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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 annexed,
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—Oh, 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

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For Gods!-yet him God the Most High voutsafes 120 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 blest. 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 Chaldæa, 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 called him, in a land unknown.


Canaan he now attains; I see his tents

Pitched 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), 140
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 the great Deliverer, who shall bruise
The Serpent's head; whereof to thee anon
Plainlier shall be revealed. This patriarch blest,
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 called
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 compelled by signs and judgments dire:
To blood unshed the rivers must be turned;
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 mixed with hail,
Hail mixed with fire, must rend the Egyptian sky,
And wheel on the earth, devouring where it rolls;
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
The river-dragon tamed at length submits
To let his sojourners depart, and oft
Humbles his stubborn heart, but still as ice
More hardened after thaw; till, in his rage
Pursuing whom he late dismissed, 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, 210
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
Lest, entering on the Canaanite alarmed,
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

Untrained 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 ordained.
God, from the Mount of Sinai, whose grey top
Shall tremble, he descending, will himself,

In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpet's 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 deliverance. But the voice of God
To mortal ear is dreadful: they beseech
That Moses might report to them his will,
And terror cease; he grants what they besought,
Instructed that to God is no access

Without Mediator, whose high office now
Moses in figure bears, to introduce

One greater, of whose day he shall foretell,
And all the Prophets, in their age, the times

great Messiah shall sing. Thus laws and rites
Established, such delight hath God in men
Obedient to his will that he voutsafes
Among them to set up his tabernacle-
The Holy One with mortal men to dwell.
By his prescript a sanctuary is framed
Of cedar, overlaid with gold; therein
An ark, and in the ark his testimony,






The records of his covenant; over these
A mercy-seat of gold, between the wings
Of two bright Cherubim; before him burn
Seven lamps, as in a zodiac representing
The heavenly fires. Over the tent a cloud
Shall rest by day, a fiery gleam by night,
Save when they journey; and at length they come,
Conducted by his Angel, to the land
Promised to Abraham and his seed. The rest
Were long to tell-how many battles fought;
How many kings destroyed, and kingdoms won;
Or how the sun shall in mid-heaven stand still
A day entire, and night's due course adjourn,
Man's voice commanding, 'Sun, in Gibeon stand,
And thou, Moon, in the vale of Aialon,
Till Israel overcome!'-so call the third
From Abraham, son of Isaac, and from him
His whole descent, who thus shall Canaan win.
Here Adam interposed :-"O sent from Heaven,
Enlightener of my darkness, gracious things
Thou hast revealed, those chiefly which concern
Just Abraham and his seed. Now first I find
Mine eyes true opening, and my heart much eased,
Erewhile perplexed with thoughts what would become
Of me and all mankind; but now I see

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His day, in whom all nations shall be blest-
Favour unmerited by me, who sought
Forbidden knowledge by forbidden means.
This yet I apprehend not-why to those
Among whom God will deign to dwell on Earth
So many and so various laws are given.

So many laws argue so many sins

Among them; how can God with such reside?"



To whom thus Michael:-" Doubt not but that sin

Will reign among them, as of thee begot;

And therefore was law given them, to evince
Their natural pravity, by stirring up

Sin against Law to fight, that, when they see
Law can discover sin, but not remove,


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