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And Tirefias, and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in fhadieft covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year 40
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the fweet approach of ev'n or morn,
Or fight of vernal bloom, or fummer's rofe,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever during dark
Surrounds me, from the chearful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Prefented with an univerfal blank
Stood thick as ftars, and from his fight receiv'd
Beatitude paft utterance: on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only Son. On earth he firft beheld
Our two firft parents, yet the only two
Of mankind, in the happy garden plac'd,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrivall❜d love,
In blissful folitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there
Coafting the wall of heav'n on this fide night,
In the dun air fublime; and ready now
To ftoop with wearied wings and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbofom'd without firmament;
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and raz'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite fhut out.
So much the rather thou, celeftial light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and difperfe, that I may fee and tell
Of things invifible to mortal fight.
Now, had th' almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyréan where he fits
High thron'd above all height, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view :
About him all the fanctities of heav'n
Him God beholding from his profpect high,
Wherein paft, prefent, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only Son, forefeeing spake.
Only begotten Son, feest thou what rage Tranfports our adverfary; whom no bounds Prefcrib'd, no bars of hell, nor all the chains Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyfs Wide interrupt, can hold; fo bent he feems On defperate revenge, that fhall redound Upon his own rebellious head? And now Through all reftraint broke loofe, he wings his way Not far off heav'n, in the precincts of light, Directly towards the new-created world, And man there plac'd, with purpose to effay If him by force he can destroy, or worfe By fome falfe guile pervert: and shall pervert; For man will hearken to his glozing lies, And eafily tranfgrefs the fole command, Sole pledge of his obedience: fo will fall, He, and his faithlefs progeny. Whofe fault? Whofe 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 th' ethereal powers And fp'rits, both them who stood, and them who fail❜d; Freely they ftood who ftood, and fell who fell ; Not free, what proof could they have giv'n fincere Of true allegiance, conftant faith or love, Where only what they needs must do appear'd, Not what they would? what praife could they receive? What pleasure I from fuch obedience paid, When will and reafon (reaf'n alfo is choice) Ufeless and vain, of freedom both defpoil'd, Made paffive both, had ferv'd neceffity, Not me? They, therefore, as to right belong'd, So were created, nor can jufly' accufe Their Maker, or their making, or their fate, As if predeftination over-rul'd
Their will, difpos'd by abfolute decree,
Or high forcknowledge. They themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no lefs prov'd certain unforeseen,
So without leaft impulie or thadow' of fate,
Or ought by me immutably forefeen,
They trefpafs, authors to themselves in all,
Both what they judge, and what they chule; for fo
I form'd them free: and free they must remain,
Till they inthral themelves; I elie moit charge 125
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom; they themselves ordain'd their fell.
The first fort by their own fuggeftion fell,
Self-tempted, felf-deprav'd: n.an falls, deceiv'd 130
By th' other firft: man therefore fhall find grace,
Th' other none: in mercy' and justice both,
Through heav'n and earth, so shall my glory' excel;
But mercy, first and laft, fhall brightest fhine.
Thus while Gon spake, ambrofial fragrance fill'd
All heav'n, and in the bleffed fp'rits elect
Senfe of new joy ineffable diffus'd.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Moft glorious; in him all the Father thone
Subftantially exprefs'd: and in his face
Divine compaffion vifible appear'd,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake.
O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd
Thy fov'reign fentence, that man fhould find grace; 145
For which both heav'n and earth fhall high extol
Thy praifes, with th' innumerable found
Of hymns and facred fongs, wherewith thy throne
Incompafs'd fhall refound thee ever bless'd.
For fhould man finally be lost? should man,
Thy creature late fo lov'd, thy youngest fon,
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 judgeft only right.
Or fhall the adverfary thus obtain
His end, and fruftrate thine? fhall he fulfil
His malice, and thy goodnefs bring to naught,
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to hell
Drawn after him the whole race of mankind,
By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyfelf
Abolish thy creation, and unmake
For him, what for thy glory thou haft made?
So fhould thy goodness and thy greatnefs both
Be queftion'd and blafphem'd without defence.
To whom the Great Creator thus reply'd.
O Son, in whom my foul hath chief delight,
Son of my bofom, Son who art alone
My word, my wifdom, and effectual might,
All haft thou fpoken as my thoughts are, all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed.
Man fhall not quite be loft, but fav'd who will;
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchfaf'd: once more I will renew
His lapfed pow'rs, though forfeit, and inthrall'd
By fin to foul exorbitant defires ;
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 fall'n condition is, and to me owe
All his deliv'rance, and to none but me.
Some I have chofen of peculiar grace,
Elect above the reft; fo is my will:
The eaft fhall hear my call, and oft be warn'd
Their finful ftate, and to appease betimes
Th' incenfed Deity, while offer'd grace
Invites; for I will clear their fenfes dark,
What may fuffice, and foften ftony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To pray'r, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endeavour'd with fincere intent,
Mine ear fhall not be flow, mine eye not fhut.
And I will place within them as a guide,
My umpire Confcience; whom if they will hear, 195
Light after light, well us'd, they shall attain,
And to the end perfisting, safe arrive.
This my long fuff'rance, and my day of grace,
They who neglect and fcorn, fhall never tafte;
But hard be harden'd; blind be blinded more,
That they may ftumble on, and deeper fall:
And none but fuch from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done; man difobeying
Difloyal breaks his fealty, and fins
Against the high fupremacy of heav'n,
Affecting godhead, and fo lofing all,
To expiate his treafon hath naught left;
But to deftruction facred and devote,
He, with his whole pofterity, muft die;
Die he, or juftice mult; unless for him
Some other able, and as willing pay
The rigid fatisfaction, death for death.
Say, heav'nly pow'rs, where thall we find fuch love?
Which of ye will be mortal, to redeem
Man's mortal crime, and juft th' unjuft to fave? 215
Dwells in all heaven charity fo dear?
He afk'd; but all the heav'nly quire ftood mute, And filence was in heav'n: on man's behalf Patron or interceffor none appear'd,
Much lefs that durft upon his own head draw 220
The deadly forfeiture, and ranfom fet.
And now without redemption all mankind
Must have been loft, adjudg'd to death and hell
By doom fevere, had not the Son of God,
In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,
His deareft mediation thus renew'd.
Father, thy word is paft, man fhall find grace; And fhall grace not find means, that finds her way, The fpeedieft of thy winged meffengers, To vifit all thy creatures, and to all Comes unprevented. unimplor'd, unfought? Happy for man, fo coming: he her aid Can never feek, once dead in fins, and loft; Atonement for himself, or offering meet, Indebted and undone, hath none to bring. Behold me then; me for him, life for life I offer; on me let thine anger fall: Account me man; I for his fake will leave Thy bofom, and his glory next to thee Freely put off, and for him laftly die