Thursday, July 25, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Paradise Regained
Christ refusing the banquet
Paradise Regained, Book 2
"But now I feel I hunger, which declares,
Nature hath need of what she asks; yet God
Can satisfie that need some other way,
Though hunger still remain: so it remain [ 255 ]
Without this bodies wasting, I content me,
And from the sting of Famine fear no harm, the
Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts that feed
Mee hungring more to do my Fathers will.
When suddenly a man before him stood,
Not rustic as before, but seemlier clad,
As one in City, or Court, or Palace bred, [ 300 ]
And with fair speech these words to him address'd.

With granted leave officious I return,
But much more wonder that the Son of God
In this wild solitude so long should bide
Of all things destitute, and well I know, [ 305 ]
Not without hunger. Others of some note,
As story tells, have trod this Wilderness;
He spake no dream, for as his words had end,
Our Saviour lifting up his eyes beheld
In ample space under the broadest shade
A Table richly spred, in regal mode, [ 340 ]
With dishes pil'd, and meats of noblest sort
Thou art unknown, unfriended, low of birth,
A Carpenter thy Father known, thy self
Bred up in poverty and streights at home; [ 415 ]
Lost in a Desert here and hunger-bit:
Which way or from what hope dost thou aspire
To greatness? whence Authority deriv'st,
What Followers, what Retinue canst thou gain,
Riches are mine, Fortune is in my hand;
They whom I favour thrive in wealth amain, [ 430 ]
While Virtue, Valor, Wisdom, sit in want.

To whom thus Jesus patiently reply'd;
Yet Wealth without these three is impotent,
To gain dominion or to keep it gain'd."

Milton revisits  the situation of Jesus' hunger after being without food for forty days in the wilderness. Satan had previously offered to change stone into bread. But the purpose for that temptation was to induce Jesus to call upon God for miraculous intervention. Now, through the hunger of Jesus, Satan proposes to appeal to a desire for a life of luxury commensurate to 'one in City, or Court, or Palace bred' as Satan presented himself.

Satan, however, knows only of worldly rewards which have no appeal to Jesus who knows that 'Virtue, Valor, Wisdom' can flourish in poverty. The mature Jesus will say to his followers 'Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.' His time in the wilderness may have been the origin of his willingness to reject the finery and comforts gained by pursuing Satan's way instead of the vision he received at his baptism.

Both John Milton and William Blake had faced choices such as Satan offered to Jesus. To some extent they each had pursued the path of success and affluence for a time and had rejected it to follow his own vision which was incompatible with the world's expectations. Milton inserted the temptation to seek worldly satisfactions into Paradise Regained knowing that this was a temptations to which many in his own age were receptive. Jesus, however, saw that wealth was no substitute for the pursuits of a life of integrity.
Matthew 6
 [25] Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
[33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
[34] Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

Matthew 9
[20] The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
[21] Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
[22] But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Luke 14
[11] For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
[12] Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
[13] But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
[14] And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Mark 8
[35] For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
[36] For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
[37] Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Songs and Ballads, Blake's Notebook, (E 481)
"I rose up at the dawn of day
Get thee away get thee away
Prayst thou for Riches away away
This is the Throne of Mammon grey

Said I this sure is very odd                                     
I took it to be the Throne of God
For every Thing besides I have
It is only for Riches that I can crave

I have Mental Joy & Mental Health
And Mental Friends & Mental wealth             
Ive a Wife I love & that loves me
Ive all But Riches Bodily
I am in Gods presence night & day      
And he never turns his face away
The accuser of sins by my side does stand                      
And he holds my money bag in his hand

For my worldly things God makes him pay        
And hed pay for more if to him I would pray
And so you may do the worst you can do
Be assurd Mr Devil I wont pray to you                         
Then If for Riches I must not Pray
God knows I little of Prayers need say
So as a Church is known by its Steeple         
If I pray it must be for other People          

He says if I do not worship him for a God                     
I shall eat coarser food & go worse shod
So as I dont value such things as these
You must do Mr Devil just as God please"

Satiric Verses, (E 516)
"Since all the Riches of this World             
May be gifts from the Devil & Earthly Kings 
I should suspect that I worshipd the Devil 
If I thankd my God for Worldly things"          

Annotations to Swedenborg, (E 606)
   "Many perversely understand him. as if man while in the body
was only conversant with natural Substances, because themselves
are mercenary & worldly & have no idea of any but worldly gain"

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