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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 spare?
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 vouchsafd 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

roam.

END OF BOOK I.

PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK II.

2 C

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