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BOOK THE SIXTH.
LL night the dreadless Angel, unpursu'd,
rosy hand Unbarr'd the gates of light. There is a cave Within the mount of God, fast by his throne, 5 Where light and darkness in perpetual round Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes thro'
Heav'n Grateful vicissitude, like day and night; Light issues forth, and at the other door Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour To veil the Heav'n, tho' darkness there might well Seem twilight here: and now went forth the morn Such as in highest Heav'n, array'd in gold Empyreal ; from before her vanish'd night, 14 Shot thro’ with orient beams; when all the plain, Cover'd with thick embattl'd squadrons bright,
Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
25 They led him, high applauded, and present Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice From midst a golden cloud thus mild was heard: Servant of God, well done! well hast thou
fought The better fight, who single hast maintain d 30 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 35 To stand approv'd in sight of God, tho' worlds Judg’d 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 40 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
Their names of thee; so over many a tract
100 Idol of Majesty Divine, inclos'd With flaming Cherubim and golden shields ; Then lighted from his gorgeous throne, for now 'Twixt host and host but narrow space was left, (A dreadful interval) and front to front 105
Presented, stood in terrible array,
O Heav'n! that such resemblance of the High'st Should yet remain, where faith and realty 115 Remain not! wherefore should not strength and
might There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove Where boldest, though to sight unconquerable ? His puissance, trusting in th' Almighty's aid, I mean to try, whose reason I have try'd Unsound and false; nor is it aught but just That he who in debate of truth hath won, Should win in arms, in both disputes alike Victor; though brutish that contest and foul, When reason hath to deal with force, yet so 125 Most reason is that reason overcome.
So pondering, and from his armed peers Forth stepping opposite, half way he met His daring foe, at this prevention more Incens'd; and thus securely him defy'd : 130 Proud, art thou met? Thy hope was to have
reach'd The height of thy aspiring unoppos’d, The throne of God unguarded, and his side