Page images

• THU's spoke the Voice of God, and the Clouds began to darken all the Hill, and Smoak began to rowl in dufky and heavy Flames; a Sign that Wrath divine was awak'd; nor with less Terror began to found from on high the loud etherial Trumpet; at which Command the militant Powers, that stood firm for the Cause of Heaven, (join'd in vast Bodies of irresistable Union) mov'd on their bright Legions in Silence, to the Sound of musical Instruments, that breath'd into them an heroick Ardour to great and advent'rous Deeds, under their godlike Leaders, in the Cause of the ALMIGHTY and his MESSIAH: On they move, fo firm, that it was impossible for their Ranks to be divided by Hills, Vallies, Woods or Streams, for their March was high above the Ground, and the yielding Air bore up their nimble Tread; as when every Species of Birds came fummon'd over Eden, flying in orderly Array to receive their Names of Thee: So they march'd over many a Tract and wide Province of Heaven, tenfold the Length of this earthly Globe. At laft, far in the Horizon of the North appear'd a fiery Region, that reach'd the whole Length and the utmost Depth, drawn up in Array of Battle; and on nearer View might be seen the bright Tops of innumerable Spears, a Throng of Helmets, and Shields with various Ornaments and boasting Devices: These were the united Powers of SATAN, haftning on with furious Expedition; for they imagin'd that very Day, either by Conquest or by Surprize, to win the Mountain of God, and to set upon his Throne the proud Usurper and Envier of his Power; but their Thoughts prov'd empty and vain in the Mid-way: Though at first it feem'd very strange to us, that Angels should make War against Angels, and meet in fierce Combat, who were us'd to meet so often unanimous in Festivals of Love and Joy, and as the Sons of one great Sire, praising the eternal Fa


THER. But now the Shout began for the Battle, and the rushing Sound of the Onsét, which put an End to all milder Thoughts.

SATAN sat high in the Midst in his Sun-bright Chariot, exalted like a God, an Idol of divine Majeity, enclos’d with flaming Cherubim and with golden Shields; then lighted from his resplendent Throne, (for now betwixt the two Armies there was but small Distance left, and Front presented to Front stood in terrible Array, extending to a prodigious Length) and before the Ranks of the rebellious Spirits, just when the Armies were about to join, SATAN advancing with vast and haughty Stridesy came swelling with imaginary Power, and arm'd in Adamant and Gold:

The Seraph ABDIEL could not endure that Sight, *where he stood among the Mightiest, bent on the Per

formance of greatest Actions; and thus he fearches and considers his own undaunted Heart:

Oh Heaven! 'that there should yet remain such'a Resemblance of the Highest, where Faith and Truth remain no longer : Wherefore should not Strength and Might fail when destitute of Virtue, or prove weakeft where it is most presumptuous? Though to Apa pearance he seems unconquerable, I mean (trusting in the Allistance of the ALMIGHTY) to try his Power; whose Reason I have already try'd, and found to be false and unsound: Nor is it any Thing but just, that he who hath got the better in the Debate of Truth, should do the same also in Arms, and become a Conqueror in both Disputes alike'; though when Reason hath to deal with Force, the Contest is brutish and foul, yet it is most fit that Reason should overcome. Considering thus within himself, and stepping out from his armed Companions opposite to SATAN, his ; daring Foe; he met him half-way, who was more in- .


208 PARADISE LOST. Book VI. ☺ cens'd, to see him advance so boldly towards him, and to hear from him this Défiance:

[ocr errors]

PROUD Angel! art thou met? Thy Hope was to have reach'd the Height of thy Aspiring without Opposition, and to have found the Throne of God unguarded, and his Side abandon'd, at the Terrôr of thy Power and potent Voice: Thou Fool! not to confider, how vain it is to rise up in Arms against the ALMIGHTY; who out of the smallest Things could have rais'd Armies continually without End, to defeat thy Folly; or with his own Hand, which reaches beyond all Limit, without any other Alfistance could have finish'd thee, and whelm'd all thy Legions under Darkness: But thou may'st see that all are not of thy Train; there be some holy Angels besides myself, who esteem Fidelity and Piety towards God, though not visible to thee, when I alone seem'd in thy World erroneously to difsent from all: Thou seeft my Partý, and now may'st learn too late, that when Thousands err, some few may be in the right. . To whom SATAN, with malicious and scornful Eyes, gave Answer:

[ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed]

In the wish'd-for Hour of my Revenge, but ill for thee, art thou return'd from Flight, whom I have been first seeking, feditious Angel! now art thou come to receive that Reward which thou hast merited, the first Tryal' of this Right-Hand provok'd; since that Tongue inspir'd with Contradiction, first dar'd to oppose a third Part of the Gods, met in Council to affert their Godheads, who while they feel divine Vigour within themselves, neither can or will allow Omnipotence to be the Attribute of any. But well it is thou art come before thy Fellows, ambitious to win from me something to brag of, thar thy Success may be an Example of Destruction to the reft; only I have

[ocr errors]

given thee this Pause between, (left if I had not, thou should'st have boasted that I could not answer thee) to let thee know, that at first I thought that Liberty and Heaven had been the same Thing to heavenly Souls; but now I perceive that most are so nothful, that they had rather serve; be attending Spirits, and train'd up in Festivals and Songs, such are these thou hast arm’d, the singing Minstrelsy of Heaven, Slavery contending against Freedom, as the Comparison of this Day's Actions shall prove.

To whom in few Words ABDI E L reply'd sternly: Apoftate Spirit! thou err’st still, and wilt find no End of erring, being out of the Path of Truth; unjustly thou brand'st the Service that God or Nature ordains with the Name of Servitude; God and Nature command the same Things, when he who rules is most worthy and most excellent above those he governs. It is Servitude to serve the Unwise, or who hath rebell'd against those that are wörthier than him. self, as thy Followers now serve thee, thou thyself not being free, but in Slavery even to thyself, yet impiously dar'st upbraid our Obedience. Do thou reign in Hell, thy Kingdom, and let me serve the everblessed God in Heaven, and obey his divine Commands, which are worthiest to be obey'd! yet do not thou expect Realms, bụt Chains in Hell, and Punishment; mean while receive from me (who just now thou said'st was return'd from Flight) this Greeting upon thy wicked Head. Saying this he lifted up his Arm to strike a Blow, which immediately with great Strength and Swiftness fell on SATAN's proud Crest, that no Sight nor Motion of swift Thought could intercept such Ruin, much less could his Shield: He recoil'd back ten Paces; the tenth his massy Spear supported him upon his bended Knee; as if upon Earth subterranean Winds and Water's had forc'd their Way, and sidelong had push'd a Mountain from


its Seat, half funk with all its Trees. The rebellious Angels were seiz'd with Amazement, but more with Rage, to see their great General thus foil'd; while our Powers were fill’d with Joy and Shouts, foretelling Victory and fierce Defire of Battle; whereat MICHAEL order'd the Arch-Angel Trumpet to be founded through all the Heavens, and the faithful Armies rung with Hosanna to the Highest: Nor did the adverse Legions stand still to gaze, but with Sounds as hideous às ours were heavenly, join'd the horrid Shock. Now storming Fury arole, and a Clamour, such as 'till now was never heard in Heaven; Arms clashing upon Armour, made a harsh and terrible Discord, and the furious Wheels of brazen Chariots raged: The Noise of the Conflict was dreadful, the Hiss of fiery Darts flew in Vollies over Head, and as they flew cover'd either Army with Fire, under which they both rush'd to Battle, with ruinous Assault and Rage not to be extinguish'd: All Heaven resounded, and all Earth had it been then would have been Thaken to its Centre: What Wonder? when Millions of encountering fierce Angels fought on each side, the least of whom could move these Elements, and arm himself with all their Force : How much more Power had they, Army against Army, warring without Number, to raise dreadful Combustion, and disturb (though they had not Power to destroy) their native Seat! had not the Eternal and Almighty King, from the Seat of his Power, over-ruld and let Limits to their Power: Though their Number was such, that each Legion might be thought a great Army, in Strength each armed Hand was as that of an entire Legion; they were led in Fight, yet each single Warrior feem'd like a Leader, and as in chief ; expert, and knowing when to advance, when to stand or turn the Sway of Battle, when to open, and when to close the Ranks; they had no Thought of Flight or of Retreat, or any unbecoming Action that argued.


« PreviousContinue »