The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive Davideis. the fourth Book.
from Poems (1656; editor's copy)
Moab carries his Guests to hunt at Nebo, in the way falls into discourse with David, and desires to know of him the reasons of the Change of Government in Israel, how Saul came to the Crown, and the story of Him and Jonathan. Davids Speech, containing, The state of the Commonwealth under the Judges, the Motives for which the people desired a King; their Deputies speech to Samuel upon that subject, and his reply. The assembling of the People at the Tabernacle to enquire Gods pleasure. Gods Speech. The Character of Saul, his Anointing by Samuel, and Election by Lot; the defection of his people. The war of Nahas King of Ammon against Jabes Gilead; Saul and Jonathans relieving of the Town. Jonathans Character, his single fight with Nahas, whom he slays, and defeats his Army. The confirmation of Sauls Kingdom at Gilgal, and the manner of Samuels quitting his office of Judge. The war with the Philistins at Macmas, their strength, and the weakness of Sauls Forces, his exercising of the Priestly function, and the judgment denounced by Samuel against him. Jonathans discourse with his Esquire; their falling alone upon the enemies out-guards at Senes, and after upon the whole Army, the wonderful defeat of it; Sauls rash vow, by which Jonathan is to be put to death, but is saved by the People.
Thoughstate and kind discourse thus rob'd the Night
Of half her natural and more just delight, Moab, whom Temp'erance did still vig'orous keep,
And regal cares had us'd to mod'erate sleep, 1 Up with the Sun arose, and having thrice
With lifted hands bow'd towards his shining rise,
And thrice to'wards Phegor, his Baals holiest Hill,
(With good and pious prayers directed ill)
Call'd to the Chase his Friends, who for him stay'd;
The glad Dogs barkt, the chearful Horses neigh'd. 10 Moab his Chariot mounts, drawn by four Steeds, 2 The best and noblest that fresh Zerith breeds, 3 All white as Snow, and sprightful as the Light,
With Scarlet trapt, and foaming Gold they bite.
He into it young David with him took,
Did with respect and wonder on him look
Since last nights story, and with greedier ear,
The Man, of whom so much he heard, did hear.
The well-born Youth of all his flourishing Court
March gay behind, and joyful to the sport. 20
Some arm'd with Bows, some with strait Javelines ride; 4 Rich Swords and gilded Quivers grace their side.
Midst the fair Troop Davids tall Brethren rode, 5 And Joab comely as a Fanci'ed God;
They entertain'd th' attentive Moab Lords,
With loose and various talk that chance affords,
Whilst they pac'ed slowly on; but the wise King
Did Davids tongue to weightier subjects bring.
Much (said the King) much I to Joab owe,
For the fair Picture drawn by him of you. 30
'Twas drawn in little, but did acts express
So great, that largest Histories are less.
I see (methinks) the Gathian Monster still,
His shape last night my mindful Dreams did fill.
Strange Tyrant Saul with Envy to pursue
The praise of deeds whence his own safety grew!
I'have heard (but who can think it?) that his Son
Has his lifes hazard for your friendship run;
His matchless Son, whose worth (if Fame be true)
Lifts him 'above all his Countrymen but you, 40
With whom it makes him One; Low David bows,
But no reply Moabs swift tongue allows.
And pray, kind Guest, whilst we ride thus (says he) 6 (To gameful Nebo still three leagues there be)
The story of your royal friend relate;
And his ungovern'd Sires imperious fate, 7 Why your great State that nameless Fam'ily chose,
And by what steps to Israels Throne they rose.
He staid; and David thus; from Egypts Land
You 'have heard, Sir, by what strong, unarmed hand 50
Our Fathers came; Moses their sacred Guid,
But he in sight of the Giv'en Country dy'd.
His fatal promis'd Canaan was on high;
And Joshua's Sword must th' active Rod supply.
It did so, and did wonders.
Josh. 1. 4.
8 From sacred Jordan to the Western main,
From well-clad Lib'anus to the Southern Plain
Of naked sands, his winged Conquests went;
And thirty Kings to Hell uncrown'd he sent.
Almost four hundred years from him to Saul, 9 In too much freedom past, or forreign thral. 60
Oft Strangers Iron Scepters bruis'd the Land
(Such still are those born by a Conquering Hand)
Oft pity'ing God did well-form'd Spirits raise,
Fit for the toilsome business of their days,
To free the groaning Nation, and to give Peace first, and then the Rules in Peace to live.
But they whose stamp of Power did chiefly ly
In Characters too fine for most mens Ey, Graces and Gifts Divine; not painted bright 70
With state to awe dull minds, and force t'affright,
Were ill obey'd whil'st Living, and at death,
Their Rules and Pattern vanisht with their breath.
The hungry Rich all near them did devour,
Their Judge was Appetite, and their Law was Power.
Not want it self could Luxury restrain,
For what that empti'd, Rapine fill'd again. Robbery the Field, Oppression sackt the Town;
What the Swords Reaping spar'd, was glean'd by th'Gown.
At Courts, and Seats of Justice to complain, 80
Was to be robb'd more vexingly again.
Nor was their Lust less active or less bold,
Amidst this rougher search of Blood and Gold. Weak Beauties they corrupt, and force the strong;
The Pride of Old Men that, and this of young.
You 'have heard perhaps, Sir, of leud Gibeahs shame,
Which Hebrew Tongues still tremble when they name, Alarmed all by one fair strangers Eyes,
As to a sudden War the Town does rise 90
Shaking and pale, half dead e're they begin
The strange and wanton Trag'edy of their sin,
All their wild Lusts they force her to sustain,
Till by shame, sorrow, weariness, and pain,
She midst their loath'd, and cruel kindness dies;
Of monstrous Lust th' innocent Sacrifice.
This did ('tis true) a Civil War create
(The frequent curse of our loose-govern'd State) 10 All Gibea's, and all Jabes blood it cost;
Near a whole Tribe and future Kings we lost.
Judg. 20. and 21.
Firm in this general Earthquake of the Land, 100
How could Religion, its main pillar, stand?
Proud, and fond Man, his Fathers worship hates,
Himself, Gods Creature, his own God Creates.
Hence in each Houshold sev'eral Deities grew,
And when no old one pleas'd, they fram'd a New.
The only Land which serv'd but one before,
Did th' only then all Nations Gods adore.
They serv'd their Gods at first, and soon their Kings;
Their choice of that this latter slavery brings.
Till special men arm'd with Gods warrant broke 110
By justest force th'unjustly forced yoke.
All matchless persons, and thrice worthy they
Of Power more great, or Lands more apt t'obey.
1 Sam. 3.
11 At last the Priesthood join'd in Ith'amars Son, 12 More weight and lustre to the Scepter won.
But whilst mild Ely, and good Samuel were
Busi'ed with age, and th' Altars sacred care;
To their wild Sons they their high charge commit,
Who 'expose to Scorn and Hate both them and it. Ely's curst House th'exemplar vengeance bears 120
Of all their Blood, and all sad Isr'aels Tears.
His Sons abroad, Himself at home lies slain, Israel's captiv'd, Gods Ark and Law are tane.
1 Sam. 4.
Thus twice are Nations by ill Princes vext,
They suffer By them first, and For them next. Samuel succeeds; since Moses none before
So much of God in his bright bosom bore.
In vain our arms Philistian Tyrants seis'd;
1 Sam. 7.
Heav'ens Magazines he open'd when he pleas'd.
He Rains and Winds for Auxil'iaries brought, 130
Ib. v. 10.
He muster'd Flames and Thunders when he fought. 13 Thus thirty years with strong and steddy hand
He held th'unshaken Ballance of the Land.
At last his Sons th'indulgent Father chose
To share that State which they were born to lose.
Their hateful acts that Changes birth did hast, 14 Which had long growth i'th'Womb of Ages past.
To this (for still were some great Periods set,
There's a strong knot of sev'eral Causes met)
The threats concurr'd of a rough neighb'ring War; 140
A mighty storm long gathering from afar.
For Ammon, heightned with mixt Nations aid,
Like Torrents swoln with Rain prepar'd the land t'invade. Samuel was old, and by his Sons ill choice
Turn'd Dotard in th' unskilful Vulgars voice.
His Sons so scorn'd and hated, that the Land
Nor hop'ed nor wisht a Victory from their hand:
These were the just and faultless causes why
The general voice did for a Monarch cry,
But God ill grains did in this Incense smell, 150
Wrapt in fair Leaves he saw the Canker dwell.
A mut'inous Itch of Change, a dull Despair
Of helps divine, oft prov'd; a faithless care
Of Common Means; the pride of heart, and scorn
Of th' humble yoke under low Judges born.
They saw the state and glittering pomp which blest
In vulgar sense the Scepters of the East.
They saw not Powers true Source, and scorn'd t'obey
Persons that look'd no dreadfuller than They.
They mist Courts, Guards, a gay and num'erous train; 160
Our Judges, like their Laws, were rude and plain.
On an old bench of wood, her Seat of State
Judg. 4. 5.
Beneath the well-known Palm, Wise Debora sate.
Her Maids with comly dil'igence round her spun,
And she too, when the Pleadings there were done:
With the same Goad Samgar his Oxen drives
Which took the Sun before six hundred lives
Judg. 3. 31.
From his sham'd foes; He midst his work dealt Laws;
And oft was his Plow stopt to hear a Cause.
Nor did great Gid'eon his old Flail disdain, 170
Judg. 6. 14.
After won Fields, sackt Towns, and Princes slain.
His Scepter that, and Ophras Threshing Floore
The Seat and Embleme of his Justice bore.
What should I Jair, the happiest Father, name?
Judg. 10. 3.
Or mournful Jephta known no less to fame
Ib. 11 34.
For the most wretched? Both at once did keep
The mighty Flocks of Isra'el and their Sheep.
Oft from the field in hast they summon'd were
Some weighty forreign Embassy to hear,
They call'd their Slaves, their Sons, and Friends around, 180
Who all at several cares were scattered found,
They washt their feet, their only Gown put on;
And this chief work of Cer'emony was done.
These reasons, and all else that could be said,
In a ripe hour by factious Eloquence spread
Through all the Tribes, make all desire a King;
And to their Judge selected Dep'uties bring
1 Sam. 8. 3.
This harsh demand; which Nacol for the rest
(A bold and artful Mouth) thus with much grace exprest.
We' are come, most sacred Judge, to pay th'Arrears 190
Of much-ow'd thanks for the bright thirty years
Of your just Reign; and at your feet to lay
All that our grateful hearts can weakly pay
In unproportion'd words; for you alone
The not unfit Reward, who seek for none.
But when our forepast ills we call to mind,
And sadly think how Little's left behind
Of your important Life, whose sudden date
Would disinherit th'unprovided State.
When we consider how unjust 'tis, you, 200
Who nere of Power more than the Burden knew,
At once the weight of that and Age should have;
Your stooping days prest doubly towards the grave.
When we behold by Ammons youthful rage,
Proud in th' advantage of your peaceful age,
And all th'united East our fall conspir'd;
And that your Sons, whom chiefly we desir'd
1 Sam. 8. 5.
As Stamps of you, in your lov'd room to place,
By unlike acts that noble Stamp deface:
Midst these new fears and ills, we're forc'd to fly 2210
To' a new, and yet unpractis'd Remedy;
A new one, but long promis'd and foretold, 15 By Moses, and to Abraham shown of old.
A Prophesie long forming in the Womb
Deut. 17. 4.
Of teeming years, and now to ripeness come.
This Remedy's a King; for this we all
With an inspir'd, and zealous Union call.
And in one sound when all mens voices join,
The Musick's tun'd (no doubt) by hand divine.
'Tis God alone speaks a whole Nations voice; 220
That is his Publique Language; but the choice
Of what Peculiar Head that Crown must bear
From you who his Peculiar Organ are
We'expect to hear; the People shall to you
Their King, the King his Crown and People owe.
To your great name what lustre will it bring
T'have been our Judge, and to have made our King!
He bow'd, and ended here; and Samuel streight,
1 Sam. 8. 6.
Pawsing a while at this great questions weight,
With a grave sigh, and with a thoughtful Ey 230
That more of Care than Passion did descry,
Calmly replys: You're sure the first (said he)
Of freeborn men that begg'd for Slavery.
I fear, my friends, with heav'enly Manna fed,
(Our old forefathers crime) we lust for Bread.
Long since by God from Bondage drawn, I fear,
We build anew th' Egyptian Brickiln here. 16 Cheat not your selves with words: for though a King
1 Sam. 8. 11.
Be the mild Name, a Tyrant is the Thing.
Let his power loose, and you shall quickly see 230
How mild a thing unbounded Man will be.
He'll lead you forth your hearts cheap blood to spill,
Where e're his Guidless Passion leads his Will.
Ambition, Lust, or Spleen his wars will raise,
Your Lives best price his thirst of Wealth or Praise.
Your ablest Sons for his proud Guards he'll take,
And by such hands your yoke more grievous make.
Your Daughters and dear Wives he'll force away,
His Lux'ury some, and some his Lust t'obey.
His idle friends your hungry toils shall eat, 250
Drink your rich Wines, mixt with your Blood and Sweat.
Then you'll all sigh, but sighs will Treasons be;
And not your Griefs themselves, or Looks be free.
Rob'd even of Hopes, when you these ills sustain,
Your watry eyes you'l then turn back in vain,
On your old Judges, and perhaps on Me,
Nay ev'en my Sons, howe're they 'unhappy be
In your displeasure now; Not that I'd clear
Their Guilt, or mine own Innocence indear, 17 Witness th' unutterable Name, there's nought 260
Of private ends into this question brought.
But why this yoke on your own necks to draw?
Why Man your God, and Passion made your Law?
Methinks (thus Moab interrupts him here)
The good old Seer 'gainst Kings was too severe.
'Tis Jest to tell a People that they're Free, Who, or How many shall their Masters be
Is the sole doubt; Laws guid, but cannot reign;
And though they bind not Kings, yet they restrain.
I dare affirm (so much I trust their Love) 270
That no one Moabite would his speech approve.
But, pray go on. 'Tis true, Sir, he replies;
Yet men whom age and action renders wise,
So much great changes fear, that they believe
All evils will, which may from them arrive.
On men resolv'd these threats were spent in vain,
All that his power or el'oquence could obtain
1 Sam. 8. 19.
Was to enquire Gods will e're they proceed
To'a work that would so much his blessing need.
A solemn day for this great work is set, 280 18 And at th' Anointed Tent all Israel met
Ex. 48. 9. & 30. 26.
Expect th' event; below fair bullocks fry
In hallowed flames; above, there mount on high
Ib. v. 5. 6.
The precious clouds of Incense, and at last
The Sprinkling, Pray'ers, and all due Honours past. 19 Lo! we the Sacred Bells o'th' sudden hear,
Exo. 39. 25. & 28.
20 And in mild pomp grave Samuel does appear. 21 His Ephod, Mitre, well-cut Diadem on,
Ex. 39. 2. Ib. 8.
22 Th' Orac'ulous Stones on his rich Breast plate shone.
Tow'ards the blew curtains of Gods holiest place 290 23 (The Temples bright Third Heaven) he turn'd his face.
Thrice bow'd he, thrice the solemn Musick plaid,
And at third rest thus the great Prophet praid:
Almighty God, to whom all men that be
Owe all they have, yet none so much as We;
Who though thou fill'st the spacious world alone,
Thy too small Court, hast made this place thy Throne.
With humble Knees, and humbler Hearts, Lo, here,
Blest Abrah'ams Seed implores thy gracious Ear.
Hear them, great God, and thy just will inspire; 300
From Thee, their long-known King, they'a King desire.
Some gracious signs of thy good pleasure send,
Which, lo, with Souls resign'd we humbly here attend.
He spoke, and thrice he bow'd, and all about Silence and reverend Horrour seiz'd the rout.
The whole Tent shakes, the Flames on th' Altar by,
In thick dull rolls mount slow and heavily.
24 The seven Lamps wink; and what does most dismay,
Exod. 25. 37.
Th'Orac'ulous Gems shut in their nat'ural day.
The Rubies Cheek grew pale, the Em'eraud by 310
Faded, a Cloud o'recast the Saphirs Skie.
The Di'amonds Eye lookt Sleepy, and swift night
Of all those little Suns eclypst the Light.
Sad signs of Gods dread anger for our sin,
But straight a wondrous brightness from within
Strook through the Curtains, for no earthly Cloud
Could those strong beams of heav'enly glory shroud.
The Altars fire burnt pure, and every Stone
Their radiant Parent the gay Sun outshone.
Beauty th' illustrious Vision did impart 320
To ev'ery Face, and Joy to ev'ery heart.
In glad effects Gods presence thus appear'd,
And thus in wondrous sounds his Voice was heard:
This stubborn Land sins still, nor is it Thee, but Us
(Who have been so long their King) they seek to cast off thus.
Five hundred rolling years hath this stiff Nation strove
To 'exhaust the boundless stores of our unfathom'd Love.
Be't so then; yet once more are we resolv'd to try
T'outweary them through all their Sins Variety.
Assemble ten days hence the num'erous people here; 330
To draw the Royal Lot which our hid Mark shall bear.
Dismiss them now in peace; but their next crime shall bring
Ruine without redress on Them, and on their King.
The Almighty spoke; th' astonisht people part
With various stamps imprest on every heart.
Some their demand repented, others prais'd,
Some had no thoughts at all, but star'd and gaz'd.
There dwelt a Man, nam'd Kis in Gib'eah Town,
1 Sam. 9. 1.
For wisdom much, and much for Courage known.
Ib. v. 2.
More for his Son, his mighty Son was Saul, 340
Whom Nature, e're the Lots, to' a Throne did call.
He was much Prince, and when, or wheresoe're
His birth had been, Then had he reign'd and There.
Such Beauty as great Strength thinks no disgrace,
Smil'd in the manly features of his Face.
His large black Eyes, fill'd with a sprightful light,
Shot forth such lively and illustrious Night,
As the Sun beams, on Jet reflecting show,
His Hair, as black, in long curl'd waves did flow. 350
His tall, strait Body amidst thousands stood,
Like some fair Pine o'relooking all th' ignobler Wood.
Of all our rural sports he was the pride;
So swift, so strong, so dextrous none beside. Rest was his Toil, Labours his Lust and Game;
No nat'ural wants could his fierce dil'igence tame,
Not Thirst, nor Hunger; he would journeys go
Through raging Heats, and take repose in Snow.
His Soul was ne're unbent from weighty care; 25 But active as some Mind that turns a Sphere.
His way once chose, he forward thrust outright, 360
Nor stept aside for Dangers or Delight.
Yet was he wise all dangers to foresee;
But born t' affright, and not to fear was He.
His Wit was strong; not Fine; and on his tongue
An Artless grace above all Eloq'uence hung.
These Virtues too the rich unusual dress
1 Sam. 9. 21. Ib. 10. v. 22.
Of Modesty adorn'd and Humbleness.
Like a clear Varnish o're fair Pictures laid,
More fresh and Lasting they the Colours made.
Till Power and violent Fortune, which did find 370
No stop or bound, o'rewhelm'd no less his Mind,
Did, Deluge-like, the nat'ural forms deface,
And brought forth unknown Monsters in their place.
Forbid it God, my Masters spots should be,
Were they not seen by all, disclos'd by me!
But such he was; and now to Ramah went
(So God dispos'd) with a strange, low intent.
Great God! he went lost Asses to enquire,
Ib. v. 8.
And a small Present his small questions hire,
Brought simply with him to that Man to give, 380
From whom high Heav'ens chief Gifts he must receive,
Strange Play of Fate! when might'iest humane things
Hang on such small, Imperceptible Strings! 26 'Twas Samuels Birth-day, a glad ann'ual feast
1 Sam. 9. 12.
All Rama kept; Samuel his wondring Guest
With such respect leads to it, and does grace
Ib. v. 22, 23, 24.
27 With the choice meats o'th' feast, and highest place.
Which done, him forth alone the Prophet brings,
And feasts his ravisht ears with nobler things.
Ib. v. 26.
He tells the mighty Fate to him assign'd, 390
And with great rules fills his capacious mind.
1 Sam. 10. 1.
Then takes the sacred Viol, and does shed 28 A Crown of mystique drops around his head.
Drops of that Royal Moisture which does know
No Mixture, and disdains the place below.
Soon comes the Kingly Day, and with it brings 29 A new Account of Time upon his wings.
1 Sam. 10. 17.
The people met, the rites and pray'rs all past,
Behold, the Heav'en instructed-Lot is cast.
'Tis taught by heaven its way, and cannot miss; 400
Forth Benjamin, forth leaps the House of Cis.
As Glimm'ering stars just at the'approach of Day,
Casheer'd by Troops, at last drop all away,
By such degrees all mens bright hopes are gone,
And, like the Sun, Sauls Lot shines all alone.
Ev'en here perhaps the peoples shout was heard,
The loud long shout when Gods fair choice appear'd.
Above the whole vast throng he'appear'd so tall, 30 As if by Nature made for th'Head of all. 410
So full of grace and state, that one might know 31 'Twas some wise Eye the blind Lot guided so.
But blind unguided Lots have more of choice
And constancy then the slight Vulgars voice.
Ere yet the Crown of sacred Oyl is dry,
Whil'st Ecchoes yet preserve the joyful cry,
Some grow enrag'd their own vain hopes to miss,
Some envy Saul, some scorn the house of Cis.
Some their first mut'inous wish, A King, repent,
As if, since that, quite spoil'd by Gods consent.
Few to this Prince their first just duties pay; 420
All leave the Old, but few the New obey.
Thus changes Man, but God is constant still
To those eternal grounds, that mov'ed his Will.
And though he yielded first to them, 'tis fit
That stubborn Men at last to him submit. 32 As midst the Main a low small Island lies,
Assaulted round with stormy Seas and skies.
Whilst the poor heartless Natives ev'ery hour Darkness and Noise seems ready to devour:
Such Israels state appear'ed, whilst ore the West 430 Philistian clouds hung threatning, and from th'East
All Nations wrath into one Tempest joines,
Through which proud Nahas like fierce Lightning shines. Tygris and Nile to his assistance send, 33 And waters to swoln Jaboc's Torrent lend. Seir, Edom, Soba, Amalec adde their force, 34 Up with them march the Three Arabia's Horse.
And 'mongst all these none more their hope or pride,
Then those few Troops your warlike land supply'ed.
Around weak Jabes this vast Host does ly, 440
1 Sam. 11. 1.
Disdains a dry and bloodless Victory.
The hopeless Town for Slave'ry does intreat,
But barb'arous Nahas thinks that grace too great.
He (his first Tribute) their right Eyes demands,
Ib. v. 2.
35 And with their Faces shame disarms their Hands.
If unreliev'ed sev'en days by Israels aid,
This bargain for ore-rated Life is made.
Ah, mighty God, let thine own Israel be
Quite blind it self, ere this reproach it see!
By'his wanton people the new King forsook, 450
To homely rural cares himself betook.
In private plenty liv'd without the state,
Lustre and Noise due to a publique fate.
Whilst he his slaves and cattel follows home,
Lo the sad Messengers from Jabes come,
Implore his help, and weep as if they meant
1 Sam. 11. 4.
That way at least proud Nahas to prevent.
Mov'ed with a Kingly wrath, his strict command
He issues forth t'assemble all the land. 460
He threatens high, and disobedient they Wak'ed by such Princely terrors learnt t'obey.
A mighty Host is rais'd; th'important cause Age from their Rest; Youth, from their Pleasure draws.
Arm'd as unfurnisht Hast could them provide,
But Conduct, Courage, Anger that supply'ed.
All night they march, and are at th'early dawn
On Jabes heath in three fair bodies drawn. Saul did himself the first and strongest band,
1 Sam. 11. 11.
His Son the next, Abner the third command. 470
But pardon, Sir, if naming Sauls great Son,
I stop with him a while ere I go on.
This is that Jonathan, the Joy and Grace,
The beautifull'st, and best of Humane Race.
That Jonathan in whom does mixt remain
All that kind Mothers wishes can contain.
His Courage such as it no stop can know,
And Vict'ory gains by'astonishing the Foe.
With Lightnings force his enemies it confounds,
And melts their Hearts e're it the Bosom wounds.
Yet he the Conquer'd with such Sweetness gains, 480
As Captive Lovers find in Beauties Chains.
In war the adverse Troops he does assail,
Like an impet'uous storm of wind and Hail.
In Peace, like gentlest Dew that does asswage
The burning Months, and temper Syrius rage.
Kind as the Suns blest Influence; and where e're
He comes, Plenty and Joy attend him there.
To Help seems all his Power, his Wealth to Give;
To do much Good his sole Prerogative.
And yet this gen'eral Bounty of his Mind, 490
That with wide arms embraces all Mankind,
Such artful Prudence does to each divide,
With diffe'rent measures all are satisfi'd.
Just as wise God his plenteous Manna dealt,
Exod. 16. 18.
Some gather'd more, but want by none was felt.
To all Relations their just rights he pays,
And worths reward above its claim does raise.
The tendrest Husband, Master, Father, Son,
And all those parts by'his Friendship far outdone.
His Love to Friends no bound or rule does know, 500
What He to Heav'en, all that to Him they owe.
Keen as his Sword, and pointed is his Wit:
His Judgment, like best Armour, strong and fit.
And such an El'oquence to both these does join,
As makes in both Beauty and Use combine.
Through which a noble Tincture does appear
By Learning and choice Books imprinted there.
As well he knows all Times and Persons gone,
As he himself to th' future shall be known.
But his chief study is Gods sacred Law; 510
And all his Life does Comments on it draw,
As never more by Heav'en to Man was giv'en,
So never more was paid by Man to Heav'en.
And all these Virtues were to Ripeness grown,
E're yet his Flower of Youth was fully blown.
All Autumns store did his rich Spring adorn;
Like Trees in Par'dice he with Fruit was born.
Such is his Soul; and if, as some men tell, 36Souls form and build those mansions where they dwell;
Whoe're but sees his Body must confess, 520
The Architect no doubt, could be no less.
From Saul his growth and manly strength he took, Chastis'd by bright Ahino'ams gentler look.
Not bright Ahin'oam, Beauties lowdest Name,
Till she to' her Children lost with joy her fame,
1 Sam. 14. 50.
Had sweeter strokes, Colours more fresh and fair,
More darting Eyes, or lovelier auborn Hair.
Forgive me that I thus your patience wrong,
And on this boundless subject stay so long.
Where too much hast ever to end t'would be, 530
Did not his Acts speak what's untold by Me.
Though from the time his hands a Sword could wield,
He ne're mist Fame and Danger in the field.
Yet this was the first day that call'd him forth,
Since Sauls bright Crown gave luster to his worth.
'Twas the last morning whose unchearful rise,
Sad Jabes was to view with both their Eyes.
Secure proud Nahas slept as in his Court,
And dreamt, vain man! of that days barb'arous sport,
Till noise and dreadful tumults him awoke; 540
Till into'his Camp our vi'olent Army broke.
The careless Guards with small re[s]istance kill'd,
Slaughter the Camp, and wild Confusion fill'd. Nahas his fatal duty does perform,
And marches boldly up t'outface the storm.
Fierce Jonathan he meets, as he pursues
Th' Arabian Horse, and a hot fight renewes.
'Twas here your Troops behav'd themselves so well,
Till Uz and Jathan their stout Col'onels fell.
'Twas here our Vict'ory stopt, and gave us cause. 550
Much to suspect th'intention of her pause.
But when our thundring Prince Nahas espy'd,
Who with a Courage equal to his Pride
Broke through our Troops, and tow'ards him boldly prest,
A gen'erous joy leapt in his youthful brest.
As when a wrathful Dragons dismal light
Strikes suddenly some warlike Eagles sight.
The mighty foe pleases his fearless eyes,
He claps his joyful wings, and at him flies.
With vain, though vi'olent force, their darts they flung; 560
In Ammons plated belt Jonathans hung,
And stopt there; Ammon did his Helmet hit,
And gliding off, bore the proud crest from it.
Straight with their Swords to the fierce shock they came,
Their Swords, their Armour, and their Eyes shot flame.
Blows strong as Thunder, thick as Rain they delt;
Which more then they th'engag'ed Spectators felt.
In Ammon force, in Jonathan address,
(Though both were great in both to an excess)
To the well-judging Eye did most appear; Honour, and Anger in both equal were.
Two wounds our Prince receiv'ed, and Ammon three;
Which he enrag'ed to feel, and 'sham'd to see,
Did his whole strength into one blow collect;
And as a Spani'el when we'our aim direct
To shoot some Bird, impatiently stands by
Shaking his tail, ready with joy to fly
Just as it drops, upon the wounded prey;
So waited Death it self to bear away
The threatned Life; did glad and greedy stand 580
At sight of mighty Ammons lifted hand.
Our watchful Prince by bending sav'd the wound,
But Death in other coyn his reck'ning found:
For whilst th'immod'erate strokes miscarry'ng force
Had almost born the striker from his horse,
A nimble thrust his active En'emy made,
'Twixt his right ribs deep pierc'ed the furious blade,
And opened wide those secret vessels, where 37Life's Light goes out, when first they let in aire.
He falls, his Armour clanks against the ground, 590
From his faint tongue imperfect curses sound.
His amaz'd Troops strait cast their arms away;
Scarce fled his Soul from thence more swift then they.
As when two Kings of neighbour Hives (whom rage
And thirst of Empire in fierce wars engage,
Whilst each lays claim to th'Garden as his owne,
And seeks t'usurp the bord'ring flowers alone)
Their well-arm'd Troops drawn boldly forth to fight,
In th'aires wide plain dispute their doubtful right.
If by sad chance of battel either King 600
Fall wounded down, strook with some fatal sting,
His Armies hopes and courage with him dy;
They sheath up their faint Swords, and routed fly.
On th'other sides at once with like success
Into the Camp, great Saul and Abner press,
From Jon'athans part a wild mixt noise they hear,
And whatsoere it mean long to be there,
At the same instant from glad Jabes Town,
The hasty Troops march loud and chearful down.
Some few at first with vain resistance fall, 610
The rest is Slaughter, and vast Conquest all.
The fate by which our Host thus far had gon,
Our Host with noble heat drove farther on.
Victorious arms through Ammons land it bore; Ruine behind, and Terror marcht before.
Where ere from Rabba's towers they cast their sight, Smoak clouds the Day, and Flames make clear the Night.
This bright success did Sauls first action bring,
The Oyl, the Lot, and Crown less crown'd him King.
The Happy all men judge for Empire fit, 620
And none withstands where Fortune does submit.
Those who before did Gods fair choice withstand,
1 Sam. 11. 12.
Th'excessive Vulgar now to death demand.
But wiser Saul repeal'd their hasty doom;
Conquest abroad, with Mercy crown'd at home.
Nor stain'd with civil slaughter that days pride,
Which foreign blood in nobler purple dy'ed.
Again the Crown th'assembled people give,
With greater joy then Saul could it receive.
Again, th'old Judge resigns his sacred place, 630
1 Sam. 12. 1.
God Glorifi'ed with wonders his disgrace.
With decent pride, such as did well befit
The Name he kept, and that which he did quit.
The long-past row of happy years he show'd,
Which to his heav'enly Government they ow'd.
How the torn state his just and prudent raign
Restor'ed to Order, Plenty, Power again.
In war what conqu'ering Miracles he wrought; God, then their King, was Gen'eral when they fought.
Whom they depos'ed with him. And that (said he) 640
You may see God concern'd in't more then Me,
Behold how storms his angry presence shrowd,
Hark how his wrath in thunder threats alowd.
'Twas now the ripen'ed Summers highest rage,
Which no faint cloud durst mediate to asswage.
Th'Earth hot with Thirst, and hot with Lust for Rain,
Gap'ed, and breath'd feeble vapours up in vain,
Which straight were scatter'd, or devour'd by th'Sun;
When, Lo, ere scarce the active speech was done,
A vi'olent Wind rose from his secret Cave, 650
And troops of frighted Clouds before it drave.
Whilst with rude haste the confus'ed Tempest crowds,
Swift dreadful flames shot through th'encountring clowds,
From whose torn womb th'imprison'ed Thunder broke,
And in dire sounds the Prophets sense it spoke.
Such an impet'uous shower it downwards sent,
As if the Waters 'bove the Firmament
Were all let loose; Horrour and fearful noise
Fill'd the black Scene; till the great Prophets voice
Swift as the wings of Morn, reduc'ed the Day; 660 Wind, Thunder, Rain and Clouds fled all at once away.
Fear not (said he) God his fierce wrath removes,
1 Sam. 12. 20.
And though this State my service disapproves,
My Prayers shall serve it constantly. No more,
I hope, a pardon for past sins t'implore,
But just rewards from gracious heav'en to bring
On the good deeds of you, and of our King.
Behold him there! and as you see, rejoyce
In the kind care of Gods impartial choice.
Behold his Beauty, Courage, Strength and Wit! 670
The Honour heav'en has cloath'd him with, sits fit
And comely on him; since you needs must be
Rule'd by a King, you'are happy that 'tis He.
Obey him gladly, and let him too know You were not made for Him, but he for You,
And both for God.
Whose gentlest yoke if once you cast away,
In vain shall he command, and you obey.
To foreign Tyrants both shall slaves become,
Instead of King, and Subjects here at home. 680
Ib. v. 25.
The Crown thus several ways confirm'ed to Saul,
One way was wanting yet to crown them all;
And that was Force, which only can maintain
The Power that Fortune gives, or worth does gain.
Three thousand Guards of big, bold men he took;
1 Sam. 13. 2.
Tall, terrible, and Guards ev'en with their Look;
His sacred person too, and throne defend,
The third on matchless Jonathan attend.
Ore whose full thoughts, Honour, and youthful Heat,
Sate brooding to hatch Actions good and great. 690
On Geba first, where a Philistian band
Lies, and around torments the fetter'd land,
He falls, and slaughters all; his noble rage
Mixt with Design his Nation to engage
In that just war, which from them long in vain, Honour and Freedoms voice had strove t'obtain.
Th'accurst Philistian rows'd with this bold blow,
Ib. v. 5.
All the proud marks of enrag'ed Power does show.
Raises a vast, well-arm'd, and glittering Host,
If humane strength might authorize a boast, 700
Their threats had reason here; for ne're did wee
Our selves so weak, or foe so potent see.
Here we vast bodies of their Foot espy,
The Rear out-reaches far th'extended Eye.
Like fields of Corn their armed Squadrons stand;
As thick and numberless they hide the land.
Here with sharp neighs the warlike Horses sound; 38 And with proud prancings beat the putrid ground. 39 Here with worse noise three thousand Chariots pass
With plates of Iron bound, or louder Brass. 710
About it forks, axes, and sithes, and spears,
Whole Magazines of Death each Chariot bears.
Where it breaks in, there a whole Troop it mows,
And with lopt panting limbs the field bestrows.
Alike the Valiant, and the Cowards dy;
Neither can they resist, nor can these fly.
Ib. v. 5. Ver. 7.
In this proud equipage at Macmas they; Saul in much different state at Gilgal lay.
His forces seem'd no Army, but a Crowd,
Heartless, unarm'd, disorderly, and lowd. 720
The quick Contagion Fear ran swift through all,
And into trembling Fits th'infected fall. Saul, and his Son (for no such faint Disease
Could on their strong-complexion'd Valour seise)
In vain all parts of virtuous Conduct show'd,
And on deaf Terror gen'erous words bestow'd.
Thousands from thence fly scattered ev'ery day;
Thick as the Leaves that shake and drop away,
When they th'approach of stormy Winter find
The noble Tree all bare expos'd to the' Wind. 730
Some to sad Jordan fly, and swim't for hast,
And from his farther bank look back at last.
Some into woods and caves their cattel drive,
There with their Beasts on equal terms they live,
Nor deserve better; some in rocks on high,
The old retreats of Storks and Ravens ly.
And were they wing'ed like them, scarce would they dare
To stay, or trust their frighted safety there.
As th'Host with fear, so Saul disturb'd with care,
T'avert these ills by Sacrifice and Prayer, 740
And Gods blest will t'enquire, for Samuel sends;
Whom he six days with troubled hast attends.
But ere the seventh unlucky day (the last
By Samuel set for this great work) was past, Saul (alarm'd hourly from the neighb'ring foe,
Impatient ere Gods time Gods mind to know,
'Sham'd and enrag'ed to see his Troops decay,
Jealous of an affront in Samuels stay,
Scorning that any's presence should appear
Needful besides when He himself was there; 750
And with a pride too nat'ural thinking Heaven
Had given him All, because much Power t'had giv'en)
Himself the Sacrifice and Offring's made, 40 Himself did th'high selected charge invade,
Himself inquir'ed of God; who then spake nought;
But Samuel straight his dreadful answer brought.
For straight he came, and with a Virtue bold,
As was Sauls sin, the fatal Message told.
His foul Ingratitude to heav'en he chid,
To pluck that Fruit which was alone forbid 760
To Kingly power in all that plenteous land,
Where all things else submit to his command.
And as fair Edens violated Tree,
To'Immortal Man brought in Mortalitie:
So shall that Crown, which God eternal meant,
From thee (said he) and thy great house be rent,
Thy Crime shall Death to all thine Honours send,
And give thy'Immortal Royalty an End.
Thus spoke the Prophet, but kind heav'en (we hope)
(Whose threats and anger know no other scope 770
But Mans Amendment) does long since relent,
And with Repentant Saul it self Repent.
Howere (though none more pray for this then we
Whose wrongs and sufferings might some colour be
To do it less) this speech we sadly find
Still extant, and still active in his Mind.
But then a worse effect of it appear'd;
Our Army which before Modestly fear'd,
Which did by stealth and by degrees decay,
Disbanded now, and fled in troops away. 780
Base Fear so bold and impudent does grow,
When an excuse and colour it can show.
Six hundred only (scarce a Princely train)
1 Sam. 13. 15.
Of all his Host with distrest Saul remain,
Of his whole Host six hundred; and ev'en those 41 (So did wise Heaven for mighty ends dispose,
Nor would that useless Multitudes should share
In that great Gift it did for One prepare)
Arm'd not like Souldiers marching in a War,
But Country-Hinds alarmed from afar 790
By Wolves loud hunger, when the well-known sound
Raises th' affrighted Villages around.
Ib. v. 19, 20, 21.
Some Goads, Flails, Plow-shares, Forks, or Axes bore,
Made for Lifes use and better ends before,
Some knotted Clubs, and Darts, or Arrows dry'd 42 I'th'fire, the first rude arts that Malice try'd,
E're Man the sins of too much Knowledge knew,
And Death by long Experience witty grew.
Such were the Numbers, such the Arms which we
Had by fate left us for a Victorie 800
O're well-arm'd Millions; nor will this appear
Useful it self, when Jonathan was there.
'Twas just the time when the new Ebb of Night
Did the moist world unvail to humane sight.
The Prince, who all that night the field had beat
With a small party, and no en'emy met
(So proud and so secure the en'emy lay,
And drencht in sleep th'excesses of the day)
With joy this good occasion did embrace, 810
With better leisure, and at nearer space,
The strength and order of their Camp to view; Abdon alone his gen'erous purpose knew; Abdon a bold, a brave, and comely Youth,
Well-born, well-bred, with Honour fill'd and Truth, Abdon his faithful Squire, whom much he lov'd,
And oft with grief his worth in dangers prov'd. Abdon, whose love to'his Master did exceed
What Natures Law, or Passions Power could breed, Abdon alone did on him now attend;
His humblest Servant, and his dearest Friend 820.
1 Sam. 14. 1.
They went, but sacred fury as they went,
Chang'd swiftly, and exalted his intent.
What may this be (the Prince breaks forth) I find, God or some powerful Spirit invades my mind.
From ought but Heaven can never sure be brought
So high, so glorious, and so vast a thought.
Nor would ill Fate that meant me to surprise,
Come cloath'd in so unlikely a Disguise.
Yon Host, which its proud Fishes spreads so wide,
O're the whole Land, like some swoln Rivers Tide, 830
Which terrible and numberless appears, 43 As the thick Waves which their rough Ocean bears,
Which lies so strongly ['e]ncampt, that one would say
The Hill might be remov'd as soon as they,
We two alone must fight with and defeat;
Thou'rt strook, and startest at a sound so great.
Yet we must do't; God our weak hands has chose
T'ashame the boasted numbers of our Foes,
Which to his strength no more proportion'd be,
Than Millions are of Hours to his Eternitie. 840
If when their careless Guards espy us here,
With sportful scorn they call to' us to come neer,
1 Sam. 14.
We'll boldly climb the Hill, and charge them all;
Not They, but Israels Angel gives the call. 44 He spoke, and as he spoke, a Light divine
Did from his Eyes, and round his Temples shine,
Louder his Voice, larger his Limbs appear'd;
Less seem'd the num'erous Army to be fear'd.
This saw, and heard with joy the brave Esquire,
As he with Gods, fill'd with his Masters Fire 850.
Forbid it Heav'en (said he) I should decline,
1 Sam. 14.
Or wish (Sir) not to make your danger mine.
The great Example which I daily see
Of your high worth is not so lost on me;
If wonder-strook I at your words appear,
My wonder yet is Innocent of Fear.
Th' Honour which does your Princely breast enflame, Warms mine too, and joins there with Duties Name.
If in this Act ill Fate our Tempter be,
May all the Ill it means be aim'd at me. 860
But sure, I think, God leads, nor could you bring
So high thoughts from a less exalted Spring.
Bright signs through all your words and looks are spread,
A rising Vict'ory dawns around your head.
With such discourse blowing their sacred flame,
Lo to the fatal place and work they came.
Strongly encampt on a steep Hills large head,
Like some vast wood the mighty Host was spread.
Ib. v. 4.
Th' only 'access on neighb'ring Gabaa's side,
An hard and narrow way, which did divide 870
Two cliffy Rocks, Boses and Senes nam'd,
Much for themselves, and their big strangeness fam'd,
More for their Fortune, and this stranger day;
On both their points Philistian out-guards lay;
From whence the two bold Spies they first espy'd;
And, lo! the Hebrews! proud Elcanor cry'd;
From Senes top; Lo; from their hungry Caves
A quicker Fate here sends them to their graves.
Come up (aloud he crys to them below)
Ye' Egyptian Slaves, and to our Mercy owe 880
The rebel lives long since to' our Justice due;
Scarce from his lips the fatal Omen flew,
When th'inspir'd Prince did nimbly understand God, and his God-like Virtues high command.
It call'd him up, and up the steep ascent
With pain and labour, hast and joy they went. Elcanor laught to see them climb, and thought
His mighty words th' affrighted Suppliants brought,
Did new affronts to the great Hebrew Name, 890
(The barbarous!) in his wanton Fancy frame.
Short was his sport; for swift as Thunders stroke
Rives the frail Trunk of some heav'en-threatning Oak,
The Princes Sword did his proud head divide;
The parted Scull hung down on either side.
Just as he fell, his vengeful Steel he drew
Half way; no more the trembling Joints could do,
Which Abdon snatcht, and dy'ed it in the blood
Of an amazed wretch that next him stood.
Some close to earth shaking and grove'ling ly,
Like Larks when they the Tyrant Hobby spy. 900
Some wonder strook stand fixt; some fly, some arm
Wildly, at th' unintelligible Alarm. 45 Like the main Channel of an high-swoln Flood,
In vain by Dikes and broken works withstood:
So Jonathan, once climb'd th'opposing hill,
Does all around with noise and ruine fill.
Like some large Arm of which another way Abdon o'reflows; him too no bank can stay.
With cryes th' affrighted Country flies before,
Behind the following waters lowdly roar. 910
Twenty at least slain on this out-guard ly,
To th' adjoin'd Camp the rest distracted fly,
And ill mixt wonders tell, and into't bear, Blind terrour, deaf disorder, helpless fear.
The Conqu'erors too press boldly in behind,
Doubling the wild confusions which they find. Hamgar at first, the Prince of Ashdod Town, 46 Chief 'mongst the Five in riches and renown,
1 Sam. 6.
And General then by course oppos'd their way, 920
Till drown'd in Death at Jonathans feet he lay,
And curst the Heavens for rage, and bit the ground; 47 His Life for ever spilt stain'd all the grass around.
His Brother too, who vertuous hast did make
His fortune to revenge, or to partake,
Falls grove'ling o're his trunk, on mother earth;
Death mixt no less their Bloods than did their birth.
Mean while the well-pleas'd Abdons restless Sword
Dispatcht the following train t'attend their Lord.
On still o're panting corps great Jonathan led; Hundreds before him fell, and Thousands fled. 930 Prodigious Prince! which does most wondrous show,
Thy' Attempt, or thy Success! thy Fate or Thou!
Who durst alone that dreadful Host assail,
With purpose not to Dye, but to Prevail!
Infinite Numbers thee no more affright,
Then God, whose Unity is Infinite.
If Heav'en to men such mighty thoughts would give,
What Breast but thine capacious to receive
The vast Infusion? or what Soul but Thine
Durst have believ'd that Thought to be Divine? 940
Thou follow'dst Heaven in the Design, and we
Find in the Act 'twas Heav'en that follow'd Thee.
1 Sam. 14. 15.
Thou ledst on Angels, and that sacred band
(The De'ities great Lieut'enant) didst command.
'Tis true, Sir, and no Figure, when I say Angels themselves fought under him that day. Clouds with ripe Thunder charg'd some thither drew,
And some the dire Materials brought for new. 48 Hot drops of Southern Showers (the sweats of Death)
The voyce of storms and winged whirl-winds breath: 950
The flames shot forth from fighting Dragons Eyes,
The smokes that from scorcht Fevers Ovens rise,
The reddest fires with which sad Comets glow;
And Sodoms neighb'ring Lake did spir'its bestow
Of finest Sulphur; amongst which they put Wrath, Fury, Horrour, and all mingled shut
Into a cold moist Cloud, t'enflame it more;
And make th'enraged Prisoner louder roar.
Th'assembled Clouds burst o're their Armies head;
Noise, Darkness, dismal Lightnings round them spread. 960
Another Spir'it with a more potent wand
Than that which Nature fear'd in Moses hand,
And went the way that pleas'd, the Mountain strook;
The Mountain felt it; the vast Mountain shook.
Through the wide ayr another Angel flew
About their Host, and thick amongst them threw
Discord, Despair, Confusion, Fear, Mistake;
And all th' Ingredients that swift ruine make.
The fertile glebe requires no time to breed;
It quickens and receives at once the Seed. 970
One would have thought, this dismal day to'have seen,
That Natures self in her Death-pangs had been.
Such will the face of that great hour appear;
Such the distracted Sinners conscious fear.
In vain some few strive the wild flight to stay;
In vain they threaten, and in vain they pray;
Unheard, unheeded, trodden down they ly,
Beneath the wretched feet of crouds that fly.
O're their own Foot trampled the vi'olent Horse.
The guidless Chariots with impet'uous course 980
Cut wide through both; and all their bloody way Horses, and Men, torn, bruis'd, and mangled lay.
Some from the Rocks cast themselves down headlong;
The faint weak Passion grows so bold and strong.
To almost certain present death they fly
From a remote and causeless fear to dy.
Much diffe'rent error did some troops possess;
And Madness that lookt better, though no less.
1 Sam. 14. 20.
Their fellow troops for th'entred foe they take;
And Isra'els war with mutual slaughter make. 990
Mean while the King from Gabaas hill did view,
Ib. v. 16.
And hear the thickning Tumult as it grew
Still great and loud; and though he knows not why
They fled, no more then they themselves that fly;
Yet by the storms and terrors of the aire,
Guesses some vengeful Sp'irits working there;
Obeys the loud occasions sacred call,
And fiercely on the trembling Host does fall.
At the same time their Slaves and Prisoners rise;
Nor does their much-wisht Liberty suffice 1000
Without Revenge; the scatter'd arms they seise,
And their proud vengeance with the memory please
Of who so lately bore them; All about
Ib. v. 22.
From Rocks and Caves the Hebrews issue out
At the glad noise; joy'd that their foes had shown
A fear that drowns the scandal of their own.
Still did the Prince midst all this storm appeare,
Still scatter'd Deaths and Terrors every where.
Still did he break, still blunt his wearied Swords;
Still slaughter new supplies to'his hand affords. 1010
Where troops yet stood, there still he hotly flew,
And till at last all fled, scorn'd to pursue.
All fled at last, but many in vain; for still
Th'insatiate Conqu'eror was more swift to kill
Then they to save their Lives. Till, lo! at last, Nature, whose power he had so long surpast,
Would yield no more, but to him stronger foes,
Drought, faintness, and fierce Hunger did oppose.
Reeking all o're in dust, and blood, and sweat,
Burnt with the Suns and violent actions heat, 1020
'Gainst an old Oak his trembling Limbs he staid,
For some short ease; Fate in th'old Oak had laid
Provisions up for his relief; and Lo!
The hollow trunck did with bright Honey flow.
1 Sam. 14. 27.
With timely food his decay'd Sp'irits recruit;
Strong he returns, and fresh to the pursuit,
His strength and sp'irits the Honey did restore;
But, oh, the bitter-sweet strange poison bore!
Behold, Sir, and mark well the treach'erous fate,
That does so close on humane glories wait! 1030
Behold the strong, and yet fantastick Net
T'ensnare triumphant Virtue darkly set!
Could it before (scarce can it since) be thought,
The Prince who had alone that morning fought,
A Duel with an Host, had th'Host orethrowne,
And threescore thousand hands disarm'd with One;
Washt off his Countrys shame, and doubly dyde
In Blood and Blushes the Philistian pride,
Had sav'ed and fixt his Fathers tott'ering Crown,
And the bright Gold new burnisht with renown, 1040
Should be e're night by's King and Fathers breath,
Without a fault, vow'd and condemn'd to death?
Destin'ed the bloody Sacrifice to be
Of Thanks Himself for his own Victorie?
Alone with various fate like to become, Fighting, an Host; Dying, an Hecatombe?
Yet such, Sir, was his case.
1 Sam. 14. 24.
For Saul who fear'd lest the full plenty might
(In the abandon'ed Camp expos'ed to sight)
His hungry men from the pursuit diswade; 1050
A rash, but solemn vow to heav'en had made.
Curst be the wretch, thrice cursed let him be
Who shall touch food this busie day (said he)
Whil'st the blest Sun does with his fav'ouring light
Assist our vengeful Swords against their flight.
Be he thrice curst; and if his Life we spare,
On us those Curses fall that he should bear.
Such was the Kings rash vow; who little thought
How near to him Fate th' Application brought.
The two-edg'd Oath, wounds deep, perform'd or broke; 1060
Ev'en Perjury its least and bluntest stroke.
'Twas his own Son, whom God and Mankind lov'ed,
His own victorious Son that he devov'ed;
On whose bright head the baleful Curses light;
But Providence, his Helmet in the fight,
Forbids their entrance or their setling there; 49 They with brute sound dissolv'ed into the ayre.
Him what Religion, or what vow could bind,
Unknown, unheard of, till he'his Life did find
Entangled in't? whilst wonders he did do 1070
Must he dye now for not be'ing Prophet too?
To all but him this Oath was meant and said;
He afar off, the ends for which 'twas made
Was acting then, till faint and out of breath,
He grew half dead with toil of giving death.
What could his Crime in this condition be,
Excus'ed by Ign'orance and Necessitie?
Yet the remorseless King, who did disdain
That man should hear him swear or threat in vain, 1080
Though'gainst himself; or fate a way should see
By which attaqu'ed and conquer'd he might be:
Who thought Compassion, female weakness here,
And Equity Injustice would appeare
In his own Cause; who falsely fear'd beside
The solemn Curse on Jon'athan did abide,
And the infected Limb not cut away,
Would like a Gangrene o're all Isra'el stray;
Prepar'ed this God-like Sacrifice to kill;
And his rash vow more rashly to fulfil.
What tongue can th'horror and amazement tell 1090
Which on all Israel that sad moment fell? Tamer had been their grief, fewer their tears,
Had the Philistian fate that day bin theirs.
Not Sauls proud heart could master his swoln Ey;
The Prince alone stood mild and patient by,
So bright his sufferings, so triumphant show'd,
Less to the best then worst of fates he ow'ed.
A victory now he o're himself might boast;
He Conquer'd now that Conqu'eror of an Host.
It charm'd through tears the sad Spectators sight, 1100
Did reverence, love, and gratitude excite
And pious rage, with which inspir'ed they now
Oppose to Sauls a better publick Vow.
They all consent all Israel ought to be
Accurst and kill'd themselves rather then He.
Thus wi[t]h kind force they the glad King withstood,
1 Sam. 14. 45.
And sav'ed their wondrous Saviours sacred blood.
Thus David spoke; and much did yet remain
Behind th'attentive Prince to entertain, Edom and Zoba's war, for what befel 1110
Ib. v. 47.
In that of Moab, was known there too well.
The boundless quarrel with curst Am'alecs land;
1 Sam. 15. 3.
Where Heav'en it self did Cruelty command
And practis'ed on Sauls Mercy, nor did e're
More punish Inno'cent Blood, then Pity there.
But, Lo! they 'arriv'ed now at th'appointed place;
Well-chosen and well furnisht for the Chase.