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Of his apoftafy; he might have learnt
Of female feed, far abler to resist
All his folicitations, and at length
All his vaft force, and drive him back to Hell,
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
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
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.
So fpake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven
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-
There thou shalt hear and learn
By voice or hand.
If my inferior hand or voice could
I have fometimes indulg'd a fufpicion, that the poet dictated,
But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles.
Be frustrate all ye ftratagems of Hell,
And devilish machinations come to nought.
while the harp
Sung with the voice;
To whom thus Michael. Dream
The Italian duello, if I am not
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;
faid by the Angels, if they also had
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.
So they in Heav'n their odes and vigils tun'd:
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
called mattins. Mr. Sympson proposes a flight alteration,
their odes in vigils tun'd,
that is, each watch when reliev'd
189. One day forth walk'd alone,
And his deep thoughts,] This is wrong pointed in all the editions thus,