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Hovering on wing under the cope of hell,
Twixt upper, nether, and surrounded fires;
Till as a signal giv'n, th' uplifted spear
Of their great sultan waving to direct
Their course, in even balance down they light
On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain ;
A multitude, like which the populous north
Pour'd never from her frozen loins, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the south, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands. .
Forthwith from ev'ry squadron and each band
The heads and leaders thither haste, where stood
Their great commander; godlike shapes and forms
Excelling human, princely dignities,
And pow'rs that rest in heaven sat on thrones;
Though of their names in heav'nly records now
Be no memorial, blotted out and ras'd
By their rebellion from the books of life.'
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
Got them new names: till wand'ring o'er the earth,
Through God's high suff'rance for the trial of inan,
By falsities and lies the greatest part
Of mankind they corrupted to forsake
God their Creator, and th'invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform -
Oft to the image of a brute, adorn'd
With gay religions full of pomp and gold,
And devils to adore for deities:
Then were they known to men by various names,
And various idols through the heathen world.
Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who
Rous'd from the slumber, on that fiery couch,
At their great emp'ror's call, as next in worth
Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,
While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof.
The chief were those who from the pit of heil
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, darst fix
Their seats long after next the seat of God, Their altars by his altar, gods ador'd Among the nations round, and durst abide Jehovah thund'ring out of Sion, thron'd Between the Cherubim; yea, often plac'd Within his sanctuary itself their shrines, Abominations; and with cursed things His holy rites and solemn feasts profan'd. And with their darkness durst affront his light. First Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood Of human sacrifice, and parent's tears, Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud Their childrens cries unheard, they pass'd through fre To his grim idol, Him the Ammonite Worshipp'd in Rabba and her wat’ry plain, In Argob and in Basan, to the stream 3 Of utmost Arnon. Not content with such Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart Of Solomon he led by fraud to build His temple right against the temple of God On that opprobrious hill, and made his grove The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence And black Gehenna call'd, the type of hell. Next Chemos, th' obscene diead of Moab's sons, From Aroar to Nebo, and the wild Of southmost Abarim ; in Hesebon And Horonaim, Seon's realm beyond The flow'ry dale of sibma, clad with vines, And Eleale, to th’ Asphaltic pool. Peor his other name, when he entic'd Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile, To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe. Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarg'd Ev'n to that hill of scandal, by the grove Of Moloch homicide; lust hard by hate; Till good Josiah drove them thence to hell, With these caine they, who from the bord'ring flo of old Euphrates, to the brook that parts. Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
of Baalim and Ashtaroth; those male,
These femenine. For spirits when they please
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is their essence pure;
Not ty'd or manacled with joint or limb,
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones.
Like cumbious flesh; but in what shape they chuse
Dilated or condens'd, bright or obscure,
Can execute their airy purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfil.'
For those the race of Israel oft forsook
Their living strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial gods; for which their heads as low
Bow'd down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phænicians call'd
Astarte, queen of heav'n, with crescent horns ;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on th'offensive mountain built
By that uxorious king, whose heart, though large,
Beguil'd by fair idolatresses, fell
To idols foul. Thaminuz came next behind,
Whose annual wound in Lebanon, allur'd
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
In amorous ditties all a summer's day;
While smooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, suppos'd with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale,
Infected Sion's daughters with like heat;
Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led,
His eye survey'd the dark idolatries
Of alienated Judah. Next came one,
Who mourn'd in carnest, when the captive ark
Maim'd his brute image, head and hands lopt of
In his own temple, on the grunsel edge,
Where he fell flat, and sham'd his worshippers:
Dagon his name, sea-monster, upward man
And downward fish: yet had his temple high
Rear'd in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
Of Palestine, in Gath, and Ascalon,
And Accaron, and Gaza's frontier-bounds.
Him follow'd Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
He also against the house of God was bold;
A leper once he lost, and gain'd a king,
Ahaz, his sottish conqu'ror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage, and displace,
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the gods
Whom he had vanquish'd. After these appeard
A crew, who under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train,
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abus'd.
Fanatic Egypt, and her priests, to seek
Their wand'ring gods disguis'd in brutish forms,
Rather than human. Nor did Israel scape
Th' infection, when their borrow'd gold compos'd
The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king
Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,
Likening his Maker to the grazed ox,
Jehovah; who in one night, when he pass'd
From Egypt marching; equall'd with one stroke
Both her first-born and all her blcating gods.
Belial came last, than whom a spirit more lewd
Fell not from heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to him no temple stood i
Or altar smok'd; yet who more oft than hc. .
In temples and at altars, when the priest.
Turns atheist, as did Eli's, sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God:
In courts and palaces he also reigns, i
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
of riot ascends above their loftiest tow'rsz,
And injury and outrage ; and when night-
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons ;
Of Belial, 'flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
in Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Expos'd a matron, to avoid worse rape...
These were the prime in order and in might;
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th’lonian gods, of Javan's issue held
Gods, yet confess'd later than Heav'n and Earth,
Their boasted parents: Titan, Heav'n's first-borng
With his enormous brood, and birth-right seiz'd
By younger Saturn; hc from mightier Joves :
His own and Rhea's son, like measure found,
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Crete
And Ida known; thence on the snowy top
Of cold Olympus rul'd the middle air,
Their highest heav'n; or on the Delphian cliff, .
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds; *
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old .
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,
And o'er the Celtie roam'd the utmost isles.
All these and more came flocking; but with looks Downcast and damp, yet such wherein appear'd Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found their chief Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost In loss itself; which on his count'nance cast Like doubtful bue: but he his wonted pride Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd. Their fainting courage, and dispeli'd their fears. Then strait commands that at the warlike sound Of trumpets loud and clarions be upreard . His mighty standard: that proud honour claim'd Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall; Who forthwith from the glittring staff unfurl'd Th’imperial ensign, which, full high advanc'd, Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind, With gems and golden lustre rich imblazd,