Book VII

Book VII
 
In the day of Messiah the Prince, in the interval between our Lord’s  ascension and his coming again to judgment, the world was to be gradually prepared and ripened for its end. The apostles were to carry the tidings of salvation to the extremities of the earth. They were to be brought before kings and rulers, and to water the newly planted Churches with their blood. Vengeance was to be executed on the unbelieving Jews, by the destruction of their city, and the dispersion of their nation. The Pagan idolatry was to be extirpated; the man of sin to be revealed, Jerusalem is yet to be trodden down; the remnant of Israel is to be brought back; the elect of God to be gathered from the four winds of heaven. –Horsley
 
Argument
 
Salvation, the great subject and end of the Gospel.— Its ineffable value only fully estimated by Him from whom it flows. — Its nature and results in time and in eternity. — Ascription of praise from all creatures to Christ, its Author. — The disciples, baptized with the Holy Ghost, and endowed with miraculous gifts, are sent forth to preach the Gospel to the world. — Their diverse talents: divinely harmonized, and adapted to the several spheres of action assigned them by Christ. — Sketch of the apostolic character and ministry. — The Gospel call given to the Gentiles, after long desertion, on account of their perverseness and idolatry. — Sovereignty of God inscrutable. — St. Paul, an instrument chosen, and specially prepared by Divine wisdom to evangelize the heathen world. — His zealous and extensive labours. — Athens. — Antioch. — Grove of Daphne. — Serpent worship. — Oracles silenced on the reception of the Gospel. — Parched deserts of Paganism refreshed by the waters of life.— Rome. — The apostle’s escape from shipwreck, and appearance before Cesar. — His martyrdom. — Establishment of the Church. — Divine appointment of its ministry. — Ordinances. — Laws. — Inspiration of the apostles to complete the volume of revelation, by the sacred records of the New Testament.
 
 
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.— St. Paul
 
Salvation! O from what empyreal height,
What fount of living waters, sparkling bright,
Shall sacred streams of inspiration spring,
While mortal muse of thee presumes to sing?
Might cherub lyre its lofty transports lend,
Might holy flame from seraph fires descend,
Might heavenly wind with bright and balmy wing
Sweep the full chord or touch the trembling string,
Nor breath of heaven, nor angel powers sublime.
Could teach thy glories to the sons of time.
    Salvation! not of thee the poets sung,
When listening nature on their music hung,
When Fancy, Genius, Beauty, crown’d their lays.
And smiling wreath’d the minstrel’s brow with bays.
Far other themes Apollo’s sons inspired,
Far other flames the bright enthusiasts fired.
Yet highest, holiest energies belong
To thee, sweet Poesy. Celestial Song,
Why should’st thou love to haunt the flowery way,
With sylphid forms in vagrant dalliance play
Beneath the myrtle shade, the moonlight beam,
Or sport with Fancy in the midnight dream?
Why dim thy wreath, whose amaranthine bloom
In Eden first exhaled its rich perfume.
While man, unfallen, primeval anthems pour’d,
And God, in concert strains with heaven, adored?
    Salvation! theme stupendous! when on thee
Thought, meditative, rests, nor energy
Of holy bards, of angel choirs, is meet.
It owns a mightier impulse: softly sweet
Descends the silver Dove; and, whispering, brings
Acquaintance with unutterable things.
That voice is His: its still, deep tones of power
Breathe on the silent, calm, reflective hour,
Gentler than winds o’er Saba’s musky vale.
Come, Guest Divine, ethereal Radiance, hail!
Thou, only thou, canst guide the searching mind
Salvation in its peerless Source to find;
Dispense those streams which bright and beauteous roll
In rich refreshment to the fainting soul,
And onward, upward, to that region guide,
Where, from the stricken Rock, those living waters glide.
    Salvation! theme Divine, triumphant hope
Of souls redeem’d immeasurable scope
Of mediatorial grace, to purchase thee
Appear’d on earth incarnate Deity!
To bless the world, thy priceless gifts bestow,
Messiah form’d his glorious Church below;
Sent living waters forth, and tongues of flame;
Bade prophet-bards, and holy seers proclaim
Thy solemn splendours, dimly seen from far,
Or rising radiant in the Morning Star.
    Salvation! as the cheering beams of spring
Fall on dark Nature, sad, and withering
Beneath the sullen gloom of Winter’s shade,
So comes thy message to the heart dismay’d:
So, on the soul thy quickening rays descend,
When Heaven’s bright Day-Spring bids its darkness end;
So from the dust man’s buried hopes arise,
When Mercy bears thy blessings from the skies.
Yet O, less fair reviving Nature’s bloom,
When vernal beauty chases wintry gloom,
Than darkling man, restored by Grace Divine,
His Maker’s transcript in his light to shine.
    What is Salvation? To what gulfs below
Shall Mercy stoop, its soundless depths to show?
How far above Heaven’s dazzling arch ascend,
To mark the boundary where its blessings end?
How distant, through illimitable space,
Urge her swift flight its lengths and breadths to trace ?
Nor length, nor breadth, nor depth, nor height is known,
But to His eye who fills the sapphire throne;
To Him, Omniscient, who at once descries
Immortal being’s vast capacities;
The fiery gulf that burns in central gloom,
The untold pangs of sin’s tremendous doom,
The bliss, the ecstasy prepared above,  
The boundless treasures of the Father’s love,
The light, the glory of the Saviour’s face,
The Spirit’s riches of redundant grace,
The brightness of the Triune Form impress’d
In spotless radiance on the ransom’d breast;
He only to its utmost bounds can trace
Salvation in his own unfathom’d grace.
    Yet, happy saints, who, once by sin defiled,
Are rescued now, and saved, and reconciled;
From Hell and Death’s infernal bondage brought,
The whirl of passion, and the maze of thought;
The stings of conscience, the o’erwhelming dread
Of judgment bursting on the guilty head;
Ye, wanderers once amid the realms of night,
Now, bless’d copartners with the sons of light,  
Say, — for to you the sacred pledge is given,
The seal, the earnest of your future heaven, —
Is not salvation in that Voice of Love
Which breathes in gentlest whispers from above,
And bids the prostrate spirit calmly rest
In meek affiance on the Saviour’s breast?
In that bright hope, that faith which soars on high,
That tranquil joy, that holy energy
Which fills, and prompts, and purifies the soul,
And bends its powers to Heaven’s supreme control?
    Yes, ’tis the Spirit’s reconciling sign,
‘Tis the heart sprinkled with the Blood Divine,
‘Tis cancell’d guilt, ’tis fear and sin subdued,
‘Tis the purged conscience, and the mind renew’d;
It is the image of the Son impress’d,
The Spirit’s fellowship, the hallow’d rest
That preludes an eternal Sabbath near;
The kingdom open’d in the heart sincere,
The heaven of peace, of righteousness, of love,
Where thoughts, desires, affections mount above,
‘Tis charity, in gentle grace benign,
Diffusive as Benevolence Divine.
    But sons of God, awhile in flesh confined.
Know but in part; to them the’ Eternal Mind
Reveals not those beatitudes above
Where Beauty reigns, and Harmony, and Love;
Where sin and sorrow come not, nor the cry
Of wailing pain, nor Death’s dread agony.
But man’s pure spirit, in its glorious shrine,
Revivified by Energy Divine,
Shall beam with ever-during radiance bright,
Act with new powers, expand with new delight,
Pant to explore immensity, and climb
The’ ascending scale of being’s height sublime;
With plume unruffled, onward, upward soar,
And Him, its awful, viewless Fount adore;
Him, in his works, all perfect, glorious, see,
And feel that all around is Deity;
That all is wisdom, virtue, glory, bliss,
That heaven is love, its loftiest ecstasies
But the full influx of that streaming tide
Whose mighty circles, strong, and vast, and wide,
Still-deepening joys, expanding glories spread,
From God, the Interminable Ocean, fed.
    All hail. Eternal Word, exalted Son!
The gift is thine; ’tis thou the work hast done.
To man, fallen man, through thee salvation flows,
Thy bounteous hand the wondrous boon bestows.
Be thine the praise, the worship; every knee
Bend lowly down before thy Majesty.
Let angel hierarchies the chorus raise,
And saints, enraptured, swell their loftier praise;
From all on earth, in heaven, ascend the song:
Bright, silver floods, deep billows, hoarse and strong,
Wild, waving woods, loud winds, whose boisterous notes
Murmur hoarse music; clouds, whose vastness floats
In heaven’s clear hyaline, who rush to bear
Tempestuous thunders through the hurtling air,
Join Nature’s gentler powers; each tuneful voice.
With man, in milder melodies rejoice;
Let every creature swell the song to thee.
Dominion, glory, blessing, majesty,
To thee, the Sacrificial Victim, slain!
The Lamb, revived to endless life again!
The King, exalted to thy throne on high!
Let heaven extol thy Name, let earth reply!
Through nether spheres, reverberant, roll the sound,
Through shining orbs that wheel their nightly round;
From all one echo rise, one strain be heard,
“Glory to God on high, to Christ the’ Eternal Word!”
    Messiah reigns, where’er through ample space
Stars sphered on stars, primeval darkness chase;
All own his hand, beneath his order move,
All hang suspended from his throne above;
He form’d and rules creation; yet on high,
Bright in his Mediatorial Majesty,
His Church, the purchase of his blood, he guides,
And, ever watchful, o’er her weal presides,
Though upward in his lucid chariot borne,
Awhile the flock their Shepherd’s absence mourn,
Yet pastors for his fold Himself supplied,
Form’d by his care and nurtured by his side.
    He call’d not on the mighty, nor the wise
Intrusted with salvation’s mysteries;
The humble for his friends Messiah sought,
With them conversed, by them his Gospel taught;
Their minds with light, their hearts with grace endued,
And sent them forth amidst the multitude,
By truth, by meekness, to subvert the sway
Of ancient forms; to rend the veil away
From purblind Prejudice, from zealot Pride,
To stem Corruption’s dark and turbid tide,
To preach to all mankind one law sublime;
Jehovah’s ordinance through revolving time,
Alike to Israel’s sons, to Gentiles given,
Acceptance here, inheritance in heaven,
To all who sue, in humble faith, for grace,
And on the changeless Rock meek hopes of mercy place.
    He sent them forth; but not unclothed with power;
Himself sustain’d them in that arduous hour,
His agents for his hallow’d work prepared,
And, copious, each the Spirit’s effluence shared,
The Spirit’s rich variety of grace;
The gifted speech, the rod of power, to chase
Dark demons from tormented souls; to heal
All sicknesses man’s tortured frame can feel;
To drink, unharm’d, the deadly draught; repel
The venom’d serpent’s fascinating spell;
To bid pale Death restore his senseless prey;
Rend foul Hypocrisy’s dark veil away;
On fraudful Craft the scourge of Heaven to bring,
And, stern, confront the wiles of hell’s infernal king,
    Commission’d thus, and sanction’d by his word,
Messiah yet the mightier grace conferr’d.
Lo, mindful of his promise, quickly came
The Paraclete, in cloven tongues of flame,
And sat, resplendent, on each chosen head,
Illumined, purged, refined, and comforted,
The servants with the Master’s form impressed,
His zeal enkindled in each burning breast,
His light, his grace, his energy conferr’d,
To work his miracles, to preach his word,
To share his cup of bitterness and shame,
To seal with blood their witness to his Name.
    As purest gold, by searching fires refined,
Leaves the dull ore and dimming dross behind,
So, from the mystic tongue’s baptismal flame,
The chosen twelve in holy lustre came.
No longer now, by timid fears oppress’d,
They linger, doubtful of their high behest;
But, calmly bold, assume the charge Divine,
Declare Messiah, Prince of David’s line,
With Him, the Man of Nazareth, the same,
And preach salvation through his only Name;
Preach, unappall’d, though zealot rage withstand,
And grasp the scourge, and smite with ruthless hand;
But menace, scourge, and death in vain affright,
Still firm in faith, and strong in heavenly might,
Their loosen’d tongues the Crucified proclaim,
And ask the world’s subjection to his Name.
    They spake with power: The listening nations heard,
In varied phrase, the glorious Gospel word,
Ponder’d with transport on the wondrous sign,
And felt the present Energy Divine;
To thousand hearts the keen conviction came,
In thousand bosoms glow’d the kindling flame;
Around the cross, in suppliant grief, they knelt,
And pardon there, and peace, and mercy felt;
Whom late they spurn’d, adored with prostrate awe,
And God, Messiah, in that Victim saw.
    Proud zealots murmur’d; impious heathen raged;
The world’s dark rulers against Heaven engaged.
Yet, what is pride, when God in power appears?
Vain man! canst thou restrain the rolling spheres?
Canst thou confine the ocean’s foaming flow,
Bind his huge billows with thy cords below?
Say, canst thou mount the lightning’s wing, or fly
On stormy thunders through the threatening sky?
As soon shall nature bend to thy control,
Yon heavens obedient at thy bidding roll,
Thy puny hand restrain the rushing sea,
The lightning’s wing thy fiery chariot be;
Sooner shall muttering thunders stoop to bear
Thy mortal weakness through the dissonant air,
Than thou, all impotent, in rage and pride,
Turn the firm purpose of high Heaven aside.
    Weak man contemn’d; but strong in Might Divine,
In work stupendous, and in word benign,
Forth march’d the chosen apostolic band,
Messiah’s messengers, from land to land;
To Israel first proclaim’d the Gospel grace;
Then, as the lights of heaven, their distant race
Through varied climes in glorious circuit ran
To bless the scatter’d progeny of man.
    Soft from yon o’erfraught cloud the genial shower
Distils sweet moisture on each opening flower;
There scents the rose upon its thorny stalk,
There bids the violet grace the enamell’d walk;
The tulip here disclose its thousand dyes,
And there the lily’s stainless beauty rise;
All from one source the crystal drops descend,
Alike their nature and the same their end;
Each blooming plant, one fostering store supplies,
Enriches all, yet each diversifies.
So on the Church, that garden seal’d below,
Where living trees in holy beauty grow,
In varied forms the Spirit’s gifts descend,
Yet all on him, their bounteous Source, depend;
He sheds the light, the energy, the grace,
All works in all, to each assigns his place,
In beauteous order blends each diverse power
To bless the whole; then bids the copious shower
In reascending incense, glorious, rise,
Exhaled by Heaven’s own light, an offering to the skies.
    To publish mercy to man’s rebel race,
To bear Messiah’s embassy of grace,
Himself his heralds chose; by each he wrought,
By all his truth’s stupendous mysteries taught;
Yet cast in various moulds each pliant mind,
To differing talents, different tasks assign’d;
Call’d veteran Firmness forth to meet the eye
Of scowling Pride and dark Malignity;
Bade holy Zeal the prompt instruction bear,
To meet the proselyte’s inquiring prayer.
To wipe the tear of penitence, present
The Lamb, to Faith’s uplifted eye intent.
Some, mild evangelists, his form express’d,
Embued with love upon the Master’s breast,
Amid those starry spheres, serenely bright,
Shone, like heaven’s cresset on the brow of night,
Or that pale fire which gilds the ethereal blue
When evening falls, or morn with orient dew
Empearls the silent earth; ensphered so nigh,
They caught the Day-Spring’s earliest energy,
Lived in its glory’s emanating light,
Reflections of Divine Effulgence bright.
    Yes; cheer’d themselves by wisdom’s sacred beams,
On other minds they pour’d its gladdening streams;
Nor spake of truths unfelt, nor, calmly cold,
In Stoic garb, their frigid maxims told;
But, sharers in the benefits of grace,
Themselves redeem’d, they sought the ransom’d race,
And show’d, with all the energy of love,
With ardour, kindled from its Source above,
Whate’er the Spirit’s glorious light reveal’d,
Whate’er his signet on their conscience seal’d,
Whate’er their eyes had seen, their hearts had felt,
Since, contrite suppliants, at the Cross they knelt;
Since, at His call who meekly suffer’d there,
They came, his conflicts and his crown to share.
    That crown they wear in fadeless glory now;
Bright wreathes the laurel round the victor’s brow;
But dark, and fierce, and desperate was the fight;
Against Messiah warr’d the hosts of night,
And earth’s impetuous powers, by fraud, by force,
Essay’d to stop the Sunbeam’s glorious course.
Lo, panoplied from heaven, those warriors bore
The blood-stain’d standard to each distant shore;
No tangling toils of earth-born care restrain’d,
Nor hope, nor fear, their eager steps detain’d;
One only impulse ruled their hearts, one flame
Of loyal love to that redeeming Name
Which, broad and bright, their blazon’d ensign show’d,
In each unconquerable bosom glow’d.
    Come ye, who press with eager step to bear
The churches’ weight of glory and of care; —
Come, view these models of primeval days!
Behold the minister of Christ, whose praise
Is register’d among the highest names
That earth’s proud heraldry for mortals claims!
Come ye, whose anxious, ardent souls aspire,
Whose spirits glow with more than seraph fire
To climb the highest steep by Virtue trod,
To bear unfurl’d the banner of your God,
Through Infamy’s ignoble path, or, bright,
To plant it glorious on the mountain’s height!
Come, patient trace the high exemplars given,
And stoop with them, and rise with them to heaven!
    Behold the minister of Christ! He stands
A mystery to the world, whose wisdom brands
His name, his work, with folly, and decries,
As vain deceits, the counsels of the skies!
He glories, — but in what? In labours borne,
In weakness felt, in flesh by scourges torn,
In prison glooms, in Death’s terrific shade,
Presented oft, in direst forms array’d,
In more abundant griefs, in perils more,
On the deep seas, the dreary, dangerous shore,
In perils from ferocious spoiler bands,
From murderous Heathen, from the treacherous hands
Of fierce compatriot rage, from glozing guile,
Concealing hatred by the specious smile,
The brotherly embrace; in painful care,
In weary watchings, ‘mid the desert air,
Or tempest-beaten main; in hunger, strife,
In all the dark vicissitudes of life; —
In these, his strange pre-eminence he claims,
While zeal, and charity, with blended flames,
Glow in his fervent breast, which, labouring, bears
Its deep, full burthen of the churches’ cares.
Beneath the weakness of the weak he bends,
And yearns o’er those the stumbling snare offends.
    Behold him stricken, scourged! He meekly stands,
And, patient, lifts to heaven his fetter’d hands
In prayer for the injurious, while his mind,
By pureness, knowledge, charity refined,
Rejoices in the Spirit’s light, and sheds
Reflective lustre, as the sunbeam spreads,
Divergent, from the mirror’s lucid sheen,
On whose bright bosom glows his orb serene.
 
Behold him, in his walk of blameless love,
Contemn’d, dishonour’d! No reproach can move,
No proud revilings shake, his steadfast soul,
By meek long-suffering held in sweet control;
No weapon but the Spirit’s sword he bears;
No armour in that mighty conflict wears
Save righteousness and truth: in these complete,
He comes, his darkest, sternest foes to meet.
    By man, proud man, despised, defamed, unknown,
Yet all unveil’d before the’ Omniscient Throne,
He lives, though death in thousand forms surround;
Rejoices, though in floods of sorrow drown’d;
Endures, nor faints, while yet the chastening rod
Attests his filial fellowship with God;
Though poor, yet wide his liberal hands dispense
The richest gifts of Heaven’s munificence.
Renouncing all things, yet of all possess’d;
Of all, in Him whose glory fires his breast,
For whom earth’s treasured stores he counts but loss,
Its praise, a vapour, all its honours, dross,
Whose shame his glory and his crown he deems,
Whose cross embraces, while the world blasphemes;
Exalts it, even while fetters bind his hands,
While ruthless Death with well-poised javelin stands
And marks his destined prey; unmoved, resign’d,
In loftiest, bearing of a lofty mind,
Nor life, nor freedom, claims his thought, his care,
Let hell oppose, let Death his shaft prepare,
Nor Death, nor hell, his steadfast soul can move;
Resolved the Spirit’s temper’d sword to prove,
Resolved his arduous course untired to run,
Nor leave the combat, but with conquest won.
Was such the ministry of elder days?
The master-builders, sent by Heaven to raise
The temple of the Lord ? How purely bright
Shines on the Church their meek and mellow’d light!
How glorious on her sacred threshold stand
Messiah’s holy apostolic band!
Ordain’d his chosen witnesses below,
The splendours of her inmost shrine to show,
To teach those truths the Master’s grace withheld,
Ere yet the living Light those shades dispell’d
Which o’er their minds in dubious darkness spread,
Till heavenly flames their lambent lustre shed;
Infused the Spirit’s pure baptismal fires,
And strung to themes Divine their consecrated lyres.
    Yes! such they were who first laborious wrought
By works of power, by prayerful, painful thought,
By words from heaven received, on earth to raise
A holy temple to Messiah’s praise.
‘Mid scoffing foes, a proud and treacherous band,
Patient, they rear’d it in Judea’s land;
In Gentile wastes the Stone of Zion laid,
Pierced the deep gloom, the bleeding cross display’d;
With quenchless zeal their arduous task pursued,
Till living stones, amid the desert rude,
Sprang beauteous forth, though formless once, to grace
With rising symmetry the sacred place,
Where light from heaven in holy radiance fell,
To bless the shrine where God vouchsafed to dwell.
    Yes! then the nations heard the joyful sound!
Yes! then, the prodigal, long lost, was found!
The wanderer from the kind paternal dome
Was welcomed then, with liveliest greetings, home,
Met the soft yearnings of a Father’s love,
Received the pledge of mercy from above,
Was clothed and beautified with robe and ring,
Call’d to partake the sumptuous feast, to sing
With those who triumph on the festal day,
For sorrow chased, and anger turn’d away;
For love renew’d, and amity, and grace;
For generous Reconcilement’s kind embrace.
    It was an arduous task; for proud and vain
Was the dark world without; Delusion’s chain,
Fast riveted, the Gentile nations bound;
In Death’s dim precincts, wrapp’d in gloom profound,
Cheerless, they sat; for He whose proffer’d grace
Their fathers slighted, long had veil’d his face;
To Error’s mazy labyrinth consign’d
The feet that sought not truth; the darkling mind,
That turn’d from Wisdom’s glorious orb aside,
He left to the obscurity of pride;
To wild imaginations, strange and vain,
Form’d by unjudging Folly, on the brain
Of self-complacent Ignorance, whose eyes,
Averted from the splendour of the skies,
In blindness seal’d pursued their dreary way,
In endless wanderings from the Source of day.
    Who choose delusion God in wrath forsakes.
By Him deserted, hell’s foul spirit makes
The tenantless abode his awful home,
And thither all his wandering legions come,
And there with strange infernal fetters bind
The darken’d conscience, the perverted mind;
The harden’d heart to deadlier deeds dispose;
With subtler webs of vanity enclose
The erring thought, the subjugated will,
Constrain to an intenser choice of ill,
Till light, resisted, yields to darkness dire,
And, good repell’d, fierce evil reigns entire;
Reigns, by the daring, desperate mind approved,
Even for deformity itself beloved.
    Thus, for neglected light, for grace despised,
Love unreturn’d, beneficence unprized;
For vain conceits of self-exalting pride;
For Deity, dishonour’d, scorn’d, belied;
For glory, worship, from Himself transferred
To creatures, call’d from nothing by His word;
For truth abjured, for hell’s accursed lie,
Device of fiends, abhorr’d Idolatry;
For these Jehovah Gentile lands forsook,
Indignant turn’d with stern, averted look,
From tribes immersed in crime, and left to stray,
Each in his dreary, dark, and devious way,
Unvisited by Heaven’s supernal light,
To track his journey through involving night.
    Justice and grace uphold Jehovah’s throne !
His pitying mercy even ia wrath is shown!
Though dark his anger o’er the nations lower’d,
And bursting clouds the arrowy tempest shower’d;
Though oft his vengeance drew the glittering blade,
And, keen, its edge on prcud apostates laid;
Yet still his Spirit taught the docile mind,
His goodness still beneficently kind,
Witness’d by genial showers, by sunny beams,
By ceaseless blessings, pour’d in thousand sti’eams,
That Deity, all-powerful, gracious, wise,
Whose bounteous hand each varied want supplies,
From all returns of grateful worship claims,
Though idol fiends usurp His awful names,
That He, sole, self-existent, ever lives,
And bliss and being from his fulness gives.
    Profound, inscrutable, what eye can trace
Jehovah, in his sovereignty of grace?
No finite force may scale that fearful height;
No wing but droops in that stupendous flight!
Veil’d in impenetrable clouds. His throne
He fills sublime, and works and reigns alone,
Nor even to angel minds His purpose shows.
How, then, shall man, whom darkling mists enclose,
Presume, with lisping tongue and thought confined,
To scan the counsels of the’ Omniscient Mind,
Draw, with unhallow’d hand, that veil aside,
And search the secrets God I’esolves to hide?
    How shouldst thou know, why primal virtue fell?
Why Eden wither’d in the blast of hell?
Why Gentile nations, long the tempter’s prey,
Uncall’d, beneath the frown of judgment lay?
How shouldst thou know why He whose zealot mind,
Convulsed with rage, in frantic fury blind,
Whose reeking hands ensanguined tokens bore,
Whose uncleansed raiment blush’d with martyr’s gore,-
Whose ravening cruelty, whose breathless haste
(As famish’d wolves the dam and younglings waste,
Or eagle pounces on the fluttering brood)
With savage ire the infant Church pursued,—
How shouldst thou know, why sovereign Mercy rush’d
To thwart the murderer’s path, while anger flush’d
His burning cheek, and from his ardent eye
Shot flames of zeal? Hath God inform’d thee why
Himself, array’d in robes of dazzling light,
‘Mid roar of thunders, gleam of lightnings bright,
Stood forth, to check the persecutor’s course,
And bend the rebel by almighty force?
Suffice for thee, the work he wrought. Behold
The ravening wolf, that havock’d wide the fold,
Transform’d, the Shepherd’s gentle charge to bear,
To feed the flock, to make the fold his care!
Behold the zealot’s fiery wrath repell’d!
Behold the storm of rage and hatred quell’d,
The self-complacent Pharisee subdued,
The proud opposer rise a saint renew’d,
Messiah’s foe the sacred sign embrace,
And Saul of Tarsus preach the Saviour’s grace.
    God works in sovereign wisdom: He combines
All agencies to perfect his designs;
Prepares his ministers amid the flames
That kindle round his burning throne; or claims
The meanest effort of creative skill,
To show his glory, or perform his will.
Alike, beneath his hand, beneath his eye,
The worlds of intellect, of nature, lie
In elemental separateness display ‘d,
As matter, ere those shining heavens he made,
Or this revolving earth: nor works he less
His own sublime, eternal purposes,
Whene’er his sovereign wisdom wills to bind,
Concentring splendours in a single mind,
Than when from rude, chaotic night, and all
The grossness of this dark terrestrial ball,
He sever’d, by his word, the glorious light,
And form’d the sun in full-orb’d radiance bright.
    Yet not from grosser elements withdrawn,
Shines for itself the giant star of dawn;
But, broad and bright, dispreads its beams of power
O’er the tall cedar, and the tender flower
That blossoms in its shade. Creation sings
Its earliest chant, beneath the fostering wings
Of Deity’s pure image; in its course,
Beneficent, unsullied, as the Source
Which gave expansion to its gladdening blaze;
Bright, in meridian altitude, its rays
Dispense their largest blessings; gild with fire
The gorgeous crest of evening, then retire;
Retire to reascend.
So God ordains;
Nor less o’er man, in grace and wisdom, reigns.
The gifts vouchsafed to one, for all design’d,
Nor form’d a Day-Spring but to bless mankind.
    Such was Heaven’s chosen instrument of grace;
A sun ensphered to guide the wandering race;
Himself emerged from twilight’s darkling shade;
By Power Divine an orb of glory made;
His lucid course through every clime he ran,
To bless the scatter’d progeny of man.
Such was Messiah’s herald, train’d to bear
His holy charge, with more than mortal care.
Alike by nature and by grace endow’d.
Who peerless stood, amid the listening crowd,
In heathen lands proclaim’d the Gospel day,
And bade admiring potentates obey.
 
Yes! such was he, who track’d, with dauntless mind,
His blood-stain’d path to glory ; who resign’d,
In steadfast faith, to Christ, his life, his all;
Whose burning bosom own’d the Master’s call,
And sprang with seraph zeal, from land to land,
The fearless witness of his truth to stand.
Yes I such was Paul! the man of loftiest mood!
Unawed by threats, by sufferings unsubdued;
Who, arrn’d with holy energy, appear’d
The champion of the Cross, where Falsehood rear’d
In proud colossal fabric, to the skies,
The Babel shrine of hell’s idolatries;
Where Vice, to Superstition’s cause allied,
In gorgeous purple, propp’d the throne of Pride;
Where Pleasure, trick’d with meretricious art,
Spread silken toils for Folly’s thoughtless heart;
Where vaunting Science show’d his treasured lore;
Where proud Philosophy her chaplet wore;
Where Valour bared his sword to guard the pile
Of old ancestral gods; where, stern, the smile
Of skeptic Scorn, or cold Indifference met
The angel form of Truth; or ruder threat,
Or arm of Violence, repulsed the light,
Her torch reflected on their deeds of night.
    Dark on the world the veil of covering lay;
Love, ardent Love, resistless urged his way.
He heard a voice from Macedonia’s shore:
Saw Thracia’s snow-crown’d heights his aid implore;
Europa’s isles and Asia’s cities knew
The angel herald, as sublime he flew;
They saw him on their idol shrines alight,
And urge dark demons to inglorious flight;
They saw the dying live, the dead arise,
Ethereal splendour pour’d on sightless eyes;
They saw, and, wondering, own’d the Power Divine;
They felt, and bless’d the saving grace benign.
    Bear witness, far-famed Athens! For to thee
He brought the pure, the true philosophy;
The wisdom which thy sons could never find,
The knowledge of the One Eternal Mind.
Come, with thy pride, before the stranger bow;
Unbind the laurel from thy lofty brow;
Confess thy boasted science wildering dreams,
And bend thine ear attent to sacred themes,
Which soaring Reason strives in vain to reach,
Which learned lore of schoolmen cannot teach.
Come, learn of him, though skeptic Pride deny,
That earth and heaven, the work of Deity,
Subsist, but by his will; that he controls
The world he made, sustains each orb that rolls
O’er the blue vault above: nor fate, nor chance,
Nor atoms, wheeling in incongruous dance,
Nor powers of earthly or celestial mould,
His glory share, with him communion hold.
 
    He dwells on high, uncircumscribed, supreme;
On man his bounteous gifts perennial stream; 
Nor offering seeks, but worship of the mind,
Devoted homage from the soul design’d
Alone for heaven and bliss, O then how rain
His pure, incorruptible light to stain
With earth’s similitudes, by art impress’d
On Matter’s dark, inert, corporeal breast!
    Of God, of man, the sacred preacher spoke;
With kindling zeal his holy accents broke;
While, with authority of Heaven endued,
Sublime, he taught the wondering multitude
The fearful terrors of that day of ire,
When Judgment, folding the wide world in fire,
Shall sit on human souls; when, clothed with shame,
Or bright in glory, every mortal name
A voice of thunder to that bar shall cite;
When Death, stern Death, beneath superior might
Vanquish’d and spoil’d, no more shall hold the slain
In dark subjection to his iron reign.
    Intense they gazed, while on his burning tongue,
Like altar fires, his fervid accents hung;
Yet softer sounds with gentler impulse came,
When melting Pity spoke Messiah’s name;
The sacred story of his love rehearsed,  
Of Sin’s tremendous penalty reversed,  
Of cancell’d guilt, of endless life, design’d
The purchase of his death for all mankind;
Of Gentile tribes, a dark and wandering race,
Invited now to Heaven’s eternal grace;
Commanded, warn’d, Delusion’s paths to leave,
And wisdom from the Fount of light receive.
    Not soon to heavenly teaching bends the mind
Where Knowledge, self-complacent, dwells enshrinsd,
Where lofty Pride, voluptuous Pleasure reign,
And Vice and Vanity their rule sustain.
Too happy, or too wise, with skeptic sneer
It turns from truths which angels list to hear,
So turn’d thy philosophic sons away,
Proud Athens, on that memorable day;
Yet soon that memorable day shall rise
Bright on eternity’s unclouded skies.
Shall they not then the slighted boon lament?
Shall they not then the cool disdain repent?
Go, child of vanity, renounce thy pride;
Lay thy false estimates of self aside;
Conform thy reason to the Truth Divine;
At Heaven’s own Day-Spring light that torch of thine:
So shall it yield a calm and temper’d ray,
No ignis-fatuus, glittering to betray,
But broader, brighter, purer beams extend,
Till with essential Light its hallow’d radiance blend.
    Yet some of humbler mood the truth received,
And, even at Athens, senators believed!
Stoop’d to the bleeding Cross, nor fear’d to brook
The taunting lip, the cold disdainful look,
But, singly bold, the Gospel’s power confess’d,
And felt its signet on their souls impress’d.
    Yet ruled Apollyon o’er those regions fair;
Proud tower’d his temples; round his altars there
Hell’s demon hosts, in flowery garb array’d,
Call’d Beauty, Genius, Science to his aid;
Bade every Muse his gorgeous chaplet weave,
Wit, Taste, Philosophy, his yoke receive;
Bow’d even sublimest Reason to his sway,
And shrouded nature from the light of day;
In various climes his mighty empire laid.
With various arts the subject world he sway’d.
‘Mid roseate bowers, supine, in slothful ease
He left the sons of Indolence; no breeze
Of rising thought disturb’d the stagnant mind
In Pleasure’s lap, on mossy banks reclined;
He roused them not from dreams of soft repose,
Save to delirious passions, wild as those
Which haunt fierce Fever in his fiery pain,
Or, furious, revel in the maniac’s brain.
    Was Greece, proud Greece, for arts, for arms, renown’d,
With dire Delusion’s iron fetters bound?
Thou, too, luxurious Asia’s splendid queen,
Bright Antioch, captive by her side wast seen.
Deck’d with her spoils, and swollen like her with pride,
Within thy soft domain gay Pleasure vied
With loftier passions, for the passing hour;
Beneath her potent spell the hero’s power,
Decaying, droop’d; while Virtue’s gentler grace,
With veil dependent, sought a holier place.
With her, ‘mid Daphne’s myrtle shades reclined,
Thy sorts, voluptuous, wooed the fragrant wind;
In strange deliquium of dissolving thought,
Their dreary bliss in sense, in fancy, sought,
Where silvan nature Beauty’s hand array’d,
Train’d the bright laurel, arch’d the cypress shade,
Led the clear streamlet down the verdant hill,
The charmed ear bade sounds harmonious fill,
And odorous shrubs their spicy balsams weep,
In soporiferous dream the enchanted sense to steep.
    There, as in Eden erst, the serpent lay;
Bright gleam’d his scales beneath the sunny ray,
And wide his coils inextricable spread,
And fell the venom’d shaft that arm’d his head;
And deep and dire his guileful arts, to bring
His heedless prey beneath his deadly sting;
And myriad victims, in that spell-bound shade,
Within the monster’s dreadful toils were laid.
    Yes, there, ‘mid sumptuous offerings, bright enshrined,
Dwelt Python, earliest troubler of mankind;
And there, as erst in Delphic caverns heard,
Gave murmuring forth the dim, deceitful word;
His frantic priestess fill’d with transport wild,
And suppliant crowds, to worship vain beguiled.
On him, false spirit, though in specious guise
Lurking unseen by unanointed eyes,
Awaited priestly pomp, and victims crown’d,
Virgins and youths who wheel’d in mazy round
The dance unhallow’d, while mellifluous song
Led the light train with heedless steps along.
    ‘Tis past! the word of power dissolves the spell,
Messiah’s cross confounds the fiends of hell;
His herald speaks; the voice of Heaven is heard;
Pale Grief looks up; and Misery, at his word,
Desponds no more; foreboding Guilt draws nigh,
To catch sweet sounds of peace; Idolatry
Sits trembling on his ancient gorgeous throne;
From darkling caves no demon’s direful moan,
Or voice delusive, meets the startled ear.
‘Tis past! hell preludes its destruction near!
A mightier Presence in this awful hour
Arrests the dragon, and controls his power.
    Parch’d is the desert ground beneath the blaze
Of torrid skies; no cooling mist allays
The glowing fierceness of that arid wild,
Nor gentle rain, nor breath of zephyr mild;
But wide fell Simoom’s fiery wings expand,
And sport with Death ‘mid clouds of scorching sand.
Such is the land of idols! Drear domain,
Where hell’s foul spirit holds his dreadful reign!
Unverdant, unrefresh’d by rill or shower,
Blasted and sear’d beneath the baleful power
Of that infernal orb, whose rayless heat
Bids fever’d life with throbbing pulses beat,
Ignites with demon fires the darkling sphere,
And rules in dimness, agony, and fear.
    As Moses, when from Horeb’s rifted side,
At Heaven’s command, he called the gushing tide,
Rejoicing saw new life inspire the frame,
As eager to the crystal current came
Myriads of parched lips; so, joyous, stood
The messenger of grace beside the flood
That roll’d translucent o’er that desert ground.
He saw salvation’s healing streams abound;
He saw the living draught by Heaven applied;
Saw nations rushing to the silver tide;
Then onward flew, with herald trump, to call
A world to taste the stream that flows for all.
    Heaven gave a vast circumference to his flight;
Pour’d on his mind its own resplendent light;
Endued with gifts of knowledge, gifts of grace,
With varied powers to teach man’s varied race.
To realms where science beam’d the truth he brought,
‘Mid Pleasure’s bowers its holy maxims taught;
He taught it where the stormy, sea-girt coast
Sustain’d its veteran sons, a martial host,
Unconquer’d by the iron hand of Power;
But yielding, in that strange, impressive hour,
As melting snows, beneath the solar beam,
Glide copious down to swell the mountain stream.
    The world, its wisdom, folly, rudeness, guile,
He had not fear’d to meet. Beneath the pile
Of Superstition’s towers that train had laid
Which made earth tremble, hell look on dismay’d.
Still was his utmost labour unachieved,
His fiery baptism but in part received;
He waited yet the hallow’d cross to bear;
With Christ conformity in death to share,
Assured his resurrection’s power to prove,
And wear the martyr’s brightest crown above.
    Rome, proud, imperial Rome! not yet to thee
Had Paul fulfill’d his sacred ministry;
Yet stood thy name upon the scroll he bore;
And, heaven-directed, to thy distant shore
Behold the stranger comes!
Look up, and see!
Thou, who art wont in gorgeous embassy
To gather round thee on thy throne of pride
The loftiest names to pomp and power allied!
O say, will thy imperious purple own
That weary, wo-worn, fetter’d man, unknown,
Meet herald for its stately presence? where
Neglect or scorn even crowned monarchs share?
Where self-sufficient Glory, deified,
Sets his stern foot on diadems of pride,
And spurns or crushes, as caprice or power,
Ascendant, triumphs o’er the passing hour?
    Yet, look again upon that stranger’s mien;
There is a majesty thou hast not seen
Even in the eye of Victory, when crown’d
With laurels newly wreathed, and gazing round
From trophied car, triumphant on the crowd
Lifting the clarion trump in praises loud.
Nor sits such lofty grace on Cesar’s brow,
While at his feet obedient senates bow,
As marks that reverend face, that beaming eye,
Bright mirror of reflected Deity,
Whose Spirit animates the lowly frame,
And claims thy homage, though the marks of shame
Sear his dishonour’d limbs.
He hath outrode
The tempest, when Euroclydon bestrode
The rushing meteor in the eastern sky;
When fierce and angry billows, vaulting high,
On their dark tops, like Alpine mountains, bore
Bright wreaths of snowy foam; when, rude, the roar
Of clashing thunders swell’d the dissonant blast,
And forked lightnings round the straining mast
Glanced their keen fires, and flash’d with flaming sweep
Down the dark furrows of the yawning deep.
    Dauntless he gazed on that tempestuous sea;
He saw the hand that set the whirlwind free,
With Heaven’s dread angel converse held, sublime,
Look’d forth on scenes beyond the bounds of time,
And holy words of grace and comfort spoke,
Though wild winds strove and waves impetuous broke,
And shelving rocks in treacherous ambush lay,
And Death, expectant, gorged his trembling prey;
For powerful rose the prophet’s voice on high,
Benignant Mercy heard his wi’estling cry,
And angels, ministrant, descending flew,
Forth from the deep each struggling victim drew,
And to the prayer of faith triumphant gave
That prisoner’s trophies from the yawning grave.
    He comes, in venerable age, in chains,
To stand at Cesar’s bar! yet there sustains
The glory of the cross. His herald there,
He comes, Messiah’s amnesty to bear,
Even to the throne of kings; nor fears the might
Of tyrant rage, nor Envy’s baleful blight;
But, bold, empanoplied in strength Divine,
Unfurls aloft salvation’s sacred sign;
That sacred sign its wonted power sustains,
Nor earth nor hell Jehovah’s might restrains;
Awhile infernal wrath its stroke suspends,
The firebrand from the grasp of rage descends;
Awhile the furious lion leaves his thrall,
And Rome’s proud palace hears the Gospel call;
That kindly call a thousand hearts embrace,
And myriads own the energy of grace;
While truth and goodness, with sublime control,
O’erawe the proud, subdue the abject soul.
    To him, whose sacramental pledge was given,
To live and die for Christ; who once in heaven
Had seen the blaze of empyrean light,
And at the groves of Eden, in his flight,
Had rested to converse with angel powers
And sainted prophets in those blissful bowers;—
To him, whose spirit soar’d and breathed above,
Death had no form of terror; only love
Inspired one fervent wish, — awhile to bear
The Saviour’s cross, his Churches’ griefs to share,
Or, glad, conclude his mortal course, and rise
At once to nearer converse in the skies.
    At length, his work complete, his conquests won,
His griefs endured, his glorious circuit run;
At length, resplendent, from the opening skies,
Beam’d in Messiah’s hand the martyr’s prize.
With unfilm’d eye that glittering crown he view’d,
Through pain and death his onward course pursued,
Victorious sprang the gladdening smile to meet,
To lay his banners at his Captain’s feet.
Transcendent triumph closed the glorious fight,
And seraphs throng’d with coronals of light
To watch the scene, to catch the parting breath,
To bear the spirit from the grasp of death;
To scatter radiance round the crimson’d tomb,
And redolence of heaven’s immortal bloom.
    Rome, blood-stain’d mistress of the world, ’twas thine
To quench in death this flaming Light Divine!
Yet still thy cruel, keen, unglutted sword.
From martyrs’ veins the purple current pour’d;
Beneath thy murderous steel in faith they bow’d,
And left on thee, presumptuous, ruthless, proud,
The stain of holy blood, the direful curse
Denounced by Him who sways the universe.
That curse, beneath thy trophied arches laid,
Beneath thy frowning bulwarks’ ample shade,
Beneath thy towers of strength, thy temples proud,
Insidious wrought, till crumbling ruin bow’d
Each mighty structure to the blasted ground,
And Nature wept, while Heaven in anger frown’d.
    Established on the Rock, the Stone of might,
Now rose the Church in holy beauty bright;
Against it hell in vain its strength essay’d;
Each living stone on that Foundation laid,
With noiseless art, by heavenly skill prepared,
The temple’s symmetry and glory shared;
Bask’d in the beams of Truth’s transcendent light,
Which, there unveil’d in stainless splendour, bright,
Disclosed the lengtlis and breadths of Love Divine,
The Godhead, glorious in his mystic shrine.
    He form’d the Temple; He its guest became;
His quickening Spirit breathed the living flame,
Kindled sweet incense on his altar there,
Perpetual sacrifice of praise and prayer;
Himself its sacred services ordain’d,
Its lamps in undiminish’d light sustain’d;
Upheld its stars in his right hand, and moved
Amid the glory which his soul approved.
    He form’d its ministry, to feed, to teach;
He gave the apostolic charge; to each,
Discernment, wisdom, miracle, supplied,
The power to rule, the gentleness to guide;
The high commission in his awful Name,
His terms of peace, of pardon, to proclaim;
To minister the sacramental sign,
The cleansing water, and the mystic wine;
His impress on the sainted mind to bear,
His work fulfil, his cup of suffering share;
His bright exemplar to his Church to show,
Walk as he walk’d, and live like him below.
He fix’d its laws; his teaching Spirit came,
As erst to prophets, in refining flame,
And bade inspired evangelists record
The sacred words of their incarnate Lord;
Retraced his lessons on the’ illumined mind,
And stamp’d them as the charter of mankind;
His life, his death, his wondrous works declared,
The rich rewards for humble faith prepared,
Unfolded mysteries angels sought to know,
Secrets of heaven, which only He could show
To whose omniscient eye, in stainless light,
Salvation, in its depth, and breadth, and height,
Stands all unveil’d; the meed his sufferings won,
The glorious triumph of the’ exalted Son.
    Nor these alone the mystic Spirit taught,
But future scenes from distant ages brought,
Disclosed the march of Providence on high,
Through paths perplex’d to all but Deity.
Reveal’d the kingdom of the Man of Sin,
The Church, by foes without, by fears within,
Perturb’d, oppress’d, till that transcendent hour,
When, bright in majesty and strong in power,
Messiah’s arm shall all her foes subdue;
The earth, the heavens, in glorious light renew,
His purchased, spotless bride, triumphant, own,
And raise, illustrious, to his heavenly throne.
    ‘Tis done! the teaching angel’s charge is o’er;
The Voice oracular instructs no more;
No visions now prophetic seers engage:
But truth, transmitted through the sacred page,
With perfect, constant, heaven-descended ray,
Instructs the Church to track her devious way;
Completes in Patmos Eden’s earliest beam,
Celestial efflux of the Light Supreme;
Transcript of Him whose grace the gift bestow’d,
From whom the Spirit to the Churches flow’d;
Who erst in elder prophets spake, sublime,
And taught the origin of earth and time;
Nor ceased to whisper to the tutor’d ear,
Nor ceased in trance to meet the gifted seer,
Nor ceased the figured mystery to show,
To bid the streams of inspiration flow,
Till doctrine, precept, prophecy, complete,
In one concentring orb of glory meet,
And God’s eternal oracles dispense
The finish’d counsels of Omnipotence.
    Hail, Holy Record of supernal love!
Thy living lines even seraphs search above,
And saints below with holy wonder trace,
Intent to learn thy mysteries of grace.
Stupendous register of truth sublime,
‘Tis thine to chase the darkling mists of time;
To cheer the mariner with friendly light,
Through shelving rocks to guide his course aright;
To show, beyond the deep, that peaceful shore,
Where waves subside, and tempests rage no more;
But heaven’s unsetting splendours radiant glow,
Nor season’s change, nor night of sorrow know.
Eternal Oracle of Truth, thy voice
Bids Misery hope, and holy Faith rejoice;
The wayward step of thoughtless youth restrains;
Soothes hoary age, amid its cares and pains;
Pours heavenly music on the raptured ear,
When Death’s dread angel draws in stillness near;
Proclaims, beside the grave, that destined hour,
When, strangely quicken’d by all-conquering Power,
Each captive, from its dark recesses brought,
Shall share the victory by Messiah wrought,
Emerge from Hades’ deep sepulchral gloom,
And wave his palm of triumph o’er the tomb.
    Hail, Holy Book! While time its course pursues,
And earthly lights their transient splendours lose,
While earth-born streams to trickling rills decay,
The Spirit’s flood, with broad and beauteous sway,
Shall through thy consecrated channels pour,
Bless the wide world, and spread from shore to shore;
Circumfluent roll, with still augmenting sweep,
Its mighty volume to the boundless deep,
Till every wave its vital influence feel,
And ocean tribes confess its power to heal;
Till cluster’d islands raise the joyful song,
And sea-girt rocks Salvation’s strains prolong;
Messiah’s law with thankful hearts receive,
Adore his mercy, and his truth believe.
 
Book VIII
 
Table of Contents
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