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Of deity or empire: Such a foe
Is rising, who intends to erect his throne
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north ;
Nor so content, hath in his thought to try
In battle, what our power is, or our right.
Let us advise, and to this hazard draw
With speed what force is left, and all employ
In our defence; lest unawares we lose
This our high place, our sanctuary, our hill.
To whom the Son with calm aspect and clear,
Lightning divine, ineffable, serene,
Made answer. Mighty Father, thou thy foes
Justly hast in derision, and, secure,
Laugh’st at their vain designs, and tumults vain,
Matter to me of glory, whom their hate
Illustrates, when they see all regal power
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; an host Innumerable as the stars of night, Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun Impearls on every leaf and every flower. 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 bewn, 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 call'd;
For thither be assembled all his train,
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their King,
Thither to come, and with calumnious art
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 engrossid
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 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 ordain’d to govern, not to serve.
Thus far his bold discourse without control
Had audience; when among the Seraphim
A bdiel, 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
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,
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,
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 angelic nature join'd in one,
Equal to him begotten Son? by whom,
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,
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 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!
Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd: who
When this creation was? remember'st thou [saw
Thy making, wbile 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, etherial 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 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 echo'd to his words applause