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, August 27, 2016

The Sabbath

It is the time of rest, the Sabbath day,
That summons from the heart the gentle strain;
Nor well may those withhold the votive lay,
Who know the joys, that follow in its  train.
The Sabbath! What associations cling,
Holy and high, to that beloved name!
It is not mine upon poetic wing
To soar aloft, and bear it forth to fame;
But e' en from one like me a tribute it  may claim,

How pleasantly above the eastern hill
Its  dawning comes! Its golden light doth rest,
All undisturbed, on tree, and bank,  and rill,
And laughing creeps into the wild bird's  nest.
The little bird, borne high on dewy wings,
Renews his song; there is no other sound;
Save where the bubbling brook in concert sings,
And lowing ox sends loud his joys  around,
No longer to the yoke in patient labor bound,

And why should hapless man forever moil,
Nor rest to body or to soul impart?
Six days in seven are long enough for toil,
The other shines for worship and the heart.
When God, the Maker, framed the rising earth,
From night and dull chaotic forms released,
And singing stars proclaimed its wondrous birth,
Upon the seventh morn his labor ceased;
He sanctified the Day to wearied man and beast.

And when that last, that greater labor came,
Which saved man's race through Him, who bled and died,
He gave the Sabbath's honor and its name
To that blest Day, which saw the Crucified,
Who three days in the silent earth had lain,
(No longer in his stony walls repress'd,)
Arise forever Victor. Thus again
In honor of the Son, the loved, the blessed,
He sanctioned it anew, the Day of peace and rest.

He gave it to the rich alike and poor;
He blessed and hallowed it, till time shall end;
And bade its light the languid limb restore,
And come to prisoner and to slave a friend.
When o'er the hills its signal is displayed,
Silence shall reign, the city's murmur cease,
The fervent haste of rural toil be stayed;
E'en the tired steer, that knows but little peace,
Shall claim its sacred hours, and gain a short release.

This is the honor of its sacred ray;
The blessings these, that fly upon its wing;
Where'er it comes, tired labor hies away,
And he, who toiled, will sit him down and sing.
See how the scythe hangs idly on the tree!
No sound is heard from yonder noisy mill,
The busy maiden's wheel stands silently;
The smiting spade hath ceased the earth to till,
The plough is in the glebe; the ringing anvil still.

It is a day of rest for passion too;
Pale DISCONTENT no longer clouds his brow;
ANGER,  that looked with stern, distorted view,
Calms his loud voice, and smooths his aspect now.
E'en AVARICE, with firm relentless hold,
Unclenches his hard grasp and patient sits,
Nor scrambles here and there for muckle gold,
As if beset for life nr out of wits;
And JEALOUSY no more shakes in his green-eyed fits.

But there are other visitants — for, lo,
DEVOTION comes with sweeping length of stole;
In  her raised eye the sacred fervors glow,
Disclosing clear her purity of soul.
Two little children gather at her side,
The one, called PENTITENCE, doth hardly dare
To  raise her mourning eye; and with her hair
She wipes away the tears, she would not hide;
No longer shall her feet in sinful paths abide.

The other child, that held the parent hand,
With eye undimmed by shadows or by tears,
(Her gentle name is  LOVE,)  doth smiling stand,
With glowing heart, that hath no place for fears;
But peace upon her open brow doth shine,
And joy is penciled on her aspect bright.
Whoever to her presence may incline,
Will find their sorrows vanish at the sight;
She doth but speak a word, and fills them with delight.

Peace breathes in all around. The smoke ascends
From yonder cottage through the silent air;
Quick with the scene Imagination blends,
And sees beside the hearth the Grandsire there.
He  reads aloud the venerated Book,
His form bent low, his tresses silver gray;
And, quickened by his words and serious look,
The children, mindful of the Sabbath day,
Bestow the patient ear, and learn the better way.

The Sabbath to the cottager is dear,
Because it welcomes to the hearth's bright blaze,
The sons and daughters, who in toil severe
Fulfill, remote from home, the other days.
Their home, sweet home, is pleasant in their eyes;
But  they are poor, and work gives honest bread.
The Sabbath light, that gilds the ruddy skies,
And sees them gathered in their humble shed,
Calls from the parent heart fresh blessings on their  head.

The greetings of that morn, how warm, how true!
"'Tis but a week, and yet it seems so long;"
'Tis thus the fond complaint their lips renew,
As round the elder maids the younger throng,
Or  kiss the tears, that fill a brother's eye.
And all because the Sabbath day is his;
The sunlight of the poor man's stormy sky;
Oh, take all other days, but leave him this;
Nor crush his small remains of hope and happiness.

Nor man alone is blest. The lowing herd,
That crowd around his door, express their joy;
The wild beast of the wood, the mounting bird,
That high at heaven's gate finds sweet employ,
Imbibe the chartered mercies of the day.
No longer by the faithless hook betrayed,
The spotted trout darts in his wonted play.
The hare, that nestled in the thickest shade,
Now leaps across the path, and o'er the sunny glade.

It  is the day of Worship. Where the rill,
Bright with the sunbeams, gives its soothing sound,
The Church adorns the gently rising hill,
And flowers spring up, and trees are planted round.
The villagers, within its sacred wall,
Are wont upon the Sabbath's hours to meet,
Upon the great Creator's name to call,
And pour their homage at the Savior's feet,
In supplication's voice, and anthem simply sweet.

And  now it is the customary time,
When to their rural temple they repair.
Filled with the thoughts of duty, pure, sublime,
The Holy Bible in their hands they bear.
Matrons their little flock prepare to lead;
And village maids, in youth's rejoicing bloom,
And  feeble, aged men, the staff that need,
And childhood gay, with Sabbath frock and plume,
Churchward their solemn way at wonted hour resume.

And from the holy place behold him rise,
God's messenger; his locks are thin and white;
He  upward lifts his mildly glancing eyes,
And supplicates the God of life and light,
Not with mere lips, but with the spirit's breath;
For in his mind  it  is no vulgar prize,
To pluck the soul from sin, and woe, and death,
And plant it, starlike, in the spotless skies,
To  shine with quenchless blaze, when man and nature dies.

He  was indeed the shepherd of his fold,
And sought in body and in soul their good.
Unbribed to labor by the charms of gold,
He  patient toiled, and strong in virtue stood.
The sordid ties, that human hearts control,
The bonds of earth, swayed not his steadfast mind,
That pointed, like the needle to the pole,
To Him, who died to rescue human kind;
In  nothing else did he abiding pleasure find.

Sometimes his cherished people mourned their dead;
Perhaps a darling child his head doth bow;
And bitter are the tears the parents shed,
As they bend o'er the loved one's pallid brow.
At that sad hour the constant pastor near
His sympathy and consolation lends.
Skillful, he wipes away the mourner's tear,
And shows that God, in what of ill he sends,  
Though now his ways are dark, some secret good intends.
His days were  days of watchfulness and prayer,
And, while he trod himself the narrow road,
He  taught the lost to turn their footsteps there,
And cast away transgression's heavy load.
And for their help he plead the Holy Page,
The promise fair, in words of light displayed,
That  those, who tread the heavenly pilgrimage
And humbly seek, shall have the needed aid,
To the Redeemer dear, though oft by sins betrayed.

Nor was he all unheeded; but his voice,
As if an angel's joyous lips were nigh,
Availed to make the trembling heart rejoice;
Nor seldom penitence bedewed the eye
Of those, who long the Savior set at nought.
Then was his spirit glad; peace filled his soul,
If he availed, by heavenly wisdom taught,
To  lead from sin, and its attendant dole,
E'en one to better paths and virtue's blest control.

Yes, there's a rest, he said, a Sabbath near,
More pure and holy than we now behold.
There may we all, in long communion dear,
Together meet, the shepherd and the fold.
Peace to his silent dust! And may he find,
As o' er that Sabbath clime his feet shall tread,
The wanderer and the lost, the halt and blind,
By precept taught and by example led,
Up to the realms of light, to Christ their blessed head.

American Cottage Life (1850).

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