Page images
PDF
EPUB

To God more glory, more good-will to Men
From God, and over wrath grace shail abound.
But say, if our Deliverer up to Heaven
Must reasce
scend, what will betide the few
His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd,
The enemies of truth? Who then shall guide
His people, who defend? Will they not deal
Worse with his followers than with him they dealt?

Be sure they will, said the Angel; but from Heaven He to his own a Comforter will send, 486 The promise of the Father, who shall dwell

490

His Spirit within them; and the law of faith,
Working through iove, upon their hearts shall write,
To guide them in all truth; and also arm
With spiritual armour, able to resist
Satan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts;
What man can do against them, not afraid,
Though to the death; against such cruelties
With inward consolations recompensed,
And oft supported so as shall amaze
Their proudest persecutors: for the Spirit,
Pour'd first on his Apostles, whom he sends
To evangelize the nations, then on all
Baptized, shall them with wondrous gifts endus
To speak all tongues, and do all miracles,

As did their Lord before them. Thus they win
Great numbers of each nation to receive

480

495

500

With joy the tidings brought from Heaven: at length
Their ministry perform'd, and race well run, 505
Their doctrine and their story written left,

They die; but in their room, as they forewarn,
Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves,
Who all the sacred mysteries of Heaven
To their own vile advantages shall turn
Of lucre and ambition; and the truth
With superstitions and traditions taint,
Left only in those written records pure,
Though not but by the Spirit understood

510

516

Then they shall seek to avail themselves of names,
Places, and titles, and with these to join
Secular power; though feigning still to act
By spiritual, to themselves appropriating
The Spirit of God, promised alike and given
To all believers; and, from that pretence,
Spiritual laws by carnal power shall force
On every conscience; laws which none shall find
Left them inroll'd, or what the Spirit within
Shall on the heart engrave. What will they then
But force the Spirit of Grace itself, and bind
His consort Liberty? What, but unbuild
His living temples, built by faith to stand,
Their own faith, not another's? For, on carth,
Who against faith and conscience can be heard
Infallible? yet many will presume:
Whence heavy persecution shall arise
On all, who in the worship persevere
Of spirit and truth; the rest, far greater part,
Will deem in outward rites and specious forms
Religion satisfied; truth shall retire

:

Bestuck with slanderous darts, and works of faith
Rarely be found so shall the world go on,
To good malignant, to bad men benign;
Under her own weight groaning; till the day
Appear of respiration to the just,

And vengeance to the wicked, at return
Of him so lately promised to thy aid,
The Woman's Seed; obscurely then foretold,
Now ampler known thy Saviour and thy Lord;
Last, in the clouds, from Heaven to be reveal'd
In glory of the Father, to dissolve

Satan with his perverted world; then raise
From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined,
New Heavens, new Earth, ages of endless date,
Founded in righteousness, and peace, and love;
To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.

He ended; and thus Adam last replied

520

525

530

535

540

545

550

How soon hath thy prediction, Seer bless'd,
Measured this transient world, the race of time,
Till time stand fix'd! Beyond is all abyss,
Eternity, whose end no eye can reach.
Greatly instructed I shall hence depart;
Greatly in peace of thought; and have my fill
Of knowledge, what this vessel can contain ;
Beyond which was my folly to aspire.
Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best,
And love with fear the only God; to walk
As in his presence; ever to observe
His providence; and on him sole depend,
Merciful over all his works, with good
Still overcoming evil, and by sinall
Accomplishing great things, by things deem'd weak
Subverting worldly strong, and worldly wise

By simply meek: that suffering for truth's sake
Is fortitude to highest victory,

555

560

565

570

And, to the faithful, death the gate of life;
Taught this by his example, whom I now
Acknowledge my Redeemer ever bless'd.

To whom thus also the Angel last replied.
This having learn'd, thou hast attain'd the sum
Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the stars
Thou knew'st by name, and all the ethereal powers,
All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
Or works of God in Heaven, air, earth, or sea,
And all the riches of this world enjoy'dst,
And all the rule, one empire; only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith,
Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
By name to come call'd charity, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee, happier far.-
Let us descend now therefore from this top
Of speculation; for the hour precise

Exacts our parting hence; and see! the guards, 590

575

580

585

By me encamp'd on yonder hill, expect
Their motion; at whose front a flaming sword,
In signal of remove, waves fiercely round:
We may no longer stay: go, waken Eve;
Her also I with gentle dreams have calm'd
Portending good, and all her spirits composed
To meek submission: thou, at season fit,

He ended, and they both descend the hill;
Descended, Adam to the bower, where Eve
Lay sleeping, ran before; but found her waked;
And thus with words not sad she him received:

595

Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard ;
Chiefly what may concern her faith to know,
The great deliverance by her seed to come
(For by the Woman's seed) on all mankind ·
That ye may live, which will be many days,
Both in one faith unanimous, though sad,
With cause, for evils past; yet much more cheer'd
With meditation on the happy er.d.

600

605

Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I know,
For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise,
611
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied I fell asleep: but now lead on;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay
Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me
Art all things under Heaven, all places thou,
Who for my wilful crime art banish'd hence.
This further consolation yet secure

I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the Promised Seed shall all restore.

So spake our mother Eve; and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answer'd not for now too nig 625
The Archangel stood; and, from the other hill

To their fix'd station, all in bright array

The Cherubim descended

on the ground

615

620

Gliding meteorous, as evening mist
Risen from a river o'er the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandish'd sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat
And vapour, as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
In either hard the hastening Angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliffs first
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.

They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that faming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces throng'd, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropp'd, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose 646
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way

THE END

630

635

640

« EelmineJätka »