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So they in heaven their odes and vigils tund; Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days Lodg'd in Bethabara, where John baptiz'd, Musing and much revolving in his breast, How best the mighty work he might begin Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first Publish his godlike office now mature, One day forth walk'd alone, the Spirit leading, And his deep thoughts, the better to converse With Solitude, till far from track of men, Thought following thought, and step by step led on, He enter'd now the bord’ring desert wild, And with dark shades and rocks environ'd round, His holy meditations thus pursu'd :

O what a multitude of thoughts at once Awaken'd in me swarm, while I consider What from within I feel myself, and hear What from without comes often to my ears, Ill sorting with my present state compar'd! When I was yet a child, no childish play To me was pleasing : all my

mind was set Serious to learn and know, and thence to do What might be public good: myself I thought Born to that end, born to promote all truth, All righteous things: therefore above my years, The law of God I read, and found it sweet, Made it my whole delight, and in it grew To such perfection, that ere yet my age Had measur'd twice six years, at our great feast I went into the temple, there to hear The teachers of our law, and to propose What might improve my knowledge, or their own; And was admir'd by all : yet this not all To which my spirit aspir'd : victorious deeds Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke, Then to subdue and quell o'er all the earth Brute violence and proud tyrannic power, Till truth were freed, and equity restord :

Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first,
By winning words, to conquer willing hearts,
And make Persuasion do the work of Fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring soul
Not wilfully mis-doing, but unaware
Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts, my mother soon perceiving
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoic'd,
And said to me apart,— High are thy thoughts,
O Son, but nourish them, and let them soar
To what height sacred virtue and true worth
Can raise them, though above example high ;
By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
For know, thou art no son of mortal man;
Though men esteem thee low of parentage,
Thy Father is th' eternal King, who rules
All heaven and earth, angels and sons of men.
A messenger from God foretold thy birth
Conceiv'd in me a virgin ; he foretold
Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne,
And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity a glorious choir
Of angels in the fields of Bethlehem sung
To shepherds, watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might see him, and to thee they came,
Directed to the manger where thou lay'st,
For in the inn was left no better room ;
A star, not seen before, in heaven appearing,
Guided the wise men thither from the east,
To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold,
By whose bright course led on they found the place,
Affirming it thy star new graven in heaven,
By which they knew the King of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warn’d
By vision, found thee in the temple, and spake
Before the altar and the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stood.'

— This having heard, straight I again revolv'd

The law and prophets, searching what was writ
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake
I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard essay, ev'n to the death,
Ere I the promis’d kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins
Full weight must be transferr'd upon my

head.
Yet neither thus dishearten'd or dismay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited, when behold
The Baptist (of whose birth I oft have heard,
Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come
Before Messiah, and his way prepare.
I, as all others to his baptism came,
Which I believ'd was from above : but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd
Me him, (for was shown him so from heaven,)
Me him, whose harbinger he was; and first
Refus'd on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won:
But as I rose out of the laving stream,
Heaven open'd her eternal doors, from whence
The Spirit descended on me like a dove.
And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice
Audibly heard from heaven, pronounc'd me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleas’d; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
Th’authority which I deriv'd from heaven.
And now by some strong motion I am led
Into this wildernss; to what intent
I learn not yet, perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.

So spoke our Morning Star, then in his rise,
And, looking round on every side, beheld
A pathless desert dusk with horrid shades :
The way he came not having mark’d, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;

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And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he pass'd, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak,
Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harbour'd in lone cave, is not reveald;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt
Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last
Among wild beasts; they at his sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harm’d; his walk
The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm,
The lion and fierce tiger glar'd aloof.
But now an aged man, in rural weeds,
Following, as seem'd the quest of some stray ewes
Or wither'd sticks to gather, which might serve
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,
To warm him, wet return'd from field at eve,
He saw approach, who first with curious eye
Perus’d him, then with words thus utter'd spoke :

Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place
So far from path or road of men, who pass
In troop or caravan? for single none
Durst ever, who return’d, and dropp'd not here
His carcass, pin'd with hunger and with drought.
I ask thee rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou seem'st the Man whom late
Our new baptising Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honour'd so, and call'd thee Son

Of God, I saw and heard ; for we sometimes,
• Who dwell this wild; constrain’d by want come fortli
To town or village nigh, (nighest is far,)
Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new: Fame also finds us out.”
To whom the Son of God: Who brought me hither,
Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.
By miracle he may, replied the swain ;

B

What other

way

I see not; for we here
Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur'd .
More than the camel, and to drink go far,
Men to much misery and hardship born;
But if thou be the Son of God, command
That out of these hard stones be made thee bread,
So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve
With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.

He ended, and the Son of God replied:
Think'st thou such force in bread ? Is it not written
(For I discern thee other than thou seem'st)
Man lives not by bread only, but each word
Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed
Our fathers here with manna? In the mount
Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank;
And forty days Elijah without food
Wander'd this barren waste; the same I now:
Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?
Whóm thus answer'd th' archfiend, now undis.

guis'd:
'Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate,
Who, leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt,
Kept not my happy station, but was driven
With them from bliss to the bottomless deep;
Yet to that hideous place not so confin'd
By rigour unconniving, but that oft
Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy
Large liberty to round this globe of earth,
Or range in th' air ; nor from the heaven of heavens
Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
I came among the Sons of God when he
Gave

up
into
my

hands Uzzean Job,
To
prove

him and illustrate his high worth ;
And when to all his angels he propos'd
To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud,
That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring,
I undertook that office, and the tongues
Of all his flattering prophets glibb'd with lies,

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