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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 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 lost not what I lost, rather by them 390
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, 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 acquainted, 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 adjoin'd:
This wounds me most (what can it less ?) that man,
Man fall'u, shall be restor'd, I never more. 405
To whom our Saviour sternly thus reply'd: 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 Heav'n of Heav'ns: thou com'st indeed,
As a poor miserable captive thrall 4.1 1
Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendor, now depos'd,
Ejected, emptied, gaz'd, unpitied, shunn'd,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn 415
To all the host of Heav'n: 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 Heav'n. 4.20
But thou art serviceable to Heav'n'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 415
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 430
By thee are giv'n, and what confess'd more true
Among the nations f 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?
Whoever by consulting at thy shrine
Return'd the wiser, 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 +45
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy
But from him or his angels president [truth,
In every province? who themselves disdaining
To' approach thy temples, give thee in command
What to the smallest title thou shalt say 450
To thy adorers; thou with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite obey'st 5
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrench'd;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse 45 5
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 460
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 spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend, 465 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 470 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 ; 475
From thee I can and must submiss indure
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'
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song; [ear,
What wonder then if I delight to hear 481
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. 4.85
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 vouchsafed his voice 490
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 495
Permission from above; thou canst not more.
He added not 5 and Satan bowing low His gray dissimulation, disappear'd