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Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
To fuch perfection, that ere yet my age
Had meafur'd twice fix Years, at our great Feaft
I went into the Temple, there to hear
The Teachers of our Law, and to propofe
What might improve my knowledge or their own ;
And was admir'd by all; yet this not all
To which my Spirit afpir'd, victorious deeds
Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while
To refcue Ifrael from the Roman Yoke,
Then to fubdue and quell o'er all the earth
Brute violence and proud Tyrannick pow'r,
Till truth were freed, and equity restor'd :
Yet held it more humane, more heav'nly, first
By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
And make perfuafion do the work of fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring Soul
Not wilfully mif-doing, but unaware
Mif-led; the ftubborn only to destroy.
Thefe growing thoughts my Mother foon perceiving
By words at times caft forth, inly rejoic'd,
And faid to me apart, High are thy thoughts
O Son, but nourish them, and let them foar
To what heighth facred 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,
Though men efteem thee low of Parentage,
Thy Father is th' Eternal King, who rules
All Heav'n and Earth, Angels and Sons of men;
A meffenger from God foretold thy Birth
Conceiv'd in me a Virgin, he foretold
Thou should't be great and fit on David's Throne,
And of thy Kingdom there fhall be no end.
At thy Nativity a glorious Quire
Of Angels in the fields of Bethlehem fung
To Shepherds watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Meffiah now was born,
Where they might fee him, and to thee they came,
Directed to the Manger where thou lay'st;
For in the Inn was left no better room:
A Star not feen before in Heav'n appearing
Guided the Wife Men thither from the Eaft,
To honour thee with Incenfe, Myrrh and Gold,
By whofe bright courfe led on they found the place,
Affirming it thy Star new grav'n in Heav'n,
By which they knew the King of Ifrael born.
Just Simeon and Prophetick Anna warn'd
By Vifion found thee in the Temple, and fpake
Before the Altar and the vested Priest,
Like things of thee to all that prefent flood.
This having heard, straight I again revolv'd
The Law and Prophets, fearching what was writ
Concerning the Meffiah, to our Scribes
Known partly, and foon found of whom they spake
I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard affay even to the death,
Ere I the promis'd Kingdom can attain,
Or work Redemption for mankind, whofe fins
Full weight muit be transferr'd upon my head.
Yet neither thus difhearten'd or difmay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited, when behold!
The Baptift (of whose birth I oft had heard,
Not knew by fight) now come, who was to come
Before Meffiah and his way prepare.
I as all others to his Baptifm came,
Which I believ'd was from above; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd
Me him (for it was hewn him fo from Heav'n)
Me him whofe Harbinger he was; and first
Refus'd on me his Baptifm to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won:
But as I rofe out of the laving ftream,
Heav'n open'd her eternal doors, from whence
The Spirit defcended on me like a Dove ;
And last, the fum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from Heav'n, pronounc'd me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleas'd; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obfcure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
The Authority which I deriv'd from Heav'n.
And now by fome ftrong 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.
Sir, what ill chance has brought thee to this place
So far from path or road of men, who pass
In Troop or Caravan, for fingle none
Durst ever, who return'd, and dropt not here
His Carcafe, pin'd with hunger and with drought.
So fpake our Morning Star, then in his rise,
And looking round on every fide beheld
A pathlefs Defart, dufk with horrid fhades ;
The way he came not having mark'd, return
Was difficult, by humane fteps untrod:
And he still on was led, but with fuch thoughts
Accompanied of things paft and to come,
Lodg'd in his breaft, as well might recommend.
Such Solitude before choicest Society.
Full forty days he pafs'd, wheter on hill,
Sometimes anon in fhady vale, each night
Under the covert of fome antient Oak
Or Cedar, to defend him from the dew,
Or harbour'd in one Cave, is not reveal'd;
Nor tafted humane food, nor hunger felt
Till those days ended, hunger'd then at laft
Among wild Beafts: They at his fight grew mild,
Nor fleeping him nor waking harm'd, his walk
The fiery Serpent fled, and noxious Worm,
The Lion and fierce Tiger glar'd aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds,
Following, as feem'd, the queft of fome firay Ewe, 315
Or wither'd flicks to gather, which might ferve
Against a Winter's day when winds blow keen,
To warm him wet return'd from Field at Eve,
He faw approach, who firft with curious eye
Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou feem'ft the Man, whom late
Our new baptizing Prophet at the Ford
Of Jordan honour'd fo, and call'd the Son
Of God: Ifaw and heard, for we fometimes
Who dwell this wilde, conftrain'd by want, come forth
To Town or Village nigh (nigheft is far)
Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happ'ns new; Fame alfo 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, reply'd the Swain,
What other way I fee not; for we here
Live on tough roots and ftubs, to thirst inur'd
More than the Camel, and to drink go
Men to much mifery and hardship born;
But if thou be the Son of God, command
That out of these hard ftones be made thee Bread
So fhalt thou fave thyself, and us relieve
With Food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.
He ended, and the Son of God reply'd.
Think'ft thou fuch force in Bread; is it not written
(For I difcern thee other than thou feem'ft)
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
Mofes was forty days, nor eat nor drank,、
And forty days Elijah without focd
Wandred this barren wafte, the fame I now :
Why doft thou then fuggeft to me distrust,
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?
Whom thus answer'd th' Arch-Fiend now undisguis'd.
'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate,
Who leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt,
Kept not my happy Station, but was driven
With them from blifs to the bottomlefs deep,
Yet to that hideous place not fo confin'd
By rigour unconniving, but that oft
Leaving my dolorous Prison I enjoy
Large Liberty to round this Globe of Earth,
in th' Air; nor from the Heav'n of Heav'ns
Hath he excluded my refort sometimes.
I came among the Sons of God, when he
Gave up into my hands Uzzaan Job
To prove him, and illuftrate his high worth;
And when to all his Angels he propos'd
To draw the proud King Ahab into fraud,
That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring,
I undertook that Office; and the tongues
Of all his flattering Prophets glibb'd with lyes
To his deftruction, as I had in charge,
For what he bids I do; though I have loft
Much luftre of my native brightness, loft
To be belov'd of God, I have not loft
To love, at leaft contemplate and admire
What I fee excellent in good, or fair,
Or virtuous, I fhould fo have loft all fenfe.
What can be then lefs in me than defire
To fee thee, and approach thee, whom I know
Declar'd the Son of God, to hear attent
Thy Wisdom, and behold thy God-like deeds?
Men generally think me much a foe
To all mankind: why fhould I? they to me
Never did wrong or violence, by them
I loft not what I loft, rather by them
I gain'd what I have gain'd, and with them 'dwell
Copartner in thefe Regions of the World,
If not difpofer; lend them oft my aid,
Oft my advice by prefages and figns,
And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams,
Whereby they may direct their future life.
Envy they fay excites me, thus to gain
Companions of my mifery and wo.
At first it may be; but long fince with wo
Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof,!