« السابقةمتابعة »
His witness unconfirm'd: On him baptiz'd
O ancient Powers of air, and this wide world
1 'Attending:' i.e., waiting.
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 Seed,
Destin'd to this, is late of Woman born.
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause:
But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great Prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them, so
Purified, to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honour as their king: All come,
And he himself among them was baptiz'd;
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw
The Prophet do him reverence; on him, rising
Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head
A perfect dove descend (whate'er it meant),
And out of Heaven the sovran voice I heard,
"This is my Son belov'd, in him am pleas'd."
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 oppos'd
(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
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 assay 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 surpris'd. 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 Satanick strength, And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh, That all the Angels and ethereal Powers,
They now, and men hereafter, may discern,
So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven
Victory and triumph to the Son of God,
So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tun'd:
O, what a multitude of thoughts at once
1 'Bethabara:' see John i. 28.