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God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards
this world, then newly created; shews him to the Son who sat at his right band; 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 bave withstood bis tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards bim, in regard be fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to. bis Fatber for the manifestition of bis gracious purpose towards Man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice : Man bath offended the Majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore, with all bis progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo bis punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man : the Father accepts bim, ordains bis incarnation, pronounces bis exaltation above all names in Heaven and Earth ; commands all the Angels to adore him : they obey, and hymning to their barps in full choir, celebrate the Father and the Son. Mean while 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; be 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 bad placed here, enquires of bim the place of bis habitation, and is directed : alights first on Mount Niphates.
BOOK THE THIRD.
AIL holy Light, offspring of Heav'n first
born, Or of th' eternal coeternal beam May I express thee unblam'd ? since God is Light, And never but in unapproached light 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 Heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice 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 In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight 15 Thro' utter and through middle darkness borne With other notes than to th’Orphean lyre
of Chaos and eternal Night, Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down The dark descent, and up to re-ascend, Though hard and rare : thee I revisit safe, And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou Revisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vain To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs, Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more 26 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 Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath, 30 That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow, Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget Those other two equal'd with me in fate, So were I equal'd with them in renown, Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides, 35 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
year 40 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 45 Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
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