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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 unmov'd,
Unshaken, unseduc'd, unterrify'd,
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 tow'rs to swift destruction doom'd.
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 unpursu'd [morn, Through heaven's wide champain held his way, till Wak'd 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
7 Lodge] This thought borrowed from Hesiod. Theog. 748.
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 vanish'd night,
Shot through with orient beams: when all the plain
Cover'd with thick embattle'd squadrons bright,
Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view.
War he perceiv'd, 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 receiv'd
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
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,
10 Obsequious] opacous. Bentl. MS.
14 vanish'd] Some editions absurdly read 'vanquish'd.' Newton.
To stand approv'd in sight of GOD, though worlds
Judg'd 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 rang'd for fight;
Equal in number to that godless crew
Rebellious; them with fire and hostile arms
Fearless assault, and to the brow of heav'n
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 awak'd: nor with less dread the loud
Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow :
At which command the
That stood for heaven, in mighty quadrate join'd
Of union irresistible, mov'd on
60 Ethereal] Archangel. Bentl. MS.
In silence their bright legions, to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breath'd
Heroic ardour to advent'rous deeds,
Under their godlike 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
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.
Far in th' 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 surprize,
To win the mount of GOD, and on his throne
To set the envier of his state, the proud
Aspirer; but their thoughts prov'd fond and vain 90
In the mid way. Though strange to us it seem'd
82 Bristled] Virg. Æn. xi. 601. Tum late ferreus hastis horret ager.' Newton.