Page images
[ocr errors]


What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain, And all the prophets in their age the times
A darksome cloud of locusts swarming down Of great Messiah shall sing. Thus, laws and rites
Must eat, and on the ground leave nothing green; Established, such delight hath God in men
Darkness must overshadow all his bounds, Obedient to his will, that he vouchsafes
Palpable darkness, and blot out three days; Among them to set up his tabernacle,
Last, with one midnight stroke, all the first-born The holy One with mortal men to dwell:
Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds By his prescript a sanctuary is framed
The river-dragon tamed, at length submits Of cedar, overlaid with gold, therein
To let his sojourners depart, and oft

An ark, and in the ark his testimony,
Humbles his stubborn heart; but still as ice The records of his covenant; over these
More hardened after thaw; till, in his rage A mercy-seat of gold, between the wings
Pursuing whom he late dismissed, the sea Of two bright cherubim; before him burn
Swallows him with his host ; but them lets pass Seven lamps, as in a zodiac representing
As on dry land, between two crystal walls; The heavenly fires; over the tent a cloud
Awed by the rod of Moses so to stand

Shall rest by day, a fiery gleam by night, Divided, till his rescued gain their shore: Save when they journey, and at length they come, Such wondrous power God to his saint will lend, Conducted by his angel, to the land Though present in his angel; who shall go Promised to Abraham and his seed: the Before them in a cloud, and pillar of fire; Were long to tell; how many battles fought; By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire; How many kings destroyed, and kingdoms won; To guide them in their journey, and remove Or how the sun shall in mid heaven stand still Behind them, while th' obdurate king pursues : A day entire, and night's due course adjourn, All night he will pursue, but his approach Man's voice commanding, 'San, in Gibeon stand, Darkness defends between till morning watch; And thou moon in the vale of Aialon, Then through the fiery pillar and the cloud Till Israel overcome!' so call the third God looking forth will trouble all his host, From Abraham, son of Isaac; and from him And craze their chariot wheels: when by command His whole descent, who thus shall Canaan win.” Moses once more his potent rod extends

Here Adam interposed. “O sent from Heaven, Over the sea; the sea his rod obeys;

Enlightener of my darkness, gracious things On their embattled ranks the waves return, Thou hast revealed; those chiefly which concern And overwhelm their war : the race elect Just Abraham and his secd: now first I find Safe towards Canaan from the shore advance Mines eyes true opening, and my heart much Through the wild desert, not the readiest way; eased, Lest, entering on the Canaanite alarmed, Erewhile perplexed with thoughts what would War terrify them inexpert, and fear

become Return them back to Egypt, choosing rather Of me and all mankind; but now I see Inglorious life with servitude; for life

His day, in whom all nations shall be blest; To noble and ignoble is more sweet

Favour unmerited by me, who sought Untrained in arms, where rashness leads not on. Forbidden knowledge by forbidden means. This also shall they gain by their delay This yet I apprehend not, why to those In the wide wilderness; there they shall found Among whom God will deign to dwell on earth Their government, and their great senate choose So many and so various laws are given; Thro' the twelve tribes, to rule by laws ordained: So many laws argues so many sins God from the mount of Sinai, whose gray top Among them; how can God with such reside ?" Shall tremble, he descending, will himself, To whom thus Michael. “Doubt not but that In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpet's sound, sin Ordain them laws; part, such as appertain Will reign among them, as of thee begot; To civil justice; part, religious rites

And therefore was law given them, to evince Of sacrifice; informing them, by types

Their natural pravity, by stirring up And shadows, of that destined seed to bruise Sin against law to fight: that when they see The serpent, by what means he shall achieve Law can discover sin, but not remove, Mankind's deliverance. But the voice of God Save by those shadowy expiations weak, To mortal ear is dreadful: they beseech The blood of bulls and goats, they may conclude That Moses might report to them his will, Some blood more precious must be paid for man: And terror cease ; he grants what they besought, Just for unjust; that in such righteousness Instructed that to God is no access

To them by faith imputed, they may find Without mediator, whose high office now Justification towards God, and peace Moses in figure bears ; to introduce

Of conscience; which the law by ceremonies One greater, of whose day he shall foretell, Can not appease, nor man the mortal part


Perform; and, not performing, can not live. Upon the temple itself; at last they seize
So law appears imperfect; and but given The sceptre, and regard not David's sons;
With purpose to resign them in full time, Then lose it to a stranger, that the true
Up to a better covenant; disciplined

Anointed king Messiah might be born
From shadowy types to truth; from flesh to spirit; Barred of his right; yet at his birth a star,
From imposition of strict laws to free

Unseen before in Heaven, proclaims him come
Acceptance of large grace; from servile fear And guides the eastern sages, who inquire
To filial; works of law to works of faith. His place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold:
And therefore shall not Moses, though of God His place of birth a solemn angel tells
Highly beloved, being but the minister To simple shepherds, keeping watch by night;
Of law, his people into Canaan lead;

They gladly thither haste, and by a choir
But Joshua, whom the Gentiles Jesus call, Of squadroned angels hear his carol sung.
His name and office bearing, who shall quel A virgin is his mother, but his sire
The adversary serpent, and bring back

The power of the Most High: he shall ascend Through the world's wilderness long wandered The throne hereditary, and bound his reign

With earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Safe to eternal Paradise of rest.

heavens." Meanwhile they, in their earthly Canaan placed, He ceased, discerning Adam with such joy Long time shall dwell and prosper; but when sins Surcharged, as had like grief been dewed in tears, National interrupt their public peace,

Without the vent of words; which these he breathProvoking God to raise them enemies;

ed. From whom as oft he saves them penitent

“O prophet of glad tidings, finisher By judges first, then under kings: of whom Of utmost hope! now clear I understand The second, both for piety renowned

What oft my steadiest thoughts have search'd in And puissant deeds, a promise shall receive

vain, Irrevocable, that his regal throne

Why our great Expectation should be called For ever shall endure; the like shall sing The seed of woman: virgin mother, hail ! All prophecy, that of the royal stock

High in the love of Heaven; yet from my loins Of David (so I name this king) shall rise Thou shalt proceed, and from thy womb the Son A Son, the woman's seed to thee foretold, Of God most High: so God with man unites ! Foretold to Abraham, as in whom shall trust Needs must the serpent now his capital bruise All nations; and to kings foretold, of kings Expect with mortal pain : say where and when The last; for of his reign shall be no end. Their fight, what stroke shall bruise the victor's But first, a long succession must ensue;

heel.” And his next son, for wealth and wisdom famed, To whom thus Michael. "Dream not of their The clouded ark of God, till then in tents

fight, Wandering shall in a glorious temple enshrine. As of a duel, or the local wounds Such follow him, as shall be registered

Of head or heel: nor therefore joins the Son Part good, part bad; of bad the longer scroll; Manhood to Godhead, with more strength to foil Whose foul idolatries, and other faults

Thy enemy; nor so is overcome Heaped to the popular sum, will so incense Satan, whose fall from Heaven, a deadlier bruise, God, as to leave them, and expose their land, Disabled, not to give thee thy death's wound: Their city, his temple, and his holy ark, Which he, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure, With all his sacred things, a scorn and prey Not by destroying Satan, but his works To that proud city, whose high walls thou saw'st In thee, and in thy seed: nor can this be, Left in confusion; Babylon thence called. But by fulfilling that which thou didst want, There in captivity he lets them dwell

Obedience to the law of God imposed The space of seventy years; then brings them On penalty of death, and suffering death, back,

The penalty to thy transgression due ; Remembering mercy,

and his covenant sworn And due to theirs which out of thine will grow
To David, stablished as the days of Heaven. So only can high justice rest appaid.
Returned from Babylon by leave of kings The law of God exact he shall fulfil
Their lords, whom God disposed, the house of God Both by obedience and by love, though love
They first re-edify, and for a while

Alone fulfil the law; thy punishment
In mean estate live moderate; till, grown He shall endure, by coming in the flesh
In wealth and multitude, factious they grow; To a reproachful life and cursed death;
But first among the priests dissension springs, Proclaiming life to all who shall believe
Men who attend the altar, and should most In his redemption; and that his obedience,
Endeavour peace: their strife pollution brings Imputed, becomes theirs by faith, his merits

To save them, not their own, though legal, works. Shall all be Paradise, far happier place
For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed, Than this of Eden, and far happier days."
Siezed on by force, judged, and to death con- So spake the archangel Michael; then paused,

As at the world's great period: and our sire, A shameful and accursed, nailed to the cross Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied. By his own nation; slain for bringing life; “O goodness infinite, goodness immense! But to the cross he nails thy enemies,

That all this good of evil shall produce, The law that is against thee, and the sins And evil turn to good; more wonderful Of all mankind, with him there crucified, Than that which by creation first brought forth Never to hurt them more who rightly trust Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand, In this his satisfaction; so he dies,

Whether I should repent me now of sin But soon revives; death over him no power By me done and occasioned, or rejoice Shall long usurp; ere the third dawning light Much more, that much more good thereof shall Return, the stars of morn shall see him rise

spring, Out of his grave, fresh as the dawning light To God more glory, more good will to men, Thy ransom paid, which man from death redeems. From God, and over wrath grace shall abound. His death for man, as many as offered life But say, if our Deliverer up to Heaven Neglect not, and the benefit embrace

Must reascend, what will betide the few By faith not void of works: this godlike act His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd, Annuls thy doom, the death thou should'st have The enemies of truth? who then shall guide died,

His people, who defend ? will they not deal In sin for ever lost from life; this act

Worse with his followers than with him they Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength, dealt ?" Defeating sin and death, his two main arms, “ Be sure they will,” said the angel ; " but from And fix far deeper in his head their stings

Heaven Than temporal death shall bruise the victor's heel, He to his own a Comforter will send, Or theirs whom he redeems; a death, like sleep, The promise of the Father, who shall dwell A gentle wafting to immortal life.

His spirit within them; and the law of faith, Nor after resurrection shall he stay

Working through love, upon their hearts shall Longer on earth than certain times to appear write, To his disciples, men who in his life

To guide them in all truth; and also arm Still followed him; to them shall leave in charge With spiritual armour, able to resist To teach all nations what of him they learned Satan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts; And his salvation; them who shall believe What man can do against them, not afraid, Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign Though to the death ; against such cruelties Of washing them from guilt of sin to life With inward consolaticas recompensed, Pure, and in mind prepared, if so befall, And oft supported so as shall amaze For death, like that which the Redeemer died, Their proudest persecutors: for the Spirit, All nations they shall teach; for, from that day, Poured first on his apostles, whom he sends Not only to the sons of Abraham's loins To evangelize the nations, then on all Salvation shall be preached, but to the sons Baptized, shall them with wondrous gifts endue Of Abraham's faith, wherever through the world; To speak all tongues, and do all miracles, So in his seed all nations shall be blest.

As did their Lord before them. Thus they win Then to the Heaven of Heavens he shall ascend, Great numbers of each nation to receive With victory, triumphing through the air With joy the tidings brought from Heaven: at Over his foes and thine; there shall surprise length The serpent, prince of air, and drag in chains Their ministry performed, and race well run, Through all his realm, and there confounded leave; Their doctrine and their story written left, Then enter into glory, and resume

They die; but in their room, as they forewarn, His seat at God's right-hand, exalted high Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves, Above all names in Heaven; and thence shall Who all the sacred mysteries of Heaven come,

To their own vile advantages shall turn When this world's dissolution shall be ripe, Of lucre and ambition; and the truth

l; With glory and power to judge both quick and With superstitions and traditions taint, dead;

Left only in those written records pure, To judge the unfaithful dead, but to reward Though not but by the Spirit understood. His faithful, and receive them into bliss,

Then shall they seek to avail themselves of names, Whether in Heaven or earth; for then the earth Places, and titles and with these to join

[ocr errors]

Secular power; though feigning still to act "This having learned, thou hast attained the sum
By spiritual, to themselves appropriating Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the stars
The spirit of God, promised alike and given Thou knew'st by name, and all the ethereal powers,
To all believers; and, from that pretence, All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
Spiritual laws by carnal power shall force Or works of God in Heaven, air, earth, or sea,
On every conscience; laws which none shall find And all the riches of this world enjoyedst,
Left them enrolled, or what the Spirit within And all the rule, one empire ; only add
Shall on the heart engrave. What will they then Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith,
But force the spirit of grace itself, and bind Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
His consort liberty? what, but unbuild By name to come called charity, the soul
His living temples, built by faith to stand Of all the rest : then wilt thou not be loath
Their own faith, not another's? for, on earth, To leave this Paradise, but shall possess
Who against faith and conscience can be heard A Paradise within thee, happier far.
Infallible? yet many will presume :

Let us descend now therefore from this to
Whence heavy persecution shall arise

Of speculation; for the hour precise On all, who in the worship persevere

Exacts our parting hence; and see! the guards, Of spirit and truth; the rest, far greater part, By me encamped on yonder hill, expect Will deem in outward rites and specious forms Their motion; at whose front a flaming sword, Religion satisfied; truth shall retire

In signal of remove, waves fiercely round: Bestuck with slanderous darts, and works of faith We may no longer stay: go, waken Eve; Rarely be found : so shall the world go on, Her also I with gentle dreams have calmed To good malignant, to bad men benign; Portending good, and all her spirits composed Under her own weight groaning, till the day To meek submission; thou, at season fit, Appear of respiration to the just,

Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard, And vengeance to the wicked, at return Chiefly what may concern her faith to know, Of him so lately promised to thy aid,

The great deliverance by her seed to come The woman's seed; obscurely then foretold, (For by the woman's seed) on all mankind: Now amplier known thy Saviour and thy Lord; That ye may live, which will be many days, Last, in the clouds, from Heaven to be revealed Both in one faith unanimous, though sad, In glory of the Father, to dissolve

With cause, for evils past, yet much more cheered Satan with his perverted world ; then raise With meditation on the happy end." From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined, He ended, and they both descend the hill; New Heavens, new earth, ages of endless date, Descended, Adam to the bower where Eve Founded in righteousness, and peace, and love; Lay sleeping, ran before; but found her waked; To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss." And thus with words not sad she him received. He ended; and thus Adam last replied.

“Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I "How soon hath thy prediction, Seer blest,

know; Measured this transient world, the race of time, For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise, Till time stands fixed! beyond is all abyss, Which he hath sent propitious, some great good Eternity, whose end no eye can reach.

Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress Greatly instructed I shall hence depart;

Wearied I fell asleep: but now led on;
Greatly in peace of thought, and have my fill In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Of knowledge, what this vessel can contain; Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Beyond which was my folly to aspire.

Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me
Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best,

Art all things under Heaven, all places thou, And love with fear the only God; to walk Who for my wilful crime art banished hence. As in his presence; ever to observe

This further consolation yet secure
His providence; and on him sole depend, I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Merciful over all his works, with good

Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,
Still overcoming evil, and by small

By me the promised Seed shall all restore." Accomplishing great things, by things deemed So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard weak

Well pleased, but answered not; for now too nigh Subverting worldly strong, and worldly wise The archangel stood; and from the other hill By simply meek: that suffering for truth's sake To their fixed station, all in bright array Is fortitude to highest victory,

The cherubim descended; on the ground And, to the faithful, death the gate of life; Gliding meteorous, as evening mist Taught this by his example, whom I now Risen from a river o'er the marish glides, Acknowledge my Redeemer ever blest.” And gather's ground fast at the labourer's heel

To whom thus also the angel last replied. Homeward returning. High in front advanced

The brandished sword of God before them blazed, Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat, With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms: And vapour as the Lybian air adust,

Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat soon; In either hand the hastening angel caught The world was all before them where to choose Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate Their place of rest, and Providence their guide: Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast They, hand in hand, with wandering steps, and To the subjected plain; then disappeared.

slow, They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld Through Eden took their solitary way. Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,

Paradise Begained.


find permission from above. Satan then disappears, and the book closes with a short description of night coming on in the

desert. THE ARGUMENT. The subject proposed. Invocation of the Holy Spirit.The poem opens with John baptizing at the river Jordan. I, who erewhile the happy garden sung Jesus coming there is baptized; and is attested, by the descent By one man's disobedience lost, now sing of the Holy Ghost, and by a voice from Heaven, to be the Recovered Paradise to all mankind, Son of God. Satan, who is present, upon this immediately flies up into the regions of the air: where, summoning his in. By one man's firm obedience fully tried fernal council, he acquaints them with his apprehensions that Through all temptation, and the tempter foiled Jesus is that seed of the woman, destined to destroy all their In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed, power; and points out to them the immediate necessity of And Eden raised in the waste wilderness. bringing the matter to proof, and of attempting, by snares and fraud, to counteract and defeat the person, from whom they

Thou Spirit, who led'st the glorious eremite have so much to dread. This office he offers himself to un- Into the desert, his victorious field, dertake ; and his offer being accepted, sets out on his enter. Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him prise. In the mean time God, in the assembly of holy angels, thence declares that he has given up his Son to be tempted by Satan; By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire, but foretells that the tempter shall be completely defeated by brim :-upon which the angels sing a hymn of triumph. As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute; Jesus is led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, while he is And bear through height or depth of nature's meditating on the commencement of his great office of Sa. bounds, viour of Mankind. Pursuing his meditations, he narrates, in With prosperous wing full summed, to tell of deeds a soliloquy, what divine and philanthropic impulses he had Above heroic, though in secret done, feit from his early youth, and how his mother Mary, on per: And unrecorded left through many an age; ceiving these dispeitions in him, had acquainted him with the circumstances of his birth, and informed him that he was Worthy to have not remained so long unsung. no less a person than the Son of God; to which he adds what

Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice his own inquiries and reflections had supplied in confirmation More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried of this great truth, and particularly dwells on the recent at. tentation of it at the river Jordan. Our Lord passes forty Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand days, fuating in the wilderness; where the wild beasts become To all baptized : to his great baptism flocked muid and harmless in his presence. Satan now appears under With awe the regions round, and with them came the form of an old peasant; and enters into discourse with From Nazareth the son of Joseph deemed our Lord, wondering what could have brought him alone into

To the flood Jordan; came, as then obscure, 80 dangerous a place, and at the same time professing to recognise him for the person lately acknowledged by John, at

Unmarked, unknown; but him the Baptist soon the river Jordan, to be the Son of God. Jesus briefly replies. Descried, divinely warned, and witness bore Satan rejoins with a description of the difficulty of supporting As to his worthier, and would have resigned life in the wilderness; and entrents Jesus, if he be really the To him his heavenly office; nor was long Son of God, to manifest his divine power, by changing some of the stones into bread. Jesus reproves him and at the same

His witness unconfirmed : on him baptized time tell him that he knows who he is. Satan instantly Heaven opened, and in likeness of a dove avows himself, and offers an artful apology for himself and The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice his conduct. Our blessed Lord severely reprimands him, and From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son. refutes every part of his justification. Satan, with much that heard the Adversary, who, roving still semblance of humility, still endeavours to justify himself, and, About the world, at that assembly famed prosessing his admiration of Jesus and his regard for virtue, requests to be permitted at a future time to hear more of his would not be last, and, with the voice divine conversation; but is answered, that this must be as he shall Nigh thunderstruck, the exalted Man, to whom

« PreviousContinue »