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PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK I.

I, who erewhile the happy garden sung,
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience, fully tried
Through all temptation, & the Tempter foil'd,
In all his wiles defeated, and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste wilderness.

Thou Spirit, who ledst this glorious Eremite
Into the desert, his victorious field,
Against the spiritual foe, & brought'st him thence,
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute;
And bear thro’highth or depth of nature's bounds,
With

prosperous wing full summ’d, to tell of deeds Above heroic, though in secret done, And unrecorded left through many an age ; Worthy to have not remained so long unsung. Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried Repentance, & Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand To all baptized. To his great baptism flock'd, With awe, the regions round; & with them came, From Nazareth, the son of Joseph deem'd, To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure, Unmark’d, unknown; but him the Baptist soon Descried, divinely warn'd, and witness bore As to his worthier, and would have resign'd To him his heavenly office; nor was long His witness unconfirm’d : on him baptized Heaven open'd, and, in likeness of a dove, The Spirit descended; while the Father's voice, From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son. That heard the adversary, who roving still About the world, at that assembly famed Would not be last; and with the voice divine Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man, to whom Such high attest was given, a while survey'd

With wonder ; then, with envy fraught & rage,
Flies his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To counsel summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
With looks aghast & sad, he thus bespake.

O ancient powers of air & this wide world
(For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation ;)! well ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possess'd, and ruled,
In manner at our will, the affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me; though since
With dread attending, when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted, by the seed of Eve
Upon my head. Long the decrees of Heaven
Delay; for longest time to Him is short;
And now, too soon for us, the circling hours
This dreaded time have compass’d, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long-threaten'd wound,
At least if so we can, and by the head
Broken, be not intended all our power
To be infringed, our freedom, and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air;
For this ill news I bring, the Woman's Seed,
Destined 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 flower, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom, to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them, so
Purified, to receive him pure, or rather,
To do him honour as their king; all come,
And he himself among them was baptized ;
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
The prophet do him reverence; on him rising
Out of the water, Heaven, above the clouds,
Unfold her crystal doors, thence, on his head
A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant;
And out of Heaven the sovereign voice I heard.

“This is my Son beloved, in him am pleased.'
His mother then is mortal; but his Sire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven;
And what will he not do to advance his Son?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep ;
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
In all his lineaments; though in his face
The glimpses of his Father's glory shine.
Ye see our danger, on the utmost edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be opposed ;
Not force, but well-couch'd fraud, well woven
Ere in the head of nations he appear, (snares,
Their king, their leader, and supreme on earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook
The dismal expedition, to find out
And ruin Adam, and the exploit perform’d
Successfully: a calmer voyage now
Will waft me; & the way, found prosperous once,
Induces best to hope of like success."

He ended ; and his wo.ds impression left
Of much amazement to thinfernal crew,
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay,
At these sad tidings ; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
Unanimous, they all commit the care
And management of this n.ain enterprise
To him, their great dictator, whose attempt,
At first, against mankind so well had thrived,
In Adam's overthrow; and led their march
From Hell's deep-vaulted den, to dwell in light,
Regents, and potentates, and king's, yea gods,
Of many a pleasant realm, and province wide.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,
Where he might likeliest find this new declar'd,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to subvert whom he suspected raised
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoy’d;
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilld
The purposed counsel, pre-ordain'd and fix'd
Of the Most High, who in full frequence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake.

“Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold, Thou, and all angels conversant on earth

With man or men's affairs, how I begin
To verify that solemn message, late
On which I sent thee, to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a son,
Great in renown, and call’d the son of Gud;
Then told’st her, doubting, how these things could
To her a virgin ; that on her should come

[be,
The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest
O'ershadow her : this Man, born & now upgrown,
To show him worthy of his birth divine,
And h'gh prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan : let him tempt, and now essay
His utmost subtlety, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning, to the throng
Of his apostacy: he might have learn'd
Less overweening, since he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
What'er his cruel malice could invent,
He now shall know I can produce a man,
Of female seed, far abler to resist
All his solicitations, and at length
All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell ;
Winning by conquest, what the first man lost,
By fallacy surprised. But first I mean
To exercise him in the wilderness;
There, he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
To conquer Sin & Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance:
His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
That all the angels and ethereal powers,
They now, and men hereafter, may discern
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect man, by merit call’d my Son,
To earn salvation for the cons of men.”

So spake the eternal Father ; & all Heaven Admiring stood a space ; then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved, Circling the throne, & singing, while the hand Sung with the voice, and this the argument.

Victory and triumph to the Son of God! Now entering his great duel ; pot of arms, But to vanquish, by wisdom, hellish wiles. The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untried, Against what'er may tempt, what'er seduce,

Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate all ye stratagems of Hell,
And devilish machinations, come to nought!".

So they in Heaven their odes & vigils tunes.
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized,
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, [on,
Thought following thought, & step by step led
He enter'd now the bordering desert wild,
And, with dark shades & rocks environ'd round,
His holy meditations thus pursued.

“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 compared ! 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 measured twice six years, at our great I went into the temple, there to hear [feast, The teachers of our law, & to propose [own; What might improve my knowledge, or their And was admired by all; yet this not all To which my spirit aspired; victorious deeds Flamed 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 restored : 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 wifully misdoing, but unaware

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