The Church And Word Of God by George MacDonald

I.

THE TWELFTH PSALM.

Ah God, from heaven look down and view;
Let it thy pity waken;
Behold thy saints how very few!
We wretches are forsaken.
Thy word they grant nor true nor right,
And faith is thus extinguished quite
Among the sons of Adam.

They teach a cunning false and fine–
In their own wits they found it;
Their heart in one doth not combine,
Nor on God’s word they ground it;
One chooses this, the other that;
Endless division they are at,
And yet they keep smooth faces.

God will outroot the teachers all
Who with false shows present us;
Besides, their proud tongues loudly call–
Tush! tush!–who can prevent us?
We have the right and might in full;
And what we say, that is the rule;
Who dares to give us lessons!

Therefore saith God: I must be up;
My poor ones ill are faring;
Their sighs crowd up to Zion’s top.
My ear their cry is hearing.
My wholesome word shall speedily
With comfort fill them, fresh and free,
And strength be to the needy.

Silver that seven times is tried
With fire, is found the purer;
God’s word the same test must abide–
It still comes out the surer.
It shall by crosses proved be;
Men shall its power and glory see
Shine strong upon the nations.

God will its purity defend
From this ill generation.
Let us ourselves to thee commend
Lest we fall from our station;
The godless rout is all around
Where these rude wanton ones are found
Against thy folk exalted.

II.

THE FOURTEENTH PSALM.

Although the fools say with their mouth:
Great God, we magnify him;
Their heart cares nothing for the truth,
In action they deny him.
Their being is corrupted quite;
To God it is a horrid sight;
Not one of them works goodness.

From heaven God downward cast his eye
Upon men’s sons so many;
He set himself to look and spy
If he could find out any
Who their own reason up had stirred
Earnestly to obey God’s word,
After his will enquiring.

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Upon the right path there was none;
From it they all were straying;
Each followed fancies of his own,
Them to ill deeds bewraying.
Not one of them did good even once,
Though many, fooled by arrogance,
Thought God with them well pleased.

How long by lies will they be led
Who vain attempts redouble!
They eat my people up as bread,
And live upon their trouble!
In God stands not their confidence;
From ill they ask not his defence:
They would themselves look after.

Therefore their heart is never still
But always full of fearing.
Dwell with the good the Father will,
Those who have ears for hearing.
But ye despise the poor man’s ways,
And scorn at everything he says
Concerning God his comfort.

Who will to Israel, poor flock–
To Zion send salvation?
God will take pity on his folk,
And free his captive nation;
That will he do through Christ his Son–
And then is Jacob’s weeping done,
And Isr’el filled with gladness. Amen.

III.

THE FOURTY-SIXTH PSALM.

Our God he is a castle strong,
A good mail-coat and weapon;
He sets us free from every wrong
That wickedness would heap on.
The ancient wicked foe
He means earnest now;
Force and cunning sly
His horrid policy,–
On earth there’s no one like him!

Our strength is vain; do what we can
Our hopes are soon dejected;
But He fights for us, the right man,
By God himself elected.
Ask’st thou who is this?
Jesus Christ it is;
He is the Lord of Hosts
In whom his people boasts;
And he must win the battle.

And did the world with devils swarm
All gaping to devour us,
We fear not from them the least harm;
Success lies sure before us.
This world’s prince accurst,
Let him rage his worst,
Only roars about;
His doom it is gone out,
A word can overthrow him.

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The Word they’ll have to let it bide,
Nor there claim any merit;
He is with us, and on our side
With his own gifts and spirit!
Let them take our life,
Goods, name, child, and wife–
Everything may go:
To them it is no gain;
The kingdom ours remaineth.

IV.

THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FOURTH PSALM.

Were God not with us all the time–
Israel may loud declare it–
Were God not with us all the time,
We must have now despaired;
For we are such a little flock
Despised by such a crowd of folk,
Who all do set upon us!

‘Gainst us so angry is their mood,
If God had given them tether
Us they had swallowed where we stood,
Body and soul together.
We should have been drowned all, like those
O’er whom the waters great did close,
And swept them off relentless.

Thank God! their throat who did not let
Us swallow when it gaped;
As from a snare a bird doth flit
So is our soul escaped.
The snare’s in two, and we are through:
The name of God it standeth true,
The God of earth and heaven. Amen.

V.

A CHILDREN’S SONG, TO SING AGAINST THE TWO
ARCHENEMIES OF CHRIST AND HIS
HOLY CHURCH, THE POPE AND THE TURKS.

Lord, keep us by thy word in hope,
And check the murder of Turk and Pope,
Who Jesus Christ, thine only Son,
Would fain from off thy throne cast down.

Proof of thy strength, Lord Christ, afford,
For thou of all the lords art Lord;
Thy own poor Christendom defend,
That it may praise thee without end.

God Holy Ghost, who Comfort art,
Give to thy folk on earth one heart;
Stand by us breathing our last breath;
Into life lead us out of death.

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VI.

A SONG OF THE HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH,
FROM THE TWELFTH CHAPTER OF THE APOCALYPSE.

Her, the worthy maid, my heart doth hold,
And I shall not forget her.
Praise, honour, virtue of her are told;
Than all I love her better.
I seek her good,
And if I should
Right evil fare,
I do not care:
With that she’ll make me merry!
With love and truth that never tire
Glad she will make me very,
And do all my desire.

She wears a crown of pure gold, where
Twelve stars their rays are twining;
Her raiment like the sun is fair,
And bright from far is shining.
Her feet the moon
Are set upon;
She is the bride
By Jesus’ side!
She hath sorrow, must be mother
To her fair child, the noble Son,
Of all men lord and brother,
Her king, her crowned one.

That makes the old dragon ramp and roar;
The child he tries to swallow;
His rage is rage and nothing more!
No hurt that rage will follow.
The child up high
Into the sky
Away is heft,
And he is left
On earth, all mad with murder.
The mother all alone is she,
But God will watch and ward her,
And her true Father be.

VII.

A SONG CONCERNING THE TWO MARTYRS OF CHRIST,
BURNT AT BRUSSELS BY THE SOPHISTS OF LOUBAINE,
WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE YEAR 1523.

A new song here shall be begun–
The Lord God help our singing!–
Of what our God himself hath done,
Praise, honour to him bringing:
At Brussels in the Netherlands,
By two young boys, He gracious
Displays the wonders of his hands,
Giving them gifts right precious,
And richly them adorning.

The first right fitly John was named,
So rich he in God’s favour;
His brother, Henry–one unblamed,
Whose salt had lost no savour.
From this world they are gone away,
The diadem they’ve gained!
Honest, like God’s good children, they
For his word life disdained,
And have become his martyrs.

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The ancient foe on them laid hold,
With terrors did enwrap them;
To lie against God’s word them told,
With cunning would entrap them:
From Louvaine too, to see the game
And in his crust nets take them,
Many a sophist gathered came:
The Spirit fools did make them–
Their cunning could gain nothing.

Oh! they sung sweet, and they sung sour;
Oh! they tried every double;
The boys they stood firm as a tower,
And mocked the sophists’ trouble.
The serpent old it filled with hate
To be thuswise defeated
By two such youngsters–he, so great!–
His wrath sevenfold was heated,
And he resolved to burn them.

Their cloister-garments off they tore,
Undid their consecrations;
All this the boys were ready for,
And said Amen with patience.
To God their Father they gave thanks
That they would soon be rescued
From Satan’s scoffs and mumming pranks,
Whereby with false pretences
The world he so befooleth.

Then gracious God did grant to them
To pass true priesthood’s border,
And offer up themselves to him,
Thus entering Christ’s own order;
So to the world to die outright,
With falsehood make a schism;
And coming to heaven pure and white
Give monkery the besom,
And leave behind men’s prattle.

They wrote for them a paper small:
At their request they read it;
They showed them every point there, all
To which themselves gave credit.
There was an error great indeed!
In God we should trust solely:
To cheat and lie, man maketh speed;
We should distrust him wholly:
For that they burn to ashes.

Two awful fires they kindled then,
The boys they carried to them;
Great wonder seizes every man
That with contempt they view them.
With joy themselves they yielded quite,
With singing and God-praising:
The sophists had small appetite
For these new things so dazing
Which God was thus revealing.

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They now repent the deed of blame,
Would gladly gloze it over;
They dare not glory in their shame;
The facts almost they cover.
In their hearts gnaweth infamy–
They to their friends deplore it:
The Spirit cannot silent be;
Good Abel’s blood out-poured
Must still old Cain discover!

To spread, their ashes will not cease;
Into all lands they scatter;
Stream, hole, ditch, grave will them release;
All winds shall tell the matter.
Them whom from life their murderous hand
Drove down to silence triple,
They hear them now in every land,
In tongues of every people,
Go about gladly singing.

Still their foul lies they will not leave,
But trim and dress the murther;
The fable false which out they give
Shows conscience grinds them further.
God’s holy ones, even after death,
They still go on belying;
They say that with their latest breath
The boys, in act of dying,
Repented and recanted!

Let them lie on for evermore–
Nothing by that they’re gaining;
For us, we thank our God therefore:
His word is yet remaining!
Even at the door is summer nigh,
The winter hard is ended,
The tender flowers come out to spy:
His hand when once extended
Stays not till it has finished. Amen.

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