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Now had the great Proclamer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cry'd Repentance, and Heav'n's kingdom nigh at hand 20 To all baptis'd: to his great baptifm flock'd With awe the regions round, and with them came From Nazareth the fon of Jofeph deem'd To the flood Jordan, came as then obfcure, Unmark'd, unknown; but him the Baptift foon 25 Defcry'd, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
thers are grown, when he wants nothing of the fum of his feathers, cui nihil de fumma pennarum deeft, as Skinner fays. There was therefore no occafion for reading as fome body propofed,
With profp'rous wing full plum'd.
14. - to tell of deeds
Above heroic,] Alluding perhaps in the turn of expreffion to the firft verfe of Lucan,
Bella per Emathios plufquam civilia campos, Jufque datum fceler canimus.
cry'd Repentance, and Heav'n's kingdom nigh at band
To all baptix'd:] John preached repentance and the approach of Christ's kingdom. Afk-to whom? and the answer is to all baptiz'd. Doth not this feem to imply, that the great prophet baptized before he
As to his worthier, and would have refign'd
not that he cry'd to all baptiz'd repentance &c. but Heav'n's kingdom nigh at hand to all baptix'd. Heaven's kingdom was nigh at hand to all fuch as were baptiz'd with John's baptifm; they were thereby difpofed and prepared for the reception of the Gospel.
24. To the flood Jordan, came as then obfcure,] In Mr. Fenton's and moft other editions it is pointed thus,
To the flood Jordan came, as then obfcure,
but we have followed the punctuation of Milton's own edition; for there is very little force in the repetition, and with them came, to the flood Jordan came; but to say that he came with them to the flood Jordan, and came as then obfcure, is very good fenfe, and worthy of the repetition.
the Baptift had notice given him
26. divinely warn'd] To
Nigh thunder-ftruck, th' exalted man, to whom
O ancient Pow'rs of air and this wide world,
his eye upon the Latin divinitus, from Heaven, fince the word divinely in our language fcarce ever comes up to this meaning. Milton ufes it in much the fame fenfe in Paradife Loft. VII. 500.
She heard me thus, and though
divinely brought. Thyer. 41. Within thick clouds &c.] Milton in making Satan's refidence to be in mid air, within thick clouds and dark, feems to have St. Auftin in his eye, who speaking of the region of clouds, ftorms, thunder, &c. fays-ad ifta caliginofa, id eft, ad hunc aerem, tanquam ad carcerem, damnatus eft diabolus &c. Enarr. in Pf. 148. S. 9. Tom. 5. p. 1677. Edit. Bened. Thyer.
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have poffefs'd, and rul'd
Protinus acciri diros ad regia fratres
Limina, concilium horrendum. And Taffo alfo in the very fame manner. Cant. 4. St. 2.
Che fia comanda il popol fuo raccolto
(Concilio horrendo) entro la regia foglia. Thyer.
44. O ancient Pow'rs of air and this wide world,] So the Devil is call'd in Scripture, the prince of the power of the air, Eph. II. 2. and evil Spirits the rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. VI. 12. Satan here fummons a council, and opens it as he did in the Paradife Loft: but here is not that
copiousness and variety which is in the other; here are not different fpeeches and fentiments adapted to the different characters; it is a council without a debate; Satan is the only speaker. And the author, as if conscious of this defect, has artfully endevored to obviate the objection by faying, that their danger
--admits no long debate, But muft with fomething fudden be oppos'd,
-no time was then For long indulgence to their fears or grief,
The true reafon is, he found it impoffible to exceed or equal the fpeeches
At least if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infring'd, our freedom and our being,
His birth to our juft fear gave no fmall cause,
fpeeches in his former council, and therefore has affign'd the best reafon he could for not making any in this.
74. Purified to receive him pure,] alluding to the Scripture expreffion 1 John III. 3. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himSelf even as he is pure.
83. A perfect dove defcend,] He had expreffed it before ver. 30. in likeness of a dove, agreeably to
St. Matthew, the Spirit of God defcending like a dove, III. 16. and to St. Mark, the Spirit like a dove defcending upon him, I. 10. But as Luke fays, that the Holy Ghoft defcended in a bodily shape, III. 22. the poet fuppofes with Tertullian Auftin, and others of the fathers, that it was a real dove, as the painters always reprefent it.
91. Who this is we must learn,] Our author favors the opinion of