On Sinai's top, in prayer and trance,
Full forty nights and forty days
The Prophet watch'd for one dear glance
Of Thee and of Thy ways:
Fasting he watch'd and all alone,
Wrapt in a still, dark, solid cloud,
The curtain of the Holy One
Drawn round him like a shroud:
So, separate from the world, his breast
Might duly take and strongly keep
The print of Heaven, to be express'd
Ere long on Sion's steep.1
There one by one his spirit saw
Of things divine the shadows bright,
The pageant of God's perfect law;
Yet felt not full delight.
Through gold and gems, a dazzling maze,
From veil to veil the vision led,
And ended, where unearthly rays
From o'er the ark were shed.
Yet not that gorgeous place, nor aught
Of human or angelic frame,
Could half appease his craving thought:
The void was still the same.
"Shew me Thy glory, gracious Lord!
"'Tis Thee," he cries, "not Thine, I seek"
Nay, start not at so bold a word
From man, frail worm and weak:
The spark of his first deathless fire
Yet buoys him up, and high above
The holiest creature, dares aspire
To the Creator's love.
The eye in smiles may wander round,
Caught by earth's shadows as they fleet;
But for the soul no help is found,
Save Him who made it, meet.
Spite of yourselves, ye witness this,3
who blindly self or sense adore;
Else wherefore leaving your own bliss
Still restless ask ye more?
This witness bore the saints of old
When highest rapt and favour'd most,
Still seeking precious things untold,
Not in fruition lost.
Canaan was theirs, and in it all
The proudest hope of kings dare claim:
Sion was theirs; and at their call
Fire from Jehovah came.
Yet monarchs walk'd as pilgrims still
In their own land, earth's pride and grace
And seers would mourn on Sion's hill
Their Lord's averted face.
Vainly they tried the deeps to sound
Even of their own prophetic thought,
When of Christ crucified and crown'd
His Spirit in them taught:
But He their aching gaze repress'd
Which sought behind the veil to see,
For not without us fully bless'd 4
Or perfect might they be.
The rays of the Almight's face
No sinner's eye might then receive;
Only the meekest man found grace 5
To see His skirts and live.
But we as in a glass espy
The glory of His countenance,
Not in a whirlwind hurrying by
The too presumptuous glance,
But with mild radiance every hour,
From our dear Saviour's face benign
Bent on us with tranforming power,
Till we, too, faintly shine.
Sprinkled with His atoning blood
Safely before our God we stand,
As on the rock the Prophet stood,
Beneath His shadowing hand.--
Bless'd eyes, which see the things we see!
And yet this tree of life hath prov'd
To many a soul a poison tree,
Beheld, and not belov'd.
So like an angel's is our bliss
(Oh! thought to comfort and appal)
It needs must bring, if us'd amiss,
An angel's hopeless fall.
1 See that thou make all things according to the
pattern showed to thee in the mount. Hebrews viii. 5.
2 Exodus xxxiii. 18.
3 Pensees de Pascal, part I. art. viii.
4 Heb. xi. 40. That they without us should
not be made perfect.
5 Exodus xxxiii. 20-23.