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Into the world to teach his final will,
And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To all truth requisite for men to know."
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend,
Though inly stung with anger and disdain,
Dissembled, & this anwer smooth return'd.
“Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,
And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will
But misery hath wrested from me. Where
Easily canst thou find one miserable,
And not enforc'd ofttimes to part from truth,
If it may stand him more in stead to lie,
Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure ?
But thou art plac'd above me, thou art Lord ;
From thee I can, and must submiss, endure
Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit.
Hard are the ways of truth, & rough to walk,
Smooth on the tongue discours’d, pleasing to the ear,
And tunable as sylvan pipe or song;
What wonder then if I delight to hear
Her dictates from thy mouth? Most men admire
Virtue, who follow not her lore : permit me
To hear thee when I come, (since no man comes,)
And talk at least, though I despair to attain.
Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure,
Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest
To tread his sacred courts, and minister
About his altar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing; and vouchsaf'd his voice
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspir’d: disdain not such access to me.”
To whom our Saviour, with unalter'd brow.
“Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
I bid not, or forbid ; do as thou find'st
Permission from above; thou canst not more."
He added not; and Satan, bowing low
His gray dissimulation, disappear'd
Into thin air diffus’d: for now began
Nght with her sullen wings to double-shade
The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd;
And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
The Disciples of Jesus, uneasy at his long absence, reason amongat
themselves concerning it. Mary also gives vent to her maternal anxiety: in the expression of which she recapitulates many cir. cumstances respecting the birth and early life of her Son.-Satan again meets his Infernal Council, reports the bad success of his first temptation of our Blessed Lord, and calls upon them for coun. sel and assistance. Belial proposes the tempting of Jesus with women. Satan rebukes him for his dissoluteness, charging on him all the profligacy of that kind ascribed by the poets to the Heathen Gods, and rejects his proposal as in no respect likely to succeed. Satan then suggests other modes of temptation, particularly proposing to avail himself of the circumstance of our Lord's hungering; and, taking a band of chosen Spirits with him, returns to resume his enterprise. - Jesus hungers in the desert.-Night comes on; the manner in which our Saviour passes the night is described.-Morn. ing advances.-Satan again appears to Jesus, and, after expressing wonder that he should be so entirely neglected in the wilderness, where others had been miraculously fed, tempts him with a sumptuous banquet of the most luxurious kind. This he rejects, and the banquet vanishes.-Satan, finding our Lord not to be assailed on the ground of appetite, tempts him by offering him riches, as the means of acquiring power : this Jesus also rejects, producing many instances of great actions performed by persons under vir. tuous poverty, and specifying the danger of riches, and the cares and pains inseparable from power and greatness.
Mean while the new-baptiz’d, who yet remain'd
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly callid
Jesus Messiah, Son of God declar'd,
And on that high authority had believ'd,
And with him talk'd & with him lodg'd; I mean
Andrew and Simun, famous after known,
With others though in Holy Writ not nam'd;
Now missing him, their joy so lately found,
(So lately found, and so abruptly gone),
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
And, as the days increas'd, increas’d their doubt.
Sometimes they thought he might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once
Moses was in the mount and missing long;
And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels
Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come;
Therefore, as those young prophets then with care
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethabara, in Jericho
The city of palms, Enon, and Salem old
Machærus, and each town or city wall’d
On this side the broad lake Genezaret,
Or in Peræa; but return'd in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek,
Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering play,
Plain fishermen (no greater men them call),
Close in a cottage low together got,
Their unexpected loss and plaints out breathed.
“Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Unlook'd for are we fall’n! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long
Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand
The kingdom shall to Israel be restor'd;
Thus we rejoic'd, but soon our joy is turn'd