Page images





Thus to our Saviour with stern brow replied.

· Since neither wealth nor honour, arms, nor arts,
Kingdom nor empire pleases thee, nor aught
By me propos'd in life contemplative
Or active, tended on by glory or fame,
What dost thou in this world? The wilderness
For thee is fittest place; I found thee there,
And thither will return thee; yet remember
What I foretel thee, soon thou shalt have cause
To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus
Nicely or cautiously, my offer'd aid,
Which would have set thee in short time with ease
On David's throne, or throne of all the world,
Now at full age, fulness of time, thy season,
When prophecies of thee are best fulfill'd
Now contrary, if I read aught in Heaven,
Or Heaven write aught of fate, by what the stars
Voluminous, or single characters,
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows, and labours, opposition, hate
Attend thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries,
Violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death ;
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdoni
Real or allegoric, I discern not;
Nor when; eternal sure, as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefix’d
Directs me in the starry rubric set.”

So saying he took, for still he knew his power
Not yet expir’d, and to the wilderness
Brought back the Son of God, & left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As day-light sunk, & brought in lowering night
Her shadowy offspring; unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day.
Our Saviour meek, & with untroubled mind
After his aëry jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever under some concourse of shades,
Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd might shield
From dews & damps of night his shelter'd head;
But, shelter'd, slept in vain : for at his head
The Tempter watched, & soon with ugly dreams
Disturb’d his sleep. And either tropic now
'Gan thunder, & both ends of Heaven; the clouds,
From many a horrid rift, abortive pour'd
Fierce rain with lightning mix’d, water with fire
In ruin reconcil'd : nor slept the winds






Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell

On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, & sturdiest oaks,
Bow'd their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer. Ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st

Unshaken ! nor yet staid the terror there :
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round
Environ'd thee, some howld, some yell’d, some shriek'd,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat’st unappallid in calm and sinless peace !

Thus passed the night so foul, till morning fair
Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amice grey :
Who with her radiant finger stillid the roar
Of thunder, chas'd the clouds, & laid the winds,
And grissly spectres, which the fiend had rais'd 130
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
But now the sun with more effectual beams
Had cheer'd the face of earth, & dried the wet
From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds,
Who all things now beheld more fresh & green,

After a night of storm so ruinous,
Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush & spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy & brightest morn,
Was absent, after all his mischief done,

The Prince of Darkness; glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came;
Yet with no new device (they all were spent),
Rather by this his last affront resolvid,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage

475 And mad despite to be so oft repell’d. Him walking on a sunny hill he found, Back’d on the north & west by a thick wood; Dut of the wood he starts in wonted shape, And in a carele mood thus to him said.

450) “Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God, After a dismal night: I heard the wrack, As earth and sky would mingle; but myself Was distant; & these flaws, though mortals fear them As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of Heaven,

45:) Or to the earth's dark basis underneath, Are to the main as inconsiderable And harmless, if not wholesome, as i sneeze To man's less universe, and soon are gone; Yet, as being ofttimes noxious where they light 160






On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulences in the affairs of men.
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft foresignify and threaten ill:
This tempest at this desert most was bent ;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offer'd with my aid
To win thy destin'd seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David's throne, no man knows when,
For both the when & how is no where told ?
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain’d, no doubt;
For Angels have proclaim'd it, but concealing
The time & means. Each act is rightliest done,
Not when it must, but when it may be best:
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
What I foretold thee, many a hard essay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold ;
Whereof this ominous night, that clos'd thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign.”

So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on
And staid not, but in brief him answer'd thus:

Me worse than wet thou find’st not; other harm
Those terrors, which thou speak’st of, did me none;
I never feard they could, though noising loud
And threatening nigh : what they can do, as signs
Betokening, or ill boding, I contemn
As false portents, not sent from God, but thee ;
Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrud'st thy offer'd aid, that I, accepting,
At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
Ambitious spirit! & wouldst be thought my God;
And storm'st refus'd, thinking to terrify
Me to thy will! desist, thou art discern'd,
And toil'st in vain, nor me in vain molest."

To whom the fiend, now swoln with rage, replied :
“Then hear, O Son of David, Virgin-born,
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt ;
Of the Messiah I had heard foretold
By all the prophets ; of thy birth at length,
Announc'd by Gabriel, with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
On thy birth-night that sung thec Saviour born.
From that time seldom have I ceas d to eye











Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred;
Till at the ford of Jordan, whither all
Flock to the Baptist, I, among the rest,
Though not to be baptiz'd, by voice from Heaven
Heard thee pronounc'd the Son of God belov’d.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
In what degree or meaning thou art callid
The Son of God; which bears no single sense.
The son of God I also am, or was;
And if I was, I am; relation stands;
All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher so declar'd:
Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour,
And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild ;
Where, by all best conjectures, I collect
Thou art to be my fatal enemy:
Good reason then, if I beforehand seek
To understand my adversary, who
And what he is; his wisdom, power, intent;
By parl or composition, truce or league,
To win him, or win from him what I can :
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, & confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant, and, as a centre, firm ;
To the utmost of mere man both wise & good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemn'd, and may again.
Therefore, to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming Son of God by voice from Heaven,
Another method I must now begin.”

So saying he caught him up, &, without wing
Of hippogrif, bore through the air sublime,
Over the wilderness and o'er the plain,
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple rear'd
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topt with golden spires :
There, on the highest pinnacle, he set
The Son of God; and added thus in scorn.

“There stand, if thou wilt stand ; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill ; I to thy father's house
Have brought thee, & highest plac'd: highest is best :
Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,





[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »