Book II

                                                         Book II
 
A great thing will the Lord bring to pass, but not presently.
                                                                                       — Jeremy Taylor
 
                                                     Argument
 
Gradual development of the Divine purpose in the redemption of the world. – God’s interposition in behalf of the posterity of Abraham, when groaning under the bondage of Egypt. – Moses. – His sojourn in the desert. – Divinely inspired to transmit the record the creation, and early history of the world. – Jehovah manifested in him in the burning bush. – Invested with Divine and miraculous power to effect the deliverance of Israel. – Passage of the Red Sea. – Hymn of praise for the destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptian host. – God, in his justice, as in his mercy, inscrutable. – Progress of Israel under the conduct of the cloud and fire. – Mou Sinai. – The law, an exhibition of the Divine character, the original rule of holiness to all intelligent natures. – Its republication designed to show man his obliquity, and to make him feel his weakness. – Its essence, Love. – The ceremonial economy revealed to Moses in the mount, a representative system, shadowing forth the great Sacrifice, that was in due time to be offered up for the redemption of the world. – Israel a type of the Gospel Church. – The tabernacle, and all its services, of the Incarnation and offices of Christ. – The march through the wilderness. – Moab. – Balak. – Balaam. – His prophecy. – Adjuration of demons.
 
    Man is a thing of nought; his short-lived power,
Which buds, and blooms, and withers in an hour,
Its small results, precipitate, would show,
And hail the harvest ere the seedling grow.
God, infinite, unchangeable, displays,
In silent progress, his mysterious ways;
Unfolds, with gradual light, his vast designs;
Past, present, future, in his view combines;
Nor eager haste, nor dark contingence knows;
His perfect work in meetest season shows;
Constructs of varied parts the wondrous whole,
Himself, of each, the centre, source, and soul.
    Thus, life’s immortal seed in embryo laid,
Evolving slow, its vital strength display’d;
Its opening leaves, mysterious healing shed,
And fragrance sweet its beauteous blossoms spread.
But soon, a richer soil its roots sustain’d,
On its broad branches genial dews remain’d;
A cultured plant, enclos’d by Heaven, it grew,
And strength, and health from fostering sunbeams drew
Nor awful interdict, nor flaming guard,
Proclaim’d weak mortals from its touch debarr’d;
But Truth and Mercy by its shade reclined
In mystic wisdom, to the docile mind,
Its vital, renovating power reveal’d,
And health and blessing on the conscience seal’d.
    Awhile to gifted seers Jehovah spake,
Bade lucid visions on their slumbers break;
By mystic rites his early covenant seal’d,
And righteousness, through humble faith, reveal’d;
Renew’d with Abraham’s sons his oath divine,
And frequent, at the sacrificial shrine,
Proclaim’d his presence in the kindling flame,
And told the wonders of his awful name.
    But long in Ephron’s cave the patriarchs slept,
And wave o’er wave time’s boisterous ocean swept,
Ere to the chosen seed his will declared,
Jehovah’s grace the covenant nation shared.
But he forgets not ever; and his word,  
By Abraham, ‘midst the sever’d victims heard,
Was firm as on that night of sacrifice,
When flaming symbols met the patriarch’s eyes.
Intense, and long the Egyptian furnace glow’d;
At length, the cup of Canaan’s guilt o’erflow’d,
And God, the great, the terrible, came down
To save the oppress’d, to wither by his frown
The vauntings of presumptuous pride, and make
Rebellious Rahab at his thunders quake.
    Fierce flames the sun on Egypt’s arid plains;
With swarthy brow, with full, distended veins,
With furrow’d cheek, with dim and downcast eye,
Lo! Abraham’s seed, in dire captivity,
To haughty Pharaoh’s harsh commands a prey,
In wails the night, in toils consume the day.
O’er desert sands majestic cities rise;
Stupendous pyramids salute the skies;
The rude, rough rock the sculptor’s chisel feels;
Her gloomy depths the cavern’d earth reveals;
To proud Ambition panting Labour rears
Columns, and fanes, and thrones, and sepulchres;
While Crime and Cruelty, with scorpion scourge,
And clanking chain, the ruthless tribute urge;
Tribute of tears and blood, of torturing pain,
By tyrants there unmark’d, — yet not in vain,
Seen by that piercing, all-pervading Eye,
Which, passing princes, passing angels by,  
Rests on the grief-worn child of hopeless Misery,
    ‘Scaped from the toils of that fell serpent brood,
Who, baleful, bask’d ‘mid Nilus’ reedy flood,
Saved by parental love, parental faith,
From cruel Egypt’s infant doom of death,
Snatch’d from the wave by pleading Pity’s hand,
By royal Grace instructed to command,
Lo, ‘mid Arabia’s mountain steeps, appears
The herald, who Jehovah’,s mandate bears,
His mandate of release to Abraham’s race,
His message of authority and grace.
    Yet, to no vulgar, no plebeian mind,
Was Heaven’s important embassage assign’d.
For Moses with Egyptian lore was fraught;
And Moses, by the anointing Spirit taught,
Preferr’d reproach, and banishment, and grief,
And Christ, and heaven, to this world’s glories brief;
And counted all things loss, e’en Egypt’s throne.
To win those realms reveal’d to faith alone.
    He was a minstrel, taught to touch the lyre,
A prophet, kindling with seraphic fire,
A bard, inspired on loftiest themes to sing,
A saint, ascending on Devotion’s wing,
To learn the secrets of high Heaven, and show
Eternal Wisdom to the world below.
He was a shepherd too, and fed his flock
In pastures green, beneath the shadowing rock.
Or in the lonely glen, where streamlets glide,
Soft trickling from the rugged mountain’s side.
There, when the sun at fervid noon was high,
Nor tempering vapour cool’d the blazing sky,
When desert sands the fiery glow return’d,
And fierce with heat the glistening ether burn’d,
There, in the cavern’d grot, the mossy glade,
His gentle charge to soft repose he laid;
Or folded safe, when chilling night dews fell,
Or rocks return’d the prowling panther’s yell.
The quiet sheep repose in tranquil rest,
But lofty thoughts engross the pastor’s breast;
To heavenly themes his contemplations rise,
Celestial visions meet his wondering eyes;
‘Midst starry spheres revolve his thoughts sublime,
Unchain’d by sense, uncheck’d by earth or time.
When midnight moonbeams o’er the desert wide,
Effulgent roll’d light’s soft and silver tide,
When Morning hung her cresset lamp on high,
Or streak’d the shadows of the orient sky
With earliest vermeil line, when brightening gold,
Crimson, and hyacinthine purple, roll’d
In gorgeous mass, before the bursting sheen
Of solar glory, on the mountains seen;
Then would he forth, and climb the lofty height,
Stretch o’er the sparkling scene his aching sight,
Or walk with Wisdom in the silent glade,
When Evening, pall’d in visionary shade,
Spread, o’er the rude gray rock, fantastic forms,
Or curtain’d round its cragged steep with storms.
    Where’er in solitary grandeur wild,
The desert frown’d, or nature peaceful smiled,
There, from a vain, unhallow’d world removed,
He sought sweet converse with the God he loved.
With souls from earth detach’d, Jehovah holds
Communion intimate; to them unfolds
The secrets of his glory and his grace,
Admits, in friendship, to the holiest place,
Bids them prefer the large request, and there
Attest the sacred prevalence of prayer;
There, in that innermost pavilion, shows
A mystic Presence that no stranger knows,
A plenitude of light and love reveals,
Which tongue declares not; and the heart that feels,
In dust before the’ o’erwhelming glory lies,
While silence breathes its raptures to the skies.
    So Moses worshipp’d. His was not the prayer
Of a cold spirit steep’d in worldly care;
It was the heart’s first wish, the fervent glow
Of pure affections, raised from things below
Up to their central Source; it was desire,
Which God alone could satiate or inspire;
It was the breathing of a mind intense
To share its Maker’s hallow’d excellence,
To cast the dross of sin and earth aside,
And live, and walk, a spirit purified.
    Jehovah’s word is pass’d: the humble mind
That seeks for wisdom shall that wisdom find,
The pure in heart shall see his glorious face,
The meek shall learn his mysteries of grace.
While Moses, lonely, in the desert pray’d,
And God amidst his glorious works survey’d,
While God, his being’s Source and End, he sought
In all the holy energies of thought,
While all his powers in prostrate worship own’d
The Deity within his breast enthroned,
To him the’ inspiring Spirit came, and show’d
How Time and Nature from their Fountain flow’d,
Reveal’d the wonders of creative skill,
The fatal entrance of usurping ill,
The lapse of spirits form’d in light and love,
The Eden, lost below, restored above,
The beam of hope, when all around was night,
Given to the desolate, the gradual light
That cheer’d the elder world; that world o’er thrown,
Jehovah’s justice, in his judgments shown: —
These to his mind Omniscient Wisdom brought,
And things unseen, by holy impulse taught,
Led through the long traditionary stage
Of sainted patriarchal pilgrimage,
Jehovah in his covenant grace reveal’d,
His promise, in vicarious suffering seal’d,
Proclaim’d the Sacrifice in purpose made,
By sign and shadow to the world portray’d,
Bade sign and shadow pass before his view,
With lights retouch’d, and outline form’d anew;
And then the high, the hallow’d charge assign’d,
To give the words of wisdom to mankind,
To teach, transmitted through the sacred page.
Truth’s living oracles to every age,
How worlds from Deity, omnific, sprung,
Who gave to man his being; — glorious, hung
Suns, stars, and planets in the azure sky,
Bright footstool of his dazzling majesty;
Above, beneath, his own reflections spread,
And on his perfect work his blessing shed.
    Illustrious seer ! while through unbounded space
Earth’s restless orb shall urge its circling race,
While in yon heavens those radiant fires shall glow,
And suns and stars revolving seasons show,
While time endures, the grateful song shall rise
To Him whose light illumed thy favour’d eyes.
In vain shall Pride thy hallow’d page oppose,
Or skeptic Fancy dream how worlds arose;
In vain shall atheists rave of fate and chance,
Of atoms mingling in incongruous dance;
Before thy light the baseless phantoms fade;
Beneath thy touch, in demon form display’d,
Falsehood, of angel guise disrobed, appears,
Her motley mantle vagrant Folly wears;
While in thy lucid mirror Faith discerns
Secrets of wisdom, and, delighted, learns
Truths such as Reason’s eye had traced in vain,
Nor Science reach’d; though, by her golden chain,
From cause to cause with patient step she rise,
Search the deep sea, or scale the starry skies,
Subject the sunbeam to her laws, or, bright,
Pursue the comet in its fiery flight,
From chymic earth extort its secret skill,
Or bend obsequious nature to her will.
    By Heaven inspired, thy holy record stands
Jehovah’s witness to remotest lands,
Attesting, while it pours confusion wide
On all the pomp of philosophic pride,
‘Midst systems crush’d, and schemes to ruin hurl’d,
That Wisdom, Power, and Goodness form’d the world;
That man in baffled ignorance shall stray,
Till, meekly bending to instruction’s sway,
He learn, obedient, all that Truth reveals.
Nor search, presumptuous, for what God conceals.
    Lo, ‘midst the shade of Sinai’s frowning height,
What form of wonder meets the astonish’d sight!
What awful voice from yonder mystic flame,
In thrilling accents calls on Moses’ name!
Turn, favoured seer, thy trembling footsteps turn!
Intense it glistens, yet forgets to burn;
Pervades the bush, amidst its branches plays,
And yet consumes not; — stop! thou mayst not gaze!
It is Jehovah in his fiery shrine;
The voice that calls thee is the Voice Divine.
Go, with unsandall’d feet; to him draw nigh:
Yet, O behold not, — dare not lift thine eye;
He is the Self-Existent, God Supreme;
And thou, a worm, a bubble on the stream.
Yet hear his message; lo, he deigns, by thee,
To say to Egypt, “Set my people free!”
Lo, to thy hand he gives the mystic rod,
Invests thee the ambassador of God;
Bids signs, miraculous, attest thy claim,
And clothes thee with the terrors of his name.
Go at his word, to injured Israel go,
Tell them their fathers’ God hath seen their wo;
Release his captives; all his power display;
Invert creation; on the cheerful day
Pour midnight darkness; speak in storm and fire
The threaten’d terrors of his vengeful ire;
Call, from his dreary realm, terrific Death,
On sullen wing, with pestilential breath,
To sail, destructive, on the midnight gloom,
And bear the pride of Egypt to their tomb;
Compel her demons and her kings to own
The mightier puissance of Jehovah’s throne.
Then forth thy myriad tribes triumphant lead;
The fiery column shall their march precede.
He guides thy path whose word controls the sea;
That sea he severs; lo! its waves for thee
Roll backward; — backward, — till, on either hand,
Like mountain piles, the vaulting billows stand,
A smooth, firm path, the briny deep presents.
‘Tis enter’d, — left,— tempestuous elements
Rush with commingling fury to regain
Their long-accustom’d course.
O’er Egypt’s train,
The horse, the rider, with wide- weltering sweep,
Returns, in ruthless rage, the dark and stormy deep.
 
Hark! the shouts of the victor, the song and the dance,
As the hosts of the Lord with their banners advance;
The morning beams bright, though the midnight was rude,
And the clarion sounds shrill through the deep solitude.
 
Awake, thou loud trumpet! Ye cymbals, awake!
With the voice of your praise let the strong mountains shake!
With the voice of your praise let the deep valleys ring,
For Jehovah hath triumph’d, Jehovah is King,
 
O Egypt! thy hosts were the sons of the proud,
At the shrine of the idol, apostate, they bow’d;
By the arm of the Mighty the idol is crush’d,
Thy king is confounded, thy vauntings are hush’d.
 
O’er the sons of the proud how the wild waters sweep!
O Rahab! thy widows in secret shall weep;
For the dragon is wounded, the scales of his pride
Are mangled, and torn from his iron-ribb’d side.
 
Hush! the hoarse-heaving billow rolls fast to the strand,
The forces of Pharaoh lie low on the sand.
Lo, the horse and his rider are mingled in death,
And the sea casts them forth from its caverns beneath.
 
Hush! the harp of the minstrel! the prophetess sings!
With the chorus of myriads the wilderness rings;
The wild winds and waves bear the echo abroad;—
‘Tis the triumph of Israel, the praise of the Lord.
 
“Thou hast conquer’d, O Mightiest! all glory to Thee!
The chariot and horse are o’erwhelm’d in the sea;
Thou wast wroth, and the storm gather’d dark in thine ire,
And thy voice and thine aspect were thunder and fire.
 
“O, the horsemen of Pharaoh march heavily on!
Thine eye is upon them, their courage is gone.
Hark! their ears the hoarse blasts of the tempest assail:
‘Tis the rush of the ocean! — the waters prevail!
 
“Thy portion, O Egypt, is terror, dismay;
‘Tis the sword of the Lord that opposes thy way;
‘Tis the Angel of Vengeance, whose terrible frown
To the deepest abyss hurls thee fearfully down.
 
“Sing, — sing to the Lord! Let the lyre and the dance,
And the trump and the timbrel his praises advance;
With timbrels and trumpets, O, bear thou thy part,
Meek Gratitude join with the praise of the heart.
 
“Thy work, O Jehovah! the nations shall hear;
The isles of the Gentiles shall wonder and fear;
Like the sons of the proud shall thine enemies fall,
And all creatures extol thee, the Lord over all.”
 
    Just are thy ways, and true, thou King of saints!
Though weak of wing, man’s trembling spirit faints,
And falls, o’erwhelm’d beneath that awful height,
Where clouds conceal thy judgments from his sight,
Yet Faith, on eagle plume upborne, ascends,
And prostrate, on the mount of vision, bends,
Adores thee, wielding dread thy sword of flame,
As in the gentler splendours of thy name;
Alike ineffable thy wrath, thy love;
Nor mortal knows, nor angel powers above
Those soundless depths of Deity, where lie
Thy counsels, like thyself, veil’d in eternity.
    So Moses felt, when on the desert strand
He saw the stricken pride of Misraim’s land;
Saw her fierce warriors, stern in death, — the beam
Of ruddy morn on helm and corslet gleam,
The shield still braced upon the nerveless arm,
Hush’d the rude roar of battle’s wild alarm.
Impetuous steeds and clarion trumpets there
Lie stiff and silent; — not in ambient air
Empurpled banners float, but, borne on foam
Of angry waves, deserted standards come,
Heaping the pile of ruin; there to spread
Their tarnish’d glories o’er the ghastly dead.
So Moses felt: with strange and trembling awe,
Jehovah’s vanquish’d enemies he saw;
With holy joy beheld his Israel free,
And led, triumphant, from the stormy sea.
Along the desert sands their myriads press;
Unwonted echoes wake the wilderness;
O’er the blue heavens, in liquid softness spread,
The Presence-Cloud extends; and, onward led
Beneath the starry canopy of night,
Beams on the camp; the fiery column, bright,
Encircles in its lambent flame, and keeps,
The wakeful mother, and the babe that sleeps.
    See, veil’d in gloom, Arabia’s wastes of sand;
Dark tempest clouds on Sinai’s summit stand;
Curtain’d in sackcloth, morning dimly breaks,
Heaven, fearful, frowns; and earth, affrighted, quakes,
Why rolls the tempest round yon mountain’s height?
Why wander wild those lurid lightnings bright?
Thy pioneers, O Holiest! lo, they bear
Thy rushing chariot through the troubled air,
Innumerous hosts thy dazzling train compose;
‘Midst wreathing smoke the dreadful Symbol glows;
Unearthly clangours shake the trembling spheres;
Bow down, ye heavens, the covenant God appears.
Lo! angel heralds speak his presence nigh;
Jehovah comes; be closed each downcast eye;
He speaks! let every listening ear attend,
Let every knee in prostrate worship bend,
Let every soul in silent awe confess
That God is terrible in holiness.
    Jehovah speaks! O man, his words receive,
Thy thoughts of pride, thy vain conjectures leave;
Lo, Deity proclaims that rule divine,
That law in which his own perfections shine,
That thou mayst there his cloudless glory see,
And learn, abash’d, what Justice asks of thee;
Learn, too, that sin hath shorn thy strength away,
Like his who in the lap of Dalliance lay;
That, impotent, thou canst not now arise,
March in thy might, and emulate the skies;
But captive to Philistine foes, and blind,
Thy noble powers, for noblest ends design’d,
On Dagon’s pillar’d temple furious spent,
Accelerate thy fall and punishment,
In mutual ruin whelm thy kind and thee,
Engines of mischief and of misery.
    Heaven shows the mirror of its stainless mind,
The rule for angels, as for men design’d.
‘Tis love, sweet spring of every grace; ’tis love,
The soul of blessedness, beneath, above;
Love, like its Fountain, pure, perennial, bright,
The glorious impress of the Infinite;
In emanations from his throne display’d,
In precepts by his awful voice convey’d,
That man, instructed by command, may see
Transgression in its dire deformity;
And, tutor’d in the law’s reproving school,
Detect his wanderings from perfection’s rule,
Feel on his forfeit soul the’ arrest of Death,
And, trembling, seek the righteousness of faith.
    Lo, God is terrible! Approach not nigh,
Nor touch his fiery footstool, lest ye die.
Even favour’d Moses fears, with trembling awe,
Jehovah, in his majesty of law.
Yet, hallow’d prophet, go; the mount ascend,
Thy Sovereign in pavilion’d state attend,
Where seraphs wait, his high commands receive,
On earth below, terrestrial frailties leave.
Go, and in forms of light, mysterious, trace
The strange economy of saving grace;
While Sinai’s flaming terrors round thee burn,
By mystic signs, Redemption’s secret learn.
Go, and while Justice seals the sinner’s doom,
Hear, e’en from inmost heaven, “Behold, I come!
I come to do thy will; the shrine prepare;
Receive the victim, and the sinner spare.”
Go, Moses, go; receive the hallow’d sign,
Mysterious type of Sacrifice Divine.
Behold, in symbols strange, that will display’d,
In offerings on thy streaming altars laid;
See judgment from a ransom’d world transferr’d
To HIM, the RIGHTEOUS ONE, the PURE, INCARNATE WORD.
    As victim types the great Atonement show’d,
So, type of her for whom in ransom flow’d
The Blood Divine, a mystic Church appears;
And God, with Abraham’s seed, his temple rears.
Theirs is the’ adoption; in his sacred shrine.
To them he gives his Oracles Divine.
Theirs is the glory; Israel’s sons he takes;
Of them, his priests, his hallow’d prophets makes;
Among them, as their Lord, their King, resides,
And through the wilderness in safety guides.
    For this, amid the desert’s fervid sands,
His curtain’d dwelling-place mysterious stands;
Where, dazzling bright, cherubic glory beams,
And hallow’d fire with quenchless ardour streams;
Where fragrant fumes of curling incense rise,
And priests present the costly sacrifice;
Where Aaron, bright in gorgeous robes array’d,
His pure, propitiatory offering made,
Appears, with blood before the holiest place,
And gains acceptance for a sinful race.
    Hail, King, and Priest, and Sacrifice Divine,
Great substance of the ceremonial sign!
From Moses’ face though dazzling radiance streams,
It flows, reflected from thy glory’s beams.
Though mitred Aaron at the altar stands,
And lifts to heaven his consecrated hands;
Though Levi’s sacerdotal tribe supplies
The splendid ritual’s costly sacrifice;
Though harp and cymbal swell the sacred hymn,
And lambent lustre gilds the cherubim;
Though o’er his house the cloud, incumbent spread,
Reveals Jehovah in his presence dread;
Though at his feet enshrined his covenant lies,
And pleading Mercy from his altar cries; —
All point to thee, in whom their splendours fade,
As morning beams disperse the twilight shade.
Thee, in the mystic rite, thy saints descry.
Subject of promise, law, and prophecy.
Thou, to thy Church from earliest times reveal’d,
Her darken’d orb with gradual light hast fill’d.
Soon shalt thou chase the latest shades away,
And o’er her disk diffuse perpetual day;
Thy imaged glories in her face shall shine,
A mirror brightening in the beam Divine.
 
Fast fled the latest shades of night,
    The sun arose o’er Paran’s height,
And shed on Israel’s tents of white
    A glistening stream of amber light.
When first the beams of morning broke,
    Within those tents, the hosts awoke;
For clear and shrill the trumpet’s sound,
    By rock and mountain echoed round,
Throughout the host proclaim’d aloud,
    Jehovah, in his presence cloud,
Removing far; and summons sent
    For forward march, — to strike the tent,
Arrange the tribes, — take shield and spear,
    And brace the nervous arm for war.
 
Sons of Aaron, saintly race,
    Take the tented curtains down;
Reverent, from the hallow’d place,
    Raise the bright cherubic throne.
Sons of Aaron, saintly race,
    Softly swell the choral hymn;
Ye who see Jehovah’s face
    Shining ‘midst the cherubim,
While the sacred ark ye bear,
    Sing, “Let God, the Lord, arise!
Rise, O Lord, thou man of war,
    Scatter all thine enemies!
Wide the whirlwind’s furious blast
    Rolls and wreathes the desert sand;
So thy wrath upon them cast,
    So, dispersed at thy command,
All who hate thy glorious name,
    All who scoff thy Church and thee,
Blasted, scatter’d, clothed with shame,
    Shall before thy presence flee.”
 
Hush! the sainted song is o’er,
Moses, Miriam, chant no more;
Priests and Levites march before,
All the guiding God adore.
Hark! the trumpet, loud and clear,
     Bids the marshall’d hosts proceed,
Judah, rise! thy standard bear,
    Thou the foremost squadron lead.
See, beneath thy Lion strong,
    Zebulon his trident rear;
Patient march, with thee along,
    The dauntless sons of Issachar.
 
Reuben! though the wreath of fame
    Fades on thy dejected brow,
Rise, the second station claim,
    Simeon, Gad, before thee bow:
Simeon, in his wrath severe,
    Gad, of warlike foes the dread.
Reuben, rise! the standard rear,
    Wide thy waving banner spread.
Joseph! as a fruitful bough,
    Put thy strength in Ephraim forth;
By Manasseh’s thousands show,
    Double blessings crown’d thy birth.
Benjamin! prepared for prey,
    March by gentler Joseph’s side,
Israel’s God direct thy way,
    Make thy bow in strength abide.
 
Dan, the rereward march sustain;
    Yet thy eagle thirsts for blood;
Thou, a serpent on the plain,
    Treacherous, wound’st the sons of God.
Asher, Naphtali, proceed,
    Rich in blessings from on high;
Lord of Hosts, thy thousands lead
    Forth to glorious victory!
 
In quarter’d strength the tribes advance,
    The cloud its dewy moisture sheds;
Where, fierce, the fervid sunbeams glance.
    Its cool, refreshing shadow spreads.
And when the sun declines,
A spiral flame it shines,
To cheer the desert’s rude
And fearful solitude;
    The pilgrim’s wary steps to guide,
Far from the path where scaly serpents glide;
To turn the tiger’s glaring eye aside;
And, by the radiance bright
Of that far-beaming light,
From the vast wilderness so drear and wide,
To chase the darkling gloom of solitary night.
 
The night its sable mantle throws
    Athwart the dark blue sky,
And every star intensely glows
    In heaven’s bright canopy.
Beneath the far, far stretching arch
    That bounds the desert wide,
The tribes in solemn silence march,
    Jehovah is their guide.
And, radiant, through the deep serene,
    His glory moves along,
Reflecting bright its dazzling sheen,
    The warriors’ arms among.
 
But stay! the sainted train,
Whose hallow’d hands sustain
Their King’s pavilion’d throne,
Perceive the signal known;
They set the consecrated burthen down,
And him into his dwelling place invite.
Soft, on the still and silent night
   Their sacred anthems swell : —
“Return, Jehovah, Lord of might,
   Amidst thy people dwell.”
 
‘Tis done, the weary march is o’er,
Floating ensigns wave no more,
The lights of heaven, in sparkling round,
Wheel silent o’er the tented ground,
And bright the flaming Symbol rests:
Jehovah’s throne the cloud invests;
Beneath his shield his hosts repose,
    His puissant arm his charge defends,
Till forth the shining column goes,
    Till bright the covering cloud ascends.
 
Thus through the perils of that solitude,
    By night, by day, his hosts Jehovah led,
Pry, parched sands with moistening mists bedew’d,
    And cheerful light o’er frowning darkness spread.
But though the covert cloud became
   A screen from day’s oppressive heat,
Though, gliding slow, the pillar’d flame
   Shone radiant on the pilgrims’ feet,
Though angels’ food, like pearly dew,
   Fell nightly on the barren ground,
Though Moses from the dark rock drew
   The stream that flow’d in currents round;
Yet did not Israel’s thousands pay
   True homage to their glorious King,
But grieved and anger’d by the way,
   Though shadow’d by his mercy’s wing.
Unmindful of deliverance past,
   Their Sovereign’s rule the rebels spurn’d,
Reproaches on his servants cast,
   And back in heart to Egypt turn’d.
 
Hoarse rose the peevish plaint to Him,
The murmur loud, at Rephidim.
At Taberah the burning flame
Avenged the Lord’s dishonour’d name;
And Kibroth’s burial place declared
The wrath for thankless pride prepared.
Bless’d and chastised alike in vain,
Their dastard souls despond again,
Of Anak’s sons, affrighted, hear,
And wail, and weep, with coward fear,
Refuse to win the promised land,
Though shielded by Jehovah’s hand;
Refuse, till God, approaching nigh,
Is seen, in wrathful majesty
Denouncing death, till Moses’ prayer
Prevails, the wayward race to spare.
Yet God abhors the murmuring plaint
Of timorous souls, that basely faint
When service calls, or dangers rise,
Who shrink from close-fought victories,
Retreat, though arm’d with shield and dart,
And fly, through littleness of heart.
    For forty years their loud lament
Received its measured punishment;
Still wandering in that desert drear,
They bore the curse of coward fear,
Excluded from the pleasant land
They would not win at Heaven’s command.
Moses, meek man of God, from thee
They wrench’d that crown of victory;
Thou wast not privileged to stand,
Nor Aaron, on the long-sought land,
But only from the mountain’s height
To gaze upon that goodly sight,
“Ah! wherefore?” Meribah shall say,
When, thirsting on the sultry way,
The people with their leaders strove,
And chafed the gentle breast of love.
    God is long suffering; man is weak,
Prone, unadvised, in haste to speak.
Even Meekness, urged, the warmth returns,
As iron on the anvil burns,
Yet stroke on stroke, renew’d, receives.
Ere yet the glowing sign it gives.
So Moses, urged, oppress’d and vex’d,
With Israel’s waywardness perplex’d,
Awhile forgat Jehovah nigh,
And still’d the rebels’ clamorous cry
With words in haste, in anger spoke,
Till wrath against himself awoke.
 
Yet from the rock the silver current flow’d,
When God’s vicegerent show’d
The emblem of his power;
Forth gushing from its rifted side,
In sparkling streams, along that desert wide
The living waters ran;
    And in that hour,
Betoken’d Him, who for apostate man
Sent from his pierced side that current forth,
Which flows in blessing o’er the parched earth;
Which bids the dying live,
The fainting soul revive,
Lightens the languid eye, and kindles there
Bright beams of sacred joy, for sadness and despair.
 
Yet from the rifted rock in vain
    The gushing torrent sprang,
The wayward wanderers still complain,
    The camp with murmurs rang.
In impious speech, in loud lament,
They breathed their sullen discontent,
And vented forth, in angry mood,
Against high Heaven reproaches rude.
 
Up rose to God the murmuring cry,
Their impious speech was heard on high,
And slighted Grace in anger sent
Its dread return of punishment.
Fierce on the bright and burning plain
    The fervid sunbeam darts,
When, lo, a fell portentous train
By strength or skill repell’d in vain,
    The furrow’d sand disparts:
Gliding, coiling, darting dread,
Serpents lift the crested head,
Seek the tent, and spread the ground,
Hissing, gleaming, glisten round,
Fasten on the trembling prey,
Youth, and age, and manhood slay.
Lo, through each distended vein
Wildly throbs the burning pain,
Swift the secret venom spreads,
O’er the frame its poison sheds,
Fever feeds on every part,
Drinks the blood, consumes the heart;
While genial dews
No drops diffuse,
To cool the parched tongue, or ease the fiery smart.
 
Starting with convulsive pain,
   The frenzied eyeball glares,
Rankling poison frets the brain,
   The silver cordage tears;
While, crimson’d deep, the burning skin
Portrays the raging fires within,
Till fell Disease retires on putrid wing,
And leaves her loathsome prey to Terror’s gloomy king.
 
Oppress’d with grief, meek Moses prays,
    The cloud enfolds the sacred shrine,
With trembling dread the murmurers gaze,
    Afraid to meet the wrath Divine.
Who shall the jealous God provoke,
    Nor tremble at his anger’s frown?
Yet Mercy wards the lifted stroke,
    And sends deliverance down.
Forth from that throne no vengeful word
    The sinner’s judgment seal’d,
The intercessor’s prayer is heard,
    The healing power revealed.
Behold, upraised the languid eye!
Disease, and death, and danger fly.
 
Appointed mean of heavenly art,
That imaged reptile cures the smart;
That look unbinds the grasp of death,
Expels the serpent’s venom’d breath.
    Thus, thus to faith display’d
    Transgressor, for thine aid,
On Calvary’s height the crimson’d cross appears.
    O thither turn thine eye!
    And guilt and grief shall fly,
And thou a contrite mourner, dry thy tears.
There, for thy spirit’s anguish, for thy fears.
    There hangs the sovereign cure!
There for the torture of the serpent’s tooth,
Remedial balsam flows, and there the poor
Shall life and healing find, and renovated youth,
 
O Israel, wayward, wandering, weak, distress’d,
Yet toward the land of rest
Urging thy onward way,
How do thy sorrows and thy sins display
Man’s weary travel through earth’s wilderness!
Yet he whom Heaven shall guide and bless,
    Secured from every envious foe,
Nor snares shall dread, nor dangers know,
Save when his coward fear
Forgets that Presence near;
Then Satan’s fiery darts assail,
And all his ambush’d hosts prevail.
Yet He who rescues from despair,
Regards, even then, the suppliant’s prayer,
Mildly he bends the pitying eye,
Beholds the tear, accepts the sigh,
And bids the sinner heavenward turn,
And there the blood-stain’d path discern,
And there that life eternal find,
His death procured for all mankind.
 
    Beneath His charge who bore the glistening blade
Unscabbarded, beside the palm tree’s shade,
Beneath His charge who bears the’ unutter’d Name,
To Moab’s coasts victorious Israel came,
Led from the coral depths of Egypt’s sea,
Through parched wilds of sterile Araby;
Where Arnon’s stream, with soft and silver flow,
From lofty Pisgah, cheers the vale below,
Their spreading tents the countless hosts extend,
Gleam o’er the hills, and on the plains descend.
In proud array their warrior princes stand,
Like cedars planted by Jehovah’s hand;
Their martial ranks beside the crystal stream,
Like towering palms, or crested aloes seem;
While fair as fields with heavenly dew supplied,
Or gardens redolent of summer pride,
Their fruitful tribes beneath their banners rest,
And spread like clustering vines with genial sunshine bless’d.
    As forest trees, when autumn blasts assail,
As aspens quivering in the mountain gale,
So Moab shook, as, stern, he saw, dismay’d,
The strangers’ feet his fertile fields invade.
Faint grew his trembling heart, and pale his cheek,
At tidings told of slaughter’d Amalek;
Of Bashan’s giant king, despoil’d and slain;
Of vanquish’d Amorites on Heshbon’s plain;
Of Egypt’s pride chastised by Israel’s God,
Of signs and wonders by the mystic rod
Wrought for the foe he fear’d. With conscious pain
He saw the might of myriad armies vain,
And anxious turn’d, despairing, dark, afraid,
From mortal power, to seek infernal aid.
But demon arts, as human prowess, fail;
No dire enchantments against Heaven prevail,
Nor spells occult His potent word reverse
Who grants the blessing or inflicts the curse.
    With step perturb’d, and brow with gloom o’erspread,
On Peor’s height see trembling Balak tread,
At Baal’s shrine, his fated doom to know,
Learn Moab’s fall, or Israel’s overthrow.
While yet his priests the ensanguined rite prepare,
‘Midst darkling groves he breathes infected air,
And listens, while the murmuring night wind sighs,
To birds obscene, and hovering vulture’s cries;
Till sounds of deeper dread arrest his ear, —
The hapless victim’s sudden shriek of fear;
The sob of swift retiring life, the groan
Of torture from a bosom like his own!
The human immolation’s parting cry,
Of dread, revenge, despair, and agony.
Dim, sulphurous flame the’ unhallow’d altar crowns,
Through spectral mists the meteor spirit frowns;
And cormorants from their cragged nests draw nigh,
To claim a share in hell’s dread revelry.
Yet vain the spell, the victim bleeds in vain,
Nor king nor priests responsive answer gain;
No spirit starts within the mystic ring,
Nor mutter’d moans the anxious secret bring.
‘Tis silence all, and darkness, save the fire,
Decaying slow upon that altar pyre,
Save, startling, sullen, sad, the fitful breeze
That sighing sails ‘midst dark deciduous trees,
Bears round the mountain top the deathly wail,
Or, murmuring, howls it through the lonesome vale,
Bursts from the rifted rock with solemn swell,
To Guilt’s affrighted ear unearthly sounds to tell.
    Turn, son of Zippor! Balak, urge again
Thy tardy footsteps toward the fruitful plain;
For Baal’s orb is dimm’d by heavenly light,
And Chemosh stoops beneath superior might;
In vain thy priests accursed rites prepare,
In vain their feast infernal demons share;
Demons and priests a mightier Power constrains;
Go, seek thy princes upon Arnon’s plains;
Go, send them forth to distant lands, and try,
By other arts, to change thy destiny;
Allure a mortal from the right, and gain
Access of knowledge with access of pain;
Then humbly, by experience taught, confess,
The curse innocuous falls where Heaven designs to bless.
 
From distant lands, where proud Euphrates’ tide
In channels deep and wide
From Aram’s mountains flows,
Come, potent seer, in magic secrets versed!
    Come, try thy hellish arts accursed,
    For Balak’s wrath no boundary knows:
Thee shall Moab’s princes guide,
With Midian’s nobles at their side,
O’er rocky heights and deserts drear;
For on their fertile plains appear
Old Jacob’s goodly tents, and fill their souls with fear.
Come, Balaam, for to thee the princes bring
    The greetings of their king;
       His nobles bear
Costliest presents, rich and rare.
They seek thy sordid soul to move
With lure of wealth, with impious love
Of this world’s glories, vain and withering.
By gilded baits and flatteries fair,
They tempt thee to a fatal snare.
O ye, whom lucre charms, of Balaam’s fate beware!
 
Come, prophet, who, by love of gold betray’d,
Wouldst lend thy willing aid  
To Israel’s enemies!
    Come, and while Heaven thy word constrains,
    Confess that God Jehovah reigns;
That finite strength in vain his power defies.
    Though spirits foul in darkness bound,
    Low murmuring from the hollow ground,
Thy mutter’d call obey;
    Yet cease to dive into the deep,
    Let hell its awful secrets keep,
Chase all its fiends away.
    Forego thine incantations dire,
    A holier influence shall inspire,
And work thee to his will.
    Taught by the sword that stopp’d thy way,
    By angel might stretch’d forth to slay;
    Taught by the patient beast that bow’d
    Beneath thy weight, perverse and proud;
E’en thou, submissive, shalt his charge fulfil.
 
Go, ascend the blood-stain’d height,
    Where Baal’s hapless victim dies;
Go, perform the solemn rite,
    Pour the seven-fold sacrifice,
Balak, in thy princely state,
By thy reeking altars wait.
Pants thy trembling heart with fear,
Bows, attent, thy listening ear,
Till the Oracle reveal’d
Speak the doom of Moab seal’d.
Hush! on the prophet’s soul a sacred impulse flows,
He yields him to Divine control, and heaven- taught secrets shows: —
 
“From the man whose favour’d eyes
    See the visions of the Lord,
How shall impious curses rise,
    Dark defiance, threats abhorr’d?
Imprecations foul and fierce
    Reach not heads by Him sustain’d;
He can every charm reverse,
    Every potent spell is chain’d.
 
“O Israel, happy thou!
To thee thy foes shall bow:
Thy tabernacles fair
Heaven’s choicest gifts shall share.
Valiant and strong thy princely race shall rise;
    Lo, to the skies
I see them tall as mountain cedars spread.
Accursed, O Israel, be thine enemies!
On those who honour thee be richest blessings shed!”
 
Trembling, pale, convulsed with ire,
    Balak listen’d while he spoke;
Burst, at length, the smother’d fire,
    Fierce the kindling anger broke: —
“Prophet, seer, thy words are vain!
    False, thou hast my cause betray’d!
Haste to Aram’s heights again,
    Lest my sword thy soul invade!
Sent I not beyond the flood
    To implore thy curses dire?
To the fiends of glen and wood,
    Mountain sprites and imps of fire,
Demons foul that rove unbless’d,
    To devote my foes abhorr’d,
Struggling vengeance heaves my breast;
    Go, ere yet it rage abroad!
“Yet come again!
My soul, restrain
Thy bitter and impetuous grief!
Perchance a sight
From Pisgah’s height
Even yet may yield thy fears relief.”
 
Again the seven-fold victim bleeds,
    Beside the altar Balak stands,
To anger guilty dread succeeds,
    While Balaam waits Divine commands.
Again the sacred ardours glow,
Again the prophet’s raptures flow.
 
“Strong as the unicorn
Is Israel’s powerful horn!
The nations shall submit,
And bow beneath his feet.
His bow its feather’d shaft shall send,
His kindling arrows swift descend,
And keen transpierce the fated prey,
That dares obstruct his conquering way.
 
“Rising from the sun-burnt plain,
Judah’s lion shakes his mane,
Then in couchant glory lies,
Terror of his enemies.
Who shall dare arouse his might,
Or rush to the’ unequal fight?
    “O happy Israel!
    In safety shalt thou dwell,
Where the crystal waters spread
    Life, and health, and beauty round.
A bright and blooming garden, fed
    By living springs, whose fruits abound,
      Whose flowrets fair
      Perfume the air,
Thy smiling land shall be with plenteous blessings crown’d.
 
“’Midst subjugated foes
    Thy tribes shall dwell alone,
Celestial hierarchies compose
    The guardians of thy throne.
I see them now from heaven descend.
Around the’ expiring patriarch bend,
    And wait the parting sigh!
I see their dazzling pinions bear
His spirit through the yielding air
    To glorious realms on high!
Indulgent Heaven, accord my prayer!
O be it mine his death to share,
    His immortality!
 
“But whither, from afar,
Comes that bright-beaming Star,
Whose radiance fills the ample heavens with light?
Astarte’s silver horn
Gilds not the brow of morn
With lustre half so bright.
O’er Salem’s hills I see it rise;
A sceptre stretching to the skies
From Jacob’s loins shall spring:
That everlasting King
Shall o’er the earth his sovereign rule extend,
And suppliant nations at His footstool bend.
 
“I, too, that Star shall hail,
Though now a misty veil
O’erhangs my aching sight,
    And earth’s dim scenes obstruct its light;
Yet, yet its streaming splendours from the skies
Salute my wondering eyes:
    But ah! the lucid vision flies,
    And boding spectres round me rise.
For who unpurged shall gaze
Upon that glory’s blaze?
    Sullen whispers meet my ears,
Distant is that sight to me.
    Jacob! when thy Star appears
Mine a rayless orb shall be.
    Yet his Spirit fires my soul,
Yet his inspirations swell!
    Balak, bow to God’s control!
Son of Zippor, fare thee well!”
 
Thus spake the seer, and on the vale below
    A lingering glance o’er Israel’s thousand’s cast;
Pale Moab’s bosom heaved with speechless wo,
    The gale received their sorrows as it pass’d,
    And round the mountain top loud howl’d the eddying blast.
 
Hark! o’er Arnon’s silver stream
    The voice of music floats!
Who suggest the choral theme?
    Who swells the sounding notes?
Who the demon train defies,
    And sings Jehovah’s might?
Whence should songs triumphal rise,
    But from the sons of light?
 
Solemn, at the evening hour,
    From Moab’s haunts defiled,
Music breathes its mystic power,
    From glen, and grove, and wild,
Every lurking fiend to chase,
To claim the land for God alone.
    Hark! the ministers of grace
Sonorous swell their lofty tone.
 
SONG
 
Who shall stand when God appears?
    Who against his might shall rise?
He the lifted thunder bears,
    Wings his lightnings through the skies.
 
Hear! ye spirits of the deep;
    Riding on the mountain waves!
He controls your stormy sweep,
    Back remands to ocean’s caves.
Hark! ye spirits of the wind,
    Swooping dread on dusky wing!
He the tempest’s rage can bind,
    While the dirge of death ye sing.
Fever’d sprites, who love to haunt
    Scorching realms of central fire,
Hence! from milder climes avaunt!
    Fierce bestride the Simoom dire.
Demons dark, who rend the earth,
    Issuing from its rough-ribb’d rocks,
Ye who howl in horrid mirth,  
    Sporting ‘midst creation’s shocks!
 
Gloomy fiends, whom hell’s abyss
    Sends to haunt the maniac’s brain,
Ye who taste infernal bliss,
    Listening to the wail of Pain;
Ye who love to warp the soul,
    Pour confusion on the mind,
Purpose, motive, thought, control,
    Passion, sense, and reason bind;
Ye who, as your choice retreat,
    Claim the dark corrupted heart:—
Go, at Baal’s orgies meet
    Those who from their God depart.
 
Whether with the mouldering dead,
    Ward ye with Corruption keep,
Or from Suffering’s restless bed
    Scare the balmy wing of Sleep;
Whether in the train of Death,
    Fierce, ye hunt the fainting prey,
Eager, till the parted breath
    Make the unpurged spirit way;
Whether, at the signal known,
    Harpies, in your venom’d fangs,
Dread, ye bear the victim down
    To your own unutter’d pangs.
 
Hence, ye legions, to the deep!
    Far from Israel’s bounds remove!
Ministers of grace shall keep
    Those who share Jehovah’s love.
Angels from their thrones descend,
    Powers whom once in heaven ye knew;
Countless shields our camp defend,
    Warriors more than those with you.
Ye whose empire is beneath,
    There exert your gloomy sway:
Saints in purer regions breathe;
    Haste, ye demons, haste away!
 
Vain against Jeshurun’s hosts
    His arts the sorcerer tries;
In his God Jeshurun trusts,
    And all those arts defies.
By a mightier power controll’d,
    Silence binds the’ infernal train;
Spirits crafty, fierce, and bold,
    Confess your mysteries vain.
Lo! Jehovah claims the land,
    Earth and hell his word revere:
Hence! avaunt at his command!
    He claims his dwelling here. 
 
 Book III
 
Table of Contents

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