« PreviousContinue »
Mir. O blest event, beyond our warmest hopes !
Joc. What ! shall my son be nurtur’d in a court, In princely grandeur bred ? taught every art And ev'ry wondrous science Egypt knows? Yet, ah! I tremble, Miriam; should he learn With Egypt's polish'd arts her baneful faith! Oh, worse exchange for death! yes, should he learn, In yon proud palace to disown His hand Who thus has sav'd him : should he e'er embrace (As sure he will, if bred in Pharaoh's court) The gross idolatries which Egypt owns, Her graven images, her brutish gods, – Then shall I wish he had not been preserv'd To shame his fathers and deny his faith.
Mir. Then to dispel thy fears and crown thy joy, Hear farther wonders — Know, the gen’rous Princess To thine own care thy darling child commits. Joc. Speak, while my joy will give me leave to
listen ! . Mir. By her commission'd, thou behold'st me here, To seek a matron of the Hebrew race To nurse him; thou, my mother, art that matron. I said I knew thee well; that thou would'st rear him Ev’n with a mother's fondness; she who bare him (I told the Princess) would not love him more.
Joc. Fountain of mercy ! whose pervading eye
Can look within and read what passes there,
Accept my thoughts for thanks; I have no words,
My soul, o’erfraught with gratitude, rejects
The aid of language -- Lord ! behold my heart.
Mir. Yes, thou shalt pour into his infant mind
The purest precepts of the purest faith.
Joc. Oh! I will fill his tender soul with virtue,
And warm his bosom with devotion's flame!
Aid me, celestial Spirit ! with thy grace,
And be my labours with thy influence crown'd!
Without it they were vain. Then, then, my Miriam,
When he is furnish’d, 'gainst the evil day,
With God's whole armour *, girt with sacred truth,
And as a breastplate wearing righteousness,
Arm’d with the Spirit of God, the shield of faith,
And with the helmet of salvation crown’d,
Inur’d to watching, and dispos’d to pray’r;
Then may I send him to a dangerous court,
And safely trust him in a perilous world,
Too full of tempting snares and fond delusions !
Mir. May bounteous Heav’n thy pious cares reward!
Joc. Oh, Amram! Oh, my husband! when thou
Wearied at night, to rest thee from the toils
Impos’d by haughty Pharaoh, what a tale
Have I to tell thee! Yes: thy darling son
Was lost, and is restor’d; was dead, and lives!
Mir. How joyful shall we spend the live-long night
In praises to Jehovah; who thus mocks
All human foresight, and converts the means
Of seeming ruin into great deliverance.
Joc. Had not my child been doom'd to such strange
As a fond mother trembles to recall,
He had not been preserv’d.
And mark still farther ;
* 2 Thess. chap. v. Ephes. chap. vi.
Had he been sav'd by any other hand,
He had been still expos’d to equal ruin.
Joc. Then let us join to bless the hand of Heav'n
That this poor outcast of the house of Israel,
Condemn'd to die by Pharaoh, kept in secret
By my advent’rous fondness; then expos’d
E'en by that very fondness which conceal’d him,
Is now, to fill the wondrous round of mercy,
Preserv'd from perishing by Pharaoh's daughter,
Sav'd by the very hand which sought to crush him!
Wise and unsearchable are all thy ways, Thou God of MERCIES ! - Lead me to my child.
Enter JOCHEBED. How does the dread of loss enhance a blessing! Methinks I never lov'd my boy till now.
To Him who gives him back I will restore My rescued infant.
Miriam, why this haste?
Elate thou seemest.
Suddenly my sense
Is wrapt in ecstasy. - What is't I see ?
What visions of delight! what scenes to come!
That prescient spirit given me from on high,
Reveals the hidden things of unborn time,
And leads my view through dim futurity.
This favour'd infant is not snatch'd from death
Merely to soothe a mother's fond distress,
Nor solely to adorn the house of Levi.
An honour'd instrument of God, he's rais’d
For mighty purposes. He will be great
Beyond ambition's dream : renown'd beyond
All who have gone before him. He shall rule,
But not in Pharaoh's kingdom. Heaven forefend!
He shall be learn’d in all the policy,
The wisdom, and the arts, which Egypt boasts.
But not for Egypt's weal shall he employ
The science she shall teach him. He shall stand
Before Jehovah's face, shall hear his voice -
Familiar, as a man with man holds converse,
Receive his high behests, shall teach mankind
All that they owe to God and to each other.
Knowledge and skill unrivall’d shall be his;
Honours the most remote in him shall meet;
Ruler and judge, prophet and lawgiver,
Deliverer and guide.
What says my daughter ?
O what am I, and what my father's house,
That I should be so bless'd ?
Yes, he shall lead
The chosen people to the promis'd land,
But shall not enter it. Mysterious fate!
God shall avenge thro' him the wrongs of Israel.
On Egypt he shall bring such varied woes
As fancy scarce can image; plague on plague.
Each new infliction heavier than the last :
All loathsome, all abhorr’d, detested things,
Follow'd by all that are most terrible;
Darkness and pestilence — her first-born slain,
With blood of her own sons her houses delug'd,
Blood-stain'd her streets, her rivers chang'd to blood.
Joc. Ah me! what horrors, tho' on foes they fall! But shall not Israel share in Egypt's woes? It must — the plague selects not its sad objects, Stops not to ask if its next hapless victim Be heathen or believer. — Darkness too Is dark to all. Th’impartial hand of death