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SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is. 1 St. John iii. 2.

There are, who darkling and alone,

Would wish the weary night were gone,

Though dawning morn should only show

The secret of their unknown woe:

Who pray for sharpest throbs of pain

To ease them of doubt’s galling chain:

“Only disperse the cloud,” they cry,

“And if our fate be death, give light and let us die.”2929En de faci xai olesson.

Unwise I deem them, Lord, unmeet

To profit by Thy chastenings sweet,

For Thou wouldst have us linger still

Upon the verge of good or ill.

That on Thy guiding hand unseen

Our undivided hearts may lean,

And this our frail and foundering bark

Glide in the narrow wake of Thy beloved ark.

’Tis so in war — the champion true

Loves victory more when dim in view

He sees her glories gild afar

The dusky edge of stubborn war,

Than if th’ untrodden bloodless field

The harvest of her laurels yield;

Let not my bark in calm abide,

But win her fearless way against the chafing tide.

’Tis so in love — the faithful heart

From her dim vision would not part,

When first to her fond gaze is given

That purest spot in Fancy’s heaven,

For all the gorgeous sky beside,

Though pledg’d her own and sure t’ abide:

Dearer than every past noon-day

That twilight gleam to her, though faint and far away.

So have I seen some tender flower

Priz’d above all the vernal bower,

Shelter’d beneath the coolest shade,

Embosom’d in the greenest glade,

So frail a gem, it scarce may bear

The playful touch of evening air;

When hardier grown we love it less,

And trust it from our sight, not needing our caress.

And wherefore is the sweet spring-tide

Worth all the changeful year beside?

The last-born babe, why lies its part

Deep in the mother’s inmost heart?

But that the Lord and Source of love

Would have His weakest ever prove

Our tenderest care — and most of all

Our frail immortal souls, His work and Satan’s thrall.

So be it, Lord; I know it best,

Though not as yet this wayward breast

Beat quite in answer to Thy voice,

Yet surely I have made my choice;

I know not yet the promis’d bliss,

Know not if I shall win or miss;

So doubting, rather let me die,

Than close with aught beside, to last eternally.

What is the Heaven we idly dream?

The self-deceiver’s dreary theme,

A cloudless sun that softly shines,

Bright maidens and unfailing vines,

The warrior’s pride, the hunter’s mirth,

Poor fragments all of this low earth:

Such as in sleep would hardly soothe

A soul that once had tasted of immortal Truth.

What is the Heaven our God bestows?

No Prophet yet, no Angel knows;

Was never yet created eye

Could see across Eternity;

Not seraph’s wing for ever soaring

Can pass the flight of souls adoring,

That nearer still and nearer grow

To th’ unapproached Lord, once made for them so low.

Unseen, unfelt their earthly growth,

And self-accus’d of sin and sloth,

They live and die; their names decay,

Their fragrance passes quite away;

Like violets in the freezing blast

No vernal steam around they cast. —

But they shall flourish from the tomb,

The breath of God shall wake them into odorous bloom.

Then on th’ incarnate Saviour’s breast,

The fount of sweetness, they shall rest,

Their spirits every hour imbu’d

More deeply with His precious blood.

But peace — still voice and closed eye

Suit best with hearts beyond the sky,

Hearts training in their low abode,

Daily to lose themselves in hope to find their God.


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