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XLVI. HOLY BAPTISM. To the enliv'ning font the sponsors came,
Bearing their infant charge; the white-rob’d priest
Stood there beside. Then with meek pray'r addrest To the Great Sire the promis'd boon to claim, The babe, unconscious yet of sin or shame,
With greeting kind the holy man embrac'd,
And on his brow the cleansing water cast, And spake the mystic words, the Triune Name. The sight was common: but withal a sight,
So sweet, so lovely, to behold a son Of God adopted by his own blest rite
Methought that Seraphs round about the throne Might gaze thereon o'erjoyed : and with delight
Hail the new-born a brother of their own.
XLVII. THE BAPTIZED IN HEALTH. Why not before the Church, with reverence due,
As she enjoins, thy infant consecrate?
Why not God's rite in God's house celebrate? Why public forms withdraw from public view ? Why ancient rules displace for fancies new?
Why tempt the man of God lo desecrate
Religion's face august, and violate
From order, right, and decency should win!
And when we pray, that, as our babes begin, So they their lives may lead, we date it thence,
Where our own act is not exempt from sin!
XLVIII. THE BAPTIZED IN DANGER. SICKNESS is on thy infant: great the need,
And urgent! Haste, thy parish pastor crave
To visit thee, the sinking babe to lave
He breathes the hallowing pray’r; in the pure wave
Bathes the sin-born ; and speaks the word, to save Effectual, symbol of thy Christian creed. Now peace
be thine! For his beloved Son,
Or, if the Almighty Father claim his child,
An angel spirit, cleans'd and undefild.
XLIX. SPIRITUAL LIFE.
He brooded o'er the waters at the first,
The Spirit of Life, o'er waters void and dead :
And, as he brooded, formless chaos fled, Life glow'd, and nature into being burst. And tho' the ground, by ban primeval curst,
Sin's penalty, hath thorns and thistles bred;
With beauty still is nature's face o'erspread, Fann'd by his breeze, and by his sunshine nurst. 'Tis so with man. In his baptismal hour
The Spirit bathes and raises him from death : And, tho' the weeds of sin with noxious power
Mar the celestial plant, the Spirit’s breath Rears with its genial warmth the languid flower
And fruits of Eden ripen on the heath.
L.* A BIRTH-DAY THOUGHT
It is my NATAL DAY! Another year
Is register'd against me in the account
Of time to me entrusted, and the amount
My reckoning draws, does evil's inborn fount
Within me more subside, and, paramount To the world's love, the love of GoD sincere Reign arbiter 1-0, may each year, each day,
By him vouchsaf'd, to him its tribute pour, And his free love with answering love repay :
Worthless, alas! Yet such as may for store Of blessings giv'n meet gratitude display,
Till the night come, and I can work no more!
LI. CHILDHOOD TRAINED. As wrapt and hidden in the stone's embrace
The uture statue lies yet undefin'd;
Till the nice chisel clears the form design'd, The trunk, the moving limbs, the speaking face Developes : so instruction's hand must trace
The intellectual form, which lies enshrin'd
Mid nature's rude materials; and the mind Invest with due proportion, strength, and grace. God to thy teaching delegates the art
To form the future man: the care be thine, No shape unworthy from the marble start,
Reptile or monster; but with just design Copy the heavenly model, and impart,
As best thou canst, similitude divine.
LII. THE CATECHIST, 'Twas a wise rule, which in the Church's face
The Pastor bade collect his youthful fold,
Instruct, examine, to their view uphold Their wants, their blessings, and their means of grace; And what their Christian creed; and how their race
To run of Christian love. Such lessons told,
Their elders listening round, to truth a hold Might give more sacred from the holy place, Mix'd with God's word and pray’r. And oft I've thought
If well the value of that pastoral scene, Where the good man with care paternal taught
God's will with cheering word and smile between, The Preacher's voice supplies, tho' haply fraught
With eloquence and powerful reasoning keen.
LIII. THE CATECHISM.
That call not education, which decries
God and his truth, content the seed to strew
Of moral maxims, and the mind imbue With elements, which form the worldly wise. So call the training, which can duly prize
Such lighter lore, but chiefly holds to view
What God requires us to believe and do,
Thou still hast trod the right way and the best,
“ Excellent things are said ; nor this the least, That thou thy children giv'st the path to see
Of life, and lead'st them by their God's behest.
LIV. PAROCHIAL INSTRUCTION
SEEK we the parish school! I love to view
The village group, as one large family,
In seemly guise arrang'd: the sparkling eye To mark, and eager tone, to feeling true, Quick to embrace and utter learning new;
The seed deep sown, in time to flourish high,
Of virtuous deeds and social harmony;
To mental, moral training. All beside
And thoughts presumptuous. Knowledge oft with pride Puffs up the mind, and worldly lusts entice,
Unless God's truth man's erring nature guide.
LV. THE BAPTIZED ADULT. What God ordains, it fits not man to slight!
Thy parents, doubtful of the power to save, Or heedless, kept thee from the cleansing wave. More wisely thou by God's appointed rite Resolv'st to arm thee for thy ghostly fight;
By pray'r, with faith and penitence, to crave
The heavenly grace; and thus the combat brave,
Will haply more assail thee, as the fiend,
Thy Saviour tempted. O, with him to friend
Faithful: and conquest on thy steps attend !