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Defcry'd, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have refign'd
To him his heav'nly cffice, nor was long
His witness unconfirm'd: on him baptiz'd
Heav'n open'd, and in likeness of a dove
The Spirit defcended, while the Father's voice
From Heav'n pronounc'd him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who roving still
About the world, at that affembly fam'd
Would not be laft, and with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-ftruck, th' exalted man, to whom
Such high atteft was giv'n, a while furvey'd
With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage
Flies to his place, nor refts, but in mid air
To council fummons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involv'd,
A gloomy confiftory; and them amidst
With looks aghaft and fad he thus befpake.
O ancient Pow`rs of air and this wide world, For much more willingly I mention air, This our old conqueft, than remember Hell, Our hated habitation, well ye know How many ages, as the years of men, This univerfe we have poffe's'd, and rul'd In manner at our will th' affairs of earth, Since Adam and his facil confort Eve Loft Paradife deceiv'd by me, though fince With dread attending when that fatal wound Shall be inflicted by the feed of Eve Upon my head: long the decrees of Heav'n Delay, for longest time to him is short; And now too foon for us the circling hours This dreaded time have compass'd, wherein we Muft bide the stroke of that long threaten'd wound, At least if fo we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infring'd, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air ;
For this ill news I bring, the woman's feed
Deftin'd to this, is late of woman born:
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flow'r, difplaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things higheft, greateft, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclame
His coming, is fent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the confecrated stream
Pretends to wash off fin, and fit them fo
Purified to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honor as their king; all come,
And he himself among them was baptiz'd,
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The teftimony' of Heav'n, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I faw
The prophet do him reverence, on him rifing 80
Out of the water, Heav'n above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove defcend, what-e'er it meant,
And out of Heav'n the fovran voice I heard,
This is my Son belov'd, in him am pleas'd.
His mother then is mortal, but his fire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven,
And what will he not do to' advance his Son?
His first-begot we know, and fore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep; 90
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
In all his lineaments, though in his face
The glimpfes of his Father's glory fhine.
Ye fee our danger on the utmoft edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something fudden be oppos'd,
Not force, but well couch'd fraud, well woven fnares,
Ere in the head of nations he appear
Their king, their leader, and fupreme on earth.
I, when no other durft, fole undertook
The difmal expedition to find out
And ruin Adam, and th' exploit perform'd
Successfully; a calmer voyage now
Will waft me; and the way found profp'rous once
Induces beft to hope of like fuccefs.
He ended, and his words impreffion left
Of much amazement to th' infernal crew,
Distracted and furpriz'd with deep dismay
At these fad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprize
To him their great dictator, whofe attempt
At first against mankind fo well had thriv'd
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march
From Hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light,
Regents and potentates, and kings, yea Gods
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.
So to the coaft of Jordan he directs
His eafy fteps, girded with fnaky wiles,
Where he might likelieft find this new-declar'd,
This man of men, attefted Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to fubvert whom he fufpected rais'd
To end his reign on earth fo long enjoy'd:
But contrary unweeting he fulfill'd
The purpos'd counsel pre-ordain'd and fix'd
Of the most High, who in full frequence bright
Of Angels, thus to Gabriel fmiling fpake.
Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold, 130
Thou and all Angels converfant on earth
With man or mens affairs, how I begin
To verify that folemn meffage late,
On which I fent thee to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a fon
Great in renown, and call'd the Son of God;
Then toldft her doubting how these things could be
To her a virgin, that on her fhould come
The Holy Ghost, and the pow'r of the Highest
O'er-fhadow her: this man born and now up-grown,
To show him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan; let him tempt and now affay
His utmost fubtlety, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng 145
Of his apoftafy; he might have learnt
Lefs overweening, fince he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perfeverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man
Of female feed, far abler to refift
All his folicitations, and at length
All his vaft force, and drive him back to Hell,
Winning by conqueft what the firft man loft
By fallacy furpris'd.
But first I mean
To exercise him in the wilderness,
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I fend him forth
conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong fufferance:
His weakness fhall o'ercome Satanic ftrength,
And all the world, and mass of finful flesh;
That all the Angels and ethereal Powers,
They now, and men hereafter may difcern,
From what confummate virtue I have chofe
This perfect man, by merit call'd my Son,
To earn falvation for the fons of men.
So fpake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring ftood a space, then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celeftial measures mov'd,
Circling the throne and finging, while the hand
Sung with the voice, and this the argument.
Victory' and triumph to the Son of God
Now entring his great duel, not of arms,
But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles.
The Father knows the Son; therefore fecure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untry'd,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er feduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate all ye stratagems of Hell,
And devilish machinations come to nought.
So they in Heav'n their odes and vigils tun'd: Mean while the Son of God, who yet fome days Lodg'd in Bethabara where John baptiz'd, Mufing and much revolving in his breast, How beft the mighty work he might begin Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first Publifh his God-like office now mature, One day forth walk'd alone, the Spirit leading, And his deep thoughts, the better to converfe 190 With folitude, till far from track of men, Thought following thought, and step by step led on, He enter'd now the bord'ring defert wild, And with dark fhades and rocks environ'd round, His holy meditations thus purfu'd.
O what a multitude of thoughts at once Awaken'd in me fwarm, while I confider What from within I feel myself, and hear What from without comes often to my ears, Ill forting with my present state compar'd!