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Teame among the sons of God, when be
Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job
To prove him 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 charge;
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 much 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
Into the beaven of heavens: thou cor est indeed
As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendour, now depos'd,
Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunn'd,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn
To all the host of heaven: the happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy,
Rather inflames thy torment: representing
Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable,
So never more in hell than when in heaven.
But thou art serviceable to heaven's King,
Wilt thou impute t' obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?
What but thy malice mov'd thee to misdeem
Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him
With all inflictions? but his patience won.
The other service was thy chosen task,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou pretend'st to truth; all oracles
By thee are given, and what confess'd more true
Among the nations? that hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy answers? what but dark,
Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding,
Which they who ask'd have seldom understood,
And, not well understood, as good not known?
Whoever by consulting at thy shrine
Return'd the wiser, or the more instruct,
To fly or follow what concern'd him most,
And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
For God hath justly given the nations up
To thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but when his purpose is
Among them to declare his providence
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,
But from him, or his angels president
In every province, who themselves disdaining To approach thy temples, give thee in command
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say
To thy adorers? Thou, with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st:
Then to thyself abscrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrench'd ;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse
The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceas'd,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shalt be inquir'd at Delphos, or elsewhere;
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living oracle
Into the world to teach his final will,
And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To all truth requisite for men to know."
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle fiend,
Though inly stung with anger and disdain,
Dissembled, and this answer smooth return'd:
"Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,
And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will
But misery hath wrested from me.
Easily canst thou find one miserable,
And not enforc'd 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 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 thear
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 vowing, and vouchsaf'd his voice
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspir'd? 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 diffus'd: 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, reason1 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 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 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..
MEANWHILE the new baptiz'd, who yet remain'd
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly call'd
Jesus,, Messiah, Son of God declar'd,
And on that high authority bad believ'd,.
And with him talk'd, and with him lodg'd, (I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known,
With others, though in holy writ not nam'd,)
Now missing him, their joy so lately found,
So lately found, and so abruptly gone,
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
And as the days increas'd, increas'd their doubts