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BOOK VI.
THE ARGUMENT.

Raphael continues to relate how Michael and Gabriel were sent forth to battle against Satan and his angels. The first fight described: Satan and his powers retire under night: he calls a council; invents devilish engines, which, in the second day's fight, put Michael and his angels to some disorder; but they at length pulling up mountains, overwhelmed both the force and machines of Satan; yet, the tumult not so ending, God, on the third day, sends Messiah his Son, for whom he had reserved the glory of that victory. He, in the power of his Father, coming to the place, and causing all his legions to stand still on either side, with his chariot and thunder driving into the midst of his enemies, pursues them, unable to resist, towards the wall of heaven : which opening, they leap down with horror and confusion into the place of punishment prepared for them in the deep. Messiah returns with triumph to his Father.

All night the dreadless angel unpursued

Through heaven's wide champaign held his way, till

morn,
Waked by the circling hours, with rosy hand
Unbarr'd the gates of light. There is a cave
Within the mount of God, fast by his throne,
Where light and darkness in perpetual round
Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through

heaven
Grateful vicissitude, like day and night;
Light issues forth, and at the other door
Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour
To veil the heaven, though darkness there might well
Seem twilight here; and now went forth the Morn
Such as in highest heaven, array'd in gold
Empyreal, from before her vamsh'd night,
Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain
Cover'd with thick embattled squadrons bright,
Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view.
War he perceived, war in procinct, and found"
Already known what he for news had thought
To have reported : gladly then he mix'd
Among those friendly powers, who him received
With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
That of so many myriads fallen yet one
Return'd not lost. On to the sacred hill
They led him high applauded, and present
Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice,
From 'midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard:

Servant of God, well done ; well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintain'd
Against revolted multitudes the cause
Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms;
And for the testimony of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear

Than violence; for this was all thy care,

To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds

Judged thee perverse. The easier conquest now

Remains thee; aided by this host of friends,

Back on thy foes more glorious to return

Than scorn'd thou didst depart; and to subdue

By force, who reason for their law refuse,

Right reason for their law, and for their King

Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.

Go, Michael, of celestial armies prince;

And thou, in military prowess next,

Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons

Invincible; lead forth my armed saints

By thousands and by millions ranged for fight,

Equal in number to that godless crew

Rebellious; them with fire and hostile arms

Fearless assault; and, to the brow of heaven

Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss

Into their place of punishment, the gulf

Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide

His fiery chaos to receive their fall.

So spake the Sovereign Voice, and clouds began To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign Of wrath awaked : nor with less dread the loud Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow: At which command the powers militant, That stood for heaven, in mighty quadrate join'd Of union irresistible, moved on In silence their bright legions, to the sound Of instrumental harmony, that breath'd Heroic ardour to adventurous deeds, Under their godlike leaders, in the cause Of God and his Messiah. On they move Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill, Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream, divides Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground Their march was, and the passive air upbore Their nimble tread. As when the total kind Of birds, in orderly array on wing, Came summon'd over Eden to receive Their names of thee; so over many a tract Of heaven they march'd, and many a province wide, Tenfold the length of this terrene. At last Far in the horizon to the north appear'd From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd In battailous aspect, and nearer view Bristled with upright beams innumerable Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields Various, with boastful argument portray'd, The banded powers of Satan hasting on With furious expedition ; for they ween'd

That self-same day, by fight or by surprise,
To win the mount of God, and on his throne
To set the envier of his state, the proud
Aspirer; but their thoughts proved fond and vain
In the mid-way. Though strange to us it seem'd
At first, that angel should with angel war,
And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet
So oft in festivals of joy and love
Unanimous, as sons of one great Sire,
Hymning the Eternal Father; but the shout
Of battle now began, and rushing sound
Of onset ended soon each milder thought.
High in the midst, exalted as a god,
The apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat,
Idol of majesty divine, enclosed
With flaming cherubim and golden shields;
Then lighted from her gorgeous throne, for now
'Twixt host and host but narrow space was left,
A dreadful interval, and front to front
Presented stood in terrible array
Of hideous length : before the cloudy van,
On the rough edge of battle ere it join'd,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Came towering, arm'd in adamant and gold;
Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood
Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds,
And thus his own undaunted heart explores:

O Heaven! that such resemblance of the Highest
Should yet remain, where faith and realty
Remain not; wherefore should not strength and might
There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove
Where boldest, though to sight unconquerable?
His puissance, trusting in the Almighty's aid,
I mean to try, whose reason I have tried
Unsound and false; nor is it aught but just
That he, who in debate of truth hath won,
Should wm in arms, in both disputes alike
Victor; though brutish that contest and foul,
When reason hath to deal with force; yet so
Most reason is that reason overcome.

So pondering, and from his arm'd peers Forth stepping opposite, half-way he met His daring foe, at this prevention more Incensed, and thus securely him defied:

Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reach'd The height of thy aspiring unopposed, The throne of God unguarded, and his side Abandon'd, at the terror of thy power Or potent tongue; fool! not to think how vain Against the Omnipotent to rise in arms; Who out of smallest things could without end Have raised incessant armies to defeat

Thy folly; or, with solitary hand

Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow

Unaided could have finish'd thee, and whelm'd

Thy legions under darkness: but thou seest

All are not of thy train; there be, who faith

Prefer and piety to God ; though then

To thee not visible, when I alone

Seem'd in thy world erroneous to dissent

From all; my sect thou seest; now learn too late

How few sometimes may know, when thousands err.

Whom the grand foe, with scornful eye askance, Thus answer'd: Ill for thee, but in wish'd hour Of my revenge, first sought for thou return'st From flight, seditious angel, to receive Thy merited reward, the first essay Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue, Inspired with contradiction, durst oppose, A third part of the gods, in synod met Their deities to assert; who, while they feel Vigour divine within them, can allow Omnipotence to none. But well thou comest Before thy fellows, ambitious to win From me some plume, that thy success may show Destruction to the rest; this pause between, Unanswer'd lest thou boast, to let thee know, At first I thought that liberty and heaven To heavenly souls had been all one ; but now I see that most through sloth had rather serve, Ministering spirits, train'd up in feast and song: Such hast thou arm'd, the minstrelsy of heaven, Servility with freedom to contend, As both their deeds compared this day shall prove. I To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied: Apostate, still thou err'st, nor end wilt find Of erring, from the path of truth remote: Unjustly thou depravest it with the name Of servitude, to serve whom God ordains, Or Nature; God and Nature bid the same, When he who rules is worthiest, and excels Them whom he governs. This is servitude, To serve the unwise, or him who hath rebell'd Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee, Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall'd; Yet lewdly darest our ministering upbraid. Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom, let me serve In heaven God ever-bless'd, and his divine Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd; Yet chains in hell, not realms, expect: meanwhile, From me return'd as erst thou saidst, from flight, This greeting on thy impious crest receive. So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high, Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell

On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,

Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield,

Such ruin intercept: ten paces huge

He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee

His massy spear upstay'd ; as if on earth

Winds underground, or waters, forcing way

Side-long, had push'd a mountain from his seat,

Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seized

The rebel thrones, but greater rage to see

Thus foil'd their mightiest; ours joy fill'd, and shout,

Presage of victory, and fierce desire

Of battle: whereat Michael bid sound

The archangel trumpet; through the vast of heaven

It sounded, and the faithful armies rung

Hosanna to the Highest: nor stood at gaze

The adverse legions, nor less hideous join'd

The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose

And clamour, such as heard in heaven till now

Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd

Horrible discord, and the madding wheels

Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise

Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss

Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,

And flying vaulted either host with fire.

So under fiery cope together rush'd

Both battles main, with ruinous assault

And inextinguishable rage. All heaven

Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth

Had to her centre shook. What wonder? when

Millions of fierce encountering angels fought

On either side, the least of whom could wield

These elements, and arm him with the force

Of all their regions: how much more of power,

Army against army numberless to raise

Dreadful combustion warring; and disturb,

Though not destroy, their happy native seat;

Had not the Eternal King Omnipotent,

From his strong hold of heaven, high overruled

And limited their might; though number'd such,

As each divided legion might have seem'd

A numerous host; in strength each armed hand

A legion; led in fight, yet leader seem'd

Each warrior single as in chief, expert

When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway

Of battle, open when, and when to close

The ridges of grim war ; no thought of flight,

None of retreat, no unbecoming deed

That argued fear; each on himself relied,

As only in his arm the moment lay

Of victory. Deeds of eternal fame

Were done, but infinite; for wide was spread

That war, and various; sometimes on firm ground

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