Page images
PDF
EPUB

The space of sev’nty years, then brings them back,
Rememb’ring mercy, and his cov’nant sworn
To David, stablish'd as the days of Heav'n.
Return'd from Babylon, by leave of kings
Their lords, whom God dispos’d, the house of God
They first re-edify, and for a while

350 In mean estate live moderate, till

grown In wealth and multitude, factious they grow. But, first, among the priests dissension springs ! Men who attend the altar, and should most Endeavour

peace. Their strife pollution brings Upon the temple' itself. At last they seize 356 The sceptre, and regard not David's sons, Then lose it to a stranger, that the true Anointed King, Messiah, might be born Barr’d of his right; yet at his birth a star, 360 Unseen before in Heav'n, proclaims him come, And guides the eastern sages, who inquire His place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold. His place of birth a solemn Angel tells To simple shepherds, keeping watch by night: They gladly thither haste, and, by a choir 366 Of squadron'd Angels, hear his carol

sung: A virgin is his mother, but his Sire The pow'r of the Most High. He shall ascend The throne hereditary, and bound his reign 370 With earth's wide bounds, his glory with the

Heav'ns. He ceas'd, discerning Adam with such joy Surcharg’d, as had like grief been dew'd in tears,

VOL. II.

Y

Without theventof words, which these hebreath’d: O prophet of glad tidings ! finisher

375 Of utmost hope! now clear I understand What oft my steadiest thoughts have search'd in

vain, Why our great expectation should be call’d The Seed of Woman. Virgin Mother, hail ! High in the love of Heav'n, yet from my loins Thou shalt proceed, and from thy womb the Son Of God Most High: so God with Man unites. Needs must the Serpent now his capital bruise Expect with mortal pain. Say where and when Their fight; what stroke shall bruise the Victor's heel.

385 To whom thus Michael: Dream not of their

fight As of a duel, or the local wounds Of head or heel : not therefore joins the Son Manhood to Godhead, with more strength to foil Thy enemy; nor so is overcome

390 Satan, whose fall from Heav'n, a deadlier bruise, Disabled not to give thee thy death's wound: Which he, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure, Not by destroying Satan, but his works In thee and in thy seed: nor can this be, 395 But by fulfilling that which thou didst want, Obedience to the law of God, impos'd On penalty of death, and suff’ring death, The penalty to thy transgression due, And due to theirs, which out of thine will grow:

[ocr errors]

401

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

So only can high justice rest appaid.
The law of God exact he shall fulfil,
Both by obedience and by love, though love
Alone fulfil the law. Thy punishment
He shall endure, by coming in the flesh 405
To a reproachful life and cursed death,
Proclaiming life to all who shall believe
In his redemption, and that his obedience
Imputed becomes theirs by faith, his merits
To save them, not their own, tho' legal works.
For this he shall live hated, be blasphem'd, 411
Seiz’d on by force, judg’d, and to death condemn’d,
A shameful and accurs’d, nail'd to the cross
By his own nation, slain for bringing life;
But to the cross he nails thy enemies; 415
The law that is against thee, and the sins
Of all mankind, with him there crucify’d,
Never to hurt them more who rightly trust
In this his satisfaction. So he dies,
But soon revives; death over him no pow'r 420
Shall long usurp: ere the third dawning light
Return, the stars of morn shall see him rise
Out of his grave, fresh as the dawning light,
Thy ransom paid, which man from death redeems,
His death for man, as many as offer'd life 425
Neglect not, and the benefit embrace
By faith not void of works. This God-like act
Annuls thy doom, the death thou shouldst have

dy'd,
In sin for ever lost from life. This act

[ocr errors][merged small]

Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength,
Defeating sin and death, his two main arms,
And fix far deeper in his head their stings
Than temp'ral death shall bruise the Victor's heel,
Or theirs whom he redeems, a death like sleep,
A gentle wafting to immortal life.

435
Nor after resurrection shall he stay
Longer on earth than certain times t'appear
To his disciples, men who in his life
Still follow'd him: to them shall leave in charge
To teach all nations what of him they learn’d,
And his salvation; them who shall believe 441
Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign
Of washing them from guilt of sin to life
Pure, and in mind prepar'd, if so befall,
For death, like that which the Redeemer dy'd.
All nations they shall teach ; for, from that day,
Not only to the sons of Abraham's loins
Salvation shall be preach'd, but to the sons
Of Abraham's faith, wherever thro’ the world ;
So in his seed all nations shall be blest.

450 Then to the Heav'n of Heav'ns he shall ascend With victory, triumphing through the air Over his foes and thine; there shall surprize The Serpent, prince of air, and drag in chains Thro' all his realm, and there confounded leave; Then enter into glory, and resume His seat at God's right hand, exalted high Above all names in Heav'n; and thence shall come, When this world's dissolution shall be ripe,

456

With glory' and pow'r to judge both quick and

dead;

460

To judge th' unfaithful dead, but to reward
His faithful, and receive them into bliss,
Whether in Heav'n or Earth; for then the Earth
Shall all be Paradise : far happier place
Than this of Eden, and far happier days. 465

So spake th’Arch-Angel Michael, then paus’d,
As at the world's great period; and our sire,
Replete with joy and wonder, thus reply’d:

O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!
That all this good of evil shall produce, 470
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 475
Much more, that much more good thereof shall

spring,
To God more glory, more good-will to men
From God, and over wrath grace shall abound.
But

say: If our Deliv’rer up to Heav'n
Must reäscend, what will betide the few

480
His faithful, left among th' 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 th' Angel; but from
Heav'n

485

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »