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CCCXLIV

A PREACHER'S SOLILOQUY

What wealth to earth our GOD hath given!

What growing increment for heaven!

Men, women, youth, and children small,

I thank the good GOD for you all!

Not always was it mine to give

Such high regard to all who live;

Time was, I know, when I could go

Along the streets and scarcely see

The presences my GOD did show

So lavishly to me.

Around my steps,--before, behind,--

They His creative power declared;

I only heeded them, to find

The easiest path, as on I fared.

And ev'n the innocent little ones,

Of value high o'er stars and suns,--

Evangelists, by Heaven's decree,

Commission'd truths to teach to me

That elsewise I had never known,--

They seem'd young foreigners to be,

They never seem'd mine own.

How could I be so dull and blind?

How dared I slight GOD's humankind?

I know ye nothing care for me;--

Each to each deep mysteries,

We cannot guess what we may be

Except by what a glance can seize.

Perchance we never met before,

Meet now the first and final time,

Yet are ye mine, over and o'er,

That, haply, I may help you climb

To JESUS, up the mount divine.

Oh might such high success be mine!

Fain would I couch your vision dim;

Fain would I lead you up to Him!

Nay, nay, I cannot yield up one--

No little child, no youth, no man;

I cannot say, Depart from me;

I cannot say, Begone, begone,

I have no part in thee.

277

No part? But how? Do I not love you?

Is not this title still more strong

Than if I'd bought you all with gold?--

Love strenuous flies, a spirit above you;

Try to escape, it will outfly you,

It will embrace, ay, and defy you

To break away its gentle hold.

Because GOD's love is swift and strong,

Therefore ye all to me belong.

Why do I dare love all mankind?

'Tis not because each face, each form

Is comely, for it is not so;

Nor is it that each soul is warm

With any Godlike glow.

Yet there's no one to whom's not given

Some little lineament of heaven,

Some partial symbol, at the least, in sign

Of what should be, if it is not, within,

Reminding of the death of sin

And life of the Divine.

There was a time, full well I know,

When I had not yet seen you so;

Time was, when few seem'd fair;

But now, as through the streets I go,

There seems no face so shapeless, so

Forlorn, but that there's something there

That, like the heavens, doth declare

The glory of the great All-Fair;

And so mine own each one I call;

And so I dare to love you all.

Glory to GOD, who hath assign'd

To me this mixture with mankind!

Glory to GOD, that I am born

Into a world, whose palace-gates

So many royal ones adorn!

Heaven's possible novitiates,

With self-subduing freedom free,

Princely ye are, each one, to me,

Each of secret kingly blood,

Though not inheritors as yet

Of all your own right royal things;

For it were folly to forget

That they alone are queens and kings

Who are the truly good.

Yet are ye angels in disguise,

Angels who have not found your wings;

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I see more in ye than ye are

As yet, while earth so closely clings;

As through a cloud that hides the skies

Undoubting science hails a star

Not to be seen by other eyes,

Yet surely among things that are,--

So the dense veil of your deformities

Love gives me power away to pull.

--Alas! why will ye not from sin arise,

And be CHRIST's beautiful?

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