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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

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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 Heaven, 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,
But by fulfilling that which thou didst want,
Obedience to the law of God, imposed

On penalty of death, and suffering death,
The penalty to thy transgression due,

And due to theirs which out of thine will grow; 400

So only can high Justice rest appaid.

The law of God exact he shall fulfil

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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

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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. 410
For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,
Seized on by force, judged, and to death condemn'd
A shameful and accursed, nail'd to the cross

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Of all mankind, with him there crucified,
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

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By faith not void of works: this godlike act
Annuls thy doom, the death thou shouldst have died,
In sin for ever lost from life; this act

Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength, 430
Defeating Sin and Death, his two main arms;
And fix far deeper in his head their stings
Than temporal 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 to 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 believe,
Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign
Of washing them from guilt of sin to life
Pure, and in mind prepared, if so befal,
For death like that which the Redeemer died.
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 bless'd;
Then to the Heaven of Heavens he shall ascend
With victory, triumphing through the air

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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

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His seat at God's right hand, exalted high

Above all names in Heaven; and thence shall come, When this world's dissolution shall be ripe,

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With glory and power to judge both quick and dead;
To judge the unfaithful dead, but to reward
His faithful, and receive them into bliss,
Whether in Heaven or Earth; for then the Earth
Shall all be Paradise, far happier place
Than this of Eden, and far happier days.

So spake the Archangel Michael; then paused,
As at the world's great period; and our sire,
Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied:

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

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By me done and occasion'd; or rejoice

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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 Heaven
Must reascend, what will betide the few
His faithful, left among the 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?

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Be sure they will, said the Angel; but from Heaven 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,

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Working through love, upon their hearts shall write,
To guide them in all truth; and also arm
With spiritual armor, 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 consolation recompensed,
And oft supported so as shall amaze
Their proudest persecutors: for the Spirit,
Pour'd first on his Apostles, whom he sends
To evangelize the nations, then on all
Baptized, 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 Heaven: at length
Their ministry perform'd and race well run,
Their doctrine and their story written left,

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They die; but in their room, as they forewarn,
Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves,
Who all the sacred mysteries of Heaven
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 they shall seek to avail themselves of names,
Places, and titles, and with these to join
Secular power; though feigning still to act
By spiritual, to themselves appropriating
The Spirit of God, promised alike and given
To all believers; and, from that pretence,
Spiritual laws by carnal power shall force
On every conscience; laws which none shall find
Left them inroll'd, or what the Spirit within
Shall on the heart engrave. What will they then

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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 satisfied; truth shall retire

Bestuck with slanderous 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
Of him so lately promised to thy aid,
The Woman's Seed; obscurely then foretold,
Now ampler known thy Saviour and thy Lord;
Last, in the clouds, from Heaven to be reveal'd
In glory of the Father, to dissolve

Satan with his perverted world; then raise
From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined,
New Heaven, 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 replied:
How soon hath thy prediction, Seer bless'd,
Measured 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.

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