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Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no lefs perhaps avail us known,
How first began this Heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this forid earth, what caufe 90
Mov’d the Creator in his holy reft
Through all eternity fo late to build
In Chaos, and the work begun, how foon
Absolv'd, if unforbid thou may'st unfold
What we not to explore the secrets afk
Of his eternal empire, but the more
To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yer wants to run .
Much of his race though fteep.; fufpenfe in Heaven,
Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears, 100
And longer will delay to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of Nature from the unapparent deep:
Or if the star of evening and the moon
Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring 1oz
Silence, and sleep list’ning to thee will watch,
Or we can bid his absence, till thy fong
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.
Thus Adam his illustrious guest befought: And thus the Godlike Angel answer'd mild. This also thy request with caution alk'd Obtain : though to recount almighty works
What words or tongue of Seraph can fuffice,
Or heart of man fuffice to comprehend ?
Yet what thou canst attain, which best may ferve 115
To glorify the Maker, and infer "
Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing : such commission from above
I have receiv'd, to answer thy defire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain 120
To ask, nor let thine own invention hope
Things not reveal’d, which th' invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath fuppress’d in night,
To none communicable in Earth or Heaven:
Enough is left befides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temp’rance over appetite; to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and foon turns
Wisdom to folly', as nourishment to wind.
Know then, that after Lucifer from Heaven
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of Angels, than that star the stars among)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great Son return'd
Victorious with his Saints, th' omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus fpake.
* At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought
All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the feat
Of deity supreme, us difpoffefs’d,
He trusted to have seiz'd, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no more;
Yet far the greater part have kept, I see 115
Their station, Heav'n yet populous retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms
Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due and solemn rites:
But left his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heav'n,
My damage fondly deem’d, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost, and in a moment will create ...
Another world, out of one man a race
155 Of men innumerable, there to dwell, Not here, till by degrees of merit rais'd They open to themselves at length the way Up hither, under long obedience try'd, And Earth be chang’d to Heav'n, and Heav'n to Earth, One kingdom, joy and union without end. Mean while inhabit lax, ye Pow'rs of Heaven, And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform, speak thou, and be it done : My overshadowing Spi'rit and might with thee 16; I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep Within appointed bounds be Heav'n and Earth, Boundless the deep, because I am who fill Infinitude, nor vacuous the space. Though I uncircumscrib'd myself retire, And put not forth my goodness which is free To act or not, neceflity and chance
Approach not me, and what I will is fate.
So spake th’ Almighty, and to what he spake His Word, the filial Godhead, gave effect. 175 Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive. Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven, 180 When such was heard declar'd th' Almighty's will ; Glory they sung to the most High, good-will To future men, and in their dwellings peace : Glory to him, whose juft avenging ire Had driven out th’ungodly from his fight And th’habitations of the just; to him Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordain'd Good out of evil to create, instead Of Spi'rits malign a better race to bring . Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse His good to worlds and ages infinite.
So sang the Hierarchies: Mean while the Son On his great expedition now appear'd, Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd Of majesty divine; sapience and love : 195 Immense, and all his father in him shone. About his chariot numberless were pour'd Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones, And Virtues, winged Spi'rits, and chariots wing'd From th' armoury of God, where stand of old 200 Myriads between two brazen mountains lodg'd Against a solemn day, harness'd at hand,
Celestial equipage; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them Spirit liv'd,
Attendant on their Lord : Hear'n open'd wide 205 |
Her ever during gates, harmonious found
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory in his pow'rful Word
And Spirit coming to create new worlds.
On heav'nly ground they stood, and from the fhore 210
They view'd the vast immeafurable abyss
Outrageous as a fea, dark, wafteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turn'd by furious winds
And surging waves, as mountains, to affault
Heav'n's highth, and with the center mix the pole.
Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace,
Said then th' omnific Word, your discord end :
Nor stay'd, but on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted, in paternal glory rode
Far into Chaos, and the world unborn;
For Chaos heard his voice: him all his train
Follow'd in bright procession to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compaffes, prepar'd .225
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things:
One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd
Round through the vaft profundity obscure,
And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, 230
This be thy juft circumference, O world.
Thus God the Heav'n created, thus the Earth,