Page images
PDF
EPUB

To do him honor as their king; all come, -75
And he himself among them was baptiz'd,
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony' of Heav'n, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw
The prophet do him reverence, on him rising 80
Out of the water, Heav'n above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, what-e'er it meant,
And out of Heav'n the sovran voice I heard,
This is my Son belov’d, in him am pleas'd. 85
His mother then is mortal, but his fire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven,
And what will he not do to' advance his Son ?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep; 90
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
In all his lineaments, though in his face
The glimpses of his Father's glory shine.
Ye see our danger on the utmost edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate, 95
But must with something sudden be oppos’d,
Not force, but well couch'd fraud, well woven snares,
Ere in the head of nations he appear
Their king, their leader, and fupreme on earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook 100
The dismal expedition to find out
And ruin Adam, and th' exploit perform'd

Suc

Successfully; a calmer voyage now
Will waft me; and the way found prosp'rous once
Induces best to hope of like success.

105
He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to th' infernal crew,
Distracted and surpris'd with deep dismay
At these sad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief: 110
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprize
To him their great dictator, whose attempt
At first against mankind so well had thriv'd
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march 115
From Hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light,
Regents and potentates, and kings, ye Gods
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles, 120
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 rais’d
To end his reign on earth so long enjoy’d: 125
But contrary unweeting he fulfill'd
The purpos'd counsel pre-ordain’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, 130

[blocks in formation]

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

par a fon 135
Great in renown, and call’d the Son of God;
Then toldft her doubting how these things could be
To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the pow'r of the Highest
O'er-shadow her: this man born and now up-grown,
To shew him worthy of his birth divine 140
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 145
Of his apoftasy; he might have learnt
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 150
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 surpris’d. 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

155

To

To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance: 160
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 165
This perfect man, by merit call’d my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men.

So spake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring stood a space, then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures mov'd, 170
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 entring his great duel, not of arms, But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles. 175 The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untry'd, Against whate’er may tempt, whate'er seduce, Allure, or terrify, or undermine. Be frustrate all ye stratagems of Hell, 180 And devilish machinations come to nought.

So they in Heav’n their odes and vigils tun'd: Mean while the Son of God, who yet some days Lodg’d in Bethabara where John baptiz’d, Musing and much revolving in his breast, 185 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 converse 190
With solitude, till far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He enter'd now the bord’ring desert wild,
And with dark shades and rocks environ'd round,
His holy meditations thus pursu'd.

195
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 forting with my present state compar'd! 200
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, 205
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 measur'd twice six years, at our great feast 210
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 admir'd by all: yet this not all

To

« PreviousContinue »