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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 th' eternal King who rules
All Heav'n and Earth, angels and sons of men;
A messenger from God foretold thy birth
Conceiv'd in me a virgin, he foretold
Thou should'st be great, and sit on David's throne,
And of thy kingdom there should be no end. 241
At thy nativity a glorious quire
Of angels in the fields of Bethlehem sung
To shepherds watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was 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 Heav'n appearing,
Guided the Wise Men thither from the East, 230
To honor thee with incense, myrrh, and gold,
By whose bright course led on, they found the place,
Affirming yet thy star new grav'n in Heav'n,
By which they knew the King of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warn'd
iiy vision, found thee in the temple, and spake
Before the altar and the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stoodV
This having heard, strait I again revolv'd
The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ .
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes 261
Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay ev'n to the death,
I'.rr I the promis'd kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose aim
Full weight must be transferr'd upon my head.
Yet neither thus dishearten'd or dismay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited) when behold
The Baptist (of whose birth I. oft had heard, 270
Nor 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 belieVd was from above; but he
Strait knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd
Me him (for it was shown him so from heaven),
Me him whose harbinger he was, and first
Kefus'd on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won;
But as I rose out of the laving stream, 280
Heav'n open'd her eternal door3, from whence
The Spi'rit descended on me like a dove,
At last the sum of all, my Father's-voice,
Audibly heard from Heav'n, pronoune'd me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleas'd; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
Th' authority which I deriv'd from Heav'n.
And now by some strong motion I am led 290
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 300 Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend Such solitude before choicest society. full forty days he pass'd, whether on hill Sometimes, anon in 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, hunger'd then at last 309 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 glar'd 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 319 Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake:
Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place So far from path, or road of men, who pass a
In troop, or caravan ?' for single none
Durst ever, who return'd, and dropt not here
His carcase, pin'd with hunger and with drought.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou seem'st the Man whom late
Our new baptising Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honor'd so, and call'd thee Son
Of God; I saw and heard, for 'we sometimes 330
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.
To whom the Son of God. Who brought me hither, Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.
By miracle he may, reply'd the swain, What other way I see not, for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur'd More than the camel, and to drink go far, 340 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 reply'd: Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written (For I discern thee other than thou seem'st) Man lives not by bread only, but each word Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed'
ur fathers here with manna? in the mount loses was forty days, nor ate, nor drank: \nd forty days Elijah without food Wander'd this barren waste; the same I now: Why dost thou then suggest to me disyust^ Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?
Whom thus answer'd the Arch-fiend now undisguis'd: • 'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate, Who leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt Kept not my happy station, but was driven 360 With them from bliss to the bottomless deep, Yet to that hideous place not so confin'd By rigor unconniving, but that oft Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy Large liberty to round this globe of earth Or range in th' air, nor from the Heav'nof Heav'n's 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; 370 And when to all his angels he propos'd 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 flatt'ring 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