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ADVENT SUNDAY

Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. — Romans xiii 11.

Awake — again the Gospel-trump is blown —

From year to year it swells with louder tone,

From year to year the signs of wrath

Are gathering round the Judge’s path,

Strange words fulfill’d, and mighty works achiev’d,

And truth in all the world both hated and believ’d.

Awake! why linger in the gorgeous town,

Sworn liegemen of the Cross and thorny crown?

Up from your beds of sloth for shame,

Speed to the eastern mount like flame,

Nor wonder, should ye find your King in tears,

E’en with the loud Hosanna ringing in His ears.

Alas! no need to rouse them: long ago

They are gone forth to swell Messiah’s show:

With glittering robes and garlands sweet

They strew the ground beneath His feet:

All but your hearts are there — O doom’d to prove

The arrows wing’d in Heaven for Faith that will not love!

Meanwhile He passes through th’ adoring crowd,

Calm as the march of some majestic cloud,

That o’er wild scenes of ocean-war

Holds its still course in Heaven afar:

E’en so, heart-searching Lord, as years roll on,

Thou keepest silent watch from Thy triumphal throne:

E’en so, the world is thronging round to gaze

On the dread vision of the latter days,

Constrain’d to own Thee, but in heart

Prepar’d to take Barabbas’ part:

“Hosanna” now, to-morrow “Crucify,”

The changeful burden still of their rude lawless cry.

Yet in that throng of selfish hearts untrue

Thy sad eye rests upon Thy faithful few,

Children and childlike souls are there,

Blind Bartimeus’ humble prayer,

And Lazarus waken’d from his four days’ sleep,

Enduring life again, that Passover to keep.

And fast beside the olive-border’d way

Stands the bless’d home where Jesus deign’d to stay,

The peaceful home, to Zeal sincere

And heavenly Contemplation dear,

Where Martha lov’d to wait with reverence meet,

And wiser Mary linger’d at Thy sacred feet.

Still through decaying ages as they glide,

Thou lov’st Thy chosen remnant to divide;

Sprinkled along the waste of years

Full many a soft green isle appears:

Pause where we may upon the desert road,

Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode.

When withering blasts of error swept the sky,33Arianism in the fourth century.

And Love’s last flower seem’d fain to droop and die,

How sweet, how lone the ray benign

On shelter’d nooks of Palestine!

Then to his early home did Love repair,44See St. Jerome’s Works, i. 123, edit. Erasm.

And cheer’d his sickening heart with his own native air.

Years roll away: again the tide of crime

Has swept Thy footsteps from the favour’d clime

Where shall the holy Cross find rest?

On a crowned monarch’s55St. Louis in the thirteenth century. mailed breast:

Like some bright angel o’er the darkling scene,

Through court and camp he holds his heavenward course serene.

A fouler vision yet; an age of light,

Light without love, glares on the aching sight:

Oh, who can tell how calm and sweet,

Meek Walton, shows thy green retreat,

When wearied with the tale thy times disclose,

The eye first finds thee out in thy secure repose?

Thus bad and good their several warnings give

Of His approach, whom none may see and live:

Faith’s ear, with awful still delight,

Counts them like minute-bells at night.

Keeping the heart awake till dawn of morn,

While to her funeral pile this aged world is borne.

But what are Heaven’s alarms to hearts that cower

In wilful slumber, deepening every hour,

That draw their curtains closer round,

The nearer swells the trumpet’s sound?

Lord, ere our trembling lamps sink down and die,

Touch us with chastening hand, and make us feel Thee nigh.


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