Page images
[ocr errors]


From Hermon east to the great western fea;
Mount Hermon, yonder fea, each place behold
In profpect, as I point them; on the fhore
Mount Carmel; here the double founted stream,
Jordan, true limit eastward; but his fons
Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.
This ponder, that all nations of the earth
Shall in his feed be bleffed: by that feed
Is meant thy great deliverer, who shall bruife
The ferpent's head; whereof to thee anon
Plainlier fhall be reveal'd. This patriarch blefs'd,
Whom faithful Abraham due time fhall call,

A fon, and of his fon a grandchild leaves,

Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown.



The grandchild with twelve fons increas'd, departs 155 From Canaan, to a land hereafter call'd

Egypt, divided by the river Nile :

See where it flows, difgorging at sev'n mouths
Into the fea. To fojourn in that land

He comes, invited by a younger fon


In time of dearth; a fon whofe worthy deeds

Raife him to be the fecond in that realm

Of Pharaoh; there he dies, and leaves his race

Growing into a nation, and now grown

Sufpected to a fequent king, who feeks
To flop their overgrowth, as inmate guests


Too num'rous; whence of guefts he makes them flaves Inhofpitably', and kills their infant-males;

Till by two brethren (those two brethren call

Mofes and Aaron) fent from God to claim
His people from inthralment, they return
With glory' and spoil back to their promis'd land.
But first the lawless tyrant, who denies

To know their GoD, or meffage to regard.


Must be compell'd by figns and judgements dire; 175 To blood unfhed the rivers must be turn'd; Frogs, lice, and flies, muft all his palace fill With loath'd intrufion, and fill all the land; . His cattle must of rot and murrain die ; Botches and blains muft all his fleth imbofs And all his people; thunder mix'd with hail,



Hail mix'd with fire, muft rend th' Egyptian fky,
And wheel on th' earth, devouring where it rolls;
What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,
A darkfome cloud of locuits fwarming down
Muft cat, and on the ground leave nothing green;
Darkness muft overshadow all his bounds,
Palpable darkness and blot out three days;
Laft, with one midnight-ftroke, all the first born
Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds 190
The river dragon tam'd at length fubmits

To let his fojourners depart, and oft

Humbles his ftubborn heart; but still as ice
More harden'd after thaw; till in his rage
Pursuing whom he late difmifs'd, the fea
Swallows him with his hoft; but them lets pafs
As on dry land between two crystal walls,
Aw'd by the rod of Mofes fo to stand
Divided, till his refcu'd gain their shore ;


Such wond'rous pow'r God to his faint will lend, 200
Though prefent in his Angel, who fhall go
Before them in a cloud, and pillar of fire,
By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire,
To guide them in their journey, and remové
Behind them, while th' obdurate king purfues:
All night he will purfue; but his approach
Darkness defends between till morning watch;
Then through the fiery pillar and the cloud-
GOD looking forth will trouble all his hoft,


[ocr errors]

And craze their chariot-wheels; when by command
Mofes once more his potent rod extends
Over the fea; the fea his rod cbeys;

On their embattled ranks the waves return,
And overwhelm their war The race elect
Safe towards Canaan, from the thore advance
Through the wild defert, not the readieft way,
Left ent'ring on the Canaanite alarm'd,
War terrify them inexpert, and fear
Return them back to Egypt, chufing rather
Inglorious life with fervitude; for life
To noble and ignoble is more sweet..

Untrain'd in arms, where rafhness lead not on.



This alfo fhall they gain by their delay


In the wild wilderneis; there they fhall found
Their government, and their great fenate chufe
Through the twelve tribes, to rule by laws ordain'd.
GOD from the mount of Sinai, whofe grey top
Shall tremble, he defcending, will himself

In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets sound,
Ordain them laws; part such as appertain
To civil justice, part religious rites
Of facrince, informing them, by types
And fhadows of that deftin'd feed to bruife
The ferpent, by what means he fhall atchieve


Mankind's deliv'rance. But the voice of GoD


To mortal ear is dreadful; they befeech
That Mofes might report to them his will,

And terror ceafe; he grants what they befought,
Inftructed that to GoD is no accefs

Without Mediator, whose high office now


Mofes in figure bears, to introduce

One greater, of whofe day he shall foretel,

And all the prophets in their age the times

Of great Meffi'ah fhall fing. Thus laws and rites
Establish'd, fuch delight hath Gon in men
Obedient to his will, that he vouchsafes
Among them to set up his tabernacle,
The holy One with mortal men to dwell.
By his prefcript a fanctuary is fram'd
Of cedar, overlaid with gold; therein
An ark, and in the ark his teftimony,
The records of his cov'nant; over thefe
A mercy feat of gold between the wings
Of two bright cherubim; before him burn
Sev'n lamps, as in a zodiac reprefenting
The heav'nly fires; over the tent a cloud
Shall reft by day, a fiery gleam by night,
Save when they journey, and at length they come,
Conducted by his Angel, to the land

Promis'd to Abraham and his feed. The reft
Were long to tell, how many battles fought,
How many kings deftroy'd, and kingdoms won;
Or how the fun thall in mid Heav'n land ftill





A day entire, and night's due courfe adjourn,
Man's voice commanding, fun in Gibeon stand
And thou moon in the vale of Ajalon,
Till Ifr'el overcome: fo call the third
From Abraham, fon of Ifaac, and from him
His whole defcent, who thus fhall Canaan win.


Here Adam interpos'd. O fent from Heav'n, 270 Enlight'ner of my darknefs, gracious things Thou haft reveal'd, those chiefly which concern Juft Abraham and his feed: now first I find Mine eyes true op'ning, and my heart much eas'd,

Erewhile perplex'd with thoughts what would become Of me and all mankind; but now I fee


His day, in whom all nations thall be blefs'd,

Favour unmerited by me, who fought
Forbidden knowledge by forbidden means.
This yet I apprehend not, why to those

Among whom Gon will deign to dwell on earth,
So many and fo various laws are giv'n;

So many laws argue fo many fins

Among them; how can GoD with fuch refide?


To whom thus Michael. Doubt not but that fin 285 Will reign among them, as of thee begot; And therefore was law giv'n them to evince Their natural pravity, by firing up

Sin againft law to fight: that when they fee
Law can difcover fin, but not remove,
Save by thofe fhadowy expiations weak,

The blood of bulls and goats, they may conclude
Some blood more precious must be paid for man,
Juft for unjuft; that in fuch righteoufnefs
To them by faith imputed, they may find
Juftification towards Gon, and peace
Of confcience; which the law by ceremonies
Cannot appeafe, nor man the moral part
Perform, and not performing cannot live.
So law appears imperfect, and but given
With purpose to refign them in full time
Up to a better covenant, difciplin'd

From fhadowy types to truth, from flesh to fp'rit,
From compofition of ftrict laws to free




Acceptance of large grace, from fervile fear

To filial, works of law to works of faith.


And therefore fhall not Mofes, though of GoD
Highly belov'd, being but the Minifter

Of law, his people into Canaan lead;

But Joshua, whom the Gentiles Jefus call,

The adversary ferpent, and bring back

His name and office bearing, who fhall quell


Through the world's wildernefs long wander'd man
Safe to eternal Paradise of reft.

Mean while they in their earthly Canaan plac'd, 315
Long time fhall dwell and profper; but when fins
National interrupt their public peace,
Provoking God to raise them energies;
From whom as oft he faves them penitent
By judges firft, then under kings; of whom
The fecond, both for piety renown'd

And puiffant deeds, a promife fhall receive
Irrevocable, that his regal throne
For ever fhall endure; the like fhall fing
All prophecy, that of the royal flock



Of David (fo I name this king) fhall rife

A Son, the woman's feed to thee foretold,

Foretold to Abraham, and in whom fhali truft

All nations, and to kings foretold, of kings

The laft; for of his reign fhall be no end.


But firft a long fucceffion muft enfue;

And his next fon, for wealth and wisdom fam'd,

The clouded ark of Gon, till then in tents

Wand'ring, fhall in a glorious temple' infhrine.
Such follow him as fhall be regifter'd,


Part good, part bad, of bad the longer feroll;
Whofe foul idolatries and other faults
Heap'd to the popular fum, will fo incenfe

GOD, as to leave them, and expofe their land,
Their city', his temple, and his holy ark,


With all his facred things, a fcorn and prey

To that proud city, whofe high walls thou faw't

Left in confufion, Babylon thence call'd.

There in captivity he lets them dwell

The space of fev'nty years, then brings them back, 345

« PreviousContinue »