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Given me to quell their pride, and in event
Know whether I be dexterous to subdue
Thy rebels, or be found the worst in Heaven.
So Spake the Son; but Satan, with his Powers
Far was advanced on winged speed; a host
Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dewdrops, which the sun
Regions they pass'd, the mighty regencies
Of Seraphim, and Potentates, and Thrones,
In their triple degrees; regions to which
All thy dominion, Adam, is no more
Than what this garden is to all the earth
And all the sea, from one entire globose
Stretch'd into longitude ; which having pass'd,
At length into the limits of the north
They came ; and Satan to his royal seat
High on a hill, far blazing, as a mount
Raised on a mount, with pyramids and towers
From diamond quarries hewn, and rocks of gold;
The palace of great Lucifer (so call
That structure in the dialect of men
Interpreted,) which, not long after, he
Affecting all equality with God,
In imitation of that mount whereon
Messiah was declared in sight of Heaven,
The Mountain of the Congregation callid;
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their King,
Thither to come, and with calumnious art 775
Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears:
· Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers;
If these magnific 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 devised of honours new,
Receive him coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!
Too much to one! but double how endured,
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 supple 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 opposed.
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
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? shalt 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 circumscribed their being ?
Yet, by experience taught, we know how good, 831
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 835
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,
840 As by his Word, the Mighty Father made All things, e'en thee; and all the Spirits of Heaven, By him created in their bright degrees, Crown'd them with glory, and to their glory named Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, Essential powers; nor by his reign obscured, 846 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, 850 And tempt not these ; but hasten to appease The incensed 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, 853 Or singular and rash: Whereat rejoiced The Apostate, and, more haughty, thus replied: That we were form’d then, say'st thou ? and the work
Of secondary hands, by task transferr'd
From Father to his Son ? strange point and new! 860
Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd: who
When this creation was? remember'st thou [saw
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 865
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 870
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, i
These tidings carry to the anointed King; : 875
And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.
He said : and, as the sound of waters deep,
Hoarse murmur echo'd to his words applause
Through the infinite host ; nor less for that
The flaming Seraph fearless, though alone 880
Encompass'd round with foes, thus answer'd bold :
O alienate from God, Spirit accursed, Forsaken of all good! I see thy fall Determined, and thy hapless crew involved In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread 885 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 decrees Against thee are gone forth without recal; 890 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. 900
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;. 910
And, with retorted scorn, his back he turn'd
On those proud towers to swift destruction doom'd.