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ST. MATTHEW

And after these things He went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. St. Luke v. 27, 28.

Ye hermits blest, ye holy maids,

The nearest Heaven on earth,

Who talk with God in shadowy glades,

Free from rude care and mirth;

To whom some viewless teacher brings

The secret lore of rural things,

The moral of each fleeting cloud and gale,

The whispers from above, that haunt the twilight vale:

Say, when in pity ye have gaz’d

On the wreath’d smoke afar,

That o’er some town, like mist uprais’d,

Hung hiding sun and star,

Then as ye turn’d your weary eye

To the green earth and open sky,

Were ye not fain to doubt how Faith could dwell

Amid that dreary glare, in this world’s citadel?

But Love’s a flower that will not die

For lack of leafy screen,

And Christian Hope can cheer the eye

That ne’er saw vernal green;

Then be ye sure that Love can bless

E’en in this crowded loneliness,

Where ever-moving myriads seem to say,

Go — thou art naught to us, nor we to thee — away!

There are in this loud stunning tide

Of human care and crime,

With whom the melodies abide

Of th’ everlasting chime;

Who carry music in their heart

Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,

Plying their daily task with busier feet,

Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.

How sweet to them, in such brief rest

As thronging cares afford,

In thought to wander, fancy-blest,

To where their gracious Lord,

In vain, to win proud Pharisees,

Spake, and was heard by fell disease120120It seems from St. Matthew ix. 8, 9, that the calling of Levi took place immediately after the healing of the paralytic in the presence of the Pharisees.

But not in vain, beside yon breezy lake,

Bade the meek Publican his gainful seat forsake:

At once he rose, and left his gold;

His treasure and his heart

Transferr’d, where he shall safe behold

Earth and her idols part;

While he beside his endless store

Shall sit, and floods unceasing pour

Of Christ’s true riches o’er all time and space,

First angel of His Church, first steward of His Grace.

Nor can ye not delight to think121121St. Matthew ix. 10.

Where He vouchsaf’d to eat,

How the Most Holy did not shrink

From touch of sinner’s meat;

What worldly hearts and hearts impure

Went with Him through the rich man’s door,

That we might learn of Him lost souls to love,

And view His least and worst with hope to meet above.

These gracious lines shed Gospel light

On Mammon’s gloomiest cells,

As on some city’s cheerless night

The tide of sunrise swells,

Till tower, and dome, and bridge-way proud

Are mantled with a golden cloud,

And to wise hearts this certain hope us given;

“No mist that man may raise, shall hide the eye of Heaven.”

And oh! if e’en on Babel shine

Such gleams of Paradise,

Should not their peace be peace divine,

Who day by day arise

To look on clearer heavens, and scan

The work of God untouch’d by man?

Shame on us, who about us Babel bear,

And live in Paradise, as if God was not there!


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