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As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had fat
Among the prime in splendor, now depos'd,
Ejected, emptied, gaz'd, unpitied, shunn'd,
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn 415

To all the host of Heav'n: 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 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' asflict 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 fense 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 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,
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, wife 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 vouchsafed 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, 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.

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