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Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrench'd ;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse
The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceas'd,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shalt be inquir❜d at Delphos or elsewhere,
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living oracle

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Into the world to teach his final will,

And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oracle

To all truth requisite for men to know.

So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend,

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Though inly stung with anger and disdain,
Dissembled, and this answer smooth return'd.
Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,
And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will
But misery hath wrested from me: Where
Easily canst thou find one miserable,

And not enforc'd oft times to part from truth;
If it may stand him more in stead to lie,
Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure?

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But thou art plac'd above me, thou art Lord;
From thee I can and must submiss endure
Check or reproof, and glad to scape so quit,

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Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk,

Smooth on the tongue discours'd, pleasing to th' ear,
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song;

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What wonder then if I delight to hear

Her dictates from thy mouth? Most men adinire

Virtue, who follow not her lore: Permit me

To hear thee when I come (since no man comes)

And talk at least, though I despair to attain.

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Thy Father, who is holy, wise and pure,
Suffers the bypocrite or atheous priest
To tread his sacred courts, and minister
About his altar handling holy things,
Praying or vowing, and vouchsaf'd his voice
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspir'd; disdain not such access to me.

To whom our Saviour with unalter'd brow.
Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,

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The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd ;

And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam,

END OF THE FIRST BOOK,

PARADISE REGAIN'D.

MEAN

BOOK II.

TEAN while the new baptiz'd, who yet remain'd
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen

Him whom they heard so late expressly call'd

Jesus Messiah Son of God declar'd,

And on that high authority had believ'd,

Andrew and Simon, famous after known,

And with him talk'd, and with him lodg'd, I mean

With others though in holy writ not nam'd.
Now missing him their joy so lately found,
So lately found, and so abruptly gone,
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,

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And as the days increas'd, increas'd their doubt:
Sometimes they thought he might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once

Moses was in the mount, and missing long;

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And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels.
Rode up to Heav'n, yet once again to come.
'Therefore as those young prophets then with care
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethabara; in Jericho

The city' of palms, Ænon, and Salem old,
Machærus, and each town or city wall'd
On this side the broad lake Genezaret,
Or in Peræa; but return'd in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek,

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Where winds with reeds and osiers whisp'ring play,

Plain fishermen, no greater men them call,
Close in a cottage low together got,

Their unexpected loss and plaints out breath'd.
Alas, from what high hope to what relapse.
Unlook'd for are we fall'n! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long

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Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth;
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
The kingdom shall to Israel be restor❜d:
Thus we rejoic'd, but soon our joy is turn'd
Into perplexity and new amaze :

For whither is he gone, what accident
Hath rapt him from us? Will he now retire
After appearance, and again prolong
Qur expectation? God of Israel

Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come;
Behold the kings of th' earth how they oppress
Thy chosen, to what height their pow'r unjust
They have exalted, and behind them cast
All fear of thee; arise and vindicate
Thy glory, free thy people from their yoke.
But let us wait; thus far hé hath perform'd,
Sent his Anointed, and to us reveal'd him,
By his great Prophet, pointed at and shown
In public, and with him we have convers'd;
Let us be glad of this, and all our fears
Lay on his providence; he will not fail,
Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall.

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Mock us with his blest sight, then snatch him hence ;
Soon we shall see our hope, our joy return.

Thus they out of their plaints new hope resume

To find whom at the first they found unsought :
But to his mother Mary, when she saw.
Others return'd from baptism, not her son,
Nor left at Jordan, tidings of him none,

Within her breast though calm, her breast though pure,
Motherly cares and fears got head, and rais’d

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Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus clad. 65
O what avails me now that honor high
To have conceiv'd of God, or that salute
Hail highly favor'd, among women blest!
While I to sorrows am no less advanc'u, .
And fears as eminent, above the lot
Of other women, by the birth I bore,
In such a season born when scarce a shed
Could be obtain❜d to shelter him or me
From the bleak air; a stable was our warmth

A manger his; yet soon enforc'd to fly

Thence into Egypt, till the murd❜rous king
Were dead, who sought his life, and missing fill'd
With infant blood the streets of Bethlehem ;
From Egypt home return'd, in Nazareth
Hath been our dwelling many years; his life
Private, unactive, calm, contemplative,
Little suspicious to any king; but now
Full grown to man, acknowledg'd, as I hear,
By John the Baptist, and in public shown,

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Son own'd from Heav'n by his Father's voice;

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I look'd for some great change; to honor? No,

But trouble, as old Simeon plain foretold,

That to the fall and rising he should be

Spoken against, that through my very soul

Of many in Israel, and to a sign

A sword shall pierce: This is my favor'd lot,

My exaltation to afflictions high;

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Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blest ;

I'will not argue that, nor will repine.

But where delays he now? Some great intent

Conceals him: When twelve years he scarce had seen,

I lost him, but so found, as well I saw

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He could not lose himself; but went about

His Father's business; what he meant I mus'd,
Since understand; much more his absence now
Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
But I to wait with patience am inur'd;
My heart hath been a store house long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events.
Thus Mary pond'ring oft, and oft to mind
Recalling what remarkably had pass'd
Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts
Meekly compos'd awaited the fulfilling:

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The while her son tracing the desert wild,
Sole but with holiest meditations fed,
Into himself descended, and at once

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All his great work to come before him set;
How to begin, how accomplish best

His end of being on earth, and mission high:
For Satan with sly preface to return

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Had left him vacant, and with speed was gone

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