Project Canterbury

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

By Isaac Williams

London: Joseph Masters, 1849.

XXX. Christ Risen


"Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept."

How beautiful to watch the rising sun,
Afar upon the horizon's radiant brim
Appearing, 'mid the gathering shadows dim,
With all which ere his course hath yet begun
His rising bright are wont to wait upon;
With clouds like burning robes of Seraphim
Around him, and Creation's varied hymn
Greeting his coming with her benison!
Daily memorial of that glorious morn,
When the foundations of the world were laid,
And sons of God in multitudinous chime
Were heard,--prelusive of this better time,
Whereon the new creation first is born,
Arising from a night of darker shade.


"I will yet make doctrine to shine as the morning, and will send forth her light afar off."

And if Creation to our sight restored
Such daily reminiscence brings to view,
Much more shall kingdoms of His grace renew
Memorials of her dead and rising Lord,
When in our heart of hearts, the Morning true,
He comes, our daily Bread,--loved and adored,--
The Light of lights on our Baptismal dew
Fresh shining with new day; the Living Word,
At whose command arose light's order stern
From the abyss, and onward moves till now.
Thus oft as from Thine Altar I return,
Thy Resurrection doth within me burn;
Streams of fresh light upon my spirits flow,
And bathe my dull affections with their glow.


"Neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared."

But if all power is wont to hide from sight,
Like God and His good Angels; as the wind
Impels and moulds the clouds, as viewless mind
Moves matter, and in mind the impervious might
Of reason, passion, or the spiritual light
Energise on the will, the purpose bind,
With all its secret movements intertwined;--
Much less can aught of sense discern aright,
When at God's holy Altar, with new dawn,
And healing on His wings, there doth arise
The Sun of Righteousness; and in the soul
From feeling and impassioned sense withdrawn,
Incarnate God, the Living Altar-coal,
Enters the soul, the body sanctifies.


"If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."

Christ rises;--lightning-stricken at the sight,
The arméd soldiery, who at the tomb
Kept their unholy watch, and walked the gloom,
Fall back, their faces hide in dread affright,
And like the scaréd shadows of the night
Hasten away: as when the aerial dome
The rising moon doth suddenly illume,
With silent intervention calm and bright
Just rising, and the clouds departing fly,
And flying feebly catch her silver ray.
E'en so those Heathen thoughts which held their sway,
And ever in the heart were hiding nigh,
When Christ doth visit us before His way
Shall flee, and He shall fill the untroubled sky.


"If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection."

Christ rises!--not alone, with Him His own
Are rising from their graves, and burst the veil,
And look again on this their earthly jail,
E'en as the moon doth not arise alone,
But watchful sentinels attend her throne,
Yet love that they themselves should fade and fail,
In her surpassing lustre dim and pale.
'Tis thus when Christ within the soul made known
His glorious Resurrection shall declare,
His love and light shall dissipate the gloom;
Nor shall He thither unattended come,
But all the graces with Him make their home,
When He the darkness of the soul lays bare,
Fain to vouchsafe His gracious Presence there.


"By the blood of Thy covenant I have sent forth Thy prisoners out of the pit wherein there is no water."

"Unbind the grave-clothes, loose him, let him go!"
So spake the Lord when Lazarus had risen
From the dark night of death's mysterious prison,
Opening his eyes to see the day; and so
His ministers absolve and heal the woe,
And from death-fetters set the sinner free,
Ere he at table sits, good Lord, with Thee.
And witnesses there are of all below.
Christ left the virgin tomb, the twilight shone,
An Angel roll'd away the heavy stone,
In witness of the triumphs He had won.
Thus, too, the blessed Angels at the end,
In the great Resurrection, shall descend,--
A solemn witness on each soul attend.

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