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THE ARGUMENT.

God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly

created; shows 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 malice, 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 a 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 alights upon the bare 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 flow about it: his passage thence to the orb of the sun: he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first changes 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.

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK III.

Hail, holy Light! offspring of heaven first born!
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam'd ? since God is light,

And never but in unapproached light
5 Dwelt from 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 heavens thou wert; and at the voice 10 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 revisit now with bolder wing,

Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd 15 In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight,

Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to th' Orphéan lyre,
I sung of Chaos, and eternal Night;

Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down 20 The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,

Though hard and rare. Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou

Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain

To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; 25 So thick a Drop-serene hath quench'd their orbs,

Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,

Smit with the love of sacred song ; but chief 30 Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath

That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equallid with me in fate,

So were I equall'd with them in renown, 35 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 40 Tunes her nocturnal note.

Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even, or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine ; 45 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 ras'd, 50 And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out!

So much the rather thou, celestial light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence

Purge and disperse ; that I may see and tell 55 Of things invisible to mortal sight.

Now had the Almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyréan where he sits
High thron'd above all height, bent down his eye,
His own works, and their works, at once to view.

60 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 65 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
70 Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there

Coasting the wall of heaven 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 75 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 85 “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 heaven, in the precincts of light,

“Directly towards the new-created world,
90 “ And man there plac'd, with purpose to essay

“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, 95 “Sole pledge of his obedience : so will fall,

“ He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault?
“ Whose but his own? Ingrate! he had of me

80

66

105

“ All he could have; I made him just and right,

“Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall. 100 6 Such I created all the 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 given 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, 110 “Made passive both,-had serv'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
115 “ 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. 120 “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 form’d them, free; and free they must remain, 125,“ Till they enthral themselves: I else must change

“ Their nature, and revoke the high decree

Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd “ Their freedom: they themselves ordaind their fall.

“ The first sort by their own suggestion fell, 130 “Self-tempted, self-deprav’d: man falls, deceiv'd

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."

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