A. S. (Aaron Smith) Dyckman.

The light of life online

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laiglit oi Liile so s^Eieetly \)earcimg,
Stiine, sYiine on me ■\



If the artist's ideal. The SouTs Awakening, as-
shown in the frontispiece, shall be in whatever degree
realized in the reader, it will justify the labor, and
fulfill the ambition of the author in this production.

The labor, or rather diversion from the cares of a
life of business, found instant compensation in the
ennobling world of sacred literature, making joyftil
many years of life.

There are certain creditors, with whom I hope to
square accounte by a simple acknowledgment of obli-
gation, paradoxical as this may be. These are my crit-

ics, by aid of whose valuable strictures I have been able
to reach whatever degree of excellence may appear. I
refer to them by permission :

REV. FRANK M. BRISTOL, D. D,, of Trinity M. E. Church, Chicago.

PROP\ HUGH M. SCOTT, D. D., Congf'l Theoloscical Sem'y, Chicago.

REV. M. A. BULLOCK, of Cong'l Church, Iowa City, Iowa.

MR. JOSEPH LANNIN, South Haren, Mich,

REV. A. T. FERGUSON, of M. E. Church, Whitehall, Mich.

REV. E. M. STEPHENSON, of Baptist Church. South Haven, Mich.

REV.W. 8. BUGBEY, of Cong'l Church, South Haven, Mich.

REV E. F. VOORHIES, of Baptist Church, Howell, Mich.

REV. W. H. SKENTELBERY, of Cong'l Church, Dundee, Mich.

PROP. T. C. GREEN, of South Haven, formerly of Baptist College,
Kalamazoo, Mich.

Last but not 1 ast, my lifelong friend, JAMES H. BATES, of Brooklyn,
N. Y.

If I Jcnew the lowliest of OocTs poor, to that one
should the hooJc be dedicated.

The Author.

A©T 1.

Scene 1st — hi the Wildemess of Juclea.—The Bap-
tist seated at the door of his cave, overlooking the
Dead Sea.


A proper close
To such a light-infolded day!
The shadows viewless steal away

From caves below.

Their veils disclose,
As fails the Sun's effulgency,
A pictured heavens beneath the sea,

Whose sullen flow
Now sleeps in soft tranquility.

Ah, surely here,
My troublous thoughts may find surcease;
So, lapsing into Nature's peace,

I'll rest in mere
Abandonment. The eastern shore.

In dusk less clear.
Grows into favor more and more;
And semblance of an heavenly bourn,


Between the high

And nether sk}^.
Let me forget the hearts that mourn,
And Israel of her glorj^ shorn;
Forget the fears of death and hell;
Forget ni}^ own, lone wretchedness:
And, so, in such negation dwell,
Confessing God's all-power to bless.

But, lo!
Vv^hat cloud, with charms aglow
Of blushing rose and fairest snow.
That stoops in air like Angel wings:
Whence music, blissful Wonder, springs!


Our skyey tent,
On lyings of light,
Was sternly bent
In hither flight.
And now at rest.
In airy poise,
The Lord's behest
Impels the voice:
What though the Earth
3e dark with sin,
Neiv Spirit birth
Will soon be^in:


The Day, the Seers
Long since foretold,
The tireless years
Shall soon unfold:
Then let the strain
Awake the land;
Messias' reign
Declare at hand;
On every gale.
The message fly;
Till every vale
And hill reply;
God's Active Word
His Love pro da im ;
Till hearts are stirred
To wild acclaim!


Ne'er fell on ear of mine,
Such harmony divine!
O Airy Songsters, still prolong
This cadence of immortal song!

{Jesus appears )
But who is this
To mar our bliss?
Some simple youth
His v/ay doth miss:


A look of truth —
No sense of ruth —
Untimely guest!

{Recognizes Jesus.)
Ah, welcome here,
To place most drear!
I pray thee, rest.


Say not most drear.
A Royal Host — this rock a throne!
Lo, courtly grace in deserts lone.

With souls sincere!
For these, sweet priests, are consecrate;
Endowed above high crowns of state!


Thy soft reproof
Thus questions my humility.
Then we shall fare most royally;

And our behoof.
From man, through lonely deserts lead,
To gates of happiness indeed!


My words, quite aptly, you
Thus warp to your own view.

Rests not the ban,

On man as man;

John's preparation.

The condemnation rests on sin:

Man alien grows when wrongs begin.

The human soul, in Heaven's light,

Is precious still:
Our sacred duty is to right

The human will.


Young blood is swift
To fulminate a higher law;

The veil to lift.
And walk where Elders stand in awe.

Fond youth, beware

What hights you dare!
The cause of Zion's sore decline

Appears to be,
Men rate our Scriptures less divine,

And bend the knee
To idle gods of humankind.
No more the law hath power to bind.
Our Priests, in homespun camel's hair,
Usurp the lion's vacant lair,
And tax the desert for a feast;
Pay tribute to the Roman Beast.

Our Israel's hosts

From ancient boasts
Are sadly fallen — cringing slaves.


Whom fear makes venal, vice depraves!

The Temple is a den of thieves!

I fear the Lord, Jehovah, grieves,

As when He drowned the land with rain,

Or fired the Cities of the Plain.

I watch, pray, wonder, as I wait,

What dread damnation sleeps in fate!


Thy sombre view
Foreshadows the approaching light,
As darkest hour dissolving night.

Old days, 'tis true,

Must yield to new.

In bonds of Law, the child of old;


Himself the Law, the new behold!
Great Zion's House shall pass away;
The Soul's fair Temple ne'er decay,
Built on the rock of Heaven's decree,
Foundations deep in mystery:
Love's flame upon its altar burns.
Bright gladness blooming in its urns,
High wisdom blazoned on its walls,
Rich music echoing: throue'h its halls.
And so shall earthty glor}^ speed;
Who buildeth thus, be prince indeed.
Forsooth, the contrite man may be,


Though poor, the highest in degree;
And thou, thy dismal ways despite.
Be precious in the Father's sight:

For man is more

Than golden ore,
Or rarest gems; then wh}^ should we
Thus waste our lives in ecstasy?


Not mine to scourge nor crucify,
For these brave hints of heresy.
But clouds arise. An angry sky?

Retire with me.


We may wiser be!


If one may borrow
Wisdom of unstarry night.
Lead on, and Love shall be our light!

(They retire in Co tlis cava*)

Scene 2. — Interior of Cave — Jesh>i and John seated.


Here cloistered, thou
May'st conjure all rebellious thought,
And bring each sacred thing to naught;

Such vows mav'st vow,
As in the telltale light,
Would be with danger fraught.
Here is no pen to write,

No treacherous ear

Th^^ words to hear;
Nor teethed tongue to bite.


But thou
Shalt prove the priestly vow.
The office and the Law, in thee.
Shall jdeld to that which is to be.
Th}^ words a local sanction find.
These shadows so impress the mind;
For often hath, as Scriptures tell.
Some prophet fled some Jezebel:
Fair Truth, a cloistress, in foul den,



Hath soiled her prophet mantle, then;

To mountain top straightway hath sprung.

To hear her new-born praises sung;

And wield her sightless, lightning-power,

To quench some evil of the hour:

An earth-born energ^^, to save.

May spring from this secluded cave!


Wert thou in doctrine straight and stern,
To call thee Rabbi, I might learn.

For lack of awe,
Thou givest love's sweet recompense;
And raisest some inspired sense

Above the Law.
Thine oft discourse, to me, a need
Hath grown; my heart entreats, proceed!


Tlie crying need is of the Time;
The sickened Time hath need of thee.
Thou seest its downward tendency,
Among the shades of hate and crime.
The gray old methods stand forlorn —
The worn and battered marks of scorn;
While ulcerous sin is breeding rife.
Grim doctors treat with sword and knife;

12 john''s preparatiox.

They cannot cut beneath the hearty
The malady outruns their art.
The true phj^sician purgeth wells
Of life, and thence each taint expels^
As shall appear, no treatment less
Can mend a world of wickedness.


The World is old,
And flowing still war's purple tide;
And man hath sinful grown, by pride,

A thousand fold.

Then, who so bold
As hope, the wicked waste to stay;
Or stop the deepening decay?


This wondrous sweep of earthly years.
As one brief day, to God appears.
Time's fullness shall His plan unfold:
For pride's decay supplies the mold.
Whence prouder empires vegetate:
What man doth blindly postulate,
Thus God o'errules — and fitly so, ^
From pains of labor, graces grow.
And, while in doubtful mood we stand.
The Kingdom may be near at hand.




Israel in chains,
The spoil of Mammon, sport of Mars;
The Promised Land a wreck of wars.

Where blood}^ stains

The poor remains
Do blush to own,^in such dismay,
What hope of Prince Messias, pra}'-?


But ever hope survives within,
Perennial in the Godl}^ heart;
Apart from all the world of sin,
It builds its throne with artless art;
Divinely, in the human breast.
Its rootlets in prime essence rest.
Thron8;h doubtful clouds of smoke and fire,
Will quenchless Hope to Heaven aspire;

Messias wait,

However late!


To him we write the Wisest One,
Were 'All things vain' beneath the Sun.


Let us proclaim: The wise are they
Who Heaven's mandates well obey;

Each sinful stain

Denotes the vain.



You lightly prize
Our Hebrew wise.


Free wisdom raineth in the showers.

And spring^eth 'mid the dewy flowers;

Is not prescribed by learned schools;

Is not the fief of crowned fools.

In every land some truths have sprun^^

To live and plead in every tongue.

The everliving sum of these,

As all confluent streams unite,

Shall onward bear with stayless might,

An d blessing boundless as the seasi


Messias. all agree,

An Hebrew prince will be.


But he will reign in kinglier state,
For other lands expectant wait;
Will find His realm in hearts of men,
And write decrees with viewless pen.


By what array

Of arms? What day?


By conquering Love, the Heaven's grace,
I feel the day draws near apace:

John's preparation, 15

O, trust in God's appointed ways;
For He, of these unchiseled rocks,
Hath power palace wails to raise;
And touch this torch, wliich only mocks
The darkness, with such trenchant blaze
Of proper li^ht,
*Twould quench the sight,


And, by what sign,
May we divine?


The Lamb and Dove,

For pureness — love.
A keenly tempered spirit flame
Shall cleave the richly armored shame.
Instead of senseless verbiage,
The spirit of the living page
Shall glorify Immanuel's name!


Some princely Buddha may outvie
Pretensions to a rank so high.


The martyr's crown may show His rank.
His court be held in dungeons dank;
The most exalted in His grace,
The benefactors of the race.


His life shall poor and lowly be,
Nor envy stoop to His degree;
He'll point the way with gentleness —
His name shall all the world confess.


Dear kinsman, I do half believe
This Golden Phantasy 3^0 u weave.
But, lo, our torch will soon expire;
The hour is late, let us retire.


Xessias' light will burn for aye,
Increasing unto perfect day;
And He will give you conscious rest,
And sweet employ, among the blest!
(Thoy retire to sleep.)

ScEKE 3.—Tv the mnunlains of Moab—7iear where the
ark and sacred ve.^seU were co7iceated hy Jeremiah,
m a cave, hnoii^n only to God and the Angels — un-
til Messias should come. Mm, the Baptist, view-
ing the sceiw,


Beneath this gray old wing of rock,

Full safety from the storm I find.

This shelter Nature deigns to grant,

Against the elemental shock;

The furies on the reinless wind,

And floods from frownful heavens aslan\

This mountain roof,

To my behoof,
Is more than temple world renowned,
Inlaid with gold and turret crowned.
Above this cliffside balcony,
The mountains rise in majesty;

Swift wings of air

Stern orders bear,
From cloud embattled hight to hight;
And bend their wild, resistless flight,
Adown the storm beleaguered banks,



Along the cedars' plumed ranks;

While lightning flash

And thunder crash

A sense iuvSpire

Of vengeful ire!
Or is this but a mimic fray?
Wild forces holding gala day?

A lightning stroke
Pierces the mountain to its heart;

A gnarled oak,
With time-knit fibres, rends apart,

And madly flings,

In feathered strings.
Far down the cliff! Is Nature, then,
Relentless as the hearts of men?
To hearts of men, my cousin's plea
Hath won a kindlier faith in me.
And lo: the clouds afar in flight;
The spray of trees in pearls of light;
The rocks bedight with roseate sheen;
The valley rich in velvet green!
Fresh fragrance of the heaven's breath
My inmost being witnesseth.

This glow intense

Is more than sense!
What spirit force be3^ond control,

John's preparation. 19

From this glad presence, lifts my soul;
And springs upon my ravished sight
This vision so unearthly bright?
It rests upon foundation deep, [sleep;

Like star-gem'd wave when tempests
Its cloud-^wreathed columns prop the sk}^,
With sunbright capitals on high;
A veil-like, half translucent screen
Of prismic lig'lits involves the scene;
Whereon, in fresco deep and dim,
Are endless groups of Seraphim.
Lo, ranged in circles, plumed with fire,
And bearing harps, an Angel Choir!
Amidst, a graceful figure stands, [hands;
With downcast eyes and snow-white
Illustrious stars His brow enwreath;
A robe of beauty flows beneath;
The hair in matchless waves descends;
The piteous look some ill portends —
But hear!
What music strikes mine ear:



ImmanneT's name, all names above^
WiLli harp and voice we sing;

The solace of His sacred love,
To human hearts we bringv

It is the fullness of the time;

All hail the promised day!
Glad tidings are to every clime;

0^ then, prepare the way!

It glistens at the door of hope.

The penitential tear;
And, so, the pearly gates shall opo.

To every soul sincere.

The spotless Lamb of God behold.
Beloved beyond compare;

The firstling of the Heavenly fold.
Who stoopcth sin to bear!

In depth of lowliness, shall He

So truly condescend,
The man of low estate shall be

Regarded as His friend.

Yet King of Kings shall He be crowned;
The Lord compassionate;
• The line of truth shall mark the bound.

The circle of His state.

Sing, Love descended from on high.

In music to this strand;
Let all the people hear the cry:

*The Kingdom is at hand!'

John's preparation. 21


O, Abratn's God, give unto me
The clear prophetic eye to see,

And purpose still

To do thy wilL
If this an evil vision be,
To lure me from thy statute ways,

And from my vow,

I ask that Thou,
Before mine eager eyes, emblaze

Some token now. —
O, sight ineffable! O, light

That dazzles not!
O, Prince, vouchsafe thy glory bright,

All else forgot!
A look like Jesus — can it be
A true and proper sign to me?

Or, trick of art,
To touch with tender quality

My human heart?

But, lo, in air.

What letters glare:
'I am the Light! I am the way!'
Lord Chrisit, Th}^ servant will obey!
{John falls overcome with the sight.)


Scene 1. — A room in the Temple at Jeru^nlem, Ga-
maliel seated. Enter Saul, of Taraua, who ap-
proaches Gamaliel reverently.


>Iy joy, Rabboni, at the best,
Mine act to follow thy behest!


It seems as plain as truth is true,
None better than his best can do.
'Tis hoped thoult prove me nothing less
Thy mission to the wilderness.


But thou I fear, or less or more,
The strange recital wilt deplore.


Yet would I have thee truly say.
Let fall what bitterness there may:
For Truth her own will justify,
While Justice hunts the cunning lie.


As what I tell is sternly true.
So false is that of which I tell:

Tf tr^ith the false cannot imbue,

John's ministry. 25

Nor paint with any darker hue,
I'll justly prove the false as well.


This hermit priest? His heresy?
What gospel new proclaimeth he?


Thou sayest: for he doth proclaim,
In bitter, biting words of scorn,
The Law a worthless thing, outworn
Devoted to Gehenna tlame;
'Words of the Scribes' enseared and brown^
Like stubble, to be trampled down;
Time-honored customs cast aside:
This madman scoffs at Zion's pride i


To his wild words, I greatly fear
Thou gavest over earnest ear;
Didst too great estimation lay
On this polemical display.


He doth o'ersYfeep
All technic rules and .studied forms,
Like wild, resistless breath of storms;

Or torrent deep

And wide and swift!
Like rushes on the river side,

26 John's ministry.

Men bow and kiss tlie whirling tide;

Or set adrift
Their feather boats, and madly glide!


A wady's foaming overflow

Is quickly spent, as thou shouldst know.


Good Master, may I still protest:
This man reveals a strange unrest,
As if the World were sunk in night,
With none but him to herald light!
A terror in his gleaming eyes,
*The Kingdom is at hand!,' he cries,

'Repent, repent!'

With souls intent,
The gaping crowd seem witched to learn:
In this procedure, I discern
Undoubted proof of demonism,
Which calls for instant exorcism!


If this a raging madman be,
Do thou with moderation act.
And keep thy reason all compact;
Thyself more sober prove than he,

(Enter a scribe.)
We"!come — we bid thee welcome, friend —
On thy good words will we attend.

John's ministry. 27


But gentle words become not ire —
I bring you bitter words of fire:
'Tis not enough, the Roman trade,
So cruelly, takes tithes for chains;
'Tis not enough, that Caesar reigns — -
Our Coronals in dust are laid;
'Tis not enough, we bend the knee,
And bow before viceroyalty;
'Tis not enough, we note our time.
Our sore constrained footsteps move
To honor the Olympian Jove;
Our lips fulfill the servile rhyme:
But O, God's Own forsake His way,
By wind of doctrine blown astray!


Quite happily, this speech of thine,
With our discourse, falls just in line.
What measure hath this discontent?
On what new mischief are they bent?


What know not they.
Who blindly lead this devil's dance'
Nor care what sorrowful mischance

May end the fray.
But chiefly one, of fair address,

28 John's ministry.

With flowing beard and unishorn hair,
And leather-girdled, homespnn cloak,
A hope of all-world blessedness, —
A charge divine — affects to bear:
Of little fire a wondrous smoke!


Will fireflies set the World ablaze?

That he, a Jew,

This broader view
Should entertain, may well amaze.


This John, for life a Nazarite,

Of priestly line.

Should so combine
Reflection of his own despite.


This close confine shall bound his race,
Brief ripple on the World's broad iace, —
If martyrdom add not its grace.


Thy sayings make
Philosophy of Heaven's will —
Thy wayward Grandsire teaching still:

His joy to break
Our schools in twain — It drive?^ me wild
To see our iearanig tiius deiiiedl



And yet I only pity thee,
For even this despite to me!


O, pity Zion's fallen state,

Devoutly mourn o'er Zion's fate!

In ceaseless weeping drown thine eyes,

And let Jehovah hear thy cries!


Thou soundest glibl}^ that Great Name;

Which doth somewhat impeach thy claim

To high observance of the Law:

That sacred name, thou knowest well.

What consecrated lips may tell,

And where and when, and with what awe.


Thy sharp reproof I'm pleased to bear;

'Tis better than thine archly fair

Impeachment of Judea's Church,

And rules which brave Shammai stood for:

Please note, that, in this dismal lurch

Of deadly theocratic war,

I pray to hold so stern a grip,

I may these half-apostates trip!


Not thou, nor all thy 2:ealot host
Conjoined, can reali2;e thy boast


The pregnant World is big with years;
And novel issues do present,
Will override thy fierce dissent,
In disregard of taunts and jeers.

(A harp is heard in an adjoining apartment.)

But dost thou hear?

Hath Israel cheer?


Their "harps on the willows hung noiseless,

111 far Babylonian plain;
And Zion's sweet singers were voiceless.

In passion of grief and disdain.

Their hearts, as the willows, were drooping
Beside the still waters of woe;

In bitter captivity stooping.

By floods of unmurmuring flow.

Their harps caught the magic of sadness
Too deep for the wavelets of sound;

Their hearts, to the tension of mndness.
In silence of sorrowing bound.


This sad, sad cheer
I weep to hear!


Were grief the greatest virtue known,
And malice more than love;

John's ministry. 31

Man, losing trust in God above,

Might hate and curse and moan.
{Exit Scribe.)
Thou Saul, come presently to me;
I have another charge for thee.

(Exit Saul.)
These zealots' murderous intent
111 plan some measures to prevent.

John's ministky. 33

If God make glad, th}^ spirit fair
Can ne'er be sad, whate'er thou bear;

Still, youthful grace

Shall clothe thy face,
And bloom amid thy silver hair.


There glows in th}^ fair compliment
A mother love: I'll be content
With Heaven's will, to mine and me,
However dark the sequel be;
And haply I may learn of thee
To meet sore importunity.


Y/ith impious zeal, they hunt thee here;
ho, as I speak one doth appear!

{Enter Job.)
Good Father, Job, you curse and bless,

Doubly surprise

Our hearts and eyes.
Canst thou this simple riddle guess?


Methinks it can be nothing other
Than, I do come and not another.


I think thou canst not so descry,
But by a prophet's inward eye.

34 John's ministry.


Wouldst yoke thy friend, in artful phrase^
With would-be prophets of these days?


O yes, with one,
The prophet John,


One nearer thee I count the best,

Whom Simeon in the Temple blest.

Said he: 'This Babe of Bethlehem,

Our Zion's hope, from this frail guise.

To priestly office shall arise;

And wear a royal diadem.

Upon the field that blissful night.

Stood thou and I,
Entranced with the vision bright

Amid the sk^r;

The voices, heard
Down-flowing from the cloud of lights

My bosom stirred
With sense of duties born to me:
This charge m}^ Age bequeaths to thee/


He grandl}^ stood:
These solemn words revive the past.
Remembered hours too bright to last!

His accents wooed,


Divinely wooed, tny heart to him;
With overjoy mine eyes grew dim:
He touched the skies — I fancied so —
The Grand Old Prophet, crowned with



His gentle spirit rose supreme
Above the sensuous world, and drew
From deeps beyond the vaulted blue,
Of thoughts as pure as Seraph's dream.
His forceful bidding unto me,
Was as the Voice of Deity.


That thou didst well the teacher's part,
We give the witness of our heart,


Commending thee.
Good Father, Job, a songful seer,
A precious friend, is with us here,

Young Huldah fair:

Her numbers bear
The sweetest burden mortals know.
Melodious life appears to flow.
And breathe in her enchanted voice —
All human hearts that hear, rejoice!

36 John's ministry.


If any added grace she bring
To Huldah's name, in skyward wing.
The strain triumphantly should rise.
To meet Angelical replies 1


Thou soon shalt hear —
Just lower than the Angels thou —
By thy good leave, 111 hasten now.

For she is near:
Like singing bird she flutters forth,
When morning gems the dewy Earth.



Dear Mary is a child again,

So gaily tripping through the gien,


'Mong women, happiest of all,
Whatever grief her may beiaii!


May Israel's God forefend all ill;
Securely keep our dear one still:
But lo, what radiant joy she brings!
In every footstep blessing springs.
{Enter Mary and huldah.)

The sunbeams, Huldah, grace thy he: :1^
And touch t\ij virgin cheeks with r^d.

John's ministry. 37


Enkindled in her heart, love's fire
To outward favor doth aspire.


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