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By light of Nature not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll'st, as those
The top of eloquence, statists indeed,
And lovers of their country, as may seem; 355
But herein to our Prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government
In their majestic unaffected stile
Than all th' oratory of Greece and Rome. 360
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 365 Quite at a loss, for all his darts were spent, Thus to our Saviour with stern brow reply'd:
Since neither wealth, nor honor, arms nor arts,
Or active, tended on by glory', or fame,
Nicely or cautiously my offer'd aid,
When prophecies of thee are best fulfiU'd.
Now contrary, if I read ought in Heav'n,
Or Heav'n write ought of Fate, by what the stars
Voluminous, or single characters,
In their conjunction met, give me to spell, 385
Sorrows, and labors, 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, 350
Nor when, eternal sure, as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefix'd
Directs me in the starry rubric set.
So say'ing he took (for still he knew his power Not yet expir'd) and to the wilderness 395
Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,
Our Saviour meek and with untroubled mind
Unshaken; nor yet stay'd the terror there,
Thus pass'd the night so foul, till morning fair
Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray
Nor yet amidst this joy and brightest morn
Was absent, after all his mischief done, 440
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,
Desp'rate of better course, to vent his rage, 445
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; 450
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 dang'rous to the pillar'd frame of Heav'n, 455 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 46* On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent, Like turbulencies in th' affairs of men, Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point, They oft fore-signify and threaten illi This tempest at this desert most was bent; 465 Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Volume III. G
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offer'd with my aid
To win thy destin'd seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of Fate, pursue thy way 470
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 proclam'd it, but concealing
The timeand means: each act is rightliest done, 475
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 scepter get fast hold; 480
Whereof this ominous night that clos'd thee round.
So many terrors, voices, prodigies
May warn thee, as a sure fore-going sign.
So talk'd he while the Son of God went on Andstay'd not, but in brief him answer'd thus. 485
Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm
As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;