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From Heaven descended to the low-roofed house
Of Socrates; see there his tenement,
Whom well inspired the oracle pronounced
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams that watered all the schools
Of academics old and new, with those
Surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, andthe Stoic severe:
These here revolve, or, as thou lik'st, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight.
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire joined."

To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied:
"Think not hut that I know these things, or think
I know them not; not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought: he who receives
Light from above, from the fountain of light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all professed
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
The next to fabling fell and smooth conceits;
A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense
Others in virtue placed felicity,
But virtue joined with riches and long life;
In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last, in philosophic pride,
By him called virtue; and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equals to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain, or torment, deatli and life,
Which when he lists he leaves, or boasts he can,
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas! what can they teach and not misleadi
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the world began, and how man fell
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the soul they talk, but all awry,
And in themselves seek virtue, and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none,
Bather accuse him under usual names,

Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite

Of mortal things. Who therefore seeks in these

True wisdom, finds her not, or by delusion,

Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,

An empty cloud. However, many hooks,

Wise men have said, are wearisome: who reads

Incessantly, and to his reading brings not

A spirit and judgment equal or superior

(And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek ?),

Uncertain and unsettled still remains,

Deep versed in books and shallow in himself,

Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys,

And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge;

As children gathering pebbles on the shore.

Or if I would delight my private hours

With music or with poem, where so soon

As in our native language can I find

That solace? All our law and story strewed

With hymns, our psalms with artful terms inscribed,

Our Hebrew songs and harps in Babylon,

That pleased so well our victors' ear, declare

That rather Greece from us these arts derived

111 imitated, while they loudest sing

The vices of their deities, and their own

In fable, hymn, or song, so personating

Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame.

Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid

As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,

Thin sown with aught of profit or delight,

Will far be found unworthy to compare

With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,

Where God is praised aright, and god-like men,

The Holiest of Holies, and his saints;

Such are from God inspired, not such from thee,

Unless where moral virtue is expressed

By light of nature not in all quite lost.

Their orators thou then extoll'st, as those

The top of eloquence; statists2 indeed,

And lovers of their country, as may seem;

1 This was the system in vogue at that time. It was established and supported with vast erudition by Bochart, and carried to an extravagant and even ridiculous length by Huetius and Gale.—Warburton.

2 Statesmen, a word used by Shakspeare.

But herein to our prophets far beneath,

As men divinely taught, and better teaching

The solid rules of civil government,

In their majestic, unaffected style,

Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.

In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,

What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,

What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;

These only with our law best form a king."

So spake the Son of God: but Satan now
Quite at a loss, for all his darts were spent,
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 proposed 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 foretell thee: soon thou shalt have cause
To wjgh thou never hadst rejected thus
Nicely or cautiously my offered 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, fullness of time, thy season,
When prophecies of thee are best fulfilled.
Now contrary, if I read aught in Heaven,1
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,
Attends thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries,
Violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death;
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I discern not,
Nor when, eternal sure, as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefixed
Directs me in the starry rubric set."

1 A satire on Cardan, who, with the boldness and impiety of an atheist and a madman, both of which he was, cast the nativity of Jesus Christ, and found by the great and illustrious concourse of stars at his birth, that he must needs have the fortune which befell him, and become the author of a religion, which should spread itself far and near for many ages.—Newton.

So saying he took (for still he knew his power Not yet expired), and to the wilderness Brought back the Son of God, and left him there, Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose, As daylight sunk, and brought in louring night, Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both, Privation mere of light and absent day. Our Saviour meek, and with untroubled mind After his airy jaunt, though hurried sore, Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest, Wherever, under some concourse of shades, Whose branching arms, thick intertwined, might shield From dews and damps of night his sheltered head, But sheltered slept in vain, for at his head The tempter watched, and soon with ugly dreams Disturbed his sleep; and either tropic now 'Gan thunder, and both ends of Heaven, the clouds From many a horrid rift abortive poured Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire In ruin reconciled: nor slept the winds Within their stony caves, hut rushed abroad • From the four hinges of the world, and fell On the vexed wilderness, whose tallest pines, Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks Bowed 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 stayed the terror there, Infernal ghosts, and hellish furies, round Environed thee, some howled, some yelled, some shrieked, Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou Sat'st unappalled in calm and sinless peace. Thus passed the night so foul, till morning fair Came forth with pilgrim steps in amice1 gray, Who with her radiant finger stilled the roar Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds And grisly spectres, which the fiend had raised To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire. And now the sun, with more effectual beams, Had cheered the face of earth, and dried the wet From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds, Who all things now behold2 more fresh and green, After a night of storm so ruinous.

1 Clothing, from amicis. 2 Probaoly " beheld."

Cleared up their choicest notes in hush and spray
To gratulate the sweet return of morn;
Nor yet amidst this joy and brightest morn
Was absent, after ali 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 resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage,
And mad despite to be so oft repelled.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Backed on the north and west by a thick wood;
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said:

"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; and these flaws, though mortals fear them
As dangerous to the pillared frame of Heaven,
Or to the earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable,
And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man's less universe, and soon are gone;
Yet as being oft-times noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turhulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify 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,1 if thou didst reject
The perfect season offered with my aid
To win thy destined seat, hut wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
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 ordained, no doubt;
For angels have proclaimed it, but concealing
The time and 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 assay

1 This sentence is, as Newton observes, "dark and perplexed, having no proper exit."

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