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Such high attest was given, a while surveyed of hazard, which admits no long debate,
snares) Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
Ere in the head of nations he appear, A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
Their king, their leader, and supreme on earth. With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake. I, when no other durst, sole undertook
“O ancient Powers of air, and this wide world, The dismal expedition to find out (For much more willingly I mention air, And ruin Adam, and the exploit performed This our old conquest, than remember hell, Successfully; a calmer voyage now Our hated habitation,) well ye know
Will wast me; and the way, found prosperous onco, How many ages, as the years of men,
Induces best to hope of like success."
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay
Unanimous they all commit the care Upon my head; long the decrees of Heaven And management of this main enterprise Delay, for longest time to him is short; To him their great dictator, whose attempt And now, too soon for us, the circling hours At first against mankind so well had thrived This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we In Adam's overthrow, and led their march Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound, From hell's deep vaulted den to dwell in light, (At least if so we can, and by the head Regents, and potentates, and kings, yea gods, Broken be not intended all our power
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide. To be infringed, our freedom and our being, So to the coast of Jordan he directs In this fair empire won of earth and air,) His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles, For this ill news I bring, the woman's Seed, Where he might likeliest find this new-declared, Destined to this, is late of woman born.
This man of men, attested Son of God, His birth to our just fear gave no small cause; Temptation and all guile on him to try; But his growth now to youth's full flower display- So to subvert whom he suspected raised ing
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoyed: All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear, The purposed council, preordained and fixed, Before him a great prophet, to proclaim Of the Most High; wlio, in full frequence bright His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
of angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake. Invites, and in the consecrated stream
'Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold, Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them, so Thou and all angels conversant on earth Purified, to receive him pure, or rather
With man or men's affairs, how I begin To do him honour as their king: all come, To verify that solemn message, late And he himself among them was baptized;
On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure Not thence to be more pure, but to receive In Galilee, that she should bear a son, The testimony of Heaven, that who he is Great in renown, and called the Son of God; Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw Then told’st her, doubting how these things could The prophet do him reverence; on him, rising be Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds To her a virgin, that on her should come Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant, O'ershadow her: this man, born and now up And out of Heaven the sovereign voice I heard, grown, "This is my son beloved, in him am pleased.' To show him worthy of his birth divine His mother then is mortal, but his Sire
And high prediction, henceforth I expose He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven: To Satan: let him tempt, and now assay And what will he not do to advance his Son? His utmost subtlety, because he boasts His first-begot we know, and sore have felt, And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep: Of his apostacy: he might have learnt Who this is we must learn, for man he seems Less overweening, since he failed in Job, In all his lineaments, though in his face Whose constant perseverance overcame The glimpses of his Father's glory shine. Whate'er his cruel malice could invent. Ye see our danger on the utmost edge
He now shall know I can produce a man,
Of female seed, far abler to resist
Had measured twice six years, at var great feast All his solicitations, and at length
I went into the temple, there to hear All his vast force, and drive him back to hell, The teachers of our law, and to propose Winning by conquest, what the first man lost What might improve my knowledge or their own: By fallacy surprised. But first I mean
And was admired by all: yet this not all To exercise him in the wilderness;
To which my spirit aspired; victorious deeds There he shall first lay down the rudiments Flamed in my heart, heroic acts; one while Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke; To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes, Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the earth, By humiliation and strong sufferance:
Brute violence and proud tyrannic power, His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength, Till truth were freed, and equity restored; And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh, Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first · That all the angels and ethereal powers, By winning words to conquer willing hearts; They now, and men hereafter, may discern And make persuasion do the work of fear; From what consummate virtue I have chose At least to try, and teach the erring soul, This perfect man, by merit called my son, Not wilfully misdoing, but unware To earn salvatior. for the sons of men." Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
So spake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven These growing thoughts my mother soon perAdmiring stood apace, then into hymns
" Victory and triumph to the Son of God, To what height sacred virtue and true worth
All heaven and earth, angels, and sons of men; Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of hell,
A messenger from God foretold thy birth And, devilish machinations, come to nought!" Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold
So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned: Thou should'st be great, and sit on David's Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days throne, Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized, And of thy kingdom there should be no end. Musing, and much revolving in his breast At thy nativity, a glorious choir How best the mighty work he might begin Of angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first To shepherds, watching at their folds by night, Publish his godlike office, now mature,
And told them the Messiah now was born, One day forth walked alone, the spirit leading Where they might see him, and to thee they And his deep thoughts, the better to converse came, With solitude, till, far from track of men, Directed to the manger where thou layest, Thought following thought, and step by step led on, For in the inn was left no better room: He entered now the bordering desert wild, A star not seen before, in Heaven appearing, And, with dark shades and rocks environed round, Guided the wise men thither from the east, His holy meditations thus pursued.
To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold: "O, what a multitude of thoughts at once By whose bright course led on they found the Awakened in me swarm, while I consider
place, What from within I feel myself, and hear Affirming it thy star, new graven in heaven, What from without comes often to my ears, By which they knew the king of Israel born. Ill sorting with my present state compared! Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned When I was yet a child, no childish play By vision, found thee in the temple, and spake, To me was pleasing; all my mind was set Before the altar and the vested priest, Serious to learn and know, and thence to do, Like things of thee to all that present stood.'What might be public good; myself I thought This having heard, straight I again revolved Born to that end, born to promote all truth, The law and prophets, searching what was writ All righteous things: therefore, above my years, Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes The law of God I read, and found it sweet, Known partly, and soon found, of whom they Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
spake To such perfection, that, ere yet my age
I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay, even to the death, Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this Ere I the promised kingdom can attain,
place Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins So far from path or road of men, who pass Full weight must be transferred upon my head. In troop or caravan? for single none Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed, Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here The time prefixed I waited; when behold His carcass, pined with hunger and with drought. The Baptist, (of whose birth I oft had heard, I ask the rather, and the more admire, Not knew by sight,) now come, who was to come For that to me thou seem'st the man, whom late Before Messiah, and his way prepare!
Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford I, as all others to his baptism came,
Of Jordan honoured so, and called thee Son Which I believed was from above; but he Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes Straight knew me, and with loudest voice pro- Who dwell in this wild, constrained by want, come claimed
forth Me him (for it was shown him so from Heaven,) To town or village nigh, (nighest is far,) Me him, whose harbinger he was; and first Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear Refused on me his baptism to confer,
What happens new; fame also finds us out." As much his greater, and was hardly won: To whom the Son of God. “Who brought me But as I rose out of the laving stream,
hither, Heaven opened her eternal doors, from whence Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek." The Spirit descended on me like a dove;
“By miracle he may," replied the swain, And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice, " What other way I see not; for we here Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced me his, Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inured Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
More than the camel, and to drink go far, He was well pleased; by which I knew the time Men to much misery and hardship born: Now full, that I no more should live obscure, But, if thou be the son of God, command But openly begin, as best becomes,
That out of these hard stones be made thee bread, The authority which I derived from Heaven. So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve, And now by some strong motion I am led With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste." Into this wilderness, to what intent
He ended, and the Son of God replied. I learn not yet; perhaps I need not know,
" Thinkest thou such force in bread? Is it not For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.” written,
So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise, (For I discern thee other than thou seemest) And looking round on every side beheld
Man lives not by bread only, but each word A pathless desert, dusk with horrid shades; Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed The way he came not having marked, return
Our fathers here with manna? in the mount Was difficult, by human steps untrod:
Moscs was forty days, nor eat, nor drank; And he still on was led, but with such thoughts And forty days Elijah, without food, Accompanied of things past and to come
Wandered this barren waste; the same I now: Lodged in his breast, as well might recommend Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust, Such solitude before choicest society.
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?" Full forty days he passed, whether on hill
Whom thus answered the arch fiend, now unSometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
disguised. Under the covert of some ancient oak,
“'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate, Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Who, leagued with millions more in rash revolt, Or harboured in one cave, is not revealed; Kept not my happy station, but was driven Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt, With them from bliss to the bottomless deep, Till those days ended; hungered then at last Yet to that hideous place not so confined Among wild beasts: they at this sight grew mild, By rigour unconniving, but that oft, Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed; his walk Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm, Large liberty to round this globe of earth, The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
Or range in the air; nor from the Heaven of But now an aged man in rural weeds,
Heavens Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray Hath he excluded my resort sometimes. ewe,
I came among the sons of God, when he Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen, To prove him, and illustrate his high worth; To warm him wet returned from field at eve, And, when to all his angels he proposed He saw approach, who first with curious eye To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake. That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring,
I undertook that office, and the tongues
Among the nations ? that hath been thy craft, Of all his flattering prophets glibbed with lies By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies. To his destruction, as I had in charge;
But what have been thy anwers, what but dark For what he bids I do. Though I have lost Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding, Much lustre of my native brightness, lost Which they who asked have seldom understood: To be beloved of God, I have not lost
And not well understood as good not known?
Returned the wiser, or the more instruct,
To thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Among them to declare his providence To all mankind: why should I ? they to me To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy Never did wrong or violence; by them
truth, I lost not what I lost, rather by them
But from him, or his angels president I gained what I have gained, and with them dwell, In every province ? who, themselves disdaining Copartner in these regions of the world, To approach thy temples, give thee in command If not disposer; lend them oft my aid,
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say Oft my advice by presages and signs,
To thy adorers? thou, with trembling fear, And answers, oracles, portents and dreams, Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st ; Whereby they may direct their future life.
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold. Envy they say, excites me, thus to gain
But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched; Companions of my misery and wo.
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse At first it may be ; but long since with wo The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased, Nearer acquainted, now I feel, by proof, And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice That fellowship in pain divides not smart, Shall be inquired at Delphos, or elsewhere; Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load. At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute. Small consolation then, were man adjoined: God hath now sent his living oracle This wounds me most, (what can it less ?) that Into the world to teach his final will, man,
And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell Man fallen shall be restored, I never more.” In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied. To all truth requisite for men to know." Deservedly thou griev'st, composed of lies So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend, From the beginning, and in lies wilt end; Though inly stung with anger and disdain, Who boast'st release from hell, and leave to come Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned. Into the Heaven of Heavens: thou com’st indeed, “Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, As a poor miserable captive thrall
And urged me hard with doings, which not will Comes to the place where he before had sat But misery hath wrested from me. Where Among the prime in splendour, now deposed, Easily can'st thou find one miserable, Ejected, emptied, gazed unpitied, shunned, And not enforced ofttimes to part from truth, A spectacle of ruin, or of scorn,
If it may stand him more instead to lie, To all the host of Heaven: the happy place Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure, Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy;
But thou art placed above me, thou art Lord; Rather inflames thy torment; representing From thee I can, and must submiss, endure Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable, Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit. So never more in hell than when in Heaven. Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk; But thou art serviceable to Heaven's King. Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to the Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites ?
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song ; What but thy malice moved thee to misdeem What wonder then if I delight to hear Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admire With all inflictions? but his patience won. Virtue, who follow not her lore: permit me The other service was thy chosen task,
To hear thee when I come, (since no man comes,) To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
And talk at least, though I despair to attain. For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Thy father, who is holy, wise, and pure, Yet thou pretendest to truth; all oracles Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest By thee are given, and what confessed more true To tread his sacred courts, and minister
About his altar, handling holy things,
Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come; Praying or vowing; and vouchsafed his voice Therefore, as those young prophets then with care To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these Inspired: disdain not such access to me.” Nigh to Bethabara in Jericho
To whom our Saviour, with unaltered brow. The city of palms, Ænon and Salem old, “ Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope, Machærus, and each town or city waived I bid not, or forbid; do as thou find'st
On this side the broad lake Genezaret, Permission from above; thou canst not more." Or in Peræa; but returned in vain.
He added not; and Satan, bowing low Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek, His gray dissimulation, disappeared
Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering Into thin air diffused: for now began
play, Night with her sullen wings to double-shade Plain fishermen, (no greater men them call,) The desert ; fowls in their clay nests were couched; Close in a cottage low together got, And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam. Their unexpected loss and plaints out breathed.
“ Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Unlooked for are we fallen! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth; The disciples of Jesus, uneasy at his long absence, reason
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand, amongst themselves concerring it. Mary also gives vent to The kingdom shall to Israel be restored: her maternal anxiety; in the expression of which she recapi. Thus we rejoiced, but soon our joy is turned tulates many circumstances respecting the birth and early Into perplexity and new amaze: life of her son.—Satan again meets his Infernal Council, reports For whither is he gone, what accident the bad success of his first temptation of our Blessed Lord, and calls upon them for counsel and assistance. Belial proposes Hath wrapt him from us? will he now retire tempting of Jesus with women. Satan rebukes Belial for his After appearance, and again prolong dissoluteness, charging on him all the profligacy of that kind Our expectation ? God of Israel, ascribed by the poets to the heathen gods, and rejects his pro- Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come! posal as in no respect likely to succeed. Satan then suggests Behold the kings of the earth, how they oppress other modes of templation, particularly proposing to avail himself of the circumstance of our Lord's hungering; and, Thy chosen; to what height their power unjust taking a band of chosen spirits with him, returns to resume They have exalted, and behind them cast his enterprise. - Jesus hungers in the desert. Night comes All fear of thee; arise and vindicate on; the manner in which our Saviour passes the night is de Thy glory; free thy people from their yoke! scribed—Morning advancos. —Satan again appears to Jesus, But let us wait; thus far he hath performed, and, after expressing wonder that he should be so entirely neglected in the wilderness, where others had been miracu. Sent his Anointed, and to us revealed him, lously sed, tempts him with a sumptuous banquet of the most By his great Prophet, pointed at and shown luxurious kind. — This he rejects, and the banquet vanishes. – In public, and with him we have conversed; Satan, finding our Lord not to be assailed on the ground of ap. Let us be glad of this, and all our fears petite, lempts him again by offering him riches, as the means of acquiring power: this Jesus also rejects, producing many Lay on his providence; he will not fail, instances of great actions performed by persons under virtuous Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall, poverty, and specifying the danger of riches, and the cares Mock us with his blest sight, then snatch him and pains inseparable from power
Soon we shall see our Hope, our Joy return." Meanwhile the new baptized, who yet remained Thus they, out of their plaints, new hope reAt Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen Him whom they heard so late expressly called To find whom at the first they found unsought; Jesus Messiah, Son of God declared,
But, to his mother Mary, when she saw And on that high authority had believed, Others returned from baptism, not her son, And with him talked and with him lodged; I mean Nor left at Jordan tidings of him none, Andrew and Simon, famous after known, Within her breast, though calm, her breast though With others though in holy writ not named;
pure, Now missing him their joy so lately found, Motherly cares and fears got head, and raised (So lately found, and so abruptly gone,) Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus Began to doubt and doubted many days,
clad. And, as the days increased, increased their doubt; "O what avails me now that honour high Sometimes they thought he might be only shown, To have conceived of God, or that salute, And for a time caught up to God, as once * Hail, highly favoured, among women blessed!' Moses was in the mount, and missing long; While I to sorrows am no less advanced, And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels And fears as eminent, above the lot