صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

I must deliver, if I mean to reign
David's true beir, and bis full sceptre sway
To just extent over all Israel's sons.
But whence to thee this zeal ? where was it then
For Israel, or for David, or his throne,
When thou stood'st up his tempter to the pride
Of numbering Israel, which cost the lives
Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites
By three days' pestilence? such was thy zeal
To Israel then ; the same that now to me.
As for those captive tribes, theinselves were they
Who wrought their own captivity, fell off
From God to worship calves, tlre deities
Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,
And all the idolatries of heathen round,
Besides their other worse than heathenish crimes;
Nor in the land of their captivity
Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
The God of their forefathers; but so died
Impenitent, and left a race behind
Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
Prom Gentiles, but by circumcision vain;
And God with idols in their worship join'd.
Should I of these the liberty regard,
Who, freed, as to their ancient patrimony,
Unbumbled, unrepentant, unreformed,
Headloog would follow; and to their gods perhaps
Of Bethel and of Dan? no, let them serve
Their enemies, who serve idols with God.
Yet he at length (time to bimself best known)
Remembering Abraham, by some wondrous call
May bring them back repentant and sincere,
And at their passing cleave the Assyrian food,
While to their native land with joy they haste;
As the Red Sea and Jordan once be cleft,
When to the promised land their fathers pass'd:
To his due time and providence I leave them."

So spake Israel's true King, and to the fiend Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles. So fares it, when with truth falsehood contends.

PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK IV.

THE ARGUMENT.

Satan, persisting in the temptation of our Lord, shows him imperial Rome in its greatest pomp and splendour, as a power which he probably would prefer before that of the Parthians ; and teils him that he might with the greatest ease exp Tibe. rius, restore the Romans to their liberty, and make himself master not only of the Roman empire, but, hy so doing, of the whole world, and inclusively of the throne of David. Our Lord in reply, expresses his contempt of grandeur and worldly power, notices the luxury, vanity, and profligacy, of the Romans, de. claring how little they merited to be restored to that liberty which they had lost by their misconduct, and briefly refers to the greatness of his own future kingdom, Satan, now desperate to enhance the value of his proffered gifts, professes that the only terms on wbich he will bestow them, are our Saviour's falling down and worshipping him. Our Lord expresses a firm but temperate indignation at such a proposition, and rebukes the tempter by the title of "Satan for ever damn'd.” Satan, abashed, atteinpts to justify himself: he theu assumes a new ground of temptation, and proposing to Jesus the intellectual gratifications of wisdom and knowledge, points out to him the celebrated seat of ancient learning, Atliens, its schools, and other various resorts of learned teachers and their disciples; accompanying the view with a highly-finished panegyric on the Grecian musicians, poets, orators, and philosophers of the ditferent sects. Jesus replies, by showing the vanity and insuffi. ciency of the brasted heathen philosophy; and prefers to the music, poetry, eloquence, and didactic policy, of the Greeks, those of the inspired Hebrew writers. Satan, irritated at the failure of all his attempts, upbraids the indiscretion of our Saviour in rejecting his offers; and having, in ridicule of his expected kingdom, foretold the sufferings that our Lore! was to undergo, carries him back into the wilderness, and leaves him there. Night comes ou : Satan raises a tremendous storm, and attempts farther to alarm Jesus with frightful dreams, and ter. rific threatening spectres; which however have no effect upon him. A calm, bright, beautiful morning succeeds to the horrors of the night. Satan again presents himself to our blessed Lorrl, ard, from noticing the storm of the preceding night as pointel chiefy at him, takes occasion once more to insult him with an account of the sufferings which he was certainly to undergo. This only draws from our Lord a brief rebuke. Satan, now at the height of his desperation, confesses that he had frequently watched Jesus from his birth, purposely to discover if he was the true Messiah ; and, collecting from what passed at the river Jordan that he most probably was so, he had from that time more assiduously followed him, in hopes of gaining some adran. tage over him, which would viost effictually prove that he was

[ocr errors]

not really that Dirine Person destined to be his " fatal enemy;" In this he acknowledges that he has hitherto completely failed; but still determines to make one more trial of him. Accor dingly he conveys him to the temple at Jerusalem, and, placing him on a pointed eminence, requires bim to prove his divinity, either by standing there, or casting himself down with safety. Our Lord reproves the tempter, and at the same tinie manifests his own divinity by standing on this dangerous point. Satan, amazed and terrified, instantly falls; and repairs to his infernal compeers to relate the bad sucoess of his enterprise. Angels, in the mean time convey our blessed Lord to a beautiful valley, and, while they minister to him a repast of celestial food, cele. brate his victory in a triumphant hymn.

PERPLEX'n and troubled at his bad success
The tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
Discover'd in his fraud, thrown from his hope
So oft, and the persuasive rhetoric
That sleek'd his tongue, and won so much on Eve,
So little here, nay lost; but Eve was Eve:
This far his over-match, who self-deceiç'd
And rast, beforehand had no better weigh'd
The strength he was to cope with, or his own:
But as a man who had been matchless beld
In cunning over-reach'd where least he thought,
To salve his credit, and for very spite,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
And never cease, though to his shame the more ;
Or as a swarm of flies in vintage time,
About the wine-press where sweet must is pour'd,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound;
Or surging waves against a solid rock,
Though all to shivers dash'd the assault renew,
Vain batt'ry, and in froth or bubbles end;
So Satan, whom repulse upon repulse
Met ever, and to shameful silence brought,
Yet gives not o'er, though desp'rate of success,
And his vain importunity pursties.
He brought our Saviour the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Wash'd by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length back'd with a ridge of hills,
That screen'd the fruits of th' earth and seats of men
From cold septentrion blast; thence in the midst

[ocr errors]

Divided by a river, of whose banks
On each side an imperial city stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate.
On seven small bills, with palaces adorn’d,,
Porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens and groves, presented to his eyes,
Above the height of mountains interpos'd;
(By what strange parallax, or optic skill
Of vision multiplied through air or glass
Of telescope, were curious to enquire;)
And now the tempter thus his silence broke:

“ The city which thou seest, no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earil,
So far renown'd, and with the spoils enrich'd
Of nations ; there the capitol thou seest.
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel.
Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,
Th’ imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded Lattlements, conspicuous far,,
Turrets, and terraces, and glitt'ring spires,
Many. a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods (so well I have dispos'd,
My airy microscope,) thou may'st behold
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,
Carv'd work, the hand of fam'd artificers.
In cedar, marble, ivory or gold.,
Thence to the gates.cast round thine eye, and see.
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in ;
Prætors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state:
Lictors, and rods, the ensigns of their power,
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings:
Or embassies from regions far remote
In various habits on the Appian road,
Or on th' Emilian; some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both ways falls,
Meroe Nilotic isle, and more to west,
The realm of Bocchus, to the Black-moor sea;

From th’ Asian kings, and Parthian among these,
From India and the golden Chersonese,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreath'd;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans and Scythians, and Sarmatians, north
Beyond Danubius to the Taurie pool.
All nations now to Roine obedience pay,
To Roue's great emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth and power,
Civility of manners, arts and arms,
And long renown, thou justiy may’st prefer
Before the Partbian. These two thrones except,
The rest are barb'rous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shar'd among petiy kings too far remov'd :
These having shown thee, I have shown thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
This emp’ror hath no son, and now is old,
Old and lascivious, and from Roine retir'd
To Capræ, an island small, but strong,
On the Campanian shore, with purpose there
His horrid lusts in private to enjoy,
Committing to a wicked favourite
All public cares, and yet of him suspicious;
Hated of all, and hatiog. With what ease,
Endu'd with regal virtues, as thou art,
Appearing, and beginning noble deeds,
Might'st thou expel this monster from his throne,
Now made a sty, and in his place ascending,
A victor people free from servile yoke?
And with my help thou may’st: to me the power
Is given, and by that right I give it thee.
Aim therefore at no less than all the world ;
Aim at the highest; without the highest attain’d
Will be før tbee no sitting, or not long,
On David's throne, be prophesied what will."

To whom the Son of God unmov'd replied:
“ Nor doth this grandeur and majestic show
Of luxury, though callid magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye,
Much less my mind; though thou shouldst add to tell

« السابقةمتابعة »