The Seventeenth Annual Report of the Committee of the Unitarian Church,
Sydney: Printed by Robert Bone, "Phoenix" Office, 140 Pitt Street.1871. page break
List of Officers, 1871-72,
- Messrs. A. M. àBeckrtt,
- W. Hanson
- W. Mac Donnell
- J. Williams.
- Rev. James Pillars, B.A.
- Mr. A. M. àBeckett.
- Mr. R. Young.
- Mr. C. Pearce.
- Messrs. J. Dunage
- W. Pollard.
- Mr. E. Braiiam.
(in addition to the Six ex officio members last-named.)
- I. Aaron,
- R. Biddell,
- R. Bonk,
- H. Gilchrist,
- G. F. Jackson,
- T. H. Kelly,
- J. Service,
- W. Shaw.
The President said—As the matters relating to the condition and prospects of the congregation to which we belong will be communicated to this meeting through the medium of the annual report which will be read this evening, I shall not occupy your time by any detailed reference to them, but I may perhaps be permitted briefly to offer the result of such reflections as have occurred to me on the bearing and influence which the growth and extension of the principles by which this and other similar constituted religious bodies profess to be guided, may be expected to have on the moral and religious aspect of the age in which we live. In the first place then, my friends, notwithstanding the many obstacles which are often not very worthily offered to our progress, we can congratulate ourselves on the fact that we are free—mentally and spiritually free; and if to this remark it be replied, as it will probably be by many, "So are all Protestants free," I say that so long as the name of dissenter carries with it any reproach, so long as the term Free Thinker is permitted to cast a stigma on any man to whom it is applied, and so long as a change of religious opinion, as the result of a fidelity to conscience, causes a man to be branded as an infidel, there can be no freedom for that large class of persons, who, having arrived at what they believe to be a clearer perception of their true relation to God, dare not disclose their convictions, lest they should bring upon themselves the enmity and persecution of those who adhere, outwardly at least, to the so-called orthodox and popular belief. I am sure that I need scarcely remind my hearers that there is an immense number of persons in this condition, and that the revelations of science and the advancing spirit of inquiry are tending daily to swell that number; and it is, moreover, not difficult to conjecture what kind of influence will be likely to be exerted over the destinies of mankind by those who, having lied to their consciences and to their God, find little difficulty in their dealings with men in carrying out to the fullest extent the debasing principles of selfishness and falsehood. In making this statement, which, to some, may seem of rather a comprehensive and, perhaps, a sweeping character, I would wish to offer one qualification. I am conscious that there are individuals, who, from motives of the purest and most tender character, refrain from imparting to those nearest and dearest to them, the religious conclusions at which they have themselves arrived, but whilst believing, as I do, that the religious utterances of any intelligent, true, and earnest man cannot be productive of evil, I must look upon page 6 the reticence to which I have alluded as a grave error. Freedom to think, to speak, and to act openly on the highest subject that can engage our thoughts, lies therefore at the root of all true religion, and the demoralising effect of an enslaved condition of the mind in this respect, is seen and exemplified in the history of nations as well as of individuals. The events which, during the last few months, have startled and horrified the whole civilised world, could never have transpired in any country where the principles of Christianity really held any sway, for it would not then have been possible to obtain the blind and brutal assent of truly Christian men to enter upon a deliberately organised system of human slaughter at the fiendish instigation of one man. The most complete religious organisation, as far as relates to forms and ceremonies, was nevertheless in full operation in the country in which these atrocities have occurred, and infidelity in the true sense of that term has long prevailed amongst a very large proportion of its people. Let us, therefore, my friends, show less anxiety for the furtherance of our views as a means of improving our worldly position, than to cultivate and preserve individually that spirit of freedom by which alone the heart can appreciate and the conscience can direct the most solemn duties of our lives.
In submitting their Report to the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of this congregation, your Committee are drawn at once to the interesting subject of the prospects, which at length exist, of a new Unitarian Church being erected in this City.
The Church Land Bill, which, it will be recollected, was before Parliament, at the date of the last Annual Meeting, received the Royal assent on the 20th April, 1870, and enables the Trustees to dispose of and convey the land comprised in the Grant on Church Hill, and apply the proceeds, either in the purchase of other land for a Church or School, or both; or in enlarging or re-building the present Chapel. To decide which course should be adopted, measures were early taken to convene a meeting of Unitarians generally, which was held in the Chapel, on the 2nd August last, when it was determined that the proceeds of the Grant should be invested in the purchase of suitable land, and in forwarding the erection thereon of the contemplated building. A site, considered by the meeting to be exceedingly eligible, adjoining Hyde Park Terrace, was immediately secured by the Trustees of the Clarence Street Grant; and the purchase money, amounting to £800, was available forthwith from the sale of three of the seven allotments into which the land in question had been subdivided for auction. A Committee was also appointed at the above meeting to receive and solicit contributions on behalf of a building fund for the proposed Church; and it will be satisfactory to state, that expectations have not been disappointed in the amount of assistance to the project which the fund already exhibits. Subscriptions, estimated at £250, are now in the hands of collecting members; while the fulfilment of outstanding promises will swell the sum to £400.
In August last, your Committee, recognising the general feeling, requested their Chairman, the President of the Church, to call a meeting of its members for the 22nd September, "to consider the expediency of an application being made to the Trustees of the Church property in Macquarie Street, * * * * requesting them to sell the same by public auction or private contract, as their discretion might direct, and to apply the proceeds thereof in or towards the erection of a new Unitarian Church and School on the site recently purchased by the Trustees of the Clarence Street land." A very full attendance responded to the notice which had been duly page 8 advertised and otherwise published in terms of the Trust Deed; and a resolution was unanimously passed, upwards of three-fourths of those present attesting the same by their signatures, as required by the Deed, affirming the willingness of the Congregation to co-operate in the erection of the intended Church, by selling the present building, and devoting the proceeds to the new one, "upon condition that it be mutually understood by and between the Trustees of the Clarence Street Land and the Trustees of the Chapel property that all arrangements as to plans, estimated cost and otherwise howsoever relating to the intended building, together with the Trust Deed of the premises thereof be approved by the Congregational Committee * * * * * for the time being; and that for the purpose of acting in the matter of the said arrangements, and for that purpose only, the Trustees of the * * * * * Clarence Street land and the Minister be at all times ex officio members of such Commitee, in addition to the Trustees of the * * * Chapel Trust property, already such, under and by virtue of the Trust Deed thereof."
The Trustees of the Chapel were communicated with accordingly; and, so far as the proposed edifice depends upon the contributions of the value of our present place of worship, the matter is only contingent on the respective parties of Trustees arriving at the mutual understanding referred to.
A reply was received by your Committee from the Trustees of the Chapel, on the 10th November last, in which it is stated, that "they do not think it desirable to take any steps towards parting with the present place of worship, until a thoroughly matured and practical proposal be placed before them, shewing the amount required, and the funds actually available towards meeting such expenses as must be incurred in the erection of a new Church and School; and that, as the Trustees are led to believe, that contributions towards the object proposed may be expected from England, they do not feel justified in adopting any measures for parting with the "present building within the next four months. The interval named, expired on the 9th March last; and it is now understood that steps are in progress which will soon give effect to the Committee designated by the General Meeting, and empower them to commence the undertaking which all desire to see accomplished.
As instructed by the Annual Meeting last year, your Committee have had under consideration the desirableness of introducing changes in the rules forming the constitution of this Church, and annexed to this Report is a draft of Leading Principles and Regulations, which your Committee have agreed to recommend for your approval, in lieu of the existing rules.
The more important alterations appear in the first section, which, though enlarging and somewhat modifying the former statement of "fundamental principles," maintains in distinctive prominence the supreme moral right of private judgment, and the paramount obligation of the dictates of conscience. In the second section, page 9 relating to congregational matters, the principal change suggested is in reference to the arrangement for electing t he non-official members of the Annual Committee, which it is thought will commend itself, without further remark.
Some time since, the subject of extending the sources whence the lessons read during Divine Service should be selected; and while their individual opinion would be in favor of a class of readings not exclusively from the Bible, it was considered most advisable to place nothing on record which might possibly interfere with the discretion of the Minister, or forestall an expresssion of a preference on the part of a General Meeting.
It affords your Committee unmixed satisfaction that our respected Minister has distinguished himself most admirably, in defence of the liberty of conscience, in a matter within the shortest memory. The case of Mr. Lorando Jones, the victim of a prosecution for blasphemy in the eye of obsolete law, your Committee have little doubt would have been condoned and forgotten had it not been for the manful championship of the rights of free thought and free speech by the Reverend Mr. Pillars, the more to be esteemed, as assumed in the cause of one whose sole bond of union with us consists in his assertion of moral and mental independence.
The Sunday School, under the management of the Rev. Mr. Pillars, continues its career of usefulness. There are nearly a hundred registered scholars, although the average attendance of such, owing chiefly to the long distances many of the children have to come, is not more than fifty. The Superintendent believes that the School will be largely increased by the removal of the Church from Macquaric Street to Liverpool Street, and hopes, at an early date, in view of that event, to enlist the services of such friends as may be disposed to co-operate with him in making the Sunday School a really important department of our Church operations.
In addition to the ordinary celebrations which have been observed with success, in their regular place, through the congregational year, your Committee were happy to afford the auspices of our name to a fête champêtre at Frederick's Hall, Parramatta River, on the Anniversary of the founding of the Colony in January last, when numerous parties of friends and members enjoyed the excursion, and spent a day to be pleasantly remembered.
The state of the funds has pressed itself upon the notice of you Committee with its accustomed force during the year; and instead of the Tea Meeting with which the establishment of this place of worship has usually been commemorated, arrangements were made for a Musical and Literary Soiree, the proceeds of which should be appropriated to the general fund. The entertainment took place at the School of Arts, on the 13th December last, a well pleased audience rewarding the exertions of the Sub-Committee entrusted with the management, although the pecuniary result was inconsiderable.
The Treasurer's account, which will be laid before you immediately, will show our financial condition in detail.page 10
It is incumbent on your Committee to draw attention to the diminished receipts for sittings and subscriptions, in the year which has just closed, as compared with their amount in the previous year; the total deficiency shown in the account of £44 16s. 1d. being composed of £33 2s. 6d. from this source, and £11 13s. 7d. from minor causes, the principal of which is a debit of £7 5s. 5d. from the last balance sheet.
The continued depression in Colonial business has necessarily told upon the support of a cause, to which the number of contributors is comparatively limited, and therefore, not large enough to permit a protracted want of average prosperity to remain unnoticed.
The Treasurer, however, is of opinion, that the list of payments oustanding may be relied on, to the extent of about £16. But, on the eve of engaging in a new enterprise, and one that demands increased exertions like the raising of a commodious and attractive structure for Church purposes, your Committee are sure that the difficulty requires only to be fairly stated in order to be promptly met; and with this object, they have felt it right to authorise a Special Subscription to make up the amount of the existing deficit, leaving the available arrears for the year nearly entered on.
This matter is accordingly commended to the earnest liberality of the present meeting.
Arthur M. àBeckett,Chairman. Sydney,
24th April, 1871.
The Treasures in Account with the Unitarian Church Macquarie Street, Sydney,
March 25, 1871.
William Shaw,Treasurer. Audited and found correct,
The Minister in Account with the Unitarian Church.
Progress Report of the Building Committee.
In pursuance of the resolutions adopted at the general meeting of the congregation held on the 22nd of September, the Trustees of the several Church properties, together with those members of the Congregational Committee not trustees, resolved themselves into a Building Committee, to select a design for the new Church, and to take such steps as they might think necessary for carrying out the wishes of the general meeting.
|1.||"That the design furnished by Mr. Rowe for the New Unitarian Church, to be erected in Liverpool Street, Hyde Park, Sydney, be adopted, subject to such alterations as the Committee, consisting of the Trustees of the Clarence Street and Liverpool Street Unitarian Church properties, the Trustees of the Unitarian Church, Macquarie Street, the Minister of the said Church, and the Congregational Committee of the said Church for the time being, may approve; and that tenders be called for, and the erection of the New Church proceeded with, as soon as the Building Committee have £1500 at their disposal."|
|2.||"That a Bazaar, on as large and remunerative a scale as possible, be got up in aid of the Building Fund, and that the ladies of the Congregation be invited to give their assistance."|
Two allotments of the Clarence Street land yet remain unsold,* but the Committee believe that they will shortly be disposed of, and that with the amount then in hand, together with subscriptions already received and promised, the required sum of £1500 will soon be realised. Tenders will then be galled for, and the Committee feel sanguine in the anticipation that a very short time will see the commencement of a work which will be gratifying to all; and which, besides being an ornament to the city, will largely promote the worship of the One True God and the spread of free religious inquiry.
The cash now in hand amounts to £793 10s., which, with the proceeds of the two unsold allotments, subscriptions received and promised, will, the Committee believe, nearly realise the amount required, and enable them to lay the foundation stone of the Church; and they now earnestly appeal to their friends to use their exertions to effect this object.
Arthur M. àBeckett,Chairman.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Unitarian Congregational Church, held in the Chapel, Macquarie Street, Sydney, on Monday evening, the 24th April, 1871, A. M. àBeckett, Esq., President, in the Chair, the following leading Principles and Regulations were adopted, in substitution for the "Fundamental Principles" and "Rules," forming the Constitution of the Church:—
|1.||The recognition of one God, to whom, as the embodiment of all the excellencies which the highest human mind can conceive, it behoves us to render the homage of our adoration and the devout service of our lives.|
|2.||The recognition of Reason and Conscience as of higher authority than any book or any church; and of Inspiration as manifesting itself whenever man, by reverently accepting the guidance of these faculties of his nature, obtains insight into what is true and good.|
|3.||The recognition of the exercise of the right and duty of Private Judgment in religious matters as essential to completeness of character; and of free and unfettered religious inquiry as indispensable to the discovery of truth.|
|4.||The recognition of purity and uprightness of life as superior to mere belief in any doctrine whatsoever; and of our obligation to be good and to do good without regard to the losses our integrity may bring upon us in this world, or the gains it may secure to us in the next.|
|5.||The recognition of Jesus of Nazareth as chief among the prophets and apostles of God comprising the good and noble of every age, race and creed; and, therefore, as worthy of our highest admiration and our deepest love.|
|1.||Every person using the Church as a place of worship, or contributing to its support, shall, unless a wish be expressed to the contrary, be considered a member, and entitled to vote at any meeting of the Congregation.|
|2.||The following, chosen from the members, shall be Officers of the Church:—a President, Secretary, Treasurer, Librarian and two Church Wardens—all to be elected annually by a majority of votes, at a General Meeting to be held on, or near, the 25th March. These, together with eight other members, chosen by ballot from a list of nominees—each nominee to be nominated by two members—posted at the Church entrance on the Sunday previous to the Annual Meeting, shall form the Committee of Management.page 15|
|3.||The President shall preside at all General Meetings, have power to call special meetings of Committee or of the Congregation at any time, and generally to act in such manner as may seem to him fit and necessary for the Church's welfare: provided always that such action shall be accordant with the rules and principles of the Church.|
|4.||The Treasurer shall receive contributions to the Church funds, and, with the sanction of the Committee, meet such claims as may be made upon them. He shall also prepare an annual debtor and creditor account, to be audited and passed at a Committee Meeting, prior to Annual Meeting for Statement of Accounts.|
|5.||The Secretary shall prepare and issue notices of Committee and other meetings; he shall make minutes of proceedings and conduct the correspondence of the Church.|
|6.||The Church Wardens shall have charge of the Church and all church property. They shall receive applications for sittings and see that strangers are accommodated with seats and books. They, or one of them, shall be in attendance at the Church half an hour before the time for commencing service.|
|7.||The Committee shall at their first meeting appoint one of their number to be Chairman of Committee during their year of office.|
|8.||Any member of Committee, absenting himself from four successive meetings of Committee regularly summoned, shall be considered as having resigned his office, but may be reappointed by a vote of the Committee; and in the same manner shall be filled up any vacancy that may occur.|
|9.||To constitute a regular Committee meeting the following conditions shall be observed:—1. That each member shall have sent to him not less than two days' notice; such notice to specify the object of the meeting. 2. That it be held on the second Thursday evening in the month. 3. That five members at least be present. A special Committee Meeting may be convened at any time by the President, or by three members of Committee.|
|10.||A resolution in Committee to be valid must be proposed, seconded, and carried by a majority of votes; the Chairman having, when the votes are equal, a second or casting vote. Every such resolution shall be entered by the Secretary, or Chairman, in the minute book.|
|11.||A General Meeting shall be called by the Committee at least once a year, for the purpose of electing a new Committee, passing the Treasurer's account, and for other business, not less than fourteen days' notice to be given. A Special General Meeting may at any time be convened, on giving not less than eight days' notice, by the President, the Committee, or the Minister, or at the request of eight members.|
|12.||The Church records shall include the following:—1. Treasurer's Book, for the congregational accounts. 2. Secretary's Book, for minutes of proceedings. 3. Register of baptisms, marriages, and burials, to be kept by the minister. Such records may, at any suitable time, be consulted by members of the congregation, but not removed.page 16|
|13.||Any addition to, or alteration in, these rules may be made at the Annual or at any Special General Meeting: provided always written particulars of the proposed alteration, or addition, shall be sent to the Secretary three weeks before the day of meeting, and also be posted at the Church doors in the interval, for the inspection of members of the congregation.|
Extracts From Minutes Of Annual Meeting, 24Th April, 1871.
Moved by Mr. H. Gilchrist, and Seconded by Mr. Young,—
"(1.) That the Report brought up by the Committee be adopted, and printed for general circulation. (2.) That the Treasurer's account for the past year be provisionally adopted, and that Messrs. William Heron and Charles Pearce be appointed to audit the same; the account, as audited, to be printed with the Report. (3.) That the Minister's Statements of the Sunday School and Benevolent Funds be adopted and printed with the Report,"
Motion put and passed.
Moved by Mr. Aaron, pursuant to notice, and Seconded by Mr. Shaw,—
"That the 'Leading Principles' and 'Regulations' now read be adopted, in' substitution for the 'Fundamental Principles and Rules' forming the present Constitution of this Church; and that the same be printed with the Annual Report."
Motion put and passed.
Moved by Mr. Aaron, and Seconded by Mr. Dunage,—
"That the Report now brought up, in reference to the building of the proposed New Church, be adopted, and printed with the Annual Report."
Motion put and passed.
The following remarkable poem and interesting narrative are the work of a lady who has already established for herself a fair literary reputation, but from prudential motives she has decided to withhold her name for the present from the title-page of this book.
The publisher saw objections to placing it before the public anonymously, lest it might be looked upon as little more than a clever fiction. To remove this difficulty, and in the belief that the work is a most valuable contribution to the cause of truth, I have consented to introduce it with my name.
The authoress, who is residing abroad, assures me that every spiritual occurrence herein narrated is absolutely and accurately true; and that all the actors in the varied and curious scenes are veritable living personages, whose names she has furnished to me.
During the progress of this work, the authoress became aware of a gradual development of mediumistic powers in herself, and she is now producing some extraordinary drawings and writings, under, as she believes, the guidance and dictation of the spirit of her late lamented husband.
Differences of opinion there will be on the points of reasoning and the principles enunciated in this book; but there can be none I think as to the high literary talent and freshness displayed in the treatment of the subject, nor as to the extremely interesting nature of the facts which the narrative discloses.
Benjamin Coleman.51, Pembridge Villas, Bayswater, London,
To the Memory of my beloved Husband.
He stood unmatched on this terrestrial sphere,
Scarce less than angel, far, far more than man!
Too pure, too good, too blest to linger here,
Irradiating life's fleeting, sombre span—
Valued, esteemed; to every being dear,
Whose heart and mind his peerless worth might scan.
Beaming and glorious his high soul has flown
To spiritual spheres, where angels dwell alone.
What words may tell, what phantasy divine
The rich and varied treasures of strange lore,
The boundless wealth of the exhaustless mine,
Of that grand intellect, the virgin ore!
All that can elevate, instruct, refine,
Garnered unheeded in that priceless store !
Science and truth in their most dazzling light,
And all that genius gives most glorious, fair and bright.
Supreme the splendour of his godlike mind;
But all were vain to picture the fond heart,
To every living creature warm and kind;
For ever seeking blessings to impart;
Devoted, gentle, cheerful, pure, resigned;
Unstained by earthly dross, or worldly art;
Burning with such unselfish, tender love,
That none may know its like, save seraphim above.
Oh ! blest beyond all others was the one
Whom that unrivalled ardent heart endowed
With its rich freight of deepest love alone !
All the vain honours of which men are proud,
Royal tiara, and imperial throne;
The empty pomps to which the world has vowed
Its homage and its lusts,—all, all were nought,
Beside the peerless bliss with which that love was fraught
For they were fitly met,—no sordid aim
Had dimmed its lustre. All was on a par,—
Soul, mind, and passion. Both could justly claim
Their brilliant portion. No false chord did jar
That glowing hymn. No flaw was there to shame
The limpid crystal,—no lost link, to mar
That glory which angelic eyes delights,
Two lofty, twin-born souls, whom God Himself unites!
What that this world may offer, can compare
With that deep joy, that ecstasy supreme,
When two fond souls each thought, each feeling share,
And life glides on, a spiritual dream?
While hand in hand advance the loving pair,
Each other's echo; as with lightning gleam,
deas flash from each responsive mind,
Till ere the words are breathed, already they're divined !
What can replace it ? There is nought on earth
So radiantly divine! All things must pall
When once 'tis savoured.—Of celestial birth,
Pure, exquisite, sublime! 'tis all in all
To those twin spirits.—Nothing else is worth
A sigh or tear ! All worldly joy doth fall
Too far beneath its spells! Supreme disdain
All other raptures wake,—cold, colourless, and vain.
Lo ! he is gone ! The master mind has fled;
The loving heart, the sympathising soul,—
All are extinguished! He is with the dead !
Where can we find the courage to control
Such maddening woe? Eternal night has spread
Its darkness round. What Power can console
The mourning one who dismally survives,
Whose agonies alone betray that still she lives?
All things with him have perished! Bleak and drear
Looks this fair earth. Chill, melancholy, pale,
Its brightest scenes. The sun has ceased to cheer
With his warm smile the mountain and the vale.
Cold, mocking phantoms do all men appear;
Wit, talent, genius, valueless and stale.
For what can fame and glory profit yet
To that crushed, broken heart whose only sun has set?
Can this be life? Is happiness accurst?
That those whose bliss is pure, whose love is true,
Deep, passionate, supreme, should be the first
Their lofty hopes, their joyous hours to rue?
Can it be just that fate should do its worst
Upon the blameless hearts,—the chosen few?
Is it decreed that all things bright and fair
Should vanish in the gloom of hopeless, black despair?
Is there no providence? no mercy here?
No justice on the earth? no God above?
Nothing to hope, and everything to fear?
That such felicity, such noble love,
page ix Such ardent prayers, He can refuse to hear ?
If such deep grief be powerless to move
His heart, in pity, to console and save,
Then is the world indeed but one wide, ghastly grave !
Can this be true ? Is then Omnipotence
Another name for tyranny's stern might ?
Can ruthless rigour, harsh indifference,
Quench in His heart all pity, justice, right ?
Can hopeless grief, can suffering intense,
Delight his ears,—be pleasant in His sight ?
Can abject terror, superstition vile,
The loathsome homage be on which a God can smile ?
Answer me Thou ! Almighty One, reply !
Hear Thou the mourner's passionate appeal!
Are men in error, or art Thou too high,
Compassion for our misery to feel?
Dost Thou disdain us? or do we belie
Thy sympathy for human woe or weal?
Can it be true, that merciless, cold, stern,
Of these sad, tortured hearts the anguish thou dost spurn?
What gleaming light is flashing in the skies,
Piercing the gloom? What solemn voice is this,
That answers to my prayer?—that bids me rise,
Resigned, serene, from chaos' black abyss?
What dazzling vision bursts upon my eyes!
What radiant hope! unutterable bliss!
All has not perished !—Joy has not fled !—
The loved, the lost return !—O God! they are not dead
Wonder of wonders ! Do I wake or dream?
Does some strange madness whirl my frenzied brain?
Too marvellous the glorious truth doth seem;
Too wild the ecstasy that stills my pain.
Full on my glance the opening heavens beam.
God is no myth ! We do not live in vain !
Through every vein electric fires burn,
With rapture echoing, The loved, the lost return !
I do not dream. It is his voice I hear;
The loving thoughts, the accents all bis own.
"Be comforted," it murmurs in my ear;
"I have returned to thee; I have not flown
To some far distant, brighter, happier sphere,
And left my love to sorrow here alone.
Weep thou no more, for I am at thy side;
Rejoice, for thou art now a glorious spirit's bride.
Weep thou no more ! Behold, pure love is blest.
Lite is no malediction; 'tis a boon
Most grand, most bounteous! All is for the best.
The hour is ripe. God has decreed that soon
The wondrous truth shall be made manifest
Throughout the world. Then shall all men commune
With spiritual spheres; all men believe;
And miracles unfold their minds can scarce conceive.
The world is not a chaos. All is wise,
Beneficent, omniscient, just, divine.
God is too great His creatures to despise;
'Tis ignorance alone makes man repine.
What though the mystery elude his eyes!
Sage are the means; stupendous the design.
Eternal bliss awaits the immortal soul.
Sublime infinitude its vast, transcendent goal.
"Evil is transient. By His bounteous will
All must progress. Dread death is but a name
For transformation. Nothing may stand still;
Nothing may perish. Anguish is the flame
That purifies the ore. Each must fulfil
His destined task, ere he can justly claim
Reward or merit; for no worth nor pride
Belongs to aught unearned, or what is yet untried.
Men are not cast upon life's troubled tide
To float or sink, like atoms on the stream,
Swept onward by the wave, whate'er betide,
Devoid of helm or steerage, or a gleam
Of light Divine their unknown course to guide.
Nought is uncertain, hazard, as men deem;
Nought is unmeaning, fruitless, aimless, vain;
Throughout the universe all things doth He ordain.
Glorious Creator, how has not Thy name
Been outraged by Thy children! Through all time
Men have not feared Thy splendour to defame
With impious profanation. Every crime
That stains their annals, every deed of shame,
They foisted on Thy Majesty sublime,—
All the vile instincts which their souls pollute;
Each passion that has power to make their conscience mute.
"Every weak mortal on whom men bestow
Kingdoms and crowns, to pamper-vice and lust,—
Before whose altars abject courtiers bow,
And groaning thousands, trampled in the dust;
page xi That by their base example all may know
Thy providence alone should nations trust,—
With blasphemous appeal dares to invoke
Thy grace Divine, Thy name, iniquity to cloak.
"Zeus, whom men unblushingly array
In all the carnal grossnesses that mar
Each loftier impulse; at whose feet they lay
Ignoble incense. Sanguinary Thor,
Before whose blood-stained altars they can pray !
Leader of ruthless hosts, of savage war;
Jehovah, God of vengeance and dismay !
Thou, whose unsullied glory men degrade
To their own sordid type, whose image they have made.
"Exterminator ! Thou, who givest life
To every creature that doth breathe and move.
Abettor thou of carnage, rapine, strife;
Of infamy that even men reprove!
Thou, whose perfection with all good is rife;
Source of all virtues, genius, science, love;
Protecting, blessing all existing things,
O'erspreads the universe with providential wings.
"Father of spirits ! Infinite, Supreme !
Thought fails to image, language to reveal,
Of Thy creation the transcendent scheme;
The marvels which its mysteries conceal.
Bliss so ineffable, that like a dream
Its revelations o'er our senses steal;
Visions whose gorgeousness a thousand-fold
Surpass all men might hope to win or to behold.
"Nothing is lost. No struggle here is vain.
Nought that we cherish earnestly and well
Fades from our grasp;—no treasure we obtain
By sacrifice and truth. Death fails to quell
One burning aspiration. We retain
Friendship, love, science; genius' magic spell.
All that is spiritual, noble, pure,
Eternally expands; for ever shall endure."
O joy ! there is no separation more,
Dismal, blank, hopeless ! No eternal night
O'ershadowing the world. The mystic shore
Of higher spheres looms tangibly in sight.
Despair, doubt, darkness, are for ever o'er;
All is magnificence, conviction, light.
There is no death. The dear ones hover near;
Our eyes may view them yet ! their voices we may hear
None are abandoned to remorseless fate;
None utterly condemned, without a gleam
Of comfort or of hope, to expiate
Their guilty past, though black its record seem.
Remorse, repentance, never come too late
An evil soul's transgressions to redeem.
The gates of heaven Thou dost ever leave
Open to those who strive their errors to retrieve.
Almighty One ! how shall Thy children lay
Homage not wholly sterile at Thy feet?
How their vast debt of gratitude repay,
In part at least, by tribute not unmeet
Their failings to atone? How fitly pray
With that deep truth Thou wilt benignly greet
With grace and favour? How condignly prove
Their passionate return of thankfulness and love ?
Thou, whose pure essence words cannot express;
Whose godlike pleasure is but to create
Myriads of thinking beings Thou dost bless
With soul, light, freedom, to work out their fate,
Through noble deeds to endless happiness.
Ever the embryo angels' gifts innate,
Thy bounteousness imparts, developing;
Soaring from orb to orb on bright, triumphant wing.
Only by following the grand career
Thou hast designed; endeavouring to be
All Thou dost will. Through each progressive sphere
Chiming with transport in the harmony
Of Thy vast Cosmos; striving to come near
The seraphs Thou dost love; to proffer Thee
The worship of high souls. Oh, thus alone
Can spirits offer up pure incense at Thy throne.
O smile Thou on us ! generously raise
Our earth-bound souls to their celestial aim,
That each may join in the glad hymns of praise
Which through all worlds Thy majesty proclaim.
Let Thy full glory beam upon our gaze,
That our deep adoration's mystic flame
Even on earth may not unworthy be
Of hallowing Thy name throughout eternity.
* Since sold for £520.