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When who can uncreate thee thon shalt know. 895
So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found
905 And with retorted scorn his back he turn'd On those proud tow'rs to swift destruction doom'd.
THE ARGUMENT, Raphael continues to relate how Michael and Gabriel were sent forth to battle against Satan and his Angels. The first fight de. scribed : 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 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,
896. The character of Abdiel thus introduced has a very beautiful effect.
2. Copied from Homer, 11. v. 749. 6. A passage of Hesiod is pointed out by Warburton as the ori ginal of this.-Theog. 748.
Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour
16 To veil the Heav'n, though darkness there might well Seem twilight here : and now went forth the morn Such as in highest Heav'n, array'd in gold Empyreal ; from before her vanish'd night, Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain, Cover'd with thick embattled squadrons bright, 16 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 20 To have reported. Gladly then he mix'd Among those friendly Pow'rs, who him received With joy and acclamations loud, that one, That of so many myriads fall'n, yet one Return'd not lost. On to the sacred hill
25 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 singly hast maintain'd 30 Against revolted multitudes the cause Of truth, i:2 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
35 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 scoru'd thou didst depart, and to subdue 40 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
45 Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons Invincible, lead forth my armed Saints, By thousands and by millions ranged for fight,
18. See Maccabees vi. 39. 19. War in procinct, in allusion to the soldiers girding them. selves up before the battle. 29. Abdiel in Hebrew means servant of God.
Rev. xii, 7, 8.
Equal in number to that Godless crew
65 Heroic ardour to advent'rous deeds Under their God-like leaders, in the cause Of God and his Messiah. On they move Indissolubly firm: nor obvious hill, Nor strait ning vale, nor wood, nor stream divides 70 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
75 Their names of thee; so over many a tract Of Heav'n they march'd, and many a province wide Tenfold the length of this terrene. At last, Far in th' horizon to the north appear'd From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd 80 In battailous aspect, and nearr view Bristled with upright beams innumerable Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields Various, with boastful argument portray'd, The banded Pow'rs of Satan hasting on
85 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
73. So Homer describes the motion of his gods. 84. Boastful argument, in allusion to the designs painted on the shields of knights.
To set the envior of his state, the proud
105 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 tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold : 110 Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds, And thus his own undaunted heart explores;
O Heav'n! that such resemblance of the High'st Should yet remain, where faith and reälty 115 Remain not! wherefore should not strength and night There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove Where boldest, though to sight unconquerable ? His puissance, trusting in th' Almighty's aid, I mean to try, whose reason I have try'd 120 Unsound and false ; nor is it aught but just That he who in debate of truth hath won Should win in arms, in both disputes alike Victor; though brutish that contést and foul, When reason hath to deal with force, yet so 123 Most reason is that reason overcoine.
So pondering, and from his armed peers Forth stepping opposite, balf-way he met
93. Hosting, a word not first used by Milton, as supposed. 113, Realty, not sureness but toyalty, derived from the Italian
word reale, loyal.
His daring foe, at this prevention more
Proud, art thou met ? Thy hope was to have reach'd
149 Unaided, could have finish'd thee, and whelm'd Thy legions under darkness ! but thou seest All are uot of thy train: there be who faith Prefer, and piety to God, though then To thee not visible, when I alone
145 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: Il for thee, but in wish'd hour 150 Of my revenge, first sought for thou return'st From flight, seditious Angel, to receive Thy merited reward, the first assay Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue, Inspired with contradiction, durst oppose 155 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 com'st Before thy fellows, ambitious to win
100 From me some plume, that thy success may shew Destruction to the rest. This pause between (Unanswer'd lest thou boast) to let thee know; At first I thought that Liberty and Heav'n To heav'nly souls had been all one; but now 185 I see that most through sloth had rather serve, Ministring Spirits, train'd up in feast and song:
147. Sect, not in allusion, as is supposed, to any religions of political party, but according to its primitive sense, a division, from seco. 161. Success, fortune, gnod or bad, is signified by this word.
167. Heb. 1. 14.