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As in my mother's lap! there I should rest
And sleep secure; His dreadful voice no more
Would thunder in my ears, no fear of worse
To me and to my offspring would torment me
With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt
Pursues me still, lest all I cannot die,
Lest that pure breath of life, the spirit of man
Which God inspir’d, cannot together perish
With this corporeal clod; then in the grave,
Or in some other dismal place, who knows
But I shall die a living death? O thought
Horrid, if true! yet why? it was but breath
Of life that sinn'd; what dies but what had life
And sin? the body properly had neither.
All of me then shall die : let this appease
The doubt, since human reach no further knows.
For though the Lord of all be infinite,
Is his wrath also ? be'it, man is not so,
But mortal doom'd. How can he exercise
Wrath without end on man whom death must end?
Can he make deathless death? that were to make
Strange contradiction, which to God himself
Impossible is held, as argument
Of weakness, not of power. Will he draw out
For anger's sake, finite to infinite
In punish'd man, to satisfy his rigour
Satisfied never? that were to extend
His sentence beyond dust and nature's law,
By which all causes else according still
To the reception of their matter act,
Not th' extent of their own sphere. But say
That death be not one stroke, as I suppos’d,
Bereaving sense, but endless misery
From this day onward, which I feel begun
Both in me, and without me, and so last
To perpetuity: Ay me, that fear
Comes thund'ring back with dreadful revolution
On my defenceless head; both Death and I
Are found eternal, and incorporate both.
Nor I on my part single, in me all
Posterity stands curs’d: fair patrimony
That I must leave ye, Sons; O were I able
To waste it all myself, and leave ye
So disinherited, how would ye bless
Me; now your curse! Ah, why should all mankind
For one man's fault thus guiltless be condemn'd,
If guiltless? but from me what can proceed,
But all corrupt, both mind and will depravid,
Not to do only, but to will the same
With me? how can they then acquitted stand
In sight of God? Him after all disputes
Forc'd I absolve: all my evasions vain,
And reasonings, thoʻ through mazes, lead me still
But to my own conviction; first and last
On me, me only, as the source and spring
Of all corruption, all the blame lights due;
So might the wrath!
ADAM AND EVE EXPELLED
THE hour precise Exacts our parting hence; and see the guards, By me encamp'd on yonder hill, expect Their motion, at whose front a flaming sword, In signal of remove, waves fiercely round: We may no longer stay-go, waken Eve : Her also I with gentle dreams have calm’d, Portending good, and all her spirits compos'd To meek submission: thou at season fit, Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard, Chiefly what may concern her faith to know, The great deliverance by her seed to come (For by the woman's seed) on all mankind : That ye may live, which will be many days, Both in one faith unanimous, though sad, With cause for evils past, yet much more cheer'd With meditation on the happy end.
He ended, and they both descend the hill; Descended, Adam to the bow'r, where Eve Lay sleeping, ran before, but found her wak’d; And thus with words not sad, she him receiv'd: • Whence thou return’st, and whither went'st,
I know; For God is also in sleep, and dreams advise, Which he hath sent propitious, some great good Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress Wearied-I fell asleep: but now lead on; In me is no delay; with thee to go, Is to stay here; without thee here to stay, Is to go hence unwilling ; thou with me Art all things under Heav'n, all places thou, Who for my wilful crime art banish'd hence. This further consolation yet secure I carry hence; though all by me is lost, Such favour I unworthy am vouchsaf'd, By me the promis'd Seed shall all restore.
So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard Well pleas’d, but answer'd not; for now too nigh Th' Arch-Angel stood, and from the other hill To their fix'd station, all in bright array The Cherubim descended; on the ground Gliding meteorous, as evening mist Ris'n from a river o'er the marish glides, And gathers ground fast at the lab’rer's heel Homeward returning. High in front advanc'd
The brandish'd sword of God before them blaz'd
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
in either hand the hastning angel caught
Our ling’ring parents, and to th'eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappear'd.
They looking back, all th eastern side beheld
Of paradise, so late their happy seat,
Way'd over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces throng’d, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears theydropt; but wip'd them soon.
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
How is our reason to the future blind,
When vice enervates and enslaves the mind!