Page images
PDF
EPUB

To judge the unfaithful dead; but to reward
His faithful, and receive them into bliss,
Whether in Heaven or Earth; for then the Earth
Shall all be Paradise, far happier place
Than this of Eden, and far happier days."

So spake the Arch-angel Michael; then paused, As at the world's great period; and our sire, Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied.

O goodness infinite, goodness immense ! That all this good of evil shall produce, And evil turn to good; more wonderful Than that which, by creation, first brought forth Light out of darkness ! full of doubt I stand, Whether I should repent me now of sin, By me done and occasion'd, or rejoice [spring; Much more, that much more good thereof shall To God more glory, more good will to men From God, and over wrath grace

shall abound. But

say, if our Deliverer up to Heaven Must re-ascend, 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 He to his own a Comforter will send, [Heaven The promise of the Father; who shall dwell His spirit within them and the law of faith, Working through love 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 endue, To speak all tongues, and do all miracles, As did their Lord before them. Thus they win Great numbers of each nation, to receive, With joy, the tidings brought from Heaven : at length Their ministry perform'd, and race well run, Their doctrine and their story written, left, They die; but in their room, as they forewarn,

T

On

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.
Then shall they 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

every conscience; laws which none shall-find
Left them enroll’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 ? wliat, but unbuild
His living temples, built by faith to stand,
Their own faith, not another's: for on earth,
Who against faith & conscience can be heard
Infallible ? yet many will presume :
Whence heavy persecution shall arise
On all, who in the worship persevere,
Of spirit & truth ; the rest, far greater part,
Will deem, in outward rites & specious forms,
Religion satisfied; truth shall retire,
Bestuck with slanderous darts, & 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 amplier known, thy Saviour & 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. “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, & 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 small,
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,
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, & 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’d'st,
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 ; & see, the guards,
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, & all her spirits composed
To meek submission : thou, at season fit,
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard ;
Chiefly what my 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 pass'd, yet much more cheer'd
With meditation on the happy end."

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.

“Whence thou return’st, & whither went'st I know;
For God is also in sleep, and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow & 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 high The Arch-angel stood ; and from the other hill To their fix'd station, all in bright array The Cherubim descended ; on the ground 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 hand, the hastening Angel caught Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast, To the subjected plain; then disappear'd. They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld Of Paradise, so late their happy seat, Waved over by that flaming 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 Their place of rest, and Providence their guide: They, hand in hand, with wandering steps & slow, Through Eden took their solitary way.

THE END OF PARADISE LOST.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »