In the second act, Samson is confronted by his father Manoa, who, like the Chorus (ll.115-74), laments the hero's position. Manoa questions the 'divine justice' which raised his Samson to such an eminence and then, after he had made but one mistake, abandoned him

'Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt
Our earnest prayers, then given with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind?
For this did the angel twice descend? for this
Ordained thy nurture holy, as of a plant;
Select, and sacred, glorious for a while,
The miracle of men: then in an hour
Ensnared, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
Thy foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves?
Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err,
He should not so o'erwhelm, and as a thrall
Subject him to so foul indignities,
Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.' (ll.358- 72)

Samson reproves his father for questioning divine justice. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Samson is troubled by his father's words; Manoa has asked the same question Samson himself in his opening soliloquy had pondered when lamenting over the disparities between prophecy and reality in vocation. Samson confesses 'I this honour, I this pomp have brought / To Dagon', before revealing the affects of his father's queries,

This only hope relieves me, that the strife
With me hath end; all the contest is now
'Twixt God and Dagon, Dagon hath presumed,
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God,
His deity comparing and preferring
Before the God of Abraham. He, be sure,
Will not connive, or linger, thus provoked,
But will arise and his great name assert. (ll.460-7)

Samson expresses his doubt in God and himself once more. and with a difference that does not bode well for his spiritual growth. When Manoa called God's justice into doubt, Samson is plunged into near despair. Furthermore in this state of mind, he is prompted into another presumptuous act of assumes that God has finished with him. His only "hope" is hopelessness. He decides there is no possibility that he can now fulfil his vocation - 'all the contest is now / 'Twixt God and Dagon.' Samson accuses Dagon of presumption, but presumption is his own sin as well, for he implies that before his fall the battle had been between Dagon and himself.

'Swollen with pride', Samson had acted as a free agent prosecuting justice in God's name, but without His consent or authority. Confronted by his father's doubts, a reflection of his own, at this point Samson risks reversing the progress of his spiritual regeneration. Here emerges the explicit wording of the first temptation. Manoa, who has been trying to ransom his son, advises:

Be penitent and for thy fault contrite,
But act not in thy own affliction, son,
Repent the sin, but if the punishment
Thou canst avoid, self-preservation bids;
Or the execution leave to high disposal,
And let another hand, not thine, exact
The penal forfeit from thyself; perhaps
God will relent, and quit thee all his debt
Reject not then what offered means, who knows
But God hath set before us, to return thee
Home to thy country and his sacred house,
Where thou may'st bring thy off'rings, to avert
His further ire, with prayers and vows renewed. (ll.502-20)

In De Doctrina Christiana Milton was resolute that chastisement is often 'the instrumental cause of repentance'. Samson should not attempt to avoid punishment as his father advises and tempts. Manoa's temptation revolves around presumption - he presumes God has deserted Samson and therefore his vocation has been annulled. Samson concedes Manoa is probably right, and that his days as God's agent against the Philistines are over:

Now blind, disheartened, shamed, dishonoured, quelled,
To what can I be useful, wherein serve
My nation, and the work from heaven imposed,
But to sit idle on the household hearth,
A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze,
Or pitied object, these redundant locks
Robustious to no purpose clustering down,
Vain monument of strength; till length of years
And sedentary numbness craze my limbs
To a contemptible old age obscure.

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