Presbyterians

Against Penance by Kilby Austin (2010)

There’s no atonement left to make,
not even by remorse.
When God forgives for Jesus’ sake
he settles all the scores.

Nor penitence nor faith nor prayer
pays any of the debt,
for payment Jesus will not share
and less the glory get.

Then why should I one minute wait
thinking I must atone
or get me in some proper state
to come before the throne?

No, halting heart! It’s Jesus’ blood
and only what he’s done
makes me acceptable to God
in the Beloved One.

by Kilby Austin

Luke 23:55,56 by Heidi Zartman

‘The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.’ (Luke 23:55,56)

How sweet, but bittersweet — before the dawn
Of the first day, to have rested
With God while His body lay in
Joseph’s tomb. As earth’s last Sabbath crested

Over Friday’s light, they had prepared their
Spices and their ointments for the
Burial — then wrought with despair,
That tense pause while He slept so tranquilly.

Since time began they had observed the rest
Of God. Now it lay all around
Them, as His Sabbath coalesced
With ours concretely. But how profound

His was — how disturbed, shattered, anxious must
Have been the women’s — til they wished
To wake Him as we waked Him once
On Galilee: ‘Carest thou not we perish?’

So little could they understand how sweet
And singular a thing occurs
When God’s respite comes, replete
To this convergence — for He rested with us

Perfectly. His labor had been finished:
He had only to fulfil our
Sabbath til our night diminished,
And He rose to wake His troubled sleepers.

by Heidi Zartman

Isaiah 11:8 by Heidi Zartman

‘The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.’ (Isaiah 11:8)

Now on my wall, a child gathers gold leaves
Quietly over buried Salem —
Bending where someone grieved,
Unconscious of that history —
Of her strange newness in old pain —
Of someone’s memory gathering her from the debris
Of gravestone, earth’s manifold vein
Of hope.

The graveyard, so I read, is haunted by a witches’ ghost,
Witnessed in images.
And on my wall the spirit of an innocence
Kneels artlessly,
Head bowed, in modern clothes,
Oblivious of her phantom nature
In their centuries —
Gathering from their fall a vivid shape,
Unaware of hers.

by Heidi Zartman

Augustine’s Philosophy by B. B. Warfield

"THERE is a place for everything, 
In earth or sky or sea, b-b-warfield-portrait-6
Where it may find its proper use 
And of advantage be," 
Quoth Augustine, the saint. 

The mocker quick, with curling lip: — 
"Then there's a place for vice!" 
"Yea, fitly 'neath our trampling feet, 
May lie the cockatrice," 
Quoth Augustine, the saint. 

"Our very vices, great and foul, 
When in the earth they're trod, 
May haply lofty ladders build 
On which to climb to God," 
Quoth Augustine, the saint.

by B. B. Warfield

Life by John Girardeau

girardeau“Life! ‘Tis a passing breath,
A vapor of today,
Appearing for a little while,
And vanishing away.

“Life! ‘Tis a courier swift
With tidings from the fray;
With ‘bending form and foaming steed
He posteth on his way.

“Life! ‘Tis the eagle’s flight
Across the trackless way;
His rapid pinion beats the air–
He hasteth to the prey.

“Life! ‘Tis the gallant ship,
With pennon floating free;
The favouring gale swells all her sails,
Look now! She’s far at sea.

“Life! ‘Tis a fleeting dream
That ends a troubled night;
But start not–Lo! the morning beam
Of everlasting light.

“Life! ‘Tis the setting sun
That sinks in storms away;
But see! the morrow is begun
Of heaven’s eternal day.”

by John Girardeau

Spring by John Girardeau

girardeau‘Tis Spring, and Nature’s form is seen
Attired in robes of fairest hue;
Her mantle green, how bright its sheen.
And gemmed with drops of pearly dew.
Her voice of love — her voice of love,
How soft it streams from every hill!
How sweet the note that seems to float
From every murmuring, weeping rill!
There’s not a flower in rosy bower
That lifts its modest, blushing head,
And steals a kiss of dewy bliss
From Morning’s lip of glowing red—
There’s not a lovely saffron tint
That paints the couch of dying Day—
There’s not a star that beams afar,
And lights retiring Eve away—
There’s not a tone by Seraphs blown
To which the ear of Fancy listens—
There’s not a bead of early dew
That on the fragrant myrtle glistens—
There’s not a breeze that through the trees
Low sighs the requiem of day —
But worship brings, and praises sings
To Nature’s God in Nature’s way.
Her voice of love is heard above
Though mortal sense despise her tongue,
Her Maker’s ear bows down to hear
Her matin and her vesper song.
Though mortal eye may not descry
The native charms of her sweet face;
Her Maker’s eye is ever nigh,
To note each beauty and each grace.

by John Girardeau

A Poem from Navigation Spiritualized by John Flavel (1796)

There’s many a soul eternally undone
For sparing sin, because a little one.
But we are much deceiv’d; no sin is small,johnflavela
That wounds so great a God, so dear a soul.
Yet say it were, the smallest pen-knife may
As well as sword or lance, dispatch and slay,
And shall so small a matter part and sever
Christ and thy soul? What! make you part for ever?
Or wilt thou stand on toys with him, when he
Deny’d himself in greatest things for thee?
Or will it be an ease in hell to think
How easily thy soul therein did sink?
Are Christ and hell for trifles sold and bought?
Strike souls with trembling, Lord, at such a thought!
By little sins belov’d, the soul is lost,
Unless such sins do great repentance cost.

by John Flavel, 1796