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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 135-415. THE HEAVENLY COUNCIL

In contrast to the stench and darkness of Hell, Heaven is full of "ambrosial fragrance" and love shines on the face of the Son. He asks what God intends to do with man: will Satan take the new creation down to Hell with him, or will God abolish it entirely?

God answers that he will offer mankind grace in the form of prayer, which he will hear gladly: "Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut." He will also give mankind a conscience to guide them.

But man will die eternally unless his mortal crime is atoned for by a heavenly being willing to die for him. Who in the heavenly host will become man and die a mortal death to redeem mankind?

There is the same silence in Heaven as there was in Hell when a parallel question was raised. Finally the Son offers himself as sacrifice. His faith in his Father is so strong that he knows God will not abandon him, but will allow him to kill Death himself: "Death his death's wound shall then receive." He predicts the glorious moment when he will return from deaning out Hell to the "Joy entire" of God's presence.



The parallel between the Son and Satan will be drawn again, especially when we find out later what caused Satan's rebellion. Satan and the Son are two brothers-one good, one evil-fighting for their Father's attention.

God greets the Son's courageous offer with an outpouring of praise. The Son will become man in a virgin birth, mystically combining his nature as man (Adam's son) with his nature as God. Because the Son humbles himself to join mankind as one of them, he will unite in himself the qualities of man and God and become worthy to judge all creation. His sacrifice is so glorious that it will bring about "New heaven and earth, wherein the just shall dwell." God turns to the angels and commands them to worship the Son as his equal.

The angels sing a song which praises God in terms of light so radiant that even the angels must shade their eyes with their wings when they see it (line 382). Then they sing praises to the Son, the warrior who defeated the rebel angels and now the redeemer who had "offered himself to die / For man's offence." The passage ends with the poet's vow to praise the son endlessly as God's equal.

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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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