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must be followed by the perdition of the human race.
The Prince of Hell exclaims :
Oh gentle pair, ye little think how nigh
yet no purpos'd foe
If the art of the poet is any where displayed, it is in the description of our first parents' love after the fall. The poet employs his former colours, but their effect is no longer the same. Eve is not now the wife, but the mistress. The virgin bride of Eden's bower has entered that of Paphos; voluptuousness has superseded love, and blandishments chaste caresses. And how has the poet effected this metamorphosis? He has banished from his description but a single word—innocence. The pair come forth sated, drowsy from the inebriation of the forbidden fruit; we see that they have begotten Cain. They discover with shame the pale traces of pleasure in their countenances; they perceive that they are naked, and resort to the fig tree. Man has fallen. The globe is deranged upon its axis, the seasons changed, and Death first sets foot on the earth.
The character of the Almighty Father is obscurely traced. In this we must admire the author's reserve. He feared to put mortal words into the lips of an imperishable being; therefore gives Jehovah none that are not sanctioned by Holy Writ, and by the commentaries of the firstrate minds in Christendom in succeeding ages : every thing turns on the most abstract questions of Grace, Free Will, Eternal Prescience. The Almighty increases in majesty amidst the theological philosophy, in which the hand of respect and mystery keeps him concealed.
We shall see that Milton, in the confusion of his systems, formed no very distinct idea of the one God.
But the character of the Son is a work the perfections of which have not been sufficiently remarked. In Christ is the nature of man; man
may therefore the better comprehend Christ, and, as in Christ there is also the divine nature, it is through man that Milton raised himself to the real knowledge of this union of God and man. The tenderness of the Son is ineffable, and neverfailing. In the third book he offers himself as an expiatory victim; even before man has fallen he says to the Father :
Behold me then ; me for him, life for life,
In the tenth book the Father sends the Son to judge the guilty pair ; he replies—
I go to judge
The Son refuses all attendance,' all' train,' where none
Are to behold the judgment but the judg’d,
He descends to the garden, “ from wrath more cool” than its evening breeze. His voice, far from being terrible, is “ by soft winds brought to their ears.” They hide themselves; he calls, " Where art thou Adam ?” The man hesitates, but comes, “and with him Eve, more loth," and,
Adam faltering long, thus answer'd brief:
So judged he man, both Judge and Saviour sent.
Then pitying how they stood Before him naked to the air, that now Must suffer change, disdain'd not to begin Thenceforth the form of servant to assume. As when he wash'd his servants' feet, so now, As father of his family, he clad Their nakedness with skins of beasts.
Nor he their outward only
but inward nakedness, much more Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness Arraying, covered from his Father's sight. To him with swift ascent he up returned.
At the conclusion of the same book, the tenth, Eve and Adam, reconciled and penitent, offer their prayers to God, from the place where he hath placed them.
Their orisons ascend to heaven; the Great Intercessor presents them to the Father,
clad With incense where the golden altar fum'd.
See, Father, what first fruits on earth are sprung
I thy priest before thee bring.
Unskilful with what words to pray, let me
The beauty of the poetry here equals that of the sentiment. In the twelfth book, Milton, quitting the loftiness of the Bible, descends to the gentle meekness of the Gospel, to depict the mystery of redemption. Michael says to Adam.
For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,