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The time prefix'd 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 [claim'd
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice pro-
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 open'd 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, pronounc'd 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 mark'd, 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 pass'd, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon on shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak
Or cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harbour'd in one cave, is not reveal'd;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended; hungered then at last
Among wild beasts: they at his sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harm'd; his walk
The fiery serpent fled and noxious worm,
The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds,
Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray ewe,
Or wither'd sticks to gather, which might serve
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen
To warm him, wet return'd from field at eve,
He saw approach, who first with curious eye
Perused him, then with words thus utter'd spake:

"Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this So far from path or road of men, who pass [place In troop or caravan? for single none

Durst ever, who return'd, and dropp'd not here
His carcass, pined with hunger and with drought.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,

For that thou seem'st the man, whom late
Our new baptizing prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honour'd so, and call'd thee Son
Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes

Who dwell this wild, constrain'd by want, come To town or village nigh, (nighest is far,) [forth Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear What happens new; fame also finds us out." [hither

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: "Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not writ(For I discern thee other than thou seem'st,) [ten, 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 dys, nor eat, nor drank; And forty days Elijah, without food, Wander'd 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 answer'd the arch-fiend, now undis""Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate, [guised: 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 heavens

Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.

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 glibb'd 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

I gain'd what I have gain'd, and with them dwell Co-partner 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 woe.
At first it may be; but long since with woe
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 adjoin'd:
This wounds me most, (what can it less?) that man,
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 comest 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, shunn'd,
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?

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