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"PREPARE a hymn, prepare a song,
The timbrel hither bring:
The cheerful psaltery bring along,
The harp with pleasant string."-MILTON.
THE TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS.
ST. MATTHEW, CHAP. IV.
Ar length collected, o'er the dark Divan
The arch-fiend glanc'd, as by the boreal blaze Their downcast brows were seen, and thus began His fierce harangue :-" Spirits! our better days Are now elaps'd; Moloch and Belial's praise Shall sound no more in groves by myriads trod.
Lo! the light breaks!-The astonish'd nations gaze;
For us is lifted high the avenging rod!
For, spirits, this is He,-this is the Son of God!
"What then !—shall Satan's spirit crouch to fear! Shall he who shook the pillars of God's reign Drop from his unnerv'd arm the hostile spear? Madness! The very thought would make me fain To tear the spanglets from yon gaudy plain, And hurl them at their Maker!-Fix'd as fate I am his foe!-Yea, though his pride should deign To sooth mine ire with half his regal state, Still would I burn with fix'd, unalterable hate.
"Now hear the issue of my cursed emprise :
Gath'ring a few stray sticks, I met his sight, And leaning on my staff, seem'd much to guess What cause could mortal bring to that forlorn recess.
"Then thus in homely guise I featly fram'd
My lowly speech :- Good Sir, what leads this way Your wand'ring steps? must hapless chance be blam'd That you so far from haunt of mortals stray? Here have I dwelt for many a ling'ring day, Nor trace of man have seen!—but how! methought Thou wert the youth on whom God's holy ray
I saw descend in Jordan, when John taught That he to fallen man the saving promise brought.'
* ' I am that man,' said Jesus; ' I am he!
But truce to questions-Canst thou point my feet To some low hut, if haply such there be
In this wild labyrinth, where I
may meet With homely greeting, and may sit and eat; For forty days I've tarried fasting here,
Hid in the dark glens of this lone retreat; And now I hunger, and my fainting ear Longs much to greet the sound of fountains gushing near.'
"Then thus I answered wily :-' If, indeed
Fix'd on my face
-the blood forsook my cheek;
I could not bear his gaze;—my mask slipp'd by; I would have shunn'd his look, but had not power to fly.
"Then he rebuk'd me with the holy word-
Bright sparkling in the sunbeams, were descried;
Behold,' I cried, 'these glories! scenes divine! Thou whose sad prime in pining want decays, And these, O rapture! these shall all be thine, If thou wilt give to me, not God, the praise. Hath he not giv'n to indigence thy day? Is not thy portion peril here and pain?
Oh! leave his temples, shun his wounding ways! Seize the tiara! these mean weeds disdain! [gain.’ Kneel, kneel, thou man of woe, and peace and splendour
"Is it not written,' sternly he replied,
"Tempt not the Lord thy God?' Frowning he spake, And instant sounds, as of the ocean-tide,
Rose, and the whirlwind from his prison brake, And caught me up aloft, till, in one flake, The sidelong volley met my swift career, [quake And smote me earthward.-Jove himself might At such a fall; my sinews crack'd, and, near, Obscure and dizzy sounds seem'd ringing in mine ear.
"Senseless and stunn'd I lay; till, casting round My half unconscious gaze, I saw the foe Borne on a car of roses to the ground, By volant angels; and, as sailing slow He sunk the hoary battlement below, While on the tall spire slept the slant sunbeam, Sweet on th' enamour'd zephyr was the flow Of heav'nly instruments. Such strains oft seem, On starlight hill, to sooth the Syrian shepherd's dream.
"I saw, blaspheming. Hate renew'd my strength;
High o'er the walls of light, rebellion's banners play'd!"
ST. LUKE, CHAP. II.
THOU wast born of woman, thou did'st come,
And not by thunders strew'd
Was thy tempestuous road;
Nor indignation burnt before thee on thy way.
But thee, a soft and naked child,
Thy mother, undefiled,
In the rude manger laid to rest
From off her virgin breast.