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To his destruction, as I had in charge,
For what he bids I do: though I have lost
Much lustre of my native brightness, loft
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 fense.
What can be then less in me than defire
To see thee and approach thee, whom I know
Declar'd the Son of God, to hear attent 385
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 loft not what I lost, rather by them
I gain'd what I have gain’d, and with them dwell
Copartner in these regions of the world,
If not disposer ; lend them oft my aid,
Oft my advice by presages and figns,
And answers, oracles, portents and dreams, 395
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 aequainted, now I feel by proof, 400
That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens ought each man's peculiar load.
Small consolation then, were man adjoind:
This wounds me moft (what can it less ?) that man,
Man fall’n shall be restor'd, I never more. 405
To whom our Saviour sternly thus reply'd. Deservedly thou griev'it, compos`d of lies From the beginning, and in lies wilt end ; Who boast'st release from Hell, and leave to come Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns: thou com'lt indeed, 410
As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had fat
Among the prime in fplendor, now depos’d,
Ejected, emptied, gaz'd, unpitied, fhuinnd,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn
To all the host of Heav'n : the happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy,
Rather inflames thy torment, representing
Loft Wifs, to thee no more communicable,
So never more in Hell than when in Heaven. 420
But thou art serviceable to Heav'n's King.
Will thou impute t'obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites ?
What bat 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 talk,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet tħou pretend'st to truth ; all oracles 430
By thee are giv’n, and what confess’d more true
Among the nation
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, 435
Which they who ask'd have seldom understood,
And not well understood as good not known?
Who ever by consulting at thy shrine
Return’d the wifer, or the more instruct
To fly or follow what concern'd him most, 440
And run not sooner to his fatal snare ?
For God hath justly giv’n the nations up
To thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but when his purpose is
Among them to declare his providence 445
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,
But from him or his Angels president
In every province ? who themselves disdaining
T'approach thy temples, give thee in command
What to the smallest tittle thou shalt say 450
To thy adorers; thou with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite obey ft ;
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory fail be foon retrench'd;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse 455
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 Spi'rit of truth henceforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To all truth requisite for men to know.
So fpake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend, 465 Though inly ftung with anger and disdain, Diffemble and this answer smooth return'd,
Sharply thou hast insisted on rı buke, And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will But misery hath wrested from me: where 470 Easily canst thou find one miserable, And not enforcd 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; 475 From thee I can and must fubmiss indure Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape to quit. Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk, Smooth on the tongue discours’d, pleasing to th'ear, And tuneable as sylvan pipe or long ;
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. 485
Thy Father, who is holy, wise and pure,
Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priett
To tread his sacred couris, and minister
About his altar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing, and vouchsaf'd his voice 490
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspir'd; disdain not such access to me.
To whom our Saviour with unaiter'd brow.
Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
I bid not or forbid ; do as thou find it
495 Permiffion from above; thou canst not more.
He added not; and Satan bowing low His gray
diffimulation, disappear'd Into thin air diffus'd: for now began Night with her sullen wings to double-shade 500 The clefert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd ; And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
The end of the First Book.