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To his destruction, as I had in charge ;
To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied:
A spectacle of ruin or of scorn To all the host of heaven; 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 heaven. But thou art serviceable to heaven'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 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? Whoever by consulting at thy shrine Return'd the wiser, or the more instruct To fly or follow what concern'd him most, And run not sooner to his fatal snare? 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 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 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 ;
and sacrifice Shalt be inquir'd at Delphos or else where; 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 returned :
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 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; 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 th' ear And tunable as sylvan pipe or song; 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 t'attain. Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and Suffers the hypocrite or athéous priest To tread his sacred courts, and minister About his altar, handling holy things, Praying, or vowing, and vouchsaf' his voice To Baalam reprobate, a prophet yet Inspir'd ; disdain not such access to me,
Will waft me: and the way found prosp'rous once,
He ended, and his words impression left
Gabriel this day by proof thou shalt behold,
To Satan; let him tempt and now assay His utmost subtilty, because he boasts And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng or his apostacy; he might have learnt Less overweening since he fail'd in Job, Whose constant perseverance overcame What'er his cruel malice could invent. He now shall know I can produce a Man Of female seed, far abler to resist All his solicitations, and at length All his vast force, and drive him back to hell, Winning by conquest what the first man lost, By fallacy surpris'd. But first I mean To exercise him in the wilderness; There shall he first lay down the rudiments Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes, By humiliation and strong sufferance; His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength, And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh; That all the angels and ethereal powers, They now, and men hereafter, may discern From what consummate virtue I have chose This perfect Man, by merit callid my Son, To earn salvation for the sons of men.
So spake th' eternal Father, and all heaven Admiring stood a space, then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures mov'd, Circling the throne and singing, while the hand Sung with the voice, and this the argument:
Vict'ry and triumph to the Son of God, Now ent’ring his great duel, not of arms; But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles. The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untried, Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce, Allure, or terrify, or undermine. Be frustrate all ye stratagems of hell, And devilish machinations come to nought,