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Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow
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 :
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the
Seasons 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 a universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and raz’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' almighty Father from above, From the pure empyrean where he sits High throned above all height, bent down his eye, His own works and their works at once to view; About him all the Sanctities of heav'n 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, unrivalla 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 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 heav'n, in the precints of light, Directly tow'rds 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. Such I created all th? ethereal pow'rs 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,
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 despoil'd,
Made passive both, had serv'd necessity,
Noi 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 overrul'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 ought 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 inthral themselves; I else must change
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
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 bless'd 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 te his Father spake :
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 th' inuumerable sound 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 Fer 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 reply'd :
O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
Al hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
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 pow'rs, though forfeit, and inthrall’d
By sin, to foul exorbitant desires;
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 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 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 pray’r, repentance, and obed'ence 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,
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 mércy 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 heav'nly Pow'rs where shall we find such love
Which of ye will be mortal to redeem
Man's mortal crime, and just th' unjust to save ?
Dwell's in all heaven charity so dear ?
He ask'd, but all the heav'nly choir stood mute,
And silence was in heav'n; on man's behalf
Patron or intercessor none appear'd,
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.