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By my advice, as nearer, and of late
Thy country, and captive lead away her kings
Maugre the Roman: it shall be
To render thee the Parthian at dispose:
Choose which thou wilt by conquest or by league.
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
From Egypt to Euphrates, and beyond,
Shalt reign, and Rome or Cæsar need not fear.
To whom our Saviour answer'd thus unmoved:
Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm,
My time I told thee (and that time for thee
When that comes, think not thou to find me slack
Milton's Poetical Works.
Luggage of war there shown me, argument
Of human weakness rather than of strength.
My brethren, as thou call'st them, those Ten Tribes
David's true heir, and his full sceptre sway
To just extent over all Israel's sons.
But whence to thee this zeal, where was it then
For Israel, or for David, or his throne,
When thou stood'st up his tempter to the pride
Besides their other worse than heathenish crimes;
Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
The God of their forefathers; but so died
Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
So spake Israel's true King, and to the Fiend
Satan, persisting in the temptation of our Lord, shows him imperial Rome in its greatest pomp and splendour, as a power which he probably would prefer before that of the Parthians; and tells him that he might with the greatest ease expel Tiberius, restore the Romans to their liberty, and make himself master not only of the Roman empire, but, by so doing, of the whole world, and inclusively of the throne of David. Our Lord, in reply, expresses his contempt of grandeur and worldly power, notices the luxury, vanity, and profligacy, of the Romans, declaring how little they merited to be restored to that liberty which they had lost by their misconduct, and briefly refers to the greatness of his own future kingdom. Satan, now desperate, to enhance the value of his proffered gifts, professes that the only terms on which he will bestow them, are our Saviour's falling down and worshipping him. Our Lord expresses a firm but temperate indignation at such a proposition, and rebukes the tempter by the title of 'Satan for ever damn'd.' Satan, abashed, attempts to justify himself: he then assumes a new ground of temptation, and proposing to Jesus the intellectual gratifications of wisdom and knowledge, points out to him the celebrated seat of ancient learning, Athens, its schools, and other various resorts of learned teachers and their disciples; accompanying the view with a highlyfinished panegyric on the Grecian musicians, poets, orators, and philosophers of the different sects. Jesus replies, by showing the vanity and insufficiency of the boasted heathen philosophy: and prefers to the music, poetry, eloquence, and didactic policy, of the Greeks, those of the inspired Hebrew writers. Satan, irritated at the failure of all his attempts, upbraids the indiscretion of our Saviour in rejecting his offers: and having, in ridicule of his expected kingdom, foretold the sufferings that our Lord was to undergo, carries him back into the wilderness, and leaves him there. Night comes on: Satan raises a tremendous storm, and attempts farther to alarm Jesus with frightful dreams, and terrific threatening spectres; which however have no effect upon him. A calm, bright, beautiful morning succeeds to the horrors of the night. Satan again presents himself to our blessed Lord, and, from noticing the storm of the preceding night as pointed chiefly at him, takes occasion once more to insult him with an account of the sufferings which he was certainly to undergo. This only draws from our Lord a brief rebuke. Satan, now at the height of his desperation, confesses that he had frequently watched Jesus from his birth, purposely to discover if he was the Messiah; and, collecting from what passed at the river Jordan that he most probably was so, he had from that
time more assiduously followed him, in hopes of gaining some advantage over him, which would most effectually prove that he was not really that Divine Person destined to be his fatal enemy.' In this he acknowledges that he has hitherto completely failed: but still determines to make one more trial of him. Accordingly he conveys him to the temple at Jerusalem, and, placing him on a pointed eminence, requires him to prove his divinity either by standing there, or casting himself down with safety. Our Lord reproves the Tempter, and at the same time manifests his own divinity by standing on this dangerous point. Satan, amazed and terrified, instantly falls; and repairs to his infernal compeers to relate the bad success of his enterprise. Angels in the mean time convey our blessed Lord to a beautiful valley, and, while they minister to him a repast of celestial food, celebrate his victory in a triumphant hymn.
PERPLEX'D and troubled at his bad success
That sleek'd his tongue, and won so much on Eve,
In cunning, over-reach'd where least he thought,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
Though all to shivers dash'd, th' assault renew,
He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold