Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

90

“ Purified, to receive him pure, or rather,
“ To do him honour as their King: all come;
" And he himself among them was baptized;
“ Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
“ The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
“ Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
“ The prophet do him reverence ; on him, rising

80 Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds “ Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head A perfect dove descend (whate'er it meant), And out of Heaven the sovran voice I heard, “This is my Son beloved ; in him am pleased.' “ His mother then is mortal, but his Sire , He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven: “And what will he not do to advance his Son? “ His first-begot we know, and sore have felt, “ When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep. “ Who this is we must learn; for man he seems “ In all his lineaments; though in his face “ The glimpses of his Father's głory shine. “Ye see our danger on the utmost edge “ Of hazard, which admits no long debate, “But must with something sudden be opposed “ Not force, but well-couched fraud, well-woven snares“ Ere in the head of nations he appear, “ Their king, their leader, and supreme on Earth. “ I, when no other durst, sole undertook “ The dismal expedition, to find out 6. And ruin Adam; and the exploit performed

Successfully: a calmer voyage now
“ Will waft me; and the way found prosperous once
“ Induces best to hope of like success.

He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to the infernal crew,
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay
At these sad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprise
To him, their great dictator, whose attempt,

100 120

11ο

At first, against mankind so well had thrived
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march
From Hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light,
Regents, and Potentates, and Kings, yea, Gods,
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles.
Where he might likeliest find this new-declared,
This Man of Men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try ;
So to subyert whom he suspected raised
To end his reign on Earth, so long enjoyed :
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled
The purposed counsel, preordained and fixed,
Of the Most High ; who, in full frequence bright
Of Angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake :

“ Gabriel! this day by proof thou shalt behold, 130 “ Thou and all Angels conversant on Earth “ With man or men's affairs, how I begin “ To verify that solemn message, late “ On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure “ In Galilee, that she should bear a son, “ Great in renown, and called the Son of God; “ Then toldst her, doubting how these things could he “ To her a virgin, that on her should come “ The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest “ O'ershadow her. This Man, born and now upgrown, 140 " To show him worthy his birth divine “ And high prediction, henceforth I expose " To Satan : let him tempt, and now assay His utmost subtlety, because he boasts “ And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng Of his apostasy : he might have learnt “ Less overweening, since he failed in Job, " Whose constant perseverance overcame " Whate'er his cruel malice could invent. “ He now shall know I can produce a Man,

150 “ Of female seed, far abler to resist “ All his solicitations, and at length “ All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell,

66

160

170

Winning, by conquest, what the first man lost,

By fallacy surprised. But first I mean 6. To exercise him in the wilderness : “ There he shall first lay down the rudiments Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth " To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes,

By humiliation and strong sufferance:
“ His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
“ And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
" That all the Angels and ethereal Powers-
“ They now, and men hereafter-may discern,
“ From what consummate virtue I have chose
“ This perfect Man, by merit called my Son,
“ To earn salvation for the sons of men.”

So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring stood a space; then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved,
Circling the throne and singing, while the hand
Sung with the voice, and this the argument :

“ Victory and triumph to the Son of God,
"Now entering his great duel, not of arms,
“ But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles !
“ The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
“ Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,

Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce, “ Allure, or terrify, or undermine. “ Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell;

And, devilish machinations, come to nought!”

So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned:
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized,
Musing, and much revolving in his breast,
How best the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way

first
Publish his godlike office now mature,
One day forth walked alone, the Spirit leading,
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse
With solitude ; till, far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He entered now the bordering desert wild ;

180

19C

200

210

And, with dark shades and rocks environed round,
His holy meditations thus pursued:

“O, what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awakened in me swarm, while I consider
“What from within I feel myself, and hear
" What from without comes often to my ears,
“ Ill sorting with my present state compared !
" When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing; all my mind was set
“ Serious to learn and know, and thence to do,
“ What might be public good: myself I thought
“ Born to that end-born to promote all truth,
“ All righteous things; therefore, above my years,
“ The law of God I read, and found it sweet,
“ Made it my whole delight; and in it grew
" To such perfection, that, ere yet my age
“ Had measured twice six years, at our great feast
“ I went into the temple, there to hear
“ The teachers of our law, and to propose
“ What might improve my knowledge or their own;
“And was admired by all. Yet this not all
“ To which my spirit aspired ; victorious deeds
“ Flamed in my heart—heroic acts-one while
“ To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke;
“ Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the Earth,
“ Brute violence and proud tyrannic power,
“ Till truth were freed, and equity restored:

220 “ Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first “ By winning words to conquer willing hearts, “ And make persuasion do the work of fear ; “ At least to try, and teach the erring soul, “ Not wilfully misdoing, but unaware “ Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.

“ These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving,

By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced, “ And said to me apart: 'High are thy thoughts, “O Son! but nourish them, and let them soar

230 To what height sacred virtue and true worth “ Can raise them, though above example high: “ By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.

• For know, thou art no Son of mortal man,

Though men esteem thee low of parentage;

Thy Father is the Eternal King who rules “ All Heaven and Earth, angels and sons of men : A messenger from God foretold thy birth, “ Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold “ Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne, 240 “ And of thy kingdom there should be no end. At thy nativity, a glorious quire Of Angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung “ To shepherds, watching at their folds by night, " And told them the Messiah now was born" Where they might see him—and to thee they came, “ Directed to the manger where thou layst, “ For in the inn was left no better room: “ A star, not seen before, in Heaven appearing, “ Guided the wise men thither from the East,

250 “ To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold ; " By whose bright course led on they found the place, “ Affirming it thy star, new-graven in Heaven, “ By which they knew thee King of Israel born.

* Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned
“ By vision, found thee in the temple, and spake,
“ Before the altar and the vested priest,
“ Like things of thee to all that present stood.'

“ This having heard, straight I again revolved “ The law and prophets, searching what was writ 260

Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
“ Known partly, and soon found, of whom they spake
“ I am ; this chiefly, that my way must lie

* Through many a hard assay, e'en to the death,
“ Ere I the promised kingdom can attain,
“ Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins-
“ Full weight-must be transferred upon my head.
“ Yet, neither thus disheartened nor dismayed,
“The time prefixed I waited; when behold
“ The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard,

270 “Not knew by sight), now come, who was to come “Before Messiah, and his way prepare ! “I, as all others, to his baptism came,

« AnteriorContinuar »