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And high prediction, henceforth I expofe To Satan; let him tempt and now affay "His utmost fubtilty, because he boasts

And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng 145
Of his apoftafy; he might have learnt
*/ Lefs overweening, fince he fail'd in Job,
Whofe conftant perfeverance overcame
**Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now fhall know I can produce a man
Of female feed, far abler to refift
All his follicitations, and at length

All his vaft force, and drive him back to hell,
Winning by conqueft what the first man loft
By fallacy furpriz'd. But first I mean
To exercife him in the wilderness,

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There he fhall firft 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 fufferance:

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His weakness fhall o'ercome fatanic ftrength,

And all the world, and mafs of finful flesh;
That all the angels and etherial powers,

They now, and men hereafter may difcern,
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 space, then into hymns
Burft forth, and in celeftial meafures mov'd
Circling the throne, and finging, while the hand
Sung with the voice, and this the argument.
"Victory and triumph to the fon of God,
Now entering his great duel, not of arms,
But to vanquifh by wifdom hellifh wiles..
The father knows the fon; therefore fecure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untry'd,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er feduce,
Allure, or terrifie, or undermine.

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Be fruftrate all ye ftratagems of hell,
And devilish machinations come to nought.

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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 breaft,
How beft the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way firft
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,

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Thought following thought, and ftep 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.

fet

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O what a multitude of thoughts at once Awaken'd in me fwarm, while I confider What from within I feel myfelf, and hear, What from without comes often to my ears, Ill forting with my prefent ftate compar'd. "When I was yet a child, no childish play To me was pleasing, all my mind was **Serious to learn and know, and thence to do What might be public good; myfelf 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 grew To fuch perfection, that ere yet my age Had meafar'd twice fix years, at our great feaft 210 I went into the temple, there to hear The teachers of our law, and to propose

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"What might improve my knowlege, or their own;"
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,

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Then to fubdue and quell o'er all the earth
Brute violence and proud tyrannic pow'r,
Till truth were freed, and equity restor'da
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.
Thefe growing thoughts my mother foon perceiving
By words at times caft 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 matchless fire,
For know, thou art no son 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

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Thou should't be great and fit on David's throne, 246 And of thy kingdom there fhall be no end.

At thy nativity a glorious quire

Of angels in the fields of Bethlehem fung

To fhepherds watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Meffiah now was born,

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Where they might fee him, and to thee they came; Directed to the manger where thou lay'st,

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For in the inn was left no better room:
A ftar, not feen before in heav'n appearing
Guided the wife men thither from the east,
To honour thee with incenfe, myrrh, and gold,
By whofe 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 Ifrael born.
Juft Simeon, and prophetic Anna, warn'd

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By vifion found thee in the temple, and fpake
Before the altar and the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stood:
This having heard, ftraight I again revolv'd

The law and prophets, fearching what was writ 260 Concerning the Meffiah, to our scribes.

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Known partly, and foon found of whom they fpake
I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard affay even to the death,
Ere I the promis'd kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whofe fins
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 baptift (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 baptifm came,

Which I believ'd was from above; but he

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Straight knew me, and with loudeft voice proclaim'd 275
Me him (for it was fhewn him fo from heav'n)

Me him whofe harbinger he was; and first
Refus'd on me his baptifm to confer,

As much his greater, and was hardly won:
But as I rofe out of the laving stream,

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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, pronounc'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 fhould live obfcure,
But openly begin, as beft becomes

The authority which I deriv'd from heav'n.
And now by fome ftrong motion I am led
Into this wilderness, to what intent

I learn not yet, perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowlege God reveals.

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So fpake our morning ftar, then in his rife,
And looking round on every fide beheld
A pathlefs defart, dufk with horrid fhades;
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 paft and to come
Lodg'd in his breaft, as well might recommend
Such folitude before choiceft fociety.
Full forty days he pafs'd, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in fhady vale, each night
Under the covert of some 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

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Among wild beasts: they at his fight grew mild, 310
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 queft of fome ftray ewe, 315
Or wither'd fticks 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 faw approach, who firft with curious eye
Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake. 320
Sir, what ill chance has brought thee to this place
So far from path or road of men, who pafs
In troop or caravan, for fingle none

Durft ever, who return'd, and dropt not here

His carcafs, pin'd with hunger and with drought. 325
I ask the rather, and the more admire,

For that to me thou feem'ft the man, whom late
Our new baptizing prophet at the ford

TtOf Jordan honour'd fo, and call'd the fon

Of God; I faw and heard, for we fometimes

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Who dwell this wilde, constrain'd by want, come forth

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