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PARADISE REGAINED.

THE SECOND BOOK.

10

M EANWHILE thenew-baptized, who yet remained

1 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 namedNow missing him, their joy so lately found, So lately founä 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 Eliah, 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),

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Close in a cottage low together got,
Their unexpected loss and plaints outbreathed :-

“Alas, from what high hope to what relapse 30
Unlooked for are we fallen! 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 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 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 performed-
Sent his Anointed, and to us revealed him, 50
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 returned from baptism, not her Son, Nor left at Jordan tidings of him none, Within her breast though calm, her breast though pure,

VOL. III.

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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 blest!' 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 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 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

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Since understand ; much more his absence now 100
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 :-

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“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
(So may we hold our place and these mild seats
Without new trouble !)—such an enemy
Is risen to invade us, who no less
Threatens than our expulsion down to Hell.
I, as I undertook, and with the vote
Consenting in full frequence was empowered, 130
Have found him, viewed him, tasted him ; but find
Far other labour to be undergone
Than when I dealt with Adam, first of men,
Though Adam by his wife's allurement fell
However to this Man inferior far —

If he be Man by mother's side, at least
With more than human gifts from Heaven adorned,
Perfections absolute, graces divine,
And amplitude of mind to greatest deeds.
Therefore I am returned, lest confidence

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Of my success with Eve in Paradise
Deceive ye to persuasion over-sure
Of like succeeding here. I summon all
Rather to be in readiness with hand
Or counsel to assist, lest I, who erst
Thought none my equal, now be overmatched.”

So spake the old Serpent, doubting, and from all With clamour was assured their utmost aid At his command; when from amidst them rose Belial, the dissolutest Spirit that fell,

150 The sensualest, and, after Asmodai, The fleshliest Incubus, and thus advised :

“ Set women in his eye and in his walk,
Among daughters of men the fairest found.
Many are in each region passing fair
As the noon sky, more like to goddesses
Than mortal creatures, graceful and discreet,
Expert in amorous arts, enchanting tongues
Persuasive, virgin majesty with mild
And sweet allayed, yet terrible to approach,

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Skilled to retire, and in retiring draw
Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets.
Such object hath the power to soften and tame
Severest temper, smooth the rugged'st brow,
Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve,
Draw out with credulous desire, and lead
At will the manliest, resolutest breast,
As the magnetic hardest iron draws.
Women, when nothing else, beguiled the heart
Of wisest Solomon, and made him build,

170 And made him bow, to the gods of his wives.”

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