To a Floral Calendar.

By James Boyd.

Recorder of the days which run
Their race through gloom and glory fleet,
Before this planet can complete
Her race around the centre sun.

Those flowers, thy breast bespreading o'er,
Seem to the vision wondrous fair;
But not upon the dreamy air
About us pleasing perfume pour.

Thy beauty's but the painter's art:
Thy days come not so fair arrayed,
But interlaced with sullen shade
Of grief which chills the beating heart.

That God in wisdom infinite
Has planned my path I question not,
Although my soul has oft forgot
This comfort in her darksome night

Of sorrow, when frowned black the heaven,
And clouds across the welkin rolled,
And far across the wildering wold
The wrathful rains were darkly driven.

But that He gracious is I know,
Though much my soul has yet to learn,
And little clearly I discern,
So feeble is my mind and slow.

But here the hand of faith takes hold.
Amid the clash of creeds at war,
As shipwrecked sailor grasps a star,
Or miser's eager fingers gold.

That evil never sprang from Him
I hold till rends the ethereal blue,
And darkness bids the world adieu,
And nothing more to man is dim.

I dare not doubt His goodness great;
His mercy mighty, matchless is;
And He is mine, and I am His,
In love and life inviolate.

All things must therefore work for good
To them that lovers are of God,
But wildernesses must be trod
Rank with sharp thorns and briars rude.

And I must not be hoping all
My days bedecked with smiles to meet,
Nor flowers to spring where'er my feet
Upon my life's highway shall fall.

No doubt if all our days came thus
According to the painter's mind,
With every earthly joy entwined,
It might seem pleasanter to us:

But better? Nay, His hand hath dressed
The way in which He leads His own;
The highway to the heavenly throne,
The pathway which His feet have pressed.

And who the falsehood dare invent,
That He who marked my pilgrim path
Placed thorn or briar there in wrath,
Or of my woes was negligent?

Or who dare say His love was strong,
But feeble wisdom failed to see,
That spite of right designed for me,
My feet might wander into wrong;

And in my wrong the serpent base
Might dart upon me from his coil,
Or I might fall into his toil
Like the first father of our race;

Or like the babe with tottering feet
Who wanders through the open door
With gleeful laugh, and ventures o'er
The dangerously crowded street,

When from a cloud of dust the sound
Of steeds in gallop wildly break —
An infant's cry — a mother's shriek —
A form the bands of death have bound!

Or like the traveller in the night
Who seeks to cross the swollen stream,
Hoping alone by starry gleam
To find the friendly ford aright,

But in a hesitating mood —
Uncertain where — within the tide
His foot is dipped — a slip — a slide!
And he is battling with the flood.

Thus had it been with me, but He
Who bound me with love's golden band,
With more than mother's care His hand
Was ever near to succour me.

And though my way be long and lone,
'Tis fenced about by Him whose care
Has taken count of every hair
Upon the heads of all His own.

So though the path in front be dim,
And though but for each step I take
Light from the blue above doth break,
Such is my confidence in Him.

I challenge all the rebel band,
In earth, or hell, or heaven above,
To separate me from His love,
Or pluck me from His powerful hand.

He paid a price for me so great
No creature mind can comprehend;
Therefore He shall my soul defend
From death through deserts desolate,

Where the wild wolf with hunger howls,
Where noisome pestilences smite,
Where roars the lion in his might
And the fierce bear through darkness prowls;

Where flames the sun o'er seas of sand,
And smites the pilgrim through the brain;
Where bare unburied bones of slain
Lie scattered white on every hand.

The manna shall my hunger stay,
The smitten rock refresh my soul;
Until I reach the heavenly goal
My garments shall not know decay.

He lives for me, I fear no ill,
My shield by day, my star by night
Is He; the fiery arrow's flight
I laugh to scorn, it cannot kill.

And I am sure His gracious hand,
All-wise, almighty, and all-good,
Through arid waste or tangled wood,
No needless pain for me has planned;

Nor can a thing of chance come in
To make my heavenly prospect dark;
No not the fell infernal spark
Struck from the heel of prancing sin,

Which for an instant on the brain
Flashes, with demon power to blind
The purpose of the heavenly mind,
And with the world my spirit stain.

I do not hope the days to spring
All bright from beds of roses sweet,
But through the mists which I may meet
I trust my Saviour light to fling.

And where the lacerating thorn
Tears rough along the trembling heart,
His faithful hand shall bind the part,
And I shall joy that it was torn.

Then let the days come as they will,
The artist's pencil cannot throw
One sunbeam in the face of woe,
Nor yet one wasp of sorrow kill.

To-morrow may be foul or fair,
'Tis hid in love till it has come;
The present sorrow is the sum
Of all that I have got to bear.

Nor have I this to bear alone,
I cast my load upon the Lord,
Who leads me through the dangerous ford,
With here and there a stepping-stone;

And here and there a pressure strong
Upon my hand, that I may feel
The grace which safe through woe and weal
Shall lead my faithless soul along;

And here and there a tender word
Dropped from the fount of love divine
Into this timid heart of mine
And through its icy chambers heard;

And here and there my spirit hears
Those everlasting songs, which fall
From glory-gleaming jasper wall
And gate of pearl upon mine ears;

And here and there, just when I need,
I find that He has led me where
I see the plains and breathe the air
Of Paradise in very deed.

And ever and anon He calls
Me, in His tender goodness, from
The brutal brawls of Christendom
To walk with Him in heavenly halls,

Where love can never know decay,
Where perfect peace unruffled reigns,
Nor print of evil foot profanes
Those palaces of ivory.

Brought thus within His house of wine,
In secret with Himself to sup,
Where from an overflowing cup
Each guest shall drink of love divine;

And more, for daily He doth deign
In mighty grace to visit me,
That the high honour mine may be,
The Lord of all to entertain.

To sup with Him, and He with me,
What greater grace could creature crave?
Let others of their riches rave
This favour vast my boast shall be.

Around me Babel-builders vie,
None certain what his neighbour says;
The truth is his peculiar craze,
And every other cult a lie.

One might imagine Christ had left
His people in this pathless gloom,
To question, quarrel, fret, and fume,
Of every ray of light bereft.

Who could conceive that He had given
A revelation of His mind,
When that which bears His name we find
With every kind of question riven.

Yet has He left without excuse
His followers in this tangled scene;
For marked by word of truth has been
A way devoted to their use,

And pleasing to His gracious heart
Who calls us to His rest above;
A way of light and life and love,
From all the strife of tongues apart,

Lit by the living light of God.
A way by human sight unseen,
Trod by the blood-redeemed, and clean,
The path the holy Saviour trod;

The highway of the heavenly King,
The pathway to the promised land,
By angels sentinelled, who stand
Pilgrims upon their way to bring.

No evil thing can there distress
Those who pursue the appointed way;
The grace of Christ shall be their stay
In all their human feebleness.

The great apostle sent to bear
To Gentile ears the word of life,
Hearing the roar of party strife
Loud in the distance fill the air,

Commends the leaders of the flock
To God and to His word of grace;
The foot of faith the soul may place
On holy Writ as on a rock.

It never failed a sinner lost,
It never failed a feeble saint;
No man shall need to make complaint
That it he trusted to his cost.

That God is good and true has been
By all the faithful verified,
Since first the serpent sly did glide
The human soul and God between.

Nor shall a soul have yet to say
That he in self-abasement came,
The saving grace of God to claim,
And was without it sent away.

The witness of His love is He
Who came as from the Father sent,
To bear the wrath omnipotent
And set our souls from sorrow free.

And all that love in death made known.
And not in vain the Christ has died,
The gates of death He opened wide,
And now He fills the Father's throne.

He comes again us home to take,
We know not when, He has not told;
The year around may not have rolled
Ere the last trump the dead shall wake,

And we who wait for Him shall hear
The voice of the archangel strong,
And sweeter far than earthly song
The shout of Jesus on our ear.

And we shall all ascend to meet
The grave's illustrious Conqueror,
And leave thee, silent monitor,
To witness to the world how fleet

The wheels of time around rotate,
And how all things must have an end,
And man must unto death descend,
That region drear and desolate.

A woeful world it then shall be
When Christ has gathered home His own,
And quiet from the earth has flown,
And men to man shall bend the knee;

And, as the God who gave him breath,
A rebel creature reverence,
Whom the just Judge shall banish hence
Into the dreaded second death.

I thank my God for calling me
In sovereign grace from death to life,
From haunts of selfishness and strife
To peace and pure felicity.

My early days I wasted in
The fruitless joys of folly's fane,
And my intoxicated brain
Reeled in the giddy dance of sin.

But love divine, immortal, broke
The stupor that my soul was in,
And conscience brawled aloud of sin
And guilt, and all my manhood woke;

But woke to struggle in the net
Which that designing hunter, one
More mighty far than Cush's son,
Had for my feet so secret set.

And now I felt a power near
Of light which manifested me;
Which, though my blind eyes could not see,
Was to my trembling spirit clear.

And ever and anon arose
A voice which chode me for my sin,
And raised a hurricane within
When all was outwardly repose.

And gentle sleep, true friend of those
Tormented and perplexed in gloom,
Fled from mine eyelids, leaving room
For overwhelming floods of woes.

My squandered days came crowding in
Like ghosts of murdered innocents,
Their mouldy garments showing rents,
Their faces battered by my sin.

And added to my heavy load,
Upon my throat the iron hand
Of justice making stern demand
That I should pay the debt I owed.

But from the throne where justice stood
A hand was thrust into my night,
And I was drawn into the light
Sheltered by Jesu's precious blood.

And there I learned the Son of God
Had, when upon the cursed tree,
Of that great death which lay on me,
Taken upon Himself the load;

My cup, of wrath full to the brim,
Had drained, and now gone back to heaven,
He, by His holy Spirit given,
Had linked me up in life with Him.

And bright since then has been my way,
My days are sloping stairs to heaven,
And step by step, redeemed, forgiven,
And on and up from day to day.

Far underneath the world is left
In murky vapours closely swathed,
The topmost step is glory-bathed
Where the deep blue in twain is cleft.

I note the days already fled,
Some bright with hope, some dark with shame,
But all a resurrection claim
When God remembers human dead.

Each revolution of the earth
Doth one full day completed cast
Into the ocean of the past,
And brings another into birth.

They spring to life, they fade, how fleet!
Gathered like heavy golden sheaves,
Or trod in mire like autumn leaves
Beneath the fool's unhallowed feet.

As silent witnesses they've stood,
The highway of the world along;
Brought into light with cries of wrong
And drowned in brutal seas of blood.

Oft think we that the days are gone
Like billows shattered on the shore,
But when the ocean is no more,
Upon our vision they shall dawn.

Their home shall be in memory then,
In outer darkness or in light;
In depths of hell or heaven's height,
To curse or bless the lot of men.

How little men have thought their days
Were volumes, where with their own hand
Their whole life's works recorded stand,
Free from the flatterer's fulsome praise,

No mortal can a line efface;
Shut up, and sealed, and laid aside
In mouldy shelves; they must abide
Till Time shall terminate his race.

In secret hid from human sight
They must remain, and men forget,
Until the throne of God is set,
The throne of judgment great and white.

And then they shall be opened wide
That all may see what has been done,
In light surpassing star or sun,
From which no soul of man may hide.

O day of wrath! O dreadful day!
When this world's history is read;
When earth and heaven and hope have fled,
And Justice strips her arm to slay.

Then woe to all the proud of heart
Who heavenly grace and love despised,
And earthly passing pleasures prized.
And risked of wrath the bitter smart!

Woe to the blind who would not see!
Woe to the deaf who would not hear!
Woe to the heart which knew no fear!
Woe to the rebel's stubborn knee!

Woe to the man who hated light!
Woe to the prophet speaking lies!
Woe to the wolf in saintly guise!
Woe to the canting hypocrite!

Woe to the soul who spent his days
In carelessness away from God!
Woe to the man who practised fraud!
Woe to the worldling and his ways!

Woe to the wayward and profane!
Woe to the soul by sin enticed!
Woe to the heart which hated Christ!
Woe to the blind benighted brain!

Woe to the whole rebellious race
Who love rejected and refused,
Who patience infinite abused,
And scoffed at saving sovereign grace!

The days in which they sowed the seed
Of death and wrath, a harvest yield,
And now condemned to reap the field
Their hearts o'er all their follies bleed.

Lord Jesus, blessed Saviour mine,
My spirit turns with praise to Thee;
And at Thy feet on bended knee
I bless Thee, Thou hast made me Thine.

From fear of condemnation Thou
Hast set my soul at perfect rest;
And in Thee, Saviour, I am blest
Before the Father's presence now.

My sinful history past and gone,
Make the remainder of my days
Bright with Thy presence, that my praise
May be of Thee. Thus lead me on.