The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Poor Family in Winter

Now 'tis the cold and howling wintry time;
From the contentious north, dark storms arise,
Advancing loud with rapid march sublime,
Rending the earth, and mantling up the skies.
This is the season and the hour which tries
Submission, patience, faith, and charity.
Hark! On the winds are heard the orphan's sigh;
The tears are gleaming in the widow's eye;
Oh! who will hear their plaint, who will their wants supply?

'Tis God's decree, no less than reason's voice,
That man is made not for himself alone;
That with the glad of heart he shall rejoice,
And blend his sorrows with the sufferer's moan,
For all are fashioned of one blood and bone.
And who, that hears His call, will disobey?
Who mock the words from the eternal throne?
Who from the poor and suffering turn away,
When all one Father have, all form'd of kindred clay?

Thus loudly called each other's griefs to bear,
To yon Poor Family your pity show;
They too are human beings.
Let them share Your kindness, nor sink down to hopeless woe.
Mark the poor mother! Tears of anguish flow,
And answering tears flow down her children's cheek.
Her last poor penny gone, and where to go
She knoweth not, nor whose kind aid to seek:
Do not her prayers and tears your charity bespeak?

Her cheerless cottage stands upon yon moor,
Where nought but a few shrubs and bushes rear
Their shrunk and icy heads. Around her door
The wintry winds howl fearfully and drear.
Her crust of bread she moistens with a tear,
As she doth reach it to her hungry boy.
How deep her desolation! How severe
Her lot, bereft alike of hope and joy,
'Tis darkness without light, and grief without alloy.

Around the few poor embers of their hearth,
Her children cowering sit, and bow the head;
They show no blissful smile, no sign of mirth,
But griefs and fears and wailings in their stead.
The storm without assails their shaking shed;
The snow through gaping board and window flies;
Beneath the coverings of a tattered bed
An infant child lifts up its plaintive cries,
And then again the tears start in the mother's eyes.

Ye, who have ample houses, fertile lands,
Whose barns are full, and cellars richly stored,
At eve whose blazing, cheerful hearth expands,
And healthful plenty ever crowns your board;
Say, touched with pity, will you not afford
A share to those poor ones, for whom I plead,
That they, as well as you, to peace restored,
No longer may be pressed with care and need,
No more the mother's heart with hidden sorrow bleed?

Have they the strength of brass, that winter's bleak
And withering presence can affect them not?
When sickness comes upon them, and doth wreak
New ills on their already evil lot,
Have they no care? Do they regard it nought?
Deem not they have no feeling; rather say,
Their heart is like thy heart; the power of thought
To them is given; the intellectual ray
For them, though dim with clouds, hath yet a glimpse of day.

Perhaps among those poor and suffering ones,
In hearts where nought but care and grief preside,
There lurks the fire of nature's favorite sons,
A genius to immortal names allied,
(The hope of science and a nation's pride,)
And elemental virtues stern and high.
And shall they always thus in woe abide?
Oh, pass them not in silent coldness by;
Thou too mayest stand in need; thy time of want be nigh.

Not seldom those, who rolled in wealth to-day,
Amid the overflow of temporal good,
Have in a moment seen it fall away,
And leave them without friends, or home, or food.
Those, who in honor and in greatness stood,
Pride of the noble, envy of the poor;
Oft have they felt misfortune's onset rude,
And in the loss of all their earthly store,
Have begged their daily bread, and wept from door to door.

Oh ye, to whom kind heaven doth impart
Abundant earthly treasures, be it yours
To cheer the suff'ring and the sad of heart,
Nor turn away the hungry from your doors.
On you the Deity his goodness pours,
That you in blessing may be doubly blest.
Ye  are the stewards of his ample stores.
The foxes have their holes, the bird its nest,
And shall not man be fed, and have his place of rest.

Example from the blessed Saviour take,
Who turned the water of the feast to wine,
And made the golden light of heaven break
Upon the suffering, miserable blind.
For all our race he felt, to all was kind,
Though poor himself, despised, unknown to fame.
Oh imitate the Saviour of mankind,
Who, through all time, his blessing doth proclaim
To him, who gives a cup of water in his name.

And then thine eye, when closing on this life,
And all its chequered scenes of want and woe,
Of pride, ambition, turbulence, and strife,
Shall 'ope on other scenes than here below.
There  shall the plumed, enraptured spirit know
How, from the fruitfulness of Love Divine,
The streams of excellence and pleasure flow,
And through God's universal empire shine,
Be that the joy to me, and that the triumph thine.

The Religious Offering (1835).

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