Project Canterbury

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

By Isaac Williams

London: Joseph Masters, 1849.

XV. "Behold the Man!"


"Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat?"

Who cometh with His garments dyed in blood
From Edom and from Bozrah? Who is able
From death and hell,--which unassailable,
With walls defying heaven so long have stood,--
To save? In His own wondrous solitude
He comes, beyond all lore or ancient fable,
In His strength travelling unapproachable.
The flesh cannot discern the Only Good,
Apparell'd thus in His own conquest day.
Yea, 'mong themselves the very angels say,
"Lo, who is this that cometh? Who is He
Whose Name is Secret?" They who shall attend
His conquering march, shall answer to the end,
"To know that Name is immortality."


"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter."

By Judas led to Annas; then sent round
From Annas to blaspheming Caiaphas;
From Caiaphas to Pilate; then led bound
From Pilate to Herodian Antipas;
And thence again to Pilate; then disown'd
By Pharisees and people, scourged and crown'd:
Then rise the voices of the infuriate mass--
Give us not this Man, give us Barabbas!
With one great voice of that fierce multitude
'Twas Satan who aloud call'd for His blood,--
As if the lion of the forest brayed
After his prey, beholding Him betrayed;
And then as beaten, mock'd, and under ban,
Pilate brings forth, and says, "Behold the Man!"


"Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow."

"Behold the Man!" the Gentile says full well:
The garment, and the crowning, and the rod,--
With suffering crown'd, humiliation shod,--
Man by His woes in meekness visible;
The "Man of Sorrows!" Who the wounds shall tell
Of Him Who hath alone the wine-press trod?
But loudly cries astonish'd Israel,
He made Himself to be the Son of God:
Therefore both Man and God: the Man behold
In burning characters writ on His brow,
His very Manhood there by woe impress'd.
Behold your God! e'en Zion hath confess'd
What to the winds His words and deeds have told,
Behold your God, for healing or for woe!


"Nevertheless, Thy saints had a very great Light."

The fire of Godhead filled the thorny blaze,
Which in that mansion unconsuming burn'd,
Like the moon in a cloud, when Moses turn'd,
With awe adoring on the sight to gaze,--
Unharming incommunicable rays.
Thus Godhead in the Manhood was discern'd,
Which made the flesh Its home; and thence hath learn'd
The thorny bed of anguish and amaze.
And such the token, when with might divine
The Everlasting would His people call
Through the Red Sea, from the Egyptian thrall,
With them within the wilderness to plead;
Again enshrined in fire-illumined sign,
Onward to unseen Canaan did He lead.


"We all, with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory."

The eye swift glances, yet in passing by
Takes to itself whate'er it may behold,
Whether the face and form of human mould,
Or boundless spreading sea, or summer sky,
With all the stretch of their immensity.
And they who look beneath the eyelid's fold,
See the enamell'd mirror there enroll'd,
Lurking unknown beneath the unconscious eye.
And thus upon this picture would I gaze,
That while my solemn thought the scene portrays,
The soul within her may the impress keep,
In prayer and meditation lodging deep;
That when the Eye of God may look thereon,
He may discern the Image of His Son.


"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Hues fair as those which evening skies illume
Lie hidden in the seed, till, fed with dew
And foster'd by sunbeams, they come to view.
Lock'd once in treasury of that dark tomb,
Wherein they buried lay as in the womb;
Now in fresh being, beautiful and new,
They hang above the spot from whence they grew.
Thus martyr-souls, from the o'erwhelming gloom
Which wrapt awhile their awful going hence,
In pity beyond human utterance,
May now in tearful beauty hang their head,
'Mid graces which are heavenly, yet of earth.
For from the grave where sorrow made her bed
Are all the virtues of our second birth.

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