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My son, God will provide himself a lamb
For a burnt-offering. And we went on both
Together, climbing the ascent. And when
We came to the place which God had told me of,
I built an altar there; and laid the wood
In order. I bound Isaac.

Sar. Ah! 'twas then
He knew the whole. And how, then, unto God
Did he present himself a sacrifice ?

Ab. Even as a lamb, that to the slaughter goes, Innocent, meek, and opening not his mouth.

Sar. Alas! I can imagine all the pangs Of that most bitter moment.

Ab. Sarah, no: I felt an unknown strength support me then, His own mysterious gift. No more the Father, No more the man possessed me. Of faith had conquered nature. A clear light, Unseen by mortal wisdom, to my thought Showed marvellously linked with my son's death The promises of God. With love and faith And hope, my heart was glowing in one blaze Of wondrous ecstasy, wherein I seemed To hold communion with the Eternal Mind. And now already on the up-turned brow of kneeling Isaac was my left hand laid ; My eyes were bent on heaven ; and I stretched forth My hand, and took the knife to slay my son, When a bright radiance, with a sudden burst Of glory kindled all the air. A voice

For the power

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Called to me out of heaven, saying, Abraham,
Lay not thy hand upon the lad, nor do thou
Any thing unto him ; for now I know
How much thou fearest God, seeing thou has not
Withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Sar. I breathe once more.

Ab. At these awakening words,
My heart was moved within me. I became
Again the Man, the Father. That kind voice
With angel tones disarmed my steeled breast,
The barriers that encircled it were broken,
And the full flood of human sympathies
Gushed in with overflowing waves. Amazement,
Joy, gratitude, love, fear, yearnings profound,
Tenderness, pity, almost in one tide
O'erwhelmed my soul. Fain would I have poured out
My thanks unto the Lord; but not a sound
My lips could frame. Then to unbind the lad
With hasty hands I strove ; but those same knots
Which they unshaking formed, trembling they had not
The cunning to undo. Half murmured words,
Broken with sobs of rapture, fond embraces,
Mingled with many tears—even while I speak,
Again the strong convulsion overcomes
My senses. Isaac, finish thou the tale.

Is. The victim yet was wanting for the rite,
But God provided one, as Abraham
Foretold. At noise of branches rustling near,
We lifted up our eyes and looked, and lo!
Behind us a white ram, caught by his horns,

In an entangled thicket's thorny brake,
Strove vainly to set free his armed front.
On him my bonds were fastened. He being slain,
With guiltless blood supplied the sacred fire.

Gam. Thrice happy Abraham! who hath to God Given such clear proof of Faith.

Sar. No, not therein The blessing lies. Already known to God Without such proof was Abraham. Himself Did Abraham not know, nor the full power Of his own confidence in God, who willed To instruct him in its strength; willed that in him Of faith and constancy the world should have A glorious example, memorable Through all succeeding ages. Oh henceforth Pregnant be all the examples of his faith With generous fruits; and often, in ourselves, May we repeat this solemn sacrifice !

May every heart an altar prove,
Where burns the flame of sacred love;
And be the victims of its fires
Our earth-born longings and desires :
These let us slay, and offer whole
The cherished offspring of the soul.

A Son devoted, in his eyes
Is not a worthier sacrifice,
Than to subdue the hosts of sin,
That ever press the soul to win,

And give the heart, in follies lost,
To him entire, a holocaust !

Ab. Be silent. Heaven is opening.

The angel appears. Angel. Abraham, I come to thee again, a messenger From God. With thine obedience, and thy proof Of perfect faith, he is well pleased. Because Thou hast done this thing, and not withheld thy son, Thine only son, he doth renew to thee His promises. In blessing he will bless thee, In multiplying he will multiply Thy seed even as the stars of heaven, or sands On the sea shore; and in them, in due time, Shall all the nations of the earth be blest.

In the fulness of ages

Thy progeny glorious,
Shall come o'er his enemies

Trampling victorious :

Their gates shall fly open,

Their hosts shrink before him,
In the face of the nations

Who shall kneel and adore him!

From God is the promise,

His foes long shall mourn it;

He can swear by no greater,

By HIMSELF he hath sworn it.

Sar. Hast thou heard, Abraham ?
Is. He hears not. Father!
Sar. What glory lightens o'er his features !

Ab. God
Omnipotent! with what mysterious types
This day thou makest known thy will. The Father
Offers his only Son. The Son accepts
Of his free will the dreadful penalty,
Which he had never merited. Oh why
Bears he the fatal instrument of death,
On his own bending shoulder? For what end,
Among so many, chosen is that mount ?
Why is the victim's head plucked from the thorns ?
In visions of the future I am rapt:
With other blood I see that mountain stained;
Another Son I see, bowing his head
Meekly, unto his Father's hand commend
His spirit.

The hills shake! The graves are opened! And the thick blackness of profoundest night Covers all heaven!—I read the mystery! Thanks, thanks, redeeming God! This is that day, I have desired to see! This is that blood, An infinite recompense for infinite guilt! This is that sacrifice which must be made, That satisfies and reconciles at once Eternal Justice and Eternal Love! This is that death which unto man redeemed Unfolds the gates of everlasting life!

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