Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 reign prophetick Writ hath told,
That it shall never end, so, 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 :

evil state,

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 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

king? 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,

ordinary military preparations of the Parthians to resist the incursions of the Soythians. He then informs our Lord, that he showed 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 advise him to consider how impossible it was to maintain Judea against two such powerful neighbours as the Romans und Parthians, eind how necessary it would be to form an alliance with one or other of them. At the same time he recommends, and engages to secure to him, that of the Parathians; and tells him that by this means his power will be defended from any thing that Rome or Cæsar might attempt against it, and that he will be able to extend his glory wide, and especially to accomplish, what was particularly necessary to make the throne of Judea really the throne of David, the deliverance and restoration of the ten tribes, still in a state of captivity. Jesus, having briefly noticed the vanity of military efforts and the weakness of the urm of flesh, says, that when the time comes for ascending his allotted throne he shall not be slack ; he remarks on Satan's extraordinary zeal for the deliverance of the Israelites, to whom he had always showed himself an enemy, and declares their servitude to be the consequence of their idolatry; but adıls, that at a future time it may perhaps please God to recall them, and restore them to their liberty and native land.

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 sáy, to do canst đo;
Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words
To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart
Contains of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.
Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult,
Thy counsel would be as the oracle
Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems

On Aaron's breast; or tongue of seers old
Infallible: Or wert thou sought to deeds
That might require the array of war, thy skill
Of conduct would be such, that all the world
Could not sustain thy prowess, or subsist
In battle, though against thy few in arms.
These God-like virtues wherefore dost thou hide,
Affecting private life, ar more obscure
In savage wilderness? Wherefore deprive
All Earth her wonder at thy acts, thyself
The fame and glory; glory, the reward
That sole excites to high attempts, the flame
Of most erected spirits, most temper'd pure
Ethereal, who all pleasures else despise,
All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,
And dignities and powers all but the highest?
Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe; the son
Of Macedonian Philip had ere these
Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held
'At his dispose; young Scipio had brought down
The Carthaginian pride; young Pompey quell’d
The Pontick king, and in triúmph had rode.
Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,
Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.
Great Julius, whom now all the world admires,
The more he grew in years, the more inflam'd

« PreviousContinue »