James Madison Bell

Banishment of Man from the Garden of the Lord

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Dedicated to Rev. William S. Bradden as a tribute to one who has served his God, his Country and his fellow Man with unceasing Devotion, Patriotism and Love.

Roll back, O Muse! and with the dawn
Of Time's young morn's benignant lay,
Begin when first, o'er Eden's lawn
Our unborn parents led their way.

Sing of their peaceful, blest abode;
Sing of the joy-pervading stream,
Which through their sinless bosoms flowed,
And swept life onward like a dream.

While from each fragrant shrub and flower
The perfumed zephyrs, in their flight,
Bore on their wings, from bower to bower,
Undying odors of delight.

And there, midst trees of mighty root,
Forever robed in fadeless green,
And groaning 'neath ambrosial fruit,
Bright heavenly visitants were seen.

These perchance had been their guest,
Their comrades, when all else alone,
Since every land alike was blest
Where e'er the bright Shekina shone.

These may have passed their noonday hours,
In strolling o'er the fleecy sward
Amidst those bright unfolding flowers,
The care of Eden's youthful lord.

Pure Seraphims and Angels bright
In social intercourse with man;
What glorious ages of delight,
How worthy of a lengthened span.

Behold their beauty unadorned;
Think of their love without alloy;
Conceive a brow that ne'er had scorned,
Then mingle peace with boundless joy.

And lo, we've nothing save a shadow,
And dim as to the palefaced moon,
Gazing on the surging billow
Becomes the joys of yester noon.

Behold the vast provisions made
In vastness vast, yet how complete;
Of every tree, 'midst bower and glade,
Save one, they might at pleasure eat.

But, in the midst and towering high,
The tree of Evil and of Good
Proved more seductive to the eye
Than all the trees of Eden's wood.

This was the Interdicted Tree,
Of which 'twas said: "Thou shall not eat,"
And if thou dost, the penalty
Shall be thy Death! a judgment meet.

Thus stood that tree a living proof
As loyalty to heaven's throne,
And while man kept from thence aloof
God's smiling brow approval shone.

But when, regardless of his fate,
Regardless of the fell decree,
Man took therefrom the fruit and ate,
The brow of Heaven grew wrathfully.

Alas! alas! the deed was done;
Their peace was slain, their grief begun:
They scarce knew why, yet in their breast
They felt a strange and sad unrest.

Oppressed with grief, distressed with fear,
They bend to earth their weary ear
To catch that step when far away,
That came with each declining day.

At length they raise their grief-bowed head
In hope that angel friends were nigh;
But lo, the sinless host had fled
Back to their mansion in the sky,

To show that Heaven no commerce hath,
With felons doomed, within the pit
Those erring miscreants of wrath
On whom the seal of Death is set.

The die was cast; 'gainst God's command,
Forever firm and ever just,
Earth's crowned Lord had raised His hand
And doomed the breathing world to dust.

They stand awhile in deep amaze,
Then from the sun's refulgent blaze,
And from their God's omniscient eye,
Amid the tangled wood they fly,

And vainly hope some screen to find
Where guilt and shame might lurk behind,
And where the twain themselves might hide;
But conscience stands on every side
And scans them with his eyes of flame
That spoke their guilt, and breathed their shame.

An Angel seeks them midst the wood
And drags them to their judgment room;
The trembling, dark, expectant mood
In which they come bespeak their doom.

In open court the Judge now reads
The charge and cause of their arrest,
To all of which he Guilty! pleads
And yields him back his Crown and Crest.

Then Justice grasped his gleaming sword,
All keenly drawn from point to hilt,
And waits the bidding of his Lord
To expiate the culprit's guilt.

But Mercy now doth intervene
And steps within the breach between
The offended Judge and culprits twain,
And bares his bosom to be slain.

A deathlike silence now ensues,
While every eye amazement glucs
Upon that mediatorial face,
Embodiment of every grace.

Mercy at length the silence breaks,
And for the Crownless Monarch makes
A plea that melts the Court to tears,
And moves the heart of all that hears,

But Justice with relentless ire
Doth still for sin a life require,
Whereon the Judge upon the throne
Hold pleading Mercy to atone,

And then commutes the dire intent
To that of toil and banishment.
They hear their doom without a sigh
Or e'en a tear to dim the eye:

For they had reached that stage of grief
Where tears could bring them no relief.
The Arrest -- The Charge -- The Penalty
Had followed each so rapidly
That there had been no time for thought
Upon their strange and arduous lot.

Perhaps their feet had never trod
Beyond the pleasant walks of God:
Their morn, their noon, their evening hours
Had all been spent mid Eden's bowers.

Sweet peace had dwelt their bowers among
And holy love their praise had sung;
They ne'er had heard the angry wail
Of nature warring with the gale,
Nor lions roar, the panther's yell,
Had on their listening organs fell.

The Shades of night were hovering nigh,
All ready with their sable pall
To robe the earth and veil the sky,
And shroud in darkness one and all.

And yet they stand in dread suspense,
Till Pity kindly leads them hence,
And fitting robes for each prepare
To brave a less salubrious air.

'Tis done! and yielding to their fate,
They move in silence toward the gate:
The Angel follows in command,
To watch and guard with sword in hand.

The exit gained, they're driven hence
Amid a darkness most intense;
No hand to guide, no angel voice
To urge them to the better choice;

But hand in hand, together they
Groped through the night their dubious way --
Huge spectral forms before them rise
Like hideous monsters to the skies,

While prowling beasts in quest of prey
Fill night with terror and dismay;
O! how dreadful must have been,
That first night, in a world of sin.

Fain would they to their lost estate
Return; but lo, within the gate,
Bearing commission from his Lord,
An angel waves a flaming sword.

They linger long anear the gate,
Feeding the hope that soon, or late,
Some angel friend will intercede
And in their cause so ably plead --
As to revoke the dread decree
That binds them to their destiny.

But when at length their hopes grew faint
They turned away without complaint
And soon were wrapped in sleep profound
Upon the bare, untented ground.

But while they lay unconscious there,
A vision bright and passing fair
Bends over them, and kindly words of cheer
Breathes softly in their slumbering ear:
"Be not afraid, for lo, 'tis I,
To whom thy every groan and sigh
Are Known. Go forth with cheer,
And lo, I am forever near."

The vision past, at morn they rise,
And hail the day with glad surprise,
To find the burden of their woes
All vanished, with the night's repose.

While ever and anon they hear
Reverberating in their ear --
Go forth with cheer!
For lo, I am forever near.

Their few effects, their meagre store
Is soon arranged; this being o'er
Toward Eden's bowers, now still in view,
They turn and bid a last adieu.

With hope alert, with fears subdued,
They brave the pathless solitude,
While ever and anon they hear
Reverberating in their ear --
Lo, I am forever near.

And as the years rolled on apace
They stand the center of a race,
Expansive as the rays of light,
And numerous as the stars of night.

The wilderness has been subdued,
And through the pathless solitude
A highway has been built, the rocks between
The which no vulture's eye has seen
Nor lion's whelp had ever trod,
Built for the ransomed of the Lord.

And on and down the flight of years
They pass, and lo a Star appears,
To nightly watchers on the plains
Heralded by sweet Angelic Strains,

And from the radiance of the Sheen
Come forth the form of matchless mein
And to the awe struck watchers said
Be not afraid, for lo, I bring
Glad tidings of your promised King.

For unto you on this blest morn,
In David's house, a child is born,
The promised Seed, the blest reward,
A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Go forth, and Heaven shall lend a ray
To guide you on your joyous way,
And in a manger you shall find
The Infant Saviour of mankind;

For He His people shall redeem,
And He shall reign a King, supreme;
Before Him every knee shall bend,
And Countless years His reign extend.

And as the angel host went back,
To Heaven, along the shining track,
They tuned their harps, they struck their lyre,
And sang as sang the heavenly choir.

For every Harp in Heaven was strung,
And every voice loud anthems sung,
In honor of the wondrous birth
Of Christ, The King and Prince of Heaven and Earth.

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