At once to raise our rev'rence and delight,
To elevate the mind, and please the sight,
To pour in virtue at th' attentive eye,
And waft the soul on wings of extacy;
For this the painter's art with nature vies,
And bids the visionary saint arise;
Who views the sacred forms in thought aspires,
Catches pure zeal, and as he gazes, fires;
Feels the same ardour to his breast convey'd,
Is what he sees, and emulates the shade.
Thy strokes, great Artist, so sublime appear,
They check our pleasure with an awful fear;
While, thro' the mortal line, the God you trace,
Author himself, and Heir of Jesse's race;
In raptures we admire thy bold design,
And, as the subject, own the hand divine.
While thro' thy work the rising day shall stream,
So long shall last thine honour, praise and name.
 And may thy labours to the Muse impart
Some emanation from her sister art,
To animate the verse, and bid it shine
In colours easy, bright, and strong, as Thine.
Supine on earth an awful figure lies,
While softest slumbers seem to seal his eyes;
The hoary sire Heav'ns guardian care demands,
And at his feet the watchful angel stands.
The form august and large, the mien divine
Betray the founder of Messiah's line.
Lo! from his loins the promis'd stem ascends,
And high to Heaven its sacred Boughs extends:
Each limb productive of some hero springs,
And blooms luxuriant with a race of kings.
Th' eternal plant wide spreads its arms around,
And with the mighty branch the mystic top is crown'd.
And lo! the glories of th' illustrious line
At their first dawn with ripen'd splendors shine,
In DAVID all express'd; the good, the great,
The king, the hero, and the man compleat.
Serene he sits, and sweeps the golden lyre,
And blends the prophet's with the poet's fire.
See! with what art he strikes the vocal strings,
The God, his theme, inspiring what he sings!
Hark—or our ears delude us—from his tongue
Sweet flows, or seems to flow, some heav'nly song.
 Oh! could thine art arrest the flitting sound,
And paint the voice in magic numbers bound;
Could the warm sun, as erst when Memnon play'd
Wake with his rising beam the vocal shade:
Then might he draw th' attentive angels down,
Bending to hear the lay, so sweet, so like their own.
On either side the monarch's offspring shine,
And some adorn, and some disgrace their line.
Here Ammon glories; proud, incestuous lord!
This hand sustains the robe, and that the sword.
Frowning and fierce, with haughty strides he tow'rs,
And on his horrid brow defiance low'rs.
There Absalom the ravish'd sceptre sways,
And his stol'n honour all his shame displays:
The base usurper Youth! who joins in one
The rebel subject, and th' ungrateful son.
Amid the royal race, see Nathan stand:
Fervent he seems to speak, and lift his hand;
His looks th' emotion of his soul disclose,
And eloquence from every gesture flows.
Such, and so stern he came, ordain'd to bring
Th' ungrateful mandate to the guilty King:
When, at his dreadful voice, a sudden smart
Shot thro' the trembling monarch's conscious heart;
From his own lips condemn'd; severe decree!
Had his God prov'd so stern a Judge as He.
But man with frailty is allay'd by birth;
Consummate purity ne'er dwelt on earth:
 Thro' all the soul tho' virtue holds the rein,
Beats at the heart, and springs in ev'ry vein:
Yet ever from the clearest source have ran
Some gross allay, some tincture of the man.
But who is he——deep-musing——in his mind,
He seems to weigh, in reason's scales, mankind;
Fix'd contemplation holds his steady eyes——
I know the sage; the wisest of the wise.
Blest with all man could wish, or prince obtain,
Yet his great heart pronounc'd those blessings vain.
And lo! bright glitt'ring in his sacred hands,
In miniature the glorious temple stands.
Effulgent frame! stupendous to behold!
Gold the strong valves, the roof of burnish'd gold.
The wand'ring ark, in that bright dome enshrin'd,
Spreads the strong light, eternal, unconfin'd!
Above th' unutterable glory plays
Presence divine! and the full-streaming rays
Pour thro' reluctant clouds intolerable blaze.
But stern oppression rends Reboam's reign;
See the gay prince, injurious, proud and vain!
Th' imperial sceptre totters in his hand,
And proud rebellion triumphs in the land.
Curs'd with corruption's ever-fruitful spring,
A beardless Senate, and a haughty King.
There Asa, good and great, the sceptre bears,
Justice attends his peace, success his wars:
 While virtue was his sword, and Heaven his shield,
Without controul the warrior swept the field;
Loaded with spoils, triumphant he return'd,
And half her swarthy Sons sad Ethiopia mourn'd.
But since thy flagging piety decay'd,
And barter'd God's defence for human aid;
See their fair laurels wither on thy brow,
Nor herbs, nor healthful arts avail thee now,
Nor is heav'n chang'd, apostate prince, but Thou.
No mean atonement does this lapse require;
But see the Son, you must forgive the Sire:
He, the just prince—with ev'ry virtue bless'd,
He reign'd, and goodness all the man possess'd,
Around his throne, fair happiness and peace
Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and smil'd in ev'ry face.
As when along the burning waste he stray'd,
Where no pure streams in bubbling mazes play'd,
Where drought incumbent on the thirsty ground,
Long since had breath'd her scorching blasts around;
The Prophet calls, th' obedient floods repair
To the parch'd fields, for Josaphat was there.
The new-sprung waves, in many a gurgling vein,
Trickle luxurious through the sucking plain;
Fresh honours the reviving fields adorn,
And o'er the desart plenty pours her horn.
 So, from the throne his influence he sheds,
And bids the virtues raise their languid heads:
Where'er he goes, attending Truth prevails,
Oppression flies, and Justice lifts her scales.
See, on his arm, the royal eagle stand,
Great type of conquest and supreme command;
Th' exulting bird distinguish'd triumph brings,
And greets the Monarch with expanded wings.
Fierce Moab's sons prevent th' impending blow,
Rush on themselves, and fall without the foe.
The pious hero vanquish'd Heav'n by pray'r;
His faith an army, and his vows a war.
Thee too, Ozias, fates indulgent blest
And thy days shone, in fairest actions drest;
Till that rash hand, by some blind frenzy sway'd,
Unclean, the sacred office durst invade.
Quick o'er thy limbs the scurfy venom ran,
And hoary filth besprinkled all the man.
Transmissive worth adorns the pious Son,
The father's virtues with the father's throne.
Lo! there he stands: he who the rage subdu'd
Of Ammon's sons, and drench'd his sword in blood,
And dost thou, Ahaz, Judah's scourge, disgrace,
With thy base front, the glories of thy race?
 See the vile King his iron sceptre bear——
His only praise attends the pious Heir;
He, in whose soul the virtues all conspire,
The best good son, from the worst wicked sire.
And lo! in Hezekiah's golden reign,
Long-exil'd piety returns again;
Again, in genuine purity she shines,
And with her presence gilds the long-neglected shrines.
Ill-starr'd does proud Assyria's impious Lord
Bid Heav'n to arms, and vaunt his dreadful sword;
His own vain threats th' insulting King o'erthrow,
But breathe new Courage on the gen'rous foe,
Th' avenging Angel, by divine command,
The fiery sword full-blazing in his hand,
Leant down from Heav'n: amid the storm he rode March'd Pestilence before him; as he trod, Pale desolation bath'd his steps in blood.
Thick wrapt in night, thro' the proud host he past,
Dispensing death, and drove the furious blast;
Nor bade destruction give her revels o'er,
Till the gorg'd sword was drunk with human gore.
But what avails thee, pious Prince, in vain
Thy sceptre rescu'd, and th' Assyrian slain?
Ev'n now the soul maintains her latest strife,
And death's chill grasp congeals the fount of life.
 Yet see, kind Heav'n renews thy brittle thread,
And rolls full fifteen summers o'er thy head;
Lo! the receding sun repeats his way,
And, like thy life, prolongs the falling day.
Tho' nature her inverted course forego,
The day forget to rest, the time to flow,
Yet shall Jehovah's servants stand secure,
His mercy fix'd, eternal shall endure;
On them her ever-healing rays shall shine;
More mild and bright, and sure, O sun! than thine.
At length, the long-expected Prince behold,
The last good King; in ancient days foretold,
When Bethel's altar spoke his future fame,
Rent to its base, at good Josiah's name.
Blest, happy prince! o'er whose lamented urn,
In plaintive song, all Judah's daughters mourn;
For whom sad Sion's softest Sorrow flows,
And Jeremiah pours his sweet melodious woes.
But now fall'n Sion, once the fair and great,
Sits deep in dust, abandon'd, desolate;
Bleeds her sad heart, and ever stream her eyes,
And anguish tears her, with convulsive sighs.
The mournful captive spreads her hands in vain,
Her hands, that rankle with the servile chain;
Till he, Great Chief! in Heav'n's appointed time,
Leads back her children, to their native clime.
 Fair liberty revives with all her joys,
And bids her envy'd walls securely rise.
And thou, great hallow'd dome, in ruin spread,
Again shall lift sublime thy sacred head.
But ah! with weeping eyes, the ancients view
A faint resemblance of the old in you.
No more th' effulgent glory of thy God
Speaks awful answers from the mystic cloud:
No more thine altars blaze with fire divine,
And Heav'n has left thy solitary shrine.
Yet, in thy courts, hereafter shalt thou see Presence immediate of the Deity, The light himself reveal'd, the God confess'd in Thee.
And now, at length, the fated term of years
The world's desire have brought, and lo! the God appears.
The Heav'nly Babe the Virgin Mother bears,
And her fond looks confess the parent's cares.
The pleasing burden on her breast she lays,
Hangs o'er his charms, and with a smile surveys.
The Infant smiles, to her fond bosom prest,
And wantons, sportive, on the mother's breast.
A radiant glory speaks him all Divine,
And in the Child the beams of Godhead shine.
But now alas! far other views disclose
The blackest comprehensive scene of woes.
 See where man's voluntary sacrifice
Bows his meek head, and God eternal dies!
Fixt to the Cross, his healing arms are bound,
While copious Mercy streams from every wound.
Mark the blood-drops that life exhausting roll,
And the strong pang that rends the stubborn soul!
As all death's tortures, with severe delay,
Exult and riot in the noblest prey.
And can'st thou, stupid man, those sorrows see,
Nor share the anguish which He bears for Thee?
Thy sin, for which his sacred Flesh is torn,
Points ev'ry nail, and sharpens ev'ry thorn;
Canst thou?—while nature smarts in ev'ry wound,
And each pang cleaves the sympathetic ground!
Lo! the black sun, his chariot backward driv'n,
Blots out the day, and perishes from Heav'n:
Earth, trembling from her entrails, bears a part,
And the rent rock upbraids man's stubborn heart.
The yawning grave reveals his gloomy reign,
And the cold clay-clad dead, start into life again.
And thou, O tomb, once more shalt wide display,
Thy satiate jaws, and give up all thy prey.
Thou, groaning earth shalt heave, absorpt in flame,
As the last pangs convulse thy lab'ring frame;
When the same God unshrouded thou shalt see,
Wrapt in full blaze of pow'r and Majesty,
Ride on the clouds; whilst, as his chariot flies,
 The bright effusion streams through all the skies.
Then shall the proud dissolving mountains glow,
And yielding rocks in fiery rivers flow:
The molten deluge round the globe shall roar,
And all man's arts and labour be no more.
Then shall the splendors of th' enliven'd glass
Sink undistinguish'd in the burning mass.
And O! till earth, and seas, and Heav'n decay,
Ne'er may that fair creation fade away;
May winds and storms those beauteous colours spare,
Still may they bloom, as permanent as fair,
All the vain rage of wasting time repell,
And his Tribunal see, whose Cross they paint so well.