Page images

The Prophets old, who sung thy endless reign;
The happier reign, the sooner it begins :
Reign then; what canst thou better do the white?

To whom our Saviour answer thus return'd.
All things are best fulfill'd in their due time;
And time there is for all things, Truth hath said.
If of my reiga prophetick Writ hath told,
That it shall never end, 80, when begin,
The Father in his purpose hath decreed ;
He, in whose hand all times and seasons roll.
What if he hath decreed that I shall first
Be tried in humble state, and things adverse,
By tribulations, injuries, insults,
Contempts, and scorns, and spares, and violence,
Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting,
Without distrust or doubt, that he may know
What I can suffer, how obey? Who best
Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first
Well hath obey'd ; just trial, ere I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee, when I begin
My everlasting kingdom? Why art thou
Solicitous ? What moves thy inquisition ?
Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,
And my promotion will be thy destruction ?

To whom the Tempter, inly rack’d, replied. Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost Of my reception into grace : what worse? For where no hope is left, is left no fear :

If there be worse, the expectation more
Of worse torments me than the feeling can,
I would be at the worst : worst is my port,
My harbour, and my ultimate repose;
The end I would attain, my final good.
My errour was my errour, and my crime
My crime ; whatever, for itself condemn'd;'
And will alike be punish’d, whether thou
Reign, or reign not; though to that gentle brow
Willingly could I fly, and hope thy reign,
From that placid aspéct and meek regard,
Rather than aggravate my evil state,
Would stand between me and thy Father's ire,
(Whose ire I dread more than the fire of Hell,)
A shelter, and a kind of shading cool
Interposition, as a summer's cloud,
If I then to the worst that can be haste,
Why move thy feet so slow to what is best,
Happiest, both to thyself and all the world,
That thou, who worthiest art, should'st be their

Perhaps thou linger'st, in deep thoughts detain'd
Of the enterprise so hazardous and high;
No wonder ; for, though in thee be united
What of perfection can in man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider,
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce view'd the Galilean towns,

And once a year Jerusalem, few days'
Short sojourn ; and what thence could'st thou ob

The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts,
Best school of best experience, quickest insight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienc'd, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
(As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom,)
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventurous :
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
The monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state ;
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts,
And regal mysteries ; that thou may'st know
How best their opposition to withstand.
With that, (such power was given him then,) he

took The Son of God up to a mountain high. It was a mountain at whose verdant feet A spacious plain, outstretch'd in circuit wide, Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow'd, The one winding, the other straight, and left be

tween Fair champain with less rivers intervein’d, Then meeting join'd their tribute to the sea :

Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil and wine;
With herds the pastures throng'd, with flocks the

Huge cities and high-tower'd, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs; and so large
The prospect was, that here and there was room
For barren desart, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain top the Tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began.

Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale, Forest and field and flood, temples and towers, Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold'st Assyria, and her empire's ancient bounds, Araxes and the Caspian lake ; thence on As far as Indus east, Euphrates west, And oft beyond : to south the Persian bay, And, inaccessible, the Arabian drouth: Here Nineveh, of length within his wall Several days journey, built by Ninus old, Of that first golden monarchy the seat, ii And seat of Salmanassar, whose success!;! Israel in long captivity still mourns; There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues, As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twicej, :] Judah and all thy father David's housę.6.2; Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste, Till Cyrus set them free ; Persepolis, 1373) His city, there thou seest, and Bactra there ; 1:33

Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
And Hecatompylos her hundred gates ;
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
The drink of none but kings; of later fame,
Built by Emathian or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphony
Turning with easy eye, thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthiany (now some ages past,
By great Arsace's led, who founded first
That empirey) under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana'; to her aid
He marches now. in haste ; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth; steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight, or in pursuit';
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombsy and wedges, and half-moons, and wings.

He look'd, and saw what numbers' numberless
The city gates out-pour’d, light-armed troops,
In coats of mail and military pride;
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,

« PreviousContinue »