Monday, December 01, 2008

Once to Every Man and Nation


We are seeing history written these days, which is true of any day and age, but particularly so during the time we find ourselves in. At this historical time, I've been finding myself reflecting on the past, for some reason, and not the future. The Present Crisis was a poem written by James Russell Lowell, an abolitionist, and was first published in 1845. It was written by Mr. Lowell as a protest over certain issues connected with slavery. I posted this portion of the poem a couple of months ago, but I want to repost it today since it's been so much on my mind of late.

Because of several issues surrounding the current day and time, some national, I wanted to reflect on this poem once again, due to its depth and meaning. The first and last stanzas are particularly important for us to remember, certainly those of us who are believers. It's EXTREMELY important that we embrace what's being articulated here. There are some of you who know what I mean in a more particular way. Note that the last stanza says that it's often the portion of truth to be on the scaffold, while wrong is often on the throne. But note this certainty most of all: It's the scaffold that sways the future, and somewhere in the shadows, though unknown and unseen by many, GOD IS KEEPING WATCH ABOVE HIS OWN. I read somewhere that this poem reminds us that it is GOD who is in control of history and HE will write the last chapter. Amen. Hallelujah.

[ Scaffold, in capital punishment, refers to a structure at a gallows that the condemned stand upon, often with a trap door; it can also refer to the elevated structure on which a condemned person is set to be beheaded. (per Wikipedia)]


This is the hymn version:

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

~James Russell Lowell

12 comments:

Penless Thoughts said...

So touching, Maxine. I will stand Biblically correct instead of Policitally correct until the end. My husband and I were just talking the other day about Joan of Arc being burned at the stake, Stephen being stoned, and Daniel in the firey furnace. We don't really know what is in store for us......but we do know WHO and it is JESUS!!!
Susan

Linda said...

That is such a moving poem. I have often wondered how I would react when faced with those kinds of choices. I pray that His grace and strength would guide and sustain me. I want to found faithful - whatever the cost.

Mustang said...

I believe literature is timeless; we often find ancient writings are but a mere reflection of the present. This consistency should remind us of two things: there is a startling parallel between the Bible and the writings of ancient philosophers, even including the fact that scripture, drama, and commentaries present stories of morality. They can and should guide us as lessons learned in the past, very often with dire consequences to those who behave immorally. We might wonder how it is possible that we have never learned these lessons, but it also explains why western society has become so corrupt. Most of us are either so focused on hedonism, or we are simply too stupid to figure out moral right from wrong. People today not only cannot read they have no time for it even if they can.

I have heard many arguments about hell. I tend to believe that hell is now, and the torment comes to us not in terms of fire and brimstone, but simply our absence from God. We have the choice of living in paradise with Him, or living in hell without Him. This poem is really quite amazing; the lesson is found in its first refrain, “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.”

An immoral society simply cannot appoint moral leaders. The danger to our society therefore becomes exponential, and at some point, irredeemable. Thank you again, Nana for such a thought provoking essay. May God continue to bless you.

Semper Fi

PS. You may find this essay instructive. I think you will enjoy it.

kris said...

Hi Maxine-
I do agree with you that these are momentous times. I am so thankful that my I know Jesus - my rock, my hiding place, my shield, my "very help in times of trouble." I keep reminding myself that God is in control - always, everywhere, over all.

Maxine said...

Thanks everyone. Isn't this indeed moving and touching? It has meant a lot to me during these days.

And Mustang, I don't know what to say. You always seem to go deep and hit all the right chords. Other than the fact that I believe there is a literal and never-ending place of torment called hell, I agree wholeheartedly with all you said. It reminds me, for some reason, of Romans Chapter 1, which could be applied to our day. Sadly, I do believe your words are true: "An immoral society simply cannot appoint moral leaders." However, it won't stop me from praying, as Abraham did, that God might intervene with his mercy.

A Note From Theresa said...

Great Post! Wow walking away speachless!

Beverly said...

Love this poem. A wonderful post from you, and wonderful comments too. Much to ponder ...

Susan Skitt said...

Oh Maxine, if I didn't believe with all my heart that God is in control, I would be depressed with the state of affairs and the direction our country is heading. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. You always make the great things of the past so relevant for today. We need to hear things like this more often!

Standing on God's promises,
Susan Skitt

~~Deby said...

I too stand Biblically correct ...and know that GOD must be so saddened by the state of affairs, surprised ,no, but grieved.
Jesus is coming, Maxine....what a year 2008 has been.
Deby

Susan said...

Hi Maxine,

I'm so glad I decided to check on you over here.

WOW, what a poem!!!

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Yes, we are living in momentous times. I'm so comforted to know, God has and always will take care of His own.

Blessings my sweet friend♥

Me Maw said...

"If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14)."

May God help, heal and forgive our land.

Mimi said...

such meangiful words...and they could be spoken today as well as in 1845...

the world never really changes does it...

we may change the "popular" sins but we are always in turmoil and turning away from God..

It is so comforting to know that... GOD IS KEEPING WATCH ABOVE HIS OWN...AND HE WILL WRITE THE LAST CHAPTER!!!