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النشر الإلكتروني

To what highth 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
Conceiv'd 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 quire
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 lay'st,
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 prophetick 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 revolv’d
The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
Known partly, and soon found, of whom they spake
I am ; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay, even to the death,

Ere I the promis'd 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
Before Messiah, and his way prepare
I, as all others, to his baptism came,
Which I believ'd was from above ; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd
Me him (for it was shewn him so from Heaven),
Me him, whose harbinger he was ; and first
Refus'd on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won :
But, as I rose out of the laving stream,
Heaven opened 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, pronounc'd me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleas'd ; 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 desart, dusk with horrid shades;
The way he came not having mark'd, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;

And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodg’d in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he pass’d, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon on 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 reveald ;
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 glar'd 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
Perus'd 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 carcass, pin'd with hunger and with drouth.
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 the Son
Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes
Who dwell this wild, constrain’d by 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 inur'd
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,
So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve
With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.
He ended, and the Son of God replied.
Think'st thou such force in bread : Is it not written
(For I discern thee other than thou seem'st),
Man lives not by bread only, but each word
Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed
Our fathers here with manna : In the mount
Moses was forty days, nor eat, nor drank;
And forty days Elijah, without food,
Wander'd this barren waste ; the same I now :
Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art
Whom thus answer'd the Arch-Fiend, now undisguis’d.
'Tis true I am that Spirit unfortunate,
Who, leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt,
Kept not my happy station, but was driven
With them from bliss to the bottomless deep,
Yet to that hideous place not so confin'd
By rigour unconniving, but that oft,
Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy
Large liberty to round this globe of earth,
Or range in the air; nor from the Heaven of Heavens

up into

Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
I came among the sons of God, when he


hands Uzzean Job TO prove

him and illustrate his high wortlı ; And, when to all his Angels he propos'd To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring, I undertook that office, and the tongues Of all his flattering prophets glibb’d with lies To his destruction, as I had in charge; For what he bids I do. Though I have lost Much lustre of my native brightness, lost To be beloy'd of God, I have not lost To love, at least contemplate and admire, What I see excellent in good, or fair, Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense : What can be.then less in me than desire To see thee and approach thee, whom I know Declar'd the son of God, to hear attent Thy wisdom, and behold thy God-like deeds ? Men generally think me much a foe To all mankind : why should I ? they to me Never did wrong or violence; by them I lost not what I lost, rather by them I gain'd what I have gain'd, and with them dwell Copartner in these regions of the world, If not disposer ; lend them oft my aid, Oft my advice by presages and signs, And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams, Whereby they may direct their future life. Envy they say excites me, thus to gain Companions of my misery and woe. At first it may be; but, long since with woe Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof,

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