Page images

Often the generous heart, lit by unhallowed fire,

Counted a brand among the burning, and left uncared-for, in his sin:
Yet I waited a little year, and the mercy thou hadst forgotten
Hath purged that noble spirit, washing it in waters of repentance;
That glowing generous heart, having burnt out all its dross,
Is as a golden censer, ready for the aloes and cassia:

While thou, hard-visaged man, unlovely in thy strictness,
Who turned from him thy sympathies with self-complacent pride,
How art thou shamed by him! his heart is a spring of love,
While the dry well of thine affections is choked with secret mammon.

Sometimes at a glance thou judgest well: years could add little to thy knowledge:

When charity gloweth on the cheek, or malice is lowering in the eye,
When honesty's open brow, or the weasel-face of cunning is before thee,
Or the loose lip of wantonness, or clear bright forehead of reflection.
But often, by shrewd scrutiny, thou judgest to the good man's harm:
For it may be his hour of trial, or he slumbereth at his post,
Or he hath slain his foe, but not yet levelled the stronghold,

Or barely recovered of the wounds, that fleshed him in his fray with passion.
Also, of the worst, through prejudice, thou loosely shalt think well:
For none is altogether evil, and thou mayst catch him at his prayers.
There may be one small prize, though all beside be blanks;
A silver thread of goodness in the black sergecloth of crime.

There is to whom all things are easy: his mind, as a master-key,
Can open, with intuitive address, the treasuries of art and science:
There is to whom all things are hard; but industry giveth him a crow-bar,
To force, with groaning labour, the stubborn lock of learning:
And often when thou lookest on an eye, dim in native dulness,

Little shalt thou wot of the wealth diligence hath gathered to its gaze;
Often the brow that should be bright with the dormant fire of genius,
Within its ample halls, hath ignorance the tenant.

Yet are not the sons of men cast as in moulds by the lot?

The like in frame and feature hath much alike in spirit;
Such a shape hath such a soul, so that a deep discerner
From his make will read the man, and err not far in judgment:
Yea, and it holdeth in the converse, that growing similarity of mind
Findeth or maketh for itself an apposite dwelling in the body:

Accident may modify, circumstance may bevil, externals seem to change it,
But still the primitive crystal is latent in its many variations:

For the map of the face, and the picture of the eye, are traced by the per
of passion;

And the mind fashioneth a tabernacle suitable for itself.

A mean spirit boweth down the back, and the bowing fostereth meanness;
A resolute purpose knitteth the knees, and the firm tread nourisheth


Love looketh softly from the eye, and kindleth love by looking;
Hate furroweth the brow, and a man may frown till he hateth:
For mind and body, spirit and matter, have reciprocities of power,
And each keepeth up the strife; a man's works make or mar him.

There be deeper things than these, lying in the twilight of truth;
But few can discern them aright, from surrounding dimness of error.
For perchance, if thou knewest the whole, and largely with comprehensive


Couldst read the history of character, the chequered story of a life,
And into the great account, which summeth a mortal's destiny,
Wert to add the forces from without, dragging him this way and that,
And the secret qualities within, grafted on the soul from the womb,
And the might of other men's example, among whom his lot is cast,
And the influence of want, or wealth, of kindness, or harsh ill-usage,
Of ignorance he cannot help, and knowledge found for him by others,
And first impressions, hard to be effaced, and leadings to right or to wrong,
And inheritance of likeness from a father, and natural human frailty,
And the habit of health or disease, and prejudices poured into his mind,
And the myriad little matters none but Omniscience can know,
And accidents that steer the thoughts, where none but Ubiquity can trace


If thou couldst compass all these, and the consequents flowing from them,
And the scope to which they tend, and the necessary fitness of all things,
Then shouldst thou see as He seeth, who judgeth all men equal,-
Equal, touching innocence and guilt; and different alone in this,
That one acknowledgeth his evil, and looketh to his God for mercy;
Another boasteth of his good, and calleth on his God for justice;
So He, that sendeth none away, is largely munificent to prayer,
But, in the heart of presumption, sheatheth the sword of vengeance.

[ocr errors]


BLUNTED unto goodness is the heart which anger never stirreth,
But that which hatred swelleth, is keen to carve out evil.

Anger is a noble infirmity, the generous failing of the just,
The one degree that riseth above zeal, asserting the prerogatives of virtue :
But hatred is a slow continuing crime, a fire in the bad man's breast,
A dull and hungry flame, for ever craving insatiate.
Hatred would harm another; anger would indulge itself:

Hatred is a simmering poison; anger, the opening of a valve:
Hatred destroyeth as the upas-tree; anger smiteth as a staff:
Hatred is the atmosphere of hell; but anger is known in heaven.
Is there not a righteous wrath, an anger just and holy,

When goodness is sitting in the dust, and wickedness enthroned on Babel?
Doth pity condemn guilt?—is justice not a feeling but a law
Appealing to the line and to the plummet, incognizant of moral sense?
Thou that condemnest anger, small is thy sympathy with angels ;
Thou that hast accounted it for sin, cold is thy communion with heaven.

Beware of the angry in his passion; but fear not to approach him afterward;

For if thou acknowledge thine error, he himself will be sorry for his wrath:
Beware of the hater in his coolness; for he meditateth evil against thee;
Commending the resources of his mind calmly to work thy ruin.
Deceit and treachery skulk with hatred, but an honest spirit flieth with


The one lieth secret, as a serpent; the other chaseth, as a leopard.
Speedily be reconciled in love, and receive the returning offender,
For wittingly prolonging anger, thou tamperest unconsciously with hatred.
Patience is power in a man, nerving him to rein his spirit:

Passion is as palsy to his arm, while it yelleth on the coursers to their speed:

Patience keepeth counsel, and standeth in solid self-possession,

But the weakness of sudden passion layeth bare the secrets of the soul. The sentiment of anger is not ill, when thou lookest on the impudence of


Or savourest the breath of calumny, or hast earned the hard wages of injustice,

But see thou that thou curb it in expression, rendering the mildness of rebuke,

So shalt thou stand without reproach, mailed in all the dignity of virtue.


I HEARD the man of sin reproaching the goodness of Jehovah,
Wherefore, if he be Almighty Love, permitteth he misery and pain?
I saw the child of hope vexed in the labyrinth of doubt,

Wherefore, O holy One and just, is the horn of thy foul foe so high

exalted ?

And, alas! for this our groaning world, for that grief and guilt are here; Alas! for that Earth is the battle-field, where good must combat with evil : Angels look on and hold their breath, burning to mingle in the conflict, But the troops of the Captain of Salvation may be none but the soldiers of

the cross:

And that slender band must fight alone, and yet shall triumph gloriously, Enough shall they be for conquest, and the motto of their standard is ENOUGH.

Thou art sad, O denizen of earth, for pains and diseases and death,

But remember, thy hand hath earned them; grudge not at the wages of thy doings:

Thy guilt, and thy fathers' guilt, must bring many sorrows in their company,
And if thou wilt drink sweet poison, doubtless it shall rot thee to the core.
Who art thou but the heritor of evil, with a right to nothing good?
The respite of an interval of ease were a boon which Justice might deny


Therefore lay thy hand upon thy mouth, O man much to be forgiven,
And wait, thou child of hope, for time shall teach thee all things.
Yet hear, for my speech shall comfort thee; reverently, but with boldness,
I would raise the sable curtain, that hideth the symmetry of Providence.
Pain and sin are convicts, and toil in their fetters for good;

The weapons of evil are turned against itself, fighting under better


The leech delighteth in stinging, and the wicked loveth to do harm,
But the wise Physician of the universe useth that ill tendency for health.
Verily from others' griefs are gendered sympathy and kindness ;
Patience, humility, and faith, spring not seldom from thine own:
An enemy, humbled by his sorrows, cannot be far from thy forgiveness,
A friend who hath tasted of calamity, shall fan the dying incense of thy

And for thyself, is it a small thing, so to learn thy frailty,
That from an aching bone thou savest the whole body?
The furnace of affliction may be fierce, but if it refineth thy soul,

The good of one meek thought shall outweigh years of torment.
Nevertheless, wretched man, if thy bad heart be hardened in the flame,
Being earth-born, as of clay, and not of moulded wax,

Judge not the hand that smiteth, as if thou wert visited in wrath;
Reproach thyself, for He is Justice: repent thee, for He is Mercy.

Cease, fond caviller at wisdom, to be satisfied that every thing is wrong:
Be sure there is good necessity, even for the flourishing of evil.
Would the eye delight in perpetual noon? or the ear in unqualified har-

Hath winter's frost no welcome, contrasting sturdily with summer? Couldst thou discern benevolence, if there were no sorrows to be soothed? Or discover the resources of contrivance, if nothing stood opposed to the means?

What were power without an enemy? or mercy without an object? Or truth, where the false were impossible? or love, where love were a debt?

The characters of God were but idle, if all things around him were perfection,

And virtues might slumber on like death, if they lacked the opportunities of evil.

There is one all-perfect, and but one; man dare not reason of His Essence. But there must be deficiencies in heaven, to leave room for progression in bliss:

A realm of unqualified BEST were a stagnant pool of being,

And the circle of absolute perfection, the abstract cipher of indolence.
Sin is an awful shadow, but it addeth new glories to the light;
Sin is a black foil, but it setteth off the jewelry of heaven;
Sin is the traitor that hath dragged the majesty of mercy into action;

« PreviousContinue »