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Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
I 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 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,
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 lise.
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 reply'd.
Deservedly thou griev'st, compos'd of lies
From the beginning, and in lies wilt end,
Who boast release from hell, and leave to come
Into the heaven of heavens. Thou com’st indeed, 410
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, shunnid,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn
400 Nearer] ‘Never' in Milton's ed. but the errata give 'nearer. Several editions retain the error. Todd.
401 fellowship) See Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece. Aldine Poets, vol. xx. p. 128.
• It easeth some, though none it ever curd,
To think, their dolour others have endur'd.' 411 thrall] See Heywood's Hierarchie, p. 564.
• The power of women to make others thrall.' and H. More's Poems, p. 251. • Yet wote I not what may these wretched thralls relieve'
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 tobedience 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 giv’n, and what confest 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 ev'ry province ? who, themselves disdaining
T'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 thy self 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,
ceas'd] Juv. Sat. vi. 554.
• Delphis oracula cessant.' Dunster.
And not enforc'd ofttimes 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 escape so 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 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.
478 Hard] Sil. Ital. iv. 605.
perque aspera duro Nititur ad laudem virtus interrita clivo.' Dunster. 487 atheous) Cicero, speaking of Diagoras, ' Atheos qui dictus est.' De Nat. D. i. 23. • Atheal' is not uncommon in old English. Dunster. Todd.