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Defery'd, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resign'd
To him his heavenly office, nor was long
His witnefs unconfirm'd: on him baptiz'd
Heav'n open'd, and in likeness of a dove
The spirit defcended, while the father's voice
From heav'n pronounc'd him his beloved fon.
That heard the adversary, who roving still
About the world, at that assembly fam'd
Would not be last, and with the voice divine
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 rests, 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 agaft and fad he thus bespake.

O antient pow'rs of air and this wide world,
For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember hell
Our hated habitation; well ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This univerfe we have poffeft, and rul'd
In manner at our will th' affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facil confort Eve
Loft paradife deceiv'd by me, though since
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;

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And now too foon for us the cireling hours
This dreaded time have compast, wherein we
Muft bide the stroke of that long threaten'd wound,
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,
In this fair empire won of earth and air:
For this ill news I bring, the woman's feed
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 flow'r, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to atchieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is fent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the confecrated stream
Pretends to wash off fin, and fit them fo
Purifi'd 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 teftimony of heav'n, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw
The prophet do him reverence, on him rifing
Out of the water, heav'n above the clouds
Unfold her chrystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove defcend, what e'er it meant,
And out of heav'n the fov'reign voice I heard,
This is my fon belov❜d, in him am pleas'd.
His mother then is mortal, but his fire,
He who obtains the monarchy of heav'n;

Book I.

PARADISE

And what will he not do to advance his fon?
His first-begot we know, and fore 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 fhine;
Ye fee 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 fnáres,
Ere in the head of nations he appear

Their king, their leader, and supream on earth.

I, when no other durft, fole undertook
The difmal expedition to find out

And ruin Adam, and th' exploit perform'd
Successfully; a calmer voyage now

Will waft me; and the way found prosp❜rous once
Induces best to hope of like fuccefs.

He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to th' infernal crew.
Distracted and furpriz'd with deep difmay
At these fad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprize
To him their great dictator, whofe attempt
At first against mankind so well had thriv'd
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march
From hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light,
Regents and potentates, and kings, yea gods
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.

I

So to the coaft of Jordan he directs,
His cafie steps; girded with snaky' wiles,
Where he might likelieft find this new-declar'd,
This man of men, attested son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to fubvert whom he suspected rais'd' ·
To end his reign on earth fo long enjoy'd:
But contrary unweeting he fulfill'd
The purpos'd counsel pre-ordain'd and fixt
Of the Moft High, who in full fréquence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriel fmiling spake.
Gabriel this day by proof thou shalt behold,
Thou and all angels converfant on earth
With man or mens affairs, how I begin
To verifie that folemn meffage late,
On which I fent thee to the virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a fon
Great in renown, and call'd the son of God;
Then toldft 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'er-fhadow her: this man born and now up-grown,
To fhew him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan; let him tempt and now aflay
His utmoft fubtility, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
Of his apoftafie; he might have learnt
Lefs overweening, since he fail'd in Job,
Whofe conftant perfeverance overcame
What e'er his cruel malice could invent.

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He now fhall know I can produce a man
Of temale feed, far abler to refift
All his follicitations, and at length

All his vaft force, and drive him back to hell,
Winning by conquest what the first man lost
By tallacy furpriz'd. But first I mean
To exercife him in the wilderness,
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I fend him forth
To conquer fin and death the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance:
His weakness fhall o'ercome fatanick strength
And all the world, and mafs of finful flesh;
That all the angels and aetherial powers,
They now, and men hereafter may dif ern,
From what confummate virtue i have chofe
This perfect man, by merit call'd my fon,
To earn falvation for the fons of men.

So fpake th' eternal Father, and all heav'n Admiring ftood a fpace, then into hymns Burst forth, and in celeftial measures mov'd Circling the throne and finging, while the hand Sung with the voice, and this the argument.

Victory and triumph to the son of God, Now entering his great duel, not of arms, But to vanquish by wisdom hellifh wiles. The father knows the fon; therefore fccure Ventures his filial virtue, though untry'd, Against what e'er may tempt, what e'er feduce, Allure, or terrifie, or undermine.

Be fruftrate all ye ftratagems of hell,

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