CAn pregnant Honour, from her swelling Store,
Of none but glorious Gifts distribute more
Than this high Title? Or can Earth afford
Ought greater than a Prophet of the Lord,
To whom the general World Respect should bear,
And whom crown'd Heads doHonour, Love and Fear?
In this great Dignity, Elijah he
Was of the Highest Rank, Noblest Degree,
For Heavenly Graces don't all equal shine,
And there are Classis even of Beams Divine;
For an Immortal Mark of Honour more
This Man the Type of blest Messiah bore:
But see, for all these Wonders, how he liv'd,
Tortur'd, afflicted, hated, poor and griev'd,
And he whom Miracles as Means did wait,
I find ne'r compass'd Competent Estate;
Tho' born a Jew, whose common Blessing was,
In prosperous Ways, each Nation to surpass,
And then thought Crown'd with all the Bliss of Life.
When to their Store they had numerous Children and a beauteous Wife;
But Celebacy seems his State to be,
And never any Wife or Child had he.
If these are Joys that bless the bravest Hearts,
And only suitable to great Deserts,
Did Heaven to others all these things divide,
While he, blest Prophet, was of all deny'd;
Throughout his Life there's nothing does appear,
But Sorrow, Solitude, Hardships, and Fear.
The first I read of his exerted Power,
Was in that lamentable dreadful Hour,
When he denounc'd the near approaching Birth
Of Famine on the unreplenish'd Earth,
When in three sultry Years not one kind Shown,
To her parch'd Heat a Balmy Drop should pour;
This he denounc'd, and very well he knew
The Oracle of Fate would prove too true,
Yet, for himself, no horded Stock he laid,
No Granary and no Provision made:
I do not hear but that the Earth, of Rain,
Enjoy'd as much as he had Land or Grain,
And no prudential Store of Food was made,
To keep his Life as the Egyptians had;
Tho', 'tis not doubted, Ahab and the rest
Of the rich Israelites in Form possest
A visible Supply, that might sustain
Till Plenty came with the return of Rain.
Mean time a Voice from Heaven warns him from thence,
To see theMiracle of Providence,
Bidding him hide himself towards the East,
At Cherith's Brook apply himself a Guest,
Where Ravens, by Omnipotent Command,
Should be his Feeders from the Almighty's Hand:
'Twas so, and thus the Miracle enjoy'd,
Life was preserv'd, and Hunger was destroy'd:
But now a dreadful Scene before his Eyes,
This Life-preserving River-water dries;
No Miracle is sent to stop the Course
Of Nature's drought, or stay its rapid force:
What Proof and Tryal of his Faith was here,
To have the River fail, and he not fear?
How would a faithless murmurring Wretch have cry'd,
The Means is perish'd which my Wants supply'd!
Was I sent forth a Wanderer thus accurst,
To die in Fires by an inflaming Thirst?
Not such a Fear or once regretting Word,
His Heart did show or milder Lips afford,
But waits the Time of his remembring Lord,
Who had prepar'd the Widow's Meal and Cruse,
To serve the rest of all the three Years use,
And in it did a Miracle produce.
And now Elijah bravely does alarm
Baal's Priests and Priests o'th Grove, who flocking swarm
With all the poor deluded People, who
Their own true God scarce ever sought or knew;
Elijah, reasoning with them, made demand,
Why they, 'twixt two Opinions, halting stand?
And bids them follow God, if 'twere the Lord,
Or if 'twere, Baal: They answer'd not a word.
Then said he to them, I, even I alone
Remain a Prophetof the Lord's, besides me there is none,
But Baalsin number more abound, the Account
Does to a Host of near five Hundredmount;
Let them therefore two Bullocksgive, and chuse
Onefor themselves, the otherI will use;
Bothbeing cut in pieces, both we'll lay
On Wood, but put no Fires, only pray,
They to their Gods, I to the Lord, and see
Who answers first by Fire, the God shall be.
This done, the Priests of Baal all loudly cry'd,
And cut and wound themselves, and prophecy'd
Till Evening, but no Voice or Sign reply'd.
Then did Elijah to the People call,
Who wait him with expecting wonder all;
He strait repairs GOD'sAltar, broke before,
And took twelve Stones, and made one Altar more;
And round that Altar made a Trench as great
As would contain two Measures full of Wheat;
He puts the Wood in order, then dissects
The Bullock of his Limbs, a Pile erects;
The Flesh, thus ready laid for Sacrifice,
Four Water-barrels he commanded thrice
Be fill'd, and thrice pour'd forth, and all the while
The trickling Altar and the floating Pile
With these repeated Currents drench'd and drown'd;
The Trench so fill'd, stood as 'twere moated round;
Then to his GOD with moving Ardor calls,
When lo the wondrous Heavenly Fire strait falls,
Consuming not the Sacrifice alone,
But the Wood, the veryDust and Stone;
So hot the Flames, that even the Waters burn
The very Trench it self.
No more a Watry now an Ashy Urn,
At which, amaz'd, the People prostrate fall,
And, with a Face confus'd, they loudly call,
To tell who was the Living God alone;
The LORD is GOD, the LORD is GOD they own.
Then did Elijah charge them not to spare
One of Baal's Prophets, but secure, with care,
The total Number, which he wholly took,
And brought them safely down to Kishon Brook,
And with a Zeal religious and severe,
Spared not only Cheat, but slew them there.
And then he sent his Servant to the King,
Who of the showring Heavens did the blest Tydings bring,
Bidding him, Eat and Drink and post away.
Which Message Ahab heard and did obey.
Who now could think there could a danger be
O're all the Earth to make this Prophet flee?
Yet so it was, though King and People too,
Their Eyes so late convinc'd, they trembling view,
His wondrous Might, Deeds more than Man cou'd do.
Idolatrous Jezebel his Doom has given.
Behold, that Royal painted Foe of Heaven
Has vow'd, that the next Morning-Sun shall see
The Sacrificer, now the Offering be;
Swears, to revenge her darling Favourites Blood,
His own shall mix with their dear Crimson Flood.
Her Cruelty he soon believes and shuns,
And, for his Life, on this occasion runs
To Beersheba belong'd to Judah, where
He left the Man that was his Servant there,
And all alone into the Desart went
A whole Day's Journey in his Discontent,
Under a Tree of Juniper he sate
Considering of his dismal mortal Fate,
And now requested for himself to die,
Perhaps not thinking his blest Change so nigh;
So, while in Prayer and musing Thoughts he keeps,
Under this Tree resign'd, he lies and sleeps,
Mean time an unseen Angel brings him Meat,
Gives him a touch, and bids him rise and eat.
He rose, and eat and drank, and down he lay,
To sleep again his Weariness away,
His sweet Disturber comes once more; his Guest
Invites a second time t' his Heavenly Feast,
Viands so rich, tho' short was the Repast,
(No Table spread with Pomp, but laid in hast)
That by two Meals, so cherish Nature reign'd,
As forty days and nights of Health &Life maintain'd.
Thus to the Mount of GOD, Horeb by Name,
He in the strength of this twice eating came,
And there he took his Lodging in a Cave,
The Emblem of his so much courted Grave.
Then comes the Interrogative of GOD,
And asks him, Why it was he there abode?
He tells his Zeal, does Israel's Sin declare,
They had all GOD's Prophets slain, nor him would spare.
Now is he bid to ascend that Mount, a Place
Which great Jehovah's presence deign'd to grace,
Where all descending from his Throne more high,
As the Omnipotent, pass'd radiant by,
The Mountains rent with Wind, the frighted Earth did quake,
The Adamantine Rocks in shatter'd pieces shake;
Then blaz'd a stream of Fire, the Harbinger
Of the great GOD, for yet GOD was not there.
Now spoke a still small Voice, bids him appoint
Two Royal Successors, and both anoint;
To these a third and greater Successor,
Heir to his own Divine Prophetick Power,
A Tongue whom Oracles should all inspire,
Touch'd with a Coal from his own Heavenly Fire.
Now thou, dear Prophet, whose resigning Breath
Had ask'd before no Boon of GOD but Death,
Time hastens that thy Toils must be releast,
Thy Sufferings ended, and thy self at rest
Within the Regions of the Ever-blest:
How supernatural was thy Defire,
Crown'd with a Chariot of Triumphant Fire,
Which flew more swift than ever Motion run:
And carried thee above the Stars and Sun:
Thus fledst thou up to thy immense Reward,
And nothing could thy heavenly Flight retard.
O, unexampled Man! who Earth resign'd;
Earth and its Vanities all left behind;
Feltst not the Pangs of an expiring Breath,
The Course of Sickness, or the Stroke of Death.
Sure then our Father Abraham thou wast greater,
For he, like others, fell weak Nature's Debter,
Kept in a Grave, turn'd to Original Dust,
Consin'd there, till the rising of the Just.
If then a Saint, incomparable rare,
One of the greatest Prophets ever were,
Led all his Life but sorrowful and poor,
I must conclude, in Poverty, there's more
Design'd by Heaven, for Guidance or Defence,
Than ever was found out by Human Sence;
'Tis a mysterious Thing, that Want should be
The leading Path that joyns Felicity,
And those who least are trusted and approv'd,
To enjoy Estates are most by Heaven belov'd;
Strange is the Method, but I cannot fear,
There is a Secret in't, divine and clear,
To Heaven's eye alone and never yet to Mortals did appear,
'Cause this blest Man did undergo that State,
That seem'd his very Choice as well as Fate;
Fate he could change; we see his Prayers alone
That Wonder had perform'd, and had he known
Poverty a Curse, sure he had chang'd his own:
Besides, as he foresaw the prickly Thorn,
A Wreath should even the Brow of GOD adorn,
Poor, Humble, Low, in Shilo's blest Record,
Reserv'd the Titles of the World'sgreat LORD.
The Path of Poverty well hast thou trod,
Blest Prophet, to be follow'd by thy GOD.