Page images
PDF
EPUB

Freely they stood, who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have given sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith, of love,
Where only what they needs must do appeard,
Not what they would? what praise could they receive ?
What pleasure 1 from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not me? They therefore, as to right belonged,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination overruled
Their will disposed by apsolute decree
Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge and what ıhey choose ; for so
I form’d them free : and free they must remain,
Till they enthral themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom; they themselves ordaind their fall,
The first sort by their own suggestion feli.
Self-tempted, self-depraved : Man falls, deceived
By the other first: Man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: In mercy and justice both,
Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel
But mercy, irst and last, shall brightest shine.”

Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
All Heaven, and in the bless'd spirits Elect
Sense of new joy inefferable diffused.
Boyond compare the Son of God was seen

Most glorious; in him all his father shone
Substantially expressed ; and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appear d,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which, uttering, thus he to his father spake:

“O Father, gracious was that word which closed
Thy sov’reign sentence, that Man should find grace;
For which both Heaven and Earth shall high extol
Thy praises, with the innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompass'd shall resound thee ever bless'd.
For should Man finally be lost ? should Man,
Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son,
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd
With his own folly ? That be from thee far,
That far be from thee, Father, who art Judge
Of all things made, and judgest only right.
Or shall the Adversary thus obtain
His end, and frustrate thine? Shall he fulfil
His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought?
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to Hell
Draw after him the whole race of mankind,
By him corrupted ? Or wilt thou thyself
Abolish thy creation, and unmake
For him, what for thy glory thou hadst made ?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both
Be questioned and blasphemed without desence.'!

To whom the great Creator thus replied:
"O Sen, in whon ny soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
All hast thruszeken as my thoughts are, al
As my eternal purpose hath decreed;
Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will;
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew

G

His lapsed powers, though forfeit, and enthrall’d
By sin to foul exorbitant desires;
Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
On even ground against his mortal foe;
By me upheld, that he may know how frail
His fallen condition is, and to me owe
All his deliverance,and to none but me.
Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn’d
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The incensed Deity, while offered grace
Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,
What may suffice, and soften stony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To prayer, repentance and obedience due,
Though but endeavor'd with sincere intent,
Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut,
And I will place within them as a guide,
My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear,
Light after light, well used, they shall attain,
And to the end persisting, safe arrive.
This my long sufferance, and my day of grace;
They who neglect and scorn shall never taste
But hard be hardened, blind be blinded more,
That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;
And none but such from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done; Man disobeying,
Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and siris
Against the high supremacy of Heaven,
Affecting Godhead, and, so losing all,
To expiate his treason hath nought left,
But to destruction sacred and devote,
He with his whole posterity must die :
Die he or justice must, unless for him
Some other able, and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say, Heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love?
Which of ye will be mortal, to redeem
Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save?
Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?"

He ask'd, but all the Heavenly choir stood mute,
And silence was in Heaven: on Man's behalf
Patron, or intercessor none appeared,
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind
DIust have been lost, adjudged to Death and Hell
By doom severe, had not the Son of God,
In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,
His dearest mediation thus renewed :

“Father, thy word is passd, Man shall find grace;
And shall grace not find means, that finds her way,
The speediest of her winged messengers,
To visit all thy creatures, and to all
Comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought?
Happy for Man, so coming; he her aid
Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost;
Atonement for himself or offering meet,
Indebted and undone, hath none to bring:
Behold me then; me for him, life for life
I offer; on me let thine anger fall;
Account me Man. I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee
Freely put off, and for him lastly die
Well pleased; on me let Death wreck all his rage;
Under his gloomy power I shall not long
Lie vanquish’d; thou hast given me to possess
Life in myself for ever; by thee I live,
Though now to Death I yield, and am his due
All that of me can die; yet that debt paid,
Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome

grave
His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul
For ever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue
My vanquisher spojla! of' is vaunted spoil;
Death his c'eath's wound shallthen receive and stoop
Inglorious, of is 190, ials dig disarm'd.
I through the ample air in triumph high
Slall lead Hell captive, maugre Hell, and show
Tie powers of darkness bound. Thou, at the sight
Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,
While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes,
Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave:
Then, with the multitude of my redeem'd,
Shall enter Heaven, long absent and return,
Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud*
Ofanger shall remain, but peace assured
And reconcilement; wrath shall be no more
Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire."

His words here ended, but his meek aspect
Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love
To mortal Men, above which only shone
Filial obedience. As a sacrifice
Glad to be offerd, he attends the will
Of his great Father. Admiration seized
All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend
Wondering; but soon the Almighty thus replied:

“ O thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace Found out for Mankind under wrath!

O thou, My sole complacence! well thou know'st how dear To me are all my works, nor Man the least, Though last created; that for him I spare Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save, By loosing thee a while, the whole race lost. Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem, Their nature also to thy nature join; And be thyself Man among Men on Earth, Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed, By wondrous birth: be thou in Adam's room The head of all Mankind, thou Adam's son.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »