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Firm land imbosomed without firmament,
90 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. Such I created all the Ethereal Powers And Spirits, both them who stood and them who failed; Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. Not free, what proof could they have given sincere Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love, Where only what they needs must do appeared, Not what they would ? What praise could they receive, What pleasure I, from such obedience paid, When Will and Reason (Reason also is Choice), Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,
Made passive both, had served Necessity,
Thus while God spake ambrosial fragrance filled
"O Father, gracious was that word which closed
Thy sovran sentence, that Man should find grace ;
To whom the great Creator thus replied :
By me upheld, that he may know how frail
180 His fallen condition is, and to me owe All his deliverance, 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 warned Their sinful state, and to appease betimes The incensed Deity, while offered grace Invites ; for I will clear their senses dark What may suffice, and soften stony hearts To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
190 To prayer, repentance, and obedience due, Though but endeavoured 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, Light after light well used 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 hardened, 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, Affecting Godhead, and, so losing all, To expiate his treason hath naught left, But, to destruction sacred and devote, He with his whole posterity must die ;Die he or Justice must; unless for him Some other, able, and as willing, pay The rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say, Heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love? Which of ye will be mortal, to redeem
Man's mortal crime, and just, the unjust to save ?
He asked, but all the Heavenly Quire stood mute,
“Father, thy word is passed, Man shall find grace ; And shall Grace not find means, that finds her way, The speediest of thy winged messengers, To visit all thy creatures, and to all
230 Comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought ? Happy for Man, so coming! He her aid Can never seek, once dead in sins and lostAtonement for himself, or offering meet, Indebted and undone, hath none to bring. Behold me, then: me for him, life for life, I offer ; on me let thine anger fall ; Account me Man: I for his sake will leave Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee Freely put off, and for him lastly die
240 Well pleased ; on me let Death wreak all his rage. Under his gloomy power I shall not long Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess Life in myself for ever ; by thee I live; Though now to Death I yield, and am his due, All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid, Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul For ever with corruption there to dwell;