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My Father and my God!
Safe on thine arm I lean when storms arise,
And rolling tempests threat the frowning skies.
When Satan's fiery darts are hurl'd around
With mischievous intent, to kill or wound,
Thou art my mighty shield; I find in thee
A safe retreat, a certain victory.
If slander lifts her forked tongue,
Or envy joins to do me wrong;
Thine eye shall see, thine ear shall hear,
Thy hand shall grasp the glitt'ring spear,
Thy breath shall chase them, as when whirlwinds rise The moths disperse, the scatter'd stubble flies.
But I shall sing
Salvation to my God and king,
While life endures, and then above
I'll tune a nobler song to praise the God of love.
OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF THE REV. DR. GIFFORD, WHO FELL ASLEEP IN CHRIST, THE 19TH OF JUNE, 1784; IN THE
EIGHTY-FOURTH YEAR OF HIS AGE.
WHEN the loud din of war, and clash of arms
Subsides, and all Bellona's fierce alarms
Complete the labours of the long campaign,
And smiling peace resumes her gentle reign;
The hero, crown'd with conquest, pleas'd, throws by.
The glitt'ring spear, and the bright panoply
Of warlike arms; he quits the hostile shore,
His toils and dangers past, his battles o'er;
He flies to greet once more his native land,
And from his royal master's gracious hand
Receive the laurels, which he won with pain,
In the long siege, and on the well-fought plain :
In sylvan scenes to lose each anxious care,
Forget his toils, and breathe the purest air
Of sweet serenity. No more the sound
Of thund'ring cannon shakes the trembling ground:
He listens to the lark and linnet's lay,
Enjoys the calm, as much at ease as they;
Bids ev'ry rude tumultuous passion cease,
And triumphs in the gentle arms of peace....
So Rev'rend Gifford lays his armour by,
Quits the low earth, and soars above the sky.
Long in the field the christian soldier stood,
And wrestled; not with foes of flesh and blood,
But pow'rs of darkness, rulers of the air,
Whose fiery darts ten thousand horrors bear.
Oft in black storms the barbed mischief flies,
Obscures the sun, and darkens all the skies.
But Gifford, great in arms, maintain'd the fight,
And, unappal'd march'd on, through shades of night,
Till brighter day arose secure he stood,
In all the glorious panoply of God;
And the last foe subdu'd, he quits the place,
And more than conqu'ror, thro' Almighty grace,
To brighter, fairer worlds he wings his way,
Where perfect peace, and everlasting day
Sweetly unite; there from Immanuel's hand,
The mighty monarch of that happy land;
Receives the glorious palm of victory,
Receives a glorious welcome to the sky.
He tunes his golden harp, and joins the throng
Of white-robed saints, who with melodious song
Incessant hymn the throne of God, and raise
Eternal anthems to Immanuel's praise.
Thy name they sing, O lamb of God! for thou
Hast wash'd them in thy blood; to thee they bow,
And tell to wond'ring seraphs what thy grace
Hath done for sinners of the human race.
Seraphs shall, pleas'd, attend, then join the lay,
And saints and angels shall thy love display:
The glorious theme shall run from choir to choir,
Tune ev'ry tongue, and ev'ry harp inspire.
Thy name shall echo thro' the courts above,
And all the wonders of redeeming love.
Come gentle Muse, in softest lays record
How liv'd, how dy'd the servant of the Lord;
Tell how, baptiz'd with heav'nly fire, he ran
To preach a God of love to fallen man :
To publish the good news of gospel grace,
And free salvation, to a sinful race.
Sav'd by this grace himself, he long'd to tell
The boundless glories of Immanuel.
Truth from his lips like softest music flow'd,
And all his theme the righteousness of God:
Sweet consolation sat upon his tongue
For mourning souls, by sin's sad serpent stung.
A son of thunder to awake the dead,
While Sinai's light'nings flashes over head.
Amidst a world of error, faithful he,
Zealous for holy gospel liberty:
Firm as a brazen pillar, Gifford stood,
And liv'd, and wrote, and preach'd the truth of God: At Jesu's feet he sat, and on his breast,
Like favor'd John, was oft indulg'd to rest:
He found his bliss and source of wisdom here,
And caught his Spirit while he sat so near.
Love! heav'nly love, like a bright flame arose;
Immortal love, that no extinction knows,
Enlarg'd his gen'rous heart, and bid it flow
With softest sympathy, for others' woe.
There mild beneficence sat up her throne,
And sweet complacence seal'd him for her own : The law of kindness from his lips distill'd, Smil'd in his cheeks, and all his bosom fill'd : And now he proves, in the bright world above, His heav'n of heavens' in a Saviour's love.
Vast was his mind; for contemplation made: Vast were the pow'rs his active mind display'd. Thro' nature's most stupendous works it run, Measu❜rd the stars, and circumscrib'd the sun; From link to link, of the great chain, descends, And only with creation's ending, ends : Thro' fields of science sought the deity, Led by thy hand, O fair philosophy! But chiefly thine, O science all divine! To whom all others must the palm resign. Creation proves a God, but how to know, To fear, and love, and to enjoy him too.... Creation here is mute; and all the rest, Can but by revelation be express'd. Hail! then, O Spirit! who only can display To sinners' hearts, the new and living way. Gifford, led on by thee, explor'd the road, And learn'd to know the hidden things of God. Hail! sacred knowledge, science all divine, Distinct from thee, philosophy can shine But with a glow-worm lustre; the vast mind By arts and erudition most refin❜d, So comprehensive, as to grasp the ball; Untaught by thee, is ignorant of all. For God is all....and not that God to know,