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To do him honor as their king; all come, 75
Successfully; a calmer voyage now
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, 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 enjoyd: 125 But contrary unweeting he fulfillid 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
Book I. 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 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 loft By fallacy surpris’d. But first I mean
155 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 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
Book I. Of Saviour to mankind, and which
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 folitude, 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 sorting with my present state compar'd! 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