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And now,

Firm land imbosomed 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

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Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds
Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heaped 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.
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 placed, with purpose to assay

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,

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Made passive both, had served Necessity,
Not Me? They, therefore, as to right belonged
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination overruled
Their will, disposed 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 proved 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 formed them free, and free they must remain
Till they enthrall themselves : I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained
Their freedom ; they themselves ordained their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved ; Man falls, deceived

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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 filled
All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffused.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious ; in him all his Father shone
Substantially expressed ; and in his face

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Divine compassion visibly appeared,
Love without end, and without measure grace ;
Which uttering, thus He to his father spake :-

"O Father, gracious was that word which closed

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Thy sovran sentence, that Man should find grace ;
For which both Heaven and Earth shall high extol
Thy praises, with the innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompassed shall resound thee ever blest.
For, should Man finally be lost-should Man,
Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son,
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though joined
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 accomplished, 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 questioned and blasphemed 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 saved who will ;
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely voutsafed. Once more I will renew
His lapsèd powers, though forfeit, and enthralled
By sin to foul exorbitant desires ;
Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
On even ground against his mortal foe,—

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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

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Man's mortal crime, and just, the unjust to save ?
Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear ?"

He asked, but all the Heavenly Quire stood mute,
And silence was in Heaven : on Man's behalf
Patron or intercessor none appeared-
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind
Must have been lost, adjudged to Death and Hell
By doom severe, had not the Son of God,
In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,
His dearest mediation thus renewed :

“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;

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