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Than scorn'd thou didst depart, and to subdue 40
So spake the Sov'reign Voice, and clouds began
Nor strait’ning vale, nor wood, nor stream divides
powers of Satan hasting on With furious expedition; for they ween'd That self-same day by fight, or by surprise, To win the mount of God, and on his throne To set the envier of his state, the proud Aspirer, but their thoughts prov'd fond and vain 90 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, 100
O Heav'n! that such resemblance of the Highest
So pondering, and from his armed peers Forth stepping opposite, half way he met His daring foe, at this prevention mors
Incens'd, and thus securely him defy'd:
Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reachd The height of thy aspiring unoppos’d, The throne of God unguarded, 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 Have rais'd incessant arinies to defeat Thy folly; or with solitary hand Reaching beyond all limii, at one blow 140 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 piery 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 150 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 provok’d, since first that tongue Inspir’d 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 160 From me some plume, that thy success may show Destruction to the rest : this pause
between (L'nanswer'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, Ministring spi'rits, train’d up in feast and song ; Such hast thou arm'd, the minstrelsy of Heav'n, Servility with freedom to contend,
169 As both their deeds compar'd this day shall prove.
To whom in brief ihus Abdiel stern reply'd: 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 Naiure : God and Nature bid the same, When he who rules is worthiest, and excels 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, 180 Thyself not free, but to thyself inthrall’d; Yet lewdly dar'st our ministring upbraid. Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom ; let me serve In Heav'n God, ever blest, and his divine Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd ; Yet chains in Hell, not realms expect; mean while From me return’d, as erst thou saidst, from flight, This greeting on thy impious crest receive.
So say’ing, a noble stroke he lifted high,