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to justify himself; and professing his admiration of Jesus, and his regard for virtue, requests to be permitted at a future time to hear ipo-e, of his conversation ; but is answered, that this mus be as ne shall find permission from above. Satan' then disappears, and the book closes with a short description of night coming on.
By one Man's disobedience lost, now sing
1. Milton's Paradise Regained has afforded a fruitful subject for critical dispute and consideration, but it is universally agreed that it by no means occupies the next degree in excellence to Paradise Lost. Insp:rfeci in the design, and evincing few of those nighty efforts of invention which distinguish the former work of its great author, it has never possessed the popularity which any composition of Milton might seem to challenge. But it should be inipressed upon the reader's mind, that if the poem be imperfect in its plan, considered as a regular epic, this is no objection to it when examined according to the plan which the author himself laid down. Milton, I think it is beyond doubt, never intended to imitate his Paradise Lost in this poem, nor to take any of the classical models to work by. His object appears to have been to shew the coming of the Messiah, or rather his awful and mysterious entry into the kingdom which was to supplant for ever that of Satan, and form, as it were, the vestibule of an eternal Paradise. Coninentators have taken it for vranted that he meant to give the whole history of man's restoration; he did not do this, buit intended only to shew Christ coi e in the flesti, and b. that the completion of those grand promises of the Father which predicted the restoration of mankind. Supposing this to have been huis purpose, the temptation in the wilderness was the best point in the New Testament histories he could determine on. 'It represented the Messiah in the full development of al' his human characteristics as born of the woman, and it represented him as warring visibly with Satan before the gale of Paradise. The promised Deliverer thus come in the desi, thus sprung from the chosen race, contending with tle prince of this world, and poving his divinity by his trinnph-the poet miglit well consider the title of Paradise Regained was not too higli a nanie for a work which shews Christ as truly man, and, by his conquest over Saran at the first outset, as truly the son of Goul. This, I think, may be said in answer to many criticisms on this poem, but if it be less defective as a whole thon is commonly believed, it is more imperfet in its general execution than many are disposed to consider it. There is little or no passion, no stirring description, ani scarcely any dialogues, distinguished for more than ordinary power. The character of Christ is very weakly developed, its muysterious nature is reduced to a common place humanity, and the scenes in which he is attacked by Satan, present nothing but prettinesses of iavention or paraphrases of Scripture.
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious eremite Into the desert, his victorious field, Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence By proof th' undoubted Son of God, inspire, 11 As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute, And bear thro' highth or depth of Nature's bounds, With prosp'rous wiug full summ'd, to tell of deeds Above seroic, though in secret done,
15 And unrecorded left through many an age, Worthy t' have not remain'd so long unsung.
Now had the great Proclaimer with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried Repentance, and Heav'n's kingdom nigh at hand 20 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, caine as then obscure, Unmark'd, unknown; but him the Baptist soon 25 Descried, divinely warn'd, and witness bore As to his worthier, and would have resign'd To him this heav'nly office, nor was long His witness unconfirm'd; on him baptized Heav'n open'd, and in likeness of a dove
30 The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice From Heav'n 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 35 Nigh thunder-struck, th' 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,
40 Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involved A gloomy consistory; and them amidst With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake:
O ancient Pow'rs of air, and this wide world For much more willingly I mention air,
15 This our old conquest, than remember Hell, Our hated habitation; well ye know
18. Divinely ; like the Latin divinitus, from heaven,
44. Eph. 11. 2. vi, 12.
How many ages, as the years of men,
65 His birth to our just fear gave no small cause, But his growth now to youth's full flow'r displaying All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve Thing's highest, greatest, multiplies my fear. Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
70 His coming, is sent Harbinger, who all Invites, and in the consecrated stream, Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so Puritied to receive bim. pure, or rather To do him honour as their king; all come,
75 And he himself among them was baptized, Not thence to be more pure, but to receive The testimony of Heav'n, that who he is Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw The prophet do him reverence, on him rising 80 Out of the water, Heav'n above the clouds Unfold her crystal doors, thence on bis head A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant, And out of Heav'n the Sovereign voice I heard, This is my Son beloved, in him an pleased. 85 His mother then is mortal, but his Sire
74. 1 Johu iii. 3. 83. Matt. iii. 16. It is supposed by most of the best commen tators, that the Holy Spirit descended not in the shape but in the manner of a dove upon our Saviour. Milton seems to have incer preted it in a contrary way.
He who obtains the monarchy of Hear'n,
100 The dismal expedition to find out And ruin Adam, and th' exploit perform'd Successfully; a calmer voyage now Will waft me; and the way found prosp'rous once Induces best to hope of like success.
105 He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement to th' 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 :
110 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 115 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,
120 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: 125
91. There does not appear to be sufficient reason for this supposition, that Satan did not at first know Christ to be the Messiah,
122. Man of' Men; this has been objected to, but without cause, as it well expresses the perfect hunianity of Christ and the situa tion in which he stood as the representative of our race,
But contrary unweeting he fulfill'd
Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold, 130
135 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 shew him worthy of his birth divine
141 And high prediction, henceforth I expose To Satan; let him tempt and now assay His utmost subtlety, because he boasts And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng 145 Of his apostacy; 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
150 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
155 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 long sufferance :
160 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 165
129. Gabriel is frequently mentioned in Scripture as employed in the gospel dispensation. He is called by rabbinical writers, the Minister of Mercy, as Michael is the Minister of Severity.