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The Ancient Banner

In boundless mercy, the Redeemer left,
The bosom of his Father, and assumed
A servant's form, though he had reigned a king,
In realms of glory, ere the worlds were made,
Or the creating words, 'Let there be light'
In heaven were uttered. But though veiled in flesh,
His Deity and his Omnipotence,
Were manifest in miracles. Disease
Fled at his bidding, and the buried dead
Rose from the sepulchre, reanimate,
At his command, or, on the passing bier
Sat upright, when he touched it. But he came,
Not for this only, but to introduce
A glorious dispensation, in the place
Of types and shadows of the Jewish code.
Upon the mount, and round Jerusalem,
He taught a purer, and a holier law,—
His everlasting Gospel, which is yet
To fill the earth with gladness; for all climes
Shall feel its influence, and shall own its power.
He came to suffer, as a sacrifice
Acceptable to God. The sins of all
Were laid upon Him, when in agony
He bowed upon the cross. The temple's veil
Was rent asunder, and the mighty rocks,
Trembled, as the incarnate Deity,
By his atoning blood, opened that door,
Through which the soul, can have communion with
Its great Creator; and when purified,
From all defilements, find acceptance too,
Where it can finally partake of all
The joys of His salvation.
But the pure Church he planted,—the pure Church
Which his apostles watered,—and for which,
The blood of countless martyrs freely flowed,
In Roman Amphitheatres,—on racks,—
And in the dungeon's gloom,—this blessed Church,
Which grew in suffering, when it overspread
Surrounding nations, lost its purity.
Its truth was hidden, and its light obscured
By gross corruption, and idolatry.
As things of worship, it had images,
And even painted canvas was adored.
It had a head and bishop, but this head
Was not the Saviour, but the Pope of Rome.
Religion was a traffic. Men defiled,
Professed to pardon sin, and even sell,
The joys of heaven for money,—and to raise
Souls out of darkness to eternal light,
For paltry silver lavished upon them.
And thus thick darkness, overspread the Church
As with a mantle.
At length the midnight of apostacy
Passed by, and in the horizon appeared,
Day dawning upon Christendom. The light,
Grew stronger, as the Reformation spread.
For Luther, and Melancthon, could not be
Silenced by papal bulls, nor by decrees
Of excommunication thundered forth
Out of the Vatican. And yet the light,
Of Luther's reformation, never reached
Beyond the morning's dawn. The noontide blaze
Of Truth's unclouded day, he never saw.
Yet after him, its rising sun displayed
More and more light upon the horizon.
Though thus enlightened, the professing Church,
Was far from many of the precious truths
Of the Redeemer's gospel; and as yet,
Owned not his Spirit's government therein.
But now the time approached, when he would pour
A larger measure of his light below;
And as he chose unlearned fishermen
To spread his gospel when first introduced,
So now he passed mere human learning by,
And chose an instrument, comparable
To the small stone the youthful David used,
To smite the champion who defied the Lord.
Apart from human dwellings, in a green
Rich pasturage of England, sat a youth,
Who seemed a shepherd, for around him there
A flock was feeding, and the sportive lambs
Gambolled amid the herbage. But his face
Bore evidence of sadness. On his knee
The sacred book lay open, upon which
The youth looked long and earnestly, and then,
Closing the book, gazed upward, in deep thought
This was the instrument by whom the Lord
Designed to spread a clearer light below
And fuller reformation. He appeared,
Like ancient Samuel, to be set apart
For the Lord's service from his very birth.
Even in early childhood, he refrained
From youthful follies, and his mind was turned
To things of highest moment. He was filled
With awful feelings, by the wickedness
He saw around him. As he grew in years,
Horror of sin grew stronger; and his mind
Became so clothed with sadness, and so full
Of soul-felt longings, for the healing streams
Of heavenly consolation, that he left
His earthly kindred, seeking quietude
In solitary places, where he read
The book of inspiration, and in prayer,
Sought heavenly counsel.
In this deep-proving season he was told,
Of priests, whose reputation had spread wide
For sanctity and wisdom; and from these
He sought for consolation,—but in vain.
One of these ministers became enraged,
Because the youth had inadvertently
Misstepped within his gard
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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    "The Ancient Banner" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 24 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/3472/the-ancient-banner>.

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