« السابقةمتابعة »
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 målice, 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,
Now had th' almighıy Father from above,
Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night,
Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage
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,
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
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