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LXXVI. THE ABSOLVED SINNER. THINK'st thou the Church, to give the sinner rest,
Has dar'd assume a more than human sway?
What by her Lord's high will she justly may, She does. To ease the soul, its sin confest, Which humbly sues relief, her Lord's behest
She names, his promis'd boon, the appointed way,
The absolving words ; nor fails of God to pray,
If faithless, unrepentant; or to her
Full well she knows, to pardon and to spare Is God's prerogative: well knows she, what
The heaven-ward road, and what the passport there.
LXXVII. THE SICK RESTORED. On thy dim eye, how many a cheerless day,
And many a weary night, hath nature frown'd!
Day was 10 thee as night: for sickness round
With life renew'd: now teems the unwonted ground
For thee with flowers of Eden; and each sound
Its sweetness quaff! But fail not thanks to yield
Restores to taste their beauties! He repeal'd The impending sentence: He affliction's hour
Has chang’d to joy: He smote and He has heal'd. raging in the town. The unexpected sight produced in me a solemn feeling, which vented itself as above.
LXXVIII. FRUITS OF SICKNESS. And wilt thou now that God hath rais'd thee up,
The vows, the promises, thy conscience made,
What time beneath God's chastening rod afraid
Again to sin, as if thou wouldst upbraid
God for his kindness, all thy debt unpaid
God's grace, bethink thee lest thy end be worse
Shall fall in judgment on the soul perverse That slights the gift; and goodness long abus'd
Convert the intended blessing to a curse.
LXXIX.* TIMELY PREPARATION. Who, when the pilot warns, would lose the tide
By casting pebbles on the glassy sea ?
Who to weave garlands in the flowery lea Would far from home the waning hours abide ? What racer from his course would turn aside
To pick up apples from Hesperian tree!
What soldier, striving for the mastery,
Which now may waft thee to the wish’d-for shore : Thy home's away, and swift the moments' flight:
The goal, the crown's right on, thine eyes before : The trumpet calls to gird thee for the fight;
Hark! now it sounds, but soon shall sound no more ! LXXX. THE DEATH-BED. Full of deep learning is the bed of death!
When this lov'd world is fading from the sense,
And the soul feels the body's impotence; And things, which lurk'd disguis’d, self-love beneath Take their own shape : and what remains of breath
Is spent in pray'r, and sighs of penitence
For life's misdoings; and the next step hence Leads to the demon's flames, or angel's wreath : Who would not then the paths of sin disclaim ?
Who would not then to God for mercy fly,
LXXXI.* THE SUDDEN DEATH. He was an alien from the House of God!
Admonish'd oft, his grief he oft exprest,
And better things for time to come profest, For time to come he hoped for! yet untrod The church-ward path still left he, till the rod
Smote him, what time amid the drunken feast
His unnerv'd throat the unswallow'd morsel prest, And now he lies beneath the church yard sod ! What's now his place, and whither he is gone,
Who rashly dares pronounce ? But who can hear His fate, nor breathe a wish that he had known
To tread with reverence and holy fear God's courts, or ere before God's judgment throne
The accusing Angel bade his soul appear?
LXXXII. THE DYING CRIMINAL. His life was spent in sin, and, often owed,
Was paid the law's just forfeit. But at last
Ere from the death-doom'd frame the spirit past The outward marks of penitence he showed; With faith, 'twas said, with love, with transport glowed;
Nor want there some, by whom he's surely class’d
With God's elect in glory. Who would blast Hope's opening bud for him, the heavenward road Who seems e'en thus to seek ?-Yet who
dare Pronounce him blest, for who can rightly weigh His fate and late repentance ?—Leave him where
God's word has left him. Thou meanwhile obey The calls of palpable duty; nor forbear
Till night's approach the labor of the day!
LXXXIII. THE OBEDIENT DISCIPLE. MORE sure we deem the obedient Christian's meed,
Who near his end by duty's pathway draws !
His the prompt zeal, to serve his Father's cause;
And use his means of grace; the love, his laws
To keep; with hope, not heedless of the applause
Their life's late gleanings, scant thro' lengthen'd crime, But glean’d in shame and sorrow? Happier they,
Who sow to God in nature's genial prime; And to the Harvest's LORD their fulness pay,
The strength and glory of the golden time!
LXXXIV. THE DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Wouldst thou the Christian's death triumphant die,
Live thou the Christian's life!—To fight the fight
Of God, supported by the Spirit's might, And in the Saviour's name; to fix the eye Fast on the prize, and strive for mastery;
To keep the faith's rich Jewel, whole and bright:
Such aim accomplish'd was the heart's delight 1
may God's Spirit with thine own attest Thy heavenly sonship, and his peace control
Earth's anxious thoughts ! So, meet to join the blest, His gentle breath shed comfort on thy soul,
The pledge and earnest of eternal rest.
LXXXV. THE PASSING BELL. That sound upon my ears falls heavily !
It is the PASSING Bell, the deep slow toll
Which speaks the transit of a deathless soul,
A few hours more, wrapt in its funeral stole,
Death's winding sheet, that bell again shall knoll
'Tis a vain sound, that passing spirit's sign! But warn'd, awhile thy heart withdraw away
From this world's toys; to heavenly themes incline; And think, “ The solemn knell, which sounds to-day
A brother's fate, to-morrow may be mine!”
1 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7.