Paradise Lost: Book 11
The Son presents the repentant prayers of Adam and Eve to his Father in heaven. God decrees that though they will be saved, they have to leave the Garden of Eden because their bodies will now become too gross to stay there. At the Synod of the Blessed, God tells the angels that it would have been better for man to know Good by itself, and Evil not at all.
He sends Michael with the warrior cherubim to cast out the pair from Eden, but to soften the blow, God asks Michael to show Adam the history of the world till the birth of Christ. He should make clear to man “[God’s] Cov’nant in the woman’s seed renew’d.” Michael should then stand watch at the gate and send them east of Eden.
Adam mentions to Eve that since they have prayed, he has found peace and a glimpse of God. Adam now gives Eve respect since she will be “mother of mankind” and the means for man to live. Eve promises to stay by Adam’s side from now on.
They see Michael descending, who takes the shape of a man, a soldier with a sword. He explains they must leave Eden; the pair lament but submit. While Eve is put into a sleep, Michael leads Adam to the highest hill in paradise. First he gives him a bird’s eye view of the great kingdoms on earth: China, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Mexico.
Then Michael shows him the future, the consequence of his deed, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel, brother killing brother. Adam is shocked to see death for the first time. Then more horrors: human diseases. Adam weeps: “O miserable Mankind.” Can the image of God fall to such depths, he asks? Michael says the likeness of God forsook men when they defaced it themselves.
He sees more sights: old age, drunkenness, the rape of the earth, harlots, and war. The good men, like Enoch, are not respected or heard. When wickedness is so great, God sends a flood to destroy the earth, except the righteous Noah, “the one just man” from whom the earth is repopulated. God made a new covenant with Noah, symbolized by the rainbow in the sky as His promise never to destroy the earth again.
Here is the beginning of human history, spreading out as the consequence of their cosmic fall into time. Though Adam is shown horror after horror, the emphasis is always on the covenants that God makes with man. He wants Michael, who is a fearsome warrior angel, to at the same time, remind them of God’s covenant with the woman’s seed. He refers to the coming of Christ from their progeny. Michael also ends the account of the evil history of the world with the Flood that destroys it, and God’s promise to Noah.
We see that the cycle continues, repeating the great events in heaven and earth. Beings fall away from God; there is punishment; there is redemption for the just. God looks for even one just man, and there His mercy will be found. We see this in terms of the new covenant with Noah, and there will be another through Christ.