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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
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 fear'd 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 thee 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,