Page images
PDF
EPUB

Deliverance offer’d: I on th' other side
Us’d no ambition to commend my deeds, (doer;
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the
But they persisted deaf, and would not seem 249
To count them things worth notice, till at length
Their lords the Philistines with gather'd pow'rs
Enter’d Judea seeking me, who then
Safe to the rock of Etham was retir'd,
Not flying, but fore-casting in what place
To set upon them, what advantag'd beft:

255
Mean while the men of Judah, to prevent
The harrass of their land, beset me round;
I willingly on some conditions came
Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me
To the uncircumcis'd a welcome prey, 260
Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threads
Touch'd with the flame: on their whole host I flew
Unarm’d, and with a trivial weapon fell’d
Their choicest youth; they only liv'd who fled.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe, 265
They had by this possess’d the tow’rs of Gath,
And lorded over them whom now they serve :
But what more oft in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty, 270
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty;
And to despise, or envy, or suspect
Whom God hath of his special favor rais'd

As

285

As their deliverer; if he ought begin,
How frequent to desert him, and at last 275
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds ?

Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring
How Succoth and the fort of Penuel
Their great deliverer contemn’d,
To matchless Gideon in pursuit
loro Gideon in pursuit

80
Of Madian and her vanquish'd kings :
And how ingrateful Ephraim
Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument,
Not worse than by his shield and spear,
Defended Israel from the Ammonite,
Had not his prowess quell'd their pride
In that sore battel, when so many dy'd
Without reprieve adjudg’d to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.

Sams. Of such examples add me to the roll, 290 Me easily indeed mine may neglect, But God's propos'd deliverance not so.

Chor. Just are the ways of God, And justifiable to men; ; Unless there be who think not God at all: 293 If any be, they walk obscure; For of such doctrin never was their school, But the heart of the fool, And no man therein doctor but himself. .

Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just, As to his own edicts found contradicting, 301

Then 305

Then give the reins to wand'ring thought,
Regardless of his glory's diminution;
Till by their own perplexities involv'd
They ravel more, still less resolv’d,
But never find self-satisfying solution.

As if they would confine th' Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself,
And hath full right t' exempt

310
Whom so it pleases him by choice
From national obstriction without taint.
Of sin, or legal debt;
For with his own laws he can best dispense.

He would not else who never wanted means, 315 Nor in respect of th’enemy just cause To set his people free, Have prompted this heroic Nazarite, Against his vow of strictest purity, To seek in marriage that fallacious bride, 3 20 Unclean, unchaste.

Down reason then, at least vain reasonings down, Though reason here aver That mortal verdict quits her of unclean: Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his. 325

But see here comes thy reverend Sire With careful step, locks white as down, Old Manoah: advise Forthwith how thou oughts to receive him..

Sams. Samf. Ay me, another inward grief awak'd 330 With mention of that name renews th’assault.

Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, As I suppose, tow’ards your once glory'd friend, My Son now captive, hither hath inform’d 335 Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age Came lagging after; say if he be here.

Chor. As signal now in low dejected state, As earst in high’est, behold him where he lies.

Man. O miserable change! is this the man, 340 That invincible Samson, far renown'd, The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength Equivalent to Angels walk’d their streets, None offering fight; who single combatant Duel’d their armies rank'd in proud array, 345 Himself an army, now unequal match To save himself against a coward arm’d At one spear's length. O ever failing trust In mortal strength! and oh what not in man Deceivable and vain? Nay what thing good 350 Pray'd for, but often proves our woe, our bane? I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness In wedlock a reproach; I gain'd a son, And such a son as all men hail'd me happy; Who would be now a father in my stead? 355 O wherefore did God grant me my request, And as a blessing with such pomp adorn’d ?

Why

Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt
Our earnest pray’rs, then giv'n with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ? 360
For this did th’Angel twice descend? for this
Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a plant
Select, and sacred, glorious for a while,
The miracle of men; then in an hour
Insnar’d, assaulted, overcome, led bound, 365
Thy foes derision, captive, poor and blind,
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves?
Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err,
He should not so o'erwhelm, and as a thrall 370
Subject him to so foul indignities,
Be it but for honor's sake of former deeds.

Sams. Appoint not heav'nly disposition, Father;
Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me
But justly; I myself have brought them on, 375
Sole author I, sole cause: if ought seem vile,
As vile hath been my folly, who' have profan'd
The mystery of God giv'n me under pledge
Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy. - 380
This well I knew, nor was at all surpriz’d,
But warn’d by oft experience: did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me in her highth
Of nuptial love profess’d, carrying it strait 385

To

« PreviousContinue »