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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, 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 concerned 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 [truth, To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy 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 retrenched;
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 enforced 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 placed 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
And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song: [ear,
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
Inspired: 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."
He added not; and Satan, bowing low
His gray dissimulation, disappear'd
Into thin air diffus'd: for now began
Night with her sullen wing to double shade
The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd;
And now wild beasts came forth the woods to