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Milton here shows that he was no servile imitator of the ancients. that his master, Homer, and all who followed him, where they are representing the Deity tremble." &c.; and this, to be sure, was consistent enough with their natural notions of the Speaking, describe a scene of terror and awful consternation. “The heavens, seas, and earth Supreme Being: but it would not have been so agreeable to the mild, merciful, and benevolent idea of the Deity upon the christian scheme; and therefore our author has very judiciously made the words of the Almighty diffusing fragrance and delight to all around him.-—THYER.
Where only, what they needs inust do, appear’d,
Not what they would : what praise could they receive ?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid ?
When will and reason, (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoild,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not me. They therefore, as to right belong’d,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate;
As if predestination over-ruled
Their will, disposed by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge: they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not 1: 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 they choose ; for so
I forn’d them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree,
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom : they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
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 first and last shall brightest shine.
Thus while God spake ', ambrosial fragrance fill’d
All heaven, and in the blessed spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffused.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious ; in him all his Father shone
Substantially express’d; 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
| Thus while God spake.
well known m Substantially express'd.
Thy sovran 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 naught;
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 hiin, what for thy glory thou hast made ?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both
Be question’d and blasphemed without defence.
To whom the great Creator thus replied :
O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son, who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are,
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
His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthrald
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 offer'd grace
See Gen. xviii. 25.-NEWTON.
Our author did not hold the doctrine of rigid predestination : he was of the sentiments of the more moderate Calvinists; and thought that some indeed were clected of peculiar grace: the rest might be saved, complying with the terms and conditions of the Gospel. — NEWTON.
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 endeavour'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 harden'd, 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 sins
Against the high supremacy of Heaven,
Affecting Godhead, and so losing all,
To expiate his treason hath naught 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 you 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 quire stood mute;
And silence was in heaven: on man's behalf
Patron or intercessor none appear'd;
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind
Must 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 renew'd :-
Father, thy word is pass’d; man shall find grace;
And shall grace not find means ? that finds her way,
The speediest of thy winged messengers,
To visit all thy creatures, and to all
Comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought;
This my long sufferance and my day of grace. It is a great pity that our author should have thus debased the dignity of the Deity, by putting in his mouth this horrid doctrine of a day of grace, after which it is not possible for a man to repent; and there can be no sort of excuse for him, except the candid reader will make some allowance for the prejudices which he night possibly receive from the gloomy divinity of that enthusiastic age in which he lived. —THYER.
Happy for man, so coining ; 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 ; 1 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 wreak 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, spoil'd of his vaunted spoil ;
Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop,
Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarm’d.
I through the ample air in triumph high
Shall lead hell captive, maugre hell, and show
The 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 carcase 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
Of anger 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
9 With corruption there to dwell. Psalm xvi. 10. " Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither suffer thine Holy Oue to see corruption;" applied to our Saviour's resurrection by St. Peter, Acts ii. 20, 21.—Newton.
What a charming and lovely picture has Milton given us of God the Son, considered as our Saviour and Redeemer !--not in the least inferior in its way to that grander one in the sixth book, where he describes him clothed with majesty and terror, taking vengeance of his enemies. Before he represents him speaking, he makes “ divine compassion, love without end, and grace without measure, visibly to appear in his face,' ‘rying on the same amiable picture, makes him end it with a countenance “ breathing immortal love to mortal men." Nothing could be better contrived to leave a deep impression upon the reader's mind; and I believe one may venture to assert, that no art or words could lift the imagination to a stronger idea of a good and benevolent being. The mute eloquence which our author has so prettily expressed in his “ silent, yet spake," is with no less beauty described by Tasso, at the end of Armida's speech to Godfrey, c. iv. st. 65.
Ciò detto tace, e la risposta attende
Con atto, ch'en silentio hà voce, e preghi —THYER.
Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love
To mortal men, above which only shone
Filial obedience : as a sacrifice
Glad to be offer'd, 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
Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save,
By losing 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 thon in Adan's room
The head of all mankind, though Adam's son.
As in him . perish all men, so in thee,
As from a second root, shall be restored,
As many as are restored ; without thee none.
His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit
Imputed shall absolve them, who renounce
Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds,
And live in thee transplanted, and from thee
Receive new life. So man, as is most just,
Shall satisfy for man, be judged and die ;
And dying rise, and rising with him raise
His brethren, ransonn'd with his own dear life.
So heavenly love shall outdo hellish late,
Giving to death, and dying to redeem;
So dearly to redeem what hellish hate
So easily destroy'd ; and still destroys
In those who, when they may, accept not grace.
Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume
Man's nature, lessen or degrade thine own,
Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss
Equal to God, and equally enjoying
God-like fruition, quitted all to save
A world from utter loss; and hast been found
By merit more than birthright Son of God :
Found worthiest to be so by being good,
Far more than great or high. Because in thee
Love hath abounded more than glory abounds;
Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt
$ As in him, fc.
See 1 Cor. xv. 22.-NEWTON.