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Of female seed, far abler to resist
All his solicitations, and at length
All lit- vast foree, and drive him back to hell,
Winning by conquest, what the first man lost
By fallacy surprised. But first I mean
To exereise 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 h.iMiilijtion 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 powem,
They now, and men hereafter, may discern
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect man, by merit called my son,
To earn salvatios. for the sons of men."
So spake th' eternal Father, and all Heaven Admiring stood apace, then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved, Cireling 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 hellish wiles! The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untried, Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce, A Liu re, 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 jet some days Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized, Musing, and much revolving in his breast How beat the mighty work he might begin Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first Publish his godlike office, now mature, One day forth waited alone, the spirit leading And his deep thoughts, the better to converse With solitude, till, far from track of men, Thought following thought, and step by step led on, He entered now the bordering desert wild, And, with dark shades and rocks environed round, His holy meditations thus pursued.
"O, what a multitude of thoughts at once Awakened in me swarm, while I consider What from within I feel myself, aml hear What from without comes often to my cars, III 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 Bom to that end, born to promote all truth, All rigtteous things: therefore, above my years, The law of God I read, and found it sweet, Made it my whole delight, and in it grew T t soch perfection, that, ere yet my age
Had measured twioe six yean, at our great tea*
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 the 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, lint
By winning words to conquer willing hearts
And make persuasion do the work of feai;
At least to try, and teach the erring soul,
Not wilfully misdoing, hut unware
Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon per-
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced,
And said to me apart; 'High are thy thoughts,
0 Son, but nourish them, and let them soar
To what height saered virtue and true worth
Can raise them, though above example high;
By matehless deeds express thy matehless Sire,
For know, thou art no son of mortal man;
Though men esteem thec 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 should'st be great, and sit on David's
And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity, a glorious choir
Of angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung
To shepherds, watehing at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might see him, and to thee they
Directed to the manger where thou layest,
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
Affirming it thy star, new graven in heaven,
By which they knew the king of Israel torn.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned
By vision, found thec in the temple, and spake.
Before the altar arid the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stood.'—
This having heard, straight I again revolved
The law and prophets, searehing what was wm.
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
Known partly, and soon found, of whom ihei
I am; this chiefly, that my way must Ur
Through many a hard assay, even to the death,
Ere I the premued kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins
Full weight must be transferred upon my head.
Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed,
The time prefixed 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,
Whieh I believed was from above; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice pro-
Me him (for it wat. 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 wai. hardly won:
But an I rose out of the laving stream,
Heaven opened her eternal doora, from whence
The Spirit descended on me like a dove;
And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced 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 marked, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod:
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Aecompanied of things past and to come
Lodged in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he passed, 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 harboured in one cave, is not revealed;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended; hungered then at last
Among wild lieasts: tney at this sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed; his walk
The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm,
The lion and fieree tiger glared aloof.
Hut i.uw an aged man in rural needs,
Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray
Or withered sticks to gather, which might servo
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,
To warm him wot returned from field at eve,
tit saw approach, who first with curious eye
.rm-d him. then with words thus uttered spake.
"Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this
So far from path or road of men, who pass
In troop or caravan t for single none
Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here
His careass, pined with hunger and with drought.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou seem'st the man, whom lato
Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honoured so, and called thee Son
Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes
Who dwell in t is wild, constrained by want, cooie
To town or village nigh, (nighest is far,)
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," 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 bom: But, if thou be the son of God, command That out of these hard stones be made thee brra.i So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve, With food, whereof we wretehed seldom taste."
He ended, and the Son of God replied. "Thinkest thou such foree in bread? Is it 1*4
(For I discern thee other than thou scemest,)
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 days, nor eat, nor drank;
And forty days Elijah, without food,
Wandered 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 answered the areh fiend, now undisguised.
"'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate,
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
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, ajid the tongues
Of all his flattering prophets glibhed 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 sec thec 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 1? they to me
Never did wrong or violence; by them
I lost not what I lost, rather by them
I gained what I have gained, and with them dwell,
Copartner 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 wo.
At first it may be; but long since with wo
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 adjoined:
This wounds me most, (what can it less?) that
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 com'st 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, shunned,
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.
Win thou impute to obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?
What but thy malice moved thec to misdeem
Of righteous Jot>, then eruelly to afflict him
With ell inflictions! but his patience won.
The oiher service was thy chosen task,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou prctendest to truth; all oracles
By then are given, and what confessed more true
Among the nations? that hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more hes.
But what have been thy anwers, what but dark
Ambiguous, and with douhlo vnse deluding,
Which they who asked haw seldom understood:
And not well understood as good not known?
Who ever by consulting at thy shrine
Returned the wiser, or the more instruct,
To fly or follow what concerned him most,
And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
For God hath justly given the nations up
To.thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but, when his purpose is
Among them to declare his providence
To thec not known, whence hast thou then ths
But from him, or his angels president
In every province? who, themselves disdaining
To approach thy temples, give thec in command
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say
To thy adorers? thou, with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st;
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse
The Gentiles; "henceforth oracles are ceased,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shall be inquired at Delphos, or elsewhere;
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living oracle
Into the world to teach his final will,
And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To all truth requisite for men to know."
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend, Though inly stung with anger and disdain, Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned.
"Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, And urged me hard with doings, which not will But misery hath wrested from me. Where Easily can'st thou find one miserable, And not enforced ofttimes to pa t from truth, If it may stand him more insteau to lie, Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure, But thou art placed above me, thou art Lord; From thee I can, and must submiss, endure Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk, Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to tlw
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song;
What wonder then if I delight to hear
Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admiro
Virtue, who follow not her lore: permit me
To hear thee when 1 come, (since no man comet,)
And talk at least, though I despair to attain. .
I Thy father, who is holy, wise, and pure,
Sutlers the hypocrite or atheous pries'
. To tread his nacred courts, tnd minister
About his n'tar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing; and vouchsafed his voice
I'n Balasm reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspired: disdain not such aecess to me."
To whom our Saviour, with unaltered brow.
"Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
I bid not, or forbid; do as thou find'st
Permission from above; thou canst not more."
He added not; rmd Satan, bowing low Hi- gray dissimulation, disappeared Into thin air diffused: for now began Night with her sullen wings to double-shade. The di>sert; fowls in their clay nests were couched; And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
•i'l: 'i --ii.|. •: of Jesus, uneasy ai his long absence, reason amongst themselves concerning it. Mary also gives rent to her maternal anxiety; In the expression of which she recapitulates many cireumstances respecting the birth and early life of her don.—Satan again meets hU Infernal Councll, reports the bad suceess of his tim lempta'ion of our Blessed Lord, and calls upon them for counsel and assistance. Belial proposes tempting or Jesus with women. Satan rebukes Belial for his juuoluteness, charging on him all the profligacy of that kind Meribed by the poeu to the heathen gods, and rejects his proposal as in no respect likely to sueceed. Satan then suggests other mnles of temptation, particularly proponing to avail nimsclf of the cireumstance of our Lord's hungering; and, taking a tand of chpeen spirits with him, return> to resume hw enterprise.—Jesus hungers in the desert. Night comes on: the manner in which our Saviour passes the night is deseribed—Morning advances.—Sstan again appears to Jesus, and, after expressing wonder that he should be so entirely neglected in the wilderness, where others had been miraculously fed, tempts him with a sumptuous banquet of the most luxurious kiml.—This he rejects, and the banquet vanishes.— Satan, finding our Lord not to be assalled on the ground of appetite, tempts him again by offering him riches, as the means of acquiring power: this Jesus also rejects, producing many instances . i -; great actions performed by persons under virtuous poverty, and specifyins the danger of riches, and the cares and pains inseparable 'rom power and greatness.
Mkanwhii.k the new baptized, who yet remained
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly called
Jesus Messiah, Son ol'Gixl declared,
And on that high authority had believed,
Ami with him talked and with him lodged; I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known,
With others though in holy writ not named;
Now missing him their joy so lately Ibund,
(So lately found,'and so abruptly gone,)
Began to doubt and doubted many days,
And. as the days inereased, inereased tlrfardoubt;
S.nn.utimrs they thought he might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once
was in the mount, and missing long;
'the ifrrat Thisbite, who on fiery wheels
Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come;
Therefore, as those young prophets then with can
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethahara in Jericho
The city of palms, ./Enon and Salem old,
Machsrus, and each town or city waiied
On this side the broad lake Genezarel,
Or in Peraa; but returned in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a ereek,
Where winds with reeds and osiers whisperuig
Plain fishermen, (no greater men them cail,)
Close in a cottage low together got,
Their unexpected loss and plaints out breathed.
"Alas, from what high hope lo what relapn
Unlocked for are we fallen! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long
Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth;
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
The kingdom shall to Israel be restored:
Thus we rejoiced, but soon our joy is turned
Into perplexity and new amaze:
For whither is he gone, what aecident
Hath wrapt him from us? will he now retire
After appearance, and again prolong
Our expectation? God of Israel,
Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come!
Behold the kings of the earth, how they oppress
Thy chosen; to what height their power unjust
They have exalted, and behind them cut
All fear of thee; arise and vindicate
Thy glory; free thy people from their yokel
But let us wait; thus far ho hath performed,
Sent his Anointed, and to us revealed him,
By his great Prophet, pointed at and shown
In publie, and with him we have conversed;
Let us be glad of this, and all our fears
Lay on his providence; he will not fail,
Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall,
Mock us with his blest sight, then snateh him
Soon we shall see our Hope, our Joy return." Thus they, out of their plaints, new hope resume
To find whom at the first they found unsought:
But, to his mother Mary, when she saw
Others returned from baptism, not her sun,
Nor left at Jordan tidings of him none,
Within her breast, though calm, her breast thnugl
Motherly cares and fears got head, and raised Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus
"O what avails me now that honour high To have conceived of God, or that salute, 'Hail, highly favoured, among women blessed>s While I to sorrows am no less advanced. And fears as eminent, above the lot
Of other women, by the birth I bore;
In such a season hum, when scaree a shed
Cuuld be obtained to shelter him or me
From the bleak air; a stable was our warmth,
A manger his; yet soon enforeed to fly
Thence into Egypt, till the murderous king
Were dead, who sought his life, and missing filled
With infant blood the streets of Bethlehem:
From Egypt home returned, in Nazareth
Hath been our dwelling many years; his life
Private, unactive, calm, contemplative,
Little suspicious to any king; but now,
Full grown to man, acknowledged, as I hear,
Bj John the Baptist, and in public shown,
Son owned from Heaven by his Father's voice,
I looked for some great change; to honour? no;
Bat trouble, as old Simeon plain foretold,
That to the fall and rising, he should be
Of many in Israel, and to a sign
Spokrn against, that through my very soul
A swird shall pieree: this is my favoured lot,
My exaltation to afflictions high;
Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blest;
I will not argue that, nor will repine.
But where delays he now? some great intent
Conceals him: when twelye years he scaree had
I lost him, but so found, as well as saw
He could not lose himself, but went about
His Father's business; what he meant I mused,
Since understood; much more his absence now
Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
But I to wait with patience am inured;
My heart hath been a storehouse long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events."
Thus Mary, pondering oft, and oft to mind
Recalling what remarkably had passed
Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts
Meekly composed awaited the fulfilling:
The while her son, tracing the desert wild,
Sole, but with holiest meditations fed,
Into himself descended, and at once
All his great work to come before him set;
How to begin, how to aecomplish best
His end of being on earth, and mission high:
For Satan, with sly preface to return,
Had left him vacant, and with speed was gone
Up to the middle region of thick air,
Where all his potentates in council sat;
There, without sign of boast, or sign of joy,
Soficitous and blank, he thus began.
"Princes, Heaven's ancient sons, ethereal |
Demonian spirits now, from the clement
Fach of his reign allotted, rightlier called
Powers of fire. air, water, and earth beneath.
(So may we hold our place and these mild scats
Without new trouble,) such an enemy
Is risen to invade us, who no less
Threatens than our expulsion down to hell.
I, as I undertook, and with the vole
Consenting in full frequence was empowered,
Have found him, viewed him, tasted him; but firu1
Far other labour to be undergone
Than when l dealt with Adam, first of men,
Though Adam by his wile's allurement fell,
However to this Man inferior far;
If he be man by mother B side, at least
With more than human gifts from Heaven adorneo,
Perfections absolute, graces divine,
And amplitude of mind to greatest deeds.
Therefore I am returned, lest confidence
Of my suecess with Eve in Paradise
Deceive ye to persuasion over sure
Of like sueceeding here: I summon all
Rather to be in readiness, with hand
Or counsel to assist; lest I, who erst
Thought none my equal, now be overmatehed."
So spake the old Serpent, doubting; and from aJI
With clamour was assured their utmost aid
At his command: when from amidst them rosn
Belial, the dissolutest spirit that fell,
The sensualist, and, after Asmodai,
The fleshliest incubus; and thus advised.
"Set women in his eye, and in his walk
Among daughters of men the fairest found:
Many are in each region passing fair
As the noon sky; more like to goddesses
Than mortal ereatures; graceful and disereet.
Expert in amorous arts, enchanting tongues
Pursuasive, virgin majesty with mild
And sweet allayed, yet terrible to approach;
Skilled to retire, and, in retiring, draw
Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets.
Such object hath the power to soften and tame
Severest temper, smooth the rugged'st brow
Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve,
Draw out with eredulous desire, and lead
At will the manliest, resolutest breast,
As thu magnetic hardest iron draws.
Women, when nothing else beguiled the heart
Of wisest Solomon, and made him build,
And made him bow, to the gods of his wives."
To whom quick answer Satan thus returned
Belial, in much uneven scale thou weighes t
All others by thyself: because of old
Thou thyself doted'st on womankind, admirmg
Their shape, their colour, and attractive grace
None are, thou think'st, but taken with such toys
Before the flood, thou with thy lusty erew,
False titled sons of God, roaming the earth.
Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of meu,
And coupled with them, and begot a race.
Have we not seen, or bv relation heard,
In courts and regal cha niters how thou lurk'st.
In wood or grove, by nuwsy fountam side,
In valley or green meadow, to waylay
Some beauty rare, Calisto, C'lymene