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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 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 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
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 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 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
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 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 chose
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
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,
And, devilish machinations, come to mought !

So they in heaven their odes and vigils tuned :
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 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 :

Oh, 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
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,

And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity, a glorious choir
Of angels in the fields of Bethlehem sung
To shepherds, watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might see him, and to thee they came,
Directed to the manger where thou layest,
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,
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
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
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
Known partly, and soon found of whom tliey 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,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins'
Full weight must be transferr'd 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,
Not knew by sight, now come, who was to come
Besore Messiah, and his way prepare !
I, as all others, to his baptism came,
Which I believed was from above ; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim’d
Me him, for it was shown 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, pronounced 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, hy 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 in 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 reveal'd;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt
Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last
Among wild beasts : they at his sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harm'd ; his walk
The fiery serpent fled, 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
Perused him, then with words thus utter'd spake :

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 dropt not here
His carcase, pined with hunger and with drought.
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
Or God; I saw and heard, for we sometimes,
Who dwell this wild, constrain'd hy 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 hither 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, to thirst inured
More than the camel, and to drink go far,
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,

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