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Man's transgression known, the guardian angels forsake Paradise, and return up to Heaven to approve their vigilance, and are approved, God declaring that the entrance of Satan could not be by them prevented. He sends his Son to judge the transgressors, who descends and gives sentence accordingly; then in pity clothes them both, and re-ascends. Sin and Death sitting till then at the gates of Hell, by wondrous sympathy feeling the success of Satan in this new world, and the sin by Man there committed, resolve to sit no longer confined in Hell, but to follow Satan their sire up to the place of Man. To make the way easier from Hell to this world to and fro, they pave a broad highway or bridge over Chaos, according to the track that Satan first made; then preparing for earth they meet him proud of his success returning to Hell; their mutual gratulation. Satan arrives at Pandemonium, in full assembly relates with boasting his success against Man; instead of applause is entertained with a general hiss by all his audience, transformed with himself suddenly into serpents, according to his doom given in Paradise; then deluded with a shew of the forbidden tree springing up before them, they greedily reaching to take of the fruit, chew dust and bitter ashes. The proceedings of Sin and Death. God foretells the final victory of his Son over them, and the renewing of all things ; but for the present commands his angels to make several alterations in the heavens and elements. Adam, more and more perceiving his fallen condition, heavily bewails ; rejects the condolement of Eve; she persists and at length appeases him; then to evade the curse likely to fall on their offspring, proposes to Adam violent ways which he approves not, but conceiving better hope, puts her in mind of the late promise made them, that her seed should be revenged on the Serpent, and exhorts her with him to seek peace of the offended Deity by repentance and supplication.
MEANWHILE the heinous and despiteful act
Of Satan done in Paradise, and how
He in the serpent, had perverted Eve,
Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,
Was known in Heav'n; for what can ’scape the eye 5
Of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart
Omniscient? who in all things wise and just,
Hinder'd not Satan to attempt the mind
Of Man, with strength entire, and free-will arm’d,
Complete to have discover'd and repulst
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.
For still they knew, and ought to have still remember'd
The high injunction not to taste that fruit,
Whoever tempted; which they, not obeying,
Incurr’d, (what could they less ?) the penalty,
And manifold in sin, desery'd to fall.
Up into Heav'n from Paradise in haste
Th' angelic guards ascended, mute and sad
For Man, for of his state by this they knew,
Much wond'ring how the subtle Fiend had stol'n
Soon as th' unwelcome news
From Earth arriv'd at Heaven gate, displeas'd
All were who heard; dim sadness did not spare
That time celestial visages, yet mixt
With pity, violated not their bliss.
About the new arriv’d, in multitudes
Th' ethereal people ran, to hear and know
How all befell : they towards the Throne Supreme
Accountable made haste to make appear
With righteous plea, their utmost vigilance,
30 And easily approv'd: when the Most High Eternal Father from his secret cloud, Amidst in thunder utter'd thus his voice.
* Assembld angels, and ye Powers return'd From unsuccessful charge, be not dismay'd,
35 Nor troubld at these tidings from the Earth, Which your sincerest care could not prevent, Foretold so lately what would come to pass, When first this Tempter cross'd the gulf from Hell. I told ye then he should prevail and speed On his bad errand; Man should be seduc't
And flatter'd out of all, believing lies
Against his Maker; no decree of mine
Concurring to necessitate his fall,
Or touch with lightest moment of impulse
His free will, to her own inclining left
In even scale. But fall’n he is; and now
What rests but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression, death denounc't that day?
Which he presumes already vain and void,
Because not yet inflicted, as he fear’d,
By some immediate stroke; but soon shall find
Forbearance no acquittance ere day end.
Justice shall not return as bounty scorn'd.
But whom send I to judge them ? whom but thee,
Vicegerent Son ? to thee I have transferr'd
All judgment whether in Heav'n, or Earth, or Hell.
Easy it might be seen that I intend
Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee
Man's Friend, his Mediator, his design'd
Both Ransom and Redeemer voluntary,
And destin'd Man himself to judge Man fall’n.'
So spake the Father, and unfolding bright
Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son
Blaz’d forth unclouded Deity; he full
Resplendent all his Father manifest
Express’d, and thus divinely answer'd mild.
Father eternal, thine is to decree,
Mine, both in Heav'n and Earth to do thy will
Supreme, that thou in me thy Son belov'd
May'st ever rest well pleas'd. I go to judge
On Earth these thy transgressors, but thou know'st,
Whoever judg'd, the worst on me must light,
When time shall be, for so I undertook
Before thee; and not repenting, this obtain
Of right, that I may mitigate their doom
On me deriv’d; yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy, as may illustrate host
Them fully satisfied, and thee appease.
Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none
Are to behold the judgment, but the judg’d,
Those two; the third best absent is condemn’d,
Convict by fight, and rebel to all law:
Conviction to the serpent none belongs.'
Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose
Of high collateral glory: him Thrones, and Powers,
Princedoms, and Dominations ministrant
Accompanied to Heaven gate, from whence
Eden and all the coast in prospect lay.
Down he descended straight; the speed of gods 90
Time counts not, tho' with swiftest minutes wing'd.
Now was the sun in western cadence low
From noon, and gentle airs due at their hour
To fan the Earth now wak’d, and usher in
The evening cool; when he from wrath more cool
Came the mild Judge and Intercessor both
To sentence Man:. the voice of God they heard
Now walking in the garden, by soft winds
Brought to their ears, while day declin'd; they heard,
And from his presence hid themselves among
The thickest trees, both man and wife; till God
Approaching, thus to Adam . call'd aloud.
Where art thou Adam, wont with joy to meet
My coming seen far off? I miss thee here,
Not pleas'd, thus entertain'd with solitude,
Where obvious duty erewhile appear’d unsought :
Or come I less conspicuous, or what change
Absents thee, or what chance detains ? Come forth.'
He came; and with him Eve, more loath, though first
To offend; discount'nanc't both, and discompos'd;
Love was not in their looks, either to God
Or to each other; but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy, and hate, and guile.
Whence Adam falt'ring long, thus, answer'd brief. 115
I heard thee in the garden, and of thy voice
Afraid, being naked, hid myself.' To whom
The gracious Judge without revile repli’d.
‘My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not fear'd,
But still rejoic't; how is it now become
So dreadful to thee? that thou art naked, who
Hath told thee? hast thou eaten of the tree
Whereof I gave thee charge thou shouldst not eat ?'
To whom thus Adam sore beset repli’d.
O Heav'n! in evil strait this day I stand
Before my Judge, either to undergo
Myself the total crime, or to accuse
My other self, the partner of my life;
Whose failing, while her faith to me remains,
I should conceal, and not expose to blame
By my complaint; but strict necessity
Subdues me, and calamitous constraint;
Lest on my head both sin and punishment,
However insupportable, be all
Devolv’d; though should I hold my peace, yet thou
Wouldst easily detect what I conceal.
This woman whom thou mad'st to be my help,
And gav'st me as thy perfet gift, so good,
So fit, so acceptable, so divine,
That from her hand I could suspect no ill,
And what she did, whatever in itself,
Her doing seem'd to justify the deed;
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.'
To whom the sovran Presence thus repli’d.
“Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey
Before his voice, or was she made thy guide,
Superior, or but equal, that to her
Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
Wherein God set thee above her made of thee,
And for thee, whose perfection far excelld
Hers in all real dignity ? Adorn'd
She was indeed, and lovely to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection; and her gifts
Were such as under government well seem’d,
Unseemly to bear rule; which was thy part
And person, hadst thou known thyself aright.'
So having said, he thus to Eve in few :