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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; 90
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 snares),
Ere in the head of nations he appear,
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

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me;
and the

way,
found

prosperous once, Induces best to hope of like success.”

He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement to the infernal crew, Distracted and surprised with deep dismay

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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 main 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 kings, 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-declared,
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 fulfill'd
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, 130
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 God:
Then told’st her, doubting how these things could be
To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest
O’ershadow her. This man, born and now upgrown,
To show him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose

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To Satan: let him tempt, and now assay
His utmost subtlety, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
Of his apostasy: he might have learnt
Less overweening, since he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
Whate'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 and 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 choso
This perfect man, by merit call'd my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men.”

So spake the eternal Father, and all heaven
Admiring stood a space; then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved,
Circling the throne, and 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, not of arms,
But to vanquish, by wisdom, hellish wiles !
The Father knows the Son; therefore secure

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Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of hell,

180 And, devilish machinations, come to naught!"

So they in heaven their odes and vigils tuned : Meanwhile, the Son of God, who yet some days Lodged in Bethabara, where Johd 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 God-like 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 bordering desert wild, And, with dark shades and 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 feast 210

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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 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 wilfully misdoing, but unaware
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
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 the eternal King, who rules
All heaven and 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 should 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,

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