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النشر الإلكتروني

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 ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possess’d, and rul'd,
In manner at our will, the affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceiv'd 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 compass’d, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long-threaten’d wound,
(At least if so we can and by thy 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 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 Of much amazement to the infernal crew, Distracted and surpris'd 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 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.''. So to the coast of Jordan he directs His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles, Where he might likeliest find this new-declar'd, "This Man of Men, attested Son of God,

Temptation and all guile on him to try ;
So to subvert whom he suspected rais'd
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoy'd :
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfill’d
The purpos’d counsel, pre-ordain’d and fix’d,
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 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 upgrowe
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.
Ile 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,
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect Man, by merit call’d my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men.

So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring stood a space, then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures mov’d,
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,

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