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To be a liar in four hundred mouths ;
So spake our Saviour, but the subtle fiend,
Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, And urged me hard with doings, which not will But misery hath wrested from me. Where Easily canst thou find one miserable, And not enforced oft-times to part from truth, If it may stand him more in stead to lie, Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure ? But thou art placed above me, thou art Lord; From thee I can, and must, submiss endure Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit. Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk, Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to the
ear, And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song ; What wonder then if I delight to hear Her dictates from thy mouth? Most men admire Virtue, who follow not her lore : permit me To hear thee when I come (since no man comes), And talk at least, though I despair to attain. Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure, Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest To tread his sacred courts, and minister About his altar, handling holy things, Praying or vowing; and vouchsafed his voice To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet Inspired : disdain not such access to me.'
To whom our Saviour, with unalter'd brow: • Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope, I bid not, or forbid; do as thou find'st Permission from above; thou canst not more.'
He added not; and Satan, bowing low His gray dissimulation, disappear'd Into thin air diffused : for now began Night with her sullen wings to double-shade The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch’d; And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
The disciples of Jesus, uneasy at his long absence,
reason amongst themselves concerning it. Mary also gives vent to her maternal anxiety; in the expression of which she recapitulates many circumstances respecting the birth and early life of her Son. Satan again meets his infernal council, reports the bad success of his first temptation of our blessed Lord, and calls upon them for counsel and assistance. Belial proposes the tempting of Jesus with women. Satan rebukes Belial for his dissoluteness, charging on him all the profligacy of that kind ascribed by the poets to the heathen gods, and rejects his proposal as in no respect likely to succeed. Satan then suggests other modes of temptation, particularly proposing to avail himself of the circumstance of our Lord's hungering ; and, taking a band of chosen spirits with him, returns to résume his enterprise. Jesus hungers in the desert. Night comes on; the manner in which our Saviour passes the night is described. Morning advances.
Satan again appears to Jesus, and, after expressing wonder that he should be so entirely neglected in the wilderness, where others had been miraculously fed, tempts him with a sumptuous banquet of the most luxurious kind. This he rejects, and the banquet vanishes. Satan, finding our Lord not to be assailed on the ground of appetite, tempts him again by offering him riches, as the means of acquiring power: this Jesus also rejects, producing many instances of great actions performed by persons under virtuous poverty, and specifying the danger of riches, and the cares and pains inseparable from power and greatness.