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And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge; As children gathering pebbles on the shore. Or, if I would delight my private hours With music or with poem, where, so soon As in our native language, can I find That solace ? All our law and story strew'd With hymns, our psalms with artful terms inscrib’d, Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon That pleas'd so well our victors' ear, declare That rather Greece from us these arts deriv’d; Ill imitated, while they loudest sing The vices of their deities, and their own, In fable, hymn, or song, so personating Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame. Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest, Thin sown with aught of profit or delight, Will far be found unworthy to compare With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling, Where God is prais'd aright, and godlike men, The Holiest of Holies, and his saints, (Such are from God inspir'd, not such from thee,) Unless where moral virtue is express'd 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; But herein to our prophets far beneath, As men divinely taught, and better teaching The solid rules of civil government, In their majestic unaffected style, 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 fulfill’d. 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 daylight 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 aëry jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever under some concourse of shades,
Whose branching arms thick intertwin’d might shield
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 reconcild: 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 terror there;
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round (shriek’d,
Environ’d thee, some howld, some yell’d, some
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 stili’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 terrors dire.
And now the sun with more effectual 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 resolvid,
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 ofttimes noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulences in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to poivt,
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 did’st 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
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 terrors, 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 terrors, which thou speak'st of, did me none; I never fear'd they could, though noising loud And threatening nigh: 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 would'st 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.'

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