Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 470
Of gaining David's throne no man knows when,
For both the when and 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 and means : each act is rightliest done,
Not when it must but when it may be best. 476
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
What I foretold thee, many a hard assay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's scepter get fast hold; 480
Whereof this ominous night that clos’d thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies
May warn thee, as a sure fore-going sign.

So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on And stay'd not, but in brief him answer'd thus. 485

Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm Those terrors which thou spak'st of, did me none; I never fear'd they could, though noising loud And threatning nigh; what they can do as signs Betokening, or ill boding, I contemn 490 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 pow'r of thee,

Am

Ambitious Spi'rit, and wouldst be thought my God,
And storm'st refus'd, thinking to terrify 496
Me to thy will; desist, thou art discern’d
And toil'ft in vain, nor me in vain moleit.
To whom the Fiend now swoln with rage reply'd.
Then hear, O Son of David, Virgin-born; 500
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt:
Of the Messiah I have heard foretold
By all the prophets; of thy birth at length
Announc'd by Gabriel with the first I knew,
And of th' angelic song in Bethlehem field, 505
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 510 ,
Flock'd to the Baptift, 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
A narrower scrutiny, that I might learn 515
In what degree or meaning thou art call'd
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 520
In some respect far higher so declar'd..
Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour,

And

And follow'd thee still on this waste wild;
Where by all best conjectures I collect
Thou art to be my fatal enemy.

525
Good reason, then if I before-hand seek
To understand my adversary, who
And what he is ; his wisdom, pow'r, intent;
By parl, or composition, truce, or league
To win him, or win from him what I can. 530
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant, and as a centre, firm,
To th’ utmost of mere man both wise and good, 535
Not more; for honors, 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 Heav'n,
Another method I must now begin.

540 So say’ing he caught him up, and 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,

· 545 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. 550

There

There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house Have brought thee', and highest plac’d, highest is best, Now show thy progeny; if not to stand, Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God: 555 For it is written, He will give command Concerning thee to his Angels, in their hands They shall up lift thee, lest at any time Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.

To whom thus Jesus; Also it is written, 560 Tempt not the Lord thy God: he said and flood: But Satan smitten with amazement fell. As when earth's son Antæus (to compare Small things with greatest) in Irassa ftrove With Jove's Alcides, and oft foil'd still rose, 565 Receiving from his mother earth new strength, Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join’d, Throttled at length in th' air, expir'd and fell; So after many a foil the Tempter proud, Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride 570 Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall. And as that Theban monster that propos'd Her riddle', and him, who solv'd it not, devour'd, That once found out and solv'd, for grief and spite Caft herself headlong from th' Ismenian steep; 575 So struck with dread and anguish fell the Fiend, And to his crew, that fat consulting, brought Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success,

Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durs so proudly tempt the Son of God. 580
So Satan fell; and strait a fiery globe
Of Angels on full fail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans receiv'd him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore
As on a floating couch through the blithe air, 585
Then in a flow’ry valley set him down .
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine,
Ambrosial fruits, fetch'd from the tree of life,
And from the fount of life ambrosial drink, 590
That soon refresh'd him wearied, and repair’d
What hunger, if ought hunger had impair’d,
Qr thirst; and as he fed, angelic quires
Sung heav'nly anthems of his victory
Over temptation, and the Tempter proud. 595

True Image of the Father, whether thron’d
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or remote from Heav'n, inshrin'd
In fleshly tabernacle, and human form,
Wand'ring the wilderness, whatever place, 600
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with God-like force indued
Against th' attempter of thy Father's throne,
And thief of Paradise ; him long of old
Thou didft debel, and down from Heaven cast 605
With all his army, now thou hast aveng’d

Sup

« PreviousContinue »