Husband To Wife On Attaining A Half Century
( Originally Published 1868 )
JOHN M. LOWRIE, D. D.
I REMEMBER, you remember, the days when first we met :
Those cheerful, pleasant hours of youth we never can forget;
And this our happiness was then, our happiness is now,
No purer source of joy and peace is given man to know,
That far above all earthly thoughts we had a common Friend,
A glorious Friend, around whose throne the hosts of heaven bend,
Yet dwells on earth the meek to bless, the humble to renew ;
We knew each other better then, because we knew him too.
I remember, you remember, how then we oved to trace,
With thankful hearts, yet now as then, the leadings of his grace;
For what were we that wrath should stay our guilty souls to spare ?
Or why should we in grace so rich obtain the meanest share ?
And now, we trust with firmer faith, we bow around his seat,
As then to seek his guardian hand to guide our erring feet ;
For still, as then, we walk by faith, observing his command,
And fall or falter save as he still holds us by the hand.
I remember, you remember, in days of gloom and grief,
We've shared their pains when we could find in him aone relief ;
We knew they came at his command, we learned to bless him still,
To bow before his sovereign hand, submissive to his will :
And this upheld us many times when flesh and heart grew faint
The cross and Calvary are still the strength of every saint—
That he was called this path to tread, this bitter cup to drink ;
Should we not taste the griefs from which our Saviour did not shrink ?
I remember, you remember, how little then we thought
Of anxious cares, dejecting fears, these later years have brought;
Though we had heard the world was cold—and thought we knew it too-
Yet sad experience impressed the lessons all anew ;
But when our busy memory would the varied past recall,
With few regrets our thankful hearts would now re-view them all ;
For ours has been a happy life, for every toil repaid,
" An hundred fold e'en in this life"—the Master's lips have said.
And we have learned, have fully learned, that all the toil and strife
Of these our changing years were but the discipline of life ;
When friends that promised fair have changed to coldness and neglect,
When flaming pious zeal has cooled and ost our warm respect,
When hopes of good in youthful hearts have vanished as the dew-
Such disappointments, ever met, yet still seemed ever new
When death removed our best-tried friends to dwell before his face,
While we, alas ! were left to mourn with none to fill their place :
Then have we learned, full well have learned—not only on one leaf,
But written clear on every page in plain and bold relief
That though our souls have often felt discouraged by the way,
When rolling seas have tossed, or naught but deserts round us lay,
That still was ours a chosen way—the pathway of our God
That wisdom chose out every grief, and mercy every rod;
And not one day, to cheer us still, did manna fail to fill;
And every hour of day and night the coud was over all!
And we have learned, have partly learned, too much like them of old!
Forgive, 0 Lord, our unbelief and murmurings untold !
The lessons which thy holy law from Sinai's summit gave,
And later lessons of thy word of him who came to save;
And not in vain—our life-long joy-and when our life is o'er,
Our nobler song with nobler tongues through ages evermore ;
The song of all the Church of God when gathered round his throne,
Redeemed from sin, redeemed by bood of the Incarnate Son.
So have we learned, have humbly learned, whatever be our lot,
That though deep darkness shrouds his ways, we comprehend them not,
'Tis ours to walk as duty bids, to find each daily care,
A joy which we may win, or else a cross that we must bear;
In either case his love may make the small or great impart
A portion of his grace to bless and purify the heart ;
And thus we grow in faith and ove, in fitness too for heaven,
By daily cares, all from above, just like the manna, given.
And I believe, as you believe, that nothing has been lost
Of all these lessons, oft impressed, at so severe a cost;
We needed each chastising blow the Father"s hand has laid,
His strokes " according to our sins" his wrath has never made:
And though it may be we have failed to gather all we might,
To see the reasons of his love, to learn the way of right,
Yet sowly, oft unconsciously, his providence has wrought
To change our plans, our sympathies, our very modes of thought.
For we believe, with joy believe, that every passing year,
Has better fitted us for life and for life"s duties here ;
For though we do not yet confess we pass down life's decline
Though failing health may seem to make the sun less clearly shine
Yet hearts as warm for Christ's dear cause within our breasts beat still,
And minds as clear to read his word and study out his will ;
And so the past has left its wealth that we may richer prove,
To speak more wisely of his truth, more kindly of his love.
And I believe, as you believe, that in these days by-past,
The seed so freely scattered wide has not in vain been cast ;
Some have we seen spring up and fade e"er summer's sun grew old,
But some has also borne its fruit, full to the hundred fold ;
And faith assures us that good seed, which fell we knew not where,
Left to the smiles and rains of heaven, of Providence the care,
Has brought forth fruit ; no man can tell how far, how long, may spread,
Though planted by an infant"s hand, the increase of one seed.
And I believe, as you believe, this life must soon be gone;
Our battles soon be fought, our crown for ever lost or won.
We hope that in that trial-day our ears may hear his word :
"Well done, good servants, share the joy for ever of your Lord ;"
Yet in that gladsome hour our lips shall thankfully confess,
"Not unto us, 0 Lord, but to thy mercy and thy grace :"
But anxious fears and pains and sins and death itself shall cease,
While with the ransomed by his blood we"ll taste his perfect peace.