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The subject p.oposed. Invocation of the Holy Spirit Jokn ce ptizing at the river Jordan. Jesus coming there, is baptized; and is attested, by the descent of the Holy Ghost, and by a voice from heaven, lo be the Son of God. Satan, who is present, flies up into the regions of the air; where, summoning his infernal council, he acquaints them with his apprehensions that Jesus is that seed of the woman destined to destroy all their power, and points out to them the necessity of bringing the matter 10 proof, and of attempting to counteract and defeat the person from whom they have so much to dread. This office he undertakes, and sets out on his enterprise. In the mean time, God, in the assembly of holy angels, declares that he has given up his Son to be tempted by Satan ; but foretels that the tempter shall be completely defeated by him: upon which the angels sing a hymn of triumph. Jesus is led up by the Spirit in:o the wilder xess, while he is meditating on the commencement of his great office of Saviour of mankind. He narrates, in a soliloquy, what divine and philanthropic impulses he had felt from his early youth an' how his n.other, Mary, had acquainted him with the circumstances of his birth, and informed him that he was no less a person than the Son of God; to which he adds what his own reflections and inquiries had supplied, in confirmation of this great truth, and particularly dwells on the recent attestation of it at the river Jordan. Our Lord passes forty days, fasting, in the wilderness; where the wild beasts become barmless in his presence Batan now appears under the form of an old peasant, and enters into discourse with our Lord. Jesus replies. Satan rejoins with a description of the difficulty of supporting life in the wilderness ; and entreats Jesus, if le be really the Son of God, to manifest his divine power, by changing some of the stones into bread. Jesus repro 'es him, and, a! the same time, tells him that he knows who he is. Satan avows himseif, and offers an artful apology. Our blessed Lord severely reprimands him, and confutes every part of his justification. Satan still endeavours to justify himself; and, professing his admiration of Jesus, and his regard for virtue, requests to be permitted at a future time to hear more of his conversation ; but is answered, that this must be as he shall find permission from above. Satan then disappears, and the book clores with a short description of night coming on in the desert.
I who erewhile the happy garden sung
prosperous wing full summ’d, to tell of deeds
Now had the great proclaimer, with a voice: More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried Repentance, and heaven's kingdom nigh at hand To all baptized: to his great baptism flock'd With awe the regions round, and with them caine, From Nazareth, the son of Joseph deem'd
To the flood Jordan; came, as then obscure, Unmark’d, unknown; but him the Baptist soor Descried, divinely warn’d, and witness bore As to his worthier, and would have resign'd To him his heavenly office; nor was long His witness unconfirm’d: on him baptized Heaven open'd, and in likeness of a dove The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice From heaven pronounced him his beloved Son. That heard the adversary, who, roving still About the world, at that assembly famed Would not be last, and, with the voice divine Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man, to whom Such high attest was given, awhile survey'd With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air To council summons all his mighty peers, Within thick clouds, and dark, tenfold involved, A gloomy consistory; and them amidst, With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:
“O ancient powers of air, and this wide w uld (For much more willingly I mention air, This our old conquest, than remember hell, Our hated habitation;) well ye know How many ages, as the years of men, This universe we have possess'd, and ruled, In manner at our will, the affairs of earth, Since Adam and his facile consort, Eve, Lost Paradise, deceived by me; though since With dread attending when that fatal wound Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head. Long the decrees of heaven