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So pure an instance of true glory!
Like the brave Roman on the strand : And is the furious bigot Saul
A lovelier scene* adorns no page Become, indeed, the humble Paul?
Than that which now our thoughts engage, Strange pow'r of all-transforming grace, Weeping, his Christian friends surround, The lamb assumes the lion's place!
Their tender anguish knows no bound; So blind, when persecution's rod
Their tears to him their grief impart,
Hear him with modest grace record
Then to their justice he appeals.
Still to your highest interests true, Of the first martyr's dying suit.
Witness, I sought not yours, but you. Forgive the Muse if she recall
This heart, for you my daily care, So oft to mind the sainted Paul ;
Is lifted up in ceaseless prayer; We pass the awful truths he tells,
These hands have oft procur'd my bread, His labours, woes, and miracles;
And labour'd that the poor be fed.
If 'tis a blessing to receive,
Purchas'd by his redeeming blood. We pass the perils Paul endur'd
| Thrice bless'd the Pastor who, like Paul, From stripes; in prisons how immur'd ; The past with comfort can recall ; In nakedness and hunger groan'd ;
| His life and doctrine both review Betray'd, thrice beaten, shipwreck'd, ston'd! To auditors who feel both true; In every varying state, we see
Fears not his conduct to declare Only a change in misery.
Holy, unblameable, sincere, How oft has adıniration hung
His preaching catholic; he speaks On the great lyric bard, who sung
Impartially to Jews and Greeks. The warrior fam'd in Punic story,
No words of doubttul disputation Who swell'd the tide of Roman glory! Allure from his grand end-salvation ; With magnanimity heroic,
Faith and repentance form his theme, He dignifies the noble Stoic.
Compendiuin of the Christian scheme! See the illustrious captive stand,
No searching truth he e'er conceal'd, Resolv'd unshaken, on the strand.
But God's whole counsel still reveal’d. Imploring friends around him weep;
He speaks :-'The woes which must All mourn the hero all would keep.
befall E'en the stern senators in vain
My trusting soul shall ne'er appal, The patriot would at last detain.
If I for God my span employ; No blessings of domestic life,
If He my course may crown with joy ; No darling child, nor tender wife
If I may spend my painful race, He heeds, repels his wife's embrace, Totestify redeeming grace; Th' endearments of his infant race. No dread of death my soul shall move, No sigh he heaves, he drops no tear, Secure in Him I serve and love.' Nought but his oath and country dear. His friends, lamenting, crowd the shore, He knows the tortures which await, They part, they see his face no more : Knows all the horrors of his fate;
Their sorrows and his own to cheer,
He consecrates the scene with prayer.
PART THE FOURTH.
Next come the Romans, here we trace Though learn'd, he will not take his rule
| The flagrant manners of their race. from Doctors of the Stoic school.
Tho' Nero then Rome's sceptre sway'd, Religion stops not nature's course,
Yet conscientious Paul obey'd ; But turns to other streams its force.
Fearless he taught that all should bring Forewarn'd, he knew where'er he went
Allegiance to their rightful king. Twas prison, death, or banishment.
In this epistle we may find 'Twas not a vague, uncertain fear;
The depths and heights of his great mind : God's Spirit show'd him what was near,
Here rhetoric and logic meet
The cause of faith to vindicate.
Acis, chap. xx.
Paul, when the rich CORINTHIANS came, / Invokes more favours from above : Found much to praise and much to blame: If e'er his full o'erflowing heart Luxurious, negligent, and proud ;
Sought warmer blessings to impart;
If more for any friends he pray'd,
The scene of his most foul disgrace!
One glorious truth he here defends, Tlxeir recent kindness to return !
To fill their hearts witla holy joy!
From God's blest Spirit drawing nigh ; Then mounting above space of time, Communion sweet, communion high ! He soars with energy sublime ;
Such strong persuasion must controul, Exhausts on this grand contemplation Convince the reason, melt the soul ! High argument, bold illustration !
He urges motives as a law, Created nature see he brings,
Which some would think deter, not draw. Attested to the truth he sings :
“Take as a gift reserv'd for you, All grain, all flesh, their tribute lend; Power to believe, and suffer too! The dift'ring stars the truth defend :
The good Colossians now stand forth, If these proclaim God's glory true,
Excell'd by none in grace and worth, When the material heavens we view,
Behold the saint his touchstone give His glory sun and moon declare,
To try with Christ if Christians live. When on this doctrine brought to bear,
Oh, let your aspirations rise, In vain shall death his prey devour,
Nor stop at aught beneath the skies, "l'was sown in weakness, rais'd in power!
Your fruitless cares no more bestow Nor slow the process : Heaven is nigh :
On perishable things below, Quick, in the twinkling of an eye,
From sordid joys indignant fly; Methinks I see the mould'ring clay
| Know, avarice is idolatry, Start into life, wake into day!
False worship's not confin'd alone Dread sound ! 'tis the last trumpet's voice !
| Toimages of wood and stone; Reviv'd, transported, all rejoice, Hark! heard I not that rapturous cry,
Whate'er you grasp with eager hold,
(Honours or pleasures, fame or gold; Death's swallow'd up in victory ?
| These are your idols, these you'll find, Jesus-the ransom'd'join to sing,
Possess your soul, engross your mind. Jesus, oh, Death! extracts thy sting. Heaven will with idols have no part:
Can Paul, absorb’d in scenes so bright, Again on earth vouchsafe to light?
That robs your God which steals your heart. To drop from his exhaustless store,
The THESSALONIANS next appear, One parting, pointed moral more?
The bountiful and the sincere. One added precept deign to press ?
Here precept pure and doctrine sound, He can-awake to righteousness:
In sweet accordance may be found. In God's great work still more abound,
Mark the triumphant Christian's voice, Nor shall your labours vain be found. Rejoice, again 1 say, rejoice!'
As he would echo back to heaven,
Young TIMOTHY is on record,
Who sought betimes to know the Lord. To clear his doctrine from suspicion,
Here true maternal love we find, He vindicates his heavenly mission.
Which form'd the heart, and taught the
Her faithfulness to God best prove,
Paul, while his pupil's good he seeks, A perfect model of its kind.
Thro' him to unborn pastors speaks :
The works of an Evangelist.'
| As Bishop, he commands again, The man who came their souls to save, Commit the trust to faithful men;" Did Paul the cruelty resent,
Bids him observe, that those who preach Or in reproach his anger vent ?
| Need to remind as well as teach, No ;-if the saint exceeds in love,
| To raise his soul to solemn thought,
God's judgment is before him brought; A substance firm whereon to lean.
Go search the cottager's lone room,
The day scarce piercing thro’the gloom: The members of the living head
The Christian on his dying bed Shall meet the Judge of quick and dead, Unknown, unletter'd, hardly fed ; Then Christ his faithful sons shall own, No flatt’ring witnesses attend, Who bore his Cross, shall wear his Crown. To tell how glorious was his end;
Save in the book of life, his name Next Titus, youthful yet discreet,
Unheard, he never dreamt of fame.
No human consolation near,
JOf every earthly stay bereft,
And nothing but his Saviour left. The Cretans sensual, insincere,
Fast sinking to his kindred dust, Such knowledge teaches to reprove
The Word of Life is still his trust. The erring, and the just to love.
The joy God's promises impart Now in the gentle tone of friend
Lies like a cordial at his heart; See him to private life descend;
Unshaken faith its strength supplies,
He loves, believes, adores, and dies.
The great Apostle ceases ;-then
To holy James resigns the pen;
Ye rich, the saint indignant cried,
Abhorr'd the wealth which useless lies, Follows PHILEMON, who forgave,
When merit claims, or hunger cries! Yea, honour'd, his converted slave.
The wise alike with scorn behold Paul to the HEBREWS writes :-0, then,
The hoarded as the squander'd gold.
In man opposing passions meet What inspiration guides his pen!
The liberal feelings to defeat: Let wits revile, let Atheists rail,
PLEASURE and AVARICE both agree Such evidence shall never fail,
To stop the tide of charity : • As the first pages here supply
| Tho' each detests the other's deeds, Oi Christ's unclouded Deity.
The same effect from both proceeds : As he proceeds, to faith 'tis given
Cursid is the gold, or sav’d, or spent, To soar on loftier wing to heaven.
Which God for mercy's portion meant: See here the doctrine prov'd by facts,
Chemists in transmutation bold Belief exhibited in acts.
Attempt to make base metals gold. See conquering Faith's heroic hand
Let Christians then transmute their pelf Church-militant in order stand !
|To something nobler than itself; The Red-Sea passengers we view,
On heaven their rescued wealth bestow, Jephtha and Gideon, Barak too.
| And send it home before they go: Had we all time, the time would fail
He will the blest deposit own : Of heroes to record the tale,
Who seals the pardon, gives the crown. Whose deeds their attestation bring That faith is no ideal thing.
PETER the bold, who perils hail'd Say, could ideal faith aspire
Who promis'd much, and much he fail'd; To quench the violence of fire ?
Peter, the generous, rash, and warm, To stop the famish'd lion's rage!
Who lov'd his Lord, but shrunk from harm; With dread temptations to engage;
Peter the coward and the brave, All deaths despise, all dangers dare, Denying him he wish'd to save; With no support, save God and prayer? TO Peter, what reproachful word,
“ 'Tis pride,' the sneering Sceptic cries, What dagger keen, what two-edg'd sword, “Rank pride, the martyr's strength supplies: Could pierce thy bosom like the last, His fortitude by praise is fed,
Last look thy Saviour on thee cast ?
That speechless eloquence divine,
Peter, how bitter were thy tears !
Still, Peter, did thy risen Lord,
Not to the men of faith approv’d,
Comfort to anguish to impart:
Yes'twas to Peter that by name An evidence of things not seen,
| Alone the glorious tidings came.
Now mark the wond'rous power of grace! The bold impenitent shall hear His character has chang'd its face;
His doom; his sentence black despair, The noblest attitude assumes:
The hypocrite detected lie, Who now on his own strength presumes ? Naked, laid bare to every eye. Where now his fears? we only see
To crown the horrors which await, True Christian magnanimity.
All feel the justice of their fate. Who now the foremost to declare
| Their fears their punishment foretell, Their grand commission ? who to dare And conscience does the work of Hell. The standard of the cross to raise,
They as the acme of their pain, And his ador'd Redeemer praise?
Acquit their Judge themselves arraign, Applause he scorn'd however true,
No shelter now from rocks or caves, But gave the glory where 'twas due. No refuge from the fiery waves; With what majestic grace he rose,
What wonder, wildly if they call Fearless of all surrounding foes;
The mountains on their heads to fall, Brought the old Scriptures to apply
Then see the Man of Sorrows found, His argument from prophecy :
The Lord of life and glory crown'd. From miracles which well accord,
Jesus appears, as Enoch paints, He prov'd that Jesus was the Lord.
Surrounded by ten thousand saints, When requisite in some hard case Lo! heaven and earth their tribute bring To check deceit, unmask the base,
Of glory to the eternal king! 'Twas Peter's office : see him dare
Angels, archangels, each degree
Of heaven's celestial hierarchy!
Ask you the truth he lov’d to teach, The goodly prophets here, behold The theme selected first to preach? Fulfill'd the scenes they once foretold : · Repentance !-What he felt he taught : Their Lord encircling, here we see
A mighty change his preaching wrought. The Apostles' glorious company :
Heaven kindly veils from human sight
With love his pure Epistles fraught, John teaches what his gospel taught :
THE REVELATION. He needs no argument to prove,
The saint of Patmos last we meet,
And revelation stands complete.
Scenes of unutterable things;
He temper's heaven's effulgent light, Of Enoch's marvellous translation,
Too powerful else for mortal sight, Hear him in awful terms declare,
Partly by negatives are shown 'The mis'ries which the ungodly share!
Joys whích hereafter shall be known: Clouds without water, dark yet dry,
Suffering, and sin, and death, are o'er, Spots in the feasts of charity ;
For former things are seen no more; Trees withering, destitute of fruit,
No sorrow felt, and heav'd no sigh, Exterminated branch and root,
And tears are wip'd from every eye. Now in its pomp and dread array,
Yet not by negatives alone, He summons to the judgment-day.
Consummate glory shall be known; (), what conflicting trains of thought, Not only shall be found no night, Has this amazing image brought !
The Lamb himself shall be the light. (), what a fire this spark has kindled, Sun, moon, and stars, shall fade away, Of terror and of transport iningled ! Lost in one cloudless, endless day; Spirits who lost their first estate
Redemption finish'd, sin forgiven, Retaining their immortal hate,
'Tis God's own presence makes it heaven.
Of future bliss, if such the sum, • Ananias and Sapphira,
| Then comc, Lord JESUS! quickly come!
CHIEFLY INTENDED FOR YOUNG PERSONS,
THE SUBJECTS TAKEN FROM THE BIBLE.
All the books of the Bible are either most admirable and exalted pieces of poetry, or the best materials in the world for it.-Cowley.
TO HER GRACE
THE DUTCHESS OF BEAUFORT,
THESE SACRED DRAMAS ARE, WITH THE MOST PERFECT RESPECT, INSCRIBED :
As, among the many amiable and distinguished qualities which adorn her mind, and add lustre to her rank, her excellence in the material character gives a peculiar propriety to her protection of this little work; written with an humble wish to promote the love of piety and virtue in young persons, By ber grace's most obedient, most obliged, and most humble servant,
ADVERTISEMENT. Tan as ready as the most rigid critic to confess, that nothing can be more simple and inar. tificial than the plans of the following dramas. In the construction of them I have seldom Tentured to introduce any person* of my own creation : still less did I imagine myself at liber. ty to invent circumstances. I reflected, with awe, that the place whereon I stood was holy ground. All the latitude I permitted myself was, to make such persons as I selected act un. der such circumstances as I found, and express such sentiments as, in my humble judgment, appeared not unnatural to their characters and situations. Some of the speeches are so long as to retard the action ; for I rather aspired after moral instruction than the purity of dramatie composition. I am aware that it may be brought as an objection, that I have now and then made my Jewish characters speak too much like Christians, as it may be questioned whether I have not occasionally ascribed to them a degree of light and knowledge greater than they probably had the means of possessing : but I was more anxious in consulting the advantage of my youthful readers by leading thein on lo higher religious views, than in securing to myself the reputation of critical exactness.
It will be thought that I have chosen, perbaps, the least important passage in the eventful life of David, for the foundation of the drama which bears his name. Yet even in this his first exploit, the sacred historian represents bim as exhibiting no mean lesson of modesty, humility, courage, and piety. Many will think that the introduction of Saul's daughter would have added to the effect of the piece : and I have no doubt but that it would have made the intriguo more complicated and amusing had this drama been intended for the stage. There, all ihat is tender, and all that is terrible in the passions, find a proper place. But I write for the young, in whom it will be always time enough to have the passions awakened; I write for a class of readers, to whom it is not easy to accommodate one's subject,t so as to be at once use. ful and interesting.
The amiable poet, from whom I have taken my motto, after showing the superiority of the acred over the profane histories, some instances of which I have noticed in my introduction, concludes with the following remark, which I may apply to myself with far more propriely tban it was used by the author :- Tam far from assuming to myself to have fulfilled the duty of this weighty undertaking; and I shall be ambitious of no other fruit from this weak and imperfect attempt of mine, but the opening of a way to the courage and industry of some other persons, who may be better able to perform it thoroughly and successfully.'
Never indeed, exeept in Danjel, and that of ncccssity; as the Bible furnishes no more than two persons, DaBiel and Darius, and these were not sufficient to carry on the business of the piece.
1 It wonld not be easy, nor peroaps proper, to iniroduce sacred tragedies on the English stage. The pious vould think it profane, while the profane would think ir dull. Yet the excellent Racine, in a profligate country and a voluptuous court, ventured to adapt the story of Athaha to the French theatre, and it remains to us & glors nous monument of its author's courageous piety, wbile it exhibits the perfection of the dramatic art.
Cowley. VOL. I.