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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

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As to his worthier, and would have refign'd
. To him his heav'nly office, nor was long
His witness unconfirm❜d: on him baptis'd
Heav'n open'd, and in likeness of a dove
The Spi'rit defcended, while the Father's voice
From Heav'n pronounc'd him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who roving still
About the world, at that affembly fam'd
Would not be laft, and with the voice divine

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.

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35 Nigh

the Baptift had notice given him
before, that he might certainly
know the Meffiah by the Holy
Ghoft defcending and abiding up-
on him. And I knew him not, but he
that fent me to baptize with water,
the fame faid unto me, Upon whom
thou shalt fee the Spirit defcending and
remaining on him, the fame is he
which baptizeth with the Holy Ghoft.
John I. 33. But it appears from
St. Matthew, that the Baptift knew
him and acknowledged him before
he was baptized, and before the
Holy Ghoft defcended upon him.
Mat. III. 14. I have need to be bap-
tix'd of thee, and comeft thou to me?
To account for which we muft àd-
mit with Milton, that another di-
vine revelation was made to him
at this very time, fignifying that
this was the perfon, of whom he
had had fuch notice before.

26. divinely warn'd] To
comprehend the propriety of this
word divinely, the reader must have
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Nigh thunder-ftruck, th' exalted man, to whom
Such high attest was giv'n, a while survey'd
With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage
Flies to his place, nor refts, but in mid air
To council fummons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involv'd,
A gloomy confiftory; and them amidst
With looks aghaft and sad he thus bespake.

O ancient Pow'rs of air and this wide world,
For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conqueft, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation; well

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.





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How many ages, as the years of men,


This universe we have poffefs'd, and rul'd
In manner at our will th' affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facil confort Eve
Loft Paradise deceiv'd by me, though fince
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the feed of Eve
Upon my head: long the decrees of Heav'n
Delay, for longest time to him is fhort;
And now too foon for us the circling hours
This dreaded time have compafs'd, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long threaten'd wound,

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,

and afterwards

-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

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To be infring'd, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air
For this ill news I bring, the woman's feed
Deftin'd to this, is late of woman born:



His birth to our juft fear gave no fmall cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flow'r, difplaying
All virtue, grace, and wifdom to atchieve
Things higheft, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclame
His coming, is fent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the confecrated stream
Pretends to wash off fin, and fit them fo
Purified to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honor as their king; all come,

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

75 And

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


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