ePub 版

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 propos'd 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 foretel thee, soon thou shalt have cause To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus Nicely or cautiously, my offer'd 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, fulness of time, thy season When prophecies of thee are best fulfillid. Now contrary, if I read aught in Heaven, 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 Attend 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 prefix'd
Directs me in the starry rubric set.

So saying he took, (for still he knew his power
Not yet expir’d,) and to the wilderness
Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As day-light sunk, and brought in lowering night,
Her shadowy offspring ; unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day.
Our Saviour meek, and with untroubled mind
After his aery jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades, (shield
Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd might
From dews and damps of night his shelter'd head;
But, shelter'd, slept in vain; for at his head
The tempter watch'd, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturb’d his sleep. And either tropic now
'Gan thunder, and both ends of Heaven : the clouds,
From many a horrid rift, abortive pour'd
Fierce rain with lightning mix'd, water with fire
In ruin reconcil'd: nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell
On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks,
Bow'd 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 staid the terrour there ;
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round (shriek'd,
Environ'd thee, some howl'd, some yell’d, some

[merged small][ocr errors]

Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat'st unappall’d in calm and sinless peace !
Thus pass'd the night so foul, till Morning fair
Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amice gray ;
Who with her radiant finger still’d the roar
Of thunder, chas'd the clouds, and laid the winds,
And grisly spectres, which the fiend had rais’d
To tempt the Son of God with terrours dire.
And now the Sun with more etfectual beams
Had cheer'd the face of Earth, and dried the wet
From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds,
Who all things now behold more fresh and green,
After a night of storm so ruinous,
Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn,
Was absent, after all 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 resolv'd,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage
And mad despite to be so oft repell’d.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Back'd 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 [them
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear
As dangerous to the pillar'd 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 turbulencies 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, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offered with my aid
To win thy destin’d seat, but 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 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 :
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 sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night, that clos'd thee round,
So many terrours, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure fore-going sign.”

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

“ Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm Those terrours, which thou speak'st of, did me none;

I never fear'd they could, though noising loud
And threatening high : what they can do as signs
Betokening, or ill-boding, I contemn
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 power of thee,
Ambitious spirit! and wouldst be thought my God;
And storm'st refus'd, thinking to terrify
Me to thy will! desist, (thou art discern’d
And toil'st in vain,) nor me in vain molest."

To whom the fiend, now swoln with rage, replied.
“ Then hear, O) son of David, virgin-born,
For son of God to me is yet in doubt ;
Of the Messiah I had heard foretold
By all the prophets ; of thy birth at length,
Announc'd by Gabriel, with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
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
Flock to the Baptist, 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
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
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;

« 上一頁繼續 »