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What we, not to explore the secrets ask
95 Of his eternal 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 heaven, 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 evening and the moon Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring 105 Silence, and sleep lift'ning to thee will watch; Or we can bid his absence, till thy fong End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.
Thus Adam his illustrious guest befought: 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 115 To glorify the Maker, and infer Thee also happier, shall not be withheld Thy hearing ; such commiffion from above I have receiv'd, to answer thy defire Of knowledge within bounds ; beyond abstain 120 To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King, Only omniscient, hath suppress’d in night, To none communicable in earth or heaven : Enough is left besides to search and know.
123 But knowledge is as food, and needs no less Her temp’rance 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.
130 Know then, that after Lucifer from heaven (So call him, brighter once amidst the host Of angels, than that star the stars among) Fell with his flaming legions through the deep Into his place, and the great Son return'd 135 Victorious with his faints, the omnipotent Eternal Father from his throne beheld Their multitude, and to his Son thus fpake.
At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
140 This inaccessible high strength, the seat Of Deity fupreme, us difpoffefs'd, He trusted to have feiz'd, and into fraud Drew many, whom their place here knows no more : Yet far the greater part-have kept, I fee, 145 Their station; Heaven yet populous retains Number sufficient to possess her realms Though wide, and this high temple to frequent With ministeries due and folemn rites. But left his heart exalt him in the harm
150 Already done, to have dispeopled heaven, 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
155 Of men innumerable, there to dwell, Not here ; till by degrees of merit rais'd, They open to themfelves at length the way Up hither, under long obedience try'd ; And earth be chang’d to heaven, and heaven to earth, One kingdom, joy and union without end. 161 Meanwhile inhabit lax, ye powers of heaven; And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee This I perform; speak thou, and be it done :
My overshadowing Spi'rit and might with thee 165
So spake th’ Almighty, and to what he spake
So fang the Hierarchies. Mean while the Son
From th' armoury of God; where stand of old
214 Heaven's height, and with the centre mix the pole.
Silence, ye troubled waves! and thou deep, peace ! Said then th' emnific Word, your difcord 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 proceflion, to behold Creation, and the wonders of his might. Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand He took the golden compasses, prepar'd
225 In God's eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things : One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd Round thro' the vast profundity obscure, And faid, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, 230 This be thy just circumference, O world.
Thus God the heaven created, thus the earth, Matter unform'd and void : darkness profound Cover'd th' abyfs: but on the watry calm
His brooding wings the Spi'rit of God outspread, 235
Let there be light, faid God; and forth with light
261 Amid the waters, and let it divide The waters from the waters: and God made The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure, Transparent, elemental air, diffus'd
365 In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great round : partition firm and fure, The waters underneath from those above Dividing : for as earth, fo he the world