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Such high attest was given, a while surveyed
With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage,
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake.
"O ancient Powers of air, and this wide world,
(For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember hell,
Our hated habitation,) well
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possessed, and ruled,
In manner at our will, the affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me; though since
With dread attending, when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head; long the decrees of Heaven
Delay, for longest time to him is short;
And now, too soon for us, the circling hours
This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound,
(At least if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infringed, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air,)
For this ill news I bring, the woman's Seed,
Destined to this, is late of woman born.
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause;
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be opposed,
(Not force, but well couched fraud, well woven
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 performed
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
Of much amazement to the infernal crew,
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay
At these sad 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 enterprise
To him their great dictator, whose attempt
At first against mankind so well had thrived
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.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,
Where he might likeliest find this new-declared,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
But his growth now to youth's full flower display-So to subvert whom he suspected raised
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 baptized;
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 sovereign voice I heard,
'This is my son beloved, in him am pleased.'
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
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoyed:
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled
The purposed council, preordained and fixed,
Of the Most High; who, in full frequence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake.
"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 called the Son of God;
Then told'st her, doubting how these things could
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 up.
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 apostacy: he might have learnt
Less overweening, since he failed 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 surprised. 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 Satanic strength,
And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh,
That all the angels and ethereal powers,
They now, and men hereafter, may discern
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect man, by merit called my son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men."
So spake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring stood apace, then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved,
Circling the throne and singing, 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 hellish wiles!
The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of hell,
And, devilish machinations, come to nought!"
So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned:
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized,
Musing, and much revolving in his breast
How best the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
Publish his godlike office, now mature,
One day forth walked alone, the spirit leading
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse
With solitude, till, far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He entered now the bordering desert wild,
And, with dark shades and rocks environed round,
His holy meditations thus pursued.
"O, what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awakened in me swarm, while I consider
What from within I feel myself, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill sorting with my present state compared!
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do,
What might be public good; myself 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 sweet,
Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
To such perfection, that, ere yet my age
Had measured twice six 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 own:
And was admired by all: yet this not all
To which my spirit aspired; victorious deeds
Flamed in my heart, heroic acts; one while
To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke;
Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the earth,
Brute violence and proud tyrannic power,
Till truth were freed, and equity restored;
Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first-
By winning words to conquer willing hearts;
And make persuasion do the work of fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring soul,
Not wilfully misdoing, but unware
Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon per-
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced,
And said to me apart; 'High are thy thoughts,
O Son, but nourish them, and let them soar
To what height 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
Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold
Thou should'st be great, and sit on David's
And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity, a glorious choir
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
Directed to the manger where thou layest,
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
Affirming it thy star, new graven in heaven,
By which they knew the king of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned
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 again revolved
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 promised kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins
Full weight must be transferred upon my head.
Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed,
The time prefixed 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 believed was from above; but he
"Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this
So far from path or road of men, who pass
In troop or caravan? for single none
Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here
His carcass, pined with hunger and with drought.
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 honoured so, and called thee Son
Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice pro- Who dwell in this wild, constrained by want, come
Me him (for it was shown him so from Heaven,)
Me him, whose harbinger he was; and first
Refused 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, pronounced me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleased; 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 desert, dusk with horrid shades;
The way he came not having marked, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod:
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodged in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he passed, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak,
Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harboured in one cave, is not revealed;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended; hungered then at last
Among wild beasts: they at this sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed; his walk
The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm,
The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds,
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
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 inured
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.
"Thinkest thou such force in bread? Is it not
(For I discern thee other than thou seemest,)
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,
Wandered 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 answered the arch fiend, now un-
"Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate,
Who, leagued 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 confined
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
Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,
To warm him wet returned from field at eve,
He saw approach, who first with curious eye
Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake.
I came among the sons of God, when he
Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job
To prove him, and illustrate his high worth;
And, when to all his angels he proposed
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 glibbed 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 beloved 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
Declared the Son of God, to hear attent
Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike 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
Among the nations? that hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy anwers, what but dark
Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding,
Which they who asked have seldom understood:
And not well understood as good not known?
Who ever by consulting at thy shrine
Returned the wiser, or the more instruct,
To fly or follow what concerned him most,
And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
For God hath justly given the nations up
To thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but, when his purpose is
Among them to declare his providence
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy
But from him, or his angels president
I gained what I have gained, and with them dwell, In every province? who, themselves disdaining
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 wo.
At first it may be; but long since with wo
Nearer acquainted, now I feel, by proof,
That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load.
Small consolation then, were man adjoined:
This wounds me most, (what can it less?) that
Man fallen shall be restored, I never more."
To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied.
"Deservedly thou griev'st, composed of lies
From the beginning, and in lies wilt end;
Who boast'st release from hell, and leave to come
Into the Heaven of Heavens: thou com'st indeed,
As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendour, now deposed,
Ejected, emptied, gazed unpitied, shunned,
A spectacle of ruin, or of scorn,
To all the host of Heaven: the happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy;
Rather inflames thy torment; representing
Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable,
So never more in hell than when in Heaven.
But thou art serviceable to Heaven's King.
Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?
What but thy malice moved thee to misdeem
Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him
With all inflictions? but his patience won.
The other service was thy chosen task,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou pretendest to truth; all oracles
By thee are given, and what confessed more true
To approach thy temples, give thee in command
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say
To thy adorers? thou, with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st;
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse
The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shall be inquired at Delphos, or elsewhere;
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living oracle
Into the world to teach his final will,
And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To all truth requisite for men to know."
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend,
Though inly stung with anger and disdain,
Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned.
"Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,
And urged me hard with doings, which not will
But misery hath wrested from me. Where
Easily can'st thou find one miserable,
And not enforced ofttimes to part from truth,
If it may stand him more instead to lie,
Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure,
But thou art placed above me, thou art Lord;
From thee I can, and must submiss, endure
Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit.
Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk;
Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to the
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song;
What wonder then if I delight to hear
Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admire
Virtue, who follow not her lore: permit me
To hear thee when I come, (since no man comes,)
And talk at least, though I despair to attain.
Thy father, who is holy, wise, and pure,
Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest
To tread his sacred courts, and minister
About his altar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing; and vouchsafed his voice
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspired: disdain not such access to me."
To whom our Saviour, with unaltered brow.
"Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
I bid not, or forbid; do as thou find'st
Permission from above; thou canst not more."
He added not; and Satan, bowing low
His gray dissimulation, disappeared
Into thin air diffused: for now began
Night with her sullen wings to double-shade
The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couched;
And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
The disciples of Jesus, uneasy at his long absence, reason amongst themselves concerning it. Mary also gives vent to her maternal anxiety; in the expression of which she recapitulates many circumstances respecting the birth and early life of her Son.—Satan again meets his Infernal Council, reports the bad success of his first temptation of our Blessed Lord, and calls upon them for counsel and assistance. Belial proposes tempting of Jesus with women. Satan rebukes Belial for his dissoluteness, charging on him all the profligacy of that kind ascribed by the poets to the heathen gods, and rejects his proposal as in no respect likely to succeed. Satan then suggests other modes of temptation, particularly proposing to avail himself of the circumstance of our Lord's hungering; and, taking a band of chosen spirits with him, returns to resume his enterprise. Jesus hungers in the desert. Night comes on; the manner in which our Saviour passes the night is described-Morning advances.-Satan again appears to Jesus,
and, after expressing wonder that he should be so entirely neglected in the wilderness, where others had been miraculously fed, tempts him with a sumptuous banquet of the most luxurious kind. This he rejects, and the banquet vanishes. Satan, finding our Lord not to be assailed on the ground of appetite, tempts him again by offering him riches, as the means of acquiring power: this Jesus also rejects, producing many instances of great actions performed by persons under virtuous poverty, and specifying the danger of riches, and the cares and pains inseparable from power and greatness.
MEANWHILE the new baptized, who yet remained
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly called
Jesus Messiah, Son of God declared,
And on that high authority had believed,
And with him talked and with him lodged; I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known,
With others though in holy writ not named;
Now missing him their joy so lately found,
(So lately found, and so abruptly gone,)
Began to doubt and doubted many days,
And, as the days increased, increased their doubt;
Sometimes they thought he might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once
Moses was in the mount, and missing long;
And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels
Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come;
Therefore, as those young prophets then with care
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethabara in Jericho
The city of palms, Ænon and Salem old,
Macharus, and each town or city waited
On this side the broad lake Genezaret,
Or in Peræa; but returned in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek,
Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering
Plain fishermen, (no greater men them call,)
Close in a cottage low together got,
Their unexpected loss and plaints out breathed.
"Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Unlooked for are we fallen! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long
Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth;
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
The kingdom shall to Israel be restored:
Thus we rejoiced, but soon our joy is turned
Into perplexity and new amaze:
For whither is he gone, what accident
Hath wrapt him from us? will he now retire
After appearance, and again prolong
Our expectation? God of Israel,
Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come!
Behold the kings of the earth, how they oppress
Thy chosen; to what height their power unjust
They have exalted, and behind them cast
All fear of thee; arise and vindicate
Thy glory; free thy people from their yoke!
But let us wait; thus far he hath performed,
Sent his Anointed, and to us revealed him,
By his great Prophet, pointed at and shown
In public, and with him we have conversed;
Let us be glad of this, and all our fears
Lay on his providence; he will not fail,
Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall,
Mock us with his blest sight, then snatch him
Soon we shall see our Hope, our Joy return."
Thus they, out of their plaints, new hope re
To find whom at the first they found unsought;
But, to his mother Mary, when she saw
Others returned from baptism, not her son,
| Nor left at Jordan tidings of him none,
Within her breast, though calm, her breast though
Motherly cares and fears got head, and raised Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus clad.
"O what avails me now that honour high To have conceived of God, or that salute, Hail, highly favoured, among women blessed!' While I to sorrows am no less advanced,
| And fears as eminent, above the lot