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When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them. St. John x. 4.

(Addressed to Candidates for Ordination.)

Lord, in Thy field I work all day,

I read, I teach, I warn, I pray,

And yet these wilful wandering sheep

Within Thy fold I cannot keep.

“I journey, yet no step is won —

Alas! the weary course I run!

Like sailors shipwreck’d in their dreams,

All powerless and benighted seems.”

What? wearied out with half a life?

Scar’d with this smooth unbloody strife?

Think where thy coward hopes had flown

Had Heaven held out the martyr’s crown.

How couldst thou hang upon the cross,

To whom a weary hour is loss?

Or how the thorns and scourging brook

Who shrinkest from a scornful look?

Yet ere thy craven spirit faints,

Hear thine own King, the King of Saints;

Though thou wert toiling in the grave,

’Tis He can cheer thee, He can save.

He is th’ eternal mirror bright,

Where Angels view the FATHER’S light,

And yet in Him the simplest swain

May read his homely lesson plain.

Early to quit His home on earth,

And claim His high celestial birth,

Alone with His true Father found

Within the temple’s solemn round: —

Yet in meek duty to abide

For many a year at Mary’s side,

Nor heed, though restless spirits ask,

“What, hath the Christ forgot His task?”

Conscious of Deity within,

To bow before an heir of sin,

With folded arms on humble breast,

By His own servant wash’d and blest: —

Then full of Heaven, the mystic Dove

Hovering His gracious brow above,

To shun the voice and eye of praise,

And in the wild His trophies raise: —

With hymns of angels in His ears,

Back to His task of woe and tears,

Unmurmuring through the world to roam

With not a wish or thought at home: —

All but Himself to heal and save,

Till ripen’d for the cross and grave,

He to His Father gently yield

The breath that our redemption seal’d: —

Then to unearthly life arise,

Yet not at once to seek the skies,

But glide awhile from saint to saint,

Lest on our lonely way we faint;

And through the cloud by glimpses show

How bright, in Heaven, the marks will glow

Of the true cross, imprinted deep

Both on the Shepherd and the sheep: —

When out of sight, in heart and prayer,

Thy chosen people still to bear,

And from behind Thy glorious veil,

Shed light that cannot change or fail: —

This is Thy pastoral course, O Lord,

Till we be sav’d, and Thou ador’d; —

Thy course and ours — but who are they

Who follow on the narrow way?

And yet of Thee from year to year

The Church’s solemn chant we hear,

As from Thy cradle to Thy throne

She swells her high heart-cheering tone.

Listen, ye pure white-robed souls,

Whom in her list she now enrolls,

And gird ye for your high emprize

By these her thrilling minstrelsies.

And wheresoe’er in earth’s wide field,

Ye lift, for Him, the red-cross shield,

Be this your song, your joy and pride —

“Our Champion went before and died.”

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