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Of Angels in the fields of Bethleham sung

To shepherds watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born

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Where they might see 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 seen before, in Heav'n appearing
Guided the wise men thither from the east,
To honor thee with incense, myrrh, and gold;
By whose bright course led on they found the place,

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Affirming it thy star new grav'n in Heaven,

By which they knew the king of Israel born.

Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warn'd

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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, strait I again revolv'd

The law and prophets, searching what was writ
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 essay ev'n to the death,
Ere I the promis'd kingdom can attain,

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Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins

Full weight must be transferr'd upon my head.
Yet neither thusdishearten'd or dismay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited, when behold
The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard,

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Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come
Before Messiah and his way prepare.

I as all others to his baptism came,

Which I believ'd was from above; but he

Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd 975 Me him (for it was shown him so from Heaven)

Me him whose harbinger he was; and first

Refus'd on me his baptism to confer,

As much his greater, and was hardly wen:

But as I rose out of the laving stream

Heav'n open'd her eternal doors, from whence

The Spirit descended on me like a dove,
And last the sum of all, my Fathar's voice,
Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounc'd me his,

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Me his beloved Son, in whom alone

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He was well pleas'd; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes

Th' authority which I deriv'd from Heav'n.
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 mark'd, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society,
Full forty days he pass'd, 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 harbor'd in one cave, is not reveal'd ;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt
Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last
Among wild beasts: They at sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harm'd, his walk
The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm,
The lion and fierce tiger glar'd aloof.

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But now an aged man in rural weeds,

Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray ewe,

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Or wither'd sticks to gather, which might serve
Againts a winter's day when winds blow keen,
To warm him wet return'd from field at eve,
He saw approach, who first with curious eye
Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake.

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Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place

So far from path or road of men, who pass
In troop or caravan? For single none
Durst ever, who return'd, and dropt not here
His carcass, pin'd with hunger, and with drougth.
1 ask the rather, and the more admire,

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For that to me thou seem'st the man, whom late
Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford

Of Jordan honor'd so, and call'd thee Son
Of God; I saw and heard, for we sometimes
Who dwell this wild, constrain'd by want, come furth
To town or village nigh (nighest is far)
Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new ; famie also finds us out.

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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 see not, for we here

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Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur'd

More than the camel, and to drink go far,

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Men to much misery and hardship born;

But if thou be the Son of God, command

That out of these hard stones be made thee bread,
So shalt thou save thyself and us relieve

With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.
He ended, and the Son of God reply'd.

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Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written

(For I discern thee other than thou seem'st) 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

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Wander'd this barren waste; the same I now :

Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,

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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

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With them from bliss to the bottomless deep,
Yet to that hideous place not so confin'd

By rigor unconniving, but that oft

Leaving my dolorous prison I enjoy

Large liberty to round this globe of earth,

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Or range in th' air, nor from the Heav'n of Heav'ns
Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.

I came among the sons of God, when he

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Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job

To prove him, and illustrate 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 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 belov'd of God, I have not lost
To love, at least contemplate and admire
What I see excellent in good, or fair,

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Or virtuous, I should so have lost all sense.

What can be then less in me than desire

To see thee and approach thee, whom I know
Declar'd the Son of God, to hear attent

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Thy wisdom, and behold thy Godlike deeds?

Men generally think me such a foe

To all mankind: Why should I? They to me
Never did wrong or violence; by them

I lost not what I lost, rather by them

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I gain'd what I have gain'd, 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 woe.
At first it may be; but long since with woe
Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof,
That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens ought each man's peculiar load.
Small consolation then, were man adjoin'd:

This wounds me most (what can it less ?) that man,
Man fall'n shall be restor'd, I never more.
To whom our Saviour sternly thus reply'd.

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Deservedly thou griev'st, compos'd of lies

From the beginning, and in lies wilt end;

Who boast'st release from Hell, and leave to come

Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns: Thou com'st indeed, 410

As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendor, now depos'd,
Ejected, emptied, gaz'd, unpitied, shunn'd,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn

To all the host of Heav'n: 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 Heav'n's King.
Will thou impute t' obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites ?
What but thy malice mov'd thee to misdeem
Of righteous Job, then cruelly to' afflict him
With all inflictions? But his patience won..
The other service was thy chosen task,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou pretend'st to truth; all oracles

By thee are giv'n, and what confess'd more true
Among the nations? That hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy answers, what but dark,
Ambiguous and with double sense deluding,
Which they who ask'd have seldom understood,
And not well understood as good not known?
Who ever by consulting at thy shrine
Return'd the wiser, or the more instruct
To fly or follow what concern'd 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

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To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,

But from him or his Angels president

In every province? Who themselves disdaining

T'approach thy temples, give thee in command

What to the smallest tittle thou shalt say
To thy adorers; thou with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite obey'st;

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