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Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk,
Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to th' ear,
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song;
What wonder then if I delight to hear
Her dictates from thy mouth ? most men admire
Virtue, who follow not her lore: permit me
To hear thee when I come, since no man comes,
And talk at least, though I despair to attain.
Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure,
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 unalter'd 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, disappear'd Into thin air diffused : i for now began Night with her sullen wings to double-shade The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd; And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
MEANWHILE the new-baptized, who yet remain'd
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly call'd
Jesus, Messiah, Son of God declared,
And on that high authority had believed,
And with him talk'd, 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
to heav'n, 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 wall’d On this side the broad lake Genezaret, Or in Peræa; but return'd in vain. Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek, Where winds with reeds and osiers whisp'ring 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
Unlook'd for are we fallin! our eyes beheld
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 turn'd
Into perplexity and new amaze :
For whither is he gone, what accident
Hath wrapt 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 highth 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 perform'd,
Sent His Anointed, and to us reveal'd 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 blest 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
Others return'd 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.
O what avails me now that honour high To have conceived of God, or that salute, Hail, highly favour'd, among women blest! While I to sorrows am no less advanced, And fears as eminent, above the lou
Of other women, by the birth I bore,
In such a season born, when scarce a shed
Could be obtain'd to shelter him or me
From the bleak air! a stable was our warmth,
Α. manger his: yet soon enforced to fly
Thence into Egypt, till the murd'rous king
Were dead, who sought his life, and missing fill'd
With infant blood the streets of Bethlehem.
From Egypt home return'd, in Nazareth
Hath been our dwelling many years; nis life
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 own'd from heav'n by his Father's voice;
I look'd 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 pierče. This is my favour'd lot,
My exaltation to afflictions high;
Aflicted I may be, it seems, and blest;
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 hiin, but so found, as well I saw
He could not lose himself; but went about
His father's business. What he meant I muséd,
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 store-house long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events.
Thus Mary pond'ring oft, and oft to mind
Recalling what remarkably had pass'd
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,
Of Macedonian Philip had ere these
· Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held
At his dispose; young Scipio’ had brought down
The Carthaginian pride; young Pompey quella
The Pontic king, and in triumph had role.3
Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,
Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.
Great Julius, whom now all the world admires,
years, the more inflamed With glory, wept that he had lived 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 argumerrt.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The people's praise, if always praise unmixt?
And what the people but a herd confused,
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 otlor:
And what delight to be by such extollid,
To live upon their tongues and be thcir talk,
Of whom to be dispraised 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 raised.
This is true glory and renown,
Looking on the 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,
When, to extend his fame through heav'n and earth,