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Tyrants dread all whom they raise high in place;
From the good danger, from the bad disgrace.
They doubt the lords, mistrust the people's hate,
Till blood become a principle of state.
Secured not by their guards nor by their right,
But still they fear even more than they affright.
Pardon me, sir; your father's rough and stern;
His will too strong to bend, too proud to learn.
Remember, sir, the honey's deadly sting!
Think on that savage justice of the King,
When the same day that saw you do before
Things above man, should see you man no more.
"Tis true, th' accursed Agag moved his ruth;
He pitied his tall limbs and comely youth;
Had seen, alas! the proof of Heaven's fierce hate,
And feared no mischief from his powerless fate;
Remember how th' old seer came raging down,
And taught him boldly to suspect his crown.
Since then, his pride quakes at the Almighty's rod,
Nor dares he love the man beloved by God.
Hence his deep rage and trembling envy springs ;
Nothing so wild as jealousy of kings.
Whom should he counsel ask, with whom advise,
Who reason and God's counsel does despise ?
Whose headstrong will no law or conscience daunt,
Dares he not sin, do you think, without your grant ?
Ves, if the truth of our fixed love he knew,
He would not doubt, believe 't, to kill ev’n you.'
The prince is moved, and straight prepares to find
The deep resolves of his grieved father's mind.
The danger now aprears, love can soon show it,
And force his stubborn piety to know it.
'They agree that David should concealed abide,
Till his great friend had the Court's temper tried;
Till he had Saul's most sacred purpose found,
And searched the depth and rancour of his wound.
'Twas the year's seventh-born moon; the solemn feast,
That with most noise its sacred mirth express’d.
From opening morn till night shuts in the day,
On trumpets and shrill horns the Levites play:
Whether by this in mystic type we see
The new-year's day of great eternity,
When the changed moon shall no more changes make,
And scattered death 's by trumpets' sound awake;
Or that the law be kept in memory still,
Given with like noise on Sinai's shining hill;
Or that (as some men teach) it did arise
From faithful Abram's righteous sacrifice,
Who, whilst the ram on Isaac's fire did fry,
His horn with joyful tunes stood sounding by ;
Obscure the cause, but God his will declared,
And all nice knowledge then with ease is spared.
At the third hour Saul to the hallowed tent,
Midst a large train of priests and courtiers, went;
The sacred herd marched proud and softly by,
Too fat and gay to think their deaths so nigh.
Hard fate of beasts more innocent than we!
Prey to our luxury and our piety!
Whose guiltless blood on boards and altars spilt,
Serves both to make and expiate, too, our guilt !
Three bullocks of free neck, two gilded rams,
Two well-washed goats, and fourteen spotless lambs,
With the three vital fruits, wine, oil, and bread,
(Small fees to Heaven of all by which we're fed)
Are offered up. the hallowed flames arise,
And faithful prayers mount with them to the skies.
From thence the King to the utmost court is brought,
Where heavenly things an inspired prophet taught,
And from the sacred tent to his palace gates,
With glad kind shouts the assembly on him waits;
The cheerful horns before him loudly play,
And fresh-strewed flowers paint his triumphant way.
Thus in slow pace to the palace-hall they go,
Rich dressed for solemn luxury and show:
Ten pieces of bright tapestry hung the room,
The noblest work e'er stretched on Syrian loom,
For wealthy Adriel in proud Sidon wrought,
And given to Saul when Saul's best gift he sought,
The bright-eyed Merab; for that mindful day
No ornament so proper seemed as they.
There all old Abram's story you might see,
And still some angel bore him company.
His painful but well-guided travels show
The fate of all his sons, the church below.
Here beauteous Sarah to great Pharaoh came;
He blushed with sudden passion, she with shame :
Troubled she seemed, and labouring in the strife,
'Twixt her own honour and her husband's life.
Here on a conquering host, that careless lay,
Drowned in the joys of their new-gotten prey,
The patriarch falls ; well-mingled might you see
The confused marks of death and luxury.
In the next piece bless'd Salem's mystic king
Does sacred presents to the victor bring;
Like Him whose type he bears, his rights receives,
Strictly requires his due, yet freely gives:
Even in his port, his habit, and his face,
The mild and great, the priest and prince, had place.
Here all their starry host the heavens display;
And, lo! a heavenly youth, more fair than they,
Leads Abram forth ; points upwards; 'Such,' said he,
• So bright and numberless thy seed shall be.'
Here he with God a new alliance makes,
And in his flesh the marks of homage takes :
Here he the three mysterious persons feasts,
Well paid with joyful tidings by his guests :
Here for the wicked town he prays, and near,
Scarce did the wicked town through flames appear:
And all his fate, and all his deeds, were wrought,
Since he from Ur to Ephron's cave was brought.
But none 'mongst all the forms drew then their eyes
Like faithful Abram's righteous sacrifice :
The sad old man mounts slowly to the place,
With Nature's power triumphant in his face
O'er the mind's courage ; for, in spite of all,
From his swoln eyes resistless waters fall.
The innocent boy his cruel burden bore
With smiling looks, and sometimes walked before,
And sometimes turned to talk : above was made
'T'he altar's fatal pile, and on it laid
The hope of mankind: patiently he lay,
And did his sire, as he his God, obey.
The mournful sire lifts up at last the knife,
And on one moment's string depends his life,
In whose young loins such brooding wonders lie.
A thousand sp'rits peeped from the affrighted sky,
Amazed at this strange scene, and almost fear'd,
For all those joyful prophecies they'd heard;
Till one leaped nimbly forth, by God's command,
Like lightning from a cloud, and stopped his hand.
The gentle sp’rit smiled kindly as he spoke;
New beams of joy through Abram's wonder broke.
The angel points t'a tuft of bushes near,
Where an entangled ram does half appear,
And struggles vainly with that fatal net,
Which, though but slightly wrought, was firmly set:
For, lo! anon, to this sad glory doomed,
The useful beast on Isaac's pile consumed ;
Whilst on his horns the ransomed couple played,
And the glad boy danced to the tunes he made.
Near this hall's end a shittim table stood,
Yet well-wrought plate strove to conceal the wood;
For from the foot a golden vine did sprout,
And cast his fruitful riches all about.
Well might that beauteous ore the grape express,
Which does weak man intoxicate no less.
Of the same wood the gilded beds were made,
And on them large embroidered carpets laid,
From Egypt, the rich shop of follies, brought;
But arts of pride all nations soon are taught.
Behold seven comely blooming youths appear,
And in their hands seven silver washpots bear,
Curled, and gay clad, the choicest sons that be
Of Gibeon's race, and slaves of high degree.
Seven beauteous maids marched softly in behind,
Bright scarves their clothes, their hair fresh garlands bind,
And whilst the princes wash, they on them shed
Rich ointments, which their costly odours spread
O'er the whole room ; from their small prisons free,
With such glad haste through the wide air they flee.
The King was placed alone, and o'er his head
A well-wrought heaven of silk and gold was spread,
Azure the ground, the sun in gold shone bright,
But pierced the wandering clouds with silver light.
The right-hand bed the King's three sons did grace,
The third was Abner's, Adriel's, David's place:
And twelve large tables more were filled below,
With the prime men Saul's court and camp could show.
The palace did with mirth and music sound,
And the crowned goblets nimbly moved around: