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Me to thy will. Desist, (thou art discern'd
And toil'st in vain,) nor me in vain molest.
To whom the fiend now swoll'n with rage replied.
Then hear, 0 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 birthnight, 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'd 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;
All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher so declared.
Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour,
And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild ;
Where by all best conjectures I collect
502 I had heard] All the editions read have heard. "Had' seems absolutely requisite. Dunster.
Thou art to be
my Good reason then, if I beforehand seek To understand my adversary, who, And what he is, his wisdom, power, intent; By parl, or composition, truce, or league, To win him, or win from him what I can. And opportunity I here have had To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee Proof against all temptation, as a rock Of adamant, and as a centre firm, To the utmost of mere man both wise and good, 535 Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory, Have been before contemn’d, and may again : Therefore to know what more thou art than man, Worth naming Son of God by voice from heav'n, Another method I must now begin.
So saying he caught him up, and without wing Of hippogrif bore through the air sublime Over the wilderness and o’er the plain ; Till underneath them fair Jerusalem, The holy city, listed high her towers, And higher yet the glorious temple rear'd Her pile, far off appearing like a mount Of alabaster, topp?d with golden spires : There on the highest pinnacle he set The Son of God, and added thus in scorn.
There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
548 alabaster] From Clemens, and P. Mela, see Heber's Life of Bishop Taylor, ii. 272. Of Ægyptian Thebes with its houses of alabaster.'
Will ask thee skill; I to thy father's house
Have brought thee, and highest plac’d, highest is best,
Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, He will give command
Concerning thee to his angels, in their hands
They shall uplift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.
To whom thus Jesus. Also it is written,
Tempt not the Lord thy God: he said and stood :
But Satan smitten with amazement fell.
As when earth's son Antæus, (to compare
Small things with greatest,) in Irassa strove
With Jove's Alcides, and oft foil'd still rose,
Receiving from his mother earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join'd,
Throttled at length in th' air, expir'd and fell;
So after many a foil the tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall.
And as that Theban monster that propos’d
Her riddle, and him who solv’d it not, devour’d,
That once found out and solv’d, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from th’ Ismenian steep ;
So struck with dread and anguish fell the fiend,
And to his crew that sat consulting, brought
(Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success,)
563 As when] P. Fletcher's Purple Island, p. 163, ed. 1633.
If greatest things with lesse we may compare. A. Dyce.
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans receiv’d him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore
As on a floating couch through the blithe air;
Then in a flowery valley set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits, fetch'd from the tree of life,
And from the fount of life ambrosial drink,
That soon refresh'd him wearied, and repair’d
What hunger, if aught hunger had impaird,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, angelic quires
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over temptation and the tempter proud.
True Image of the father, whether thron'd
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
581 globe] G. Fletcher's Christ's Triumph, st. xiii.
out there flies A globe of winged angels swift as thought.' Todd. 583 him] This inaccuracy has been remarked; and that him must refer to Satan; therefore I would suppose that him is used emphatically—so Satan fell; but angels received him, and upbore. 587 spread] G. Fletcher's Christ's Triumph, &c. st. 61.
• But to their Lord, now musing in his thought,
A heavenly volley of light angels flew,
And from his father him a banquet brought
Through the fine element : for well they knew
After his lenten fast he hungry grew ;
And, as he fed, the holy quires combine
To sing a hymn of the celestial trine.' Dunster.
Conceiving, or remote from heaven, enshrin'd
In fleshly tabernacle and human form,
Wand'ring the wilderness, whatever place,
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with god-like force indu'd
Against th' attempter of thy Father's throne,
And thief of paradise ; him long of old
Thou didst debel, and down from heav'n cast
With all his army, now thou hast aveng'd
Supplanted Adam, and by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regain'd lost Paradise,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent :
He never more henceforth will dare set foot
In Paradise to tempt; his snares are broke:
For though that seat of earthly bliss be fail'd,
A fairer paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou,
A Saviour, art come down to re-install
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be,
Of tempter and temptation without fear.
But thou, infernal serpent! shalt not long
Rule in the clouds ; like an autumnal star,
Or lightning thou shalt fall from heaven, trod down
Under his feet: for proof, ere this thou feel'st
Thy wound, (yet not thy last and deadliest wound,)
By this repulse receiv'd, and hold'st in hell
No triumph. In all her gates Abaddon rues
Thy bold attempt ; hereafter learn with awe
To dread the Son of God: he all unarm'd
605 debel] Virg. Æn. vi. 853.
• Debellare superbos. Newton.