Page images

wards her, to see her, who fo lately was his only Delight, and dear to him as Life, now in such Distrefs, submislive at his Feet! to see so fair a Creature feeking his Reconcilement whom she had displeas’d, and suing for his Counsel and Alistance! Disarm’d at once, he lost all his Anger, and thus with peaceful Words he foon rais’d her up from the Ground:

UNWAR Y Eve! and too desirous (now as thou wert before) of what thou knowest not, who desirest, that the Punishment of both our Crimes may all light upon thyself! Alas! bear thy own Part first; thou art ill able to sustain his full Wrath, of which as yet thou feel'st but the least Part, and seeft how ill thou can'st bear even my Displeasure. If Prayers could alter the Decrees of Heaven, I would speed to the Place of Judgment before thee; and be heard louder requesting that upon my Head all might be visited, and thy Frailty and infirmer Sex be forgiven; which was committed to my Care, and through my Permission expos'd to Hazard. But rise! ----- Let us contend no more, nor blame each other; we are blam'd enough elsewhere! but let us strive in Offices of Love, how we may make each others Burthen lighter in our Share of Misery; since DEATH threaten'd us this Day, (if I judge right) will prove a slow-pac'd and not a sudden Evil; a long Day's dying, in Augmentation of our Pain; and be entail'd (Oh Misery to think on!) upon our Posterity.

To whom Eve, taking fresh Courage, replied thus: ADAM! I know by sad Experiment, how little Weight my Words ought to have with thee, having been found fo erroneous; thence (as is the just Event of Error) found so unfortunate: . Nevertheless, being restor'd by thee to a Place of new Acceptance, (vile as I am!) I am hopeful yet to regain thy Love, which is the only Contentment of my Heart, either living or dying; fo that I will not hide from thee what Thoughts are risen in my unquiet Breast, tending either to end our extreme Sorrow, or give some Relief to it; which Means, though sharp and fad, yet are better to be chose, and more tolerable than our present Evils. If the Care of those who are to descend from us, be what perplexes us most, as they must be born to certain Misery, and be at last devour'd by DEATH. (and it is a miserable Thing, to be the Cause of Misery to others, and those our own Begotten; out of our own Loins, to bring into this curs'd World a miferable Race, that, after bearing wretched Life, must be at last Food for so foul a Monster!) It lies yet in thy Power, before Conception, to prevent the unbleft Race, to prevent being what is yet unbegot. Thou art yet childless, childless remain ftill: So DEATH shall be deceiv'd of his Glut, and be forc'd to satisfy his ravenous Maw with us two only. But if thou judge it difficult and too hard, conversing together, looking upon and loving one another, to abstain from sweet nuptial Embraces, the Rites due to Love; and without Hope to languish with Desire, before the Object that languishes with like Desire; (which would be a Misery and Torment as great as any that we dread) then, to free both ourselves and Seed at once from what we fear for both, let us make short Work, ----let us seek DEATH; ----- or if he is not to be found, let us ourselves with our own Hands supply his Oifice. Why do we stand any longer shivering under Fears, that show no End but DEATH; and yet have the Power of many Ways to die? Why not chusing the shortest prevent the Destruction of our Posterity, by destroying ourselves?

She ended here; or else vehement Despair broke off the rest she had to say: Her Thoughts had entertain'd so much of DEATH, as made her Check quite pale: But ADAM, nothing sway'd by such Counsel, Аа 3.


had rais'd his labouring and more attentive Mind to better Hopes; and thus he reply'd to EVE:

Eve! thy Contempt of Life and Pleasure, seems to argue something in thee more sublime and excellent, than that which thy Mind contemns. But, therefore seeking Self-Destruction refutes that Excellence, thought to be in thee; and implies not thy Contempt of Life, but Anguish and Regret for the Loss of it, and Pleasure over-lov’d. Or if thou covetít DEATH, as the utmost End of all Misery, so thinking to evade the Penalty pronounc'd; doubt not but God hath more wisely arm'd his angry Vengeance, than to be fore-stallid and disappointed so: I am much more afraid, lest DEATH, if we should so snatch it, will not exempt us from the Pain, which we are by Doom to pay. Rather such Acts of Contumacy will provoke GOD to make DEATH live in us! Then let us seek fome safer Resolution, which methinks I have in my View; with Heed calling to Mind that Part of our Sentence, that Thy SEED SHALL BRUISE THE SERPENT'S HEAD; a poor Amends! unless (which as I conjecture) our great Enemy S ATAN be meant; who, in the Serpent, hath contriv'd this Deceit against us. To crush his Head would be Revenge indeed! which will be lost, if we were to bring DEATH upon ourselves; or resolve, as thou halt propos'd, to live childless: So our Foe shall efcape the Punishment ordain'd him, and we, instead of that, shall double ours upon our own Heads. Then don't let any more be mention’d of Violence upon ourselves, or willful Barrenness, that cuts us off from Hope, and only favours of Rancour, Pride, Impatience, and Delpight, and Reluctance against GOD, and his just Yoke laid upon our Necks. Let us remember, with what mild and gracious Temper he both heard and judg’d us; without Anger, and without Reproaches, We expected immediate Diffoluti

a poor A

cant; whyecture)

begin din, Icow to

on, which we imagin’d was meant by DEATH THAT · Day: When, Lo! to thee were only foretold Pains. in bearing and bringing forth Children; which will be soon recompenc'd with Joy, the Fruit of thy Womb. The Curse not so directly pronounc'd on me, glanc'd on the Ground; I must earn my Bread with Labour : What Harm is that? Idleness had been worie; my Labour will sustain ne: And left Cold or Heat should do us Injury, he has, without being fought to, with timely Care provided us Cloaths, (unworthy as we are) with his own Hands; pitying, even while le judg'd us. How much more then, if we pray to him, will his Ear be open, and his Heart inclin'd to pity us? And teach us further, how to shun the Inclemency of the Seasons, Rain, Ice, Hail, and Snow; which now the Sky begins to show us in this fountain; while the Winds blow moist and keen; shattering the Leaves of these fair spreading Trees: Which bids us seek some better Covering, to cherish our numb'd Limbs; before the Sun leave the Night cold!, how we may foment his Beams, gather'd together by some warm or combustible Matter; or by striking two hard Bodies together, move the heated Air into Fire, as lately the Clouds, justling or forced with Winds, in their rude Shock Aash'd the slant Lightning, the Flame of which driven down, kindles the gummy Part of Fir or Pine, and sends out from a Distance a comfortable Heat, which might supply the Want of that of the Sun. He will instruct us, if we pray to him, and befeech Grace of him, to use such Fire, and what else may be a Cure to there Evils, which our own Misdeeds have brought on us: So as we need not fear to pass this Life commodiously, sura tain’d by him with many Comforts; 'till fuch Time as we end in Duft, our final Reft and native Homes What can we do better, than repair to the Place where he judg'd us ? Fall reverently prostrate before him, and there humbly confess our Faults, and beg

A a 4


Pardon; watering the Ground with our Tears, and filling the Air with our Sighs, sent from contrite Hearts, in Sign of unfeign'd Sorrow and meek Humiliation? He will undoubtedly relent, and turn away from his Displeasure ; in whose serene Look, when he seem’d moft angry and most severe, what else shone but Favour, Grace, and Mercy?

So spoke our first Father, in true Penitence: nor did Eve feel less Remorse: They forthwith repair’d to the place where God judg'd them, fell reverently proftrate before him; and there humbly confess’d their Faults, and begg'd Pardon; watering the Ground with their Tears, and filling the Air with their Sighs, sent from contrite Hearts, in Sign of unfeign'd Sorrow and meek Humiliation.

The End of the Tenth Book.



« PreviousContinue »