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And makes a covenant never to destroy

The earth again by flood, nor let the sea

Surpass his bounds, nor rain to drown the world,

With man therein or beast; but when he brings

Over the earth a cloud, will therein set

His triple-colour'd bow, whereon to look,

And call to mind his covenant: day and night,

Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost,

Shall hold their course, till fire purge all things new,

Both heaven and earth, wherein the just shall dwell.

BOOK XII.

THE ARGUMENT.

The angel Michael continues from the flood to relate what shall succeed ; then, in the mention of Abraham, comes by. degrees to explain who that seed of the woman shall be, which was promised Adam and Eve in the fall: his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; the state of the church till his second coming. Adam, greatly satisfied, and recomforted by these relations and promises, descends the hill with Michael; wakens Eve, who all this while had slept, but with gentle dreams composed to quietness of mind and submission. Michael in either hand leads them out of Paradise, the fiery sword waving behind them, and the cherubim taking their stations to guard the place.

As one who in his journey bates at noon,

Though bent on speed, so here the archangel paused

Betwixt the world destroy'd and world restored,

If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;

Then with transition sweet new speech resumes:

Thus thou hast seen one world begin and end;
And man as from a second stock proceed.
Much thou hast yet to see; but I perceive
Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine
Must, needs impair and weary human sense:
Henceforth what is to come I will relate,
Thou therefore give due audience, and attend:

This second source of men, while yet but few,
And while the dread of judgment past remains
Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,
With some regard to what is just and righ
Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace,
Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,
Corn, wine, and oil; and, from the herd, or flock,
Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid,
With large wine-offerings pour'd, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblamed, and dwell
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule, till one shall rise,
Of proud ambitious heart, who not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserved

Over his brethren, and quite dispossess

Concord and law of nature from the earth;

Hunting, and men, not beasts, shall be his game,

With war and hostile snare such as refuse

Subjection to his empire tyrannous.

A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled

Before the Lord, as in despite of heaven,

Or from heaven claiming second sovereignty;

And from rebellion shall derive his name,

Though of rebellion others he accuse.

He with a crew, whom like ambition joins

With him or under him to tyrannise,

Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find

The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge

Boils out from under ground, the mouth of hell:

Of brick and of that stuff they cast to build

A city and tower, whose top may reach to heaven,

And get themselves a name, lest far dispersed

In foreign lands their memory be lost,

Regardless whether good or evil fame.

But God, who oft descends to visit men

Unseen, and through their habitations walks,

To mark their doings, them beholding soon,

Comes down to see their city, ere the tower

Obstruct heaven-towers, and in derision sets

Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase

Quite out their native language, and instead

To sow a jangling noise of words unknown.

Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud

Among the builders, each to other calls

Not understood, till hoarse, and all in rage,

As mock'd they storm; great laughter was in heaven,

And looking down, to see the hubbub strange

And hear the din; thus was the building left

Ridiculous, and the work Confusion named.

Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased:
O execrable son! so to aspire
Above his brethren, to himself assuming
Authority usurp'd, from God not given.
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation ; but man over men
He made not lord ; such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free.
But this usurper his encroachment proud
Stays not on man; to God his tower intends
Siege and defiance. Wretched man! what focd
Will he convey up thither to sustain
Himself and his rash army, where thin air
Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,
And famish him of breath, if not of bread?

To whom thus Michael: Justly thus abhorr'st

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, or not obey'd,

Immediately inordinate desires,

And upstart passions, catch the government

From reason, and to servitude reduce

Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits

Within himself unworthy powers to reign

Over free reason, God in judgment just

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,

Still tend from bad to worse, till God at last,

Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw

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 rest, 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 patriarch lived, who 'scaped the flood,

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

His benediction so, that in his seed

All nations shall be bless'd ; he straight obeys,

Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes.

I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith

He leaves his gods, his friends, and native soil

Ur of Chaldea, passing now the ford

To Haran, after him a cumbrous train

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

Hainlier 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

He 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;

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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, but 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 dehverance. But the voice of God

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