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النشر الإلكتروني

Book the Third.

THE ARGUMENT. God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards

this world, then newly created; shews him to the Son who sat at his right hand ; foretels the success of Satan in perverting mankind, clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter ; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell. not of his own lice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards man without the satisfaction of divine justice. Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead; and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself u ransom for man: The Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; commands all the angels to adore him: they obey; and hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile Satan alight's upon the bore convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called The Limbo of Vanity: what persons and things fly up thither: thence comes to the gate of heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that fiow about it: his passage therice to the ord of the sun; he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first charges himself into the shape of a meaner angel ; and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed: alights first on mount Niphates.

HALL, holy light, offspring of heav'n first-born!

Or of th Eternal coeternal beam! May I express thee unblaim'd! since God is light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt froin eternity; dwelt then in thee, Bright effluence of bright essence increate. Or hear'st thou rather, pure ethereal stream, Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun, Before the heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice Of God, as with a mantle didst invest The rising world of waters dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite. Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing, Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd In that obscure sojourn ; while in my flight Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to th’Orphean lyre, I sung of Chaos and eternal Night; Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down The dark descent, and up to re-ascend, Though hard and rare. Thee 1 revisit safe, And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou Revisit'st not these eyes, that roli in vain To find thy piercing'ray, and find no dawn; So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs, Or dim suffusion veild. Yet not the more Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny liill, Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,

That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling filow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides;
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old :
Thea feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious nuinbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seisons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with an universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her pow'rs
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
of things invisible to mortal sight.

Now had th' almighıy Father from above,
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High thron'd above all height, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view:
About him all the sanctities of heaven
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd
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 plac'd,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,
In blissful solitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there

Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night,
in the dun air sublime; and ready now
To stoop, with wearied wings and willing seet,
On the bare outside of this world, that seemd
Firm land embosom’d, without firmament;
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Hin 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 himn there, nor yet the main abyss,
Wide interrupt, can hold? so bent he seems
On desp'rate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head. And now,
Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way
Not far off heav'n, in the precincts of light,
Directly tow'rds the new-created world,
And man there piac'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 comınand, Sole pledge of his obedience; so will fall He, and his faithless progeny. Whose fault? Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of ine All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall. 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 farth or love, Where only what they needs must do appear'd, Not what they would: what praise could they receive? What pleasure I from such obedience paid, When will and reason (reason alsu is choice) Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd, Made passive both, and sery'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 theinselves 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 ought by me immutabiy foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all,
Both what they judge, and what they choose ; for sQ
1 form’d them free; and so they must remain,
Till they inthral themselves; Telse must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordaind
Their freedom; they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depravd: man falls, deceiv'd
By th’ other first: man therefore shall find grace,
The other none. In mercy and justice both,
Through heav'n 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 diffusd
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 appeard,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which uttering, thus he to his Father spaker

O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd Thy sov reign sentence, that man should find grace For which both heav'n and earth shall high extol Thy praises, with the innumerable sound Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne Encompass'd shall resound thee ever bless’d. For should man finally be lost, should many

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