Page images
PDF
EPUB

To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves,
Natives and sons of Heaven, possessed 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 edíct 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 ordained 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 adored
The Deity, and divine commands obeyed)
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 The just decree of God, pronounced 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, Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,

M

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 formed the Powers of Heaven
Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being ?
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
United. But to grant it thee unjust,
That equal over equals monarch reign;
Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,
Or all angelick nature joined in one,
Equal to him begotten Son ? by whom,
As by his Word, the Mighty Father made
All things, even thee; and all the Spirits of Heaven,
By him created in their bright degrees ;
Crowned them with glory, and to their glory named
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
Essential Powers! nor by his reign obscured,
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,
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,

Or singular and rash : whereat rejoiced
The Apostate, and, more haughty, thus replied.

That we were formed, then, say'st thou? and the work
Of secondary hands, by task transferred
From Father to his Son? strange point and new!
Doctrine which we would know whence learned: who

saw
When this creation was ? rememberest 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-raised
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
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,
These tidings, carry to the anointed King;
And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight!

He said ; and, as the sound of waters deep,
Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause
Through the infinite host : nor. less for that
The flaming Seraph fearless, though alone
Encompassed round with foes, thus answered bold.

O alienate from God, o Spirit accursed, Forsaken of all good! I see thy fall Determined, and thy hapless crew involved In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread

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 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
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, 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 passed,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained
Superiour, nor of violence feared aught;
And with retorted scorn his back he turned
On those proud towers, to swift destruction doomed.

END OF THE FIFTH BOOK.

THE

SIXTH BOOK

OF

PARADISE LOST.

« PreviousContinue »