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Return'd not lost. On to the sacred hill
They led him high applauded, and present
Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice
From midst a golden cloud thus mild was heard.

Servant of God, well done, well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintain'd
Against revolted multitudes the cause
Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms;
And for the testimony of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear
Than violence: for this was all thy care,
To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds
Judged thee perverse. The easier conquest now
Remains thee, aided by this host of friends,
Back on thy foes more glorious to return
Than scorn'd thou didst depart, and to subdue
By force, who reason for their law refuse,
Right reason for their law, and for their king
Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.
Go, Michael of celestial armies prince,
And thou, in military prowess next,
Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons
Invincible, lead forth my armèd Saints
By thousands and by millions ranged for fight;
Equal in number to that godless crew
Rebellious; them with fire and hostile arms
Fearless assault, and to the brow of heav'n
Pursuing drive them out from God and bliss,
Into their place of punishment, the gulf
Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide
His fiery chaos to receive their fall.

So spake the sovereign voice, and clouds began To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll In dusky wreaths reluctant flames, the signi Of wrath awaked : nor with less dread the loud Ethereal trumpet from on high gan blow : At which command the powers militant That stood for heav'n, in mighty quadrate join'd Of union irresistible, moved on In silence their bright legions, to the sound

Of instrumental harmony, that breathed
Heroic ardour to advent'rous deeds,
Under their godlike leaders, in the cause
Of God and his Messiah. On they move
Indissolubly firm: nor obvious hill,
Nor strait' ning vale, nor wood, nor stream, divides
Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground
Their march was, and the passive air upbore
Their nimble tread; as when the total kind
Of birds in orderly array on wing
Came summon'd over Eden to receive
Their names of thee: so over many a tract
Of heav'n they march’d, and many a province wide
Tenfold the length of this terrene. At last
Far in the horizon to the north appear'd
From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd
In battailous aspect, and nearer view
Bristled with upright beams innumerable
Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields
Various, with boastful argument pourtray'd,'
The banded powers of Satan hasting on
With furious expedition; for they ween'd
That self-same day, by fight or by surprize,
To win the mount of God, and on his throne
To set the envier of his state, the proud
Aspirer; but their thoughts proved fond and vain
In the mid way. Though strange to us it seem'd
At first, that angel should with angel war,
And in fierce hosting' meet, who wont to meet
So oft in festivals of joy and love
Unanimous, as sons of one great Sire,
Hymning th' eternal Father, but the shout
Of battle now began,) and rushing sound
Of onset ended soon each milder thought.
High in the midst exalted as a God
Th' apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat,

3

Here is an allusion to the designs and mottoes on shields.

2 Mustering of hosts or armies. 3 There was war in heaven; Michael

and bis angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not,” &c.

See Rev. xii. 7, 8, 9,

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Idol' of Majesty divine, enclosed
With flaming Cherubim and golden shields :
Then lighted from his gorgeons throne, for now
"Twixt host and host but narrow space was left,
A dreadful interval, and front to front
Presented stood in terrible array
Of hideous length : before the cloudy van,
On the rough edge of battle ere it join'd,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Came tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold:
Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood
Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds,
And thus his own undaunted heart explores.

O heav'n! that such resemblance of the Highest
Should yet remain, where faith and reälty?
Remain not; wherefore should not strength and might
There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove
Where boldest, though to sight unconquerable ?
His puissance, trusting in th' Almighty's aid.
I mean to try, whose reason I have tried
Unsound and false; nor is it aught but just,
That he, who in debate of truth hath won,
Should win in arms, in both disputes alike
Victor: though brutish that contest and foul,
When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
Most reason is that reason overcome.

So pondering, and, from his armèd peers Forth stopping opposite, half way

he met His daring foe, at this prevention more Incensed, and thus securely him defied.

Proud, art thou met ? thy hope was to have reaclı'd The highth of thy aspiring unopposed, The throne of God anguarded, and his side Abandon'd at the terror of thy power Or potent tongue : fool, not to think how vain Against th' Omnipotent to rise in arms; Who out of smallest things could without end

1 For Counterfeit-false deity.

1 Reality.

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Have raised incessant armies to defeat
Thy folly ; or, with solitary hand
Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow
Unaided could have finish'd thee, and whelm’d
Thy legions under darkness : but thou seest
All are not of thy train; there be, who faith
Prefer and piety to God; though then
To thee not visible, when I alone
Seem'd in thy world erroneous to dissent
From all: my sect thou seest; now learn too late
How few sometimes may know, when thousands err.

Whom the grand foe, with scornful eye askance,
Thus answer'd. Ill' for thee, but in wish'd hour
Of my revenge, first sought for thou return'st
From flight, seditious angel, to receive
Thy merited reward, the first assay
Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue
Inspired with contradiction durst oppose
A third part of the Gods, in synod met
Their deities to assert, who while they feel
Vigour divine within them, can allow
Omnipotence to none. But well thou com'st
Before thy fellows, ambitious to win
From me some plume, that thy success may show
Destruction to the rest : this pause between,
Unanswer'd lest thou boast, to let thee know,
At first I thought that liberty and heav'n
To heav'nly souls had been all one; but now
I see that most through sloth had rather serve,
Minist'ring spirits, train’d up in feast and song;
Such hast thou arm’d, the minstrelsy of heav'n,
Servility with freedom to contend,
As both their deeds compared this day shall prove.

To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied.
Apostate, still thou err'st, nor end wilt find
Of erring, from the path of truth remote :
Unjustly thou deprav'st it with the name
Of servitude to serve whom God ordains,
Or Nature; God and Nature bid the same,
When he who rules is worthiest, and excels

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Them whom he governs. This is servitude,
To serve th' unwise, or him who hath rebell'd
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall’d;
Yet lewdly dar’st our minist'ring upbraid.
Reign thou in hell thy kingdom, let me serve
In heav'n God ever bless'd, and His divine
Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd ;
Yet chains in hell, not realms expect: meanwhile
From me return'd, as erst thou saidst, from flight,
This greeting on thy impious crest receive.

So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell
On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield
Such ruin intercept: ten paces huge
He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstay'd; as if on earth
Winds under ground or waters, forcing way
Side-long had push'd a mountain from his seat,
Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seized
The rebel thrones, but greater rage to see
Thus foild their mightiest; ours joy fill’d, and shout,
Presage of victory, and fierce desire
Of battle: whereat Michael bid sound
The arch-angel trumpet; through the vast of heav'n
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosanna to the Highest : nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, por less hideous join'd
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamour, such as heard in heav'n till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage; all heav'n

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