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“Purified, to receive him pure, or rather,
I saw “ The prophet do him reverence ; on him, rising
80 “Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds “ Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head “A perfect dove descend (whate'er it meant), “ And out of Heaven the sovran voice I heard, “ • This is my Son beloved ; in him am pleased.' “ His mother then is mortal, but his Sire “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.
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, “ But must with something sudden be opposed“ Not force, but well-couched fraud, well-woven snares“ 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 66 And ruin Adam; and the exploit performed “ Successfully: a calmer voyage now “ Will waft me; and the way found prosperous once “ Induces best to hope of like success.
He ended, and his words impression left
At first, against mankind so well had thrived
“ Gabriel! this day by proof thou shalt behold, 130 “ 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, “ Great in renown, and called the Son of God; “ Then toldst her, doubting how these things could be “ 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 upgrown, 140 “ 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 failed 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 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 “ 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 “ This perfect Man, by merit called my Son, 66 To earn salvation for the sons of men.”
So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven
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 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, “ Allure, or terrify, or undermine. “ Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell;
180 “ And, devilish machinations, come to nought!”
So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned:
And, with dark shades and rocks environed round,
“O, what a multitude of thoughts at once
. “ 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, first
By winning words to conquer willing hearts, “ And make persuasion do the work of fear ; “ At least to try, and teach the erring soul, “ Not wilfully misdoing, but unaware “ Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
“ These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving, By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced, “ And said to me apart : ‘High are thy thoughts, “O Son! but nourish them, and let them soar
230 “ To what height sacred virtue and true worth “ Can raise them, though above example high: “ By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
“ For know, thou art no Son of mortal man,
Thy Father is the Eternal King who rules
A messenger from God foretold thy birth, “ Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold “ Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne, 240 “ And of thy kingdom there should be no end. “ 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 layst, “ 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,
250 “ To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold ;
By whose bright course led on they found the place, “ Affirming it thy star, new-graven in Heaven,
By which they knew thee King of Israel born. Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned “ By vision, found thee in the temple, and spake, “ Before the altar and the vested priest, “ Like things of thee to all that present stood.'
“ This having heard, straight I again revolved “ The law and prophets, searching what was writ
260 Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes “ Known partly, and soon found, of whom they spake
I am ; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay, e'en to the death, “ Ere I the promised kingdom can attain, “ Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins“ Full weight-must be transferred upon my head. “ Yet, neither thus disheartened nor dismayed,
The time prefixed I waited; when behold “ The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard,
270 “Not knew by sight), now come, who was to come “Before Messiah, and his way prepare ! “I, as all others, to his baptism came,