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And devilish machinations come to nought.
So they in heav'n their odes and vigils tun'd:
Mean while the fon of God, who yet fome days
Lodg'd in Bethabara where John baptiz'd,
Mufing and much revolving in his breast,
How beft the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
Publish his god-like office now mature,
One day forth walk'd alone, the spirit leading;
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse
With folitude, till far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on.
He entered now the bordering defart wild,
And with dark fhades and rocks environ'd round,
His holy meditation thus purfu'd.
O what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awaken'd in me fwarm, while I confider
What from within I feel my-felf, and hear,
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill forting with my prefeut state compar'd.
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing, all my mind was fet
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do
What might be publick good; my felf I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth,
All righteous things: therefore above my years,
The law of God I read and found it fweet,
Made it my whole delight, and in it
To fuch perfection, that ere yet my age
Had measur❜d twice fix years, at our great feast
I went into the temple, there to hear
The teachers of our law, and to propose
What might improve my knowledge or their owng
And was admir'd by all, yet this not all
To which my fpirit afpir'd, victorious deeds
Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while
To refcue Ifrael from the Roman yoke,
Then to fubdue and quell o'er all the earth
Brute violence and proud tyrannick pow'r,
Till truth were freed, and equity restor❜d:
Yet held it more humane, more heav'nly, first
By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
And make perfuafion do the work of fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring foul
Not wilfully mif-doing, but unaware
Mif-led; the stubborn only to destroy.
These growing thoughts my mother foon perceiving
By words at times cast forth inly rejoic'd,
And faid to me apart, high are thy thoughts
O fon, but nourish them and let them foar
To what height facred virtue and true worth
Can raise them, though above example high;
By matchlefs deeds exprefs thy matchlefs fire.
For know, thou art no fon of mortal man,
Though men efteem thee low of parentage,
Thy father is th' eternal king who rules
All heav'n and earth, angels and fons of men;
A meffenger from God fore-told thy birth
Conceiv'd in me a virgin, he fore-told
Thou should't be great and fit on David's throne,
And of thy kingdom there shall be no end.
At thy nativity a glorious quire
Of angels in the fields of Bethlehem fung
To Shepherds watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might fee 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 heav'n appearing
Guided the wife 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 ftar new grav'n in heav'n,
By which they knew the king of Israel born.
Juft 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 Meffiah, 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 difhearten'd or difmay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited, when behold!
The baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard,
Not knew by fight) now come, who was to come
Before Meffiah 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 fhewn him fo from heav'n)
Me him whofe harbinger he was; and first
Refus'd on me his baptifim to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won:
But as I rofe out of the laving ftream,
Heav'n open'd her eternal doors, from whence
The spirit defcended on me like a dove,
And laft the fum of all, my father's voice,
Audibly heard from heav'n, pronoune'd me his,
Me his beloved fon, in whom alone
He was well pleas'd; by which I knew the time.
Now full, that I no more should live obfcure,
But openly begin, as heft becomes
The authority which I deriv'd from heav'n.
And now by fome ftrong motion lam led
Into this wilderness, to what intent
I learn not yet, perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.
So fpake our morning fear, then in his rife,
And looking round on every side beheld
A pathlefs defart, 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 fuch thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
Such folitude before choiceft fociety.
Full forty days he pafs'd, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of fome antient oak,
Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harbour'd in one cave, is not reveal'd;
Nor tafted human food, nor hunger felt
Till thofe days ended, hunger'd then at last
Among wild beafts: they at his fight grew mild,
Nor fleeping him nor waking harm'd, his walk
The fiery ferpent fled, and noxious worm,
The lion and fierce tiger glar'd aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds,
Following, as feem'd, the quest of some stray ewe,
Or wither'd sticks to gather; which might serve
Against a winters day when winds blow keen,
To warm him wet return'd from field at eve,
He faw approach, who first with curious eye
Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake.
Sir, what ill chance has brought thee to this place
So far from path or road of men,
In troop or caravan, for single none
Durft ever, who return'd, and dropt not here
His carcafs, pin'd with hunger and with drought.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou seem'ft the man, whom late
Our new baptizing prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honour'd fo, and call'd the fon
Of God; I faw and heard, for we sometimes
Who dwell this wilde, constrain'd by want, come forth
To town or village nigh (nighest is far)
Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new; fame also finds us out.
To whom the fon of God. Who brought me hither