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And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. 50
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
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

55
Now had the 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 Heaven

60 Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received Beatitude past utterrance: 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

65 Of mankind in the happy garden placed, Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love, Uninterrupted joy, unrival'd love, In blissful solitude; he then survey'd Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there 70 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 Firm land imbosom’d, without firmament,

75 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

80 Transports our adversary? whom no bounds Prescribed, 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

85

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,
And man there placed, with purpose to essay 90
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

95
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 the ethereal Powers

100 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, 105 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 served necessity,

110 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 overruled Their will disposed by absolute decree

115 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 proved certain unforeknown. So without least impulse or shadow of fate, 120 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,
Till they enthral themselves; I else must change 125
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-depraved: Man falls, deceived 130
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.

Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fillid 135
All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffused.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious; in him all his father shone
Substantially express’d; and in his face

140 Divine compassion visibly appear'd, Love without end, and without measure grace; Which, uttering, thus he to his Father spake:

O Father, gracious was that word which closed 144 Thy sov'reign sentence, that man should find grace; For which both Heaven and Earth shall high extol Thy praises, with the innumerable sound Of hynms and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne Encompass'd shall resound thee ever bless'd. For should Man finally be lost? should Man, Thy creature late so loved, 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.

155 Or shall the Adversary thus obtain His end, and frustrate thine? shall he fulfil

150

His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought;
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish’d, and to Hell 160
Draw after him the whole race of mankind,
By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyself
A bolish thy creation, and unmake
For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both 165
Be question’dand blasphemed without detence,

To whom the great Creator thus replied:
O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might, 170
All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed;
Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will;
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew 175
His lapsed powers, though forfeit, and enthrall’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 180
His fallen 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 185
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The 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. 190
To prayer, repentance, and obedience 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, 195
Light after light, well used, 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, 200
That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;
And none but such from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done; Man disobeying,
Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins
Against the high supremacy of Heaven,

205
Affecting Godhead; and, so losing all,
To expiate his treason hath nought left,
But to destruction sacred and devote,
He with his whole posterity must die;
Die he or justice must: unless for him

210 Some other able, and as willing, pay The rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love? Which of ye will be mortal, to redeem Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save? 215 Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?

He ask'd, but all the heavenly choir stood mute, And silence was in Heaven: On Man's behalf Patron or intercessor none appear’d, Much less that durst upon his own head draw 220 The deadly forfeiture and ransom set. And now without redemption all mankind Must have been lost, adjudged to Death and Hell By doom severe, had not the Son of God, In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,

225 His dearest mediation thus renew'd:

Father, thy word is pass’d, Man shall find grace; And shall grace not find means, that finds her way, The speediest of thy winged messengers,

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