Immagini della pagina

weakness of the arm of flesh, says, that when the time comes for his ascending his allotted throne, he shall not be slack: he re. marks on Satan's extraordinary zeal for the deliverance of the Israelites, to whom he had always showed himself an enemy, and declares their servitude to be the consequence of their idolatry; but adds, that at a future time it may perhaps please God to recail them, and restore them to their liberty and native land.

So spake the Son of God, and Satan stood
A while as mute, confounded what to say,
What to reply, confuted and convinc'd
Of his weak arguing, and fallacious drift;
At length collecting all his serpent wiles,
With soothing words renew'd, him thus accosts:
"I see thou know'st what is of use to know,
What best to say canst say, to do canst do;
Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words
To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart
Contains of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.
Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult,
Thy counsel would be as the oracle

Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems
On Aaron's breast, or tongue of seers old,
Infallible. Or wert thou sought to deeds
That might require the array of war, thy skill
Of conduct would be such, that all the world
Could not sustain thy prowess, or subsist
In battle, though against thy few in arms.
These godlike virtues wherefore dost thou hide,
Affecting private life, or more obscure

In savage wilderness? wherefore deprive
All earth her wonder at thy acts, thyself
The fame and glory, glory the reward
That sole excites to high attempts, the flame
Of most erected spirits, most temper'd pure
Ethereal, who all pleasures else despise,
All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,
And dignities and powers all but the highest?
Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe; the sou
Of Macedonian Philip bad ere these

Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held

At his dispose; young Scipio had brought down The Carthaginian pride: young Pompey quell'd

The Pontic king, and in triumph had rode.
Yet ears, and to ripe years judgment mature,
Quench not the thirst of glory but augment.
Great Julius whom now all the world admires,
The more he grew in years, the more inflam'd
With glory, wept that he had liv'd so long
Inglorious: but thou yet art not too late.'

To whom our Saviour calmly thus replied:
"Thou neither dost persuade me to seek wealth
For empire's sake, nor empire to affect
For glory's sake, by all thy argument.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The people's praise, if always praise unmix'd?
And what the people but a herd confus'd,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol

Things vulgar, and well weigh'd, scarce worth the praise?

They praise, and they admire they know not what,
And know not whom, but as one leads the other;
And what delight to be by such extoll'd,

To live upon their tongues, and be their talk,
Of whom to be disprais'd were no small praise?
His lot who dares be singularly good.
Th' intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is rais'd.
This is true glory and renown, when God,
Looking on th' earth, with approbation marks
The just man, and divulges him through heaven
To all his angels, who with true applause
Recount his praises: thus he did to Job,

[ocr errors]

When to extend his fame through heaven and earth,
As thou to thy reproach may'st well remember,
He ask'd thee, Hast thou seen my servant Job?"
Famous he was in heaven, on earth less known;
Where glory is false glory, attributed

To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.
They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to over-run
Large countries, and in fields great battles win,
Great cities by assault: what do these worthies,
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave

Peaceable nations, neighb'ring or remote,
Made captive, yet deserving freedom more
Than those their conquerors, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe'er they rove,

And all the flourishing works of peace destroy;
Then swell with pride, and must be titled gods,
Great benefactors of mankind, deliverers,
Worshipp'd with temple, priest, and sacrifice?
One is the son of Jove, of Mars, the other;
Till conqu'ror Death discover them scarce men,
Rolling in brutish vices, and deform'd,
Violent or shameful death their due reward.
But if there be in glory ought of good,
It may by means far different be attain'd,
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance: I mention still

Him whom thy wrongs, with saintly patience borne, Made famous in a land and times obscure; Who names not now with honour patient Job? Poor Socrates, (who next more memorable?) By what he taught, and suffer'd for so doing, For truth's sake suffering death unjust, lives now Equal in fame to proudest conquerors. Yet, if for fame and glory ought be done, Ought suffer'd; if young African for fame His wasted country freed from Punic rage, The deed becomes unprais'd, the man at least, And loses, though but verbal, his reward. Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seek Oft not deserv'd? I seek not mine, but his Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am." To whom the tempter murm'ring thus replied: * Think not so slight of glory; therein least Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory And for his glory all things made, all things Drders and governs; nor content in heaven, By all his angels glorified, requires Glory from men, from all men, good or bad, Vise or unwise, no difference, no exemption; bove all sacrifice, or hallow'd gift

Glory be requires, and glory he receives
Promiscuous from all nations, Jew or Greek,
Or barbarous, nor exception bath declar'd :
From us his foes pronoune'd glory he exacts."
To whom our Saviour fervently replied:
"And reason; since his word all things produc'd,
Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,
But to show forth his goodness, and impart
His good communicable to every soul
Freely; of whom what could he less expect
Than glory and benediction, that is, thanks,
The slightest, easiest, readiest recompense
From them who could return him nothing else,
And not returning that, would likeliest render
Contempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?
Hard recompense, unsuitable return

For so much good, so much benificence.

But why should man seek glory, who of his own
Hath nothing, and to whom nothing belongs
But condemnation, ignominy', and shame?
Who, for so many benefits receiv'd,
Turn'd recreant to God, ingrate and false,
And so of all true good himself despoil'd;
Yet sacrilegious, to himself would take
That which to God alone of right belongs;
Yet so much bounty is in. God, such grace,
That who advance his glory not their own,
Them he himself to glory will advance.”

So spake the Son of God: and here again
Satan had not to answer, but stood struck
With guilt of his own sin; for he himself,
Insatiable of glory, bad lost all.

Yet of another plea bethought him soon.

"Of glory, as thou wilt," said he, "so deem;
Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass:
But to a kingdom thou art born, ordain'd
To sit upon thy father David's throne;

By mother's side thy father: though thy right
Be now in powerful hands, that will not part
Easily from possession won with arms:
Judea now, and all the promis'd land,

Reduced a province under Roman yoke,
Obeys Tiberius; nor is always ruled

With temperate sway; oft have they violated
The temple, oft the law, with foul affronts,
Abominations rather, as did once
Antiochus: and think'st thou to regain
Thy right by sitting still, or thus retiring?
So did not Maccabeus; he indeed

Retired into the desert, but with arms;
And o'er a mighty king so oft prevail'd,
That by strong hand his family obtain'd,
Though priests, the crown, and David's throne usurp'd,
With Modin and her suburbs once content.
If kingdom move thee not, let move thee zeal
And duty; and zeal and duty are not slow,
But on occasion's forelock watchful wait:
They themselves rather are occasion best;
Zeal of thy father's house, duty to free
Thy country from her heathen servitude.
So shalt thou best fulfil, best verify

The prophets old, who sung thy endless reign;
The happier reign, the sooner it begins:
Reign then; what canst thou better do the while?"
To whom our Saviour answer thus return'd:
"All things are best fulfill'd in their due time:
And time there is for all things, truth hath said,
If of my reign prophetic writ hath told,
That it shall never end, so, when begin,
The Father in his purpose hath decreed;
He in whose hand all times and seasons roll.
What if he hath decreed that I shall first
Be tried in humble state, and things adverse,
By tribulations, injuries, insults,

Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,
Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting,
Without distrust or doubt, that he may know
What I can suffer, how obey? Who best
Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first
Well bath obey'd; just trial, ere I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee, when I begia

« IndietroContinua »