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Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest
To tread His sacred courts, and minister
About His altar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing, and vouchsafed His voice
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspired : disdain not such access to me.
To whom our Saviour, with unaltered brow :-
“ Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
I bid not, or forbid. Do as thou find'st
Permission from above ; thou canst not more.
He added not; and Satan, bowing low
His gray dissimulation, disappeared
Into thin air diffused : for now began
Night with her sullen wing to double-shade
The desert ; fowls in their clay nests were couched ;
And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
The disciples of Jesus, uneasy at His long absence, reason amongst themselves concerning it. Mary also gives vent to her maternal anxiety; in the expression of which she recapitulates many circumstances respecting the birth and early life of her Son. Satan again meets his infernal council, reports the bad success of his first temptation of our blessed Lord, and calls upon them for counsel and assistance. Belial proposes the tempting of Jesus with women. Satan rebukes Belial for his dissoluteness, charging on him all the profligacy of that kind ascribed by the poets to the heathen gods, and rejects his proposal as in no respect likely to succeed. Satan then suggests other modes of temptation, particularly proposing to avail himself of the circumstance of our Lord's hungering; and, taking a band of chosen spirits with him, returns to resume his enterprise. Jesus hungers in the desert. Night comes on; the manner in which our Saviour passes the night is described. Morning advances. Satan again appears to Jesus, and, after expressing wonder that He should be so entirely neglected in the wilderness, where others had been miraculously fed, tempts Him with a sumptuous banquet of the most luxurious kind. This He rejects, and the banquet vanishes. Satan, finding our Lord not to be assailed on the ground of appetite, tempts Him again by offering Him riches, as the means of acquiring power: this Jesus also rejects, producing many instances of great actions performed by persons under virtuous poverty, and specifying the danger of riches, and the cares and pains inseparable from power and greatness.
MEANWHILE the new-baptized, who yet remained
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly called
Jesus, Messiah, Son of God declared,
And on that high authority had believed,
And with Him talked, and with Him lodged—I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known,
With others, though in Holy Writ not named-
Now missing Him, their joy so lately found,
So lately found and so abruptly gone,
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
And, as the days increased, increased their doubt.
Sometimes they thought He might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once
Moses was in the Mount and missing long,
And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels
Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come.
Therefore, as those young prophets then with care
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethabara—in Jericho
The city of palms, Ænon, and Salem old,
Machærus, and each town or city walled
On this side the broad lake Genezaret
Or in Peræa-but returned in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek,
Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering play,
Plain fishermen (no greater men them call),
Close in a cottage low together got,
Their unexpected loss and plaints outbreathed :-
“Alas, from what high hope to what relapse Unlooked for are we fallen! Our eyes
Messiah certainly now come, so long
Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, His wisdom full of grace and truth.
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand;
The kingdom shall to Israel be restored :'
Thus we rejoiced, but soon our joy is turned
Into perplexity and new amaze.
For whither is He gone? what accident
Hath rapt him from us? will He now retire
After appearance, and again prolong
Our expectation? God of Israel,
Send Thy Messiah forth ; the time is come.
Behold the kings of the earth, how they oppress
Thy chosen, to what height their power unjust
They have exalted, and behind them cast
All fear of Thee; arise, and vindicate
Thy glory ; free Thy people from their yoke !
But let us wait; thus far He hath performed
Sent His Anointed, and to us revealed Him,
By His great prophet pointed at and shown
In public, and with Him we have conversed.
Let us be glad of this, and all our fears
Lay on His providence ; He will not fail,
Nor will withdraw Him now, nor will recall-
Mock us with His blessed sight, then snatch Him hence :
Soon we shall see our hope, our joy, return."
Thus they out of their plaints new hope resume
To find whom at the first they found unsought.
But to His mother Mary, when she saw
60 Others returned from baptism, not her Son, Nor left at Jordan tidings of Him none, Within her breast though calm, her breast though pure, Motherly cares and fears got head, and raised Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus clad :
“Oh, what avails me now that honour high, To have conceived of God, or that salute,
Hail, highly favoured, among women blessed !'
While I to sorrows am no less advanced,
And fears as eminent above the lot
Of other women, by the birth I bore :
In such a season born, when scarce a shed
Could be obtained to shelter Him or me
From the bleak air? A stable was our warmth,
A manger His; yet soon enforced to fly
Thence into Egypt, till the murderous king
Were dead, who sought His life, and, missing, filled
With infant blood the streets of Bethlehem.
From Egypt home returned, in Nazareth
Hath been our dwelling many years; His life
80 Private, unactive, calm, contemplative, Little suspicious to any king. But now, Full grown to man, acknowledged, as I hear, By John the Baptist, and in public shown, Son owned from Heaven by His Father's voice, I looked for some great change. To honour? no; But trouble, as old Simeon plain foretold,
That to the fall and rising He should be
Of many in Israel, and to a sign
Spoken against—that through my very soul
A sword shall pierce. This is my favoured lot,
My exaltation to afflictions high!
Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blessed !
I will not argue that, nor will repine.
But where delays He now? Some great intent
Conceals Him. When twelve years He scarce had seen,
I lost Him, but so found as well I saw
He could not lose Himself, but went about
His Father's business. What He meant I mused-
Since understand ; much more His absence now
Thus long to some great purpose He obscures.
But I to wait with patience am inured ;
My heart hath been a storehouse long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events.”
Thus Mary, pondering oft, and oft to mind
Recalling what remarkably had passed
Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts
Meekly composed awaited the fulfilling:
The while her Son, tracing the desert wild,
Sole, but with holiest meditations fed,
Into Himself descended, and at once
All His great work to come before Him set-
How to begin, how to accomplish best
His end of being on earth, and mission high.
For Satan, with sly preface to return,
Had left Him vacant, and with speed was gone
Up to the middle region of thick air,
Where all his potentates in council sat.
There, without sign of boast, or sign of joy,
Solicitous and blank, he thus began :-
Princes, Heaven's ancient sons, ethereal thrones
Demonian spirits now, from the element
Each of his reign allotted, rightlier called
Powers of fire, air, water, and earth beneath