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Of counterfeited truth, thus held their ears.

"Thrones, dominations. princedoms, virtues, powers,

If these magnificent titles yet remain
Not merely titular; since, by decree,
Another now hath to himself engross'd
All power, and us eclipsed, under the name
Of King anointed; for whom all this haste
Of midnight march, and hurried meeting here,
This only to consult, how we may best,
With what may be devis'd of honours new,
Receive him, coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute, yet unpaid, prostration vile,
Too much to one, but double how endur'd,
To one, and to his image now proclaim'd?
But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The souple knee? ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right; or if ye know yourselves
Natives and sons of Heaven, possess'd before
By none, and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then or right assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals? if in power and splendour less
In freedom equal: or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,
And look for adoration, to the abuse

Of those imperial titles, which assert

Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve.'

"Thus far his bold discourse, without control

Had audience, when among the seraphim

Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored
The Deity, and divine commands obey'd,
Stood up; and, in a flame of zeal severe,
The current of his fury thus oppos'd.

“O argument blasphemous, false, and proud !
Words, which no ear ever to hear in Heaven
Expected; least of all from thee, ingrate,
In place, thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou, with impious obloquy, condemn
The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,
That to his only Son, by right endued
With regal sceptre, every soul in Heaven

Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due,
Confess him rightful King? Unjust thou say'st,
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
And equal over equals to let reign,

One over all, with unsucceeded power.

Shalt thou give law to God? shall thou dispute

With him the points of liberty, who made

Thee what thou art, and form'd the powers of Heaven
Such as he pleased, and circumscrib'd their being?

Yet by experience taught, we know how good,

And of our good, and of our dignity,

How provident he is; how far from thought
To make us less, bent rather to exalt

Our happy state, under one head more near
United. But to grant it thee unjust,
That equal over equals monarch reign:

Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,
Or all angelic nature join'd in one,

Equal to him begotten Son? by whom,
As by his word, the mighty Father made

All things, even thee; and all the spirits of Heaven,
By him created in their bright degrees,

Crown'd them with glory, and to their glory nam'd
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers,
Essential powers; nor by his reign obscured,
But more illustrious made; since he the head
One of our number, thus reduced becomes;
His laws our laws; all honour to him done
Returns our own. Cease then this impious rage,
And tempt not these; but hasten to appease
The incens'd Father, and the incensed Son,
While pardon may be found, in time besought.'
"So spake the fervent angel! but his zeal
None seconded, as out of season judged,
Or singular and rash; whereat, rejoiced

The apostate, and more haughty thus replied.

That we were form'd then, sayst thou? and the work

Of secondary hands, by task transferr'd

From Father to his Son? Strange point and new!

Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd: who saw

When this creation was? remember'st thou

Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?

We know no time when we were not as now;
Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised
By our own quickening power; when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature

Of this our native Heaven, ethereal sons.
Our puissance is our own; our own right hand
Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try
Who is our equal: then thou shalt behold,
Whether by supplication we intend
Address, and to begird the Almighty throne
Beseeching, or besieging. This report,
These tidings carry to the anointed King;
And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.'

"He said, and, as the sound of waters deep, Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause, Through the infinite host; nor less for that, The flaming seraph, fearless, though alone, Encompass'd round with foes, thus answer'd bold. "O alienate from God, O spirit accursed, Forsaken of all good; I see thy fall

Determined, and thy hapless crew involved
In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread,
Both of thy crime and punishment: henceforth,
No more be troubled how to quit the yoke
Of God's Messiah; those indulgent laws
Will not be now vouchsafed: other decrces
Against thee are gone forth, without recall;
That golden sceptre, which thou didst reject,
Is now an iron rod, to bruise and break

Thy disobedience.

Well thou didst advise,

Yet, not for thy advice, or threats, I fly
These wicked tents devoted, lest the wrath
Impendent, raging into sudden flame,
Distinguish not: for soon expect to feel
His thunder on thy head, devouring fire.
Then, who created thee lamenting learn,
When, who can uncreate thee, thou shalt know.'
"So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found,
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,

His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;

Nor number, nor example with him wrought,
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he pass'd,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustain'd
Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught:

And, with retorted scorn, his back he turn'd
On those proud tow'rs, to swift destruction doom'd."
All night the dreadless Angel, unpursued,

Through Heaven's wide champaign held his way; till morn,
Waked by the circling hours, with rosy hand,
Unbarr'd the gates of light. There is a cave,
Within the mount of God, fast by his throne,
Where light and darkness, in perpetual round,

Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through Heaven
Grateful vicissitude, like day and night:

Light issues forth, and, at the other door,
Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour

To veil the Heaven; through darkness there might well
Seem twilight here. And now went forth the morn,
Such as in highest Heaven array'd in gold
Empyreal; from before her vanish'd night,

Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain,
Cover'd with thick embattled squadrons bright,
Chariots and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view.
War he perceived, war in procinct, and found
Already known, what he for news had thought
To have reported: gladly then he mix'd
Among those friendly pow'rs, who him receiv'd
With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
That of so many myriads fall'n, yet one
Return'd not lost. On to the sacred hill
They led him high applauded, and present
Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice
From midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard.

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'Servant of God, well done, well hast thou fought The better fight, who single hast maintain'd,

Against revolted multitudes, the cause

Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms;
And for the testimony of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear

Than violence; for this was all thy care,

To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds
Judged thee perverse: the easier conquest now
Remains thee, aided by this host of friends,
Back on thy foes more glorious to return;
Than scorn'd thou didst depart, and to subdue
By force, who reason for their law refuse;
Right reason for their law, and for their king
Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.
Go, Michael, of celestial armies prince,
And thou, in military prowess next,
Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons
Invincible, lead forth thy armed saints,

By thousands and by millions ranged for fight;
Equal in number to that godless crew
Rebellious; them with fire and hostile arms
Fearless assault, and, to the brow of Heaven
Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss,
Into their place of punishment, the gulf
Of Tartarus; which ready opens wide
His fiery Chaos, to receive their fall.'

"So spake the sovereign voice; and clouds began To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll

In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign

Of wrath awaked; nor with less dread the loud
Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow:
At which command the powers militant,
That stood for Heaven, in mighty quadrate join'd
Of union irresistible, mov'd on

In silence their bright legions, to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breath'd
Heroic ardour to adventurous deeds,
Under their God-like leaders, in the cause
Of God and his Messiah. On they move,
Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,

Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream divides
Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground
Their march was, and the passive air upbore
Their nimble tread: as when the total kind
Of birds, in orderly array on wing,

Came summon'd over Eden, to receive
Their names of thee: so over many a tract

Of Heaven they march'd, and many a province wide,
Tenfold the length of this terrene at last,
Far in the horizon, to the north, appear'd
From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd
In battailous aspect, and, nearer view,
Bristled with upright beams innumerable
Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields
Various, with boastful argument portray'd,
The banded pow'rs of Satan hasting on
With furious expedition; for they ween'd
That self same day, by fight, or by surprise,
To win the mount of God, and on his throne
To set the envier of his state, the proud
Aspirer but their thoughts proved fond and vain,
In the midway: though strange to us it seem'd
At first, that angel should with angel war,
And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet

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