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As a poor miserable captive thrall
To all the host of Heav'n: the happy place
By thee are giv'n, and what confess'd more true
Return'd 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; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but when his purpose is
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 460
Into the world to teach his final will,
And fends 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,
What wonder then if I delight to hear
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 495
Permission from above; thou canst not more.
He added not; and Satan bowing low His gray dissimulation, difappear'd Into thin air diffus'd: for now began Night with her sullen wings to double-shade 500 The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd; And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
The end of the First Book.