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To him his heavenly office, nor was long
His witness unconfirm'd: on Him baptized
Heav'n open'd, and in likeness of a dove
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From heav'n pronounced Him His beloved Son.
That heard the adversary, who, roving still
About the world, at that assembly famed
Would not be last, and, with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, th' exalted Man, to whom
Such high attest was giv'n, a while survey'd
With wonder, then, with envy fraught and rago,
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst
With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake.

O ancient Powers of air and this wide world,
For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation ; well
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possest, and ruled
In manner at our will th' affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise deceived by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head; long the decrees of heav'n
Delay, for longest time to Him is short;
And now too soon for us the circling hours
This dreaded time have compast, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long threaten'd wound,
At least if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infringed, our freedom, and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air :
For this ill news I bring, the woman's seed,
Destined to this, 18 late of woman born;



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See Ephes. ii. %; v. 18.

His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flow'r, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet to proclaim
His coming is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
Purified to receive Him pure, or rather
To do Him honour as their king: all come,
And He Himself among them was baptized,
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
Out of the water, heav'n above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on His head
A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant,
and out of heav'n the sovereign voice I hear,
- This is my Son beloved, in Him am pleased.
His mother then is mortal, but His sire
He who obtains the monarchy of heav'n;
And what will He not do to advance His Son P
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When His fierce thunder drove us to the deep;
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.

e see our danger on the utmost edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be opposed,
Not force, but well-couch'd fraud, well-woven snarer,
Ere in the head of nations He appear
Their king, their leader, and supreme on earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook
The dismal expedition to find out

1 Milton's idea that Satan did not low that the wondrous Man baptized was the Messiah, originated probably by the opinions of Ignatius, Boridom,

who believed that the devll did not recognize in mortal form the Son of God. - From NEWTON.

And ruin Adam, and the exploit perform'd
Successfully; a calmer voyage now
Will waft me; and the way found prosp'rous odos
Induces best to hope of like success.

He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to th' infernal crew,
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay
At these sad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief.
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprise
To him their great dictator, whose attempt
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 gode
Of many a pleasant realm and province wida.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,'
Where he might likeliest find this new-declared,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Tenuptation 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 pre-ordain'd and fixt
Of the most High, who, in full frequence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriela smiling spake.

Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold,
Thou and all angels conversant on earth
With man or men's ffairs, how I begin
To verify that solemn message late,
On which I sent thee to the virgin puro
In Galilee, that she should bear a son
Great in renown, and call’d the Son of GOD;
Thou told’st her, doubting how these things could be

1 Aluding to the habits of pretendod sorcerers, who wore a girdle of snako's skin.-NEWTON. Milton also alluded to tba tomptation of Eve.

2 The rabbis say that Gabriel was the angel of mercy; Michael, of justice, From NEWTON,

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-grown,
To show him worthy of his birth divine
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 learnt
Less overweening, since he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcamo
W'nate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man
Of female seed, far abler to resist
áll 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

conquer sin and death, the two grand foes
By humiliation and strong suflerance.
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 th' eternal Father, and all heav'n
Admiring stood a space, then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial ineasures moveä,
Circling the throne and singing, while the hand
Sung with the voice, and this the argument.

Victory and iriumph to the Son of GOD,
Now ent'ring 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 sedace,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate all ye stratagems of hell,
And devilish machinations come to nought.

So they in heav'n their odes and vigils tuned :
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodg'd 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

Publish his god-like 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,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
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 my self, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Il 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 iny 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

I The Wilderness of Judea, or Ziph. It extended from the Jordan aloug the Nastern side of the Dead Sea

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