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Of his apoftafy; he might have learnt
Lefs overweening, fince he fail'd in Job,
Whose conftant perfeverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man


Of female feed, far abler to resist

All his folicitations, and at length

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

163. That all the Angels and ethereal Powers, &c] Not a word is faid here of the Son of God, but what a Socinian would allow. His divine pature is artfully concealed under a partial and ambiguous reprefentation; and the Angels are first to learn the mystery of the incarnation from that important confict, which is the fubject of this poem. They are feemingly invited to behold the triumphs of the man Chrift Jefus over the enemy of mankind; and these surprise them with the glorious discovery of the God infhrin'd

In fleshly tabernacle, and human form.

That Chrift was perfect man is a partial truth, and ferves to keep the higher perfection of his divine na


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There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong füfferance:


His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
And all the world, and mass of finful flesh;
That all the Angels and ethereal Powers,

They now,
and men hereafter may discern,
From what confummate virtue I have chofe
This perfect man, by merit call'd my Son,
To earn falvation for the fons of men.

Again, the words confummate virtue are ambiguous, and may be referred to the divine nature of Chrift as well as the human. Their prefent connexion applies them directly to the human nature: but they had a fecret reference, I conceive, in the poet's meaning to the majefty of that heavenly part of him, which denominates Chrift in the holy Scriptures the wisdom of God and the power (or virtue) of God, Ces Suwaμir, Dei virtutem, Lat. Vulg. 1 Cor. I. 24. Hunc tamen folum primogenitum divini nominis appellatione dignatus eft, patria scilicet virtute, ac majeftate pollentem. Effe autem fummi Dei filium, qui fit poteftate maxima præditus, non tantùm voces prophetarum, fed etiam Sibyllarum vaticinia deVOL. I.

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So fpake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring stood a space, then into hymns
Burft forth, and in celestial 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 entring his great duel, not of arms,

168. So spake th' eternal Father,

and all Heaven

Admiring food a space,] We cannot but take notice of the great art of the poet in fetting forth the dignity and importance of his fubject. He reprefents all beings as interested one way or other in the event. A council of Devils is fummon'd; an affembly of Angels is held upon the occafion. Satan is the fpeaker in the one, the Almighty in the other. Satan expreffes his diffidence, but ftill refolves to make trial of this Son of God; the Father declares his pofe of proving and illuftrating his Son. The infernal crew are diftracted and furpris'd with deep difmay; all Heaven ftands a while in admiration. The fiends are filent thro' fear and grief; the Angels burft forth into finging with joy and the affured hopes of fuccefs. And their attention is thus engaged, the better to engage the attention of the reader.



while the hand


Sung with the voice, ] We have pretty near the fame phrafe in Tibullus. III. IV. 41.

Sed poftquam fuerant digiti cum voce locuti,

Edidit hæc dulci triftia verba modo.`

And the word band is ufed by Mil-
ton once again in this poem, and
alfo in the Arcades, to diftinguish
inftrumental harmony from vocal.
IV. 254-

There thou shalt hear and learn
the fecret power
Of harmony in tones and num-
bers hit

By voice or hand.

Arcades, 77.

If my inferior hand or voice could


Inimitable founds.

I have fometimes indulg'd a fufpicion, that the poet dictated,

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But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles.
The Father knows the Son; therefore fecure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untry'd,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er feduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.

Be frustrate all ye ftratagems of Hell,

And devilish machinations come to nought.

while the harp

Sung with the voice;
but the few authorities alledged put
the present reading out of queftion.
174. Now entring his great duel,]
There is, I think, a meanness in
the customary sense of this term
that makes it unworthy of these
fpeakers and this occafion; and yet
it is obfervable, that Milton in his
Paradife Loft makes Michael ufe
the very fame word where he is
fpeaking to Adam of the fame
thing. XII. 386.

To whom thus Michael. Dream
not of their fight,
As of a duel, &c.

The Italian duello, if I am not
mistaken, bears a ftronger fenfe,
and this, I fuppofe, Milton had in


If it be not a contradiction, it is inaccurate at least in Milton, to make an Angel fay in one place, Dream not of their fight as of a duel; and afterwards to make the Angels




exprefs it by the metaphor of a duel, Now entring his great duel.

He lays the accent on the laft fyl175. But to vanquish by wisdom] lable in vanquish, as elsewhere in triumph; and in many places, in my opinion, he imitates the Latin and Greek profody, and makes a vowel long before two confonants.


176. The Father knows the Son;
therefore fecure
Ventures his filial virtue, though

faid by the Angels, if they also had
untry'd;] Could this have been

known this Son to be the eternal Word, who created all things; and who had before driven this Tempter, and all his Powers out of Hea ven? The incarnation was generally believed by the Fathers to have been a fecret to Angels, till they learned it from the Church. See Huetii Origeniana. Lib. 2. Cap. z. Quæft. 5. 18. As to the time and means of their information, Milton feems to be particular. Calton.

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So they in Heav'n their odes and vigils tun'd:
Mean while the Son of God, who yet fome days
Lodg'd in Bethabara where John baptiz'd,
Mufing and much revolving in his breast,
How best 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 converfe 190
With folitude, till far from track of men,

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called mattins. Mr. Sympson proposes a flight alteration,

their odes in vigils tun'd,

that is, each watch when reliev'd
fung fo and fo: but as we have ex-
plain'd the word, there seems to be
no occafion for any alteration.
183. who yet fome days
Lodg'd in Bethabara where John
baptiz'd,] The poet, I prefume,
faid this upon the authority of the
firft chapter of St. John's Gofpel,
where feveral particulars, which
happened feveral days together, are
related concerning the Son of God,
and it is faid. ver. 28. These things
were done in Bethabara beyond for-
dan, where John was baptizing.

189. One day forth walk'd alone,
the Spirit leading,

And his deep thoughts,] This is wrong pointed in all the editions thus,


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