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And not well understood as good not known?
e But from him, or his angels president
In every province. * Utitur etiam eis Deus (dæmonibus) ad veritatis manifestationem per ipsos fiendam, duu divina mysteria eis per angelos revelantur.” The words are quoted from Aquinas. (2da 2dæ Quæst. 172, Art. 6.) --Calton.
This notion Milton very probably had from Tertullian and St. Austin. Tertullian, speaking of the gods of the heathens and their oracles, says,—“ Dispositiones etiam Dei et tunc prophetis concionantibus exceperunt, et nunc lectionibus resonantibus carpunt : ita et bine sumentes quasdam temporum sortes æmulantur divinitatem, dum furantur divinationem : in oraculis autem, quo ingenio ambiguitates temperent in eventus, sciunt Cræsi, sciunt Pyrrhi.” Apol. c. 22. St. Austin, more appositely to our present purpose, ays wering the heathen boasts of their oracles, says,—" tamen nec ista ipsa, quæ ab eis vix raro et clanculo proferuntur, movere nos debent, si cuiquam dæmonum extortum est id prodere cultoribus suis quod didicerat ex eloquiis prophetarum, vel ex oraculis angelorum." Aug.“ De Div. Dæmonum," sect. 12, tom. 6, ed. Bened. And again :-“ Cum enim vult Deus etiam per infimos infernosque spiritus aliquem vera cognoscere, temporalia dumtaxat atque ad istam mortalitatem pertinentia ; facile est, et non incongruum, ut Omnipotens et Justus, ad eorum pænam, quibus ista prædicuntur, ut malum quod eis impendet ante quam veniat prænoscendo patientur ; occulto apparatu ministeriorum suorum etiam spiritibus talibus aliquid divinationis impertiat, ut quod audiunt ab angelis prænuntient hominibus.” De Div. Quæst. ad Simp. l. 11. s. iii. tom. 6.—THYER.
Then to thyself ascribest the truth foretold. The demons, Lactantius says, could certainly foresee, and truly foretel, many future events, from the knowledge they had of the dispositions of Providence before their fall; and then they assumed all the honour to themselves; pretending to be the authors and doers of what they predicted.
“ Nam cum dispositiones Dei præsentiant, quippe qui ministri ejus fuerunt, interponunt se in his rebus ; ut quæcunque a Deo vel facta sunt vel fiunt, ipsi potissimum facere aut fecisse videantur.” Div. Inst. ii. 16.-CALTON.
& Henceforth oracles are ceased, &c. A. Milton had before adopted the ancient opinion of oracles being the operations of the fallen angels ; so here again he follows the same authority, in making them cease at the
And thou no more with pomp or sacrifice
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle fiend,
Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit. coming of our Saviour. See the matter fully discussed in Fontenelle's “ History of Oracles," and father. Baltus's answer to him.—THYER. Thus Juvenal, Sat. vi. 554:
Delphis oracula cessant.
Muto Parnassus hiatu
seu sponte Deorum
The oracles are dumb, &c.
The angels caroli'd loud their song of peace;
h His living oracle. Christ is styled by the Greek fathers, “essential life,” the “living counsel," and "the living word of God: and St. John says, that “in liiin was life, and the life was the light of men," i. 4.-Calton.
And in Acts, vii. 38. where it is said, “Who received the lively (or living) oracles to give unto us."— Dunster.
i Sharply thou hast insisted, &c. The smoothness and hypocrisy of this speech of Satan arc artful in the extreme, and cannot be passed over unobserved.-Jos. Warton.
į Say and unsay, feign, flatler, or abjure Might not Milton possibly intend here, and particularly by the word " abjure," to lash some of his complying friends, who renounced their republican principles at the Restoration? - THYER.
Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walkk,
Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk.
Casta mihi domus, et celso stant colle penates;
Prosequitur labor. Adnitendum intrare volenti.-DUNSTER.
1 Tunable as sylvan pipe or song.
Such prompt eloquence
To add more sweetness.
More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear.-DUNSTER,
m Most men admire
Virtue, who follow not her lore.
Video meliora proboque;
" Atheous" may have hence been coined by the poet. Atheal,” which has the raine aignification, is not uncommon in Old English.—Todd.
• Praying or vowing. Besides sacrifices of prayer and thanksgiving, the Jews had vow-sacrifices, (Lev. vii. 16.) oblations for vows, (xxii. 18.) and sacrifices in performing their vows. (Numb. xv. 3. 8.) -DUXSTER.
P And vouchsafed his voice
To Balaam reprobate. An argument more plausible and more fallacious could not have been put into the mouth of the tempter. Perfectly to enter into all the circumstances of this remarkable piece of scripture history, and clearly to apprehend this judicious application of it by the poet in this place, We may refer to bishop Butler's excellent “Sermon on the Character of Balaam," or to Shuckford's account of it in the twelfth book of his “ Connection of Sacred and Profano History,"—DUNSTER.
To whom our Saviour, with unalter'd brow:
He added not; and Satan, bowing low
a Thou canst not more.
Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine;
5 Into thin air diffused. So Virgil, “ Æn." iv. 278:
Et procul in tenuem ex oculis evanuit auram.--NEWTON.
These our actors,
* Her sullen ring. Virgil, “ Æn." viï. 369:
Nox ruit, et fuscis tellurem amplectitur alis. And Tasso describes Night covering the sky "with her wings," Gier. Lib. c. viii. st. 57:
Sorgea la Notte in tanto, e sotto l'ali
Recopriva del cielo i campi immensj.
And now the even-tide
By this dispread.
t To double-shade. i. e. to double the natural shade and darkness of the place. This is more fully expressed in Hogæus's translation of this passage :
Nam nunc obscuras Nox atra expandere pennas
Cæperat, atque nigras nemorum geminare tenebras. Thus in “Comus," ver. 335:-
In double night of darkness and of shades. In a note on which last verse, in Mr. Warton's edition of the “ Juvenile Poems,” the following line of Pacuvius, cited by Cicero, (“De Divinat." i. 14.) is exhibited :
Tenebræ conduplicantur, noctisque et nimborum occæcat nigror,
Tanta vertigine pontus
Omne latet cælum, duplicataque noctis imago est.
u And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam. This brief description of night coming on in the desert is singularly fine : it is a small but exquisite sketch, which so immmediately shows the hand of the master, that his larger and more finished pieces can bardly be rated higher. The commencement of this description,
both in respect of its beginning with an hemistich, and also in the sort of instantaneous coming on of night which it represents, resembles much a passage in Tasso, “ Gier. Lib." c. iž. st. 71 :
Cosi diss' egli;-e gia la Notte oscura
Havea tutti del giorno i raggi spenti.-DUNSTER. The description of the probable manner of our Lord's passing the forty days in the wilderness is very picturesque ; and the return of the wild beasts to their paradisiacal mildness is finely touched. The appearance of the tempter in his assumed character ; the deep art of his first two speeches, covered, but not totally concealed, by a semblance of simplieity; his bold avowal and plausible vindication of himself; the subsequent detection of his fallacies, and the pointed reproofs of his impudence and hypocrisy ou the part of our blessed Lord, cannot be too much admired. Indeed, the whole conclusion of this book abounds so much in closeness of reasoning, grandeur of sentiment, elevation of style, and harmony of numbers, that it may well be questioned, whether poetry on such a subject, and especially in the form of dialogue, ever produced any thing superior to it.
The singular beauty of the brief description of night coming on in the desert, closes the book with such admirable effect, that it leaves us con la bocca dolce.-DUNSTER.