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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 pow'r 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 th' abuse
Of those imperial titles, which assert
Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve.
Thus far his bold discourse without controul
Had audience, when among the Seraphim
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal ador'd
The Deity', and divine commands obey'd,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus oppos'd.
O ARGUMENT blasphemous, false and proud!
Words which no ear ever to hear in Heav'n
Expected, least of all from thee, Ingrate,
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of God, pronounc'd and sworn,
That to his only Son by right endued
With regal sceptre, every soul in Heaven
Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due
Confess him rightful King? Unjust, thou say'st,
Flatlys 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 Pow'rs of Heaven
Such as he pleas'd, and circumscrib'd their being ? 825
Yet by experience taught we know how good,
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 830
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
As by his word the mighty Father made
All things, even thee ; and all the Spi'rits of Heaven
By him created in their bright degrees,
Crown'd them with glory', and to their glory nam'd
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
Essential Pow'rs: nor by his reign obscur’d,,
But more illustrious made; since he the head
One of our number thus reduc'd becomes;
His laws our laws; all honour to him done
Returns our own. Cease then this impious rage, 845
And tempt not these; but hasten to appease
Th' incensed Father, and th' incensed Son,
While pardon may be found in time besought.
So spake the fervent Angel ; but his zeal None seconded, as out of season judg'd,
859 Or singular and rash, whereat rejoic’d
Th’Apostate, and more haughty thus reply'd.
That we were form'd then say'st thou ? and the work
Of secondary hands, by task transferr'd
854 From Father to his Son ? Strange point and new! Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd: who
When this creation was? Remember'st thou
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-rais'd
By our own quick’ning pow'r, when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature
Of this our native Heav'n, ethereal sons.
Our puissance is our own; our own right hand
Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try
Who is our equal : then thou shalt behold
Whether by supplication we intend
Address, and to begirt th' almighty throne
Beseeching or besicging. This report,
These tidings carry to th’anointed King:
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
Incompass'd round with foes, thus answer'd bold.
O Alienate from God, o Spi'rit accurs'd,
Forsaken of all good; I see thy fall
Determin’d, and thy hapless crew involv'd
In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread
Both of thy crime and punishment : henceforth
No more to be troubled how to quit the yoke
Of God's Messiah : those indulgent laws
Will not be now vouchsaf'd; other decrees
Against thee are gone forth without recall;
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 890
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.
So spake the Seraph Abdiel faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmov’d,
Unshaken, unseduc'd, unterrify'd
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 ought;
905 And with retorted scorn his back he turn'd On those proud tow’rs to swift destruction doom'd.
THE IND OF THE FIFTH BOOK.