Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

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 reascend, 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 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

490 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 500 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,

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

510 Of lucre and ambition; and the truth With superstitions and traditions taint, Ieft only in those written records pure, Though not but by the Spirit understood.

Thop they shall seek to avail themselves of names,
Places, and titles, and with these to join

516
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, 520
Spiritual laws by carnal power shali force
On every conscience ; laws which none shall find
Left themi inroll’d, or what the Spirit within
Shall on the heart engrave. What will they then
But fc.ce the Spirit of Grace itself, and bind 525
His consort Liberty? What, but unbuild
His living temples, built by faith to stand,
Their own faith, not another's ? For, on earth,
Who against faith and conscience can be heard
Infallible ? yet many will presume:

530
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

535
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,

540
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 ; 550
To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.

He ended; and thus Adam last replied

[ocr errors]

543

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, 555
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.

560
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

565 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,

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 575 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,

580 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 585 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 précise Exacts our parting hence; and see! the guards, 590

1

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 595
Portending good, and all her spirits composed
To meek submission : thou, at season fit,
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard ;
Chiefly what may concern her faith to know,
Tho great deliverance by her seed to come 600
(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 end.

605
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, 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,

615 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

620 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 nigh 625 'The Archangel stood; and, from the other hill To their fix'd station, all in bright array The Cherubim descended; on the ground

635

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 cliffs first
To the subjected plain ; then disappeared. 640

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 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.

« AnteriorContinua »