« EelmineJätka »
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 beneficence !
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 received,
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, had 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 Promised 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 unto 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 ; 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 fulall'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 hath obey'd ; just trial, ere I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee when I begin
My everlasting kingdom? Why art thou
Solicitous ? What moves thy inquisition ?
Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,
And my promotion will be thy destruction?
To whom the tempter, inly rack'd, replied : Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost Of my reception into grace ; what worse? For where no hope is left, is left no fear : If there be worse, the expectation more Of worse torments me than the feeling can. I would be at the worst, worst is my port, My harbour, and my ultimate repose; The end I would attain, my final good. My error was my error, and my crime My crime ; whatever for itself condemn’d, And will alike be punish’d, whether thou Reign or reign not; though to that gentle brow Willingly I could fly, and hope thy reign, From that placid aspect and meek regard, Rather than aggravate my evil state, Would stand between me and thy father's ire, Whose ire I dread more than the fire of hell, A shelter, and a kind of shading cool Interposition, as a summer's cloud. If I then to the worst that can be haste, Why move thy feet so slow to what is best, Happiest both to thyself and all the world, That thou who worthiest art shouldst be their king ? Perhaps thou linger'st in deep thoughts detain'd
Of the enterprise so hazardous and high :
No wonder, for, though in thee be united
What of perfection can in man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider,
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce view'd the Galilean towns,
And once a year Jerusalem, few days'
Short sojourn ; and what thence couldst thou observe ?
The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts,
Best school of best experience, quickest insight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
As he who seeking asses found a kingdom,
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventurous :
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
The monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state,
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts
And regal mysteries, that thou mayst know
How best their opposition to withstand.
With that, such power was given him then, he took
The Son of God up to a mountain high.
It was a mountain, at whose verdant feet
A spacious plain, outstretch'd in circuit wide,
Lay pleasant ; from his side two rivers flow'd,
The one winding, the other straight, and left between
Fair champaign with less rivers intervein'd,
Then meeting join'd their tribute to the sea;
Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine ;
With herds the pastures throng’d, with flocks the hills;
Huge cities and high tower’d, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs, and so large
The prospect was, that here and there was room
For barren desert, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain top the tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began :
Well have we speeded, and, o'er hill and dale,
Forest, and field, and flood, temples, and towers,
Cut shorter many a league ; here thou behold’st
Assyria and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes, and the Caspian lake, thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond ; to south the Persian bay,
And inaccessible the Arabian drought:
Here Nineveh, of length within her wall
Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns ;
There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free ; Persepolis
His city there thou seest, and Bactra there ;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
And Hecatompylos her hundred gates;
There Susa by Choaspes' amber stream,
The drink of none but kings ; of later fame,
Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye thou mayst behold.
All these the Parthian, now some ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire, under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou comest to have a view
Of his great power ; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana ; to her aid
He marches now in haste ; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit ;
All horsemen in which fight they most excel ;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings.
He look'd, and saw what numbers numberless
The city gates outpour’d, light-armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride;
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound;
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,
From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheel'd, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown :
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots, or elephants endorsed with towers
Of archers, nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude with spades and axes arm’d
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or, where plain was, raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke ;
Mules after these, camels, and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican, with all his northern powers,
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her sex, Angelica,
His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
Both Paynim, and the peers of Charlemain.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry ;
At sight whereof the fiend yet more presumed,
And to our Saviour thus his words renew'd :
That thou mayst know I seek not to engage
Thy virtue, and not every way secure
On no slight grounds thy safety, hear and mark
To what end I have brought thee hither, and shown
All this fair sight; thy kingdom, though foretold
By prophet or by angel, unless thou
Endeavour, as thy father David did,
Thou never shalt obtain ; prediction still
In all things, and all men, supposes means,
Without means used, what it predicts revokes.
But say thou wert possess'd of David's throne
By free consent of all, none opposite,
Samaritan or Jew; how couldst thou hope
Long to enjoy it quiet and secure,
Between two such enclosing enemies,
Roman and Parthian? Therefore one of these
Thou must make sure thy own, the Parthian first
By my advice, as nearer, and of late
Found able by invasion to annoy
Thy country, and captive lead away her kings,
Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,
Maugre the Roman. It shall be my task
To render thee the Parthian at dispose ;
Choose which thou wilt, by conquest or by league.
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
That which alone can truly reinstall thee
In David's royal seat, his true successor,
Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten tribes,
Whose offspring in his territory yet served,
In Habor, and among the Medes dispersed ;
Ten sons of Jacob, two of Joseph, lost
Thus long from Israel, serving, as of old
Their fathers in the land of Egypt served,
This offer sets before thee to deliver.
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
To their inheritance, then, nor till then,
Thou on the throne of David in full glory,