Imatges de pÓgina

That son, who on the quiet state of men
Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue
Rational liberty; yet know withal,
Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinn'd, and from her hath no dividual being.
Reason in man obscured,
Immediately inordinate desires,
or not obey'd,
And upstart passions, catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce

Within himself

Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits
Over free reason, God in judgment just
unworthy powers to reign
Subjects him from without to violent lords,
Who oft as undeservedly enthral
His outward freedom. Tyranny must be,
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.
Yet sometimes nations will decline so low
From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice, and some fatal curse annex'd,
Deprives them of their outward liberty,
Their inward lost. Witness the irreverent son
Of him who built the ark, who, for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
Servant of servants on his vicious race.
Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
Still tend from bad to worse, till God at last,
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes; resolving from thenceforth
To leave them to their own polluted ways;
And one peculiar nation to select

From all the


of whom to be invoked,

A nation from one faithful man to spring:
Him on this side Euphrates yet residing
Bred up in idol-worship. O that men,
Canst thou believe? should be so stupid grown,

While yet the

As to forsake the living God, and fall
To worship their own work in wood and stone

For gods!

yet him God the Most High vouchsafes

To call by vision from his father's house,
His kindred, and false gods, into a land

Which he

will show him, and from him will raise

A mighty nation, and upon him shower
All nations shall be bless'd; he straight obeys,
His benediction so, that in his seed
I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith
Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes.
He leaves his gods, his friends, and native soil

To Haran after him a cumbrous train

Ur of Chaldea, passing now the ford

patriarch lived, who 'scaped the flood,

Of herds, and flocks, and numerous servitude;
Not wandering poor, but trusting all his wealth
With God, who call'd him, in a land unknown.
Canaan he now attains, I see his tents

Pitch'd about Sechem, and the neighbouring plain
Of Moreh; there by promise he receives
Gift to his progeny of all that land;

From Hamath northward to the desert south,
Things by their names I call, though yet unnamed,
From Hermon east to the great western sea,
Mount Hermon, yonder sea, each place behold
In prospect, as I point them; on the shore
Mount Carmel; here the double-founted stream
Jordan, true limit eastward: but his sons
Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.
This ponder, that all nations of the earth
Shall in his seed be blessed; by that seed
Is meant thy great Deliverer, who shall bruise
The serpent's head; whereof to thee anon
Plainlier shall be reveal'd. This patriarch bless'd,
Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call,
A son, and of his son a grandchild, leaves,
Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown.

The grandchild, with twelve sons increased, departs
From Canaan, to a land hereafter call'd
Egypt, divided by the river Nile;

See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths
Into the sea. To sojourn in that land

IIe comes, invited by a younger son

In time of dearth; a son, whose worthy deeds

Raise him to be the second in that realm

Of Pharaoh there he dies, and leaves his race
Growing into a nation, and, now grown
Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks
To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests

Too numerous; whence of guests he makes them slaves
Inhospitably, and kills their infant males:

Till by two brethren, those two brethren call
Moses and Aaron, sent from God to claim
His people from enthralment, they return,


With glory and spoil, back to their promised land.
But first the lawless tyrant, who denies
To know their God, or message to regard,
Must be compell'd by signs and judgments dire
To blood unshed the rivers must be turn'd;
Frogs, lice, and flies, must all his palace fill
With loathed intrusion, and fill all the land;
His cattle must of rot and murrain die ;
Botches and blains must all his flesh emboss,
And all his people; thunder mix'd with hail,
Hail mix'd with fire, must rend the Egyptian sky,
And wheel on the earth, devouring where it rolls;

What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,
A darksome cloud of locusts swarming down
Must eat, and on the ground leave nothing green;
Darkness must overshadow all his bounds,
Palpable darkness, and blot out three days;
Last, with one midnight-stroke, all the first-born
Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds
This river-dragon tamed at length submits
To let his sojourners depart, and oft

Humbles his stubborn heart; but still as ice
More harden'd after thaw, till, in his rage
Pursuing whom he late dismiss'd, the sea
Swallows him with his host, but them lets pass
As on dry land between two crystal walls,
Awed by the rod of Moses so to stand
Divided, till his rescued gain their shore.
Such wondrous power God to his saint will lend,
Though present in his angel, who shall 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 remove
Behind them, while the obdurate king pursues :
All night he will pursue, Lut his approach
Darkness defends between till morning watch;
Then through the fiery pillar and the cloud
God looking forth will trouble all his host,
And craze their chariot-wheels: when, by command,
Moses once more his potent rod extends
Over the sea; the sea his rod obeys;
On their embattled ranks the waves return,
And overwhelm their war. The race elect
Safe towards Canaan from the shore advance
Through the wild desert, not the readiest way
Lest entering on the Canaanite alarm'd,
War terrify them inexpert, and fear
Return them back to Egypt, choosing rather
Inglorious life with servitude; for life,
To noble and ignoble, is more sweet
Untrain'd in arms, where rashness leads not on.
This also shall they gain by their delay

In the wide wilderness, there they shall found
Their government, and their great senate choose
Through the twelve tribes, to rule by laws ordain'd.
God, from the mount of Sinai, whose gray top
Shall tremble, he descending, will himself
In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets' sound,
Ordain them laws; part, such as appertain
To civil justice; part, religious rites
Of sacrifice, informing them, by types
And shadows, of that destined Seed to bruise
The serpent, by what means he shall achieve
Mankind's deliverance. But the voice of God

To mortal ear is dreadful: they beseech

That Moses might report to them his will,
And terror cease; he grants what they besought,
Instructed that to God is no access

Without mediator, whose high office now
Moses in figure bears, to introduce

One greater, of whose day he shall foretell,
And all the prophets in their age the times
Of great Messiah shall sing. Thus, laws and rites
Establish'd, such delight hath God 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 prescript a sanctuary is framed
Of cedar, overlaid with gold, therein
An ark, and in the ark his testimony,
The records of his covenant, over these
A mercy-seat of gold between the wings
Of two bright cherubim ; before him burn
Seven lamps, as in a zodiac, representing
The heavenly fires; over the tent a cloud
Shall rest by day, a fiery gleam by night,
Save when they journey, and at length they come,
Conducted by his angel, to the land

Promised to Abraham and his seed. The rest
Were long to tell, how many battles fought,
How many kings destroy'd, and kingdoms won ;
Or how the sun shall in mid heaven stand still
A day entire, and night's due course adjourn,
Man's voice commanding, Sun in Gibeon stand
And thou moon in the vale of Ajaion,
Till Israel overcome; so call the third
From Abraham, son of Isaac, and from him
His whole descent, who thus shall Canaan win.
Here Adam interposed: O sent from heaven,
Enlightener of my darkness, gracious things
Thou hast reveal'd, those chiefly which concern
Just Abraham and his seed: now first I find
Mine eyes true opening, and my heart much eased,
Erewhile perplex'd with thoughts what would become
Of me and all mankind; but now I see

His day, in whom all nations shall be biest;
Favour unmerited by me, who sought

Forbidden knowledge by forbidden means.
This yet I apprehend not, why to those

Among whom God will deign to dwell on earth,
So many and so various laws are given?

So many laws argue so many sins

Among them; how can God with such reside?

To whom thus Michael: Doubt not but that sin

Will reign among them, as of thee begot;
And therefore was law given them, to evince

Their natural pravity, by stirring up

Sin against law to fight; that when they see
Law can discover sin, but not remove,
Save by those shadowy expiations weak,
The blood of bulls and goats, they may conclude
Some blood more precious must be paid for man ;
Just for unjust, that in such righteousness,
To them by faith imputed, they may find
Justification towards God, and peace
Of conscience, which the law by ceremonies
Cannot appease, nor man the moral part
Perform, and, not performing, cannot live.
So law appears imperfect, and but given
With purpose to resign them, in full time,
Up to a better
Covenant, disciplined

From shadowy types to truth; from flesh to spirit;
From imposition of strict laws to free
Acceptance of large grace; from servile fear
To filial; works of law to works of faith.
And therefore shall not Moses, though of God
Highly beloved, being but the minister
Of law, his people
His name and office bearing, who shail quell
But Joshua, whom the Gentiles Jesus call,
Through the world's wilderness, long-wander'd man
The adversary serpent, and bring back,
Safe to eternal Paradise of rest.

into Canaan lead;



in their earthly Canaan placed,

Long time shall dwell and prosper, but when sins
Provoking God to raise them enemies,
National interrupt their public peace,
From whom as oft he saves them penitent,
The second, both for piety renown'd
By judges first, then under kings; of whom
And puissant deeds,

a promise shall receive

Irrevocable, that his regal throne
For ever shall endure; the like shall sing
A Son, the woman's seed to thee foretold,
Of David, so I name this king, shall rise
All prophecy, that of the royal stock

Foretold to

Abraham, as in whom shall trust

The last, for of his reign shall be no end.
All nations, and to kings foretold, of kings

But first,



succession must ensue,

And his next son, for wealth and wisdom famed,
Wandering, shall in a glorious temple enshrine.
The clouded ark of God, till then in tents
Such follow him, as shall be register'd
Whose foul idolatries, and other faults,
Part good, part bad, of bad the longer scroll;
God, as to leave them, and expose their land,
Heap'd to the popular sum, will so incense

« AnteriorContinua »