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XXXVI. AFFLICTIONS SANCTIFIED BY THE WORD.
0 How I love thy holy word,
Thy gracious covenant, O Lord!
It guides me in the peaceful way;1 think upon it all the day.
What are the mines of shining wealth,
The strength of youth, the bloom of health!
What are all joys compared with those
Thine everlasting word bestows!
Long unafflicted, undismay'd,
In pleasure's path secure I stray'd;
Thou madest me feel thy chastening rod,1
And straight I turn'd unto my God.
What though it pierced my fainting heart,
I bless'd thine hand that caused the smart;
It taught my tears awhile to flow,
But saved me from eternal woe.
Oh! hadst thou left me unchastised,
Thy precept I had still despised;
And still the snare in secret laid
Had my unwary feet betray'd.
I love thee, therefore, O my God,
And breathe towards thy dear abode;
Where, in thy presence fully blest,
Thy chosen saints for ever rest.
l Psalm cxix. 71.
The billows swell, the winds are high,
Clouds overcast my wintry sky;
Out of the depths to thee I call,—
My fears are great, my strength is small. O Lord, the pilot's part perform,
And guard and guide me through the storm,
Defend me from each threatening ill,
Control the waves,—say, "Peace, be still." Amidst the roaring of the sea
My soul still hangs her hope on thee;
Thy constant love, thy faithful care,
Is all that saves me from despair. Dangers of every shape and name
Attend the followers of the Lamb,
Who leave the world's deceitful shore,
And leave it to return no more. Though tempest-toss'd and half a wreck,
My Saviour through the floods I seek;
Let neither winds nor stormy main
Force back my shatter'd bark again.
XXXVIII. LOOKING UPWARDS IN A STORM.
God of my life, to thee I call,
Afflicted at thy feet I fall;
When the great water-floods prevail,1
Leave not my trembling heart to fail!
1 Psalm Ixix. 15.
Friend of the friendless and the faint!
Where should I lodge my deep complaint?
Where but with thee, whose open door
Invites the helpless and the poor!
Did ever mourner plead with thee,
And thou refuse that mourner's plea?
Does not the word still fix'd remain,
That none shall seek thy face in vain!
That were a grief I could not bear,
Didst thou not hear and answer prayer;
But a prayer-hearing, answering God
Supports me under every load.
Fair is the lot that's cast for me;
I have an Advocate with thee;
They whom the world caresses most
Have no such privilege to boast.
Poor though I am, despised, forgot,1
Yet God, my God, forgets me not:
And he is safe, and must succeed,
For whom the Lord vouchsafes to plead.
XXXIX. THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.
My soul is sad, and much dismay'd,
See, Lord, what legions of my foes, With fierce Apollyon at their head,
My heavenly pilgrimage oppose!
i Psalm xl. 17.
See, from the ever burning lake,
How like a smoky cloud they rise!
With horrid blasts my soul they shake,
With storms of blasphemies and lies.
Their fiery arrows reach the mark,1
My throbbing heart with anguish tear;
Each lights upon a kindred spark,
And finds abundant fuel there.
I hate the thought that wrongs the Lord;
Oh! I would drive it from my breast, With thy own sharp two-edged sword,
Far as the east is from the west.
Come, then, and chase the cruel host,
Heal the deep wounds I have received!
Nor let the powers of darkness boast,
That I am foil'd, and thou art grieved!
XL. PEACE AFTER A STORM.
When darkness long has veil'd my mind,
And smiling day once more appears;Then, my Redeemer, then I find
The folly of my doubts and fears.
Straight I upbraid my wandering heart,
And blush that I should ever be Thus prone to act so base a part,
Or harbour one hard thought of thee!
Oh! let me then at length be taught
What I am still so slow to learn;
That God is love, and changes not,
Nor knows the shadow of a turn.
Sweet truth, and easy to repeat!
But when my faith is sharply tried, I find myself a learner yet,
Unskilful, weak, and apt to slide.
But, O my Lord, one look from thee
Subdues the disobedient will;
Drives doubt and discontent away,
And thy rebellious worm is still.
Thou art as ready to forgive
As I am ready to repine; Thou, therefore, all the praise receive;
Be shame and self-abhorrence mine.
XLI. MOURNING AND LONGING.
The Saviour hides his face!
My spirit thirsts to prove
Renew'd supplies of pardoning grace, And never-fading love.
The favour'd souls who know
What glories shine in him,
Pant for his presence as the roe
Pants for the living stream!