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Nature's own work it feem'd (nature taught art)
And to a superstitious eye the haunt
Of wood-gods and wood-nymphs; he view'd it round,
When fuddenly a man before him stood,
(Not ruftic as before, but feemlier clad,
As one in city, or court, or palace-bred)
And with fair speech these words to him addrefs'd.
With granted leave officious I return,
But much more wonder that the Son of God
In this wild folitude fo long fhould bide,
Of all things deftitute, and, well I know,
Not without hunger. Others of some note,
As story tells, have trod this wilderness;
The fugitive bond-woman with her fon,
Out-caft Nebaioth, yet found here relief
By a providing angel; all the race
Of Ifrael here had famifh'd, had not God
Rain'd from heav'n manna, and that prophet bold
Native of Thebes wand'ring here was fed
Twice by a voice inviting him to eat ;
Of thee these forty days none hath-regard,
Forty and more deferted here indeed.
To whom thus Jefus: what conclud'st thou hence?
They all had need, I as thou feest have none.
How haft thou hunger then? Satan reply'd;
Tell me if food were now before thee fet,
Would'ft thou not eat? thereafter as I like
The giver, anfwer'd Jefus. Why fhould that
Cause thy refusal, said the subtle fiend?
Haft thou not right to all created things?
Owe not all creatures by just right to thee
Duty and fervice, not to stay till bid,
But tender all their pow'r? nor mention I
Meats by the law unclean, nor offer'd first
To idols, thofe young Daniel could refuse;
Nor proffer'd by an enemy, though who
Would feruple that, with want oppreft? behold
Nature afham'd, or, better to exprefs,
Troubl'd that thou should'st hunger, hath purvey'd
From all the elements her choicest store
To treat thee as befeems, and as her lord,
With honour, only deign to fit and eat.
He spake no dream; for as his words had end,
Our Saviour lifting up his eyes, beheld
In ample space under the broadest shade
A table richly spread, in regal mode,
With dishes pil'd, and meats of noblest fort
And favour, beafts of chace, or fowl of game,
In pastry-built, or from the fpit, or boil'd,
Gris-amber-fteam'd; all fish from fea or shore,
Frefhet, or purling brook, or shell or fin,
And exquisitest name, for which was drain'd
Pontus and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast.
Alas, how fimple, to these cates compar'd,
Was that crude apple that diverted Eve!
And at a stately fide-board by the wine
That fragant smell diffus'd, in order stood
Tall stripling youths, rich clad, of fairer hue
Than Ganymede or Hylas; distant more
Under the trees now tripp'd, now folemn stood
Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades
With fruits and flow'rs from Amalthea's horn,
And ladies of th' Hefperides, that seem'd
Fairer than feign'd of old, or fabl'd fince
Of fairey damfels met in forest wide
By knights of Logres, or of Lyones,
Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore.
And all the while harmonious'airs were heard
Of chyming strings, or charming pipes; and winds
Of gentlest gale Arabian odours fann'd
From their foft wings, and Flora's earliest smells.
Such was the splendor; and the tempter now
His invitation earnestly renew'd.
What doubts the Son of God to fit and eat?
These are not fruits forbidden, no interdict
Defends the touching of these viands pure;
Their taste no knowledge works at least of evil,
But life preferves, destroys life's enemy,
Hunger, with fweet restorative delight.
All these are spirits of air, and woods, and fprings,
Thy gentle minifters, who come to pay
Thee homage, and acknowledge thee their lord:
What doubt'ft thou Son of God? fit down and eat.
To whom thus Jefus temp'rately reply'd:
Said'st thou not, that to all things I had right?
And who withholds my pow'r that right to use?
Shall I receive by gift, what of my own,
When and where likes me best, I can command?
I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou,
Command a table in this wilderness,
And call swift flights of angels ministrant
Array'd in glory on my cup t'attend.
Why should'st thou then obtrude this diligence
In vain, where no acceptance it can find,
And with my hunger what hast thou to do?
Thy pompous delicacies I contemn,
And count thy fpecious gifts no gifts, but guiles.
To whom thus anfwer'd Satan malecontent:
That I have alfo pow'r to give, thou seest;
If of that pow'r I bring thee voluntary
What I might have bestowed on whom I pleas'd,
And rather opportunely in this place
Chofe to impart to thy apparent need;
Why shouldst thou not accept it? but I fee
What I can do or offer is fufpect;
Of these things others quickly will dispose.
Whofe pains have carn'd the far-fetcht fpoil. With that
Both table and provision vanish'd quite
With found of harpies wings, and talons heard;
Only the importune tempter still remain❜d,
And with these words his temptation pursu❜d.
By hunger, that each other creature tames,
Thou art not to be harm'd, therefore not mov'd;
Thy temperance invincible befides;
For no allurement yields to appetite:
And all thy heart is set on high designs,
High actions; but wherewith to be atchiev'd?
Great acts require great means of enterprise.
Thou art unknown, unfriended, low of birth,
A carpenter thy father known, thy felf
Bred up in poverty and straits at home,
Loft in a defart here, and hunger-bit:
Which way, or from what hope dost thou aspire
To greatness? whence authority deriv❜st?
What followers, what retinue canft thou gain,
Or at thy heels the dizzy multitude,
Longer than thou canst feed them on thy cost?
Money brings honour, friends, conquest and realms.
What rais'd Antipater the Edomite,
And his fon Herod plac'd on Judah's throne,
Thy throne, but gold that got him puissant friends?
Therefore, if at great things thou would'st arrive,
Get riches first, get wealth, and treasure heap,
Not difficult, if thou hearken to me:
Riches are mine, fortune is in my hand;
They whom I favour, thrive in wealth amain,
While virtue, valour, wisdom fit and want.
To whom thus Jefus patiently reply'd:
Yet wealth without thefe, three is impotent
To gain dominion, or to keep it gain'd.
Witness thofe antient empires of the earth,
In height of all their flowing wealths diffolv'd:
But men endu'd with these, have oft attain'd
In lowest poverty to highest deeds;
Gideon and Jephtha, and the shepherd lad,
Whofe offspring on the throne of Judah fat
So many ages, and shall yet regain
That feat, and reign in Ifracl without end.
Among the Heathen, (for throughout the world
To me is not unknown what hath been done
Worthy memorial) canft thou not remember
Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus?
For I esteem thofe names of men fo poor,
Who could do mighty things, and could contemn
Riches, though offer'd from the hand of kings.