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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Poems Old and New. I. God’s Furnace

Charles Dent Bell (1819–1898)

  • “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

  • MY God a Furnace hath of fire,

    Its chambers all with flame aglow,

    ’Tis fann’d in love, and not in ire,

    And on the coals He oft doth blow;

    A Furnace kindled with His breath,

    Cruel, and keen, and sharp as death.

    Why doth He thus His fires prepare,

    And fan them till they fiercely burn,

    To scathe us with their angry glare,

    Whichever way we move or turn?

    That He may plunge His people in,

    And cleanse them throughly from their sin.

    He treats us as the goldsmith treats

    The ruddy gold he prizeth well,

    Who makes it pass thro’ savage heats,

    And melts it in his crucible;

    And this he does because he knows

    ’Tis destined for a monarch’s brows.

    God’s fires burn up the seeds of ill

    Which lurk within the secret heart;

    God’s fires melt down the hardest will,

    And sever dross and gold apart;

    Thro’ all the spirit’s depths they run,

    Until their cleansing work is done.

    Oft at white heat the furnace stands,

    Ready the evil to consume,

    To shrivel up sin’s strongest bands,

    With fires as fierce as those of doom;

    For some He heats it seven times more

    Than He has heated it before.

    But in the furnace fires so keen,

    God doth not leave us all alone,

    And tho’ His presence is not seen,

    There walks beside us His dear Son,

    Who comforts us and doth sustain,

    And takes from suffering half its pain.

    And when His fires have wrought their aim

    And sullen hardness all is gone,

    God takes us from the burning flame,

    To place us on His Anvil stone,

    And there with patience wondrous kind,

    He moulds and shapes us to His mind.

    We shrink indeed from all the pain,

    The furnace blast, the hammer’s blow,

    We pray to ’scape them, but in vain,

    For God knows well it must be so;

    That if we would be clean and pure,

    The searching flame we must endure.

    We need the frequent hammer’s stroke,

    One blow doth not accomplish all,

    It is not thus that hearts are broke,

    Oft and again the sledge must fall;

    And ’tis our fault that we require

    God’s Anvil, and God’s Furnace fire.

    But let us thank Him for the pain

    That separates the gold from dross,

    That purges us from soil and stain,

    E’en tho’ it be at our sore loss;

    Why should we quail, when God desires

    To make us perfect thro’ His fires?