« PreviousContinue »
Of King anointed; for whom all this haste
Of midnight-march, and hurried meeting here
This only to consult how we may best,
With what may be devised of honors new,
Receive him, coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!
Too much to One! but double how endured,
To One, and to his Image now proclaim'd?
But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The supple knee? Ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right: or, if ye know yourselves
Natives and sons of heaven, possess'd before
By none; and, if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free: for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then or right, assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals, if in power and splendor less,
In freedom equal? or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? much less for this to be our lord,
And look for adoration, to the' abuse
Of those imperial titles, which assert
Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve.'
"Thus far his bold discourse without controll
Had audience; when among the Seraphim
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored
The Deity', and divine commands obey'd,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus opposed:
O argument blasphemous, false and proud! Words which no ear ever to hear in heaven
Expected, least of all from thee, Ingrate!
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,
That to his only Son by right endued
With regal sceptre, every soul in heaven
Shall bend the knee, and in that honor due
Confess him rightful King? Unjust, thou say'st,
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
And equal over equals to let reign,
One over all with unsucceeded power.
Shalt thou give law to God? Shalt thou dispute
With him the points of liberty, who made
Thee what thou art, and form'd the Powers of
Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being?
Yet, by experience taught, we know how good,
And of our good and of our dignity
How provident he is; how far from thought
To make us less, bent rather to exalt
Our happy state, under one head more near
United. But to grant it thee unjust,
That equal over equals monarch reign :
Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,
Or all angelic nature join'd in one,
Equal to him begotten-Son? by whom,
As by his Word, the Mighty Father made
All things, e'en thee; and all the Spirits of heaven
By him created in their bright degrees,
Crown'd them with glory', and to their glory named
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Pow-
Essential Powers: nor by his reign obscured, [ers,
But more illustrious made; since he, the head,
One of our number thus reduced becomes;
His laws our laws: all honor to him done
Returns our own. Cease then this impious rage,
And tempt not these; but hasten to appease
The' incensed Father, and the' incensed Son,
While pardon may be found in time besought.'
"So spake the fervent angel; but his zeal
None seconded, as out of season judged,
Or singular and rash: whereat rejoiced
The' apostate, and, more haughty, thus replied:
That we were form'd then, say'st thou? and the
Of secondary hands, by task transferr'd [work
From Father to his Son? strange point and new!
Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd :
When this creation was? remember'st thou
Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?
We know no time when we were not as now;
Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised
By our own quickening power, when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature
Of this our native heaven, etherial sons.
Our puissance is our own; our own right hand
Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try
Who is our equal: then thou shalt behold
Whether by supplication we intend
Address, and to begird the' almighty throne
Beseeching or besieging. This report,
These tidings carry to the' anointed King;
And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.'
"He said; and, as the sound of waters deep,
Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause
Through the' infinite host: nor less for that
The flaming Seraph fearless, though alone
Encompass'd round with foes, thus answer'd bold:
O alienate from God! O Spirit accursed, Forsaken of all good! I see thy fall Determined, and thy hapless crew involved In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread Both of thy crime and punishment: henceforth No more be troubled how to quit the yoke Of God's Messiah: those indulgent laws Will not be now vouchsafed: other decrees Against thee are gone forth, without recall. That golden sceptre, which thou didst reject, Is now an iron rod to bruise and break Thy disobedience. Well thou didst advise : Yet not for thy advice or threats, I fly These wicked tents devoted, lest the wrath Impendent, raging into sudden flame, Distinguish not: for soon expect to feel His thunder on thy head, devouring fire. Then who created thee lamenting learn, When who can uncreate thee thou shalt know.' "So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found Among the faithless, faithful only he : Among innumerable false, unmoved, Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal : Nor number, nor example, with him wrought To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind, Though single. From amidst them forth he pass'd, Long way through hostile scorn; which he sustain'd Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught; And, with retorted scorn, his back he turn'd On those proud towers to swift destruction doom'd."
END OF BOOK V.
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 champain 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
Grateful vicissitude, like day and night. [heaven
Light issues forth, and at the other door
Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour [well
To veil the heaven, though darkness there might
Seem twilight here: and now went forth the Morn
Such as in highest heaven array'd in gold