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So spake our Morning-Star, then in his rise, And, looking round, on every side beheld A pathless desert, dusk, with horrid shades; The way he came not having mark'd, return Was difficult, by human steps untrod: And he still on was led, but with such thoughts Accompanied of things past and to come Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend Such solitude before choicest society. Full forty days he passid, whether on hill Sometimes, anon on shady vale, each night Under the covert of some ancient oak Or cedar, to defend him from the dew, Or harbour'd in one cave, is not reveald; Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt Till those days ended; hunger'd then at last Among wild beasts: they at his sight grew mild, Nor sleeping him nor waking harm’d; his walk The fiery serpent fled and noxious worm, The lion and fierce tiger glar'd aloof. But now an aged man in rural weeds, Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray ewe, Or wither'd sticks to gather, which might serve Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen, To warm him wet return'd from field at eve, He saw approach, who first with curious eye Perus’d him, then with words thus utter'd spake :
Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this So far from path or road of men, who pass (place In troop or caravan? for single none Durst ever, who return'd, and dropt not here His carcass, pin’d with hunger and with drouth. I ask the rather, and the more admire, For that to me thou seem'st the man, whom late Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honour'd so, and call'd thee Son
Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes
Who dwell this wild, constrain'd by want, come forth
To town or village nigh, (nighest is far)
Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new; fame also finds us out.'
To whom the Son of God:- Who brought me
Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.'
By miracle he may, (replied the swain) What other way I see not; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur'd More than the camel, and to drink go far, Men to much misery and hardship born: But, if thou be the Son of God, command That out of these hard stones be made thee bread, So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.'
He ended, and the Son of God replied: “Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written, (For I discern thee other than thou seem'st). Man lives not by bread only, but each word Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed Our fathers here with manna? In the mount Moses was forty days, nor eat, nor drank; And forty days Eljah, without food, Wander'd this barren waste; the same I now: Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust, Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?'
Whom thus answer'd the Arch-Fiend, now undis'Tis true I am that Spirit unfortunate, (guis'd: Who, leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt, Kept not my happy station, but was driven With them from bliss to the bottomless deep,
Yet to that hideous place not so confin'd
By rigour unconniving, but that oft,
Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy
Large liberty to round this globe of earth,
Or range in the’air; nor from the Heaven of Heavens
Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
came among the sons of God, when he
Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job
To prove him and illustrate his high worth;
And, when to all his angels he propos'd
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 glib'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,
Copartner 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 aught each man's peculiar load.
Small consolation then, were man adjoin'd:
This wounds me most, (what can it less?) that Man,
Man fall'n, 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 boasts 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, shund,
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' 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?
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 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 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