Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE ARGUMENT.

SATAN, in a speech of much flattering commendation, endeavours to awaken in Jesus a passion for glory, by particularizing various instances of conquests achieved, and great actions performed, by persons at an early period of life. Our Lord replies, by shewing the vanity of worldly fame, and the improper means by which it is generally attained; and contrasts with it the true glory of religious patience and virtuous wisdom, as exemplified in the character of Job. Satan justifies the love of glory from the example of God himself, who requires it from all his creatures. Jesus detects the fallacy of this argument, by shewing that, as goodness is the true ground on which glory is due to the great Creator of all things, sinful man can have no right to it.-Satan then urges our Lord respecting his claim to the throne of David; tells him that the kingdom of Judæa, being at that time a province of Rome, cannot be attained without much personal exertion on his part, and presses him to lose no time in beginning to reign. Jesus refers him to the time allotted for this, as for all other things; and, after intimating somewhat respecting his own previous sufferings, asks Satan, why he was so solicitous for the exaltation of one, whose rising was destined to be his fall. Satan replies that his desperate state, excluding hope, leaves little room for fear; and that, as his own punishment was equally doomed, he is not interested in preventing the reign of one, from whose apparent benevolence he might rather hope for some interference in his favour.-Satan still pursues his former incitements; and, supposing that the seeming reluctance of Jesus to reign might arise from ignorance of the world and its glories, conveys him to the summit of a high mountain, and from thence shews him most of the kingdoms of Asia, particularly pointing out to his notice some extraordinary military preparations of the Parthians to resist the incursions of the Scythians. He then informs our Lord that he shews him this purposely that he might see how necessary military exertions are to retain the possession of kingdoms, as well as to subdue them at first, and advises him to consider how impossible it was to maintain Judæa against two such

powerful neighbours as the Romans and Parthians, and how necessary it would be to form an alliance with one or other of them. He recommends, and engages to secure to him, that of the Parthians; and tells him that his power will thus be defended against any attempt of Rome, that he will be able to extend his glory wide, and even accomplish, what alone would make his throne the throne of David, the restoration of the ten tribes, still in captivity. Jesus, having noticed the vanity of military efforts or of the arm of flesh, says, that at the appointed time for ascending his allotted throne he shall not be slack; remarks on Satan's zeal for the deliverance of the Israelites, whose constant enemy he had been ; declares their servitude to be the reward of their idolatry; but adds, that at a future time it may perhaps please God to restore them to liberty and their country. Dunster.

PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK III.

So spake the Son of God, and Satan stood
A while as mute confounded what to say,
What to reply, confuted and convinc'd
Of his weak arguing, and fallacious drift;
At length collecting all his serpent wiles,
With soothing words renew'd, him thus accosts.

I see thou know'st what is of use to know,
What best to say canst say, to do canst do ;
Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words
To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart

10

5. collecting all his serpent the heart, than to the intellect, a wiles,

common Scriptural sense of the With soothing words &c.]. word. E. Thus in Samson Agonistes, 402. -mustering all her wiles,

Contains of good, wise, just, the With blandish'd parlies, &c.

perfect shape.] Dunster. Milton, no doubt, by the word

shape intended to express the 10. To thy large heart] Thus,

meaning of the Greek term dia, Par. Lost, i. 444. .

but in my opinion it does not at. -whose heart, though large, all come up to it, and seems raBeguiled &c.

ther harsh and inelegant. There

- Dunster. are words in all languages, which In both cases Milton seems to cannot well be translated withrefer less to the affections, which out losing much of their beauty, we now generally understand by and even some of their meaning;

Contains of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.
Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult,
Thy counsel would be as the oracle

of this sort I take the word idea and Thummim meant only the to be. Tully renders it by the divine virtue and power, given word species with as little success to the breast-plate in its conin my opinion as Milton has done secration, of obtaining an oracuhere by his English shape. Thyer. lous answer from God, whenever

Of good, wise, just, the perfect counsel was asked of him by the shape. I should rather think it high-priest with it on, in such expressed from the perfecta forma manner as his word did direct; honestatis, and the forma ipsa ho- and that the names of Urim and nesti of Cicero. De Fin. ii. 15. Thummim were given hereto only Habes undique expletam et per- to denote the clearness and perfectam, Torquate, formam hone- fection, which these oracular an. statis, &c. De Off. i. 5. Formam swers always carried with them. quidem ipsam, Marce fili, et tan- For Urim signifieth light, and quam faciem honesti vides ; quæ Thummim perfection. But Milsi oculis cerneretur &c. And the ton by adding more, because he renders forma

those oraculous gems by shape in the Paradise Lost On Aaron's breast iv. 848.

seems to have been of the comVirtue in her shape how lovely. mon received opinion among the 13. - as the oracle

Jews, that the answer was given Urim and Thummin, those ora. by the precious stones, that it culous gems

was by the shining and protuOn Aaron's breast; .&c.)

berating of the letters in the Aaron's breast-plate was a piece nam

sa piece names of the twelve tribes graven of cloth doubled, of a span square,

on the twelve stones in the breastin which were set in sockets of plate of the high-priest, and that gold twelve precious stones bear

in them he did read the answer. ing the names of the twelve But, as Dr. Prideaux says, it aptribes of Israel engraven on them, pears plain from Scripture, th which being fixed to the ephod,

when the high-priest appeared or upper vestment of the high

before the veil to ask counsel of priest's robes, was worn by him

God, the answer was given him on his breast on all solemn oc- by an audible voice from the casions. In this breast-plate the mercy-seat, which was within Urim and Thummim, say the

behind the veil. Scriptures, were put. And the cor tongue of seers old learned Prideaux, after giving

Infallible : some account of the various The poet by mentioning this after opinions concerning Urim and Urim and Thummim seems to alThummim, says it will be safest lude to another opinion of the to hold, that the words Urim Jews, that the Holy Spirit spake

« PreviousContinue »