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Virtue as human Nature can arrive at. If the Tenour of our Actions have any other Motive than the Desire to be pleasing in the Eye of the Deity, it will necessarily follow that we must be more than Men, if we are not too much exalted in Prosperity and depressed in Adversity : But the Christian World has a Leader, the Contemplation of whose Life and Sufferings must administer Comfort in Afiction, while the Sense of his Power and Omnipotence must give them Humiliation in Prosperity.
IT is owing to the forbidden and unlovely Constraint with which Men of low Conceptions act when they think they conform themselves to Religion, as well as to the more odious Conduct of Hypocrites, that the Word Chriftian does not carry with it at first View all that is great, worthy, friendly, generous and heroick. The Man who suspends his Hopes of the Reward of worthy Actions till after Death, who can bestow unseen, who can overlook Hatred, do good to his Slanderer, who can never be angry at his Friend, never revengeful to his Enemy, is certainly formed for the Benefit of Society: Yet these are so far from heroick Virtues, that they are but the ordinary Duties of a Christian
WHEN a Man with a steddy Faith looks back on the great Catastrophe of this Day, with what bleeding Emotions of Heart muft he contemplate the Life and Sufferings of his Deliverer ? When his Agonies occur to him, how will he weep to reflect that he has often forgot them for the Glance of a Wantón, for the Applause of a vain World, for an heap of fleeting past Pleasures, which are at present aking Sorrows ? | HOW pleasing is the Contemplation of the lowly. Steps our Almighty Leader took in conducting us to his heavenly Mansions! In plain and apt Parable, Similitude, and Allegory, our great Master enforced the Doctrine of our Salvation; but they of his Acquaintance, instead of receiving what they could not oppose, were offended at the Presumption of being wiser than they : They could not raise their little Ideas above the Confideration of him, in those Circumstances familiar to them, or conceive that he who appear'd not more terrible or pompous, should have any thing more exalted than themselves; he in that Place therefore would not longer ineffectually exert a Power
which was incapable of conquering the Prepossession of their
THE great Change of things began to draw near, when the Lord of Nature thought fit as a Saviour and Deliverer to make his publick Entry into Jerusalem with more than the Power and Joy, but none of the Oftentation and Pomp of a Triumph; he came humble, meek, and lowly: with an unfelt new Ecstasy, Multitudes strewed his Way with Garments and Olive-Branches, crying, with loud Gladness and Acclamation, Hosannah to the Son of David, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord ! At this great King's Accession to his Throne, Men were not enobled, but fav'd ; Crimes were not remitted, but Sins forgiven; he did not bestow Medals, Honours, FaVOL. V.
vours, but Health, Joy, Sight, Speech. The first Object the Blind ever saw, was the Author of Sight ; while the Lame ran before, and the Dumb repeated the Hofannab. Thus attended, he entered into his own House, the sacred Temple, and by his Divine Authority expell?d Traders and Worldlings that profaned it; and thus did he, for a time, use a great and despotick Power, to let Unbelievers understand, that 'twas not want of, but Superiority to all worldly Dominion, that made him not exert it. But is this then the Saviour? is this the Deliverer ? Shall this obscure Nazarene command Israel, and fit on the Throne of David? Their proud and disdainful Hearts, which were petrefied with the Love and Pride of this World, were impregnable to the Reception of so mean a Benefactor, and were now enough exasperated with Benefits to conspire his Death. Our Lord was sen- fible of their Design, and prepared his Disciples for it, by recounting to 'em now more distinctly what should befal him ; but Peter with an ungrounded Resolution, and in a Flush of Temper, made a sanguine Protestation, that tho' all Men were offended in him, yet would not he be of. fended. It was a great Article of our Saviour's Business in the World, to bring us to a Sense of our Inability, without God's Assistance, to do any thing great or good ; he aherefore told Peter, who thought so well of his Courage and Fidelity, that they would both fail him, and even he Should deny him thrice that very Night.
BUT what Heart can conceive, what Tongue utter the Sequel? Who is that yonder buffeted, mock'd and spurn'd ? Whom do they drag like a Felon? Whither do they carry my Lord, my King, my Saviour, and my God? And will be die to expiate those very Injuries ? See where they have nailed the Lord and Giver of Life ! How his Wounds blacken, bis Body writhes, and Heart heaves with Pity and with Agony ? Ob Almighty Sufferer, look down, look down from thy triumphant Infamy: Lo be inclines his Head to his facred Bojom! Hark, he groans ! fee, be expires ! The Earth trembles, the Temple rends, the Rocks burst, the Dead arise :.Which are the Quick ? Which are the Dead ? Sure Nature, all Nature is departing with ber Creator.
N° 357. . Saturday, April 19.
-- auis talia fando Temperet à lachrymis ?
T HE tenth Book of Paradise Loft has a greater va
riety of Persons in it than any other in the whole Po
em. The Author upon the winding up of his Action introduces all those who had any Concern in it, and shews with great Beauty the Infuence which it had upon each of them. It is like the last Act of a well-written Tragedy, in which all who had a part in it are generally drawn up before the Audience, and represented under those Cir.' cumstances in which the Determination of the Action places them.
I shall therefore consider this Book under four Heads, in relation to the Celestial, the Infernal, the Human, and the Imaginary Persons, who have their respective Parts allotted in it.
TO begin with the Celestial Persons: The Guardian Angels of Paradise are describ'd as returning to Heaven upon the Fall of Man, in order to approve their Vigilance ; their Arrival, their Manner of Reception, with the Sorrow which appear'd in themselves, and in those Spirits who are laid to rejoice at the Conversion of a Sinner, are very fine ly laid together in the following Lines.
Up into Heav'n from Paradise in base
ThÆthereal People ran, to bear and know
THE same Divine Person, who in the foregoing Parts of this poem interceded for our first Parents before their Fall, overthrew the Rebel Angels, and created the World, is now represented as descending to Paradise, and pronouncing Sentence upon the three Offenders. The Cool of the Evening, being a Circumstance with which Holy Writ introduces this great Scene, it is poetically described by our Author, who has also kept religiously to the Form of Words, in which the three several Sentences were passed upon Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. He has rather chosen to neglect the Numerousness of his Verse, than to deviate from those Speeches which are recorded on this great Occasion. The Guilt and Confufion of our first Parents standing naked before their Judge, is touched with great Beauty. Upon the Arrival of Sin and Death into the Works of the Creation, the Almighty is again introduced as speaking to his Angels that surrounded him.
See! with what heat these Dogs of Hell advance,
THE following Passage is form'd upon that glorious Image in Holy Writ, which compares the Voice of an innumerable Host of Angels, uttering Hallelujahs, to the Voice of mighty Thunderings, or of many Waters.
He ended, and the Heav’nly Audience loud
THO'the Author in the whole Course of his Poem, and particularly in the Book we are now examining, has infinite Allusions to Places of Scripture, I have only taken