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PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK I.

VOL. II.

B

THE ARGUMENT.

The subject proposed. Invocation of the Holy Spirit. John baptizing at the river Jordan. Jesus coming there, is baptized; and is attested, by the descent of the Holy Ghost, and by a voice from heaven, to be the Son of God. Satan, who is present, flies up into the regions of the air ; where, summoning his infernal council, he acquaints them with his apprehensions that Jesus is that seed of the woman destined to destroy all their power, and points out to them the necessity of bringing the matter to proof, and of attempting to counteract and defeat the person from whom they have so much to dread. This office he undertakes, and sets out on his enterprise. In the meantime, God, in the assembly of holy angels, declares that he has given up his Son to be tempted by Satan; but foretels that the tempter shall be completely defeated by him: upon which the angels sing a hymn of triumph. Jesus is led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, while he is meditating on the commencement of his great office of Saviour of mankind. He narrates, in a soliloquy, what divine and philanthropic impulses he had felt from his early youth, and how his mother, Mary, had acquainted him with the circumstances of his birth, and informed him that he was no less a person than the Son of God; to which he adds what his own reflections and inquiries had supplied, in confirmation of this great truth, and particularly dwells on the recent attestation of it at the river Jordan. Our Lord passes forty days, fasting, in the wilderness ; where the wild beasts become harmless in his presence. Satan now appears under the form of an old peasant, and enters into discourse with our Lord. Jesus replies. Satan rejoins with a description of the difficulty of supporting life in the wilderness; and entreats Jesus, if he be really the Son of God, to manifest his divine

power, by changing some of the stones into bread. Jesus reproves him, and, at the same time, tells him that he knows who he is. Satan avows himself, and offers an artful apology. Our blessed Lord severely reprimands him, and confutes every part of his justification. Satan still endeavours to justify himself; and, professing his admiration of Jesus, and his regard for virtue, requests to be permitted at a future time to hear more of his conversation; but is answered, that this must be as he shall find permission from above. Satan then disappears, and the book closes with a short description of night coming on in the desert.

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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, and the tempter foil'd
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,

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And Eden raised in the waste wilderness.
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious eremite
Into the desert, his victorious field,
Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thencero
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute,
And bear through height 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 remaind so long unsung.

Now had the great proclaimer, with a voice
More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried
Repentance, and heaven's kingdom nigh at hand
To all baptized : to his great baptism flock'd
With awe the regions round, and 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

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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, awhile survey'd
With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage,
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,

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Within thick clouds, and dark, tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:

“O ancient powers of air, and 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 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

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