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Or in the emptier waste, resembling air,
Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold
Far off the empyreal heaven, extended wide
In circuit, undetermined square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorn'd
Of living sapphire, once his native seat;
And fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendant world, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.
Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies.

BOOK III.

THE ARGUMENT

God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created ; shows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind ; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praise to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards man without the satisfaction of divine justice ; man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore with all his progeny devoted to death must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for man; the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth ; commands all the angels to adore him; they obey, and, hymning to their harps in full choir, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile, Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity ; what persons and things fly up thither; thence comes to the gate of heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the wateis above the firmament that flow about it: his passage thence to the orb of the sun; he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb; but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel ; and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed ; alights first on mount Niphates.

Hail, holy Light, offspring of heaven first-born,

Or of the eternal co-eternal beam,

May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,

And never but in unapproached light

Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,

Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,

Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice

Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest

The rising world of waters dark and deep,

Won from the void and formless infinite.

Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd

In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight

Through utter and through middle darkness borne,

With other notes, than to the Orphean lyre,

I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,

Taught by the heavenly muse to venture dow

The dark descent, and up to reascend,

Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,

And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou

Revist'st not these eyes, that roll in vain

To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;

So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,

Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more

Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt

Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,

Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief

Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,

That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,

Nightly I visit; nor sometimes forget

Those other two equall'd with me in fate,

So were I equall'd with them in renown,

Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides,

And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old.

Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move

Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird

Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid

Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year

Seasons return, but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,

Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

But cloud instead, and ever-during dark

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men

Cut off, and for the book of knowledge-fair

Presented with a universal blank

Of nature's works, to me expunged and rased,

And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.

So much the rather thou celestial light

Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence

Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell

Of things invisible to mortal sight.

Now had the Almighty Father from above, From the pure empyrean where he sits High throned above all height, bent down his eye, His own works and their works at once to view. About him all the sanctities of heaven Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received Beatitude past utterance ; on his right The radiant image of his glory sat, His only Son; on earth he first beheld Our two first parents, yet the only two Of mankind, in the happy garden placed,

Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,

Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,

In blissful solitude: he then survey'd

Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there

Coasting the wall of heaven on this side night

In the dun air sublime, and ready now

To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet,

On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd

Firm land embosom'd without firmament,

Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.

Him God beholding from his prospect high,

Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,

Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake:

Only-begotten Son, seest thou what rage Transports our adversary? whom no bounds Prescribed, no bars of hell, nor all the chains Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss Wide interrupt, can hold, so bent he seems On desperate revenge, that shall redound Upon his own rebellious head. And now, Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way Not far off heaven, in the precincts of light, Directly towards the new-created world, And man there placed, with purpose to essay If him by force he can destroy, or, worse, By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert For man will hearken to his glozing lies, And easily transgress the sole command, Sole pledge of his obedience : so will fall He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault? Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall. Such I created all the ethereal powers And spirits, both them who stood and them who fail'd; Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. Not free, what proof could they have given sincere Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love, Where only what they needs must do appear'd, Not what they would? what praise could they receive? What pleasure I from such obedience paid? When will and reason, reason also is choice, Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd, Made passive both, had served necessity, Not me? They therefore, as to right belong'd, So were created, nor can justly accuse Their Maker, or their making, or their fate, As if predestination overruled Their will, disposed by absolute decree Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed Their own revolt, not I ; if I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,

Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all,
Both what they judge and what they choose; for so
I form'd them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthral themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree,
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom; they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived
By the other first: man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: in mercy and justice both,
Through heaven and earth, so shall my glory excel;
But mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine.

Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
All heaven, and in the blessed spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffused.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious, in him all his Father shone
Substantially express'd, and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appear'd,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which uttering thus he to his Father spake:

O Father, gracious was that word which closed
Thy sovereign sentence, that man should find grace;
For which both heaven and earth shall high extol
Thy praises, with the innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompass'd shall resound thee ever bless'd.
For should man finally be lost, should man,
Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son,
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd
With his own folly? that be from thee far,
That far be from thee, Father, who art judge
Of all things made, and judgest only right.
Or shall the adversary thus obtain
His end, and frustrate thine? shall he fulfil
His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought,
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to hell
Draw after him the whole race of mankind,
By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyself
Abolish thy creation, and unmake,
For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both
Be question'd and blasphemed without defence.

To whom the great Creator thus replied:
O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,

All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all

As my eternal purpose hath decreed:

Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will,

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsafed ; once more I will renew

His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthrall'd

By sin to foul exorbitant desires;

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe;

By me upheld, that he may know how frail

His fallen condition is, and to me owe

All his deliverance, and to none but me.

Some I have chosen of peculiar grace

Elect above the rest; so is my will:

The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd

Their sinful state, and to appease betimes

The incensed Deity, while ofter'd grace

Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,

What may suffice, and soften stony hearts

To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.

To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,

Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,

Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.

And I will place within them as a guide

My umpire Conscience, whom if they will hear,

Light after light well used they shall attain,

And to the end persisting safe arrive.

This my long sufferance and my day of grace

They who neglect and scorn shall never taste ,

But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more,

That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;

And none but such from mercy I exclude.

But yet all is not done; man disobeying

Disloyal breaks his fealty, and sins

Against the high supremacy of Heaven,

Affecting Godhead, and so losing all,

To expiate his treason hath nought left,

But to destruction sacred and devote,

He with his whole posterity must die.

Die he or Justice must; unless for him

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love?

Which of ye will be mortal to redeem

Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save?

Dwells in all heaven charity so dear?

He ask'd, but all the heavenly choir stood mute,
And silence was in heaven : on man's behalf
Patron or intercessor none appear'd,
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadiy forfeiture, and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind

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