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What oft my steadiest tho'ts 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.
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
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 re-cure,
Not by destroying Satan, but his works
In thee and in thy seed; nor can this be,
But by fulfilling that which thou didst want,
Obedience to the law of God, impos'd
On penalty of death, and suffering death,
The penalty of thy transgression due,
And due to theirs, which out of thine will grow :
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
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, though legal works.
For this he shall live hated, be blasphem'd,
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,
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 power
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
Neglect not, and the benefit embrace
By faith not void of works : this godlike act
Annuls thy doom, the death thou should'st have dy'd,
In sin for ever lost from life; this act
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.
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 beiieve
Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign
Of washing them from guilt of sin to life
Pure, and in mind prepar'd, if so befal,
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 through the world ;
So in his seed all nations shall be blest.
Then to the heav'n of heav'ns he shall ascend
With victory, triumphing through the air
Over his foes and thine; there shall surprise
The serpent, prince of air, and drag in chains
Through 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 dead,
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.'
So spake th' archangel 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, 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 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 Deliverer up to heav'n Must reascend, what will betide the few 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 He to his own a Comforter will send, 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 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 recompens'd, And oft supported so as shall amaze Their proudest, persecuters : for the Spirit Pour'd first on his apostles, whom he sends To evangelize the nations, then on all Baptiz'd, shall them with wondrous gifts endue 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 heav'n ; at length Their ministry perform'd, and race well run, 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 heav'n To their own vile advantages shall turn, Of lucre and ambition, and the truth With superstitions and traditions taint, Left only in those written records pure, Though not but by the Spirit understood. Then shall they seek t'avail themselves of names, Places, and titles, and with these to join Secular pow'r, though feigning still to act By spiritual, to themselves appropriating. The spirit of God, promis'd alike, and giv'n To all believers ; and from that pretence, Spiritual laws by carnal pow'r shall force On every conscience; laws which none shall find Left them enroll'd, or what the Spirit within Shall on the heart engrave. What will they ther But force the Spirit of grace itself, and bind 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: .. 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 satisfy'd : truth shall retire
Bestuck with sland'rous 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,
And vengeance to the wicked, at return
af him so lately promis'd to thy aid,
To woman's Seed obscurely then foretold,
Now amplier known thy Saviour and thy Lord,
Last in the clouds from heav'n to be reveal'd
In glory of the Father, to dissolve
Satan with his perverted world, then raise
From the conflagrant mass, purg'd and refind,
New heav'ns, new earth ages of endless date
Founded in righteousness and peace and love,
To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.
He ended ; and thus Adam last reply'd:
How soon hath thy prediction, seer blest,
Measur'd this transient world, the race of time,
Till time stand fix'd ? beyond is all abyss,
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..
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 ..
Still overcoming evil, and by small i .
Accomplishing great things, by things deem'd weak .
Subverting wordly strong, and wordly wise
By simply meek : that suffering for truth's sake
Is fortitude to highest victory,
And, to the faithful, death the gate of life;