72: Paradise Lost, by John Milton: Book XII, Verses 505–551

[1738 edition]

[The apostles’] ministry performed, and race well run,
Their doctrine and their story written left,
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 shall they 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 pretense,
Spiritual laws by carnal power shall force
On every conscience, laws which none shall find
Left them enrolled, or what the Spirit Within
Shall on the heart engrave
. What will they then
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, 
Bestruck with sland’rous 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 Savior and thy Lord,
Last in the clouds from heaven to be revealed 
In glory of the Father, to dissolve
Satan with his perverted world, then raise
From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined,
New heavens, new earth
, ages of endless date
Founded in righteousness and peace and love 
To bring forth fruits, joy, and eternal bliss.