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On Providence


Oh Thou great Source, eternal and sublime,
Let me soul mount upon the wings of time,
Though not time’s slave; for I would speak of Thee,
Before whom time and all things bend the knee.
I bow before Thy Majesty; and own
No power but Thine. When from thy glorious throne
Thy mandates first were issues—laws proclaimed,
In goodness and in justice all were framed,
All breathed of love eternal and divine;
And then o’er all did Providence first shine,
Encircling in those everlasting arms
All things around, beneath, that no alarms,
Useless or causeless, ever might intrude
In the most distant, tranquil solitude.
And He is now the same, who from the first
Shielded our ancestors; when there would burst
The brilliant cloud, that harbinger of good,
Which prayer e’en now can pierce, nor be withstood.
Oh, Providence supreme! how can we doubt
Thy wondrous power, thy leading hand throughout?
How can we e’er distrust, or be dismayed?
What though our faith be tempted or essayed,
What though some time in darkness we are lost,
And all our purposes and wishes crossed;
’Tis not in vain, for Providence then shields;
And in His hand divine the sceptre wields.
’Twas not in vain that Abraham looked on high,
No arm he saw, yet Providence was nigh.
And Daniel’s trust not vainly was bestowed;
To God’s protecting arm his life he owed.
But instances as numerous as true,
Will prove God’s power of old, yet ever new;
And downward from creation’s birth we trace
His Providence o’er all the human race;
A Providence so kind and good withal,
That nothing else but sin should e’er appal;
And even sin repented of will bring,
That blessed Being to our ministering.
And if there be some spirits who can walk
Through this fair world, nor of His goodness talk:
Let it be ours His praises oft to sing,
Concealed beneath the shadow of His wing;
Let it be ours to sing His matchless pow’r,
Providing care which guards from hour to hour;
And though it be a theme full oft discussed,
The brightest things neglected soon will rust;
And buds upon a withered branch may shoot,
And thoughts oft sprinkled on the heart take root.
Thus, if by frequent converse of His care
We’re lef at last to seek protection there:
Time were not lost, but rather fresh revived,
Whilst we in Providence’s vast mysteries dived.
The utmost light we gain is darkness here;
Then let us never close our eyes in fear.
But seek that light, how small soe’er it be;
The stars seem small through worlds of mystery!
Those dwelling in the secret of His place
Are sure to find His all-protecting grace;
And He will give His angels charge of thee,
When thou to his protecting arm dost flee;
They run, they fly to shelter those who seek
His Providence, in one short prayer and meek;
And if we mark His footsteps, we shall trace
In each new step some wonders of His grace;
Nor wonders only—goodness, beauty shine
In each new turning of His path divine.
Then let the meditative mind explore
The beauties of creation, and adore
That Goodness which upholds and governs too,
Creating ever beautiful and new.
And in the varied pleasures of the mind
Each has his own of some peculiar kind;
For Providence, all watchful for our good,
To some gives rich, to others simple food.
Some in abstracted thought for hours will sit,
While scarce the pallid countenance is lit
By the least outward gleam of happiness;
And yet his thought was given but to bless.
And some there are with ready, brilliant mind,
Who shed a light we sought in vain to find;
In one short moment an idea may give
Birth to a train of thoughts, and make them live,
Spreading, extending in the ample field
Of science or of art, to us long sealed.
And these are pleasures, this is happiness;
And these were given also but to bless.
Oh, bounteous Providence! now slow to hear,
To give, or to protect; but ever near,
E’er awake (though we are slumbering still),
In the wild storm, or on the gentlest rill
That e’er disturbs the waters of life’s stream,
Still ever there, though absent He may seem:
We even then may hold His tender hand,
And He will lead us safely on to land;
When walking through the dark and shadowy vale,
Where silent death looks on with aspect pale,
We’ll follow Him—not quite devoid of charms,
Who leaves our souls within Thy holy arms.

R. E. S.