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To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd 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
Transports our adversary, whom no bounds
Prescrib'd, no bars of hell, nor all the chains
Heap'd 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 plac'd, with purpose to assay
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.
93 glozing lies] See Beaumont's Psyche, c. v. 37. 'With humble lies, and oaths of glozings drest.' See also B. ix. 549, 'so gloz'd the tempter.'
Such I created all th' ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood and them who fail'd:
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv'n sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love,
Where only, what they needs must do, appear'd, 105
Not what they would? what praise could they re-
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason, (reason also is choice,)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,
Made passive both, had serv'd necessity,
Not me? They therefore, as to right belong'd,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate;
As if predestination over-rul'd
Their will, dispos'd 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 prov'd 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
I form'd them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
108 When God gave him reason he gave him freedom to choose; for reason is but choosing.' Milton's Areopagitica.
Their nature, and revoke the high decree,
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom; they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self deprav'd: man falls deceiv'd 130
By the other first: man therefore shall find 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 fill'd All heav'n, and in the blessed spirits elect Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd. Beyond compare the Son of GOD was seen Most glorious; in him all his Father shone Substantially express'd, and in his face Divine compassion visibly 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 sov'reign sentence, that man should find grace; For which both heaven and earth shall high extol Thy praises, with th' innumerable sound
139 Father] P. Fletcher. P. Isl. c. xii. st. 81.
'Full of his father shines his glorious face.' Todd.
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest.
For should man finally be lost, should man
Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest son,
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 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 his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to hell
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 question'd and blasphem'd 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,
All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed:
Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will,
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchsaf'd: once more I will renew
His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthrall'd
By sin to foul exorbitant desires:
169 Son] 'My Son, my only stay,
My hand, my honor, and my might.'
153 that] Newton observes that this is from Genesis, xviii. 25. 'That be far from thee,' &c.
See Golding's Ovid. p. 62. 176 lapsed] 'lapsas acuit mentes,' v. Sil. Ital. x. 606.
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 chosen of peculiar grace
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
Th' incensed Deity, while offer'd grace
Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,
What may suffice, and soften stony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endeavour'd 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, 195
Light after light well us'd 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 harden'd, blind be blinded more,
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,
189 stony] Ezek. xxxvi. 26. 'I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh.' Gillies.