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I came among the sons of God, when be Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job To prove himn and illustrate his high worth; And when to all his angels he proposed To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud, That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring, I undertook that office, and the tongues Of all his flattering prophets glibb'd with lies To his destruction, as .I had in chargé; For what he bids I do: though I have lost Much lustre of my native brightness, lost To be belov'd of God, I have not lost To love, at least contemplate and admire What I see excellent in good, or fair, Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense. What can be then less in me than desire To see thee and approach thee, whom I know Declar'd the Son of God, to hear attent Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds? Men generally think me mueh a foe To all mankind : why should I ? they to me Never did wrong or violence : by them I lost not what I lost ; rather by them I gain'd what I have gain'd, and with them dwell Copartners in these regions of the world, If not disposer; lend them oft my aid, Oft my advice, by presages and signs, And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams, Whereby they may direct their future life, Envy they say excites me, thus to gain Companions of my misery and woe. At first it may be : :but long since with woe Nearer acquainted, now I feel, by proof, That fellowship in pain divides not smart, Nor lightens ought each man's peculiar load. Small consolation then, were man adjoin'd: This wounds me most, (what can it less ?) that man, Man fallen shall be restor’d, I never more.
To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied.:
Deservedly thou griev'st, compos'd of lies From the beginning, and in lies wilt end;
Who boast'st release from hell, and leave to come
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle fiend,
“ Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will But misery hath wrested from me. Where Easily canst thou find one miserable, And not enforc'd oft-times to part from truth, If it may stand bim more in stead to lie, Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure? But thou art plac'd 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 discours'd, pleasing to th*ear And tunable 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 powing, and vouchsaf’d
"To Balaam reprobate, a propbet yet Inspir'd ? disdain not such access to me."
To whom our Saviour with unalter'd brow: 16 Tby coming bither, 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 diffus'd: for now began Night with ber 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 ARGUMENT. The disciples of Jesus, uneasy at his long absence, re son: 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 bis 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 woman. 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 him. self of the circumstance of our Lord's hungering; and, taking a Land of chosen spirits with him, returns to resume his enterprize. 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 bim 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 line again by offering bim 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..
MEANWHILE the new baptiz'd, whoʻyet remain’d
Him whom they heard so late expressly call’d. ! Jesus,, Messiah, Son of God declar'd,
And on tbat high authority: bad believ'd,.