« PreviousContinue »
The space of sev’nty years, then brings them back,
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,
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:
So only can high justice rest appaid.
Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength,
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,
With glory' and pow'r to judge both quick and
To judge th' unfaithful dead, but to reward
So spake th’Arch-Angel Michael, then paus’d,
O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!
say: If our Deliv’rer up to Heav'n