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The Altar; or Meditations in Verse on the Great Christian Sacrifice

By Isaac Williams

London: Joseph Masters, 1849.

IV. The Kiss of Judas


"First be reconciled to thy brother."

And now, from pleading with Thy God above,
To us who caus'd Thy death, resign'd to die,
Thou turnest, veiling all Thy majesty
That we may come to Thee; with words that prove,
Or tender offices that fain would move
Affectionate returns, and bring us nigh.
Let not this day of Thy humility
Tempt us to tread beneath our feet Thy love;
But if Thou to Thy Table wilt receive,
Let nought within us Thy good Spirit grieve;
But wash us clean as guests to sit with Thee;
Grant us the nuptial robe of Charity,
And feet with holy preparation shod,
Lest we for Esau's portion sell our God.


"The blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."

The gentle Lamb that licks the slaughterer's hand--
With kiss of peace to the arch-traitor given,
And meekly laid the healing touch of Heaven
On that fierce leader of the midnight band!
When one word only would at Thy command
Scatter as chaff before the whirlwind driven;
Or, as the lightning opes the summer even,
Disclose the angelic hosts which round Thee stand;
Thou meekly didst Thy victim head incline,
Mid tenderest offices of love Divine;
True Abel, offering up Thyself to die
Into fraternal hands! Not yet is dry
The Blood in mercy pleading from the ground
For those who now with murderous hands surround.


"Fear ye not: stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."

But that good Galilean, brave and bold,
Arm'd for heroic deeds of high emprise,
Has yet to learn his Master's charities,
Where disenthrall'd from Judas' treacherous hold
On Malchus' ear He lays His hand, now cold
With death's dank sweat, and lifts in prayer His eyes.
But other thoughts in Peter's breast arise
Than doth become the shepherd of the fold,
While love and courage all his bosom fires,--
Ready to go to prison and to death.
Be still, and check awhile thy high desires;
Put up again thy sword within its sheath;
One little thing alone thy Lord requires,--
Not to deny Him at a woman's breath.


"Look how high the heaven is in comparison of the earth."

Thus turnest Thou to us, as if to show
The unspeakable example of God's love;
High as heaven's pillars rise the earth above,
So that surpasseth all the love we know,
And all our bounds of mercy doth o'erflow.
His malice and Thy love together strove,
As if uncertain which at last should prove
Master in that contention. Still e'en now
Warning and watching in kind ministry,
Washing his feet, and giving the true Bread,
And the last kiss of love;--yet all for nought.
O love to perfect consummation brought,
A willing Victim thus led forth to die
For them by whom His holy Blood is shed!


"Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity."

This lamb-like spirit and this hallow'd kiss
Admitted to Thine altars thus of old,
The symbol, rite, and passport to the fold:
Union of souls which knew the chasten'd bliss
Of mutual pardon given, nor thought amiss.
Pledge of true love, that turneth all to gold,
E'en like that fabled rod in story told:
This is that love that hallows all things; this
The odorous spikenard of the costly price,
Whose fragrance fills the world unto the end;
The salt that seasons every sacrifice;
The fire which on the altar doth descend;
That love's communion sweet, which cannot blend
With hearts that harbour deadly avarice.


"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."

True Love, which hopeth all things, all things beareth,
Fairest of all that have walked forth on earth,
And left the calm of heaven where she had birth,
Humility's first-born,--for she appeareth
Like Mercy's self, what time from heaven she heareth
Repentance's meek prayer, and leaneth down.
Of all the graces origin and crown;--
True love of God, which loving ever feareth,
So feareth that she feareth nought beside
With that fear which hath torment. Of the Bride
Bright robe, and image of the Father's love;
As when within some little watery sheen
Dwells the reflection of the heavens above,
And the Moon walks the cloudless deep serene.

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