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Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving,
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced,
And said to me apart, “ High are thy thoughts,
O Son; but nourish them, and let them soar

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To what highth sacred virtue and true worth
Can raise them, though above example highı ;
By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
For know, thou art no son of mortal man ;
Though 'men esteem thee low of parentage,

235 Thy father is the Eternal King, who rules All Heaven & Earth, angels and sons of men; A messenger from God foretold thy birth Conceived in me a virgin ; he foretold Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne, 240 And of thy kingdom there shall be no end. At thy nativity a glorious quire Of angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung To shepherds watching at their folds by night And told them, the Messiah now was born,

243 Where they might see him ; & to thee they came, Directed to the manger where thou laidst, 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,

250 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

255 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 revolved The law and prophets, searching what was writ

260 Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes Known partly, & soon found of whom they spake I am ; this chiefly, that my way must lie Through many a hard essay, even to the death, Ere I the promised kingdom can attain,

265 Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins, Full weight, must be transferred upon my head. Yet, neither thus dishearten'd nor dismay'd The time prefix'd I waited; when behold The Baptist, of whose birth I oft had heard,

270 Not knew by sight, now come, who was to come Before Messiah, and his way prepare.

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I, as all others, to his baptism came,
Which I believed was from above; but he
Straight knew me, & with loudest voice proclaim'd
Me him, for it was shewn him so from Heaven,
Me him, whose harbinger he was; and first
Refused 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 pleased; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
The authority which I derived from Heaven.
And now, by some strong motion, I am led
Into this wilderness, to what intent
I learn not yet; perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.”

So spake 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;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied, of things past and to come,
Lodged in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude, before choicest society.
Full forty days he pass'd, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon on shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak,
Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harbour'd in one cave, is not reveald;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended, hungered then at last,
Among wild beasts: they'at his sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping, him, nor waking, harm'd; his walk
The fiery serpent Aed, and noxious worm;
The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
But now an aged man, in rural weeds,
Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray ewe
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

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Perused him, then with words thus utter'd spake. 320

“ 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, pined with hunger & with drought. 325 I ask the rather, and the more admire, For that to me thou seem'st the man, whom late Our new baptizing prophet at the ford Of Jordan, honour'd so, and call’d thee Son Of God : I saw and heard, for we sometimes,

330 Who dwell this wild, constrain'd by want, come forth To town or village nigh, nighest is far, Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear What happens new ; fame also finds us out." To whom the Son of God. “Who brought me bither 335 Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek."

“ By miracle he may," replied the swain ; “ What other way I see not; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, tu thirst inured More than the camel, and to drink go far, 340 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." 345

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 350 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,

355 Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?"

Whom thus answer'd the Arch-fiend, now undisguised “ 'Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate, Who leagued with millions more in rash revolt, Kept not my happy station, but was driven,

360 With them, from bliss to the bottomless deep; Yet to that hideous place not so confined By rigour unconniving, but that oft, Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy Large liberty to round this globe of earth, 365 Or range in the air ; nor from the Heaven of Heavens

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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 proposed
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,
To his destruction, as I had in charge ;
For what he bids I do; though I have lost
Much lustre of my native brightness, lost
To be beloved of God, I have not lost
To love ; at least contemplate and admire
What I see excellent in good, or fair,
Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense.
What can be then less in me than desire
To see thee, & approach thee, whom I know
Declared the Son of God, to hear attent
Thy , wisdom, & behold thy Godlike deeds ?
Men generally think me much a foe
To all mankind: why should I? they to me
Never did wrong or violence; by them
I lost not what I lost; rather, by them
I gain'd what I have gain'd, & with them dwell
Co-partner in these regions of the world,
If not disposer ; lend them oft my aid,
Oft my advice, by presages and signs,
And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams,
Whereby they may direct their future life.
Eovy, they say, excites me, thus to gain
Companions of my misery aud woe,
At first it may be; but long since with woe
Nearer acquainted, now I feel, by proof,
That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load.
Small consolation then, were man adjoin'd:
This wounds me most, what can it less that man,
Man fallen shall be restored, I never more."

To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied.
Deservedly thou grievest, composed of lies
From the beginning, and in lies wilt end;
Who boast'st release from Hell, & leave to come
Into the Heaven of Heavens : thou comest indeed
As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place, where he before had sat,
Among the prime in splendour ; now deposed,

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Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunn'd,
A spectacle of ruin, or of scorn,

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To all the host of Heaven : the happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy
Rather inflames thy torment, representing
Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable;
So never more in Hell than when in Heaven.

420 But thou art serviceable to Heaven's king. Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites ? What, but thy malice, inoved thee to misdeem Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him

425 With all inflictions ? but his patience won. The other service was thy chosen task, To be a liar in four hundred mouths ; For lying is thy sustenance, thy food. Yet thou pretend'st to truth; all oracles

130 By thee are given, & what confess'd more true Among the nations ? that hath been thy craft, By mixing somewhat true, to vent more lies. But what have been thy answers? what but dark, Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding,

435 Which they who ask'd have seldom understood; And not well understood, as good not known. Who ever by consulting at thy shrine Return'd the wiser, or the more instruct, To fly or follow what concern'd him most, 410 And run not sooner to his fatal snare ? For God hath justly given the nations up To thy delusions ; justly, since they fell Idolatrous : but, when his purpose is Among them to declare his Providence

445 To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth, But from him, or his Angels president In every province, who, themselves disdaining T' approach thy temples, give thee in command What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say

450 To thy adorers? Thou, with trembling fear, Or, like a fawning parasite, obey'st : Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold. But this thy glory shall be soon retrench'd ; No more shalt thou by oracling abuse

455 The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceas'd, And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice Shalt be inquir'd at Delphos, or elsewhere; At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute God hath now sent his living oracle

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