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That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens aught 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 will end ;
Who boast'st release from Hell, and leave to come
Into the Heaven of Heavens : Thou com’st 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, gaz'd, 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 to 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 aflict 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?
Who ever 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
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 ascrib'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. Where
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 the 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.
The 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
Inspir'd : disdain not such access to me.
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 resume 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.
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 had 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 encreas'd, encreas'd their doubt.
Sometimes they thought he might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once
Moses was in the mount and missing long,
And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels
Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come.
Therefore, as those young prophets then with care
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethabara, in Jericho
The city of palms, Ænon, and Salem 1 old,
Machærus, 2 and each town or city wallid
On this side the broad lake Genezaret,
Or in Peræa ; but return’d in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek,
Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering play,
Plain fishermen (no greater men them call),
Close in a cottage low together got,
Their unexpected loss and plaints out breath’d.
Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Unlook'd-for are we fallen! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long
Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth ;
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
The kingdom shall to Israel be restor'd;
Thus we rejoic'd, but soon our joy is turn'd
Into perplexity and new amaze :
For whither is he gone, what accident
Hath rapt him from us ? will be now retire
After appearance, and again prolong
Our expectation? God of Israël,
Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come!
"Ænon and Salem :' see John iii. 23.–3Machærus :' a castle beyond Jordan.