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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-declar'd,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to subvert whom he suspected raised
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoy'd:
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfill'd

The purposed counsel, preordain'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
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 [grown,
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 learn'd
Less overweening, since he fail'd 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 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 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 bellish wiles!

The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,
Against what'eer may tempt, what'eer 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 walk'd alone, the Spirit leading; And his deep thoughts, the better to converse With solitude, till, far from track of men, [on, Thought following thought, and step by step led He enter'd now the bordering desert wild, And, with dark shades and rocks environ'd round, His holy meditations thus pursued:

"O, what a multitude of thoughts at once Awaken'd 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 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 unaware
Misled; the stubborn only to subdue. [ing,
These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiv-
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 shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne,
And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity, a glorious quire

Of angels, in the field of Bethlehem, sung

To shepherds, watching at their folds by night,
And told the Messiah was now born,

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

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 place,
Affirming it thy star, new graven in heaven,
By which they knew thee King of Israel born.
Just Simeon, and prophetic Anna, warn'd
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 I 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, e'en 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 dishearten'd nor dismay'd,

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