Book XDuring the period of the latter three times and a half, the astonished world was destined to behold the three wonderful spectacles, of a paganising apostasy from the pure religion of the Gospel; of a daring imposture founded upon the Holy Scripture, yet claiming to supersede it; and of a monstrous atheism, which set the Majesty of heaven itself at defiance. — Faber.Argument
Variable phases of the Church during her period of probation. — Fell, in the season of outward prosperity, into dimness and decline, through the seductions of a vain and presumptuous philosophy, the fascinations of the world, and the rapid growth of superstition.— Imminent peril of earthly mindedness. — Unbroken alliance between misery and sin. — All beings, in their various gradations, employed as ministers under Messiah’s government for the execution of his purposes. — The course of Providence directed for the conservation of the Church. — Rome, victorious, proud, cruel.— Her imperial sway subverted by barbarian invaders.— Consequent miseries. —Retributive character of the Divine judgments. — Good educed from evil. —Reflections. — Rise and prevalence of the papacy. — Sufferings of the faithful. — Dark features of the Man of Sin.— Obscuration of the light of truth in the east. — Asiatic churches. — The Greek empire, — Rise of the locust plague from the bottomless pit. — Mohammed. — Victoriesof the Saracens. — Still more desolating devastations of the Othmans. — The light of Christianity extinguished in the east. — Prophetic annunciations of the final overthrow of every antichristian power.
They shall be holpen with a little help; but many shuall cleave them with flatteries. Daniel xi, 34.
There is a glory of the sun, a light
Essential, changeless: the pale orb of night
Possesses, too, her splendour, when she glides
Athwart the hemisphere of stars, or rides
In pure and peerless majesty alone,
As heaven’s blue concave were her single throne.
Yet soon, too soon, that beauteous brightness fades,
And envious earth with interposing shades
Obstructs the radiance of her dazzling beams.
No longer, soft, her silvery lustre streams
O’er the still lake, or bathes the landscape bright
Of fringing woodland in a sea of light.
Inconstant thus the changeful Church appears:
Awhile her light, in crescent glory, cheers
Dim twilight’s shade: then, o’er the ample sky
She rolls, full orb’d, in lucid majesty,
The’ Eternal Sun in imaged brightness shows,
And o’er a darkling world His lustre throws.
Yet soon, from spheres beneath, what shadows rise.
What meteors shroud, what mists obscure the skies!
Nocturnal gloom, with reascending sway,
Returns, opaque, to quench her argent ray;
Sin, Error, Ignorance, averse from light,
Who love delusion, and who haunt the night,
Again, intrusive, on her hallow’d sphere
Malignant rise, and veil in darkness drear.
Were Israel’s recreant sons by heaven subdued.
And chased as scatter’d sheep o’er deserts rude?
Did Gentile thrones, and Rome’s empurpled state,
Submissive bow to heaven’s high Potentate?
Were rude barbarians suppliant at His shrine?
Were demons silenced by the Voice Divine?
Did Gospel light earth’s cheerless haunts pervade?
O’er rebel hearts was mercy’s sceptre sway’d?
Messiah’s cross did classic tongues confess,
And tongues unlearn’d its holy triumphs bless?
Was savage sternness awed to gentlest mood,
And minds untaught by wisdom’s lore subdued?
So sang the muse, delighted, as she traced
The march of Mercy o’er earth’s sterile waste.
Yet whither, in receding flight, withdrew
Those scenes of glory from the searching view?
What power malignant cast its baleful shade,
And dimm’d the beams on that bright dawn display’d?
And changed the songs of jubilee to sighs,
And film’d afresh the late relumined eyes?
Ah! fatal snares of peace! ’twas sloth and pride,
That turn’d that glory’s onward course aside,
With hovering mists obscured the beauteous day,
Deflected wisdom’s pure and perfect ray
In varied aberrations, wild and vain;
‘Mid realms where doubt and devious error reign,
Ensnared in wildering labyrinths, and there
Perplex’d the truth, defaced its feature’s fair;
In proud presumption sought those depths to sound
Which angels fathom not; where man is drown’d
In deeper gulfs than Stygian chaos knows;
For who shall God to finite minds disclose?
Man, proud of reason, read thy lesson here!
Pause, overweening Arrogance, and fear!
Who search presumptuous things by heaven conceal’d
Shall lose perception of the things reveal’d:
Who seek to measure Deity, and scan
The Eternal Essence by the powers of man,
Their fruitless toil shall veiling darkness shroud,
Deep, palpable, as that bedimming cloud
Which erst on Misraim’s haughty rebels fell,
Foul vehicle of hideous fiends from hell;
Who love the chaos of the turbid mind,
And down to gulfs beneath decoy the blind.
By vain Philosophy’s false lights betray’d,
Within the precincts of that fearful shade,
The Churches’ stars in dim eclipse appear’d,
Or gleam’d as lurid meteor fires, ensphered
In driving clouds, betokening tempests nigh;
The misty haloes of a burthen’d sky,
Which pour’d ere long its whelming torrents forth,
With noisome floods o’erflow’d the wasted earth;
In widening streams delusive Error roll’d,
Seduced the flock, despoil’d the sacred fold,
And sunk in dreadful gulfs of deepening wo
Souls rescued once from death.
Of heavenly hopes, of glorious prospects, bright!
Immortal day exchanged for baleful night,
The triumph of exulting angels void,
The sheep for whom the Shepherd bled, destroy’d?
Did proud philosophy with specious charms
Seduce the Church’s children from her arms?
Not less the world, with flattering aspect, strove
To win them back to its deceitful love;
To change its forms, its names, but still to keep
The earthly, sensual, selfish heart asleep;
Or vigilant alone to lure of wealth,
Of pomp, of pleasure. With deceptive stealth
It rose, insinuant, to the holiest place,
Usurp’d the mitred throne, assumed the grace
Of sacerdotal sanctity, and dwelt
In hearts of votaries, who, reverent, knelt
In daily orison before His cross
Who spurn’d its richest bribes, esteem’d as dross
Its kingdoms and their glory; turn’d aside
From gorgeous pomp, and on the crown of Pride
Look’d down with holy scorn. He loved the shade;
With poverty his sacred sojourn made,
And taught in simplest guise his lore Divine,
In spirit lowly, as in act benign.
Such was the Master, such the servants, too,
Till worldling Wealth his glittering baubles threw;
And earth-born Power, to tempt Ambition, show’d
A tinted arch, that in the sunbeam glow’d;
Till subtle Sophistry, with filmy line,
Bound the bright wings of Truth; and Love Divine,
By Discord’s wild and wasting fires repress’d,
Burn’d faint and fitful in the’ enthusiast’s breast,
Who, in his damp and solitary cell,
Hung Superstition’s lamp, and loved to dwell
Beneath its dismal, drear, and flickering ray,
A gloomy outcast from celestial day.
O sad reverse! O dark and fatal hour!
Dread triumph of the world’s delusive power!
Of hell’s entangling thrall, its fraudful arts,
To tempt from heaven and truth unwary hearts.
And still the Church, bereaved, in anguish weeps
Her shipwreck’d sons, who o’er these perilous deeps
In fragile bark, unconscious, hope to glide,
With swelling canvas, on the treacherous tide,
Nor dream that swift its shining waters sweep,
A roaring cataract down the dreadful steep.
Soothed by a siren world to strange repose,
No more the Church her conquering standard shows,
No more empanoplied in holy might,
She, stern, confronts the lingering hosts of night;
But soft at noon on silken couch reclines,
Pavillion’d high, in gorgeous drapery shines,
Surveys the suppliant crowd with lofty brow,
Forgets her tears, forswears her sacred vow;
No more the cross in holy meekness bears.
No more Messiah’s shame or glory shares,
Nor soars aloft, nor claims her heavenly birth,
But walks with men, and courts the toys of earth.
Yes, Persecution’s piercing blast had fail’d,
But now the sunbeam o’er her strength prevail’d;
Beneath the brilliance of that dazzling sky,
As morning mists, faith’s holy visions fly;
And Truth, perverted, hides her angel mien,
Apart from Pride, to walk in paths unseen.
To Sin and Guilt in pristine union bound.
Still groaning Misery in their footsteps found
Sows the sad earth with tears; Corruption heaves
Life’s social fabric from its base, and leaves
Disorganized those hallow’d links that bind
In kindred sympathies man’s suffering kind.
Dire Superstition leagues with baleful Night,
Dank Error’s wings shed mildew, blast, and blight;
Pride soars to fall, yet, ominous, as it flies,
Scares every gentler tenant of the skies;
And Heaven, vindictive, though long suffering, sheds
Its wrathful vials on rebellious heads.
Thus while, supine, no more the shepherds sought
To guide the flock their Saviour’s ransom bought;
Thus while the sheep, deluded, loved to stray,
And unresisting throng’d the devious way;
While mask’d hypocrisy, and base desire,
To Heaven’s high altar brought unhallow’d fire;
While worldling worshippers renounced the cross,
While Zion’s purest gold, enearth’d in dross,
No more the royal Stamp Divine display’d,
Then lingering Justice grasp’d his threatening blade,
Sever’d the sapless branches from the tree,
Consign’d the stars to dark vacuity,
Forth from their spheres in wrath indignant cast,
And swept the clouded skies with Judgment’s howling blast.
Messiah reigns! His undisputed sway
Obsequious heaven and pliant earth obey;
Alike from each his ministers he takes,
And hell his scourge in righteous anger makes.
He summons, and creation’s powers attend;
The locust flies, angelic hosts descend;
O’er fruitful fields devouring insects creep;
Barbarian hordes the peaceful champaign sweep;
All wait on him, his pleasure all fulfil;
He wakes the whirlwind, bids the storm be still;
Upheaves the mountains, casts the rough rocks down;
Makes morning darkness by his awful frown;
Looks on the earth, and lo, dismay’d, it reels,
Its central depth the mighty Presence feels.
Retire, ye sinners, from his piercing eye,
He passes in tremendous judgment by!
Let cragged rocks conceal you from his sight!
Ah! vain is shelter; and as vain is flight!
This world, and its vast kingdoms as they rise,
Administer to him; their destinies
In judgment or in mercy he controls;
Through ocean depths, sublime, his chariot rolls,
Or, bright, on shining clouds he rides above,
In anger terrible, or mild in love.
Still on his Church is fix’d his steadfast eye;
And earthly thrones at his command supply
Their fostering aid her infant strength to raise,
To clear her arduous path through desert ways;
For her the sceptre or the sword they wield,
And lift the scourge, or spread the covering shield,
As He with grace her loyal fealty crowns,
Or dark in anger on the vagrant frowns.
For this, imperial Rome, thy laurels hung
Bright on the Cesars’ brow! for this the tongue
Of polish’d Greece in distant lands was heard,
That Heaven’s pure oracle, Jehovah’s Word,
Might penetrate the dark, envenom’d shade,
Where Error, long in scaly volume laid,
Had rear’d the baleful progeny of night:
For this, with swelling sail and pennon bright,
Industrious Commerce plough’d the briny wave,
And gales from heaven the favouring impulse gave;
Nor letter’d lore by him unheeded brought
The gem of knowledge from the mine of thought:
He bade its lustre for his glory shine,
And banded learning in the cause Divine.
With broad and buoyant wing her eagle flight
Long mighty Rome sustain’d. The rough rocks height,
The cedar’s loftiest branches, bore her nest;
And, strong, with sun-bright eye and sinewy breast,
Amid the stars of heaven she soar’d sublime,
Despoil’d with iron beak the forest’s prime,
Chased every plumed tenant of its shade,
And every beast within dts covert laid;
Or bore on griping talons far away,
To glut her unfledged brood, the trembling prey
Of ravenous cruelty, in carnage nursed,
And taught with blood to quench ks direful thirst.
Huge mountains rose to check her flight in vain;
In vain beneath her roll’d the stormy main;
In vain the sunbeam cross’d her burning way.
Still onward, darting through the fervid ray,
Eager she flew, allured by scent of blood,
To scale the mountain, or to stem the flood.
Fame track’d her flight, and victory broad unfurl’d
Her blazon’d banners to the wondering world;
The world that loves ambition, carnage, strife;
That preys upon the charities of life;
That gives its plaudits to the prosperous guile,
Though Innocence and Virtue weep the while;
Extols with trumpet voice the Conqueror’s name,
Though harvests wasted, villages in flame.
And cities sack’d, and terror, and dismay,
Have mark’d the desolating spoiler’s way;
Though peace affrighted fled her halcyon nest.
Scared by the plumage on his nodding crest;
Though widow’d hearts, and orphans’ streaming eyes,
Pour’d floods of sorrow o’er his victories.
Nor was she less the favourite of the crowd
Who prostrate at the shrine of Mamrajan bow’d;
Who in her gather’d stores of golden wealth
Saw not the hand of Rapine, nor of Stealth,
That fileh’d or rent the glittering prize away,
While Murder stretch’d his ruthless arm to slay.
The sensual gloated on her sumptuous board,
And atheist libertines, whose hearts adored
The gods of earth, with ivy fillets bound,
To Rome’s proud genius mantling goblets crown’d,
Pour’d rich libations of unmingled wine,
Bade music soft, and poesy entwine
A garland for her brow, and at her feet
Scatter’d fresh flowers and fuming incense sweet;
While Beauty fair, with light Ionian tread,
Gay pleasure’s train, through mazy dances led,
And Mirth and Revelry attuned the song,
And drew with myrtle wand their dizzy steps along.
With science, arts, and elegance adorn’d,
The mean, the weak, her lofty spirit scorn’d;
Colossal strength in works sublime display’d
The subject earth beneath her sceptre laid,
In boasted wisdom proud, she sought to bind
The mightier empire of immortal mind,
To quench the bursting beam of Gospel light,
Though long immersed in rude and cheerless night;
Night, by her philosophic fires unchased,
The drear, dim sadness of an unsunn’d waste.
Yet stoic pride with cold indifference heard
The mighty message of the Gospel word,
Despised the hallow’d mysteries of the cross,
Inflicted pain, and mockery, and loss
On those who meekly bore the Saviour’s name,
Conform’d to him in glory and in shame.
On them the skeptic’s glance disdainful turn’d,
And flames of wrath in vengeful bosoms burn’d.
As the fierce lion, who, with bristled mane,
Springs on the prey, so Persecution’s train,
Relentless, on its hallow’d victims sprang,
And made fell pastime of the martyr’s pang.
Bear witness ye, ye sainted, suffering band,
Whose purple life-blood stain’d that ruthless land,
As spectacles to men and angels made,
In Rome’s proud circus for her sport display’d!
O, witness ye, who in that dreadful ring
Came forth to meet the famished tiger’s spring,
To raise the shield against the Tuscan boar,
Or furious lion, chafed by scent of gore!
Ye, who within her proud arena brought,
Your path to heaven through sanguine surges fought,
While Rome’s stern Genius calm your conflict view’d,
And frantic joy inflamed her multitude;
Who at her feet reposed, with garlands crown’d,
Impatient, till the trumpet’s welcome sound,
And clash of arms, proclaim’d the opening fight;
Then sped the well-poised spear with deadly might,
Or tangling net, disposed with dexterous art,
Gave its thrall’d captive to the trident dart;
Then sprang the loosen’d savage from his lair;
Then shouts of demon triumph rent the air;
Nor mist of pity dimm’d her tearless eye;
Rome mark’d unmoved her groaning victim die;
Nor lingering spark of sympathy awoke,
That nature’s yearnings in her breast bespoke.
On angel wings to glorious rest convey’d,
Your hallow’d souls beneath the altar laid,
Pour’d in the ear of Heaven their pleading cry,
And Justice heard, yet patient Mercy, nigh,
Restrain’d, with gentle hand, the’ uplifted stroke,
Nor yet the glittering sword of vengeance woke,
Till wide and far the herald’s voice was heard,
And listening thousands hail’d the living word;
Repentant, yielded to the call Divine,
And warriors, ranged beneath the crimson sign,
Embraced the cross, and nobly held till death, —
Their faith’s pure ensign; then, with parting breath,
To dauntless hearts and holy hands consign’d,
To wave on every height, and float in every wind.
Long, long his flight the’ avenging angel stay’d,
Forbearing Love the stern behest delay’d;
Long rose the prayer of mediatorial grace,
As fuming incense in the holiest place.
It came at length, — the word of wrathful ire,
That seraph flame unfurl’d his wings of fire;
Forth from the sacred shrine as lightning pass’d;
And down to earth his burning censer cast.
Soon darkling clouds eclipsed the cheerful sky,
Hoarse tempests howl’d with loud and dissonant cry,
While throes convulsive heaved the solid ground,
And, sullen echoing through the gloom profound,
Unearthly voices fiil’d the startled ear
With wail portentous of destruction near.
Then fell thy throne, proud mistress of the world!
Then from its mountain height impetuous hurl’d,
A wTeck, it floated on the ruthless tide
Of fierce barbarian anarchy, whose wide
And rushing waters, with tempestuous sweep,
Bore diadem and sceptre to the deep,
Roll’d dark and dreadful o’er thy proud domain,
And left thee withering ‘mid thy heaps of slain.
From Borean climes, from distant, barbarous lands
Heaven call’d its ministers: ferocious bands,
As from rent clouds descends the rattling hail,
Rush’d in wild tumult o’er the fruitful vale;
Reap’d the rich harvest, scathed the verdant plain,
Bathed ruthless swords in blood of infants slain,
Their virgin charge from weeping matrons tore,
Defiled the crown of reverend age with gore,
Crush’d the sweet flower just opening to the light,
Hew’d the tall cedar from its stately height,
Trampled the vine, whose purple clusters fair
Gave their rich juices to the tiller’s care;
Through crowded cities bore the flaming brand;
Struck down with iron mace and giant hand
The trophied pile, the tower of strength, where Pride
On blazon’d throne, with Genius by her side,
Presumed herself immortal, and survey’d
Time’s sweeping sythe and hour-glass undismay’d.
Then, fever’d with infuriate rage, drew nigh
Fierce Scythian ravagers, whose demon cry
Was, havock, slaughter, death! whose leaders fell,
(As brands ignited by the fires of hell,
Or meteors, bursting in portentous flighty
With dread explosion ‘mid the gloom of night,)
Shed blasting flames and sparks of terror round;
Obscured the heavens, and sear’d the solid ground;
And cursed creation with their baleful breath,
The dark-wing’d heralds of approaching Death,
Then Misery felt the acme of her fate;
Then Horror reign’d, and earth, made desolate,
Seem’d but the grave of man. Destruction there
Brooded on darkness, carnage, and despair.
‘Mid deserts, cities once, the wretch, dismay’d,
Stalk’d with wild Famine, and the direful shade
Of livid Pestilence, whose maniac cry
Pour’d its last wail in hopeless agony.
Then, from his rural cot, the village hind.
Chased by the murderer, desperate, saw consign’d
His native vale to pillage, rapine, flame;
The graves that held his sires, — unknown to fame,
Yet sacred to affection, — wrong’d and spoil’d;
The plain, the woodland, where his youth had toil’d,
Waste as the mountain wild; the playful throng
That cheer’d his evenings with the buoyant song
Of youthful merriment, or, eager, press’d
To share the fondness of a father’s breast;
These, with the smiling mate; whose gentle love
Made home his halcyon nest, — even as the dove
Which eyes the pouncing vulture, he had seen
Poised on the harpies’ fangs: Love could not screen
Nor Courage shield them from their hapless fate:
His eye is dim, his heart is desolate,
The wild wind wanders through the leafless grove,
Within whose shelter stood his home of love.
War, deepest, direst thunder in the host
Of Heaven’s artillery, when, anger’d most
It opens its dread batteries on the world!
How were thy burning bolts in vengeance hurl’d
Against that recreant majesty, whose throne,
Raised o’er the subject earth, had ruled alone
The nations and their gods I whose iron sway
Thy scourge upheld, and track’d her crimson way
With toils, and tears, and blood! Though reckless Fame
Conjoin’d with glory Rome’s immortal name,
Yet He who reigns supreme, who, though he hide
His anger in long suffering, scoffs at pride,—
He grasp’d at length the balance and the sword,
He weigh’d the guilt, the righteous judgment pour’d,
Retributive, the cup of fury press’d,
And sheath’d his falchion in the murderer’s breast;
Back with unmeasured vengeance drove the blast,
By proud ambition on the strengthless cast,
And scathed with lightning fires the towering head
That on the desolate destruction shed.
O depth of Deity, whose sovereign will
Permits, yet counterworks, encroaching ill,
Defeats the counsels of infernal art,
And bids the scourge of judgment yield its part
To mercy’s scheme benign! whose searching eye
Discerns the deep, the distant, and the high,
And to his own mysterious purpose brings
The turbulence of sublunary things.
Man, proud, presumptuous, and malignant, dares
Omnipotence to wrath; yet goodness spares,
And even when lingering indignation wakes
The searching chastisement of grace partakes;
Incensed, yet pitying, — tender, though severe,
Controlling chaos, causing light to cheer
The tempest clouds that gather round his feet,
Even when to anger stirr’d He comes to meet
The rebel sons of pride: earth owns his sway,
August, mild, venerable: Heaven’s pure day
No cloud of judgment darkens: hell below
Is seal’d to irremediable wo.
Yes, blended grace and justice ruled the hour
Of Rome’s descending star! A mightier power
Than nature wields impell’d the dreadful course
Of that impetuous flood, whose furious force
Urged the strong sea against her crimson throne;
‘Twas Wisdom, working deep in mines unknown
To perfect Mercy’s plan. The vehement blast.
That Rome’s proud eagle from its eyry cast,
And rent the rock within whose storied heights
It lodged the raven of a thousand flights.
And heaved the earth, and roll’d the stormy main,
In frightful deluge o’er the fertile plain;
That fierce tornado, in its furious sway,
Bore ancient error’s mouldering femes away;
Wrench’d from its pagan soil the rugged roots
Of dark Idolatry, whose lurid shoots
Yet choak’d the healthful blade; with dragon wing
Assail’d each vain, each venerable thing,
Swept truth, and falsehood, power, and pomp, and pride,
And science, and philosophy aside.
Rude chaos reign’d! Yet, lo, that potent word
Which nature in primeval darkness heard,
Commanded, and Confusion’s dreary bed
Prepared an embryo seed, erewhile to spread
In energy of intellect and grace;
Yet buried long within that secret place
Amid ungenial elements it lay,
Nor sprang to light, nor drank the healthful day.
But gracious heaven its own deposit kept,
The faithful Sower slumber’d not, nor slept;
With vital warmth, ‘mid wintry frosts sustain’d,
On sterile earth the gentle moisture rain’d,
And bade his cherish’d plant expand at length,
Serene in beauty, and sublime in strength.
Thine enemies shall perish, they shall fall
Beneath thine hand, Eternal Lord of all!
Thy King upon his holy throne shall reign,
Messiah shall thy righteous rule sustain;
As orient clouds before the sunbeam fly,
As stubble from the rushing whirlwind nigh,
So shall thy foes before thy presence flee,
And all creation, prostrate, worship thee!
Thy thunders roll’d, and Babylonia’s towers
In ruin lay; her blasted groves and bowers
The tiger’s lair, the serpent’s haunt, became;
On Misraim’s fertile plains, with scathing flame,
Thy lightning’s kindled; Desolation there
Stalks wild and fearless; Judah’s mountains, fair,
Impart no moisture to that wither’d vine,
Implanted once, then, by thy Hand Divine,
Uprooted and despoil’d; thy vengeance hurl’d
From her proud throne the mistress of the world;
Beneath thy frown, beneath thy wrath, she fell.
O who is strong against the Terrible!
What breastplate, what invulnerable shield,
Can stay the sword thine arm prepares to wield?
Earth on her burden’d breast in silence bears
Memento of her curse; Destruction spares
The dim, lone tower, the mouldering marble, gray,
That sympathy, not unimpress’d, may stray
Amid the wrecks of time; where Genius rose,
Where proud Ambition spurn’d inglorious foes,
Where gorgeous Greatness clasp’d his glistering robe,
Stretch’d his bright sceptre o’er the circling globe,
And awed the prostrate nations by his nod;
Where lofty Pride the spacious palace trod,
Survey’d the towering fane, the cedar’d dome;
Then, stricken, fell, an outcast wretch, to roam
Wild with the grazing herd. O not in vain
Shall Nimrod’s relics strew the lonely plain;
Nor Egypt’s stately mausoleums spread
Their cavern’d grandeur o’er the mighty dead;
Nor Rome’s dilapidated temples stand,
Sear’d with stern lightnings by Jehovah’s hand;
If frail mortality, instructed, own
That only God is great, that He alone
Supreme in undiminish’d glory reigns,
His word heaven’s starry canopy sustains,
And crowns and thrones in shatter’d fragments lie
Beneath the glance of his indignant eye.
Her pristine form unchanging Nature bears,
Yet Heaven and Time, the flood, the mountain, spares.
Man’s mightiest works in mouldering ruin lie,
Still smiles the verdant plain, the azure sky,
Still the rich landscape in luxuriance spreads,
And rusgged rocks still raise their towering heads.
Short is the span to human toils assign’d,
And frail the monuments man leaves behind!
On Nature Heaven a longer date bestows:
God, only God, eternal being knows.
Imperial Rome! beneath thy mountains gray,
Beside thy far-famed flood shall wisdom stray,
And, pensive, backward tread the course of time;
With thy stern Genius converse hold, sublime,
On transitory things; on power, and pride,
And wealth, and fame, to virtue unallied;
On Science, self complacent, soaring high,
On slenderest filaments of vanity,
On Wisdom, proud to spurn the cross, and stand
Its own defence against Jehovah’s hand.
Yes, while bleak night winds through thy ruins sweep,
And foxes from deserted turrets peep;
While clasping ivies to thy temples cling,
And silence reigns within that wondrous ring
Where thousand voices once with stormy swell,
As ocean’s vaulting billows, rose and fell;
Where human monsters turn’d the glaring eye
To mark the mangled gladiator die,
To watch the martyr while the reeking fang
Of the gaunt lion urged the mortal pang:
Here, while the column fallen, the fane decayed,
The trophied arch in lonely ruin laid,
Attest thee once, in lofty splendour great,
Attest thee now, bereaved and desolate;
Attest that glory, pinnacled on high,
Unbased by virtue, soon in dust shall lie:
Here not in vain, in solemn musings found,
Shall calm Reflection tread thy classic ground;
But, circled by thy bright cerulean sky,
When morning blushes, or the moon is high,
Or, soft, when eve in sober twilight fades,
Steal silent through thy venerable shades,
And talk with visions of departed things;
While heroes, tribunes, senators, and kings,
Pass, in still pageant, dim, and frowning by;
No sunbeam lights the orb of majesty,
No patriot voices greet a senate’s ear.
No trumpet heralds War’s stern conflict near;
Each spectral Form the mountain meteor shrouds;
Pale, quivering lightnings gild the distant clouds;
As sad each single spirit hastes to meet
The awful splendours of the Judgment-seat.
Here, ‘mid the wrecks of genius, glory, time,
Shall Contemplation soar, in thought sublime,
And learn that valour, conquest, pleasure, power,
Are passing pageants of a short-lived hour;
That majesty, to virtue unallied,
Is but the full- blown emptiness of pride,
A bubble now, in sunny radiance bright,
Then by that beam exhaled which gave its transient light.
Yon heavens, how bright, how high! With earnest gaze
Their broad expanse the wandering eye surveys,
Asks the blue depths that spread, and roll and glow,
To what unknown, what distant regions flow
Their waves of sapphire light. Where dwells the bound
That zones that ocean? In what vast profound
Of gloom or glory hangs the central scale
That balances creation? What the veil
That hides those radiant hierarchies beyond?
In vain: no seraph symphonies respond;
No eye in eager gaze, nor ear attent,
Can pierce the foldings of that firmament.
“Canst thou by searching find out God?” His throne
The heaven of heavens conceals. He walks alone;
All inaccessible to thee where light
Circles his footsteps, or the veil of night
Falls in deep draperies round his awful path.
Canst thou unfold his purpose? to his wrath
Give utterance in stern thunders, or declare
How vast, how high, his thoughts of blessing are?
Vain mortal! Seek him not within the shade
Impervious to thy twilight vision made;
But here, in this thy dawn of being, learn,
In lowliness of wisdom, to discern
The beam sent down to thee, the living ray
Prepared to guide thee on thy heavenly way;
Then from a purer, brighter, happier sphere,
Shalt thou look down on depths unfathom’d here,
And view the’ Eternal, in his rule sublime,
Upholding nature, and controlling time;
In number, weight, and measure, ordering still
His works of wisdom by his sovereign will;
Through depths, o’er heights, which angel powers transcend,
Conducting all to one harmonious end,
Where every string, combined in concert sweet,
In one hosanna to His Name shall meet.
He slumber’d not, even in that midnight hour
When hell’s dread tyrant, with insidious power,
Resumed o’er earth’s benighted sons his sway,
And with delusive shades obscured the day
That rose erewhile on man. His watchful eye,
Observant, mark’d the dire apostasy
By sin and error on his Church entail’d;
He saw, when Truth grew dim, when Judgment fail’d,
When Pride, o’erweening, left the Word Divine,
And raised her censer to a mortal’s shrine,
When pall’d, and veil’d, athwart the wilder’d way,
Pale Superstition held her cresset ray,
Whose glimmering beam, an ignis fatuus wild,
The way-worn pilgrim from his path beguiled;
He saw, and in permissive judgment lent
The drear, dim hour, to vengeful punishment;
Left unrestrain’d the proud and wayward will
That sought delusion, to the choice of ill;
The ill it chose, his scourge in anger made,
And judgment in the garb of guilt array’d.
Dense hung the shades of that nocturnal gloom;
Truth’s smother’d torch, as in the vaulted tomb
Burns the dim taper, shed its sickly rays,
‘Mid chilling damps, and light-absorbing haze;
When sunk in western waves, amid the roar
Of angry billows, to emerge no more,
Proud Rome’s imperial sun. On that dark sea
Strove Vice, and Ignorance, and Vanity,
Till fearful on its turbid foam was seen
A wondrous form, whose strange and dreadful mien,
Diverse from earth’s creations, fierce and fell,
With roarings wild, and tramplings terrible,
Dismay’d the world; yet, as the charmer’s art
Despoils the dragon of his fiery dart,
Even so the docile monster bore subdued
A sorceress dire, in fair similitude
Of female grace; with meretricious pride,
Array’d in vest by Tyrian merchants dyed,
Her crimson’d hands a charmed chalice bore,
Soft pearls and sparkling diadems she wore,
Light, treacherous smiles her specious lips display’d,
Her soothing speech unwary hearts betray’d,
Unhallow’d fires shot wildly from her eye,
Her forehead bore her title, “Mystery!”
With wondering eyes admiring princes view’d,
Kneel’d at her feet, by guileful arts subdued,
Her mantling cup of deadly wine received,
With willing hearts her specious words believed,
In one dark hour their prostrate souls consign’d
To hell’s dread emissary, bow’d the mind,
With all its faculties, beneath her sway,
And bade the world her siren rule obey.
Soon O’er that world her witcheries prevail’d,
The eager crowd with false hosannas hail’d,
Unhallow’d incense on her altars burn’d,
And Truth’s pure shrine with treacherous ligh tness spurn’d,
Then, sad, in silence mourn’d the faithful few,
Amid the faithless to their fealty true;
True, though their faith affliction’s furnace tried,
Though Slander foul their spotless fame belied,
Though Persecution’s iron chain compress’d,
Though Slaughter wrapp’d them in his sanguine vest.
The sorceress and her venom’d draught they spurn’d,
From all her blandishments indignant turn’d,
And chose the searching fire, the biting steel,
All that the heart can bear, the flesh can feel,
Ere by her false and fatal craft betray’d,
To sink, her victims, to infernal shade.
Rome! nursed in blood, upon whose infant tongue
The war cry and the shout of conquest hung!
Rome! train’d in hardihood of youth to arms,
Whose deadly pastime was the wild alarms
Of the swift-flying foe, the mortal groan
Of vanquished myriads, by thy might o’erthrown!
Rome! in thy pride of manhood, cruel, dread,
Beneath whose gleaming axe the sainted head
Bow’d down submissive! Thou whose sullen joy
Was kindled by the puissance to destroy!
Rome! in thy hoavy age the fated prey
Of murderous rapine! No! thy sanguine way
Was never tracked so deep with gory stains,
Nor on thy head so dire a curse remains,
For deeds of ancient darkness, as for blood
Pour’d from thy Papal throne; a swelling flood.
O’er the wide world its wasting deluge swept,
While tears of bitterest grief the Church in anguish wept.
Historic Muse, who mark’st, with pensive mien,
The passing pageants of life’s varied scene,
What tears bedew thy cheeks! What blushes rise,
While thy dark page records the miseries
By man imposed on man! Yet, canst thou trace
No line of guilt, of terror, of disgrace,
That with so dire, indelible a stain,
Blots thy foul tablet, as the dreadful reign
Of God’s usurping foe: when worldling pride
Wore Superstition’s mask, and lured aside
From truth and reason to her lawless sway,
Poor, purblind souls, degraded to obey;
When impious Blasphemy, all undismay’d,
Discarding shame, refused not to invade
Heaven’s high prerogative, but claim’d the grace
To cancel sin, its moral stain efface.
To barter godliness for Mammon’s hire,
Commute for crime, and from infernal fire
To ransom for a bribe; when curb’d and rein’d,
By harsh Oppression’s galling scourge restrain’d,
Conscience, that monitor of Heaven within,
Sunk the dark captive of the Man of Sin:
To whom Corruption, with deceitful tongue,
Paid flattering court, and on his shoulder hung
The keys, to David’s Heir consigned alone;
While proud Presumption to Messiah’s throne
Upraised an erring mortal, who, as God,
With impious daring in His temple trod.
No finite power that sacred throne may fill,
Unerring wisdom waits on sovereign will,
Eternal Love almighty strength sustains,
And mercy triumphs, e’en while justice reigns.
Such is the rule of Heaven; but he whose pride
Usurp’d a power to all but Heaven denied,
By means diverse his lawless might sustain’d;
Stern, crafty, cruel, not in grace he reign’d;
But Ignorance, Oppression, Treachery, Guile,
Hypocrisy, with well-dissembled smile,
Terror, and Death, with venom’d shaft, and bow
Strung for the flight, around him stood, or low,
Sunk at his feet, his ministers of ill,
Obsequious vassals of his tyrant will.
So reigns the scourge o’er slaves to bondage sold,
So reigns the wolf o’er the defenceless fold,
So reigns the gloating serpent o’er his prey,
Whose treacherous glances fascinate to slay.
Mourn, saints and prophets, o’er the Church defiled!
Mourn for apostate souls by sin beguiled!
For suffering Faith, by sternest tortures tried,
For love extinguish’d, and for truth denied;
For hell’s successful wiles, its triumphs dread,
O’er spirits fallen, o’er blood of martyrs shed
In crimson streams at Superstition’s shrine;
For Heaven dishonor’d, God in wrath Divine
Far from his faithless heritage removed,
To darkness leaving those who darkness loved.
While thus o’er western skies oblivious Night
Drew her dim yeil, and from the searching sight
Conceal’d the lucid orb of Truth Divine,
Nor gave one glimmering planet leave to shine;
While from the sterile glebe no harvests sprung,
Nor vernal bloom on sapless branches hung,
But winter, dreary winter, cheerless, cold,
Held his bleak reign o’er Europe’s desert fold;
While pining flocks, unpastor’d and unfed,
Their straggling course o’er swampy mountains led,
While hireling shepherds sought the fleece alone,
While Virtue fail’d, and Wisdom walk’d unknown,
While thus chastised, the sea-girt islands droop’d,
And Japhet’s sons to papal bondage stoop’d, —
Where fled the lustre of those orient skies
Which caught the Day-Star’s splendours at its rise,
And hail’d the quickening beam? ‘Tis quench’d in night;
Those heavens are black, as when the orb of light,
In dim eclipse by envious shadows laid,
Leaves Nature desolate and man dismay’d.
In Patmos’ lonely isle a voice was heard :
Did heedful ears receive that burning word?
From Him in awful majesty it came,
Who bears unsheath’d the sword of living flame;
Whose searching eye with radiant brightness glows.
Reads the deep thought, the inmost purpose knows;
Whose snow-white robes their dazzling lustre shed,
While rainbow glories crown his sacred head;
Whose feet like brass in fiery fusion glow:
As sunbeams from their blazing centre flow.
So from his face, insufferably bright,
Pour vital streams of undecaying light.
That voice was His! sublime as ocean’s sweep,
When his proud billows from the boundless deep
Burst on the cavern’d shore: ‘Twas His whose eye
With watchful care, with searching scrutiny,
Pervades the Churches, every lamp surveys,
Marks the dim light that foul in stench decays;
Whose strong right hand, the angel Stars sustains,
Who, First and Last, the King in Zion reigns.
That voice was His! Did listening Asia hear
The kind rebuke, arouse to needful fear,
Her glimmering lights with sacred oil restore,
Her earliest love, her pristine zeal, implore?
Purge from her vine its sapless branches wild,
Its seeds of error, and its fruit defiled?
Repentant mark that warning cry, “Beware!”
And sue for grace while Judgment deign’d to spare?
No! even from Heaven in vain that charge was heard,
In vain denounced the stern, reproving word;
Nor promised crowns, nor threaten’d dangers rouse
To zeal renewed, to grief for plighted vows
Neglected or profaned: in dim decay,
Offensive, passed those glorious lights away,
Nor golden lamps, nor sparkling stars remain,
But, dark and cheerless, o’er the desert plain,
His gloomy path the traveller, lone, pursues,
Nor beam of morn, nor midnight splendour views.
Awhile in eastern climes the hovering shade
Of Rome’s departed glory wistful stay’d.
And sought by draperies of gorgeous pride
Her wither’d form and strengthless limbs to hide.
The sceptre trembled in her nerveless hands,
Her eagle soar’d not o’er subjected lands,
Nor armies, ranged behind her ful’-orb’d shield,
Victorious swept the long-contested field.
No! feeble, changeful, treacherous, false, her rule,—
Guilt was her pander. Vanity her tool;
Hypocrisy belied Religion’s name,
And impious Murder mark’d the road to fame;
Her fertile fields barbarian spoilers press’d,
Insulting aliens to her unmail’d breast
Pointed the glittering spear, and claim’d the price
Of ransom’d life in costly sacrifice.
Spurn’d and provoked, with scintillating light,
Fitful she shone; then to oblivious night
Consign’d the halo of imperial power,
The fleeting, fading meteor of an hour.
While struggling Life with stern Destruction strove,
Earth groan’d in anguish, frowning Heaven above
Look’d down, indignant, on a wayward race,
Unawed by judgment, unsubdued by grace;
Whose wandering feet in Error’s labyrinth stray’d,
Celestial Truth in Falsehood’s garb array’d,
Obscured the glory of the Eternal shrine,
Rejected Mediatorial Grace Divine,
And, blindly vain, their plighted vows address’d
To sculptured forms, and shades of martyrs bless’d,
Their prayers and sighs to strengthless mortals pour’d,
And needful grace from angel powers implored;
To mouldering relics bow’d the abject knee,
From demons sought their soul’s prosperity,
Jehovah’s house with idol rites defiled,
And fell from heavenly grace by Satan’s spells beguiled.
While thus the fiend his pagan throne resumed,
While darkling fires the fallen Church consumed,
While Superstition with exorcist arts
Enthrall’d unwary, selfish, worldly hearts,
While Sophistry her toils successful wove,
Where Pride and Folly each entangled strove;
The desert’s rude recess while hermits trod,
And sought apart from man the peace of God,
While Piety from social scenes withdrew,
Nor saints the sympathies of nature knew,
A sudden cry the slumbering Churches woke,
A blast from judgment’s pealing clarion broke,
A voice of wo that struck the startled ear,
Dread presage of the dire destroyer near.
Dark frown’d the heavens in ebon stole array’d,
A lurid Star athwart the dreary shade
Shot baleful down. Beneath his wings of flame,
A dry sear’d waste the verdant earth became;
Illustrious once, an orb of holy light,
He shone resplendent amid seraphs bright;
Apostate now, with fell, malignant sweep,
He sought the gloomy confines of the deep,
Commissioned rriinister of vengeance, flew,
And from Tartarean gulfs their bars withdrew;
When, lo! on upper air, impetuous, broke
Infernal clouds of dim sulphureous smoke;
Darken’d the sun, defiled the cheerful light,
And cover’d nature with the veil of night.
Meet vehicle of evil, dense and dread,
In hell’s abyss interminable bred,
Dark on that pestilentifil volume rose
Unnumber’d myriads of impervious foes;
In legion bands beneath his fiery wing,
The marshall’d cohorts of the locust king,
They sail’d and soar’d in phalanx firm and strong,
Unbroken bore their wasting ranks along;
Fierce as the battle storm their sounding wings,
Pain lodged its venom in their scorpion stings,
Drear Desolation track’d their baneful flight,
Sad nature droop’d beneath the withering blight,
And broad and terrible o’er ether spread,
They lour’d as tempest clouds around the traveller’s head.
Yet not uncheck’d the storms of judgment rise,
Nor locust army undirected flies;
Nor plague from hell’s abyss unheeded breaks,
Nor sleeping whirlwind from its rest awakes;
Till God the ministers of wrath release,
And from the world in anger takes his peace:
Then, stern, though from the dark septentrion cloud,
Bursts the bleak hail storm, rattling hoarse and loud;
Though thunders roll, and floods impetuous sweep
The pine-clad mountam to the roaring deep,
Though Error from infernal caves ascend,
Though earth to hell its dark dominion lend,
Yet, ere fulfill’d the sealing seraph’s charge,
Nor lightning shaft, nor locust-wing, at large
Skims the blue ether, strikes the forest’s pride,
Or blasts the violet on the mountain’s side,
Till shelter’d safe beneath Jehovah’s hand
From earth and hell, his faithful servants stand.
Mohammed! thy foul spirits from the smoke
Of hell’s abyss not unpermitted broke,
Nor unrestrain’d their devastating power,
Till Mercy ruling even in Judgment’s hour,
Messiah’s unattainted subjects seal’d:
No, not the slenderest blade that clothed the field,
Nor lowliest plant, nor tree that tower’d to heaven,
To their voracious, baneful tooth was given,
Save only those o’er whom the cankering blast
Of demon breath, in fumes corrosive cast,
Had struck with noxious taint their verdure bright;
Whose fruitless branches scathed with deadly blight,
Envenom’d juices from their leaves distill’d.
And purer regions with dank poisons fill’d.
Scourge of a fallen world, a Church defiled,
Of hearts from righteousness by Fraud beguiled,
Thy sword of desolation was the blade
Of anger’d Justice, bright for vengeance made;
And thy impure prophetic code the lie
Of those who loved delusion, whose closed eye,
Averted, left the beams of holy light
To dwell on phantoms that infest the night;
From whom offended Heaven in judgment turn’d,
The recreants in indignant fury spurn’d,
Left to thy dark imposture, to thy sword,
Which wide and deep its dread oblation pour’d
To hellish craft, and cruelty, and pride:
Earth heaved and groan’d beneath the’ ensanguined tide,
Yet onward on that bitter, turbid stream
Bore the foul phantoms of thy frenzied dream,
Till bright with blood her crimson’d fountains flow’d,
And lurid haloes in her ether glow’d.
Heirs of a desert soil, where, wild and free,
Dwelt Ismael’s sons, from fervid Araby,
Whose sun-burnt wastes the sultry Simoom sweeps,
Where fierce Sirocco whirls his burning heaps
Beneath a darken’d sky; from solitude
Of lonesome caves, and sterile mountains, rude,
Came forth the tutor’d Instrument of ill,
Train’d to each wily art, with pliant will
Prepared to follow where the tempter led,
Its dazzling light where proud Ambition shed,
To seize the gilded bait whatever its cost,
To stem the ocean though by tempests toss’d,
To wear the’ impostor’s mask, with daring zeal
To war with Truth, to grasp the gleaming steel,
To quench in blood the light of heavenly day,
And by infernal aid subvert Messiah’s sway.
Prophet of falsehood, foe of Christ, supplied
With subterfuge of subtlety and pride,
From Hera’s cave dark Islam’s Genius came;
Pierce in his bosom burn’d the enthusiast flame
Kindled by fraudful spells of demons dire,
Upon a heart impure; where raged desire
For rule predominant; where, false and vain,
(The phantasies of a distemper’d brain,)
Dwelt thoughts, and images, and fictions wild,
Of heaven-taught wisdom. Dark Delusion smiled,
While from his lone recess Mohammed came,
With fearless craft to Urge a prophet’s claim.
Not long fraternal jealousies repress’d
The kindled ardours of his fervent breast;
Whom Mecca spurn’d she soon, obsequious, sought;
The prophet’s code his keen-edged falchion taught,
And Araby, her dreary wastes of sand,
Her rifted mountains, and her odorous land
Of spicy frankincense, to him consign’d;
To him the proud, the free, the fearless mind
In twofold bondage bow’d; with baits of sense,
Deceptions dire, the sword’s omnipotence,
His country’s yoke the fierce impostor bound,
Then forged his fetters for the nations round.
Their weight the nations felt. It was the hour
By Vengeance given to that malignant Power
Whose impious horn, uplifted to the sky,
Assail’d the host of God, and dared defy
Their Chieftain, though invincible in might:
Presumptuous, proud, he scaled the lofty height
Of Truth’s fair temple, quench’d her altar fires,
Snapped with rude hand her consecrated lyres,
Roar’d through her vaulted aisles with dissonance wild,
Her hallow’d courts with blood-stain’d step defiled,
Waved his proud standard o’er her inmost shrine,
Despoil’d her offerings; from their might divine
Cast down the stars of God, with glory crown’d
And, impious, trampled on the sordid ground.
It was that dreadful hour, when blood and tears
Flow’d for transgression; from their lucid spheres
When Judgment cast those orbs indignant down.
Darkling they fell beneath His anger’s frown,
Whose word, permissive, bade foul arts assail,
And fiery wrath against his Church prevail;
Gave to the king of aspect fierce and bold,
To scourge the sheep, to desolate the fold;
A prosperous space allow ‘d to craft and lies,
Nor tore the veil from fraudful mysteries,
Nor check’d the inundating torrent’s force,
Nor stay’d Apollyon in his ruthless course,
Till on a faithless Church the Wrath Divine
Had, stern, avenged its desecrated shrine,
Chastised apostasy with iron rod,
And taught the world the Majesty of God.
Strong roll’d the tide of war; fanatic Zeal
Blew her hoarse trumpet, bared her gleaming steel;
Her blood-stain’d banner bore o’er Asia’s plains,
On Syrian mountains left its crimson stains;
Proud cities fell beneath the Moslem’s might,
Damascus bled, and Balbec sunk in night;
Sad Palestine received the unholy guest,
And Solyma, to deeper depths depress’d,
By Islam lords with sternest fetters bound,
Sat, blind and captive, on the blasted ground.
Nor Asian triumphs stay’d the furious cry
Of zealot wrath, and murderous cruelty;
On Egypt’s streams the storm of battle pour’d,
Within her sacred fanes the war-fiend roar’d;
Deserted Memphis felt the conqueror’s might,
And Theban glory set in Mecca’s night;
Proud Alexandria bore Imposture’s yoke,
And Truth’s bright lamp, within her temple broke,
Itss heaven-illumined courts to darkness left,
Of faith, of purity, of grace bereft.
Still onward, as the desert’s sweeping blast
O’er Afric’s sands the crimson’d standard pass’d;
Then, lurid, floating in the buoyant breeze,
Cast its dark shadow o’er the emerald seas,
And heralded on Europe’s smiling coasts
The barbarous spoiler’s swift descending hosts.
As locust swarms devour the springing blade,
Bare the tall fruit tree, spoil the forest shade,
Eclipse the light, as, broad, on sounding wing,
Their myriad tribes assail the stores of spring,
While Desolation, wild, with haggard mien
And sullen footstep tracks their path obscene;
So, darkling, spread the dire destroyer’s bands
In fearful phalanx o’er Iberia’s lands,
Italia’s plains with trampling footsteps trod,
And shook on Gallic shores the scourge of God.
Stern was that scourge: a fierce and fiery brand,
A rod of scorpions in Jehovah’s hand;
Yet still untaught, still unrepentant, wail’d
The recreant crowd; presumptuous tongues assail’d
The Majesty of Heaven; though sore the smart
Of rankling pain that wrung the tortured heart;
Still foul Apostasy, with demon power,
Ruled the deep darkness of that midnight hour;
The Man of Sin in lawless falsehood reign’d,
And held the Churches at his feet enchain’d.
Heaven is long suffering; stroke on stroke descends,
Yet still the’ uplifted arm the scourge suspends;
Patient though grieved, though vex’d forbearing still,
Unwont to mix the bitterest cup of ill,
Till threaten’d punishment in vain delay’d,
In vain by love the stroke of justice stay’d,
With heavier vengeance falls the fiery rod,
With mantling fury foams the wrath of God,
The deepest dregs of that distasteful draught,
By earth’s proud sons in loathing anguish quaff’d,
The terrors of his awful Name shall prove
The jealous glories of offended love.
Thus age on age the blast of judgment stay’d,
Love, pitying love, the heavier wrath delay’d;
At length, renew’d, the storm, impetuous, broke,
Reposing thunders from their caverns woke;
Stern, on the margin of Euphrates’ flood,
The mighty Minister of vengeance stood,
And, sudden, from its watery depths, released,
As blazing meteors, o’er the gorgeous east
Their fiery wings the Othman angels spread;
Earth, trembling, felt their firm and furious tread,
And throes convulsive heaved the ruptured ground,
As proud and terrible, with vaulting bound,
Their snorting coursers’ lofty necks they strode,
And swift as whirlwinds to the war scene rode.
As countless billows o’er the rolling main,
So thousand thousands o’er the sounding plain,
Fleet as their fiery leaders, rush’d to bear
The storm of battle, and its spoils to share.
On lion steeds, whose foaming nostrils pour’d
Thick flashing flames, where loudest, fiercest, roar’d
The sternest writhings of destruction’s blast,
The furious Turcoman impetuous pass’d.
Far those swift steeds their raging riders bore;
Dark Desolation swept the plain, the shore;
Unearth’d the cedar from the mountain’s brow;
Bade the tall palm its waving honours bow;
Snapp’d the sweet flower that graced the lowly vale;
Roll’d the rude torrent down the rifted dale;
O’erthrew the peopled mart, the palace proud;
Struck the throned monarch, and the Vassal crowd;
O’er seas, rocks, rivers, urged its wasting way,
Till clouds oblivious veil’d the closing day;
Then, baleful, on that turbid evening sky
Stern Othman’s blood-stain’d crescent gleam’d on high.
Thus sunk amid the dreary mists of night
The sun that lent the world its earliest light;
Thus wreck’d and desolate, by tempests riven,
The orient Churches, to the spoiler given,
Cumber’d in ruinous heaps the blasted ground.
The stroke was His who dark in anger frown’d,
Quench’d these apostate stars, and hurl’d from high
The shrines where once, in glorious majesty,
His throne resplendent shone; by hell betray’d,
Presumptuous wanderers in dim Error’s shade;
Of lustre, beam by beam, malignant shorn,
(As rising vapours cloud the beauteous morn,)
Till brooding darkness spread her ebon wings,
And veil’d the glory of celestial things.
Still o’er those desolate shrines that darkness spreads
Nor orient star, nor beam of morning, sheds
Reviving gladness o’er those ruins drear;
No cheering voice salutes the listening ear;
The holy tongue of prophecy is hush’d;
Salvation’s living streams that copious gush’d
In crystal brightness, from the Fount Divine,
No more, translucent, o’er that desert shine;
The wanderer through its arid wilds, athirst,
Roves parch’d and strengthless; the dire fiend accursed.
There laid in dragon length, has turn’d aside,
Or venom’d at its source the healthful tide.
That foe of God and man exultant smiled;
The darken’d shrine, the sacred place defiled;
The hallow’d Presence felt no longer there;
The stately columns of that temple fair,
Its living stones, no more harmonious placed,
But scatter’d, spurn’d, by ruthless hands defaced; —
These were the triumphs of his craft, his power;
And o’er the ruins of that baleful hour,
As erst o’er wither’d paradise, his eye
Still glances keen, in deep malignity,
And, shooting wild its scintillating flame,
Still hails that spirit stern Apollyon’s name,
And glories in his potency of might,
From heaven’s pure spheres to hurl the stars of light,
Proud, to supplant Jehovah’s ancient throne,
To call Moriah’s sacred mount his own,
His gorgeous throne on Sion’s height to raise,
Cast o’er Messiah’s cross the baleful blaze
Of that malignant orb, whose blasting light
Imposture kindled in the depths of night.
Yet God that license to Apollyon gave,
Bade his dark pennon o’er the nations wave,
Unsheathed the persecutor’s gleaming sword,
And vengeance on apostate rebels pour’d.
God clothed those heavens in gloom; His anger shed
Those arrowy lightnings on the guilty head;
He visited in judgment, gave the power
To that dark angel: — yet, the’ appointed hour,
To hell’s dominion in his wrath assign’d,
Hastes on the wings of time.
A blasting wind
The adversary’s myriad hosts shall smite;
A hand unseen, down from his towering height,
Shall hurl apostate Pride. Beneath His curse
Whose awful fiat rules the universe,
Its gaudy, gorgeous draperies shall fade,
And waste, and worthless, as a vest decay’d,
Be vilely cast away; the fretting moth,
His silent, secret instrument of wrath,
With noiseless tooth, corrosive, shall consume
The subtlest texture wrought in Folly’s loom;
A worm conceal’d shall pierce the rugged root
Of lawless violence, its blasted fruit
Lie withering on the ground.
Even thus the end
Unmark’d shall come; thus shall the curse descend
Upon Messiah’s foes; nor might, nor power,
Of earth, or hell, in that decisive hour,
May help afford, or, interposing, stay
The silent angel on his vengeful way.
Lo, Mecca falls beneath his viewless stroke!
Enfranchised nations burst the idol yoke
Of Rome’s proud tyranny! The Church is free,
And the whole earth, Messiah, bows to thee!
Book XITable of Contents