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“ Which I believed was from above; but he
280 “Heaven opened her eternal doors, from whence “The Spirit descended on me like a dove; “ And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced me his“Me his beloved Son, in whom alone “ He was well pleased ; by which I knew the time “Now full, that I no more should live obscure, “But openly begin, as best becomes, “ The authority which I derived from Heaven. “ And now by some strong motion I am led
290 “ Into this wilderness, to what intent “I learn not yet-perhaps I need not know; “For what concerns my knowledge God reveals."
So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise;
But now an aged man, in rural weeds, Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray ewe, Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen, To warm him, wet returned from field, at eve, He saw approach, who first with curious eye Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake: 320
“Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place, “ So far from path or road of men, who pass “ In troop or caravan? for single none “ Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here “His carcass, pined with hunger and with drouth. “ I ask the rather, and the more admire, “ For that to me thou seemst the man, whom late “Our new baptizing Prophet, at the ford “ Of Jordan, honoured so, and called thee Son “ Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes
330 “ Who dwell this wild, constrained 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 hither “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 inured “More than the camel, and to drink go far,
340 “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 : “ Thinkst thou such force in bread? Is it not written,
- (For I discern thee other than thou seemst), ""Man lives not by bread only, but each word Proceeding from the mouth of God,' who fed
350 “ Our fathers here with manna? in the mount “ Moses was forty days, nor eat, nor drank;
“ And forty days Elijah, without food,
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?”
Whom answered thus the Arch-fiénd, now undisguised : “ 'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate, “Who, leagued 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 confined
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. “I came among the sons of God, when he “ Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job, “ To prove him and illustrate his high worth;
370 “ And, when to all his Angels he proposed “ 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 glibbed 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 beloved 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 “ Declared the Son of God,—to hear attent
Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds? “Men generally think me such 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 gained what I ve gained, and with them dwell Copartner in these regions of the world,
“ If not disposer; lend them oft my aid;
Whereby they may direct their future life.
Companions of my misery and woe.
400 “ That fellowship in pain divides not smart, “ Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load. “ Small consolation then, were man adjoined : “ This wounds me most; (what can it less?) that man“ Man fallen shall be restored, -I never more.”
To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied: “ Deservedly thou grievest, composed of lies “ From the beginning, and in lies wilt end; “ Who boastst release from Hell, and leave to come “ Into the Heaven of Heavens:-thou comest indeed 410
(As a poor, miserable, captive thrall “ Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendour), now deposed,
Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunned, “ 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.
420 “ 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 moved 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, – 66 To be a liar in four hundred mouths; “ For lying is thy sustenance, thy food. “ Yet thou pretendst to truth! All oracles
430 “ By thee are en, and what confessed more
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 asked have seldom understood, “ And not well understood as good not known? “ Who ever by consulting at thy shrine “ Returned the wiser, or the more instruct, “ To fly or follow what concerned him most,
440 " 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
450 “ To thy adorers : thou, with trembling fear, “ Or like a fawning parasite, obeyst, “ Then to thyself ascribest the truth foretold. “ But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched; “No more shalt thou hy oracling abuse “ The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased, “ And thou no more with pomp or sacrifice “ Shalt be inquired 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 returned :
Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, “ And urged me hard with doings, which not will, “ But misery hath wrested from me. Where
470 Easily canst thou find one miserable, “ And not enforced ofttimes to part from truth,