Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Sin is the whelming argument, to justify the attribute of vengeance.
It is a deep dark thought, and needeth to be diligently studied,
But perchance evil was essential, that God should be seen of his creatures:
For where perfection is not, there lacketh possible good,
And the absence of better that might be, taketh from the praise of it is

well :
And creatures must be finite, and finite cannot be perfect;
Therefore, though in small degree, creation involveth evil,
He chargeth his angels with folly, and the heavens are not clean in His

sight : For every existence in the universe hath either imperfection or Godhead : And the light that blazeth but in One, must be softened with shadow for

the many

There is then good in evil; or none could have known his Maker ;
No spiritual intellect or essence could have gazed on his high perfections,
No angel harps could have tuned the wonders of his wisdom,
No ransomed souls have praised the glories of his mercy,
No howling fiends have shown the terrors of his justice,
But God would have dwelt alone in the fearful solitude of holiness.

Nevertheless, O sinner, harden not thine heart in evil ;
Nor plume thee in imaginary triumph, because thou art not valueless as

vile;

Because thy dark abominations add lustre to the charity of Light;
Because a wonder-working alchemy draineth elixir out of poisons ;
Because the same fiery volcano that scorcheth and ravageth a continent,
Hath in the broad blue bay cast up some petty island ;
Because to the full demonstration of the qualities and accidents of good,
The swarthy legions of the devil have toiled as unwitting pioneers :
For sin is still sin; so hateful Love doth hate it;
A blot on the glory of creation, which justice must wipe out.
Sin is a loathsome leprosy, fretting the white robe of innocence;
A rottenness, eating out the heart of the royal cedars of Lebanon ;
A pestilential blast, the terror of that holy pilgrimage;
A rent in the sacred veil, whereby God left his temple.
Therefore, consider thyself, thou that dost not sorrow for thy guilt:
Fear evil, or face its enemy: dread sin, or dare justice.

Yea, saith the Spirit: and their works do follow them;

Habits, and thoughts, and deeds, are shadows and satellites of self.
What! shall the claimant to a throne stand forward with a rabble rout,
Meanness, impiety, and lust; riot and indolence and vanity ?
Nay, man! the train wherewith thou comest attend whither thou shalt go;
A throne for a king's son, but an inner dungeon for the felon.
For a man's works do follow him: bodily, standing in the judgment,
Behold the false accuser, behold the slandered saint ;
The slave, and his bloody driver; the poor, and his generous friend ;
The simple dupe, and the crafty knave: the murderer, and—his victim !
Yet all are in many characters; the best stand guilty at the bar;
And he that seemed the worst may have most of real excuse.
The talents unto which a man is born, be they few or many,
Are dropped into the balance of account, working unlooked-for changes,
And perchance the convict from the galleys may stand above the hermit

from his cell, For that the obstacles in one outweigh the propensions in the other. There be, who have made themselves friends, yea, by unrighteous

mammon, Friends, ready waiting as an escort to those everlasting habitations ; Embodied in living witnesses, thronging to meet them in a cloud, Charity, meekness and truth, zeal, sincerity and patience. There be, who have made themselves foes, yea, by honest gain, Foes, whose plaint must have its answer, before the bright portal is

unbarred: Pride, and selfishness, and sloth, apathy, wrath, and falsehood, Bind to their everlasting toil many that must weary in the fires. Loye hath a power and a longing to save the gathered world, And rescue universal man from the hunting hell-hounds of his doings: Yet few, here one and there one, scanty as the gleaning after harvest, Are glad of the robes of praise which Mercy would fling around the

naked; But wrapping closer to their skin the poisoneď tunic of their works, They stand in self-dependence to perish in abandonment of God.

OF PRAYER.

A WICKED man scorneth prayer, in the shallow sophistry of reason,
He derideth the silly hope, that God can be moved by supplication :-
Can the unchangeable be changed, or waver in his purpose ?
Can the weakness of pity affect him ? Should he turn at the bidding of a

man ?
Methought he ruled all things, and ye called his decrees immutable,
But if thus he listeneth to words, wherein is the firmness of his will ?-
So I heard the speech of the wicked, and, lo, it was smoother than oil ;
But I knew that his reasonings were false, for the promise of the Scripture

is true : Yet was my soul in darkness, for his words were too hard for me; Till I turned to my God in prayer, for I know he heareth always. Then I looked abroad on the earth, and, bebold, the Lord was in all things, Yet saw I not his hand in aught, but perceived that he worketh by means ; Yea, and the power of the mean proveth the wisdom that ordained it; Yea, and no act is useless, to the hurling of a stone through the air. So I turned my thoughts to supplication, and beheld the mercies of Je

hovah, And I saw sound argument was still the faithful friend of godliness; For as the rock of the affections is the solid approval of reason, Even so the temple of Religion is founded on the basis of Philosophy.

Scorner, thy thoughts are weak, they reach not the summit of the matter.
Go to, for the mouth of a child might show thee the mystery of prayer:
Verily, there is no change in the counsels of the Mighty Ruler :
Verily, his purpose is strong, and rooted in the depths of necessity :
But who hath shown thee his purpose, who hath made known to thee his

will ?
When, () gainsayer, hast thou been schooled in the secrets of wisdom ?
Fate is a creature of God, and all things move in their orbits,
And that which shall surely happen is known unto him from eternity ;
But as, in the field of nature, he useth the sinews of the ox,
And commandeth diligence and toil, himself giving the increase,
So, in the kingdom of his grace, granteth he omnipotence to prayer,
For he knoweth what thou wilt ask, and what thou wilt ask aright.

No man can pray in faith, whose prayer is not grounded on a promise:
Yet a good man commendeth all things to the righteous wisdom of his God:
For those who pray in faith, trust the immutable Jehovah,
And they who ask blessings unpromised, lean on uncovenanted mercy.

Man, regard thy prayers as a purpose of love to thy soul ;
Esteem the providence that led to them as an index of God's good-will:
So shalt thou pray aright, and thy words shall meet with acceptance.
Also, in pleading for others, be thankful for the fullness of thy prayer.
For if thou art ready to ask, the Lord is more ready to bestow.
The salt preserveth the sea, and the saints uphold the earth ;
Their prayers are the thousand pillars that prop the canopy of nature.
Verily, an hour without prayer, from some terrestrial mind,
Were a curse in the calendar of time, a spot of the blackness of darkness.
Perchance the terrible day, when the world must rock into ruins,
Will be one unwhitened by prayer,—shall He find faith on the earth ?
For there is an economy of mercy, as of wisdom, and power, and means;
Neither is one blessing granted, unbesought from the treasury of good;
And the charitable heart of the Being, to depend upon whom is happiness,
Never withholdeth a bounty, so long as his subject prayeth ;
Yea, ask what thou wilt, to the second throne in heaven,
It is thine, for whom it was appointed; there is no limit unto prayer :
But and if thou cease to ask, tremble, thou self-suspended creature,
For thy strength is cut off as was Samson's: and the hour of thy doom is

come.

Frail art thou, O man, as a bubble on the breaker,
Weak and governed by externals, like a poor bird caught in the storm;
Yet thy momentary breath can still the raging waters,
Thy hand can touch a lever that may move the world.
O Merciful, we strike eternal covenant with thee,
For man may take for his ally the King who ruleth kings;
How strong, yet how most weak, in utter poverty how rich,
What possible omnipotence to good is dormant in a man!
Behold that fragile form of delicate transparent beauty,
Whose light blue eye and hectic cheek are lit by the balefires of decline,
All droopingly she lieth, as a dew-laden lily,
Her flaxen tresses, rashly luxuriant, dank with unhealthy moisture :
Hath not thy heart said of her, Alas! poor child of weakness ?

Thou hast erred; Goliath of Gath stood not in half her strength :
Terribly she fighteth in the van as the virgin daughter of Orleans,
She beareth the banner of heaven, her onset is the rushing cataract,
Seraphim rally at her side, and the captain of that host is God,
And the serried ranks of evil are routed by the lightning of her eye ;
She is the King's remembrancer, and steward of many blessings,
Holding the buckler of security over her unthankful land;
For that weak fluttering heart is strong in faith assured,
Dependence is her might, and behold—she prayeth.

[ocr errors]

Angels are round the good man, to catch the incense of his prayers,
And they fly to minister kindness to those for whom he pleadeth ;
For the altar of his heart is lighted, and burneth before God continually,
And he breatheth, conscious of his joy, the native atmosphere of heaven;
Yea, though poor, and comtemned, and ignorant of this world's wisdom;
Il can his fellows spare him, though they know not of his value;
Thousands bewail a hero, and a nation mourneth for its king,
But the whole universe lamenteth the loss of a man of prayer.
Verily, were it not for One, who sitteth on his rightful throne,
Crowned with a rainbow of emerald, (15) the green memorial of earth,-
For one, a mediating man, that hath clad his Godhead with mortality,
And offereth prayer without ceasing, the royal priest of Nature,
Matter and life and mind had sunk into dark annihilation,
And the lightning frown of Justice withered the world into nothing.

!

Thus, () worshipper of reason, thou hast heard the sum of the matter;
And woe to his hairy scalp that restraineth prayer before God.
Prayer is a creature's strength, his very breath and being ;
Prayer is the golden key that can open the wicket of Mercy;
Prayer is the magic sound that saith to Fate, So be it;
Prayer is the slender nerve that moveth the muscles of Omnipotence.
Wherefore, pray, O creature, for many and great are thy wants ;
Thy mind, thy conscience, and thy being, thy rights commend thee unto

prayer,
The cure of all cares, the grand panacea for all pains,
Doubt's destroyer, ruin's remedy, the antidote to all anxieties.

So then, God is true, and yet He hath not changed :
It is he that sendeth the petition, to answer it according to his will.

« ElőzőTovább »