WHO fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! he needeth not
The poor device of man;
I walk with bare hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.
Ye praise his justice; even such
His pitying love I deem;
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
The robe that hath no seam.
Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord’s beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.
More than your schoolmen teach, within
Myself, alas, I know;
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin,
Too small the merit show.
I bow my forehead to the dust,
I veil my eyes for shame,
And urge, in trembling self-distrust,
A prayer without a claim.
I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groans and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin:
Yet in they maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed star my spirit clings:
I know that God is good!
Not mine to look when cherubim
And seraphs may not see,
But nothing can be good in him
Which evil is in me.
The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above;
I know not of his hate—I know
His goodness and his love.
I dimly guess from blessings known,
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.
I long for household voices gone,
For vanished smiles I long,
But God hath led my dear ones on,
And He can do no wrong.
I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.
No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts he gave,
And plead his love for love.
And so beside the silent sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.
I know not where his islands lift
Their fronted balms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond his love and care.
O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me, that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.
And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on Thee!
Horatius Bonar, Lyra Consolationis: Or, Hymns for the Day of Sorrow & Weariness, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1866), 7–10.