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addresses the Son

The Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received
Father 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, unrivalled love,
In blissful solitude. He then surveyed
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there 70
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 seemed
Firm land imbosomed 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 80
Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds
Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heaped 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 assay 90
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 100
And Spirits, both them who stood and them
who failed;

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 appeared,
Not what they would? What praise could
they receive,

Man sufficient

to stand, though free to

fall

What pleasure I, from such obedience paid,
When Will and Reason (Reason also is Choice),
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,
Made passive both, had served Necessity,
Not me? They, therefore, as to right belonged
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

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120

'Mercy I formed them free, and free they must remain shall Till they enthrall themselves: I else must change brightest Their nature, and revoke the high decree Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained

shine'

Their freedom; they themselves ordained 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

131

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 filled
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 expressed; and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appeared,
Love without end, and without measure grace;
Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake :-
'O Father, gracious was that word which
closed

Thy sovran sentence, that Man should find

140

grace;

For which both Heaven and Earth shall high extol

Thy praises, with the innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompassed shall resound thee ever blest.
For, should Man finally be lost-should Man, 150
Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son,

Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though joined 'Man
With his own folly! That be from thee far, shall be
That far be from thee, Father, who art judge
upheld
by God'
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 naught
Or proud return, though to heavier doom
Yet with revenge accomplished, and to Hell 160
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 questioned 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, 170
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 voutsafed.
Once more I will renew
His lapsed powers, though forfeit, and enthralled
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 180
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 warned

forfeit of Death?'

'Who Their sinful state, and to appease betimes will re- The incensed Deity, while offered grace deem the Invites; for I will clear their senses dark What may suffice, and soften stony hearts Το pray, repent, and bring obedience due. To prayer, repentance, and obedience due, Though but endeavoured 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 hardened, blind be blinded more, 200 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 naught 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?

190

210

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 asked, but all the Heavenly Quire stood

mute,

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