Page images

Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust, 355 Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?

Whom thus answer'd th’Arch-Fiend now undis'Tis true, I am that Spi'rit unfortunate, (guis’d. Who leagu'd with millions more in rash revolt Kept not my happy station, but was driven 360 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 doiorous prison I enjoy Large liberty to round this globe of earth, 365 Or range in th' air, nor from the Heav'n of Heav'ns 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 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 375 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 loft To love, at least contemplate and admire 380 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’n 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'ft indeed, 410
As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendor, now depos’d,
Eje&ed, emptied, gaz'd, unpitied, shunn'd,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn

To all the host of Heav'n: the happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy,
Rather inflames thy torment, representing
Loft bliss, to thee no more communicable,
So never more in Hell than when in Heav'n. 420
But thou art serviceable to Heav'n's King.
Wilt thou impute t' 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 425
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 ? 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 ?
Who ever 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; juftly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but when his purpose isi
Among them to declare his providence 445
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,
But from him or his Angels president
In every province? who themselves disdaining
T'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 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 455
The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceas'd,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shalt be enquir'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 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'ear, And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song; 480 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. 485 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 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,

« PreviousContinue »