Ode To Peace Poem by Thomas Cowherd

Ode To Peace

Come, dove-eyed peace-offspring of heaven, descend;
Thy calm, sweet influence do thou me lend;
Dispel the gloom that broods upon my mind;
Bid melancholy flee; make me resigned
To bear with patience and submission due
The will of God; and still my mind imbue
With reverential awe and just regard
For all his ways, as taught in his blest word.
Yes, thou sweet Peace, whom, when the Savior great
Had nearly closed sojourn in earthly state,
He gave as his last legacy to those
His dearest friends, who from mankind he chose,
In those dear words, 'Peace now I leave with you,
My peace I give; you soon shall prove it true.
Not as the world its boasted treasure gives,
'Tis of my grace to each one who believes.
Let not your hearts be troubled, then, nor fear,
The Comforter-the Holy Ghost-is near.
And, when I shall to yonder heaven ascend,
Him, with His vast, rich blessings, I will send.'

Not only these this gracious boon enjoyed,
But Saints before that time, pure, unalloyed,
And blissful peace within their breasts possessed,
Both in dread dangers and when much oppressed.
Adam, our great progenitor, received
With Eve, his wife, this gift, which much relieved
Their guilty minds. It was the promise great
Made to them while in their most abject state,
'That their illustrious Seed should bruise the head
Of the Arch Tempter, in their room and stead,'
Which wrought the change produced in their sad minds,
And soon bid flee that slavish fear which blinds
The eyes of mortals; gave them soon to see,
'Though the offense was great the gift was free,'
And would extend unto their progeny.
O blissful change! from dark foreboding fear,
A wounded conscience, and Hell's prospects drear,
To joy unspeakable and purest peace,
Which once received were never more to cease.
A prophet said-the prophet was a man
Who did enjoy that peace which only can
Flow from one source-God's own redemption plan-
'Mark well the perfect man; behold the upright,
Whose death so precious is in Jesus' sight;
His end is peace.' He goes down to the shade
Of death's dark valley, and is not afraid
To come within the precincts of the grave,
Well knowing Christ is ever near to save.

Deluded Balaam also sweetly sung,
In words of solemn grandeur, bold and strong,
The happiness which Israel through his tribes
Enjoyed beneath God's care. Not Balak's bribes
Nor vain enchantments, with their altars reared,
Nor bleeding victims sacrificed, appeared
To move their God from blessing them to curse
His chosen people, oft to God averse.
Well Balaam knew that if he were to die
'Their God was not a man that he should lie.'
He bated Truth, but was constrained to sing
Of their blest state beneath God's fostering wing.
And when he sang the latter end of such
His harp gave tones as though from Seraph's touch
He sang aloud their bliss, not did he cease
Till all the hills re-echoed sweetly 'Peace.'
Nor could refrain from envy when he viewed
Jehovah's covenant of Peace renewed;
But breaking forth in rapture loud did cry
'O let me die the death the Righteous die!
Let my last end be only like to his
Whom God dost bless with thee, delightful Peace!'
Even I, who write this simple Ode to thee,
Have felt thy thrice bless'd influence on me;
And feeling fresh the vigor thou dost give,
Would gladly trace thy merits while I live;
Would fain enumerate the mighty host
Of those who've had pure peace of mind to boast;
But ah, how great the sum! even time would fail
Or if to gain its aid I could prevail,
My powers of mind would fail to set them forth
As they appear in Scripture; yet 'tis worth
The little time which I can freely spare
To choose a few from many that are there.
The pleasure it affords would well repay
The labor needed, if I spent the day.

Behold that holy man who, strong in faith,
Lends an obedient ear to what God saith.
See, when the Lord his strength of faith would test,
How quickly he obeys the high behest.
The task indeed was great, but he, possessed
Of peace of mind, was always quite at rest.
Yes, though his Isaac dear was doomed to die,
No murmuring escaped his lips, and why?
He knew that God had promised him to bless
With numerous progeny, and nothing less.
He felt assured that from this very seed-
His darling son-ere long was to proceed
So vast a host that if the stars but could
By man be numbered, then his offspring would.
And forth from them was Christ the Lord to come,
The Refuge of his Saints, to lead them home.
And Abraham knowing this ne'er sought release
From God's sweet service, and his end was peace.

Now mark his son. He in the shining track
His father trode, sincerely walked; no lack
Had he of the great blessings which from thee
Flow in such rich profusion, but did see
By eye of Inspiration what God said
Was soon to be fulfilled. Then he was laid
Beside his father, and his end was peace.

Jacob, his youngest son, Supplanter named,
Parent of Patriarchs so greatly famed,
Found too that peace of mind was always sweet
When he sojourned with Laban in retreat.
What was it, I would ask, which made him bear
The heat by day and midnight's frosty air?
The loss of cattle stolen from his hands?
Such churlish conduct, and such harsh commands?
With loss of sleep, and wages changed ten times,
And twenty rigorous years in wasting climes?
What was it then, I ask, but peace of mind
Arising from the thought that God was kind
And ever faithful, and would soon fulfill
His promise made, to be his Guardian still!
He had sore trials, yet with great avail
He wrestled with his God and did prevail.

Joseph, his son, beloved above the rest,
Felt soothing peace within his youthful breast.
His is an history that as a child
I loved to ponder, and to mark how mild
And affable his conduct, yet how great.
The bitterest envy joined, with fiercest hate,
The brethren hare toward the godly youth
Who trode the path of rectitude and truth,
That they in spite of his prophetic dreams,
Disposed of him, and, as they thought, the themes
His soul dwelt much upon, by banishment.
Straitway to distant Egypt he was sent,
While they, with strange feigned tale, now homeward came,
And vainly thought to clear themselves from blame
By falsehood foul and black hypocricy
Before their unsuspecting father. He
Their lies believed and mourned his much-loved son
In tears of anguish, whom he though undone.

Meanwhile the youth, directed by his God,
In journey with the Ishmaelites did plod
His weary way to Egypt. He arrived
Possessed of peace of mind, nor could be bribed
To part with this, his only treasure left
Save sweet reflection, when he was bereft
By his hard brethren of the sweets of home,
And banished forth a wanderer to roam.
Say now, O Muse, what was the cause why he
Enjoyed a state of mind completely free
From all the sad effects which freely flow
In tasting long accumulated woe?
'Twas having peace, that best of all reward
To those-and none beside-who Truth regard.
And long as Joseph did in Egypt live,
The record of his life this truth did give.
Behold him when in his first master's house,
Who placed beneath his care all but his spouse,
How nobly he withstood temptation great,
How suitable his conduct to his state.
Behold him when his mistress tried so hard
To tempt him into sin. Did he regard
Her strong entreaties or her flowing tears?
Those fell like emptiness upon his ears,
And these but more impressed his tender mind
With wish to better serve his master kind.
He gave this answer: 'Oh, how can I do
This wickedness so great and sin with you
Against that God who hath my feet preserved
In holy paths from which I never swerved?'
But oh, what poor return did he receive!
A dungeon followed next, nor did he grieve,
But cheerfully endured the heavy cross,
And found his gain where others saw but loss.
And he who was his trust did not forsake
His much loved child when Truth seemed all at stake,
But brought him through these trials manifold,
And, still preserved that peace of mind which gold
Could ne'er have purchased, and much less secured;
But having which, he patiently endured.

Now mark the steps by which he did ascend
To that high pitch of honor, when did bend
The knees of Egypt's sons at King's command
As he went forth in state to view the land.
It was not flatt'ry, nor vain compromise
With Egypt's many gods no, he was wise
With wisdom from above, and well he knew
That the predictions he had given were true,
And that ere long both heaven and earth would see
His youthful dreams fulfilled were sure to be.
Even so they were. His brethren did bow down
Their faces to the earth 'fore him unknown,
When they were sent by Jacob to obtain
For him and his the necessary grain.
It was a time of famine, and the dearth
Had then extended over all the earth
But Joseph was raised up by gracious heaven,
And unto him for this was wisdom given.
Now when his feelings he could not restrain,
He formed a scheme by which he might detain
The brethren, who a second time had come
To purchase food, for those they left at home.
The scheme was tried and it succeeded well;
But O, how Joseph burned to break the spell
Which hitherto had bound them! He made known
That he was Joseph to whom they had shown
Such cruel usage, but their deed forgave,
And told how God had raised him up to save
Them with their offspring and great Pharoah's land.
The news now reached the King, who gave command,
'Joseph, let all thy relatives appear
Before my face; they nothing have to fear.
Lade all their beasts and bid them haste away;
Take wagons from my hand, make no delay.
Inform your father and let him come down;
The best of my dominions is his own.
Bring all your progeny, not once regard
Your household goods, if they your speed retard.'

I'll now take leave of all that passed between,
And come at once to that affecting scene-
The meeting of the father with the son.
Poor Jacob saw what glory he had won
By perseverance in the 'narrow path,'
And having seen it, wished to meet his death.

Mark now the truth of what I wish to sing,
This interview to Jacob peace did bring.
He said: 'In bitterness I will descend
Into my grave and meet my latter end.'
But God in mercy and rich love decreed
That he should see both Joseph and his seed.

Ere long the time arrived when Jacob's age
Gave proof he too must soon leave this world's stage.
Therefore he gathered round him, near his bed,
His twelve dear children, unto whom he said,
'List now, ye sons of Jacob, hearken well
To Israel your father. I foretell
What shall befall you in your latter days.
O then, my sons, take heed unto your ways.'
He ended not till all received the share
Which God allotted them, when with due care
The Prophet drew his feet into the bed,
And in sweet Peace his spirit softly fled.

Now, when the last sad rites had been performed
O'er Israel's corse, the brethren, now reformed
By God's just dealings, soon began to fear
That Joseph would their enemy appear;
So sent a message, fell before his face,
Confessed their sin, and wished he would erase
Out from his mind remembrance of their deed.
He gave soft answers, hence they all were freed
From ills expected, and were now agreed.
A few short years saw each of them removed
By peaceful death, and so my point is proved.

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