more the hungry mind with truth can feed,
Nor show the secret clearer unto man,
Than the wild vagaries of the heathen can.
God, for I cannot doubt that He exists,
Hath girded with impenetrable mists
This little world of ours, yet hath He given
Minds to explore earth's depths and heights of heaven,
The secret hides at present from the wise,
Yet doubt not I the longed-for precious prize
Is close at hand, if we could only lay
The foot upon her bright and shining way.
That progress has been made none can deny,
This day is brighter than the days gone by.
To solve the riddle of the universe
Man's mind is set, the darkness must disperse.
This fact is witnessed in a thousand ways,
Look but abroad, and give to man the praise
Of rising upward from the beast, to stand
A very God, with power in his hand
To make the wayward lightning seek his rod,
And dance attendance, at his beck and nod.
Forth from the fogs of a chaotic night
The world emerges into kindly light,
And a bright cloudless day is close at hand
When wisdom shall enlighten every land;
When ignorance and superstitious dreams,
Like owls and bats before Hyperion's beams,
Shall fly for ever from the glorious rays
Of truth triumphant, to man's lasting praise.

C. A glorious day is surely drawing nigh
Bright with God's glory from the heavens high.
Not in the light of philosophic lore,
Not by the means the minds of men adore,
Shall it be introduced, but in a way
Which shall in dust all creature glory lay.
The Sun of righteousness — the Son of God
Shall spread the brightness of that day abroad.
A man is wanted, men a man have sought,
That order out of chaos may be brought.
Man trusts in mind, the masses must be taught;
Brains must be heated, hammered out, and wrought.
What has it served? Does he respect the laws?
Or is he more unruly than he was?
What is the fact? Do not your princes feel
That schools have turned the claystone into steel?
But yet a man is coming, such a man
As men delight to honour, one who can
Compel the masses to bow down the knee
Before his footstool and submissive be.
A fiend incarnate, to whom all who live
The worship due to God alone must give.
This is the man men look for; woe and pain,
And death shall flourish underneath his reign.
But this is not God's man, the Christ is He,
Rejected though by all the world He be.
At God's right hand He sits until the day
When every soul shall own His rightful sway.
Then men shall glad them in His heavenly light,
And boast themselves in His eternal might.
He is God's wisdom. That which men applaud
Is at its best, but foolishness with God,
Who hath revealed true wisdom from above,
In Him, whose death declares that God is love.
The cross, which proves man's folly, guilt and shame,
God's power and wisdom is. Its endless fame
Goes out as tidings glad. This man esteems
Weakness and folly great, and vainly dreams
That human confidence can well be placed
In the vain drivellings of a mind debased.
Wisdom comes down from heaven; who seeks it there
In true humility and faith shall ne'er
Be disappointed; God delights to give,
Where men have but the fitness to receive.
The meek He guides in wisdom, to the meek
He shows His way, and unto all who seek
He doth reveal Himself. He draweth nigh
To all that call upon Him, who rely
Alone upon His goodness, they shall find
Support amid the ills that vex mankind.
The world is far from God, yet is He nigh
To every one of us. The feeblest cry
He hears. And not the weighty things alone
Engage the kind attentions of His throne.
As not in all those shining orbs of heaven
Which by His word exist, and fleet are driven
Around in trackless circuits, to fulfil
The wise behests of their Creator's will;
As not in lightning flash, nor thunder tone,
Nor raving tempest's desolating moan,
Nor earthquake shock, nor ocean's roaring dread,
We see His wisdom, tho' we hear the tread
Of His great power, but in lesser things
The painting of a flower, the gorgeous wings
Spread by the butterfly, insects that fly
Like particles of dust before the eye,
Of delicate construction, perfect all,
Formed by His hand who made the sun a ball.
Look heavenward, earthward, in which way you will,
Nature proclaims His Godhead, power and skill,
With trumpet tongue, heard from the milky way,
And echoed from the animalculae.
So in the odds and ends of daily life,
The things we think but trifles, yet so rife
With griefs that make the worn out spirit reel,
In these He draws so near with balm to heal.

S. These feelings are thy pleasurable dreams
And though imagination, comfort seems
Through it to ease thy dole: so let it be,
I would not for the world discourage thee.
What ruthless hand in land of famine would
The famished dreamer wake with clamour rude,
To bring him back from fancy's land of bread,
To stern reality and want instead?
Dream on thy dreams, they will not injure thee,
But life is downright earnestness for me.
I am not minded thee to undeceive;
Man's mind a kingdom is, this I believe.
I've drunk from cisterns of unvarnished fact
Which all the sweets of poetry have lacked.
They suit me well. I've said I am not one
To quarrel o'er a superstitious bone.
'Tis all thine own; I neither wish a share
Nor to deprive thee of thy portion care.
There's too much misery in life to bring
Thee down with me to touch the real thing.
I look abroad, and sicken at the sound
Of sorrow's groans which o'er the earth resound.
I understand it not, nor doth thy creed
With honest face for favour interceed,
But like a brazen shrew she rules the bur,
And pours abuse on all that would demur.
Nor doth the frightful fiend of evil fly
From the fierce fire that sparkles in her eye,
For still each pleasure hath its pain, each day
Its night, each spring its winter and decay,
Each birth its death, each merry marriage bell
Must ring its mournful separating knell,
And every rose has got its prickly thorn,
And I — 'twere better had I not been born.

Man's life is like a short-lived winter's day
Mantled with clouds of mournful drapery;
A vapour on the bosom of the wind,
Gone while we look, leaving no trace behind;
An arrow's flight, winging its rapid way
Into the shadows of eternity;
A rocket shot into the dreamy night,
Bright for the moment in its airy flight,
Till in full view of human woe and pain
Breaking its heart it sinks to earth again.
Or like a gallant bark lost in a fog
With neither helm nor compass, chart nor log,
The sport of wind and wave, on distant shore
She strikes the rock, and sinks to rise no more.
Thus man's career is short, and life's few charms
Are whelmed and drowned amid its dread alarms.
Learning with sorrow in his earliest day
His endless house must be a pit of clay.
Fain would he scape his miserable lot
But fate his feelings has consulted not.
He seems as born to make the furies sport,
Wretched the voyage, full of fear the port.
Forth from a dim chaotic night he crawls
A slave within the wide arena's walls,
A gladiator born, with foremost breath
In earnest conflict with the monster death.
That hot encounter ceaseless he maintains
As long as strength to draw a breath remains;
Till backward borne upon the sand he lies
Lifting for sympathy his tearful eyes;
But reeks not the grim victor, with his dart
Poised at a level with his victim's heart,
Whether of golden pate, or hoary crown,
Or king, or subject, thumbs are up or down:
The dart is thrown, — a shudder, and the frame
Sinks into night obscure as whence it came.

Thus like the beasts the life of man is shed,
Thus numbered with the past forgotten dead,
Thus comes, thus goes, the little while between
O'ergrown with miseries for him to glean.
From womb of woman unto womb of earth,
Death treading hard upon the heels of birth;
Caught in the rapids of time's flowing river,
In that brief moment ere he sinks for ever,
Seeking to penetrate with eager mind
The fearful vortex that engulfs mankind.
But all as yet in vain, man still we see
Th' unwilling slave of dread mortality.
Still is Death's greedy maw indulgent fed,
And still with throat agape it asks for bread.

C. A darker picture I have never drawn.

S. But I expect a better day to dawn.
You yield to blank despair, I struggle still
Like many with indomitable will
To wrest the secret from the bowels deep
Of modest nature, that the world may leap
Out of the black night wake with sorrow's wail,
To laugh at death before whose face we quail.

C. But why should man so fear to pass away
From toil and grief and hopeless misery?
Why should he cling to life? Inform me why
He should so shrink from death, so fear to die?
If there has been no sin, no wilfulness,
No wayward wandering from the state and place,
His by his Maker's will, no gross defect
In his obedience, no lawless act
That stamps him rebel, alienating him
From God in heart; let death be ne'er so grim,
Why should he fear it? Why should it be called
The King of terrors — holding man appalled
Under his sway, anticipating still
The day when he shall hurl his dart and kill?

The brutes which yield to weakness and expire
Are not thus tortured with forebodings dire.
No lingering fear of dissolution crawls
With noisome feet across their heart's red walls;
No spectral visions crowd a heated brain,
No dread of something after gnaws with pain.
But in the bosom hid, with bated breath,
E'en babes will prattle of the ogre death.
And why is it that wretched man has been
The only living creature in this scene
Who down the rough uneven lane of life,
Which is as you admit, with sorrow rife,
Who should be made to bear this horror blind
Astride upon the shoulders of his mind?

S. The beasts of their to-morrow take no thought,
Be weal or woe, be good or ill their lot;
Their life is in the present moment, they
Have no ability or sense to weigh
The luxury of life against the blank
Of desolate oblivion. Thick and rank
The tangle of their griefs about their feet!
Doomed to be used by man as he thinks meet,
While in the ear of heaven cry and groan
Are uttered in eternal monotone.
But as to man, his way of pondering o'er
The coming dire calamity before
The thing is present, is oft worse to bear
Than death itself, and not unoft despair
Climbs up into the brain, and takes the throne,
To rule in madness, when had one but known
The real truth, the whole affair had not
Cost for a moment one unquiet thought.
And might not death be such an one whose form
And aspect wakes upon the nerves a storm
Of fear, but on acquaintance doth assume
A countenance more amiable; the tomb,
Where dust returns to dust, another sphere,
Ethereal, spiritual, cloudless, clear,
Might open out to the unfettered man,
The higher and immortal part. Who can
Deny it might be?

C. Nay, who can aver
That this is so? What prudent man would dare
To build his hopes of happiness upon
What might be? Vain conclusions rashly drawn
From his own dreaming, spite of witness clear,
Spoken by nature into reason's ear.
If death be but the passage of the soul
From every human misery and dole,
Why is it fenced about with speechless dread?
And why from every contact with the dead
Do all the living shrink? 'Tis sin alone
Is cause of all, if man the truth would own.
"Conscience makes cowards of us all" more near
The truth is than your theories. The fear
Of meeting God, whom sinful men despise,
Clothes the dark grave with terrors in their eyes.
Death brings man forth out of his hiding place
To have to do with God, his life-long race
Brings to a termination, shuts the door
Of hope behind him; nothing can restore
To him his chances madly thrown away.
As falls the tree so lies it till the day
Of resurrection, when what has been done
Shall all come out before the great white throne;
Then woe betide the Christless soul. Besides,
Death who abroad thus mercilessly strides,
Stern, callous, cold, insensible
To tears of grief, as that bleak barren hill,
Which, high above the ambrosial, peaceful wold
Lifts up among the clouds its summit bold,
Is the grim executioner who pays
Sin's wages to the sinner whom he slays.
Yet not unmindful of man's lost estate
God hath looked down from heaven in goodness great,
And sent His Son to creatures lost, to show
A highway out of misery and woe.
Will man accept it? No, though shines the light
Of heavenly grace, man better loves the night.
God's wisdom scorned is, men to darkness cling,
So sorrow keeps her teeth and death his sting;

S. But I can hardly think thou wilt despise
Man's great achievements, if thou let thine eyes
Look out upon the mighty wonders wrought,
The glorious things to light by knowledge brought;
Things commonplace to-day, few years agone
Had they been spoken of as yet to dawn,
That seer a knave or fool had branded been;
And who can tell what shortly may be seen?
Distance is mocked at, countless leagues of land
And watery waste are girt with fiery band.
Space is annulled, the east and west draw near,
And, as it were, the red lips touch the ear
Of him who dwells in the antipodes;
And though we may not on each other gaze
We can converse together. Need I stand
As advocate of science? Sea and land
Bear witness to the wealth of mighty minds,
And every grain of truth the seeker finds
Goes to make up that glorious perfect whole,
A pyramid of light within the soul.

C. What happiness have these inventions brought
To man oppressed? How bettered is his lot?
Are men less avaricious? Are they more
By pure love actuated than before
These great discoveries? Are they more true?
More upright in the business they pursue?
Have fathers wiser grown? Do children give
To parents greater veneration? Live
Wives and their husbands more in sweet accord?
Are men more easily governed? Is the word
They utter more to be relied on? Do
They love themselves less selfishly, and view
Their neighbour's losses with more pitying eye?
Men live in greater comfort none deny
But pride and plenty was the primary cause
That made the sin of Sodom what it was.

Alas, for man, his knowledge is his boast;
A few vain glittering trinkets at the most
Found in the field of nature as by chance;
Yet must he at God's wisdom look askance.
Too wise for revelation, scorning light,
Proud of the sparks he kindles in the night.
God and the Scriptures are behind the age,
The sage a god is, and the fool a sage.
The dusky brave, with superstitious fear,
Dressed up in war paint and fantastic gear,
Before the viper worshipping will fall;
You pity him, who have no God at all.
I censure not the man born in the gloom
Of darkness drear and dismal as the tomb,
But in a land where truth's resplendent beams
Reveal the source of all such empty dreams,
Sure doubly guilty must that creature be
Who in the light refuses light to see.

S. Refuses! Why should I refuse the light?
I earnestly desire it, I invite
Each kindly ray. The hatred of the truth
Is surely not my sin, who from my youth
With all my might have knocked at wisdom's door,
Seeking the secret of her hidden lore.
The sin is rather thine, for thou hast not,
E'en in the smallest matter, ever sought
To put in exercise the reason God
Hath given thee, but down the steep blind road
Of superstition, with thine eyes fast closed
To facts investigation hath disclosed,
Thou hast gone headlong. Hadst thou not refused
To labour with thy fellow men, but used
The reason given thee, the world had been
The better of thy birth and brains I ween.

But who is He of whom the Scriptures speak?
Whom do they bid my weary spirit seek?
Wouldst thou of Him to helpless mortals tell,
Who for His creatures keeps a burning hell?
Sir, I would rather be the brave and bow
Down to the dust a painted warrior brow
Before the serpent nay, I will be bold —
Rather the serpent let me be than hold
Within the narrow limits of my skull
The fables priest-begotten, gross, which gull
The christian devotee. I may rightly ask,
Is this a day for taking men to task
Because they choose to follow common sense,
Believing what is proved, when no defence
Can honestly be offered in support
Of what you please to term divine report?
Not only this, but even men of brains
Are, over what your ancient Script contains
So much at warfare, that scarce two are found
But each will hold his fellow's faith unsound.
And also have not many cast aside
Whole books as spurious writings, and denied
Their claim to be accounted holy writ?
These things the greatest bigot must admit.

C. That certain men have cast off God, and spurned
His truth, and in their vanity have turned
To quench their thirst at the pierian springs
Of earth, is true. The human reason clings
Fast to the visible. The carnal mind,
In all its reasonings and passions blind,
Is the inveterate enemy of God;
And death's drear highway must be darkly trod
By all who trust it. Nor hath God made choice
Of this world's leaders, who with witching voice
Direct the thoughts of men. He hath laid hold
Of worthless things, that they may be enrolled
Among His sons; low-born, despised, and base,
He makes to know the goodness of His grace;
And thus the haughty creature who would trust
His fleshly mind, He humbles in the dust,

But sir, the falsehoods you affirm abound
Within the sacred volume, may be ground
In your imagination, for the way
You calmly and contemptuously lay
Aside the precious volume as a whole,
And thus imperil your immortal soul.
But let it not astonish you that I
Most absolutely the dark charge deny,
That, carefully considered, there is found
(Room left for copyists' mistakes, unsound
Translations, and the like) a single flaw
Within the volume. Were it so, no law
Of reason could impose it as of God
On any creature. Thickly strawed
With thorns and briars hath its pathway been
Adown the ages; yet is clearly seen
The faithful loving-kindness of the Lord
To us, in keeping safe the heavenly word
In this world hostile to its living light,
And in the custody of those, whose spite
Kindled fierce fires for every soul who sought
To frame their lives by what the Bible taught.
His grace is marvellous. That faults appear
In this translation we so much revere
Is needless to deny; but those that be
Are few and trivial, and long ere we
Were born have been howled after by those who
Their lawless ways determined to pursue.

A great Creator of the Universe,
By providence directing, man will scarce
Deny; it suits him; but to speak of grace,
Of holiness, of sin, a day and place
For judgment, and what vexes worse than all,
The Judge, the living Jesus, once in thrall
Of death, laid there by lawless hands, but now
Raised up and glorified, to whom must bow
The knee of every creature — this is where
Is seen man's rebel passions fiercely flare
To fiendish madness against holy Writ;
Blinded by pride insane, shorn of the wit
To understand his wisdom would have been,
In the acknowledgment of his deep sin,
Humbly to bow.

But more, the tidings good
By you have surely been misunderstood.
His character is not, as you report,
The nature of a fiend of fellest sort;
But, blessed be His name, the opposite;
We learn that God is love, and God is light.
Love, infinite unfathomable love!
Light, spotless, pure, creation light above
One who in showing mercy takes delight,
Whose strange work judgment is, yet must requite
Man for his evil works; for how could He,
A righteous Sovereign, with indifference see
Rebellion in His creature? How could light
Witness in its dominion pure the sight
Of evil darkness? Yet no blazing hell
Hath He prepared for man, but when he fell,
And driven by his guilty conscience, fled
Into a hiding place, in sinful dread,
Afar from his Creator, mercy spares,
And a Deliverer in grace declares.

The life to man imparted by God's breath
Mocks at annihilation, yet for guilt
Of wilful sin committed, to the hilt
In every rebel breast had ruthless gone
The fiery sword of wrath by justice drawn,
Had God Himself not found a way whereby
He could the greatest sinner justify.
However great His love how could He spare
The sinner, and remain still righteous, where
No satisfaction adequate to meet
His claims was found? Behold His glorious seat
Above the height of heaven, with circling flame
Of holiness, whom seraphim proclaim
With feet and faces veiled, the living God
Thrice holy, having His august abode
Curtained within the glory of that light
All unapproachable, and in whose sight
The heavens are not clean. No need to say
That such a Being must in every way
Be to His nature true, nor can allow
The rebel frown upon His creature's brow,
And judge it not. 'Twere as impossible
That He should give a license to the will
Of man to scatter ruin in the earth,
As it would be for Him to bring to birth
The evil that has made this world assume
The aspect of a pandemonium;
And as impossible that He could frame
A pardon for the guilty, and the claim
Of justice set aside, as that He could
Himself the universe with evil flood.
The God of truth can not His word deny,
The soul that sinneth, He has said, shall die.
From Paradise on earth the man He drove,
The first transgressor. What hath gone to prove
The action hasty, that anon there came
Regret into His mind, and in our shame
He brings us back again? The funeral bell
Proclaims the falsehood to be framed in hell.
Death reigns o'er all. To earth man cannot hold,
His grasp relaxes, his frail frame grows cold,
Falters his throbbing heart, light leaves his eyes,
He breathes his spirit forth, he sinks, he dies.

What can throw light on this mysterious sea
Of tears and toil and travail, like that tree
On Calvary's mount? Man's wickedness was there
Revealed in all its horror, when he dare
Lay hands of violence upon the Son
Of God; but there in all its glory shone
The matchless love of Him who sent Him down
To bear our woe. Now God delights to crown
With everlasting favour those who fall
Before His mercy-seat confessing all Their guiltiness.

This is the God revealed
In Jesus, the believer's Sun and Shield.
Blest is the man who hearing of His grace
On Him his whole heart's confidence doth place;
And pillowing his weary head upon
The breast of love immortal, waits the dawn
Of an eternal morning, that shall break
Upon our souls, when Christ shall come and wake
His sleeping saints, thus perfecting the just:
The ransomed spirit with the ransomed dust
Uniting. Now with Him thyself acquaint
And peace possess.

S. A plausible complaint
The voice of reason makes against thy creed,
Which thus dishonours God to make Him need
Propitiation for misconduct done
By His own creature. He who fills the throne
Must ever hold the sole prerogative
Of life and death, to fetter and forgive
As pleases Him, and who can say Him nay,
Or put a limit to His power, or lay
A yoke of laws upon the glorious neck
Of Deity, to drive, or hold in check;
Or in the wanderings of a mind distraught,
To say, This must Thou do, and this must not?
'Twere insolent presumption.

C. To dictate
To God were sin, presumptuous, and great.
'Tis His part to dictate, 'tis ours to hear
With an obedient and attentive ear,
And not with mind at feud with the command,
But ready to perform with heart and hand.
But if the One who made the worlds has thought
Fit to reveal Himself, we surely ought
To carefully attend to what He says,
Nor follow breathless every wretched craze
Which is in nature's midnight, dark and blind,
Brought into being by the human mind.

Two evils reign throughout this world of ours,
And man with all his skill and boasted powers
Has battled with them since the world began,
Laying for their dethronement many a plan
All unsuccessful: sin and death their name,
And lordship over all the world they claim.
Sin is the cause of death —

S. Not so.

C. What then?

S. I cannot for a moment think that men
Are other than God made them.

C. Why do you
In that case seek to better men? Or do
You suffer in your mind the thought to lurk,
That God submits to you His handiwork
For your inspection and approval?

S. No:
But He has left man on this earth below
For reasons wise, perhaps that he may learn,
In circumstances sorrowful and stern,
Wisdom which he could never otherwise
Acquire. It is a fact the creature dies,
But death is not an incident unkind,
Or may not be. The subtle cords that bind
The spirit to the body are unbound,
And henceforth the immortal part is found
In more ethereal regions. I repeat,
Man is God's creature, sin is mere conceit.

C. But do you not in practice give the lie
To these fine theories? Nor you nor I
Will trust men absolutely; we believe
That every man is likely to deceive;
Hence we are cautious, and with jealous care
Safeguard our separate interests everywhere.
Of your heart's confidence, you place in man
Always about as little as you can.
He acts the same way in affairs with you,
He holds you false, him you regard untrue.
Moreover, if he trespass, you declare
Him a transgressor; neither will you bear
The wrong with patience, but the evil doer
Must for his trespass chastisement endure.
If you responsibility admit
Between your fellows, holding them to it
As a just principle the earth abroad,
How then deny it between man and God?
Surely if I consider I have right
My interests to defend with all my might,
I must admit the claims of God o'er me,
To whom His creature should subservient be.
His right the Sovereign of the world asserts,
And man must die who sinful will exerts.
If death were but the end of human life,
The way that God removes from scenes of strife
Deserving creatures into happier spheres,
Why is the thing so fenced about with fears?
I never yet the men have heard of who
Death as the mark of God's approval view;
Nor do I ever such expect to find
With those maintained in sound and healthy mind.
All men are sinners, this all men confess,
And death sin's wages, this its woes impress.

I know no theory proposed to faith,
That grapples with this question, sin and death,
Except the gospel of God's blessed Son,
Preached in the world to all by sin undone.
It takes the question up, the mystery solves,
And in its light the darkness dense dissolves.
God would have all men saved: could He revoke
His righteous judgment? No, the awful stroke
Must fall, unless the God of truth can lie,
And His own nature, and His throne deny.
He sent His Son in mighty love to men,
Our death He died, He rose in power again.
Both righteousness and life in Him are found,
And all the earth is called to hear the sound
Of God's glad tidings. In the blessed name
Of Jesus glorified God doth proclaim
Forgiveness far and free; the heathen hear
The sweetest words that any mortal ear
Has ever heard. Dark places see the light
Of life divine; the black and cheerless night
Is past and gone for those who hearing speed
To Him whose grace can meet their deepest need.
This mercy few of Adam's sons embrace;
Man far too proud is to submit to grace;
The light he hates. It is not ignorance
That might be pardoned lifts the rebel lance
Of reason 'gainst the gospel, but the blind
And obstinate antagonistic mind,
That only knows to estimate as fraud
All that on earth he finds to be of God.
Were it but possible he would not fail
The throne of the Eternal to assail,
And power omnipotent usurp, for so
This honour grasped at brought us all our woe.

In Eden's bowers, in earth's opening days,
Creation thrilling with the sweetest praise,
Man sought for honour, would himself be God,
And grasp divinity by daring fraud.
But headlong falling lost the foremost place,
Plunged into ruin, and submerged his race.
His firstborn wickedly approaches God,
Murders, and flies a fugitive to Nod,
The country of the vagabond; and named
After himself, there cities built, and framed
A world afar from God, to gratify
The lusting of the murderer's heart and eye.

Soon in this wilful world broke loose from God
Science and art spread kindly wings abroad.
Music and mirth a troubled mind shall ease,
And earth embellished shall the senses please.
God is forgotten, peace is put to flight,
Sprung from a murderer, man rules by might;
Giants and mighty men adorn that day,
And brutal force holds universal sway,
Till wrath divine, like an alarming bell,
By Noah's hammer rang their funeral knell.

A few names sparkling in the line of Seth,
Walk with Elohim in the path of faith,
And death's sharp arrow harmless turns aside
From Enoch who thro' grace made God his guide.
The seventh from Adam is a witness great
That God hath power to ransom man's estate;
And that beyond the finite creature's ken
A way exists for the relief of men.

The Spirit, from the fall, had striven in grace
To lead in righteousness the human race,
But flesh had by itself to sin been sold,
And would not be by laws of right controlled.
So six score years before the deluge came
Man's red rebellion did so fiercely flame
In view of heaven, and earth was so corrupt
That the salvation of the race was dropped;
And numbered were the few remaining days
Before the weltering waves would hide his ways.
But Noah, in those eyes that measured all
Sin's greatness and the distance of man's fall,
Found grace, and in the ark of gopher wood
Sailed in the light above the whelming flood.

Scarce had the deep her swelling tide rolled back
When Babel's fortress lifts her frowning stack.
The mighty hunter, and the world's first king,
With his renown would make the wide earth ring;
But lip-confusion from the hand of God
Scatters those builders o'er the earth abroad.

Need I reprove thee for the baseless thought,
Harboured by some, that those vain men had sought
To scale high heaven by their massive pile,
The very thought of which provokes a smile.
They sought a centre and a name, what man
Has ever sought since lust and sin began.
Thus in this earth's unhappy early dawn
Is plainly marked the way the world has gone.
And of its errors it is ever seen,
Self-exaltation the great cause has been.
Man casts off God to make himself a name,
And headlong falling sinks surmerged in shame.

From Babel's tower through this world we pass,
And see it under Satan's rule, alas!
Vain fancy's flight to many gods gave birth,
God's glory changed to creeping things of earth.
But God dishonoured thus so deep, takes care
Man in his body must the judgment bear.
A sample in the cities of the plain
Of what the world then was doth history stain.
The devil, ever ready man to blind,
The thought of God seized in the human mind,
And in his subtle serpent-wisdom stole
'Twixt the Creator and the human soul:
Man worshipped demons! E'en the race of Shem
Under the power of the delusion came.
Oh, what a world! Religious, but in thrall
Of Satan, openly the god of all.

But now the grace that rose triumphant o'er
The wickedness enrooted in the core
Of the vain human heart, and here and there
Shed beams of light which laid the conscience bare
In sight of God, shone now in Chaldee's land,
Which was by demon-worship darkly spanned,
And called from country, home, and kin apart,
To walk before the Lord with perfect heart,
The son of Terah. Thus the link with man
God still maintained, though since the world began
None had been called from it to separate:
Marked thus the subject of His mercy great.
From the beginning men with Him had walked,
And of His thoughts He much to them had talked,
His ways on earth desirous to unfold.
But here a new departure we behold.
The world, divided into kingdoms, barred
From intercourse by diverse tongues, which guard
Races from mingling, wandering abroad,
Divided, scattered, by the devil trod
Into the mire of superstition, fruit
Of intercourse with demons, than the brute
More thoroughly degraded, drenched with crime,
Savage, incestuous, wallowing in the slime
Of an abominable rottenness,
Is now refused by God, who stoops to bless
Abram the Hebrew, made in those dark days
Depository of the promises.
And while the Amorite, then in the land,
Was ripening for judgment, the strong hand
Of the Almighty sentinelled the way
Of all the Patriarchs, until the day
When envy brought to pass the unnatural sale
Of Joseph, who from Potipher's foul gaol
Became exalted high; for in his mind
The faithful God His secret had enshrined.
Lord of all Egypt and in royal state
The son of Jacob ruled in mercy great.
Yea, e'en his brethren came at length to dwell
Under his wing, 'gainst whom their hatred fell,
Fanned into flame of murder, once had burned
Within their breasts; and whom their pride had spurned,
Became their Saviour. Thus their vanity
Was in the dust laid low, while surely they
Might learn in Goshen (while they thought upon
The words of Joseph, as he wept alone
Upon their necks, and while his bosom heaved
With deep emotion: "Be ye not agrieved
Nor angry with yourselves, because ye sold
Me into Egypt, grace of God untold,
Life to preserve, sent me before you. I
Will nourish you"), that grace of the Most High,
Exhibited in him whose tears of woe
Moved not their hearts in Dothan; and that though
With tempers wilful they might fume and fret,
And quarrel with the way He led them, yet
The counsel of the Holy One would stand,
And all the works of man's rebellious hand
Would on his own pate fall, at the same time,
God's power could out of his most wicked crime
Great blessing bring, so that when all confessed,
The guilty creature might indeed be blessed
With God's salvation.

For four hundred years
They sojourned there, till toils and stripes and tears
Of abject slavery were deemed their due
From Egypt's mighty monarch, one who knew
Not Joseph; and their cry of anguish rose
To heaven; and when the oft repeated blows
Of judgment hot failed to reduce the pride
Of Pharaoh, who dissembled, shifted, lied,
And finally refused to see again
The face of Moses, lo, the lamb is slain
At dusk of evening, and the crimson flood,
By the commandment of Jehovah God,
Is sprinkled on the lintel and door posts;
And, girded, every son of Israel roasts
Its flesh, and eats it with unleavened bread
And bitter herbs, with staff in hand, while sped
The angel of destruction through the land,
Swifter than bolt of heaven, with naked brand,
Dripping with the life blood of the firstborn
Of Egypt. Then the look of haughty scorn,
That Pharaoh and his ministers had thrown
Into the face of Moses, was by one
Of blank despair supplanted, and a groan
That shook the earth went forth; and a wild cry,
That tore through the black silence of the sky,
Followed, and scrambling from their beds in haste
They drove the Hebrews forth, both man and beast.
And while the wild wail wrung the midnight ear,
And quaked the land of Ham with guilty fear,
Heard Pharoah in his halls the martial tread
Of Jacob's ransomed tribes, delivered, led.
In triumph forth, and every heavy heart
Throughout his kingdom felt the fatal smart
Of wrath divine, which deep went to the quick;
And while with dire defeat their souls were sick,
The fiery pillar drove the night away
From Israel's front, and as a cloud by day
Shut out the broiling sun.

But wretched pride
Soon swallowed up the miseries, and dried
The tears of their oppressors; and the might
Of Pharaoh woke with fury in the night,
Men cased in armour, chariot and horse.
The thunder of that formidable force
Shook the black night, and Israel, looking back,
Saw the dread forces follow on their track.
The Red Sea lay in front, behind their foes,
And losing confidence in God they rose
And chode with Moses, whom they blamed for all
The griefs that seemed their fortunes to befall.

But "FORWARD" was the word. The man of God
Held o'er the deep wide watery waste his rod,
And from the east a mighty tempest woke,
Which on the sea with sudden thunder broke,
And through its briny depths a furrow ploughed,
As to the right and left the waters proud
Were tossed, and Israel journeyed through the deep
Dryshod; on either hand the crystal heap,
And in their rear, between them and the foe,
The fiery pillar and the cloud did throw
Light upon those, on these confusion glared,
Who in the madness of their spirits dared
To drive their horses and their chariots through
The dangerous pass. But as the twelve tribes drew
Their hindmost from the depths of the dark sea,
From the oppressor's power for ever free,
Who in the midst, with all their warlike host
And noise of war and loud presumptuous boast
Still followed hard, the rod of Moses hung
Once more above the deep, which backward flung
Its waters black and wild with wrathful roar,
And closed the crystal walls, from shore to shore,
Upon the chariots, horse, and men of war,
Hiding within the deep from sight afar
The flower of Egypt, and the dark tide shed
Upon the shore at Israel's feet the dead.

Thus did the living God deliver, bring
Clean out of durance vile, as on the wing
Of eagle, to Himself this people, place
Them far from all their fears before His face
In mercy marvellous; yea, He did descend
To dwell among them, to protect, defend,
And drive out from the promised land their foes,
According to the mighty power that rose
In their behalf, when in their tears they toiled
To gather stubble, crushed, downtrodden, soiled
With grime of slavery.

How did they respond
To this deliverance great? Was it a bond
Which did in endless gratitude unite
Their hearts to Him? Alas, the opposite!
They murmered, vexed the Spirit of the Lord,
Despised the pleasant land to which His word
Had called them. Yea, a golden calf they made,
And to it offered sacrifice, and said,
"These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought
Thee out of Egypt." Then His wrath waxed hot,
And their false froward footsteps He did turn
To wander in the waste, that they might learn
The nature of their own rebellious hearts,
And His deep grace, who out of heaven imparts
The bread of angels for their daily food;
Their thirst to slake the rock sends forth a flood.
He kept their feet from swelling, and their clothes
From waxing old; yet nothing else arose
But sounds of discontentment from their ranks,
The whole way through the desert to the banks
Of Jordan, whose dark waters, touched by them
Who bore the Ark; divided, those which came
Down from above stood up upon a heap,
And those cut off, with one tremendous sweep
Dashed to the Dead Sea, leaving five miles dry
Of Jordan's bed; thus Israel passed, and by
The favour of Jehovah set that day
Their feet in Canaan.

But though by the way
Upon the desert sands like compost fell
The bodies of the men who did rebel
Against His precepts, who had been brought forth
Full grown from Egypt's land, as little worth
Were those who sprang to manhood in the waste,
And from their tender years were wont to taste
Jehovah's bounty. Like their fathers they
Provoked the Holy One, and made their way
Perverse before Him. Even in the land
Unto His hated foes they gave the hand
Of sinful fellowship, mingling their seed
With the accursed races; paid no heed
To His commandment, but rebellious went
After strange gods, and slew the prophets sent.
They honoured not their Saviour's holy name,
But wallowed in pollution, till the shame
Of their abominations made the land
To stink before Him. Oft He turned His hand
Against them, brought them into evil days,
Chastised them by their foes for their bad ways;
Yet when they cried to Him His gracious ear
He closed not to their prayers, but did hear,
And raised up saviours who delivered them.
Yet in their frowardness they did contemn
The counsel of the Lord. With hearts of flint,
And ears deaf to reproof, they blindly went
Headlong the step of ruin down, till God,
With their abominations vexed, a rod,
Bitter and sharp, called forth from Babylon.
With armour glancing in the eastern sun,
And lance and sword, Nebuchadnezzar came,
And turned their far-famed glory into shame,
Leading a multitude of captives, won
For chains of slavery.

What could God have done
More for that nation? What mind could suggest
Another dealing destined to attest
Man in a better way? What overture
Could yet be made, which to the good and pure
And perfect way, the natural desires
Of vain man might decoy? What yet requires
To be exhibited that may attract
The wandering heart? Is there another act
That God might manifest from heaven above,
A last resource of everlasting love,
That mid life's troubled ocean's ceaseless roll,
Might on the rudder of the human soul
Lay an almighty hand, and safely steer
The bark into a pure and peaceful sphere?
Yes, there is one, known only to His mind
Who is in wisdom infinite; mankind
Shall by it tested be, and if it fail
The world shall wait until like winter's hail
The fiery lightnings of insulted heaven,
Its guilty bosom shall have ruthless riven,
In righteousness. One final act of grace,
Greater than all, shall test the human race.
This test came by the advent of the Son;
By Him would God poor man's estate undone
Seek to recover. For four hundred years
No voice from heaven had fallen on the ears
Of the twelve tribes, until the Baptist's voice
Made all Judea's wilderness rejoice
With the announcement of the coming Christ,
And warning for the Pharisee, who priced
His fair religious repute too high
To bow in self-abasement at that cry,
That shook the heavens and wrinkled the dark face
Of Jordan, bringing many to embrace
The dust in penitence; preparing thus
A highway for the Lord, who "God with us"
Among them stood. Quickly that voice was drowned
In blood by wicked Herod, while around
That favoured land the fame of Jesus spread,
Who healed the sick, the lepers cleansed, the dead
Restored to life, and to the poor proclaimed
The grace of God.

Cared man to hear Him named?
Did they rejoice that God in flesh, arrayed
In heavenly might and mercy, to their aid
Had come when they were poor, afflicted, held
Under the Roman yoke, tribute compelled
To pay to Caesar? Did their souls discern
In Him a Saviour-God, come near to turn
To day their night? Did they not gladly hail
Him come with power impossible to fail,
When they beheld the evil hosts take flight
Before His presence, as the clouds of night
Fly from the presence of the lord of day,
When up the slope of heaven he climbs his way?
Alas, the world He made knew not its Lord,
His people deaf were to His gracious word.
A lonely "Man of Sorrows" He became;
Marked was His way by man's reproach and shame.
Wormwood they gave the Son of God to eat,
And gall to drink. The Scribes in Moses' seat
Against Him spake, and He became the song
Of drunken revellers. Yet the hungry throng
He fed on mountain bare and bleak, and bore
Their sorrows on His blessed heart, and o'er
Their causeless hatred rose the love that would
Their evil-doing overcome with good.
But all in vain, condemned, betrayed, denied —
The Saviour of the world they crucified.

Thus briefly, hastily, in moments few,
Have we man's history been wading through,
And testing it, from Eden to the cross,
And after every trial found but dross
Within the crucible. And I may say
That we have only touched upon the way
The mountain tops of human shame, and passed
Unnoticed the dense vales of lust, and vast
Far-reaching plains of undergrowth, that rank,
O'er sloughs of rottenness, droop thick and dank,
Impregnating with their effluvium
The atmosphere of heaven. But the sum
Of all the crimes of man's dark life till now,
Were but as the thin vapour on the brow
Of yonder cliff, compared with that black cloud
Of causeless hatred, that colossal shroud
Of darkness horrible, that with the dread
Hatred of hell, burst hot upon the head
Of that meek, lowly Victim, who e'en then
Would Israel have gathered, as a hen
Gathers beneath her wings her brood, when steals
The fox with cunning craft abroad, as peals
The midnight hour, but they would not.

And now
My joy is that on high, that suffering brow
Man crowned with thorns, is circled with the light
Of Godhead glory; and that power and might
To Him alone in heaven and earth belong,
And that no knee in the angelic throng
But bends before Him; neither tongue but owns
Him Lord of all. He hath above all thrones
His glorious seat — my Saviour and my Friend

S. Were this a doctrine unto which could bend
My sober senses, it were good indeed;
For under heaven what more could one in need
Of timely help wish, than to know, above
Upon the throne of God, Immortal Love,
Personified in Jesus, sit, his great
Almighty Saviour. Such a happy state
Nothing on earth could equal. But the doubt,
Like to a chilling cloud, that shutteth out
The genial sun, athwart my sky is thrown;
And, like the Arctic traveller, alone
Lost upon everlasting hills of ice,
Beholding on the rim of earth arise,
A moment into view, a round red ball,
That lights his languid eye, and over all
His frozen frame quickens a pulse of hope,
Then in despair watches the day-star drop
Behind the crystal crags. Thus have I felt,
As on God's ways so wonderous thou hast dwelt,
Which, spite of man's unhappy enmity,
In matchless mercy would still have His way
Of sovereign love; but ever doubt will thrust
Itself upon my brain, till I am tossed
Upon a wild and dark bewildering sea
Of speculative thought. It may be thou
Art right, but I have writings read ere now,
By those who loved the Scriptures. striving hard
To prove them true, but I could not regard
Their words as weighty; though not ill inclined,
I may have read them with a biased mind.

C. Books made by men of learning, in defence
Of Holy Writings, oft display a dense
And dismal ignorance of the design
And scope of Scripture, as of the divine
Simplicity and order of the parts;
And though with good intent, and honest hearts
The authors wrote, far better had they left
The thing alone; besides the Word bereft
Of all such advocacy, seems to me
To shine the brighter; and though such may be
Occasionally helpful, yet I look
On him who gives the world this kind of book,
As on a well-intentioned simpleton
Who lights a rush to show the blind the sun.
Faith needs them not. Believe me there is more
Of will than honest doubt found at the core
Of sceptic hearts. If, while clear shines the light,
Men grope about as in the clouds of night,
And for one kindly ray make loud request,
I say the state of such is manifest.
The darkness is not in the Word, but in
The mortal blinded by the power of sin.

Lift up thine eyes to Him who sits in heaven,
Who for thy soul His precious life hath given,
And who, in mercy from the heights above,
Calls in the greatness of His changeless love.
He would thy soul deliver from the pit,
And for the Father's house thee change and fit.
However many thy transgressions be,
Forgiveness is announced, both full and free.
Infernal powers would frighten thee away,
Their showers of fiery darts thy soul would slay.
Fenced round with reasonings they have thy mind,
That light of life may never inlet find.
Too long the fell destroyer thou hast heard;
Too long been deaf to God's life-giving word:
Hark to the voice of endless love divine;
Though late the great salvation may be thine;
The hand of judgment has not yet the gate
Of mercy closed, nor is it yet too late.
Not yet are seeking sinners driven away,
Nor shall they be while lasts salvation's day.
Joy fills the heavens over all who, in
Repentance and confession of their sin,
Turn unto God. Soon shall the Saviour come;
Soon shall He take His blood-bought people home;
Then woe betide the dwellers on the earth,
To sorrow shall give place their songs of mirth;
And He whom they have crucified and slain
Shall with a rod of iron rule and reign.
But haste thee now, to God thyself betake,
While thou art to thy danger great awake;
Lest thy destroyer come with purpose fell
And lull thy soul with opiates of hell;
And thou shalt sleep, and dream thy life away,
Till death at last shall lift the lance to slay;
Then hope for ever gone, thy spirit lost,
On wrath's dark sea shall be for ever tossed.
Thy black and everlasting midnight there
To fill with lamentations of despair.

Nay, turn thee now to Him who waits to bless:
To thee He would be life and righteousness.
All that thy soul hath need for thou wilt find
In Him whom God hath set to bless mankind.
Submit to Him, bow low before His throne.
Him Lord of all — thy Lord and Saviour own;
And to the world His great salvation tell,
While thou hast breath to sound His praise.
Farewell.

Part 2.

C. When last we met it was in yon retreat
Where woodland groves the gladsome vision greet;
Where melody so silvery, sweet, and clear,
From countless feathery throats fell on the ear;
Where, underneath a cloudless sky, the scene
Of vale and mountain, clothed in cloth of green,
Reposed in peerless beauty, and the vales
Echoed with lowing herds, and in the pails,
Held in the lap of many a rustic fair,
The bubbling milk made music; here and there
A purling streamlet, clear as crystal, sang
Through sylvan vales of loveliness, or sprang
From beds of rushes into sudden view
With louder octave, hymning sweetly through
The verdant lawns, and shattering by the way
The sun's bright beams, which on the surface lay;
And gliding in unjealous grace along,
With many a sparkling drop the wild bird's song
Touched with a magic sweetness; then again
Dived into darkness with a rich refrain
Between deep banks of lichen, shadowed o'er
By dank, low drooping foliage, which wore
A tangled, heavy, lazy, languid look,
Whose trailing branches dangled in the brook.
And there above the murmuring water sang
The wren and redbreast; and the throstle rang
His music with the blackbird's melody.
And perched upon a pebble round, which lay
Among the yellow sand, half in the wave,
The wagtail with the silver spray did lave
His plumage, while the drops around him rolled,
Like diamonds thrown about on dust of gold.
And high above our heads the leverock,
Spurning the lower world, sweet music spoke
To spheres celestial, hid from sight, but still
The wild notes slid down with a gentle thrill
Through airy depths, and the bright orb of day,
Across the azure dome upon his way,
Flooded the universe. Now kindly light
Has left us cold and lone, and shivering night
Into the sphere of day seems to have crept,
Laying athwart the heavens, to intercept
The light and heat, his clouds of sable hue,
Which shake down wrinkled winter's hoary dew,
And mantling earth in ermine garments, freeze
The bare and leafless branches of the trees,
Till like grim ghostly skeletons they stand
Upon a ruined desolated land.

Then all was bright, and o'er the landscape trailed
No misty vapours, no dark drapery veiled
The face of heaven, like those clouds which rise
Like alpine hills piled high against the skies,
And walling up Hyperion from our gaze;
Who struggled up the steep dome in a blaze
Of glory late this morn, like one delayed,
Shattering the heart of every sullen shade,
And fiercely hurling flaming lances far
Above the towering ridges, as in war
Amid the smothering smoke, where darkly close
In mortal combat, fierce contending foes,
From neighbouring mountain summit one may see
The lurid flash of the artillery;
So leaped his lightnings o'er those crystal crags.
But scarce begun is his ascent till flags
His fiery zeal, and ere half up the slope
Exhausted with his journey he doth drop
Into the depths again, leaving the dew
Upon the sweating brow of winter, through
The long dark hours the breath of chilling night
To feel, and in the burst of morning light
To shine like crystal.

Still is everything,
Save for the restless flapping of the wing
And caw of drowsy rook upon yon larch,
Who, jostled by his neighbour from his perch,
Fluttering his pinions, makes spasmodic grasp
At firmer foothold, and with guttural rasp
Grumbles splenetic; while the showering frost
Falls from the shaken boughs like diamond dust,
Down through the crisp cold air upon the dry
Snows underneath, where like to white mounds lie,
Wrapt in their frost-resisting fleece, those sheep,
Still as though each were but a lifeless heap
Of pure white snow.

'Twas morning then. The earth
In her diurnal motion, had to birth
Brought one more day, and ruthless rolled the last
Into the greedy whirlpool of the past,
And with remorseless hand thus forced from man
One full round day out of his little span.
Yet such a morning hath its charms. But now
To westward evening drops her shining prow
Into the crimson gulf, as o'er the round
Of earth, the bark upon the ocean bound
For distant land, sinks on the farther side,
Till vanishes the tall mast o'er the tide
Of trackless ocean wide; thus drops the even,
While a dark frown upon the brow of heaven
Follows the path of the retiring day
Right to the margin of the boundary
Of the domain of sight.

It was spring too,
And dressed in budding youth glad nature threw
Her skirts across the verdant earth, and smiled
From hedgerow, copse, and grove, and thicket wild;
And far removed from haunts of human woe,
A perfect paradise of bliss below
Might have been witnessed.

S. But alas, within
My breast a load of unforgiven sin
With crushing weight tormented, and a cloud
Which cast around my heart a chilling shroud,
And darkened all my life, lay black athwart
The vista of my future, and apart
From all the world within my secret soul
An apprehension of eternal dole
Unceasingly did gnaw. My thoughts were then
Busy with the philosophy of men,
And all was winter in my soul, and dark
As death's abode of gloom lit by the spark
Of hell-begotten infidelity,
Which charmed my godless life — lit did I say?
The light of death! God's beacon it was not,
Which thus across my life's dark ocean shot
Its baleful influence, and held me bound
Like an ill-fated moth, which circling round
The fascinating flame, still nearer flies,
Till by the light it idolised it dies.
The spark I followed was infernal, blind,
Struck from the anvil of man's godless mind.
A horrible decoy! A fiendish glare!
A false soul-wrecker's light, which set in bare
And rugged rocks, to dark destruction lures
The luckless bark, that sad mishap immures
In troubled seas. Drawn was I hellward thus
By every glimmering ignis-fatuous,
That on the dark horizon of my life
A moment glared, with many a scruple rife.
And though each theory short history had,
For each new dogma proved the former mad,
My restless mind sought eagerly again
Another lumination from the brain
Of earth's great men; for as the spider weaves
Her web out of her bosom, so those thieves
Of men's wits draw their vapid theories
Out of their own brains. By the light of these
I walked, or stumbled onward; yea, and men
Who faith confessed were much what I was then.
They spoke of Christ, His death, His life, His love,
His glory, and their fervent faith would prove
By sending light abroad, encompassing
Both sea and land, one proselyte to bring
To their belief, while I Christ's enemy
Confessed, was with them hand and glove each day.
Blind like myself, they knew for certain nought.
The purest faith they boasted, yet they thought
That nothing could be absolutely known,
So let religious debate alone,
Depending much upon philosophy
To light across the world our darksome way
To something better. Thus my vanity
Flattered became, to think that I could play,
In face of all this hollow-heartedness,
The honest part, nor could my tongue express
My scorn of them.

I shudder when I think
Of how I staggered blind upon the brink
Of everlasting death, as in the night,
Upon the utmost verge and giddy height
Of a steep cliff, the drunken roisterer goes,
With brain on fire, and stumbling step, nor knows
His dreadful danger, but with boastful voice
And drivelling doggerel, pleased with his loud noise;
Till as the silver moon, with gleaming edge
Cleaving the night-cloud, flings upon the ledge
A stream of light, and at his feet beneath
Yawns the great gulf with rugged rocks like teeth
Within its gaping jaws: then sudden hushed
Is all the drunken revelry, which gushed
Forth from his lips, and in his heated veins
The red blood curdles, and huge terror reins
The fiery passions in his bosom. Still
And mute, and horror-struck he stands, until
Gladness at his escape supplants surprise,
And from the threatening death so great he flies.

Such was my course, and thus have I been moved,
Since last we met, by precious light which proved
To me a light from heaven; thus have I
My dreadful danger seen; thus would I fly
Far from destruction deadly, but I know
Not where to hide me from the threatening woe.
No shelter seems my eager eyes to greet;
In front the dread abyss, and my retreat
Walled up by night.

C. Oh, infidelity!
Thou dark and treacherous gulf! Thou roaring sea
Of empty speculation, whose proud waves
Against light clamouring, make yawning graves
For all thy victims! Thou black chaos, vast
And harbourless, swept by the withering blast
Of the Almighty's curse, and girt about
By fiery flames of wrath, which every doubt
Shall burn out of the rebel brain! Of hell
The fiends spawn in thy slimy depths their fell
And soul-destroying lies. Leviathan,
Whose horrible compeer no creature can
Find upon earth, trails through thy murky tide
His scaly bulk, king of the sons of pride,
Making the waters boil. Thine atmosphere,
Foul, noxious, stupefying, gloomy, drear,
Stinks with the poisonous vapours of the pit
Of evil; thine unhallowed dungeon, lit
By no lifegiving ray of radiant sun,
The conscience stupefies. Demons, outdone
By man's effrontery and presumptive pride,
Believe and tremble, man doth fear deride,
And scorning love and wrath alike, turns round
And pours profane abuse upon the sound
Of free salvation.

Sweet it is when one
Is brought to see his helplessly undone
And lost condition. There is joy in heaven
When one poor soul whom wilfulness hath driven
Afar from God bows low in penitence.
His joy is to receive the one whose sense
Of his deep ruin wrings from him the cry,
"I perish!" Nor will ever He deny
One, who constrained by goodness all divine,
Turns unto Him. Here great His grace doth shine!
His arms of love enfold the penitent;
His joy before the angels must have vent;
Shoes for the feet, and ring, and robe to fit
Him for His presence, He doth make him sit
Down at His feast, where music, mirth, and dance
Rejoice to celebrate the circumstance
Of his return.

S. But one thing would I know,
Can it be possible, while here below
Encompassed by our great infirmities,
And failures too (for sure no creature's ways
Are perfect all), and with no visible,
Or open declaration of the will
Of God, by sign from heaven above, to tell
If His bright courts, or that devouring hell
One's portion is? For yet I see not how,
Apart from some sure sign, myself, or thou,
Or anyone can know.

C. I plainly see
The gloom in which you walk; but would it be
Ground firmer to rely on, if you heard
A voice from heaven, than leaning on the word
Penned by the Holy Ghost? No sign I need,
I open God's glad tidings, and I read
Of my condition lost, and of the plan
Of His unfathomable grace to man;
Of ransom by the blood; that He who gave
Himself for all, and lay within the grave,
Now crowned with glory occupies the throne.
To Him I come, and unto Him alone,
And find a welcome.

It is not my mind
Drawing conclusions from what I may find
Within the sacred writings, as from thence
A man might draw a human inference,
As "That the Christ has died my death, and met
The claims of God, and I am out of debt."
While all the time I reason in the night,
And never reach Him who is love and light.
But it is to be turned right round to God
From the pursuit of sin on death's dark road,
To have the conscience searched, the heart laid bare,
The strong will broken; in His presence there
In all my wickedness, and sin, and shame,
Fit fuel for the eternal fiery flame
Of righteous indignation, to confess
My scarlet sins; and for my soul's distress
To find the Christ to be my righteousness;
To know that in the mighty love of God,
Who gave Him up to bear my heavy load,
Not only are my many sins forgiven,
But unto me the very door of heaven
Is opened wide, and by the Spirit's power
I may anticipate that blissful hour
When we shall enter into God's own rest
Of love, of joy, of peace, supremely blest.

S. 'Twere good indeed to feel that He imparts
To our disconsolate and broken hearts
Mercy thus freely; yet I cannot say
My wandering feet have found the narrow way
Which leads to life. My sinful course I judge,
Also the rebel will which long did lodge
In haunts of reasonings afar from Him;
Neither the chalice filled up to the brim
With retribution fearing, nor a drop
Of love immortal coveting. I stop
Upon my wilful way; or might I dare
To hope that God hath stopped me, that His care
For mine eternal welfare hath o'er all
My sin abounded, and that He let fall
This precious light in mercy, which hath shown
Me to myself before His righteous throne?
If so, then I would praise the grace so great,
Which gave me thus to see my lost estate
In this salvation's day, else had it been
Hid from mine eyes, till in the dazzling sheen
Of His great judgment throne, the truth had burst
Upon me in eternity accursed.

But here is B. my neighbour, who though pure
In creed and morals, has not yet made sure
That heaven shall be his portion. B., is this
Not so, that, as to endless wrath or bliss,
Thou art not sure and certain which shall be
In resurrection meted out to thee?

B. I cannot certain be, sure never man,
The wise king Solomon hath written, can
Know whether love or hate before him lies,
Until at death his spirit to the skies
Shall be escorted by the angelic throng,
Or waking in the flame, like Dives, long
For but one drop of water from the spring
Of God's salvation.

C. Would you kindly bring
Before us, sir, the passage that shall touch
And prove the point at issue, for on such
A scripture it has never been my lot
To fall; but now my ignorance is nought,
When proofs are in demand. The Book is here,
Read out the text, while we lend ready ear.

B. I cannot well remember, but I know
'Tis somewhere found — in Proverbs — if not so,
Ecclesiastes — Job — or by the way,
The Psalms — I cannot at this moment say.

C. Job and the Psalms were not by Solomon;
Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, these alone
Besides the Canticles, were all the Lord
Gave Solomon the honour to record.
But with your leave I fancy I could find
The scripture that is wandering in your mind;
But when you read it, I believe you shall
Find all that you have built upon it fall;
Like to a fortress founded upon sand
All beautified with things, rich, rare, and grand,
Which, when fierce floods pour down about the base,
Sweeping the shifting sand out of its place,
By its own weight it topples on its side —
Gone its foundations in the whelming tide;
And waiting till the wayward winds of heaven
Shall hard upon the other side be driven,
And with fierce fury, in that awful hour,
Lift it upon the shoulders of its power,
And with an earthquake shock, or thunder sound,
Dash it a ruined heap upon the ground.
Thus shalt thou find thy notions swept aside
By the deep power of truth's eternal tide.

Now to Ecclesiastes turn with me.
The Spirit there shows all a man can see
Under the sun, all any man can find,
By the researches of his human mind.
Hence He takes up the wisest of the race,
The richest, too, that man may have no case
Of poverty to plead, and so complain
That his research was fettered by the chain
Of adverse circumstances. Peace did reign
Within his kingdom; nothing did restrain
His heart from proving all that under heaven
Was found; and this the verdict he hath given —
Here "all is vanity" upon the earth.
Nothing can satisfy the heart. Man's birth
Is full of sorrow, and the day of death
Is better than the day of birth. One breath
Have men and beasts: man no pre-eminence
Above the brute can boast of; time and chance
Occur to all. This is the verdict given
Concerning all creation under heaven.
No satisfaction can be found, nor good;
All is confusion; nothing understood.
There is but one event to each and all;
Unto the wicked and the righteous fall
All things alike: to him who swears, as well
As unto him who fears an oath, and tell
Can no man love or hatred by the things
Which, in His ways untraceable, God brings
To pass on all. So David in his day
Beheld the wicked prosper in their way;
Corrupt he saw them, blasphemous, and proud,
Increased in riches; then he cried aloud:
"Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain,
And washed my hands from every sinful stain."
Thus did he reason, till alone with God,
And from the Sanctuary looked abroad,
And saw the godless by the eternal light
Of Godhead wisdom, counsel, truth, and might.
'Twas slippery places whereupon their feet
Were set; and he could hear their proud hearts beat
With terrors which their inmost souls did rend —
Then only did he understand their end.

Were I to judge from what I see around,
And make events of daily life a ground
Of testimony, as to love bestowed,
Or disapproval by the living God,
I would indeed be like a traveller lost
In a lone moor, where stands no fingerpost
Pointing the path to follow, but where gloom
Of moonless night with darkness of the tomb
Envelopes everything, and where the roar
Of wild beast ravening thrills to the core.

A revelation then these words are not,
But the experience of one who sought
By springs of earth his soul to satisfy,
And leaving nothing which he did not try,
Music, and mirth, possessions, riches great,
Wisdom, and madness, folly, pomp, and state.
None coming after Solomon can find
A spring of pleasure to which he was blind.
And then, inspired his verdict to confess,
Says: — "All is vanity, and profitless."

S. I used to think the writer of this book
As great a sceptic as myself, and took
Occasion often to refer to this,
But now I see I read the Word amiss.
All is so simple, if one will be taught —
I much more stupid am than I had thought.

B. I wish not now the subject to debate —
It may be as you say, at any rate
My reason is not satisfied at all,
For somewhere surely the apostle Paul
Exhorts believers in the Lord to make
Examination of themselves, and take
All pains to prove themselves, lest they might be
After all reprobates?

C. But pardon me.
Your case is 'tis impossible to know,
But this the possibility would show.
And would the blessed God exhort His own
To know a thing that never could be known?
But here again you have not grasped the thought.
Conveyed in what the great apostle wrote.
'Twas not his way to hang above their pates
The dark mistrust that they were reprobates.
They questioned his apostleship, and he
Declares the Christ in them the proof to be
Of his apostleship, as elsewhere we,
In this same letter to these Christians, see,
That them he with great confidence doth call.
His commendatory letter unto all.
Just as a skilful sculpture when defamed,
Might to the chiselled marble unashamed
Point; and, with confident and fearless heart,
Command the specimen of his great art
Before his captious critics plead his case,
That mere contention should no more have place.

B. But doth not Peter all the flock adjure
To make their calling and election sure?

C. But what unheard of folly, if 'tis so
That none can calling or election know!

B. But surely also equal folly where
All are so certain that they cannot err!

C. That is not said, nor is it true; but stay!
Farther we cannot go just now that way.
One thing at once, lest we confusion make:
The question is not, May one make mistake?
But, Is it possible on earth to know
Whether our portion is eternal woe,
Or life eternal?

B. I suppose we shall
Have what we work for.

C. Work for! What if all
Have sinned? And this the word of God declares.
And all have wandered from the way, and there's
None righteous, none that understands, and none
That doeth good. And when the great white throne
Is set for judgment, and men shall receive
According to their works, what man shall leave
That throne of righteousness, and have to say,
"My works have won for me the right of way
Into the courts of holiness"? No man
Of all the sinful race of Adam can
By works be justified.

B. Surely you err:
For doth not the apostle James declare
That men by works are justified, and not
Only by faith? Hath he not also brought
Out of the ancient Scriptures many great
And lucid proofs, which silence all debate?
Works must be done. Let all who boast of faith
Beware, lest this be but the empty breath
Of vanity, erected on the base
Of scriptures wrenched out of their proper place.
To do the best one can, and in the end
Hope for the mercy heaven may extend,
Is better than this boast, too often found
A mere hallucination, fit to wound
The cause of true religion.

C. I admit
If works of human righteousness do fit
Man for eternal glory, it is plain
His portion till the judgment must remain
A secret. But one cannot well exclude
The just inquiry from the mind, that should
A child of Adam by his works fulfil
The just requirement of God's holy will,
Why he should have to die a death of shame,
Like other men, whose evil deeds proclaim
Them sinners? But if you will calmly weigh
What the apostle whom you quote doth say,
No thought will meet you, such as you express,
That man's own works gain him a righteousness
In God's sight. Surely such a statement would
Show him to be with Paul at mortal feud,
And not a line writ by the Holy Ghost.
Thus would we be indeed in darkness lost.
But of the Holy Scriptures I make bold
To say, from first to last they do not hold
One contradiction. How then can it be
That things discordant there you seem to see?
'Tis thus: the Holy Ghost by Paul doth show
How man can righteous be with God, and so
He is exposed, as one in whom no good
Exists; but by the virtue of the blood,
God holds him righteous who believes His grand
And glorious gospel. On the other hand
The proof that there is faith, lies in the walk
Of him who has it, not in the vain talk
Of him who boasts himself. James takes the ground
That where the faith is, good works shall be found.
No contradiction. See, one clearly can,
Paul speaks from God's side, James from that of man.

But if we turn to the Old Testament
Light will to us be liberally lent.
In reading Genesis we are compelled
To own, the principle on which God held
Abraham as righteous was that of faith.
This to the Romans the apostle saith
Doth demonstrate the unquestionable fact,
That man by faith is just, without one act
Of his own righteousness done, or put down
Unto his credit. This voice thou wouldst drown
In clamour about works, but here it stands
Bound on the page of truth with golden bands;
And unto him who works is the reward
Not of grace reckoned but of debt, and marred
Were the whole gospel plan, did God admit
The creature to have any hand in it.

'Twas on this principle the patriarch
Accounted righteous was, when in the dark,
Profound, mysterious vision of the night,
God bade him fix his eyes upon the bright
And starry dome of heaven, and view those
Orbs of resplendent beauty, and disclose
Their number, saying unto him, "so shall
Thy seed be." And his heart lay not in thrall
Of unbelief, as though the voice deceived,
But counting on almighty power, believed.
And he who scorns the testimony here
Scorns it in Paul, encircled with the cheer,
Of an accomplished ransom, and the spoils
Of Calvary. Man's wretched pride recoils
From grace so free, like the unhappy guest
Who came with haughty spirit to the feast
Without the wedding garment. On the head
Of that bold Pharisee fell judgment dread.

Seek not to dress thyself in thine own clothes;
God, by His blessed gospel, doth propose
To clothe thee with a robe of spotless white,
His righteousness, not thine, fit for the light
Of His own presence, thus to bring thee near.
As filthy rags thy purest deeds appear.
Repent thou in God's sight. Let go thy works.
As long as sinful vanity thus lurks
Within thy breast, true peace thou canst not know;
Nay, but in danger of eternal woe
Thou now dost stand. A name to live, while dead,
Thy works shall give thee. But it shall be said
Of all the ransomed host, blood-washed, blood-bought,
Caught up and glorified, — "What hath God wrought?"

Now though I spoke of Genesis fifteen
To show that Abram justified had been
By faith alone, I did not then forget
The truths that may in other parts be met.
But it is unto chapter twenty-two
That the apostle James refers, and you
May see that at the least, a time appears
Between the two, as large as twenty years.
And why is this, but just as I have showed,
James looks from man's side, Paul from that of God.
Paul reads the heart, and when he sees the faith
Declares the sinner righteous, but James saith,
"Faith without works is dead;" he waits to see
The fruit ere he pronounces on the tree.

S. 'Tis wonderful indeed! Light for the first
Doth here upon my understanding burst
With reference to those passages which seem
So contradictory. I did not dream
Such harmony lay in the place where I
Saw only discord. But let man rely
On the poor finite mind, to comprehend
The mind divine, surely it all must end
In utter failure.

C. Truly, for when they
The plummet of their crooked reason lay
Against the upright wall of truth divine,
Gross contradictions glare in every line;
Yet right his own mind man will ever deem,
Therefore all truth is false in his esteem.

But if none can discover in this scene
Whether the blood of sprinkling is between
Their souls and judgment's fierce devouring sword,
Why is it then presented in the Word
As something to be known? 'Twas by the flock
Of Christ rejoiced in. It was the firm rock
On which they built. By faith upon the throne
They saw the Saviour who had made His own
Their scarlet sins, when the fierce lightnings flashed,
And wrath's red thunderbolts from heaven crashed
Through angry clouds, Himself their mark and aim
Who knew no sin, but there the sin and shame
Of all His people bore, and finishing
The cup of wrath, gave up His life, to bring
Them out from bondage and the fear of death,
And then, in resurrection, His own breath,
Breathing upon them, life for ever gave,
Making them one with Him beyond the grave.

Most certainly believers are forgiven;
For, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,
This is the message preached, where'er is found
A living man to listen to the sound.
From Jesus glorified, and in His name,
Evangelists these tidings glad proclaim,
That whosoever trusts in Him who died,
And whom God raised again is justified.
Could other words have been to men addressed
More fitted to set troubled souls at rest,
Upon whose consciences tormenting crowd
Their guilty life's transgressions, crying loud
For judgment? Nay, the Word of God is plain,
Nor can a seeking soul believe in vain.
Besides there's not an exhortation found
In the apostle's writings, but the ground
Of it is this great fact, denied by you,
That those addressed are Christ's, and know it too.
Could there be power in exhorting one
To walk, as of the blessed God a son,
If the relationship one cannot know?
Responsibility must ever flow
From known relationships; and if you would
Counsel a careless Christian for his good,
The true relationship must first be given,
Responsibility may then be driven
Home to the heart. This, I rejoice to say,
Is now, and ever was, the Scripture way.

S. Is every sinner not responsible,
Saved or unsaved, to carry out God's will

C. But if unsaved the measure of his due
The ten commandments are, the perfect, true
Standard of obligation for the child
Of Adam, be he Jew or Gentile styled.
But when one is forgiven and brought near
By precious blood, in love which casts out fear,
A son before the face of God to stand,
By grace delivered from the law's demand,
And blessed in Christ, partaker of His life
And of His Spirit, now no more at strife
With God's commandment, in a nature new
His whole delight that perfect will to do;
His old responsibilities are fled
With the old life and nature held for dead.
It is his privilege himself to view
As in the life of Christ, sinless and new.
Dead in the death of Him who on the tree
Bore all our judgment that we might go free.

Relationship is not now with the race
Of Adam, who o'erwhelmed us in disgrace;
Where only creature dues were to be paid
To the Creator, who of dust man made.
But our responsibility, instead
Of being lowered by the mercy shed,
Is as much higher as the heavens above
Are higher than the earth on which we move.
But of another character they are;
Nor are they measured by his, who, afar
From God, must work for life, or bear the pain
Of endless judgment. Clear our path and plain —
To walk as Christ did walk, by faith to tread
The path He trod on earth, to this world dead;
Be unto all we meet in this dark place
What He has been to us in boundless grace,
Thus law is in the distance left behind,
Like to a weakling, helpless, broken, blind,
When matched as a competitor with grace,
Which, bright with the effulgence of God's face,
Sends o'er the earth its living powerful rays,
That righteousness may dignify our ways.

S. But with deep interest longs my soul to hear
How man in his probation did appear
Under God's holy and omniscient eye;
Also what hath been done to test and try
Him in his natural state, what hath been done
For his salvation, ere the great white throne
Shall be set up; and lastly, what shall be
The nature of the judgment; whether He
Will temper wrath with mercy, so that those,
Who, though they may have sinned, yet were not foes
Of true religion, may, part by their own
Good efforts made, and helped by Christ, atone
For many failures, and when placed within
The golden scales of justice, see their sin
Outweighed by His great suffering and death,
Well supplemented by their works of faith,
Repentance, prayers, and tears o'er failures shed,
So that, as victors crowned, they may be led
Into those joys, to mortal flesh unknown,
To sing His praise.

C. Or rather sing their own
If by their works, though supplemented by
The work of Christ, they enter bliss on high,
They could not sing His praise alone, for they
Part praise deserve, and concord would give way
To everlasting discord. But I haste
To take the points in order you request
Some clearer light on, though we shall be bound,
In our excursion, to re-traverse ground
Which on the last occasion you and I
Passed in a panoramic vision by;
But then it was the working of the will
Of rebel man, that rampant rose to fill
Our vision; now, while we must take account
Of man's rebellion, grace that did surmount
All barriers in blessing, let this be
That which our souls shall contemplate and see,
As we his history trace.

When innocence
Was by the fall in Eden lost, from thence
Jehovah God drave out the man, and guard
Of cherubim and flaming sword, which barred
All access to the tree of life, He left;
While man beneath the ban of death, bereft
Of hope of ever entering again
The precincts of that excellent domain,
Must bend his back, and from the stubborn ground
Accursed, where thorns and thistles thick abound,
With sweat of labour, force his daily bread,
And in his sorrow eat it, while are shed
Regretful tears, which cannot wash away
His terrible transgression, nor allay
The misery of his lot. Here he became
Head of a race all sharers of his shame,
And under sin and death. What will they do?
Seek God, and serve Him gladly, or pursue
A path rebellious? Alas, except
Where sovereign grace delivers, all are swept
Adown the steep declivity of lust,
Farther from God by every furious gust
Of devilish influence; and where grace wrought
In power omnipotent, and gently brought
One here and there, down in the dust to bow
In self abasement; there the wrathful brow
Of fiendish murder, which the sight of good
Roused into fury, fierce their lives pursued.
So great the wickedness that God is said
To have repented Him that He had made
Man on the earth; and in the whelming flood
Is brought to light the righteous wrath of God.

B. All are not judged alike; Noah is blest,
And sheltered in the ark, when all the rest
Are overthrown; and Scripture saith that he
A righteous man was. This is proof to me
That man, for his own works of goodness was,
By God accepted.

C. For a moment pause,
And tell me what is man's first righteousness?
Can it be other than to take his place
Down in the dust, and honestly declare,
if treated as he merits, he must bear
The wrath of God for ever? There can be
Previous to this, no act of ours that He
Can reckon good. But see in Paradise,
When sin had opened our first parents' eyes,
God clothed their guilty nakedness with skins,
This intimating, that for scarlet sins,
The precious blood must flow. This Abel owned,
Believing blood, and only blood, atoned
For sin, and that his life was forfeited,
So brought a lamb to God, which in his stead
He offered up; the distance which did lie
Between himself and God confessing; nigh
He could not come in righteousness, but by
A victim, which instead of him must die.
His hardened, proud-souled, elder brother Cain,
To bow in self-abasement doth disdain;
Yet equally a worshipper, to God
Brings bloodless sacrifice, with which to load
His altar. God accepted not his gifts.
Wrathful at this, in fiendish rage he lifts
His hand in brutal murder. True, God saith,
"The righteous Abel," but it was by faith
His gifts were offered, which so hurt Cain's pride;
And it was of his gifts God testified.

So Noah: it is put on record, he,
In those pure eyes which man's dark heart did see,
Found saving grace. How strange that those same eyes,
From which the fratricide in terror flies,
Attract the son of Lamech. Grace he finds —
Favour unmerited, which sweetly winds
Around the trembling husbandman the arm
Of everlasting love, amid alarm
Of judgment's awful voice, and horrible
Convulsion of the earth, when every hill
Was swamped by boiling billows, and the deep,
Wrath-foaming, breasted the bold beetling steep,
And rolled its smothering tides high o'er the peaks
Of all the dizzy mountain tops, as breaks
The briny flood o'er islet, rock, or dune,
When through ethereal depths the silver moon
Grasps with invisible but powerful hands
The ocean's bulk, and high upon the sands,
Out of its hollow basin, toward the sky
Doth lift it; thus the waste of waters high
O'er crowns of mountains huge rose, till there might
Have sailed a fleet of mammoth war-ships right
Over earth's highest ridges. Everything
Which in the airy regions spread the wing,
Or walked in form of man or beast, or crept
Upon the ground, did perish; all except
Those who within the ark upon the flood
Of whelming waters, by the grace of God,
Sailed in the sunlight.

God had looked from heaven,
And of the race before the flood had given
His verdict, which recorded you may find,
That every movement of man's heart and mind
Was only evil; now again, when all
Had perished underneath the heavy fall
Of wrath calamitous, and when had risen
The mountains dripping from their watery prison,
And mist and vapour from the flood arose,
And stretched on airy beds, lay at repose
Across the face of heaven, and the deep
Had called her swollen torrents back, to keep
Within the limits prudently decreed
By the Creator, and when Noah, freed
From wearisome confinement in the ark,
Stood by his altar and his offering, hark!
The same sad verdict given — "For from his youth
Man's thoughts are only evil"; thus the truth
Regarding man before the flood, we see
The same regarding Noah's seed to be.
Man lawless, obstinate, intractable,
Rebellious, full of enmity, had will,
After the judgment, to submit no more
Unto the claims of heaven than before.
So utterly perverse, there neither was,
Nor could be an improvement; and the cause
Of any turning unto God from sin
Was pure and simple sovereign grace, which in
Resistless might wrought in the human soul,
As from the face of chaos He did roll
The mantling darkness, and when the six days
Had run their courses, earth rolled in a blaze
Of glory innocent her orbit round,
Teeming with life, where no discordant sound
Saluted the Creator's ear, but all
Good and harmonious was. Thus from the fall
God wrought in individuals, all else
Pursued their natural liking, which repels
All thought of God. But if man's violence,
Pride and corruption marked that age, what since?
We cannot wade through all the filth and mire
Of earth's dark history, provoking ire
In the Almighty's breast from day to day;
Such hills of horror would upon our way
Be found, piled high as heaven's dome, and down
Deep rooted into hell, that we should crown
Our efforts with but ill success, nor do
I think it wisdom that we should pursue
The tortuous wandering of the rebel's trek
From God, through swamps of sin, that to the neck
Reach, noxious and disgusting: but behold
This man so favoured, overcome, and rolled
Into the mire, by bestial appetite,
Exposed to the lewd mockery and slight
Of Ham, who nothing bettered by the grace
Of which he was an object, turns a face
Brazen with criminality upon
His drunken father's nakedness, anon,
And chuckling in his wicked merriment,
Blabs in his brethren's ears the full extent
Of his unconscious father's shame. And scarce
Was hushed the roar of judgment, when the curse
Startles the ear, and with its direful tones
Curdles the blood, and thrills through all the bones,
And forces disappointment on the mind
That seeks within the heart of man to find
Something for God.

S. But if for Ham's offence
The curse alights on Canaan, in what sense
Is God a righteous judge? Should not the shaft
Of vengeance have been hurled at him who laughed,
Mocking at sin, rather than at the head
Of him who guiltless was?

C. Should we not dread
To bare the dagger of our reason in
The face of Him who errs not? Rather sin
For the poor worm of earth to call the acts
Of his Creator into question! Facts
Revealed in Scripture for our learning are,
And for our faith, not for our minds to gnar
And grumble at. If welcome light shine down
Upon the sacred page, our faith to crown
With understanding, we rejoice, if not
We can believe, and let each human thought
Perish, and say, in fleshly reason's spite,
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
But from the wicked after history
Of the accursed Canaanite we see
How righteous was the sentence. The red glare
Of soul-destroying sin flames everywhere
He wanders; and aloud upon our ear
From all his coasts the cries of wrong we hear,
And from dense jungles of most foul disgusts,
The trumpeting of elephantine lusts
Rises to heaven; and thus from bad to worse,
While still the execution of the curse
Is long delayed. The sickle sharp and bright
Waits till the grain is yellow to the sight,
Ere in the golden ridges it is thrust;
So Jacob's myriads in Egypt must
Remain, or through the arid desert rove,
Where thirst and hunger their own hearts shall prove,
Until the harvest field of Palestine
Is ready for the scythe of wrath divine.
But when the Canaanite had had his day,
And all the golden land of promise lay
Ready and ripe for slaughter, from the waste
Arose the tribes of Jacob armed, and chased
Them out from those strong fortresses of theirs,
As hunters chase the wild beasts from their lairs
Defiled with ravin, thus they slaughtered them.

S. I think you told me that the race of Shem
Were demon-worshippers, if this be so,
I fail to see, though doubt not you can show,
How he the blessing better did deserve
Than wicked Canaan. How could creature swerve
More from the truth than to bow down the face
Before the serpent who destroyed our race?

C. But would not this prove just the point I press,
That it is not by works of righteousness
The blessing is attained? Nor could the host
Of Jacob's sons, who seized the country, boast
That they were better than the nations seven,
Who for their deeds incurred the wrath of heaven.
By Moses' mouth God spoke to them, and said,
When them in sight of Canaan He had led,
"Think not it is for your great righteousness
"That I do drive out from before your face
"The land's inhabitants, but for their vile,
"Corrupt and wicked ways, that so defile
"The earth, and also to perform the oath
"Sworn to your fathers, for ye have been both
"Rebellious and stiff-necked, from the day
"I led you forth from Egypt all the way Till now."

In sovereign grace they had been brought
From under Pharaoh's yoke, they had not sought
Jehovah, He had heard their bitter cry,
Their Saviour had become, and brought them nigh
Unto Himself, not on the ground of law,
As though their sanctity of life did draw
From Him this intervention. Not one claim
Had they on Him for rescue from their shame.

B. But why then was the holy law proposed?
And why was not man's real state disclosed
To him the moment of his fall? And why,
If he will every claim of God deny,
This patient waiting on the part of God
From Adam's trespass onward to the flood,
And from the flood to Sinai, and from thence
Up to the cross, while every dark offence,
The curse on the offender brought, and now
Under the gospel dispensation? How —
If man be utterly incapable,
Because of his perverse and wicked will,
To please his gracious Maker — how is it
That unto man His law He did commit?

C. It pleased Him in His ways to demonstrate
To man his helpless and degraded state;
Hence under dispensations for the space
Of years four thousand man was in the place
Of trial or probation, when without
The written law, or under it, came out
What was within the nature. God hath made
This earth the stage, whereon we have displayed
The principles of evil and of good
In earnest unrelenting deadly feud.
The battle-ground the soul of man, the arms
Darkness and light; the combatants, the swarms
Of fiends infernal, led by Satan on,
In rage against the Father and the Son;
Where neither truce is known, nor quarter given;
Spectators, all the hierarchs of heaven.
Here struggles good adorned with heavenly light,
And evil draped in darkness black as night,
Foul, hateful, and abhorrent, and opposed
To God. All this on earth has been disclosed,
And, in the ways of God, has fully been
Brought out in man in this unhappy scene.
In fallen man, the race from Adam sprung,
We view the evil which no mortal tongue
Can picture; but along with this we see
In Christ the Second Man all that can be
Admired by God, displayed in this same world
O'er which the devil has his flag unfurled.
In Jesus all that God is came to light
Before the eyes of men; and in God's sight
All that He looked for from the human race,
And found in Adam's children not a trace.
This by the flesh was hated and despised,
When it should have more dear than life been prized.
Man is exposed; for it was not the law
By ministry of angels, but they saw
God manifested, and in gracious ways,
And not imputing to them trespasses,
But stretching forward an almighty arm
On their behalf, seeking from every harm
To shelter them. Now they have no excuse,
No cloak for sin. Favour cannot induce
The flesh to place itself upon the side
Of God; for come in flesh, the whelming tide
Of fiercest persecution rolled its waves
O'er His devoted head; and as the slaves
Of sin and Satan men are now displayed;
Nor can the judgment longer be delayed.
Man's day is over: all has now been spent.
That everlasting wisdom could invent,
The flesh to win; its moral history,
As on probation, ended was that day
The Son of God was judged by human will
To die that death of shame on Calvary's hill.

But God will work; for evil shall not be
Suffered to reign supreme, nor hell to see
The counsels of the everblessed God
Fail as a dream of night, nor rudely trod
By fell feet in the mire; no, in that hour
God laid on Him, the spotless One, the sum
Of all our sins, and that which should have come
In righteousness upon our guilty souls
He meekly bears, while midnight darkly rolls
O'er Palestine its mantle, holding sway,
And blinding to His death the eye of day.
There satisfaction to the eternal throne
He offers for offences not His own.
The waters reach His soul, the waves of wrath
Go over Him, no friend on earth He hath.
He looks from earth to heaven, the face of God
Averted is, alone He bears the load,
And from that stricken heart there breaks the cry,
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!"
Thus for the sins of many did He bear
The wrath divine as God-forsaken there.

S. You speak of many, bore He not the sins
Of all? My miserable heart begins
To tremble, lest I be not one of those
Elected. I far more than others chose
The way of wickedness, what reason then
That I should hope more than the rest of men,
That God should my transgressions take and lay
Upon that Saviour? All the other way,
For where the wrath is most deserved, not there
One looks for mercy that delights to spare.

C. How difficult it is to cast aside
The sentiment that man hath God supplied
With an incentive to His love made known
To sinners in the gospel of His Son.
As worthy as the worthiest thou art,
For none are worthy; let thy trembling heart
Repose in the salvation mercy brings,
Rather than in the fruitless reasonings
Of unbelief. Had all men's sins been laid
On Jesus, and their punishment been made
To meet on Him, the whole world surely then
Would have been saved; not for one sin could men
Have been to judgment brought. It could not be
For as the Victim nailed upon the tree
He bore the sins of all for whom He stood
A substitute. The water and the blood
Flowed from His side: the precious blood which saves,
The water which from all defilement laves,
Is God's reply to man's foul hate which drove
The spear into His side. Thus good doth prove
Stronger than evil, and God doth secure
The blessing of His own on basis sure.

Yet more, for by that cross His throne hath been
Most fully glorified by Him made sin,
And through a righteous channel flows His grace
With pardon free to all the human race.
But such is man, the precious pardon would
By all have been, in base ingratitude
Refused; and we, helpless to have availed
Ourselves of mercy, everything had failed.
But in that cross and death of Christ we find
More than atonement made for all mankind.
Our Substitute is there, who in our stead
Bore all our guilt on His devoted head.
For this He left celestial spheres above
In infinite, almighty, changeless, love,
To reach His own, those whom the Father gave
To Him in counsels deep, that He might save
From wrath eternal, going down below
Their lost condition, bearing all their woe,
Answer to God in sorrow for them there,
Bring them from death through deserts waste and bare,
And place them by His everlasting might
Before the Father's face in cloudless light.

S. But how is this made good to us, if we
As sinners will not but rebellious be?
How are we brought into the willing state,
That makes us be recipients of such great
Salvation?

C. Only by the Holy Ghost
Quickening with life divine the sinner lost
And dead in trespasses and sins; that in
The life divine, upon the life of sin
He may pronounce God's sentence, and by faith,
This too God's gift, build only on the death
Of Christ, as that which made with God his peace,
Thus doubts take flight, and fears for ever cease.

But let us take the illustration given
By Him, who came from radiant spheres in heaven,
To seek the lost, when scribes and Pharisees
Broke forth in murmurs, as the autumn breeze
Mutters among the lifeless leaves, which lie
Befouled and faded, withered, dead and dry,
When He to publicans and sinners base
Would speak of God's unfathomable grace.
Let us now scan the pictures He hath drawn —
The sheep, the silver piece, and wilful son.

What in this witless wandering sheep see I
But mine own self, as gone astray and nigh
Unto destruction? Lost upon the moor
And mountain of my wilful sin, where roar
Blood-thirsty beasts of prey, while on my track
My faithful Shepherd goes, nor stops, till back
He bears me on His shoulders with delight,
Safe from all harm, and in the morning light,
He lays me down with gladness, and doth call
To share His joy His friends and neighbours all.
Such is the love of Christ, who left His home,
And right to where my wandering feet did roam
Came in His might, for I was His, and He
Had right to follow, seek, and rescue me;
Such is my place upon His shoulders, till
He bears me safe o'er every form of ill,
And sets me in the Father's house above,
In all the triumph of eternal love.

The silver piece shows us the sinner dead,
For whom the precious blood of Christ was shed:
Dead morally, not yet beyond the might
Of heavenly clemency and gospel light.
The Seeker is the blessed Holy Ghost,
Who, with the light of God, for sinners lost
Searches the debris of this tangled scene,
Till on the conscience falls the glorious sheen,
And man wakes up to see his lost estate,
And apprehend by faith the goodness great,
Which his whole soul to penitence doth move —
That instant there is joy in heaven above.

Then those for whom the Saviour died, and whom
The heavenly grace makes willing thus to come
To God, in the next picture we behold;
It is the Father's joy such to enfold
In the almighty arms of love divine,
And kiss, and clothe, and feast with bread and wine.

Here breathe our souls the atmosphere of heaven,
Here not alone a sinner all-forgiven,
But here the very heart of God we learn,
Who after lost and guilty man doth yearn.
Here love we see, that hastens to embrace
The wanderer, returning with the trace
Of his sad degradation deep engraved
Upon his soul, by him who had enslaved
Him in his service base. Well may we raise
Our gladsome voices unto God, and praise
The grace that thus our great deliverance
Doth celebrate with music, mirth, and dance.

Oh, what a welcome! May our souls take in
The love that so delights to save from sin.
The wilful son in grace divine is met,
The warm embrace his anxious heart doth set
At peace for ever, and the princely dress —
God's very best His spotless righteousness —
Covers his nakedness, and makes him meet
To have within the Father's house his seat,
Where, while with holy joy his breast doth burn,
He learns the wondrous fact, that his return
Gladdens the heart of God. Blessed is he
Who hath an ear to hear of grace so free!

Or let us once again to Him draw near,
That we His heavenly gracious voice may hear;
For none could speak like Jesus; none did know
But He, the love that sought to meet our woe.
He tells us of the Good Samaritan,
In which we have portrayed the course of man,
Who from God's holy centre down did go
To the accursed city Jericho,
And falls a victim to the subtle art
Of Satan. With the life-blood from his heart
Fast ebbing, naked on the lone wayside,
Half dead he welters in the crimson tide.
The priest and Levite representatives
Of law, that says, "the man that keeps it lives,"
Pass on the other side: help they have none.
But lo, the good Samaritan, the Son
Of the eternal God, comes where he was;
The man so hated of the Jew doth pause,
And bending o'er him binds his red-mouthed wounds,
Pouring in oil and wine. His love abounds
Over the other's hate to such a height
That from the ditch He lifts him in His might,
And on His own beast sets him; thus Christ's power
Bears him upon his journey from that hour.
Healed, housed, and cared for at the inn, and there
At His expense regaled with heavenly fare;
With the bright hope that He who showed such grace,
Would come again, and fetch him to that place
Made ready in the Father's house for them
Who know and love the Saviour's blessed name.

B. How strange this seems to me! Until this day
I had believed the only proper way
Of life eternal was to do our best
And trust the living God to do the rest;
But now I see one has to do no more
Than Israel upon the Red Sea shore,
Hemmed in on every side, of hope bereft;
The wilderness upon the right and left;
In front, the swelling sea; behind, the foe,
Cause of their degradation and their woe,
The thunder of his chariots in their ears,
Which fills their souls with such foreboding fears
That bitterly and loud they mourn the day
They sought escape from the oppressive sway
Of the Egyptian king. But God was there
To fight on their behalf, nor would He share
The glory with another. Hand nor foot
In their deliverance they lift, but put
Their confidence in Jacob's God, who tore
A passage through the deep from shore to shore,
Through which they passed, and on the farther side
Salvation found, while the dark swelling tide
Closed on their enemies. And see we not,
By Jesus death and rising, rescue wrought?
And who can them condemn for whom He died?
For in Him risen they are justified.

C. But now as to the judgment, it is plain
That every Christless soul God shall arraign
Before the throne of judgment great and white,
Where all their works shall stand out in the light,
Not as men see them, but as they appear
Before the eye of God, when they shall hear
Their doom according to those deeds of theirs,
Where no injustice wounds, nor mercy spares.

O dreadful day for wayward wilful man,
When an omniscient eye his life shall scan!
Oh hour of woe, when He who was arraigned
Before an earthly tribunal, now stained
By His foul murder, shall in grandeur great
Sit down upon that glorious judgment seat,
And lifting up His voice, let the deep tones
Strike the dead ear, and o'er the mouldering bones
In crypt or catacomb, or sepulchre,
Or ocean's briny caverns, move and stir
With resurrection might; as this night's breeze
Awakening in the north, shakes the bare trees
Through all this wold. Thus will that voice resound,
And dust of man shall hear wherever found;
Bone shall be bound to bone with sinewy cord;
Body and soul and spirit by His word
Shall then be reunited, while are driven
Like guilty things the spacious earth and heaven
Far from His face. The dead shall wait to hear
Their righteous sentence, with the rebel ear
For the first time attentive; where is seen,
By records just, what each man's works have been.
But evil and unclean all actions were,
And none were justified, for whosoe'er
Was not found written in the book of life
Was cast into the lake of fire. Vain strife
To quarrel with almighty God! Such feud
Is suicidal madness. But how good
Of God to show us ere that day arrives
Its searching character, and our vain lives
Blotted by sin, that we our guilt might own
While yet He has His seat upon the throne
Of grace, and while He pardon doth proclaim,
In virtue of the blood, and in the name
Of Jesus. Here we these two things may learn,
If we the truth have aptness to discern —
Works cannot justify, for these alone
Condemn the person judged; and next is shown,
And by the book of life, that sovereign grace,
Which, ere the world was founded, gave a place
In blessing to His chosen, saved; while still,
Along the course of time, man's stubborn will
Resisted God, refusing saving light.
And wandering in the blind and godless night,
Away from blessing, life and peace and heaven,
Lured by his lusts, by powers of darkness driven
Headlong toward destruction, on the road
To judgment, mocking at the grace of God.

S. But how is one to have preparedness
That he may venture to the throne of grace?

C. The throne of grace just suits man's present state,
No preparation is required. Though great
And many our transgressions, Jesu's blood
Avails for all before the face of God.

Oh matchless grace! Glad tidings sent to man!
Blessed the ears that hear salvation's plan!
Never such message fell on creature's ear
As that which guilty man is called to hear.
Love, deep unfathomable, that defies
All utterance. Eternal life, the prize
Held out to sons of death. What eloquence
Can set it forth? How boundless! How immense!
How great its length, its breadth, its depth, its height!
So full, so strong, so sweet, so infinite,
So heavenly, faithful, life-creating, true!
So changeless, endless, fadeless, fresh, and new!
Who could refuse to place in it his faith?
The soul that scorns it, he must die the death.

Let no man dread to own his guiltiness:
The feast is spread, God ready waits to bless;
The message — "Come;" man's title is his need;
The guests troop in! Yet there is room! With speed
Retrace thy steps from darkness and from death,
Where famine stalks with pestilential breath —
The famine of the soul, eternal want,
With aspect hideous, horrible and gaunt,
To lay its ghastly form along thy frame
Prostrate, and with embrace of horror, claim
Body and soul, while haunting memory
Shall strike thy brain with scorpion sting, and say,
"Once there was plenty to be had, once bread,
"The bread of life, was free, but thou hast fed
"With ashes thy deluded heart, though love
"Unspeakable, that fills the courts above,
"Pursued thee with entreaties to return,
"But met with cold indifference and scorn
"NOW everlasting hunger shall requite
"All thy contempt of mercy infinite."

Let no man dread to own his guiltiness;
In this accepted time to take his place
As one in whom one trace of good doth not
At all exist, not even one sound spot.
Dread not this ordeal, but rather dread
To put it off, till like the light, hath fled
Salvation's day, and the deep woeful night
Hath rolled across the azure sky, (now bright
With love immeasurable) vapours dark,
Big with God's wrathful lightnings, which shall mark
The rebel for destruction. Let the sinner haste,
That he may of the grace of heaven taste.
Let dying men from all the poles come in,
Ere the dark hour of judgment doth begin.

Let no man dread to own his guiltiness,
And his heart's secrets frankly to confess:
Truth in the inward parts God values, guile
Is unto Him abhorrent; man may pile
Prayers on the top of prayers, and tears on works,
To bring the blessing down, but where there lurks,
Within the secret chambers of the heart,
Sin treasured and concealed, from which to part
The soul refuses, God hath plainly said
He will not hear. Let us then, rather dread
To hide our guilt like Adam, when he heard
With trembling heart the dread voice of the Lord,
And underneath the trees crept; or again
in falsehood seek a shelter as did Cain;
Lest all too late we must exposed appear,
When there shall be no gospel for our ear.

Let no man dread to own his guiltiness,
For there is safety surely found in this,
And nowhere else. The gospel doth command
All men of every colour, race and land
To take their place as sinners, without claim
To any favour, and at the great name
Of Jesus bow the knee, and with the tongue
Him Lord of all confess, ere it be wrung
From rebel lips by power omnipotent,
When wrath that knows no limit shall have vent,
And all that God is, as opposed to sin,
Against those whom His grace hath failed to win,
Shall be expressed. Think not within thy heart,
That God is such in nature as thou art;
And that of sin as lightly will He think
As thou. Could His all-seeing eye thus wink
At wickedness, why then was Adam driven
From Paradise? Or why was Jesus given
To suffer in our stead, sure were it so,
That He could tolerate what here below
He sees each moment, and if to the skies
He could receive us without sacrifice
On our behalf to meet His justice, well
Has it been said, that heaven into hell
Would soon be turned; and one might truly then
Grave on the gates of pearl with iron pen,
"Unclean," and bid for evermore adieu
To hopes begot by words, more glad than true,
As unto a sweet dream that, through the night
Of anguish, sends one beam of gladdening light
Across the spirit, but a moment more,
It vanishes, and darker than before
Leaves all behind. Thank God, though earth has been,
Never can heaven be, defiled by sin.
This is my joy, in that eternal state
Which love unfathomable shall create,
No trace of what has been shall ever be —
No sin, no death, no curse my eyes shall see.

Good night! The sun is down, the stars look forth,
The night has cast her mantle o'er the earth,
And all is still and cold, and comfortless,
And desolate, and drear; and I confess,
My spirit longs for that day that shall be,
When in eternal sunshine I shall see
The face of Him, so mocked, so vilified,
So scorned, so set at nought by human pride;
But who, from that blest place where He doth dwell,
Makes in this dreary world my poor heart swell
With His great love, that otherwise would bow
Beneath its load of cares. And hast not thou,
Dear S., found virtue in that holy love,
To break down empty pride, and doubt, and move
Thine inmost soul?

S. Yes, on me morning breaks:
My night of death is past, and song awakes
Within my heart. The vapours black which rose
From the abyss, and my dark mind did close
In everlasting winter, are dispelled
By heavenly light, and the strong chains which held
My soul in bondage have been sweetly loosed;
My guilty conscience, too, which me accused,
Is purged by precious blood, and now I know
That whiter far than this deep winter's snow
He hath me made. Farewell philosophy!
Vain speculations — dreams of night, away!
Drivellings of impious reasoners, who grope
In gloom of night, without one ray of hope
To cheer you, here we part; henceforth my way,
By light divine lit, leads to perfect day.
The love of God, declared in Calvary's smart,
Bathes in its living depths my trembling heart,
And round me rolls, an ocean deep, and broad,
And infinite, and I am lost in God.

Lord Jesus, let Thy word, too long blasphemed
By sinful lips, be henceforth more esteemed
Than necessary food; and keep me near
To Thine own faithful side, that I may hear
Continually, Lord, Thy heavenly voice
Leading me on; then shall my soul rejoice
To follow earnestly the narrow way
Marked by Thy holy feet, until that day
When I shall see Thee as Thou art, and there
With Thee Thy throne and all Thy glory share.

Part 3.

S. Full twenty years have round their axes rolled
Since last we met in yonder distant wold;
Since first I from the living fount divine
Deep drank and felt like one refreshed with wine.
Until that day the pools of human thought,
Distilled from darksome minds, with ardour caught
And treasured up to meet the desperate thirst
Of those who drank, and disappointed cursed
The fount which could not satisfaction give,
Nor bid the soul which drank the nectar live,
Were my continual resort. I knew
Not where to find the soul-refreshing dew,
Which, mountain slopes descending, floods the vales
With living water pure, and never fails
To satisfy the heart.

'Twas winter then,
Winter within my soul. O'er moor and fen
And forest had been cast a mantle white;
But in my soul there reigned black-visaged night.
Around me doubt had marshalled horrors grim,
Mine own existence reason rendered dim.
Nor moon nor star one kindly ray of light
Sent from the heavens above to glad my sight.
I knew not whither I was being led —
Shrieked loud the living, we bewailed the dead.
Where were they when the earthly tent was prone,
When sight was sealed and heart was still as stone?
Which had the better portion, they or we?
Was there a world beyond the world we see —
A world of spirits hidden from the ken
Of all the wise among the sons of men?
Or was the grave the end of every soul,
His ultimate, dishonourable goal?
Jesus, the Gospel, faithful creatures, fell,
Death, resurrection, judgment, heaven, hell?
Grave questions these, refusing to be shelved.
Yet sooth to say, however deep I delved
In darksome mines of philosophic lore
No grain of gold increased my scanty store.
I nothing knew, yet dared not this confess.
What lay beyond this life I could but guess.
Yet all my guessing did not bring me peace,
Nor from anxiety my mind release.
A dark morass of speculative thought
Was mine environment; I vainly sought
Within the moral swamp some stable base
On which I firm the foot of faith might place,
But no foundation could my spirit find
To bid despair depart from heart and mind.

How precious to my soul disconsolate
Was then the tidings of salvation great;
The revelation of the living God
In Jesus Christ, sent graciously abroad
O'er all the world in Gospel message clear,
That dying men of life divine might hear;
God over all revealed in grace and love,
Above the brightness of the sun, above
All creature light: this met my soul's deep need,
And from the gloom my struggling spirit freed.
Within, around, about me gleamed the light,
The golden light of God: the tedious night
Gave place to welcome day. It was not then
That that great light had for the good of men
For the first time out from the heavens shone;
No, it had come in His beloved Son,
And had for now almost two thousand years
Brought consolation in this vale of tears
To sin-distressed, despairing souls; but then,
And only then, that light designed for men
Broke in upon my knowledge. Hitherto
My understanding had been darkened through
My confidence in sages wise, who sought
To judge what God should tell us and what not.
Foolish I was and blind, presumptuous too,
My mind at work on things of which I knew
No more than do the unhappy sightless born
The beauty of the colours which adorn
The face of nature, when the radiant sun
The glorious summit of the year hath won,
And by the power of his secret art
A glory to creation doth impart;
Or like the deaf I was, whose ears refuse
The music made by masters of the muse.
Such was I, blind and deaf, yet still prepared
On mysteries deep to make my voice be heard.
How great the mercy which commanded light
To shine through all the darkness of my night,
And brought me to the living God above,
Revealed in Jesus in eternal love!
But here is a companion of my youth,
With heart, alas, still locked against the truth;
And that which you and I have learned to prize
Is still the greatest folly in his eyes;
And, much I grieve to say it, hopeless strife
Doth wage against the only way of life.

N. Not so; I wage no war against the way
Of life, though all unwilling to obey
The creed in which you make your boast, whose end,
Judging the future by the present trend
Of thought, is not far off. No polished mind
Now seeks in Christianity to find
A panacea for the ills of life,
Though with its ethics not so much at strife.
The Bible, read according to the light
Furnished by man's researches, is all right.
Stripped of the primal notions of mankind,
His barbarous and superstitious mind,
Rough morals, cruel rites, and savage laws,
'Tis good enough. No upright mind has cause
To quarrel with the spirit of the Book,
But profit rather comes to all who look
Within the sacred volume. Much pure gold,
Strata of worthless earth in secret hold.
What much offends my mind is to be told,
Its pages truth, and only truth, enfold;
That from beginning onward to the end
No word is written which has not been penned
By God's unerring Spirit, using men,
But only as a scribe employs his pen.
True, this has long been proven to be false,
Yet prejudice has adamantine walls,
And is not easily in ruins laid,
Though pounded by truth's powerful cannonade;
For here and there strong buttresses do blind
With superstition many a mighty mind.
But not much longer can the fogs of night
Resist the mighty influence of light.
I am not young, and yet I hope to see
This land at least from Bible worship free.
Where men do not themselves the Book peruse,
But meekly take from prelates what they choose
To set before them, I can only say,
Such richly merit to be led astray;
But where men read the Scriptures, and are not
Blind as to what by science has been taught,
And yet declare the former they believe,
This wakes my indignation. They deceive
The thoughtless multitude. But is it just
To teach to others what the teacher must
Himself repudiate, when with his peers
He facts discourses, and with pleasure hears
Truths soberly propounded, which efface
Of his religious dogmas every trace?

Those who profess to walk by Bible light
Should hold to all it says with all their might.
If they believe that it, and it alone,
Contains the mind of Him who fills the throne
Of this great universe, and if they hold
That by it He to man hath fully told
His thoughts profound; let them condemn what calls
Its sayings both illogical and false.
But this they dare not do, for well 'tis known
That science greater light to man has shown
Than all the books which priestly faction laud
As gracious Spirit-breathings of their God.

The fact is, nothing has done more to stay
The golden wheel-work of discovery,
Than priestly interference, and its curse
On the confessions of the universe.
Long has it held its slaves in darkness gross
And superstitution to their serious loss.
Guard would these leaders, at whatever cost,
The cherished theories of which they boast.
But not for ever shall the heroic mind
Suffer to be imprisoned, bound, and blind;
Shaken must the foundations be at last,
And fetters from the hands and feet be cast.
Much has been done, the light abroad has gone,
And day on earth at length begins to dawn,
And many a child this moment wiser is
Than he who gave his readers Genesis.

C. How so?

N. How so! Do you still blindly hold
To darksome legends grown infirm and old,
Which count but six millenniums as the age
Of this creation? True, the earliest page
Of Bible dogmatism has it so,
But I had not believed your clock so slow.
If he who wrote the history had said
A score of million years, we might have read
With greater confidence. We cannot tell
Over what ages may have clanged the bell
Of time, but this undoubtedly we know,
As earth's internal evidence does show,
Millions of ages to have come and gone
Since its creation.

C. What of that?

N. Upon
Its truth or falsehood hangs the claim you make
For that old-fashioned document you take
To be the word of God.

C. It has not given
The number of the years since earth and heaven
Created were. How many years have rolled
Since the creation, Scripture has not told.
Ages immense their courses may have run
Since first God spoke and everything was done.
The writer with great care is made to state
That at the outset God did all create.
The object being, without doubt, to show,
So that the sons of Israel might know,
That He who had from bondage set them free,
And He to whom their sires had bowed the knee,
And who alone had power to bless and curse,
Was the Creator of the universe.

N. But Scripture says, this surely you must know,
That in six days, six thousand years ago,
By God the earth and heaven created were;
And this I doubt if any teacher dare
Recite in public. A divine account
Men please to call the legend.

C. The amount
Of confidence men naturally place
In their ability the truth to trace,
Wherever on its footprints they may chance,
Is only equalled by the ignorance
Which marks their wanderings. It was so with those
Who led among the evil-minded foes
Of Jesus, when on earth He shed abroad,
In word and work, the matchless love of God.
These, though they studied the prophetic word,
Which spoke of the rejection of their Lord,
In ignorance that word fulfilled, and slew
The Saviour of the world. To-day 'tis true,
As it was then, that none aright can read
This Book, unless in self-distrust he plead
Before the throne of grace for heavenly light.
Who thus draws near, his pathway shall be bright
Throughout the sacred Script, and he shall find
God's preservation from the fleshy mind.

The Scriptures really belong to none
But those whom God has chosen for His own;
And such have been instructed not to trust
To their own cleverness, but in the dust
Bowed at His feet, seeking that He may feed
Their souls with living bread, and safely lead
In righteous paths. They wander not astray
Who put their trust in God from day to day.
The blunders in divine things made by those
Who judges of those sacred things suppose
Their carnal minds well competent to be,
Have often been a wonderment to me.
Not that the Scriptures can be said to teem
With sayings dark and difficult: they gleam
With simple utterances, shining clear
Upon the sacred page, pregnant with cheer
For spirits sorrowing, as heavenly dew
Refreshes weary wastes, and does renew
The verdant vale, the mountain slope, and mead,
Where herds of sleek well-favoured fatlings feed.
But so perverse, so lawless, so opposed
The carnal mind to God is, that 'tis closed
Against all light, preferring to be blind.
Not only this, but precious truths enshrined
Within divinest settings, rude are torn
Out of their framework with presumptuous scorn,
And in the pride of ignorance arranged
In such connections that the truth is changed
Into a lie, the bread of God, made known
For everlasting life, into a stone.

Thus have they read the Book they so condemn,
And truth reviled, while with the diadem
Immortal they have decked a falsehood fell,
Because in darkness they delight to dwell.
Had they but prized the light, God would have given
Forth freely from the very heart of heaven;
But, confident they needed not His aid,
Condemned themselves to wander in the shade.
Had they but come, as simple as a child,
Owning a mind debased and heart defiled,
And at His footstool sought for heavenly light,
To glorious day had soon been turned their night.

The Scripture truly says that in six days
The heaven and the earth were made, but says
Not this of His creating; it does state
That at the outset He did both create.
No more than this in Genesis we read,
No more is written, for no more we need.

Next, we behold earth without form and void,
By adverse might made desolate, destroyed.
What power reduced it to this dismal state,
We are not told; but God did not create
It thus. Isaiah the seraphic seer
Has put on record, and in language clear,
That it was not created void or waste,
Therefore we must not in our feverish haste,
Creation with the six days' work confound,
And manifest conceit with error crowned.

N. Is this just treatment of the Document,
Causing the foremost sentence to be rent
Away from all that follows?

C. Yes, most just:
Indeed if we the Holy Scriptures trust,
We cannot otherwise the passage read,
For thus it written is. Where is the need,
To think that when the prophet says CREATE,
That MADE is meant? The planet's primal state
Was perfect, and as free from sin's foul blight,
As were His works of wisdom and of might,
When at the word of the Omnipotent
It into being came, and meekly went
Upon its orbit by His fingers traced,
Among His worlds of light and glory placed.

It was not necessary we should know,
Of all its ages vast, the ebb and flow,
Or what transpired to bring it to the state
Described as empty, waste, and desolate.
If through an adverse power it waste became,
Perished with the transgressors is their name.
The Infinite in wisdom has not thought
It good to tell us of their history aught.
The six days' work began when waste and void
Described the world upon which God employed
His power and skill, to make of it a place
For His blest creature, Adam and his race.

How this fair world once more became defiled,
How the fell foe the woman's heart beguiled;
How man became a sinner, fell away
From God, and under death degraded lay;
How God, in goodness and in tender grace,
To clothe His creature's guilty nakedness,
Once more at work is seen, that faith might spring
To life within the soul, and man might cling
To God's pronouncement of deliverance
From that most horrible and mad mischance,
Which like a fire within his breast would burn
Till guilty dust would unto dust return —
This next before our eyes the Record true
Brings vividly and in few words to view.

N. I cannot say that, even in the least,
My confidence in Scripture is increased
By your interpretation of the text;
One rather wonders what is coming next.
If it be lawful, history to dissect,
And cut and carve just as our minds direct,
We shall be able, with the greatest ease,
To make men's writings say what'er we please.
But, in your zeal the Scriptures to defend,
I wonder if you also will contend
That they do not the universe maintain
As geocentric, and the earth a plain?

C. They teach us nothing on the subject.

N. No. But notions such as these, dead long ago,
Would not be scattered to the winds of heaven
By reading the account by Moses given;
But rather confirmation strong would find,
For it is obvious the prophetic mind
Was quite as blind to the celestial map
As is the infant in its mother's lap.

C. However wondrously astronomy
Absorbs the minds of many men to-day,
It has no moral benefit bestowed
On mortals forced to tread death's rugged road.
The science, charming as it is, has not
Been able to correct the inbred thought
Of bestial lust, or change the base desire,
Which, clothed with giant might, drags in the mire
Of foul pollution the weak human soul
Powerless the brutal passions to control.

I think you will not question that the man
Who ploughs the meadow, or the artisan,
May be as kind a father and as true
A friend, as he who nightly gazes through
His telescope upon the countless host
Of flaming suns, and sends abroad the boast
Of his great knowledge and discoveries,
As loud as though he merited the praise
Of their creation. And were you, perchance,
Within the peasant's mean abode to glance,
Where nothing of the starry sphere is known
But what affects the naked eye alone,
A much more happy home might there be found
Than his who is for cleverness renowned.

Do not, I pray thee, rashly think that I
The study of the works of God decry;
For mine own mind it has an interest great,
But moral things have still much greater weight
For not a whit more faithful, nor more just,
Nor firmer friend, nor worthy more of trust,
Nor more immune from death, disease, or pain,
Is he who exercises heart and brain
Amid celestial spheres, than is the thrall
Who tends the cattle fattening in the stall.
Within the home of him who delves for bread,
And whose concern is how they shall be fed,
Who on his strength depend for all they need,
I should expect to find in very deed.
Of love, content, and peace, as large a share,
As in the home of the astronomer.
If this be so, what profit does result
From all this knowledge in which you exult?
That which to man will happiness allot,
He values, scorning that which brings it not.

N. The question raised is not what loss or gain
One may by science of the stars sustain,
But whether those who wrote the sacred Script
Had their prophetic pens first deeply dipped
Into the wisdom of the gods, or gave
The best of their own thoughts to minds which crave
For greater knowledge of the spirit land.
This is the point we wish to understand.
And I am sure that he who Scripture deems
Inspired of God, and calls it so, blasphemes;
For had the One who made the worlds controlled
The thoughts of those who ventured to unfold
His secret thoughts to us, they had not given
A false impression of both earth and heaven.

C. But tell me what impression does the plan
Of the creation give the mind of man,
Who only with the eyes which God has given
Takes cognisance of air and earth and heaven?
Does he not deem this world a rugged plain,
The heavens above his head, whence falls the rain,
A star-besprinkled dome? He sees the sun
As rising in the east his race to run,
And sinking in the west, when he hath made
The circuit of the dome, leaving the shade
Of chilly night to settle on the land,
In which exhausted mortals sleep demand.
Creation does not show him earth a sphere,
Nor bid him watch it round the sun career,
Nor, matched with worlds which twinkle in the blue,
Bring its exceeding littleness to view.

The One who made the worlds has set them so
That heaven is seen above and earth below.
The sun arises bright to rule the day,
By night the moon inconstant has the sway,
The stars with varied glories deck the dome,
The planets aimlessly are seen to roam;
But all these heavenly spheres, with all their powers,
Engaged in service to this earth of ours.

Man to those heavens above lifts up his face,
As to his Maker's holy dwelling-place;
From thence all good and perfect gifts descend,
For on His bounty creatures all depend;
Light, heat, refreshing rain in plenitude
To quicken earth, that it may yield us food.
We contemplate with horror that which lies
Concealed beneath in darkness from our eyes.
We think of death, the grave, the pit of clay,
That world of gloom where terror has the sway,
And backward shrink, ashake with guilty dread,
Lest we be called the dark domain to tread.

Had God been pleased to set the things He made,
So that to human minds might be conveyed
Other and different impressions, none
Will dare to say it could not have been done.
He who is good and just had reasons wise
For placing all things thus before our eyes.
Moral impressions God would have conveyed
To creature intellects; but men degrade
Themselves by fancied wisdom; for the mind
Of every child of wrath is dark and blind,
Godless and infidel; his sympathies
Are with the sinner, whose rebellious ways
Upon his guilty head from heaven call
The righteous vengeance of the Lord of all.

If by creation the Creator good
Has given us these impressions, wherefore should
He by His seers ideas new create,
Which with the earlier would militate?
He will not by His work one way impress
His feeble creature whom He loves to bless,
And later by prophetic word reverse
The thoughts imparted by the universe.
Neither creation nor prophetic word,
Both speaking by commandment of the Lord,
Will to the other give the lie, nor can
They by discordant voice bewilder man.
The impress which the human mind receives
In nature's school, the holy Scripture leaves
All undisturbed. If he by wisdom given
Of God, is able to mount up to heaven,
And flaming worlds from giddy heights explore,
And witness things he never saw before,
All well enough; but lowly let him hide
His face in dust, lest lifted up with pride
Against the truth of God, he should rebel,
And fall like Lucifer from heaven to hell.

Of Him who is the Living Word they said: —
"No man e'er spoke like this Man." Who hath read
In faith the written Word, and did omit
To say: — "No book like this was ever writ"?

Had but one writer, at one time and place,
Inscribed the history of the human race,
Creation of the head, his trial, fall
Under the power of sin and Satan's thrall;
The guilty race which from his loins sprang,
Bit to the soul by the envenomed fang
Of the old serpent who did Eve beguile,
Corrupt in nature, violent and vile;
God's patient ways with all, which brought to light
The hopeless nature of sin's loathsome blight,
While all the time a testimony clear
From heaven ceaseless rang upon the ear,
Speaking of One who was to come, a strong
Redresser of the cruel murderous wrong
Inflicted on us by the foe, whose head
Would come beneath His super-human tread,
When that same Saviour of the lost would feel
The serpent's treacherous stroke upon His heel —
I say, had one with wisdom been imbued
To bring to light this battle between good
And evil, to a finish fought in man,
For the fulfilment of redemption's plan;
Behind the scene the might of God for good,
For ill, the might of satan to delude;
But all directed by unerring skill,
The purpose of the ages to fulfil,
We might have wondered at the grand design
And recognised at work a power divine.

But when, from the beginning to the end,
We recognise how little has been penned
By one historian, but here and there,
Adown man's history of grief and care,
With sometimes even centuries between,
A prophet rose in touch with the unseen,
Moved by the Holy Spirit from on high,
Events yet future stretched before his eye,
In burning sentences to bruit abroad
The warnings of a sin-abhorring God,
But also pointing to the longed-for day
When David's Son and Lord would hold the sway,
And God's most gracious pleasure should be done
By every human soul beneath the sun.
This wakes with wonder every heart and mind,
Which lies not in gross darkness bound and blind;
And from the lip a frank confession draws,
Spite of the cry concerning faults and flaws,
That that most matchless Book, so much abused,
One Author has, whatever pens were used.

Now have my thoughts in all I've said been bound
By what in the Old Testament is found;
But when we come to contemplate the New,
Its pages moist with precious heavenly dew,
And shining, in the light of God's great love,
Brighter than starry firmament, above
Hyperion's brightness, far beyond the beam
Of all the burning worlds of light, which gleam
From distances immeasurable by
The creature's curious but finite eye,
Or that which his inventive mind may bring
To give to his restricted vision wing
Ah, here my soul with fatness shall be fed;
Here find I heaven's wealth profusely shed
Into the lap of earth; here light and life
And peace, to meet the darkness, death, and strife
Of a lost world; here not the burning mount,
Fenced at its base, around which one may count
Upon the sand the carcases of those
Who rebels against God so rashly rose,
But Christ, in mercy sent to save the lost,
Sent in the Father's grace; and though it cost
The precious blood, the life blood of the Son,
Redemption's work most surely shall be done.

The Christ the prophets spoke of I behold,
Man among men, in wealth of love untold:
The Son of David, and the Son of God,
The Maker of the earth His footsteps trod:
A Servant here in God's compassions great,
To visit sinners in their lost estate;
In flesh and blood that He our death may die,
And every claim of justice satisfy,
And lay a basis whereby every thought
And counsel of the Godhead shall be brought
To pass in righteousness. This shall be done,
For He who bore the cross is on the throne.

N. I fear I cannot follow where you lead,
Nor do I see that it is wise to plead,
That just because I from the universe
Receive impressions which are the reverse
Of actual, unquestionable fact;
And as the Scriptures are no more exact,
But give an impress similar, they must
Be God-inspired and worthy of our trust.
This would an origin divine impute
To every ancient book howe'er pollute.

C. This I have not affirmed, but you would prove
That as the earth and all the planets move
Around the sun, each shining world a sphere,
And Scripture (why you say so is not clear)
Describes it as immovable and flat,
Itself the centre of creation, that
You have convincingly and clearly proved
That the assertion that its seers were moved
By the eternal Spirit is not true;
And I have sought to make it plain to you,
That your conclusions, if allowed to stand,
Would also prove the worlds not from His hand;
For they a like impression give to all
Who science to their service cannot call.

But once again I venture, by your leave,
To tell you that you much yourself deceive,
By thinking that the Bible does maintain
The heaven to be a dome, and earth a plane.
It teaches nothing of the kind, nor does
One single sentence of the Volume cause
The reader's mind from moral things to turn
And after things so valueless to burn.
The sacred writers have been made to steer
Amid the dangerous rocks of "plane" and "sphere,"
Disturbing neither simpleton nor sage
By sentence rash, inscribed upon the page,
Which might be calculated to confuse
The mind which meekly ventures to peruse
The sacred Volume.

N But you cannot say
The Bible does not to the mind convey,
That in the midst of the creation vast,
The fringe of which we witness when we cast
Our glance at midnight toward the galaxy,
This planet insignificant doth play
The leading part, and that angelic hosts
Have naught to do but sentinel its coasts,
And that the occupation of its God
Is with its rebel citizens, with rod
Uplifted, and with threat of endless woe,
To cause the creature in right ways to go?
The writers of the Bible never seem
To have considered, that the worlds which gleam
Forth from the midst of heaven might contain
Creatures solicitous from Him to gain
A portion of the care, however scant,
Bestowed on one so insignificant.

C. Once more you give me reason to suspect
That what you thus so foolishly reject
You have but little studied; had you read
The writings with unbiassed mind, instead
Of carping at the text, and setting forth
How little all your cavilling is worth,
You would have seen that these same faults you find
Have only an existence in the mind,
And that those seers, when moon and stars they scan,
Wonder that God should take account of man.

None of God's creatures, be they small or great,
Insect or angel, in whatever state,
Are ever overlooked by Him who brought
Them into being. That the worlds are not
Empty or uninhabited, I would
Not be surprised to learn; their magnitude
And number, to my mind, forbid the thought;
And unto God not one of them is naught.
The prophet tells us that the stars by Him,
Bright by their nearness, or by distance dim,
Are known to Him and numbered every one;
And this informs our faithless minds that none
Neglected are, but that His infinite
Wisdom and love and everlasting might
Are all engaged with every slight detail
Of their strange years, with skill which cannot fail
To care for every atom of the whole,
As faithfully as though it were a soul.
But that upon their fields and vales are found
Men, such as on this earth of ours abound
Under the ban of death, is but the dream
Of haughty minds, who fain would make it seem
That all the sorrow and the toil and pain,
And the pollutions which so darkly stain
The human race, born but to toil and die,
Are the sure means which work to deify
The creature, and have no relation to
His treason horrible against the true
And only God. If infidels could prove
That o'er the planes of distant planets rove
Men like ourselves, and nature also there
Was red with ravin, glad they would infer
The Bible, conscience, and all things which cry,
Rebel, in human ears, a priestly lie,

But yet there is a sense in which 'tis true
The universe is geocentric; you
May not believe it, but I say again,
'Tis geocentric, and the earth a plane,
To every soul who has not yet been made
Too wise for his Creator, who hath laid
Its firm foundations, and by wisdom framed
The heavens, whose suns and constellations flamed.
Forth at His fiat, ordered in a way
To man an impress moral to convey.
This planet insignificant may be
Compared with some of those vast worlds we see,
Yet is it most important, for 'tis here,
And only here, that his Creator near
Has drawn to His weak creature in His grace,
That man might look upon his Maker's face.
Here must be perfected the highest thought
Of wisdom infinite; here must be fought
The battle between good and evil; here,
In this comparatively tiny sphere,
Must come the malice of the flesh to light,
Its unalloyed God-hatingness in sight
Of all intelligences; here the foe
Of God and man, the Devil, bringing woe,
Must be exposed; here shall he go abroad
In his insane rebellion against God,
To rouse, as winds arouse the wrathful sea,
Man's base ingratitude and enmity
'Gainst God Himself and His anointed Son,
And to a gibbet send the righteous One.
But here, in contrast with man's bitter hate,
Must shine the love of God in mercy great.
The cross lays bare the causeless hate of man,
As it does also the redemption plan
Of love unfathomable. Jesus bears
The judgment due to us, and thus declares
The grace of God to man by evil ruled,
And by the serpent bitten and befooled.

The universe by wisdom and by might
Sprang into being, perfect, pure, and bright,
At the command of the Creator, who,
In all His works, a purpose had in view.
He formed the worlds, their compass and their weight,
Suns, planets, moons, and comets, small and great,
Dissimilar in glory, every one
To serve a purpose; from the largest sun
Down to the very tiniest aerolite,
Which like a bolt of lightning flames at night
Across the face of heaven, before the eye,
In contact with this world of death to die.
These all He formed, but empty all I doubt;
I could not fancy those great worlds without
Inhabitants; but as I have averred,
Not by foul lust and Satan's toil ensnared,
And far from God, and He by them unknown,
While they bow down to gods of stock and stone,
All subject unto death, and unaware
If it shall lead to bliss or to despair.
Whatever beings may have their abode
In those so diverse worlds has not been showed
To us; 'tis certain they are there to serve
The will of God, and should they from Him swerve,
Faithless in their allegiance, this we know
Their lot, like every rebel's, must be woe.

We read of sons of God who trespassed here,
Through earth's fair daughters, their own proper sphere
Abandoning, and hence headlong expelled,
To be in chains, and under darkness held
Until the judgment of the dreadful day,
When God by Christ shall every rebel lay
Prone in the place which justice shall assign
To each transgressor of the will divine.

The habitation of those sons of God,
Which they unwisely left to walk abroad
In the fulfilment of their passions vile,
And with our flesh their bodies to defile,
Is not to us revealed. The truth may be,
That though we are short sighted, and can see
Nothing of the inhabitants of those
Bright spheres of light, distance may not enclose
Our neighbours in such utter loneliness,
That each one from his boundary can but guess
What lies beyond. If we the secret knew,
It may be that our planet to their view
Is clearly manifest, as to our gaze
Those meadows and the cattle sleek which graze
Upon the pasture green. This know we not,
Nor does it cost my mind a single thought.
The strange mythology of ancient days,
The legends of the Trojans, and the lays
Of gods and demi-gods and giants great,
The issue of that yoke adulterate,
Are but tradition which had filtered through
The flood by Noah's sons, and added to
By the imagination of man's mind,
Who in the sphere of fiction seeks to find
Respite from the monotony of life;
But finds that respite most in scenes of strife
And lawlessness and lust and violence,
Where passions flame, and creatures lose all sense
Of self-respect, truth, purity, and shame;
Corruption love, and wallow in the same.

Such is man's mind, debased, estranged from God,
Choosing in rebel paths to roam abroad.
The fall of those dread angels should have been
A warning to the creatures of this scene;
And in the light of their terrific fall,
The wrath of heaven upon the world, and all
The vengeance fearful which upon them fell,
Consigned to Tartarus in chains to dwell,
Man should have ever after softly walked,
And with great trembling and in whispers talked
Of this dread season of accurst revolt,
Brought to an end by fiery thunderbolt.
But no, his quick imaginative mind
Revels in such dark horrors, and can find
In this a plot for his polluted lays,
Man to dishonour and the beast to praise.

How different the record God inspired!
No thoughts corrupt, no bestial passions fired
The seer who the catastrophy records,
But in few, definite, descriptive words,
The sin, the shame, the suffering which ensued
From angels fell and their accursed brood,
Are told, and all at once the veil is dropped,
And morbid curiosity is stopped
Upon the threshold of inquiry base;
Thus telling man his pathway to retrace.
We would have craved for an increase of light
Regarding all these Nephilim of might;
And also from what place those angels strong
Had come to earth to work such filthy wrong.
What was their home — sun, planet, moon or air?
Their form, who shall to wondering man declare?
From their own boundary they, it seems, could see
This earth and man, through his impiety,
Made subject unto death, and yet unawed,
They broke from their allegiance unto God.

Man does not need, while in his present state,
To know those worlds; for, be they small or great,
With heavenly light they cannot furnish him.
Compared with earth the brightest star is dim.
As I have said, here all the light has shone:
Earth is what they require to look upon.
This world's wide surface is the wondrous field
In which the living God has been revealed;
Therefore to all intelligences we
May lie exposed, that they true light may see;
But as they never can increase our store
We need not see beyond our earthly door.

The love of God, His matchless grace to men,
And not the worlds which lie beyond our ken,
Has charm for me; and not alone for me
The angels of His might desire to see
The grace which in redemption came to light,
Where God is known in goodness infinite.
This earth the centre is, to which the eyes
Of all intelligences in the skies
With admiration turn. Here they beheld
God manifest in flesh, by love impelled
To seek the creature lost. Astonishment
Thrilled surely in their voices, as they rent
The midnight silence with the voice of praise
To Him, upon whose face they came to gaze
With reverent mein and hearts which had not known
Such joy since first they knelt before the throne.
As man their Maker they beheld on earth!
Flashed not the tidings of His marvellous birth
From world to world with more than lightning speed,
Till the most distant orb gave gladsome heed,
And every angel the commandment heard: —
"Worship Him all ye gods"? The heavenly Word,
God manifest in flesh, has spoken here;
No terror in His message; God drawn near,
In all the might of His eternal love,
The darkness from the human heart to move
By light divine — deep darkness, fiend-begot,
Which held the sinner slave to him who wrought
His endless ruin — and shall I be told
That any other world might yet unfold
A tale, to angel or to mortal, worth
The story that the Christ has told on earth?
If there is something greater than the love
Of God declared in death; if light above
His brightness can be known; if there can be
Bliss greater than His unveiled face to see;
If deeper than the Deepest we may sound,
And higher than the Highest can be found;
If stronger than the Strongest on the throne,
And greater than the Greatest can be known;
If wisdom more than Wisdom infinite,
And brightness more than Brightest bless my sight;
If by things made my soul may come to know
More than my Maker brought to light below:
In short, if there be something more than God
In any world by foot of creature trod;
Then some strange star may yet before our eyes
A glory shed which shall our hearts surprise.
But if there's nothing better than the Best,
In Jesus God's great love to man expressed;
If God be more than all that He has made,
And if the Father in the Son displayed
Be all that God is in His nature good,
Proved to the uttermost in Jesu's blood;
Then can we nothing add unto the store
Of knowledge brought within our earthly door,
Were we with wings of seraphim arrayed
And borne through every world which God has made.

Here is the centre of the universe;
Here has gone forth the blessing and the curse;
Here good and evil, life and death contend;
Here love and hate, impossible to blend;
Here Satan, mighty foe of God and man,
Put forth his craft the creature's fall to plan;
Here the Destroyer works in cursed spite,
God, through his captive, fallen man, to smite;
Here God Himself hath been in human form,
With love immortal into life to warm
Our cold dead hearts, that they in life divine
Might live within love's pure celestial shrine;
Here dark Golgotha with its cross of wood,
Bathed crimson with the Saviour's priceless blood,
Stands witness to the creature's crowning sin
And God's great grace who stooped our hearts to win;
Here a flat plane on which the stars look down,
With moon and sun the night and day to crown;
A sphere among the many shining spheres,
Its circuit round its centre marking years,
And yet to its inhabitants a plane,
Which from the heavens receive sunshine and rain,
And every other indispensable,
And good, and gracious gift, its lap to fill,
And fertilise and nourish all its seed,
To meet of every man and beast the need.
The sun arises in the east — 'tis day!
Vanish the frosts and fogs of night away!
It sets at even in the dewy west,
Night closes in, and man retires to rest.
Heaven is above, we upward look to God;
Hades beneath our feet; the verdant sod
Covers our dead, seed sown with tears of woe,
For dust must back to dust dishonoured go.
But though corruption may the flesh enslave,
We feel a spirit stir which scorns the grave.
Yet, with what lies beneath, our minds connect
All that is terrible, and death is decked
With horrors grim, while from the heavens are shed
Brightness, and hope, and joy upon our head.
Darkness infernal lies beneath our feet,
The heavens above with goodness are replete.

Why should the all-wise God have set things so,
If not to turn our thoughts from all below
To Him, who sits above the heavens, and gives
Gladness and food to everything that lives?
He could have given us, and He surely would,
Had He in His great wisdom deemed it good,
Ability to look on all things made,
And see them as they are, without the aid
Of those inventions, which the restless mind
By searching may to serve his purpose find.
The things created, and the impress given
To man who lifts the naked eye to heaven,
Are all of Him whose skill and wisdom wrought
That we great moral lessons might be taught;
But all too wise the creature proud hath grown,
Better for him he not so much had known.
Too full of knowledge to be taken in;
The worlds he knows, this world of strife and din;
Nothing a secret is which hath been made;
The earth's diurnal motion, light and shade,
Its circuit annual, its neighbours, small
And great, their gravity, their movements all!
The tree of knowledge he has touched again
And not the body but the soul is slain.

Good men and true, lovers of God, have given
Much study to the stars which spangle heaven,
And yet no less the Sacred Writings prize,
As fit the souls of mortals to make wise
Unto salvation, if by faith in Christ
The heart repentant is to God enticed.
But there are those who, ever on the watch
Their unbelief to justify, will snatch
At any straw that floats in their dark sea
Of soul-destroying infidelity.
Sure am I that the One whose matchless might
Garnished the firmament with spheres of light,
None other was than He who whilom fired
With eloquence the prophets; who inspired
The fishermen of Galilee; and gave
The light divine the souls of men to save —
The living light of God. Let those who scorn
Beware; for the Almighty God hath sworn
That every knee shall bend before His throne,
And every creature tongue shall surely own
That Lord of all is Jesus. In that day
From that tribunal none shall bide away;
For He hath in His righteousness decreed
That every soul his history shall read,
In light, that shall lay bare the secret thought,
As well as every deed of darkness wrought
Under the sun, throughout the course of time,
By every human soul in every clime.
To all who have done good, eternal life
Shall rendered be; but all who lived at strife
With Him, and His almighty mercy mocked,
With consciences benumbed and proud hearts locked
Against His overtures of heavenly grace,
Afar from Him in darkness is their place.
Vain then the plea that man his Maker sought
In things which by His wisdom He had wrought.
In Jesus God had fully come to light,
And man preferred the darkness of the night;
And there away from God, in lawless ways
To spend in fruitless quest his golden days.
Woe to the man who thus God's grace shall scorn!
Good were it for him had he not been born.
Man may not mock his Maker; if he do
In punishment eternal he shall rue
Temerity so mad.

N. With patience great
I've paid attention to your desperate
Defence of ignorance. The active mind
Your creed would place within a dungeon blind.
To say that all research has been in vain,
And man's pursuit of knowledge void of gain,
Is to declare that it must be our doom
To be for evermore immured in gloom.

C. No, God has been revealed: the perfect light
Shines through the darkness deep, dispelling night.
Bid all your ever restless thoughts traverse
The moral order of the universe.
Material things are not of much account,
If you and I are from the living fount
To drink; that fount of life by grace unsealed
In Jesus, and in God's great love revealed.

N. You speak of God — who is He? can you tell?
Where does this finite Being please to dwell?
For finite certainly He is to you,
Whatever other things of Him are true.
He comes, He goes, He is not everywhere,
In heaven or earth, in ether or in air.
In what far corner, undiscovered, lone,
Has He established His terrific throne?
A strange God this, so wondrously renowned,
Yet like ourselves to limitations bound.

C. Christ is the answer to your questions all,
And He is near to those who on Him call.
The universe His power and Godhead bring
To light; things visible their radiance fling
World-wide, and leave excuseless everywhere
The God-dishonouring idol worshipper.
But in the Christ His nature comes to light,
And this alone dispels man's native night.

N. But can creation be from Him distinct?
Must it not be inseparably linked
With the great Conciousness, which all pervades,
And manifests Itself in lights and shades,
Which flit before our vision in the race
Of joy and sorrow, honour and disgrace?
GOD is a word about which men contend,
And all too uselessly their breath expend.
No finite mind can grasp the Infinite,
For All That Is defies our feeble sight.
We see a little, and what we behold
A sample is of what the worlds unfold.
Of drops is formed the mighty ocean, and
The mountain huge of tiny grains of sand,
And the vast universe of atoms small:
The creature is the atom — God is ALL.

Here may we journey safely, here may we
Let the divine within us revel free;
We are not likely now to greatly err,
For ever and anon, and here and there,
From our subconciousness a ray of light
Makes for a moment the horizon bright,
The God within proclaiming; but anon
Like wasted aerolite the glare is gone,
And darkness still as stubborn as before
Walls up the anxious mind's expectant door.
Yet have those gleams impressions left behind,
Which cannot be effaced from heart or mind.
We cannot them detain, they come and go,
But unto us those fitful flashes show
That underneath material display
One common life holds universal sway.
An ocean infinite of vital force
Does through the veins of the creation course;
God is that ocean, measureless and vast,
And creatures but the billows upward cast,
Which fall again into the whelming waste,
When the material with death is faced.
God is in everything, the man, the beast;
And everything is Deity; the least
And smallest grain of precious life we scan
Is God, in animalculae or man.
When flesh decays the man's immortal soul
Returns to God, flows back into the whole
Volume of life, mighty and measureless,
To reappear again in change of dress;
Upward ascending, higher yet and higher,
Towards the goal, the coveted desire
Of every living thing, a perfect state.

C. But of this strong desire insatiate,
This upward movement of the living mass,
This resurrection from the reptile crass,
What evidence in man himself have we?
With rare exceptions we are made to see
A downward tendency toward the beast;
Nor has man's moralising helped the least
To raise the fallen, if it put veneer
On the corruption, which would else appear
In all its hideousness. But even this
Admission on my part may be amiss:
It may be questioned if your thoughts sublime
Have not made men regardless of the grime,
Which foul on face and forehead, wide proclaims
The lust which in their bosoms fiercely flames.
Your moralists themselves have often been
In unclean company the most unclean;
In word condemning that which by their ways,
Glutting their greedy appetite, they praise.

The light which Christianity has given,
Light all unsullied from the heart of heaven,
That light which every creature light excels,
This is the light which in this land compels
The human beast his filthy flesh to dress,
And hide from public view his nakedness.
Through the deep failure of the saints of God
Dim is the light which is diffused abroad,
But give it up for your conceptions vain,
And in stark-nakedness the beast again
Shall go abroad as shameless as before,
And in your highways after lust shall roar.

Your reckless theorists, in madness great,
Of their fell origin most glibly prate;
For what mere mortal man would ever dare
To say that he is God, and thus declare
His gross insanity to men who know
That he a creature is the beast below.

The primal fault of our first parents lay
In their attempt to grasp Divinity;
And every child of those transgressors would
Be God Almighty if he only could.
But that a thing diseased and under death,
Dependent for existence on the breath
He gasps for, and the food the ground supplies,
Of which deprived, he that same instant dies
And to corruption turns, and rottenness
Which causes living senses such distress
That glad we are, beneath the earth we tread,
To bury from our tearful sight our dead: —
I say, for such an one to think that he
Is God, while subject to such misery,
Is to be subject to an evil power
Which does all rightful reasoning devour.

You will be God with every creature vile,
Dog, chimpanzee, swine, cayman, crocodile;
And every movement of the earthly clod
Is a pulsation of the life of God.
In dens of ravin, slums, and haunts of shame,
Where violence and vice facinorous flame;
In brothels, gambling hells, amid the din
Of causeless warfare in this world of sin;
In every prison, murder, suicide;
In the pollutions which night's shadows hide;
In these you see (may God the thought forgive)
His nature by whose power our spirits live.
To such insanity as this you turn,
And wisdom infinite in Jesus spurn.

N. No, not at all, the Christ is much to me.
In that same lowly Nazarene I see
Human perfection, to which every soul,
Which is a fraction of the wondrous Whole,
Is onward hasting, and shall surely come,
Spite of the dogmas of your gospel grum.
Jesus was everything both good and true,
As surely also were His followers few,
Though far behind their Master, on the road
Which leads to that ineffable abode
Where He has gone, the Father's house above,
That spotless region of immortal love.
We follow hopefully and firmly on,
By the great glory of the finish drawn;
The base material must at length give way
Before the spiritual, for the day
Of infinite perfection sure shall dawn,
And the last cloud of darksome night be gone
For every creature.

C. Man and crocodile!

N. Yes, surely, though in mockery you smile;
All life is one.

C. And if we this concede,
With horror must we witness nature bleed
At every pore with ravin and with wrong,
The weakling's terror pastime for the strong.
With slaughter red is every creature's trail,
Downward from man to microbe head and tail,
And this is God, the universal Life
Coming to light in envy, hate, and strife,
And sensuality, and nameless vice!
If this be He, what then is Paradise?
Your God a fiend is, and your heaven a hell,
And all your canonised are demons fell.

N. Not just so fast: you do but beat the air,
Striking at shadows which no substance bear.
God is the good that may be found in all,
The evil is the issue of the fall.

C. Is God then fallen?

N. In a sense not so;
But that the infinite Himself might know
He has descended to the finite plane,
Where every virtue which doth appertain
To Him is brought to light. The good is God;
The evil that is manifest abroad
Is anything but God.

C. What then is it?

N. Nothing — a vacuum — shadows which flit
Across the vision, hindering the light —
A mere negation, like the rayless night,
Which merely means the absence of the sun,
And nothing positive.

C. And what is done
That is not good is nothing done at all,
Assault, or theft, or murder? We miscall
These simple nothings, and we punish them,
And doing so our wisdom we condemn!

N. Good is the only thing that's positive,
And love is good, and in that love we live
To one another for the general weal;
But those who from the paths of virtue reel,
Live all to self; and here our wholesome laws
Correct such for their benefit, and cause
The erring feet the right way to regain;
But vengeance is both villainous and vain.

As springing from the sand the living fount
Seeks to the level of its source to mount,
So every single drop of life divine
To its great fountain must and shall incline.
Thro' deep ravine, by gloom of darksome glen,
Through fearsome forest, moor, morass, and fen,
It comes at last to its expected goal,
Where all its sweet compeers in glory roll.
You ban the thief and murderer, but they,
Alike with all your priests who preach and pray,
Are seeking the eternal life, and shall
Have yet the welcome of the prodigal
To them extended. Every soul some day
Shall back return with honours from the fray.
The conflict between virtue's forces strong
And those of vice may furious be and long,
But yet for virtue is the victory sure,
And every soul at length shall bliss secure.
None can so wander in the paths of ill
To make his home-return impossible,
For sure as from the Infinite we came,
So sure the Infinite His own shall claim.
This bliss all seek, each in his separate way:
Some run with zeal, some loiter, and some stray;
But just as certain as the drop of dew
Upon the mountain's summit shall pursue
Its winding course adown the mountain's side,
And through the verdant vales, or darkly glide
Between huge jaws of rock by earthquake rent,
Upon its rugged journey turbulent,
Till on the river's placid breast it flows
Back to the mighty deep from whence it rose;
So certainly shall every human life,
However tossed about through scenes of strife,
At last return to his eternal rest
In the great Father's home for ever blest.
I hold to this, my confidence and boast,
All life is one, and nothing can be lost.

C. Then wherefore seek the sinful lust to slay?
For right is every brutish passion.

N. Nay:
All these are evil.

C. Evil! How can they
Be classed as evil which are the display
Of life divine?

N. These not to life relate,
Death rather these, diseases desperate
Which hinder life.

C. But yet, which must be owned,
Are firmly on the human heart enthroned,
And gladly served in spite of the veneer
In which perforce abroad man must appear.
But chip that carefully enamelled skin,
And see the loathsome rottenness within;
For falsehood fell, and lust, and pride, and hate,
And guile, and treachery, are as innate
In man's bad nature, as there were, forsooth,
In Jesus grace, and righteousness, and truth.

That human life is not the life divine
Requires no subtle argument of mine.
Nor is all life the same, one life has man,
And beasts another; and could we but scan
The things unseen, that empyrean land
Would furnish wonders which to understand
Would baffle us. Not Adam innocent
Had life divine, no more than when he went
Astray from God, condemned to earn his bread
By sweat of labour, and in pain to tread
His pathway to the grave. Quickened in life
By God's inbreathing, where were mercies rife;
Set in intelligent relationship
With his Creator; at his guileless lip
The cup of every earthly blessing held
By God's beneficence, his life excelled
The life of all beneath him, inasmuch
As he was placed above them, and in touch
With Him who made him; but that life was not
The life the Son of God from heaven brought.

In their Creator all men live, and move,
And have their being, and it does behove
Us to walk humbly seeing we must give
Account to Him in whom we move and live.
But not those fowls which o'er the landscape speed,
And not those cattle browsing in the mead,
Have with their Maker anything to do,
Though by His power preserved in life 'tis true;
For not a sparrow to the ground can fall
Without Him whom believers Father call.
But those have got to do with man, for they
Were at the first subjected to his sway;
Though when he rebel 'gainst his Maker rose,
They in their turn were bold to be our foes;
Dreading, yet dreading not, the human face.
Their bold rebellion marks poor man's disgrace.

In the beginning, when the worlds were framed,
And sun and moon in pristine brightness flamed,
The earth brought forth her living creatures all,
The ocean teemed with wonders great and small.
At the commandments of the One who spoke,
The dust revived, the waste of waters woke.
The vast creation answered when He called,
And air, and earth, and sea, His power extolled:
He spoke and it was done. But as to man,
With whom was bound redemption's wondrous plan,
The Godhead counsel take, deliberate.
The wondrous being they would now create,
Though less than angels, shall His image bear,
And likeness too; this none with man shall share.
Both fearfully and wonderfully made,
In innocence primordial arrayed.
By God's own breath this being blest became
A living soul, deathless in bliss or blame.
The body dies, but that is not the end:
To dust the part immortal will not bend.
The breath departs, the spirit goes to God,
While sinks the beast's soul down into the sod.
Angelic beings, faithful found, or fell,
Must in their primal form forever dwell.
They cannot die; their life is ransomless;
And not by faith, but by their faithfulness
They stand unshaken in their sinless state,
His servants who was pleased them to create.
But denizen of heav'n, air, earth or sea,
Angel, bird, reptile, beast, fish, flower, or tree —
Man's life stands forth in contrast with them all,
God's offspring though in death's distressful thrall.

But yet that life is not the life divine
Which in the Son of God came here to shine.
'Tis but the creature quick in innocence,
Or under judgment due to his offence;
Mere human life which, forfeit since the fall,
Must leave this world at death's terrific call,
And in the resurrection stand before
The throne, when earth and heaven are no more,
And from that throne, condemned by justice dire,
Pass to the second death, the lake of fire.

N. I fear to follow where your fancy's flight
Would seem to lead. The wit-bewildering height
To which you ever and anon arise,
To revel in the mysteries of the skies,
And fearless venture through the fastnesses
Of unexplored and countless systems, is
Most terrifying to my timid mind,
Which like a clod of earth must lag behind,
While wastes ethereal you wander through,
And drink deep draughts of the celestial dew,
Which madly do the brain intoxicate
And cause your tongue to prate of mysteries great.
But now methinks your empyreal car
Has touched too near some flame-encircled star,
And like a gnat with shrivelled wings, pell-mell
You've come a cropper to the lowest hell.

Give up these myths: take what is good and true
From every source, old, mediaeval, new.
As there is good in every being born,
And vice with virtue, as with rose the thorn,
So every good on earth has got its ills,
And wrung with pain each pleasure throbs and thrills.
But train the rose, the virtue cultivate,
Till to a thornless and a viceless state
They both arrive. I see the Consciousness,
The All That Is attempting to express
Itself in everything instinct with life;
But as upon the deep the waves at strife
Shatter the mirrored vision of the sun,
So things material, which we should shun,
The brightness of the mighty Father mar,
And broken desultory fragments are
All that can come to light, if we except
A few bright specimens, whose beams have swept
Before our vision, that our souls might see
The Thing we follow, and the Thing which we
Are sure to come to.

S. I would not transgress,
But may I ask, What is this Consciousness,
This All That Is?

N. The Thing which you call God,
The universal life diffused abroad;
Yourself, and every bird, and every beast,
Reptile despised, degraded, lowest, least.
The wondrous Thing that thinks, that feels, that knows —
The Infinite Itself which moves, and shows
Itself unto Itself through what we call
Creation, which is nought, the Life is All.
The Consciousness we speak of is the Sum,
The great Totality of what has come
To light, with all the Infinite beyond,
And you and I together in that bond.
The worlds are but the outcome of that mind
In energy to have Itself defined,
Itself to contemplate.

S. But take I up
This writhing worm, this golden buttercup,
This grain of sand: what are they? Who can tell?
Worm, flower, and earth, names which we all know well,
But only names, which though you may have heard,
The things themselves remain still undeclared.
Nor flower nor crawling worm could you create,
Nor by one grain increase this planet's weight.
Yet you are God, or an integral part
Of that vast ocean welling from the heart
Of the Eternal! and your mortal coil
Is but the instrument, through which in toil
And dire distress, you get to know your worth
Ere you discard it as a clod of earth!
But you have made yourself, for you are God
As is that worm which now within the sod
Has vanished from our sight! yet neither you
Nor that vile creature has the faintest clue
To any previous existence, nor
Where we shall land when death which we abhor
Shall strike us in the dust. Strange Gods are we,
Creators of the universe we see,
And yet so absolutely ignorant
Of everything about it, though we pant
The secret of its substance to command,
Yet baffles all our skill one grain of sand!
Man nothing perfectly can comprehend,
Beginning, essence, elements, or end.
We have existence, and we live and move
Within a radius limited, and prove
That we are finite beings, and not part
And parcel of the Infinite. We start
Upon a painful, profligate career,
And by no will of ours we entered here;
But pass we on and, if unblest by grace,
A path of God-forgetfulness we trace.
For since we first determined that we should
Choose for ourselves for evil or for good,
We have to our distress been made to feel
Self-will had fettered us with gyves of steel;
And spite of knowing better, oft we take
The way which for our overthrow will make.

Myself I understand not, I become
A study to my darksome mind, and from
Close observation of my wondrous frame,
Some knowledge of its mechanism claim,
And of my moral being I may find
The disposition of my marvellous mind.
But all these things before my vision shine
As creatures of a mightier mind than mine.
Not the conception of my mind am I,
A contradiction needless to deny.
Not yet such madness over me has sway,
And may my Maker grant it never may.
I have not thought the universe I see:
Before I was, creation came to be.
I see it, feel it, I of it am part,
With restless brain and strong pulsating heart.
But brain, and heart, and all that makes me man,
Built in my frame ere life on earth began.

I know I am not God; you may be He;
But prove your title ere I bend the knee.
You of Divinity no marks possess,
And what creation is you cannot guess.
Sickness, disease, and death, and weakness great,
Prodigious proof give of your creature state;
And your marked ignorance of all things made,
Your claim to Godhead in the dust has laid.
But this is not peculiar to you,
'Tis true of all, and most will own it too.

What knows yon child who holds his nurse's hand
About himself? What does he understand?
Almost as little as the yelping cur
Which apes a quarrel with the prickly burr.
Man's faithful follower must his gladness mark
By frantic frolic and by joyous bark.
But why should not the trio, boy, and nurse,
And dog, know all about the universe?
If they are God they must have come to earth
Freighted with every secret from their birth;
And for himself each must the choice have made
As to the manner of his masquerade;
For who was to decide how I should come,
Or how I should be dressed away from home?
Was there a conclave of the egos called,
Ere you and I in incarnation sprawled,
To classify of our debut the style,
Man, bird, beast, quadruped, or crocodile?
No single part of the great Consciousness
Can be, compared with others, mean, or less;
And why should one the form of maggot take,
And one a human tabernacle make?
And why should none the faintest thought possess
Of whence he hailed, nor have the gift to guess
Into what region he has advent made,
Nor why he from the Infinite has strayed?
If he be only blest with active brain,
A little knowledge he will surely gain;
But all his wisdom he must gather here;
And this to you must certainly seem queer,
If he be parcel of the great All-Wise.

N. Your false conclusions cause me much surprise.
The whole no single soul on earth can know;
The depths immeasurable round us flow,
And we who are but finite never can
The Infinite in all His greatness scan.
Only The Whole the whole can comprehend,
Height, depth, circumference, beginning, end,
Infinity hath not. Of this great Whole,
The limitation is the living soul;
And no one soul the wisdom and the might
Of All is, more than is one ray of light
All that the sun is, or has all the power
Of that bright luminary, which this hour
Sends through the system life-imparting rays,
And guides upon their solitary ways
The planets all. The ray which visits me
By which I am made manifest to thee
Is not the whole, though that which lightens Mars,
Or that which with the night of Neptune wars,
Is nothing different; the light is one,
But every single ray is not the sun,
Nor can it all the power and glory claim
Which dwells in that storm-beaten world of flame,
Though it be part of all.

S. But this does not
Explain the blindness of the creature's lot,
Who nothing knows. Had you the power to call
A counsel of all creatures great and small,
When all had spoken you would know no more
About creation than you did before.
Of animated dust or dust inert
You have no knowledge, yet you dare assert
That you are God. Had you your advent made
Amongst your fellow mortal men, arrayed
In fitting raiment of celestial light,
Your brain with hidden wisdom burning bright,
And with the consciousness of whence you came,
Your royal pedigree fit to proclaim,
We might have paid attention yea, indeed,
It would have been our wisdom to give heed
To what you had to tell us; but to chance
Into our midst in naked ignorance,
Gathering some scraps of knowledge in this gloom
Traversed upon your journey to the tomb,
And never rightly to know anything,
Is not the most convincing way to bring
Your origin divine to light, and prove
Yourself a God, and all our doubts remove.

N. But this same argument which you employ,
Of life the true solution to destroy,
If given an all-round application, must
Your Christian creed drag also in the dust.
If you have rightly read your holy Book,
Chiefly the Christ's biography by Luke,
"Belov'd physician" and evangelist,
Who, you will very vigorously insist,
Wrote guided by the Spirit of the Lord,
You shall him find most careful to record,
The infant Nazarene not only grew
Manward in stature but in wisdom too.
If Him Creator you confess to be,
And yet no serious contradiction see
In the assertion that like other men
He grew in understanding, wherefore then
Should you to all men Deity deny
Because they must their wealth of knowledge buy
As He did in the wide world's mart?

C. But He,
To whom as Lord of all we bend the knee,
Found not on earth of light divine one ray,
He came Himself to chase the gloom away,
Which earth in its unhallowed mantle wound,
And deep as the Egyptian darkness bound
The godless mind of man's apostate race
Who lay in death's detestable embrace,
Hopeless and lost and far from God away.
It would be much more safe for you to say
The sun is lighted by the earth he rules
Than that the world's Redeemer in the schools
His knowledge found. 'Twas this the Jews perplexed;
And, in their vanity so sorely vexed,
They said, as they His wisdom deep discerned: —
How knows He learning, having never learned?
In worldly lore He needed not to be
Instructed, everything He knew, for He
Was like no other man of woman born.
A mystery great, which shall for ever scorn
The creature's power to penetrate, surrounds
His Person peerless, yea, securely bounds
With an inscrutable and blinding blaze,
From the ignoble and irreverent gaze,
The secret of the incarnation. None
Its depths can fathom, no man knows the Son.
God man become; Most High, yet brought so low;
Incarnate wisdom, nothing given to know
But what the Father spoke into His ear;
Lawgiver, yet Himself made law to hear;
Despot, yet Slave; Omnipotent, yet made
Weakness to feel; Leader of life, yet laid
In death; Upholder of the worlds, yet hung
Upon a cross of shame; Creator stung
Deep to the soul with His own creature's scorn;
Of kings the King, yet mocked with crown of thorn;
Judge placed before His judge; Sinless made sin;
The faithful One forsaken; Light within
Devouring darkness; Love o'er-whelmed with hate;
Heaven stormed by hell; Deliverer strong and great
Needing deliverance. Oh, the breadth, and length,
And height, and depth; the weakness and the strength;
The mourning, and the mirth; pleasure and pain;
The joy, the sorrow; and the loss, and gain
Which meet in the incarnate Son of God,
No mortal mind can know. With feet unshod
We may draw near, and as we gaze adore,
As all His varied glories shine before
Our ravished hearts. E'en from His wondrous birth
He nothing learned within the schools of earth.
He knew from whence He came, from form of God
To form of servant, found in flesh and blood,
That He might thus to guilty man draw near
And banish from his heart all sinful fear.
But not upon His parents' love He leaned,
Nor from their lips one gleam of wisdom gleaned.
He speaks of God as all His confidence
When on His mother's breast, and ever thence
About His Father's business He went,
A perfect Servant unto Him who sent
Him here below in wisdom's wondrous plan;
Restricting to the limits of a man
Himself, that He might Godhead glorify,
And bring the Father's loving kindness nigh;
While never was He less — His name be blest —
Than the Eternal Son, God manifest.
The Father's light to us below He brought;
The Father's works in goodness great He wrought;
To death He went the might of death to break,
And free from its dread fear our spirits make.
And not in vain for us Himself He gave,
The Victim is victorious o'er the grave.
The strong foundations of death's doleful keep,
Its dungeons horror-shrouded, dismal, deep,
Have felt His might. Its wastes where wanders fear,
Its towers of terror, woe-bedarkened, drear,
Have tottered at His touch. Its brazen doors,
Before which ceaselessly destruction roars,
Are open flung; fallen the fortress is,
And all authority and might are His
In that domain. In resurrection might
He lives who fought to hell's dread gates, the fight
Which shall recounted be in deathless song
When this world's woeful, worthless wars have long
Been all forgotten, That one battle great,
In which the Son of God, upon the pate
Of that accurs'd deceiver of the world,
Amid the darkness of Golgotha, hurled
Whelming disaster, shall be told by all
Redeemed creation, when the hurtful thrall
Of sin with its pollution and its curse
Is no more known in God's fair universe
Of blessing infinite.

N. No dogma seems
To come amiss to you. The wildest dreams
Of pseudo-prophet, or of men deceived
By optical illusion, are received
As vital truth. If you can so defend
The resurrection fable, we may end
At once this profitless debate. No mind
Which has not been both stupid made and blind
By superstition, would without protest
Bow to so senseless and so manifest
A fiction.

C. Fiction! Why should it be thought
A thing incredible, that God had wrought,
For His own glory and His creature's good,
In grace of such amazing magnitude,
Witnessed in Jesus, by His death to bring
To nought the power of every evil thing,
And death despoil, which had poor man enslaved,
And set him free, as one redeemed and saved,
Beyond its power, where sin can never come,
Nor death invade the everlasting home
Of love divine? And shall we not give heed
To those who saw Him risen in very deed?
For forty days He showed Himself to those
Who had bewailed Him dead, healing their woes,
And bringing to their hopeless hearts a joy
Which never power of darkness could destroy.
By many proofs infallible, He gave
His followers to understand the grave
Could not retain Him; it had vanquished been,
And He was Despot in that dread demesne.

First, unto Peter who had him denied,
He showed Himself: His wounded hands and side
To faithless Thomas, and the tenantless
And empty tomb to those whose deep distress
Tore them from sleepless beds, ere morning light
Had broken through the casement of the night.
Glad were their hearts. He was alive again.
The tears which from their eyes, like wintry rain
In blinding floods had fallen, now were dried,
And faith and hope the might of death defied.
Their Lord was there, the grave was desolate,
And flesh and bones in resurrection state
Beat slowly back the blindness of the brain,
Which hitherto in gloom of death had lain;
The last dark cloud of midnight fled away
Before the Star of that eternal day,
And all the beauty of a deathless state
Before their vision burst with glory great;
Death and corruption dissipated were,
For life and incorruptibility were there.
No more on the horizon of their hope
A single sullen cloud of doubt shall mope.
The foe is fallen, and the battle won,
And heaven with all its lasting joys begun.
Five hundred brethren at one time beheld
The risen Lord and had their doubts dispelled.
The martyr Stephen, as the multitude
Around him wrathful clamoured for his blood,
Looked up with steadfast eye toward the blue,
And saw the heavens above him opened through,
And in the place of power at God's right hand
Jesus the Nazarene in glory stand.
This testimony with his blood he sealed —
His spirit shall the living Saviour shield.
Last of the witnesses was he who sought
To bring the name of Jesus Christ to naught;
The ravening wolf, the haughty Benjamite,
Bathed in the blinding empyreal light,
Beheld the earth-rejected Christ, and heard
In matchless grace the life-imparting word,
Which fired his heart with love's immortal flame,
And made him martyr for that worthy name.
The fiercest foe became the veriest slave
Of Him who died His enemies to save.

Were all these men deceivers? Perish the thought!
Men like the apostles of the Lord are not
To be in the same category placed
With those who have their ideal disgraced
With falsehood. Why should they a path elect
Bristling with sorrows? Had they had respect
To life, or peace, or reputation fair,
Or any worldly vantage, they had ne'er
So blended with their message cross and shame,
While heralding salvation through His name.
Full well they knew the gospel which they bare
The sorrows of the Crucified must share;
And so must they, though bearing tidings glad,
Be by the world maligned and reckoned mad.
Hot persecution must before them burn,
And dog their steps which ever way they turn.
Bonds, and imprisonments, and fire, and flame,
Sprang up to welcome them where'er they came.
Yet in His love they went from place to place,
For all must hear the story of His grace.
Repulsed, reviled, dishonoured, and despised,
To causeless human hatred sacrificed.
Blessing when cursed; for ill returning good;
Love vanquished not by base ingratitude.
Scourged, stoned, imprisoned, buffetted, abused,
As criminals maliciously accused.
Yet undismayed by persecution dire,
Dungeon dishonourable, rack, or fire,
As sheep appointed for the slaughter they
Went uncomplainingly upon their way
Of mercy through a wayward world of woe,
Bidding poor ruined man his Maker know,
And glad to be accounted worthy, shame
To bear for their beloved Master's name.
To us what they had seen and heard they spoke,
To set us free from sin's degrading yoke,
And give us power to stand before God's face,
As sons with His own Son in righteous grace.

O infinite, unfathomable love.
Transcending highest human thought, above
All creature understanding. Love made known
In death, when Christ upon that cross alone
The bitter chalice of the wrath divine
Drank to the dregs, sin's punishment condign!
Love deathless, which rejoices to bring nigh
The penitent, itself to satisfy!
And Oh how nigh! In the Beloved graced,
And in the presence of the Father placed.

N. O folly! God of all the Father is,
And every creature in the world is His.
Why this was just what men were called to hear
From Jesus lips in words both pure and clear.
The Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood
Of man; truths not distinctly understood
By previous saviours of the human race,
Declared by Him who did so much to chase
The darkness from the world, and this it was
Which to the proud and haughty furnished cause
For condemnation of that righteous Man,
Whose like not often since the world began
Had trod the earth. He sought that men might know
Their origin divine. Above, below,
Around; man, creeping creature, bird, or beast,
The life was one, the greatest and the least.
All life from the eternal Father flowed,
And Jesus strove to point the living road
Back to its source: "A sparrow cannot fall
Without your Father," for Himself is ALL.

C. But when He said to those who grace despised,
Nor their impulses murderous disguised,
Who, false themselves, could not the truth endure,
But it declined to hear: "Ye are of your
Father the Devil," wished He to convey
To them the great reality that they
Were born of God, and were both one and all
His children? This I certainly should call
A novel way of teaching truth to men.
And furthermore, I hear Him say again: —
"If God your Father were ye would love me."
But by their hatred they were proved to be
The Devil's seed, and not the seed of God.

In the clear light dispersed by Christ abroad
I see that people must be born anew,
Yea, born of God, if they are to be true
And rightful children. This is brought about
By the preached word, and cannot be without.
Therefore the word of truth must be believed;
That living word which, when it is received
Into the soul, produces pure and true,
A nature which is both divine and new.
The Holy Spirit to believers given
From the exalted Son of God in heaven,
Unites His power to this new heavenly thing,
Creating in the soul the living spring
Of life, which rises up in worship true
To Him to whom all praise is justly due,
The living Father, who in boundless grace
And love is known by all the heavenly race.

To have man live to Him in life divine
Was love's benificent and deep design.
Before the worlds His counsels were complete,
And in His vision man in Christ made meet
To share His home, to stand before His face,
Sons with His Son in love's own dwelling-place.
How He could make Himself to creatures known
And cause the creature to delight to own
Him God and Father, and a home to find,
With heart enraptured and delighted mind,
In His pure courts, those shrines of radiant light,
No finite wisdom could have guessed aright.
He made the worlds to light them with His love;
He made the earth, the scene where He would prove
The being through whom all His counsels were
To be in time before the worlds laid bare.
Set in responsibility he fell —

N. He should have made him better. Was it well
To make a feeble creature, and let loose
A crafty fiend that creature to seduce?
If man defeated was by that assault,
Not him, but He who made him, was at fault.

C. Now this is just where reason leads astray,
Man to invent an engine will assay,
And of its good or of its evil fame
The maker must accept the praise or blame;
For man is not the mighty God, nor could
He make his feeble instrument endued
With life and with intelligence, to stand,
For weal or woe, subject to his command.
That this man's might excels need scarce be said,
But God has myriads of such creatures made;
And we acknowledge it, for you and I
Responsibility dare not deny.

Jesus in presence of the universe
Has borne for us the judgment and the curse,
When human hatred, which did wrath provoke
With murderous fury, against love awoke.
Sin met with judgment, God thus making known
The righteousness of His eternal throne;
And not alone His righteousness but grace,
For His own Son is in the sinner's place.
But now we see the Victor from the dead
Exalted as creation's glorious Head.
In Him redemption and deliverance
From the sad sequence of poor man's mischance,
Are preached to every creature under heaven,
And every soul believing stands forgiven.

Oh trifle not with God's compassions great.
Long have you scorned, but 'tis not yet too late.
His grace is greater than your guilt, His love
Than all your hate, His goodness far above
The evil of your heart: abandon then
The vapid theories of foolish men,
And follow Him who in the paths of right
Will lead thy soul out of her native night
Into the brightness of the light of God,
Which in the face of Jesus beams abroad
In gospel message, bringing peace and rest
To souls by power of evil long oppressed.

Now I must hence. Hyperion goes down,
And red as blood is yonder mountain crown.
The peasants the fair fields around forsake,
And to their humble homes themselves betake.
The hireling has fulfilled his toilsome day,
And freed from labour wends his weary way
To where the quiet of the darkness kind
With silken bands his toil-worn limbs shall bind.

The blushing west portends a morrow bright,
Whatever be the nature of the night
That lies between; and this before me brings
The fact, that soon the sun of grace, which flings
Across the woeful world bright beams of light,
Shall shortly sink from every scoffer's sight
In seas of blood, and the black moonless heaven
Shall with wrath's dread artillery be riven,
And all the fury of the Omnipotent
Shall on a lawless rebel race be spent.
Out of the north destruction fierce shall roar;
From east and west shall angry passions pour
Upon the pageantry of kingdoms proud
Eternal desolation; thunders loud
Shall shake the heavens; the smitten earth shall reel,
And stagger like a drunkard; hell shall feel
For one brief moment the restraining power
Of the Omnipotent withdrawn; that hour
Shall from the depths infernal bring to light
Horrors which to the soul shall shake the night,
And which are hatched within the lowest hell,
Whose like upon no mortal vision fell;
Beyond his wildest fancy's flight, beyond
All that had yet on his conception dawned.
The lord of day shall into darkness turn,
The moon to blood, the silver stars which burn
Upon the brow of heaven, shall lose their seat,
And men shall tread them underneath their feet —
Not literally bridle thy surprise —
I speak of what these bodies symbolise.
Thrones shall be overturned, kingdoms shall fall,
Terror shall seize on princes one and all.
Inspired from the abyss, the mind of man,
The overthrow of power divine shall plan.
Earth shall wage war with all the hosts of heaven,
By the fell influence of hades driven
Headlong against the armies of the Lord,
Revealed in flaming fire, with naked sword,
To bring rebellion to an end, and break
The evil power which persecutes the meek.

This done the night of judgment shall give way
To one long, tranquil and eternal day,
When bright the Sun of righteousness shall rise
With healing in His wings. The cloudless skies
Shall blaze with glory, and the night of woe
Shall be for ever past for all below.
The saints with Christ a full millennium
Shall reign; for all the kingdoms shall become
His, whose imperial brow with crown of thorn
The men of war in mockery did adorn.
Peace shall prevail, and every land shall own
His rightful sway, and low before His throne
Shall bow and worship; angels there shall kneel.
The soul of the vast universe shall feel
The quickening touch of its life-giving Head,
And shall break forth in song. The heavens shall shed
Into the lap of earth immortal joys,
And every living thing, with thankful voice,
Shall sweetly raise the universal psalm
Of glory unto God and to the Lamb.

Where then shall those who grace rejected hide?
Where find a shelter shall the sons of pride?
Where shall they look who have that day to do
With Jesus whom the world despised and slew?
What shall they say who scorned the tidings glad,
And after empty dreams went raving mad?
Or what shalt thou say in that dreadful day,
When all thy foolish fancies fade away,
And all defenceless thou thyself shalt find,
Smitten by sin in conscience, heart, and mind,
Arraigned before the great Heart-Searcher's bar,
Where all things stand revealed just as they are,
Nor magnified, nor minimised, nor dressed
For the occasion in their worst or best?
No refuge then for sinners in distress,
No covering for the creature's nakedness;
But what man's deeds may merit, this shall be
Meted to every soul by just decree.

This being so, O let not slip away
The great deliverance held out to-day,
But at the footstool of the Saviour kneel,
And for His mercy early make appeal.
He will not say thee nay. He welcomes all
Who in distress of soul upon Him call.
No longer reason, make no more delay,
The night is near, the shades are growing grey;
Lay hold on life, salvation make thine own,
Lest thou repent thee when for ever flown
Is every mercy that to-day is heard
By mortal men in God's life-giving Word.
But nothing then repentance shall avail;
No eye shall look upon thy woe, thy wail
No ear shall enter. O be wise to-day
Nor turn from grace so wonderful away.