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Driven back redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal’d
The doubts that in his heart arose : and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this world
Of heav'n and earth conspicuous first began,
When, and whereof, created, for what cause,
What within Eden, or without, was done
Before his memory, as one whose drouth
Yet scarce allay'd still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heav'nly guest.

Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,
Far differing from this world, thou hast reveal’d,
Divine interpreter, by favour sent
Down from the empyrean to forewarn
Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach :
For which to the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and His admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably His sovereign will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsafed
Gently for our instruction to impart
Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'a,
Deign to descend now ver, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known;
How first began this heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfused
Embracing round this florid earth; what cause
Moved the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity so late to build
In Chaos; and the work begun, how soon
Absolved ; if un thou may'st unfold
What we, not to explore, the secrets, ask
Of His cternal empire, but the more

To magnify His works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yet wants to run
Much of his race though steep; suspense in heav'n
Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears,
And longer will delay to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of nature from the unapparent deep :
Or if the star of ev’ning and the moon
Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring
Silence, and sleep list’ning to thee will watch;
Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought;
And thus the Godlike Angel answer'd mild.

This also thy request with caution ask'd
Obtain: though to recount almighty works
What words or tongue of seraph can suffice,
Or heart of man suffice to comprehend ?
Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve
To glorify the Maker, and infer
Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing, such commission from above
I have received, to answer thy desire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveal’d, which th’invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath supprest in night,
To none communicable in earth or heav'n:
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temperance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain,
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.

Know then, that after Lucifer from heav'n,
So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among,
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep

1

II Tim. i. 17.

Into his place, and the great Son return’d
Victorious with his saints, th’ omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake.

At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought
All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of deity supreme, us dispossest,
He trusted to have seized, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no more :
Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
Their station, heav'n yet populous retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms
Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due and solemn rites.
But lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled heav'n,
My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost, and in a moment will create
Another world, out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here, till by degrees of merit raised,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tried;
And earth be changed to heav'n, and heav'n to earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Meanwhile inhabit lax,' ye powers of heav'n,
And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform, speak thou, and be it done.
My overshadowing spirit and might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be heav'n and earth;
Boundless the deep, because I am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space;
Though I uncircumscribed myself retire,
And put not forth my goodness, which is free

a

1 The meaning seems to be, “Occupy the space left by the fall of the angels."

To act, or not, necessity and chance
Approach not me, and what I will is fate.

So spake th' Almighty, and to what he spake
His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave

effect. Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive. Great triumph and rejoicing was in heav'n, When such was heard declared the Almighty's will; Glory they sung to the Most High, good will To future men, and in their dwellings peace; Glory to Him, whose just avenging ire Had driven out th' ungodly from His sight And th' habitations of the just; to Him Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordain'd Good out of evil to create, instead Of spirits malign a better race to bring Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse His good to worlds and ages infinite.

So sang the Hierarchies. Meanwhile the Son On his great expedition now appear'd, Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd Of Majesty divine, sapience and love Immense, and all his Father in him shone. About his chariot numberless were pour'd Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones, And Virtues, winged Spirits, and Chariots wing'd, From the armoury of God, where stand of old Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged Against a solemn day, harness'd at hand, Celestial equipage; and now came forth Spontaneous, for within them spirit lived, Attendant on their Lord: heav'n open'd wide Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound On golden hinges moving, to let forth The King of glory, in his powerful Word And Spirit coming to create new worlds. On heav'nly ground they stood, and from the shore They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss

Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turn’d by furious winds
And surging waves, as mountains, to assault
Heav'n's highth, and with the centre mix the pole.

Silence, ye troubled waves, and, thou deep, peace, Said then th’ omnific Word, your discord end.

Nor stay'd; but, on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted, in Paternal Glory rode
Far into Chaos and the world unborn;
For Chaos heard his voice. Him all his train
Follow'd in bright procession to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things.
One foot he centred, and the other turn'd
Round through the vast profundity obscure,
And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds,
This be thy just circumference, O world.

Thus God the heav'n created, thus the earth,
Matter unform'd and void. Darkness profound
Cover'd th' Abyss; but on the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,
And vital virtue infused and vital warmth
Throughout the fluid mass, but downward purged
The black, tartareous, cold, infernal dregs,
Adverse to life: then founded, then conglobed
Like things to like; the rest to several place
Disparted, and between spun out the air,
And earth self-balanced on her centre hung.

Let there be light, said God, and forth with light Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure, Sprung from the deep, and from her native east To journey through the aery gloom began, Sphered in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle Sojourn'd the while. God saw the light was good;

1 Prov, viii, 27.- RICHARDSON.

2 Gen, i, 1, 2.

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