[K:NWTS 25/3 (December 2010) 8-10]

John Milton on Christ's Advent

... the true

Anointed King Messiah might be born

Barred of his right; yet at his birth a star,

Unseen before in Heav'n, proclaims him come;

And guides the eastern sages, who inquire

His place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold:

His place of birth a solemn Angel tells

To simple shepherds, keeping watch by night;

They gladly thither haste, and by a Choir

Of squadron'd Angels hear his carol sung.

A virgin is his mother, but his sire

The power of the Most High: He shall ascend

The throne hereditary, and bound his reign

With Earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Heavens.

... 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:

So only can high Justice rest appaid.

The law of God exact he shall fulfil

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.

For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,

Seiz'd on by force, judged, and to death condemned

A shameful and accursed, nailed to the cross

By his own nation; slain for bringing life:

But to the cross he nails thy enemies

... 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 offered life

Neglect not, and the benefit embrace

By faith not void of works: This God-like act

Annuls thy doom, the death thou shouldest have died,

In sin for ever lost from life; this act

Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength,

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 heelů

(Paradise Lost, Book XII, 358ff.)