From the bleak Beach and broad expanse of sea,
To lofty Salem, Thought direct thy way;
Mount thy light chariot, move along the plains,
And end thy flight where Hezekiah reigns.
How swiftly thought has pass'd from land to land,
And quite outrun Time's meas'ring glass of sand,
Great Salem's walls appear and I resort
To view the state of Hezekiah's court.
Well may that king a pious verse inspire,
Who cleans'd the temple, who reviv'd the choir,
Pleas'd with the service David fix'd before,
That heav'nly musick might on earth adore.
Deep-rob'd in white, he made the Levites stand
With Cymbals, Harps, and Psaltries in their hand;
He gave the Priests their trumpets, prompt to raise
The tuneful soul, by force of sound to praise.
A skilful master for the song he chose,
The songs were David's these, and Asaph's those.
Then burns their off'ring, all around rejoice,
Each tunes his instrument to join the voice;
The trumpets sounded, and the singers sung,
The People worship'd and the temple rung.
Each while the victim burns presents his heart,
Then the Priest blesses, and the People part.
Hail sacred musick! since you know to draw
The soul to Heav'n, the spirit to the law,
I come to prove thy force, thy warbling string
May tune my soul to write what others sing.
But is this Salem? this the proms'd bliss,
These sighs and groans? what means the realm by this?
What solemn sorrow dwells in ev'ry street?
What fear confounds the downcast looks I meet?
Alas the King! whole nations sink with woe,
When righteous Kings are summon'd hence to go;
The King lies sick, and thus to speak his doom,
The Prophet, grave Isaiah, stalks the room:
Oh Prince thy servant sent from God, believe,
Set all in order for thou can'st not live.
Solemn he said, and sighing left the place,
Deep prints of horror furrow'd ev'ry face,
Within their minds appear eternal glooms,
Black gaping marbles of their monarchs tombs,
A King belov'd deceas'd, his offspring none,
And wars destructive e'er they fix the throne.
Strait to the wall he turn'd with dark despair,
('Twas tow'rds the temple, or for private pray'r,)
And thus to God the pious monarch spoke,
Who burn'd the groves, the brazen serpent broke:
Remember Lord with what a heart for right,
What care for truth, I walk'd within thy sight.
'Twas thus with terror, pray'rs and tears he toss'd,
When the mid-court the grave Isaiah cross'd,
Whom in the cedar columns of the square,
Meets a sweet Angel hung in glitt'ring air.
Seiz'd with a trance he stop'd, before his eye
Clears a rais'd arch of visionary sky,
Where as a minute pass'd, the greater light
Purpling appear'd, and south'd and set in night;
A Moon succeeding leads the starry train,
She glides, and sinks her silver horns again:
A second fanci'd morning drives the shades;
Clos'd by the dark the second ev'ning fades;
The third bright dawn awakes, and strait he sees
The temple rise, the monarch on his knees.
Pleas'd with the scene, his inward thoughts rejoice,
When thus the Guardian angel form'd a voice.
Now tow'rds the captain of my people go,
And, Seer, relate him what thy visions show,
The Lord has heard his words, and seen his tears,
And through fifteen extends his future years.
Here to the room prepar'd with dismal black,
The Prophet turning, brought the comfort back.
Oh monarch hail, he cry'd, thy words are heard,
Thy virtuous actions meet a kind regard,
God gives thee fifteen years, when thrice a day,
Shews the round Sun, within the temple pray.
When thrice the day! surpriz'd the monarch cries,
When thrice the Sun! what pow'r have I to rise!
But if thy comfort's human or divine,
'Tis short to prove it—give thy prince a sign.
Behold, the Prophet cry'd, (and stretch'd his hands)
Against yon lattice where the dial stands,
Now shall the Sun a backward journey go
Through ten drawn lines, or leap to ten below.
'Tis easier posting nature's airy track,
Replies the monarch, let the Sun go back.
Attentive here he gaz'd, the prophet pray'd,
Back went the Sun, and back pursu'd the shade.
Chear'd by the sign, and by the Prophet heal'd,
What sacred thanks his gratitude reveal'd?
As sickly Swallows when a summer ends,
Who miss'd the passage with their flying friends,
Take to a wall, there lean the languid head,
While all who find them think the sleepers dead;
If yet their warmth new days of summer bring,
They wake and joyful flutter up to sing;
So far'd the monarch, sick to death he lay,
His court despair'd, and watch'd the last decay;
At length new favour shines, new life he gains,
And rais'd he sings; 'tis thus the song remains.
I said, my God, when in the loath'd disease
Thy Prophet's words cut off my future days,
Now to the grave with mournful haste I go,
Now death unbars his sable gates below.
How might my years by course of nature last?
But thou pronounc'd it, and the prospect pass'd.
I said, my God, thy servant now no more
Shall in thy Temple's sacred courts adore,
No more on earth with living man converse,
Shrunk in a cold uncomfortable hearse.
My life, like tents which wand'ring shepherds raise,
Proves a short dwelling and removes at ease.
My sins pursue me, see the deadly band,
My God, who sees them, cuts me from the land;
As when a weaver finds his labour sped,
Swift from the beam he parts the fast'ning thread.
With pining sickness all from night to day,
From day to night, he makes my strength decay:
Reck'ning the time, I roll with restless groans,
'Till with a lion's force, he crush my bones,
New-morning dawns, but like the morning past,
'Tis day, 'tis night, and still my sorrows last.
Now screaming like the Crane my words I spoke,
Now like the swallow, chatt'ring quick and broke,
Now like the doleful dove, when on the plains
Her mourning tone affects the list'ning swains.
To heav'n for aid my wearying eyes I throw,
At length they're weary'd quite, and sink with woe.
From death's arrest for some delays I sue,
Thou Lord who judg'd me, thou reprieve me too.
Rapture of joy! what can thy servant say?
He sent his Prophet to prolong my day;
Through my glad Limbs I feel the wonder run,
Thus said the Lord, and this Himself has done.
Soft shall I walk, and well secur'd from fears
Possess the comforts of my future years.
Keep soft my heart, keep humble while they roll,
Nor e'er forget my bitterness of soul.
'Tis by the means thy sacred words supply
That mankind live, but in peculiar I;
A second grant thy mercy pleas'd to give,
And my rais'd spirits doubly seem to live.
Behold the time! when peace adorn'd my reign,
'Twas then I felt my stroke of humbling pain;
Corruption dug her pit, I fear'd to sink,
God lov'd my soul, and snatch'd me from the brink.
He turn'd my follies from his gracious eye,
As men who pass accounts and cast them by.
What mouth has death which can thy praise proclaim?
What tongue the grave to speak thy glorious name?
Or will the senseless dead exult with mirth,
Mov'd to their hope by promises on earth?
The living Lord, the living only praise,
The living only fit to sing thy lays,
These feel thy favours, these thy temple see,
These raise the song, as I this day to thee.
Nor will thy truth the present only reach,
This the good fathers shall their offspring teach,
Report the blessings which adorn my page,
And hand their own with mine from age to age.
So when the Maker heard his creature crave,
So kindly rose his ready Will to save.
Then march we solemn tow'rds the Temple door,
While all our joyful musick sounds before,
There on this day through all my life appear,
When this comes round in each returning year,
There strike the strings, our voices jointly raise,
And let his dwellings hear my songs of praise.
Thus wrote the monarch, and I'll think the lay
Design'd for publick when he went to pray;
I'll think the perfect composition runs,
Perform'd by Heman's or Jeduthun's sons.
Then since the time arrives the Seer foretold,
And the third morning rolls an orb of gold,
With thankful zeal recover'd prince prepare
To lead thy nation to the Dome of pray'r.
My fancy takes her chariot once again,
Moves the rich wheels, and mingles in thy train;
She sees the singers reach Moriah's hill,
The minstrels follow, then the porches fill,
She wakes the num'rous instruments of art,
That each perform its own adapted part,
Seeks airs expressive of thy grateful strains,
And list'ning hears the vary'd tune she feigns.
From a grave pitch, to speak the Monarch's woe,
The notes flow down and deeply sound below,
All long-continuing, while depriv'd of ease
He rolls for tedious nights and heavy days.
Here intermix'd with discord, when the Crane
Screams in the notes through sharper sense of pain;
There run with descant on, and taught to shake
When pangs repeated force the voice to break;
Now like the dove they murmur, 'till in sighs
They fall, and languish with the failing eyes.
Then slowly slack'ning, to surprize the more,
From a dead pause, his exclamations soar,
To meet brisk health the notes ascending fly,
Live with the living, and exult on high.
Yet still distinct in parts the musick plays,
'Till prince and people both are call'd to praise,
Then all uniting strongly strike the string,
Put forth their utmost breath, and loudly sing;
The wide spread chorus fills the sacred ground,
And holy transport scales the clouds with sound.
Or thus, or livelier, if their hand and voice
Join'd the good anthem, might the realm rejoice.
This story known, the learn'd Chaldeans came,
Drawn by the sign observ'd, or mov'd by fame;
These ask the fact for Hezekiah done,
And much they wonder at their God the sun,
That thrice he drove through one extent of day
His gold-shod horses in etherial way:
Then vainly ground their guess on nature's laws,
The soundest knowledge owns a greater cause.
Faith knows the fact transcends, and bids me find
What help for practice here incites the mind;
Strait to the song, the thankful song I move,
May such the voice of ev'ry creature prove,
If ev'ry creature meets its share of woe,
And for kind rescues ev'ry creature owe;
In publick so thy Maker's praise proclaim,
Nor what you beg'd with tears, conceal with shame.
'Tis there the ministry thy name repeat
And tell what mercies were vouchsaf'd of late,
Then joins the church, and begs through all our days
Not only with our lips, but lives to praise.
'Tis there our Sov'reigns for a signal day,
The feast proclaim'd, their signal thanks repay.
O'er the long streets we see the chariots wheel,
And, following, think of Hezekiah still;
In the bless'd Dome we meet the white-rob'd Choir,
In whose sweet notes our ravish'd souls aspire;
Side answ'ring side we hear and bear a part,
All warm'd with language from the grateful heart,
Or raise the song where meeting keys rejoice,
And teach the Base to wed the treble voice;
Arts soft'ning ecchos in the musick sound,
And answ'ring natures from the roof rebound.
Here close my verse, the service asks no more,
Bless thy good God, and give the transport o'er.
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