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And put not forth My goodness, which is free
To act or not. Necessity and chance
Approach not Me, and what I will is fate.'
“So spake the Almighty ; and to what He spake
His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect.
Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
Than time or motion, but to human ears
Cannot without process of speech be told,
So told as earthly notion can receive.
Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven
When such was heard declared the Almighty's will.
Glory they sung to the Most High, good-will
To future men, and in their dwellings peace-
Glory to Him whose just avenging ire
Had driven out the ungodly from His sight
And the habitations of the just; to Him
Glory and praise whose wisdom had ordained
Good out of evil to create-instead
Of spirits malign, a better race to bring
Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse
His good to worlds and ages infinite.
“So sang the hierarchies. Meanwhile the Son
On His great expedition now appeared,
Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crowned
Of majesty divine, sapience and love
Immense ; and all His Father in Him shone.
About His chariot numberless were poured
Cherub and seraph, potentates and thrones,
And virtues, winged spirits, and chariots winged
From the armoury of God, where stand of old
Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged
Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand,
Celestial equipage; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them spirit lived,
Attendant on their Lord. Heaven opened wide
Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound !
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory, in His powerful Word
And Spirit coming to create new worlds.
On heavenly ground they stood, and from the shore 210
They viewed the vast immeasurable abyss,
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turned by furious winds
And surging waves, as mountains to assault
Heaven's height, and with the centre mix the pole.
“Silence, ye troubled waves, and, thou Deep, peace!' Said then the Omnific Word : "your discord end I'
"Nor stayed; 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
Followed in bright procession, to behold
Creation, and the wonders of His might.
Then stayed the fervid wheels, and in His hanä
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things.
One foot He centred, and the other turned
Round through the vast profundity obscure,
And said, “Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds;
230 This be thy just circumference, O world!'
“ Thus God the heaven created, thus the earth,
Matter unformed and void. Darkness profound
Covered the abyss; but on the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,
And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,
Throughout the fluid mass, but downward purged
The black, tartareous, cold, infernal dregs,
Adverse to life; then founded, then conglobed,
Like things to like, the rest to several place
240 Disparted, and between spun out the air, And earth, self-balanced, on her centre hung.
“Let there be light!' said God; and forthwith light Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure,
Sprung from the deep, and from her native east
To journey through the aery gloom began,
Sphered in a radiant cloud—for yet the sun
Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle
Sojourned the while. God saw the light was good;
And light from darkness by the hemisphere
Divided : light the Day, and darkness Night,
He named. Thus was the first day even and morn,
Nor passed uncelebrated, nor unsung
By the celestial choirs, when orient light
Exhaling first from darkness they beheld,
Birth-day of heaven and earth. With joy and shout
The hollow universal orb they filled,
And touched their golden harps, and hymning praised
God and His works; Creator Him they sung,
Both when first evening was, and when first morn.
“Again God said, 'Let there be firmament
Amid the waters, and let it divide
The waters from the waters!' And God made
The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffused
In circuit to the uttermost convex
Of this great round-partition firm and sure,
The waters underneath from those above
Dividing; for as earth, so He the world
Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide
Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule
Of Chaos far removed, lest fierce extremes
Contiguous might distemper the whole frame:
And heaven He named the Firmament. So even
And morning chorus sung the second day.
“The earth was formed, but; in the womb as yet Of
waters, embryon immature involved, Appeared not; over all the face of earth Main ocean flowed, not idle, but, with warm Prolific humour softening all her globe, Fermented the great mother to conceive,
Satiate with genial moisture ; when God said,
* Be gathered now, ye waters under heaven,
Into one place, and let dry land appear !'
Immediately the mountains huge appear
Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave
Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky.
So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters. Thither they
Hasted with glad precipitance, uprolled,
As drops on dust conglobing, from the dry :
Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct,
For haste; such flight the great command impressed
On the swift floods. As armies at the call
Of trumpet (for of armies thou hast heard)
Troop to their standard, so the watery throng,
Wave rolling after wave, where way they found-
If steep, with torrent rapture, if through plain,
Soft-ebbing ; nor withstood them rock or hill;
But they, or under ground, or circuit wide
With serpent error wandering, found their way,
And on the washy ooze deep channels wore :
Easy, ere God had bid the ground be dry,
All but within those banks where rivers now
Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train.
The dry land Earth, and the great receptacle
Of congregated waters He called Seas;
And saw that it was good, and said, “Let the earth
Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed,
And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,
Whose seed is in herself upon the earth!'
He scarce had said when the bare earth, till then
Desert and bare, unsightly, unadorned,
Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad
Her universal face with pleasant green;
Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flowered,
Opening their various colours, and made gay
Her bosom, smelling sweet; and, these scarce blown,
Forth flourished thick the clustering vine, forth crept 320
The swelling gourd, up stood the corny reed
Embattled in her field : and the humble shrub,
And bush with frizzled hair implicit : last
Rose, as in dance, the stately trees, and spread
Their branches hung with copious fruit, or gemmed
Their blossoms. With high woods the hills were crowned,
With tufts the valleys and each fountain-side,
With borders long the rivers, that earth now
Seemed like to Heaven, a seat where gods might dwell,
Or wander with delight, and love to haunt
Her sacred shades; though God had yet not rained
Upon the earth, and man to till the ground
None was, but from the earth a dewy mist
Went up and watered all the ground, and each
Plant of the field, which ere it was in the earth
God made, and every herb before it grew
On the green stem. God saw that it was good;
So even and morn recorded the third day.
“ Again the Almighty spake, “Let there be lights High in the expanse of heaven, to divide
340 The day from night; and let them be for signs, For seasons, and for days, and circling years; And let them be for lights, as I ordain Their office in the firmament of heaven, To give light on the earth !' and it was so. And God made two great lights, great for their use To man, the greater to have rule by day, The less by night, altern; and made the stars, And set them in the firmament of heaven To illuminate the earth, and rule the day
350 In their vicissitude, and rule the night, And light from darkness to divide. God saw, Surveying His great work, that it was good : For, of celestial bodies, first the sun A mighty sphere He framed, unlightsome first,