Tho. It was within, it was in my own Chamber, when I was just going into bed, that I saw him.
Gent. Well then, you had a candle, hadn't you?
Tho. Yes, I had a candle, but it burnt as blue! and as dim!
Gent. Well, but if the Devil was clothed with fire and brimstone, he must give you some light, there can't be such a fire as you speak of, but it must give a light with it.
Tho. No, no, He gave no light, but I smelt his fire and brimstone; he left a smell of it behind him, when he was gone.
Gent. Well, so you say he had fire, but gave no light, it was a devilish fire indeed; did it feel warm? was the room hot while he was in it?
Tho. No, no, but I was hot enough without it, for it put me into a great sweat with the fright.
Gent. Very well, he was all in fire, you say, but without light or heat, only, it seems, he stunk of brimstone; pray what shapes was he in, what was he like; for you say you saw him?
Tho. O! Sir, I saw two great staring saucer eyes, enough to fright any body out of their wits.
Gent. And was that all you saw?
Tho. No, I saw his cloven-foot very plain, 'twas as big as one of our bullocks that goes to plow.
Gent. So you saw none of his body, but his eyes and his feet? a fine vision indeed!
Tho. Sir, that was enough to send me going.
Gent. Going! what did you run away from him?
Tho. No, but I fled into bed at one jump, and sunk down and pull'd the bed-clothes quite over me.
Gent. And what did you do that for?
Tho. To hide my self from such a frightful creature.
Gent. Why, if it had really been the Devil, do you think the bed-clothes would have secur'd you from him?
Tho. Nay, I don't know, but in a fright it was all I could do.
Gent. Nay, 'twas as wise as all the rest; but come, Thomas, to be a little serious, pray did he speak to you?
Tho. Yes, yes, I heard a voice, but who it was the Lord knows.
Gent. What kind of voice was it, was it like a man's voice?
Tho. No, it was a hoarse ugly noise, like the croaking of a Frog, and it call'd me by my name twice, Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson.
Gent. Well, did you answer?
Tho. No, not I, I could not have spoke a word for my life; why, I was frighted to death.
Gent. Did it say any thing else?
Tho. Yes, when it saw that I did not speak, it said, Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson, you are a wicked wretch, you lay with Jenny S—— last night; if you don't repent, I will take you away alive and carry you to Hell, and you shall be damned, you wretch.
Gent. And was it true, Thomas, did you lye with Jenny S—— the night before?
Tho. Indeed Master, why yes it was true, but I was very sorry afterwards.
Gent. But how should the Devil know it, Thomas?
Tho. Nay, he knows it to be sure; why, they say he knows every thing.
Gent. Well, but why should he be angry at that? he would rather did you lye with her again, and encourage you to lye with forty whores, than hinder you: This can't be the Devil, Thomas.
Tho. Yes, yes. Sir, 'twas the Devil to be sure.
Gent. But he bid you repent too, you say?
Tho. Yes, he threatn'd me if I did not.
Gent. Why, Thomas, do you think the Devil would have you repent?
Tho. Why no, that's true too, I don't know what to say to that; but what could it be? 'twas the Devil to be sure, it could be nobody else?
Gent. No, no, 'twas neither the Devil, Thomas, nor any body else, but your own frighted imagination; you had lain with that wench, and being a young sinner of that kind, your Conscience terrified you, told you the Devil would fetch you away, and you would be damn'd; and you were so persuaded it would be so, that you at last imagin'd he was come for you indeed; that you saw him and heard him; whereas, you may depend upon it, if Jenny S—— will let you lye with her every night, the Devil will hold the candle, or do any thing to forward it, but will never disturb you; he's too much a friend to your wickedness, it could never be the Devil, Thomas; 'twas only your own guilt frighted you, and that was Devil enough too, if you knew the worst of it, you need no other enemy.
Tho. Why that's true, Master, one would think the Devil should not bid me repent, that's true; but certainly 'twas the Devil for all that.
Now Thomas was not the only man that having committed a flagitious crime had been deluded by his own imagination, and the power of fancy, to think the Devil was come for him; whereas the Devil, to give him his due, is too honest to pretend to such things; 'tis his business to persuade men to offend, not to repent; and he professes no other; he may press men to this or that action, by telling them 'tis no sin, no offence, no breach of God's Law, and the like, when really 'tis both; but to press them to repent, when they have offended, that's quite out of his way; 'tis none of his business, nor does he pretend to it; therefore, let no man charge the Devil with what he is not concern'd in.
But to return to his Person, he is, as I have said, notwithstanding his lost glory, a mighty, a terrible and an immortal Spirit; he is himself call'd a Prince, the Prince of the Power of the Air; the Prince of Darkness, the Prince of Devils, and the like, and his attending Spirits are call'd his Angels: so that however Satan has lost the glory and rectitude of his Nature, by his apostate state, yet he retains a greatness and magnificence, which places him above our rank, and indeed above our conception; for we know not what he is, any more than we know what the blessed Angels are; of whom we can say no more than that they are ministring Spirits, &c. as the Scripture has describ'd them.
Two things, however, may give us some insight into the nature of the Devil, in the present state he is in; and these we have a clear discovery of in the whole series of his Conduct from the Beginning.
1. That he is the vanquish'd but implacable enemy of God his Creator, who has conquer'd him, and expell'd him from the habitations of bliss; on which account he is fill'd with envy, rage, malice, and all uncharitableness; would dethrone God and overturn the thrones of Heaven, if it was in his power.
2. That he is man's irreconcilable Enemy; not as he is a man, nor on his own account simply, nor for any advantage he (the Devil) can make by the ruin and destruction of man; but in meer envy at the felicity he is supposed to enjoy as Satan's rival; and as he is appointed to succeed Satan and his Angels in the possession of those glories from which they are fallen.
And here I must take upon me to say, Mr. Milton makes a wrong judgment of the reason of Satan's resolution to disturb the felicity of man; He tells us it was meerly to affront God his Maker, rob him of the glory design'd in his new work of creations and to disappoint him in his main design, namely, the creating a new species of creatures in a perfect rectitude of soul, and after his own image, from whom he might expect a new Fund of glory should be rais'd, and who was to appear as the triumph of the Messiah's victory over the Devil. In all which Satan could not be fool enough not to know that he should be disappointed by the same Power which had so eminently counter-acted his rage before.
But, I believe, the Devil went upon a much more probable design; and tho' he may be said to act upon a meaner principle than that of pointing his rage at the personal glory of his Creator; yet I own, that in my opinion, it was by much the more rational undertaking, and more likely to succeed; and that was, that whereas he perceived this new species of creatures had a sublime as well as a human part, and were made capable of possessing the mansions of eternal Beatitude, from whence, he (Satan) and his Angels were expell'd and irretrievably banish'd; envy at such a rival mov'd him by all possible artifice, for he saw him deprived of capacity to do it by force, to render him unworthy like himself; that bringing him to fall into rebellion and disobedience, he might see his Rival damn'd with him; and those who were intended to fill up the empty spaces in Heaven, made so by the absence of so many millions of fallen Angels, be cast out into the same darkness with them.
How he came to know that this new species of creatures were liable to such imperfection, is best explain'd by the Devil's prying, vigilant disposition, judging or leading him to judge by himself; (for he was as near being infallible as any of God's creatures had been) and then inclining him to try whether it was so or no.
Modern Naturalists, especially some who have not so large a charity for the fair sex, as I have, tell us, that as soon as ever Satan saw the woman, and look'd in her face, he saw evidently that she was the best form'd creature to make a Tool of, and the best to make a hypocrite of, that could be made, and therefore the most fitted for his purpose.
1. He saw by some thwart lines in her face, (legible, perhaps, to himself only) that there was a throne ready prepar'd for the sin of pride to sit in state upon, especially if it took an early possession: EVE you may suppose was a perfect Beauty, if ever such a thing may be supposed in the human frame; her figure being so extraordinary, was the groundwork of his project; there needed no more than to bring her to be vain of it, and to conceit that it either was so, or was infinitely more sublime and beautiful than it really was; and having thus tickl'd her vanity, to introduce Pride gradually, till at last he might persuade her, that she was really Angelic, or of heavenly Race, and wanted nothing but to eat the forbidden fruit, and that would make her something more excellent still.
2. Looking farther into her Frame, and with a nearer view to her imperfections, he saw room to conclude that she was of a constitution easy to be seduc'd, and especially by flattering her; raising a commotion in her Soul, and a disturbance among her passions; and accordingly he set himself to work, to disturb her repose, and put dreams of great things into her head; together with something of a nameless Kind, which (however, some have been ill-natur'd enough to suggest) I shall not injure the Devil so much as to mention, without better evidence.
3. But, besides this, he found, upon the very first survey of her outside, something so very charming in her mein and behaviour, so engaging as well as agreeable in the whole texture of her person, and withal such a sprightly wit, such a vivacity of parts, such a fluency of tongue, and above all, such a winning prevailing whine in her smiles, or at least in her tears, that he made no doubt if he could but once delude her, she would easily be brought to delude Adam, whom he found set not only a great value upon her person, but was perfectly captivated by her charms; in a word, he saw plainly, that if he could but ruin her, he should easily make a Devil of her, to ruin her husband, and draw him into any gulph of mischief, were it ever so black and dreadful, that she should first fall into herself; how far some may be wicked enough, from hence, to suggest of the fair sex, that they have been Devils to their husbands ever since, I cannot say; I hope they will not be so unmerciful to discover truths of such fatal consequence, tho' they should come to their knowledge.
Thus subtle and penetrating has Satan been from the beginning; and who can wonder that upon these discoveries made into the woman's inside, he went immediately to work with her, rather than with Adam? not but that one would think, if Adam was fool enough to be deluded by his wife, the Devil might have seen so much of it in his countenance, as to have encourag'd him to make his attack directly upon him, and not go round about, beating the bush, and ploughing with the Heifer; setting upon the woman first, and then setting her upon her husband, who might as easily have been imposed upon as she.
Other Commentators upon this critical Text suggest to us, that Eve was not so pleased with the hopes of being made a Goddess; That the pride of a Seraphic Knowledge did not so much work upon her imagination to bring her to consent, as a certain secret Notion infus'd into her head by the same wicked instrument, that she should be wiser than Adam, and should by the superiority of her understanding, necessarily have the government over him; which, at present, she was sensible she had not, he being master of a particular air of gravity and majesty, as well as of strength, infinitely superior to her.
This is an ill-natur'd suggestion; but it must be confess'd the impatient desire of government, which (since that) appears in the general Behaviour of the sex, and particularly of governing husbands, leaves too much room to legitimate the supposition.
The Expositors, who are of this opinion, add to it, that this being her original crime, or the particular temptation to that crime; Heaven thought fit to shew his justice, in making her more entire subjection to her husband be a part of the Curse, that she might read her sin in the punishment, (viz.) he shall rule over thee.
I only give the general hint of these things as they appear recorded in the annals of Satan's first Tyranny, and at the beginning of his government in the World; those that would be more particularly inform'd, may enquire of him and know farther.
I cannot however, but observe here with some regret, how it appears by the consequence, that the Devil was not mistaken when he made an early judgment of Mrs. Eve; and how Satan really went the right way to work, to judge of her; 'tis certain the Devil had nothing to do but to look in her face, and upon a near steady view he might easily see there, an instrument for his Turn; nor has he fail'd to make her a Tool ever since, by the very methods which he at first proposed; to which, perhaps, he has made some additions in the corrupting her composition, as well as her understanding; qualifying her to be a compleat snare to the poor weaker vessel MAN; to wheedle him with her Syren's voice, abuse him with her smiles, delude him with her crocodile tears, and sometimes cock her crown at him, and terrify him with the thunder of her TREBLE; making the effeminated Male Apple-eater tremble at the noise of that very Tongue, which at first commanded him to Sin. For it is yet a debate which the Learned have not decided, whether she persuaded and entreated him, or like a true she-tyrant, exercised her authority and oblig'd him to eat the forbidden fruit.
And therefore a certain author, whose name, for fear of the Sex's resentment I conceal, brings her in, calling to Adam at a great distance, in an imperious haughty manner, beckoning to him with her hand, thus; Here, says she, you cowardly faint-hearted wretch, take this branch of heavenly fruit, eat and be a stupid fool no longer; eat and be wise; eat and be a God; and know, to your eternal shame, that your wife has been made an enlightn'd Goddess before you.
He tells you Adam hung back a little at first, and trembl'd, afraid to trespass: What ails the SOT, says the new Termagant? what are you afraid of? did God forbid you! yes, and why? that we might not be knowing and wise like himself! What reason can there be that we, who have capacious souls, able to receive knowledge, should have it withheld? take it, you Fool, and eat; don't you see how I am exalted in soul by it, and am quite another Creature? Take it, I say, or, if you don't, I'll go and cut down the Tree, and you shall never eat any of it at all, and you shall be still a fool, and be governed by your wife for ever.
Thus, if this interpretation of the thing be just, she Scolded him into it; Rated him, and brought him to it by the terror of her voice; a thing that has retained a dreadful influence over him ever since; nor have the greatest of Adam's Successors, how light soever some husbands make of it in this age, been ever able, since that, to conceal their terror, at the very Sound; nay, if we may believe history, it prevailed even among the Gods; not all the noise of Vulcan's hammers could silence the clamours of that outrageous whore his Goddess; nay, even Jupiter himself led such a life with a termagant wife, that once, they say, Juno out-scolded the noise of all his Thunders, and was within an ace of brawling him out of Heaven. But to return to the Devil.
With these views he resolv'd, it seems, to attack the woman; and if you consider him as a Devil, and what he aim'd at, and consider the fair prospect he had of success, I must confess, I do not see who can blame him, or at least, how any thing less could be expected from him; But we shall meet with it again by and by.
Of the station Satan had in Heaven before he fell; the nature and original of his crime, and some of Mr. Milton's mistakes about it.
Thus far I have gone upon general observation, in this great affair of Satan and his Empire in the World; I now come to my Title, and shall enter upon the historical part, as the main work before me.
Besides what has been said Poetically, relating to the fall and wandering condition of the Devil and his Host, which poetical part I offer only as an excursion, and desire it should be taken so; I shall give you what I think is deduc'd from good originals on the part of Satan's story in a few words.
He was one of the created Angels, form'd by the same omnipotent hand and glorious power, who created the Heavens and the Earth, and all that is therein: This innumerable heavenly host, as we have reason to believe, contain'd Angels of higher and lower stations, of greater and of lesser degree, express'd in the Scripture by Thrones, Dominions, and Principalities: This, I think, we have as much reason to believe, as we have, that there are Stars in the Firmament (or starry Heavens) of greater and of lesser magnitude.
What particular station among the immortal Choir of Angels, this Arch-seraph, this Prince of Devils, call'd Satan, was plac'd in before his expulsion, that indeed, we cannot come at the knowledge of, at least, not with such an Authority as may be depended upon; but as from Scripture authority, he is plac'd at the head of all the Apostate armies, after he was fallen, we cannot think it in the least assuming to say, that he might be supposed to be one of the principal Agents in the Rebellion which happen'd in Heaven, and consequently that he might be one of the highest in dignity there, before that Rebellion.
The higher his station, the lower, and with the greater precipitation, was his overthrow; and therefore, those words, tho' taken in another sense, may very well be apply'd to him: How art thou fallen, O Lucifer! Son of the Morning!
Having granted the dignity of his Person, and the high station in which he was placed among the heavenly Host; it would come then necessarily to inquire into the nature of his fall, and above all, a little into the reason of it; certain it is, he did fall, was guilty of Rebellion and Disobedience, the just effect of Pride; sins, which, in that holy place, might well be call'd wonderful.
But what to me is more wonderful, and which, I think, will be very ill accounted for, is, how came seeds of crime to rise in the Angelic Nature? created in a state of perfect, unspotted holiness? how was it first found in a place where no unclean thing can enter? how came ambition, pride, or envy to generate there? could there be offence where there was no crime? could untainted purity breed corruption? could that nature contaminate and infect, which was always Drinking in principles of perfection?
Happy 'tis to me, that writing the History, not solving the Difficulties of Satan's Affairs, is my province in this Work; that I am to relate the Fact, not give reasons for it, or sign causes; if it was otherwise, I should break off at this difficulty, for I acknowledge I do not see thro' it; neither do I think that the great Milton, after all his fine Images and lofty Excursions upon the Subject, has left it one jot clearer than he found it: Some are of opinion, and among them the great Dr. B——s, that crime broke in upon them at some interval, when they omitted but one moment fixing their eyes and thoughts on the glories of the divine face, to admire and adore, which is the full employment of Angels; but even this, tho' it goes as high as imagination can carry us, does not reach it, nor, to me, make it one jot more comprehensible than it was before; all I can say to it here, is, that so it was, the fact was upon Record, and the rejected Troop are in being, whose circumstances confess the Guilt, and still groan under the Punishment.
If you will bear with a poetic excursion upon the subject, not to solve but to illustrate the difficulty; take it in a few lines, thus,
Thou sin of Witchcraft! firstborn child of Crime! Produc'd before the bloom of Time; Ambition's maiden Sin, in Heaven conceiv'd, And who could have believ'd Defilement could in purity begin, And bright eternal Day be soil'd with Sin? Tell us, sly penetrating Crime, How cam'st thou there, thou fault sublime? How didst thou pass the Adamantine Gate; And into Spirit thy self insinuate? From what dark state? from what deep place? From what strange uncreated race? Where was thy ancient habitation found Before void Chaos heard the forming sound? Wast thou a Substance, or an airy Ghost, A Vapour flying in the fluid waste Of unconcocted air? And how at first didst thou come there? Sure there was once a time when thou wert not, By whom wast thou created? and for what? Art thou a steam from some contagious damp exhal'd? How should contagion be intail'd, On bright seraphic Spirits, and in a place Where all's supreme, and Glory fills the Space? No noxious vapour there could rise, For there no noxious matter lies; Nothing that's evil could appear, Sin never could Seraphic Glory bear; The brightness of the eternal Face, Which fills as well as constitutes the place, Would be a fire too hot for crime to bear, 'Twould calcine Sin, or melt it into air. How then did first defilement enter in? Ambition, thou first vital seed of Sin! Thou Life of Death, how cam'st thou there? In what bright form didst thou appear? In what Seraphic Orb didst thou arise? Surely that place admits of no disguise, Eternal Sight must know thee there, And being known, thou soon must disappear. But since the fatal Truth we know, Without the matter whence or manner how: Thou high superlative of Sin, Tell us thy nature, where thou didst begin? The first degree of thy increase, Debauch'd the Regions of eternal Peace, And fill'd the breasts of loyal Angels there With the first Treason and infernal War.
Thou art the high extreme of pride, And dost o'er lesser crimes preside; Not for the mean attempt of Vice design'd, But to embroil the World, and damn Mankind. Transforming mischief, now hast thou procur'd That loss that ne'er to be restor'd, And made the bright Seraphic Morning-star In horrid monstrous shapes appear? Satan, that while he dwelt in glorious light, Was always then as pure as he was bright, That in effulgent rays of glory shone, Excell'd by eternal Light, by him alone, Distorted now, and stript of Innocence, And banish'd with thee from the high Pre-eminence, How has the splendid Seraph chang'd his face, Transform'd by thee, and like thy monstrous race? Ugly as is the crime, for which he fell, } Fitted by thee to make a local Hell, } For such must be the place where either of you dwell. }
Thus, as I told you, I only moralize upon the subject, but as to the difficulty, I must leave it as I find it, unless, as I hinted at first, I could prevail with Satan to set pen to paper, and write this part of his own History: No question, but he could let us into the secret; but to be plain, I doubt I shall tell so many plain truths of the Devil, in this History, and discover so many of his secrets, which it is not for his interest to have discover'd, that before I have done, the Devil and I may not be so good friends as you may suppose we are; at least, not friends enough to obtain such a favour of him, tho' it be for public good; so we must be content till we come ont' other side the Blue-Blanket, and then we shall know the whole Story.
But now, tho' as I said, I will not attempt to solve the difficulty, I may, I hope, venture to tell you, that there is not so much difficulty in it, as at first sight appears: and especially not so much as some people would make us believe; let us see how others are mistaken in it, perhaps, that may help us a little in the enquiry; for to know what it is not, is one help towards knowing what it is.
Mr. Milton has indeed told us a great many merry things of the Devil, in a most formal, solemn manner; till in short he has made a good PLAY of Heaven and Hell; and no doubt if he had liv'd in our times, he might have had it acted with our Pluto and Proserpine. He has made fine Speeches both for God and the Devil, and a little addition might have turn'd it a la modern into a Harlequin Dieu & Diable.
I confess I don't well know how far the dominion of Poetry extends itself; it seems the Buts and Bounds of Parnassus are not yet ascertain'd; so that for ought I know, by vertue of their antient privileges call'd Licentia Poetarum, there can be no Blasphemy in Verse; as some of our Divines say there can be no Treason in the Pulpit. But they that will venture to write that way, ought to be better satisfy'd about that Point than I am.
Upon this foot Mr. Milton, to grace his Poem, and give room for his Towring Fancy, has gone a length beyond all that ever went before him, since Ovid in his Metamorphosis. He has indeed complimented GOD Almighty with a flux of lofty words, and great sounds; and has made a very fine Story of the Devil, but he has made a meer je ne scay Quoi of Jesus Christ. In one line he has him riding on a Cherub, and in another sitting on a Throne, both in the very same moment of action. In another place he has brought him in making a Speech to his Saints, when 'tis evident he had none there; for we all know Man was not created till a long while after; and no body can be so dull as to say the Angels may be called Saints, without the greatest absurdity in nature. Besides, he makes CHRIST himself distinguish them, as in two several Bands, and of differing Persons and Species, as to be sure they are.
Stand still in bright array, ye Saints——— —— ——— ———— ———— Here stand, Ye Angels. ———
Par. Lost. lib. vi. fo. 174.
So that CHRIST here is brought in drawing up his Army before the last Battle, and making a Speech to them, to tell them they shall only stand by in warlike order, but that they shall have no occasion to fight, for he alone will engage the Rebels. Then in embattling his Legions, he places the Saints here, and the Angels there, as if one were the main Battle of Infantry, and the other the Wings of Cavalry. But who are those Saints? they are indeed all of Milton's own making; 'tis certain there were no Saints at all in Heaven or Earth at that time; GOD and his Angels fill'd up the place; and till some of the Angels fell, and Men were created, had liv'd, and were dead, there could have been no Saints there. Saint Abel was certainly the Proto-Saint of all that ever were seen in Heaven, as well as the Proto-martyr of all that have been upon Earth.
Just such another Mistake, not to call it a Blunder, he makes about Hell; which he not only makes LOCAL, but gives it a being before the Fall of the Angels; and brings it in opening its mouth to receive them. This is so contrary to the nature of the thing, and so great an absurdity, that no Poetic License can account for it; for tho' Poesie may form Stories, as Idea and Fancy may furnish Materials, yet Poesy must not break in upon Chronology, and make things which in time were to exist, act before they existed.
Thus a Painter may make a fine piece of Work, the fancy may be good, the strokes masterly, and the beauty of the Workmanship inimitably curious and fine, and yet have some unpardonable improprieties which marr the whole Work. So the famous Painter of Toledo painted the story of the three Wisemen of the East coming to worship, and bring their presents to our Lord upon his birth at Bethlehem, where he represents them as three Arabian or Indian Kings; two of them are white, and one black; But unhappily when he drew the latter part of them kneeling, which to be sure was done after their faces; their legs being necessarily a little intermix'd, he made three black feet for the Negroe King, and but three white feet for the two white Kings, and yet never discover'd the mistake till the piece was presented to the King, and hung up in the great Church. As this is an unpardonable error in Sculpture or Limning, it must be much more so in Poetry, where the Images must have no improprieties, much less inconsistencies.
In a word, Mr. Milton has indeed made a fine Poem, but it is the Devil of a History. I can easily allow Mr. Milton to make Hills and Dales, flowry Meadows and Plains (and the like) in Heaven; and places of Retreat and Contemplation in Hell; tho' I must add, that it can be allowed to no Poet on Earth but Mr. Milton. Nay, I will allow Mr. Milton, if you please, to set the Angels a dancing in Heaven, lib. v. fo. 138. and the Devils a singing in Hell, lib. i. fo. 44. tho' they are in short, especially the last, most horrid Absurdities. But I cannot allow him to make their Musick in Hell to be harmonious and charming as he does; such Images being incongruous, and indeed shocking to Nature. Neither can I think we should allow things to be plac'd out of time in Poetry, any more than in History; 'tis a confusion of Images which is allow'd to be disallow'd by all the Criticks of what tribe or species soever in the world, and is indeed unpardonable. But we shall find so many more of these things in Mr. Milton, that really taking notice of them all, would carry me quite out of my way, I being at this time not writing the History of Mr. Milton, but of the Devil: besides, Mr. Milton is such a celebrated Man, that who but he that can write the History of the Devil dare meddle with him?
But to come back to the business. As I had caution'd you against running to Scripture for shelter in cases of difficulty, Scripture weighing very little among the people I am directing my Speech to; so indeed Scripture gives but very little light into any thing of the Devil's Story before his Fall, and but to very little of it for some time after.
Nor has Mr. Milton said one word to solve the main difficulty (viz.) How the Devil came to fall, and how Sin came into Heaven; how the spotless Seraphic Nature could receive infection, whence the contagion proceeded, what noxious matter could emit corruption there, how and whence any vapour to poison the Angelick Frame could rise up, or how it increas'd and grew up to crime. But all this he passes over, and hurrying up that part in two or three words, only tells us,
——— his Pride, Had cast him out of Heaven with all his Host Of rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring He trusted to have equal'd the most High.
lib. i. fo. 3.
His pride! but how came Satan while an Arch-angel to be proud? How did it consist, that Pride and perfect Holiness should meet in the same Person? Here we must bid Mr. Milton good night; for, in plain terms, he is in the dark about it, and so we are all; and the most that can be said, is, that we know the fact is so, but nothing of the nature or reason of it.
But to come to the History: The Angels fell, they sinn'd (wonderful!) in Heaven, and God cast them out; what their sin was is not explicit, but in general 'tis call'd a Rebellion against GOD; all sin must be so.
Mr. Milton here takes upon him to give the History of it, as particularly as if he had been born there, and came down hither on purpose to give us an account of it; (I hope he is better inform'd by this time;) but this he does in such a manner, as jostles with Religion, and shocks our Faith in so many points necessary to be believ'd, that we must forbear to give up to Mr. Milton, or must set aside part of the sacred Text, in such a manner, as will assist some people to set it all aside.
I mean by this, his invented Scheme of the Son's being declared in Heaven to be begotten then, and then to be declar'd Generalissimo of all the Armies of Heaven; and of the Father's Summoning all the Angels of the heavenly Host to submit to him, and pay him homage. The words are quoted already, page 32.
I must own the Invention, indeed, is very fine; the Images exceeding magnificent, the Thought rich and bright, and, in some respect, truly sublime: But the Authorities fail most wretchedly, and the miss-timing of it, is unsufferably gross, as is noted in the Introduction to this Work; for Christ is not declar'd the Son of God but on Earth; 'tis true, 'tis spoken from Heaven, but then 'tis spoken as perfected on Earth; if it was at all to be assign'd to Heaven, it was from Eternity, and there, indeed, his eternal Generation is allow'd; but to take upon us to say, that On a day, a certain day, for so our Poet assumes, lib. v. fol. 137.
——— 'When on a day, ——— 'On such a day 'As Heaven's great Year brings forth, the empyreal Host 'Of Angels by imperial Summons call'd, 'Forthwith from all the ends of Heaven appear'd.
This is, indeed, too gross; at this meeting he makes God declare the Son to be that day begotten, as before; had he made him not begotten that day, but declared General that day, it would be reconcileable with Scripture and with sense; for either the begetting is meant of ordaining to an office, or else the eternal Generation falls to the ground; and if it was to the office (Mediator) then Mr. Milton is out in ascribing another fix'd day to the Work; see lib. x. fo. 194. But then the declaring him that day, is wrong chronology too, for Christ is declar'd the Son of God with power, only by the Resurrection of the dead, and this is both a Declaration in Heaven and in Earth. Rom. i. 4. And Milton can have no authority to tell us, there was any Declaration of it in Heaven before this, except it be that dull authority call'd poetic License, which will not pass in so solemn an affair as that.
But the thing was necessary to Milton, who wanted to assign some cause or original of the Devil's Rebellion; and so, as I said above, the design is well laid, it only wants two Trifles call'd Truth and History; so I leave it to struggle for itself.
This Ground-plot being laid, he has a fair field for the Devil to play the Rebel in, for he immediately brings him in, not satisfy'd with the Exaltation of the Son of God. The case must be thus; Satan being an eminent Arch-angel, and perhaps, the highest of all the Angelic Train, hearing this Sovereign Declaration, that the Son of God was declar'd to be Head or Generalissimo of all the heavenly Host, took it ill to see another put into the high station over his head, as the Soldiers call it; he, perhaps, thinking himself the senior Officer, and disdaining to submit to any but to his former immediate Sovereign; in short, he threw up his Commission, and, in order not to be compel'd to obey, revolted and broke out in open Rebellion.
All this part is a Decoration noble and great, nor is there any objection to be made against the invention, because a deduction of probable Events; but the Plot is wrong laid, as is observ'd above, because contradicted by the Scripture account, according to which Christ was declared in Heaven, not then, but from Eternity, and not declared with power, but on Earth, (viz.) in his victory over Sin and Death, by the Resurrection from the dead: so that Mr. Milton is not orthodox in this part, but lays an avow'd foundation for the corrupt Doctrine of Arius, which says, there was a time when Christ was not the Son of GOD.
But to leave Mr. Milton to his flights, I agree with him in this part, viz. that the wicked or sinning Angels, with the great Arch-angel at the head of them, revolted from their obedience, even in Heaven it self; that Satan began the wicked defection, and being a Chief among the heavenly Host, consequently carry'd over a great party with him, who all together rebel'd against God; that upon this Rebellion they were sentenc'd, by the righteous judgment of GOD, to be expel'd the holy Habitation; this, besides the authority of Scripture, we have visible testimonies of, from the Devils themselves; their influences and operations among us every day, of which Mankind are witnesses; in all the merry things they do in his name, and under his protection, in almost every scene of life they pass thro', whether we talk of things done openly or in Masquerade, things done in—or out of it, things done in earnest or in jest.
But then, what comes of the long and bloody War that Mr. Milton gives such a full and particular account of, and the terrible Battles in Heaven between Michael with the royal Army of Angels on one hand, and Satan with his rebel Host on the other; in which he supposes the numbers and strength to be pretty near equal? but at length brings in the Devil's Army, upon doubling their rage and bringing new engines of war into the field, putting Michael and all the faithful Army to the worst; and, in a word, defeats them? For tho' they were not put to a plain flight, in which case he must, at least, have given an account of two or three thousand millions of Angels cut in pieces and wounded, yet he allows them to give over the fight, and make a kind of retreat; so making way for the compleat victory of the Son of GOD: Now this is all invention, or at least, a borrow'd thought from the old Poets, and the Fight of the Giants against Jupiter, so nobly design'd by Ovid, almost two thousand years ago; and there 'twas well enough; but whether Poetic Fancy should be allow'd to fable upon Heaven, or no, and upon the King of Heaven too, that I leave to the Sages.
By this expulsion of the Devils, it is allow'd by most Authors, they are, ipso facto, stript of the Rectitude and Holiness of their Nature, which was their Beauty and Perfection; and being ingulph'd in the abyss of irrecoverable ruin, 'tis no matter where, from that very time they lost their Angelic beautiful Form, commenc'd ugly frightful Monsters and Devils, and became evil doers, as well as evil Spirits; fill'd with a horrid malignity and enmity against their Maker, and arm'd with a hellish resolution to shew and exert it on all occasions; retaining however their exalted spirituous Nature, and having a vast extensive power of Action, all which they can exert in nothing else but doing evil, for they are entirely divested of either Power or will to do good; and even in doing evil, they are under restraints and limitations of a superior Power, which it is their Torment, and, perhaps, a great part of their Hell that they cannot break thro'.
What became of the Devil and his Host of fallen Spirits after their being expell'd from Heaven, and his wandring condition till the Creation; with some more of Mr. Milton's absurdities on that subject.
Having thus brought the Devil and his innumerable Legions to the edge of the Bottomless-pit, it remains, before I bring them to action, that some enquiry should be made into the posture of their affairs immediately after their precipitate Fall, and into the place of their immediate Residence; for this will appear to be very necessary to Satan's History, and indeed, so as that without it, all the farther account we have to give of him, will be inconsistent and imperfect.
And first, I take upon me to lay down some Fundamentals, which I believe I shall be able to make out Historically, tho', perhaps, not so Geographically as some have pretended to do.
1. That Satan was not immediately, nor is yet lock'd down into the Abyss of a local Hell, such as is supposed by some, and such as he shall be at last; or that,
2. If he was, he has certain liberties allowed him for excursions into the Regions of this Air, and certain spheres of action, in which he can, and does move, to do, like a very Devil as he is, all the mischief he can, and of which we see so many examples both about us and in us; in the inquiry after which, I shall take occasion to examine whether the Devil is not in most of us, sometimes, if not in all of us one time or other.
3. That Satan has no particular residence in this Globe or Earth where we live; that he rambles about among us, and marches over and over our whole country, he and his Devils in Camps volant; but that he pitches his grand Army or chief Encampment in our Adjacencies or Frontiers, which the Philosophers call Atmosphere; and whence he is call'd the Prince of the Power of that Element or part of the World we call Air; from whence he sends out his Spies, his Agents and Emissaries, to get intelligence, and to carry his Commissions to his trusty and well beloved Cousins and Counsellors on Earth, by which his business is done, and his affairs carried on in the World.
Here, again, I meet Mr. Milton full in my face, who will have it, that the Devil, immediately at his expulsion, roll'd down directly into a Hell proper and local; nay, he measures the very distance, at least gives the length of the journey by the time they were passing or falling, which, he says, was nine days; a good Poetical flight, but neither founded on Scripture or Philosophy; he might every jot as well have brought Hell up to the Walls of Heaven, advanc'd to receive them, or he ought to have consider'd the space which is to be allow'd to any locality, let him take what part of infinite distance between Heaven and a created Hell he pleases.
But let that be as Mr. Milton's extraordinary genius pleases to place it; the passage, it seems, is just nine days betwixt Heaven and Hell; well might Dives then see father Abraham, and talk to him too; but then the great Gulph which Abraham tells him was fix'd between them, does not seem to be so large, as according to Sir Isaac Newton, Dr. Halley, Mr. Whiston, and the rest of our Men of Science, we take it to be.
But suppose the passage to be nine Days, according to Mr. Milton, what follow'd? why Hell gap'd wide, open'd its frightful mouth, and received them all at once; millions and thousands of millions as they were, it received them all at a gulp, as we call it, they had no difficulty to go in, no, none at all.
Facilis desensus averni, sed revocare gradum Hoc opus hic labor est.—— Virg.
All this, as Poetical, we may receive, but not at all as Historical; for then come difficulties insuperable in our way, some of which may be as follow: (1.) Hell is here supposed to be a place; nay a place created for the punishment of Angels and Men, and likewise created long before those had fallen, or these had Being; this makes me say, Mr. Milton was a good Poet, but a bad Historian: Tophet was prepar'd of old, indeed, but it was for the King, that is to say, it was prepar'd for those whose lot it should be to come there; but this does not at all suppose it was prepar'd before it was resolv'd whether there should be subjects for it, or no; else we must suppose both Men and Angels were made by the glorious and upright Maker of all things, on purpose for destruction, which would be incongruous and absurd.
But there is worse yet to come; in the next place he adds, that Hell having receiv'd them, clos'd upon them; that is to say, took them in, clos'd or shut its Mouth; and in a word, they were lock'd in, as it was said in another place, they were lock'd in, and the Key is carry'd up to Heaven and kept there; for we know the Angel came down from Heaven, having the Key of the Bottomless-pit; but first, see Mr. Milton.
'Nine days they fell, confounded chaos roar'd 'And felt ten-fold confusion in their fall: '——Hell at last 'Yawning receiv'd them all, and on them clos'd; 'Down from the verge of Heaven, eternal wrath 'Burnt after them—— 'Unquenchable.
This Scheme is certainly deficient, if not absurd, and I think is more so than any other he has laid; 'tis evident, neither Satan or his Host of Devils are, no not any of them, yet, even now, confin'd in the eternal Prison, where the Scripture says, he shall be reserved in chains of darkness. They must have mean thoughts of Hell, as a Prison, a local Confinement, that can suppose the Devil able to break Goal, knock off his Fetters, and come abroad, if he had been once lock'd in there, as Mr. Milton says he was: Now we know that he is abroad again, he presented himself before God, among his neighbours, when Job's case came to be discours'd of; and more than that, it's plain he was a prisoner at large, by his answer to God's question, which was, whence comest thou? to which he answer'd, from going to and fro thro' the Earth, &c. this, I say, is plain, and if it be as certain that Hell closed upon them, I demand then, how got he out? and why was there not a Proclamation for apprehending him, as there usually is, after such Rogues as break prison?
In short, the true Account of the Devil's Circumstances, since his Fall from Heaven, is much more likely to be thus: That he is more of a Vagrant than a Prisoner, that he is a Wanderer in the wild unbounded Wast, where he and his Legions, like the Hoords of Tartary, who, in the wild Countries of Karakathay, the Desarts of Barkan, Kassan, and Astracan, live up and down where they find proper; so Satan and his innumerable Legions rove about hic & ubique, pitching their Camps (being Beasts of prey) where they find the most Spoil; watching over this World, (and all the other Worlds for ought we know, and if there are any such,) I say watching, and seeking who they may devour, that is, who they may deceive and delude, and so destroy, for devour they cannot.
Satan being thus confin'd to a vagabond, wandring, unsettl'd Condition, is without any certain Abode; For tho' he has, in consequence of his Angelic Nature, a kind of Empire in the liquid Wast or Air; yet, this is certainly part of his punishment, that he is continually hovering over this inhabited Globe of Earth; swelling with the Rage of Envy, at the Felicity of his Rival, Man; and studying all the means possible to injure and ruin him; but extremely limited in Power, to his unspeakable Mortification: This is his present State, without any fix'd Abode, Place, or Space, allow'd him to rest the Sole of his Foot upon.
From his Expulsion, I take his first View of Horror to be that, of looking back towards the Heaven which he had lost; there to see the Chasm or Opening made up, out at which, as at a Breach in the Wall of the holy Place, he was thrust Head-long by the Power which expel'd him; I say, to see the Breach repair'd, the Mounds built up, the Walls garison'd with millions of Angels, and arm'd with Thunders; and, above all, made terrible by that Glory from whose Presence they were expel'd, as is Poetically hinted at before.
Upon this sight, 'tis no wonder (if there was such a Place) that they fled till the Darkness might cover them, and that they might be out of the View of so hated a Sight.
Wherever they found it, you may be sure they pitch'd their first Camp, and began, after many a sour Reflection upon what was pass'd, to consider and think a little, upon what was to come.
If I had as much personal Acquaintance with the Devil, as would admit it, and could depend upon the Truth of what Answer he would give me, the first Question I would ask him, should be, what Measures they resolv'd on at their first Assembly? and the next should be, how they were employ'd in all that space of Time, between their so flying the Face of their almighty Conqueror, and the Creation of Man? as for the Length of the Time, which, according to the Learn'd, was twenty thousand Years, and according to the more Learned, not half a Quarter so much, I would not concern my Curiosity much about it; 'tis most certain, there was a considerable time between, but of that immediately; first let me enquire what they were doing all that time.
The Devil and his Host, being thus, I say, cast out of Heaven, and not yet confin'd strictly to Hell, 'tis plain they must be some where. Satan and all his Legions did not lose their Existence, no, nor the Existence of Devils neither; GOD was so far from annihilating him, that he still preserv'd his Being; and this not Mr. Milton only, but GOD himself has made known to us, having left his History so far upon record; several expressions in Scripture also make it evident, as particularly the story of Job, mentioned before; the like in our Saviour's time, and several others.
If Hell did not immediately ingulph them, as Milton suggests, 'tis certain, I say, that they fled Somewhere, from the anger of Heaven, from the face of the Avenger; and his absence, and their own guilt, wonder not at it, would make Hell enough for them wherever they went.
Nor need we fly to the Dreams of our Astronomers, who take a great deal of pains to fill up the vast Spaces of the starry Heavens with innumerable habitable Worlds; allowing as many solar Systems as there are fix'd Stars, and that not only in the known Constellations, but even in Gallaxie it self; who, to every such System allow a certain number of Planets, and to every one of those Planets so many Satellites or Moons, and all these Planets and Moons to be Worlds; solid, dark, opaque Bodies, habitable, and (as they would have us believe) inhabited by the like Animals and rational Creatures as on this Earth; so that they may, at this rate, find room enough for the Devil and all his Angels, without making a Hell on purpose; nay they may, for ought I know, find a World for every Devil in all the Devil's Host, and so every one may be a Monarch or Master-Devil, separately in his own Sphere or World, and play the Devil there by himself.
And even if this were so, it cannot be denied but that one Devil in a place would be enough for a whole systemary World, and be able, if not restrained, to do mischief enough there too, and even to ruin and overthrow the whole body of People contain'd in it.
But, I say, we need not fly to these shifts, or consult the Astronomers in the decision of this point; for wherever Satan and his defeated Host went, at their expulsion from Heaven, we think we are certain, none of all these Beautiful Worlds, or be they Worlds or no, I mean the fix'd Stars, Planets, &c. had then any existence; for the Beginning, as the Scripture calls it, was not yet Begun.
But to speak a little by the rules of Philosophy, that is to say, so as to be understood by others, even when we speak of things we cannot fully understand ourselves: Tho' in the Beginning of Time all this glorious Creation was form'd, the Earth, the starry Heavens, and all the Furniture thereof, and there was a Time when they were not; yet we cannot say so of the Void, or that nameless no-where, as I call'd it before, which now appears to be a some-where, in which these glorious Bodies are plac'd. That immense Space which those take up, and which they move in at this Time, must be supposed, before they had Being, to be plac'd there: As God himself was, and existed before all Being, Time, or Place, so the Heaven of Heavens, or the Place, where the Thrones and Dominions of his Kingdom then existed, inconceivable and ineffable, had an existence before the glorious Seraphs, the innumerable company of Angels which attended about the Throne of God existed; these all had a Being long before, as the Eternal Creator of them all had before them.
Into this void or abyss of Nothing, however unmeasurable, infinite, and even to those Spirits, themselves Inconceivable, they certainly launch'd from the bright Precipice which they fell from, and here they shifted as well as they could.
Here expanding those Wings which Fear, and Horror at their Defeat furnish'd them, as I hinted before, they hurried away to the utmost Distance possible, from the Face of GOD their Conqueror, and then most dreaded Enemy; formerly their Joy and Glory.
Be this utmost remov'd Distance where it will, Here, certainly, Satan and all his Gang of Devils, his numberless, tho' routed Armies retired. Here Milton might, with some good Ground, have form'd his Pandemonium, and have brought them in, consulting what was next to be done, and whether there was any room left to renew the War, or to carry on the Rebellion; but had they been cast immediately into Hell, closed up there, the Bottomless pit lock'd upon them, and the Key carried up to Heaven to be kept there, as Mr. Milton himself in part confesses, and the Scripture affirms; I say, had this been so, the Devil himself could not have been so ignorant as to think of any future Steps to be taken, to retrieve his Affairs, and therefore a Pandemonium or Divan in Hell, to consult of it, was ridiculous.
All Mr. Milton's Scheme of Satan's future Conduct, and all the Scripture Expressions about the Devil and his numerous Attendants, and of his actings since that time, make it not reasonable to suggest that the Devils were confin'd to their eternal Prison, at their Expulsion out of Heaven; But that they were in a State of Liberty to act, tho' limited in acting, of which I shall also speak in its place.
Of the Number of Satan's Host; how they came first to know of the new created Worlds, now in being, and their Measures with Mankind upon the Discovery.
Several things have been suggested to set us a calculating the number of this frightful throng of Devils, who with Satan, the Master-Devil, was thus cast out of Heaven; I cannot say, I am so much Master of Political Arithmetick as to cast up the Number of the Beast, no, nor the Number of the Beasts or Devils, who make up this Throng. St. Francis, they tell us, or some other Saint, they do not say who, ask'd the Devil once, how strong he was? for St. Francis, you must know, was very familiar with him; The Devil, it seems, did not tell him, but presently raised a great Cloud of Dust, by the help, I suppose, of a Gust of Wind, and bid that Saint count it; He was, I suppose, a Calculator, that would be call'd grave, who dividing Satan's Troops into three Lines, cast up the Number of the Devils of all sorts in each Battalia, at ten hundred times a hundred thousand millions of the first Line, fifty millions of times as many in the second Line, and three hundred thousand times as many as both in the third Line.
The Impertinence of this account would hardly have given it a place here, only to hint that it has always been the Opinion, that Satan's Name may well be call'd a Noun of Multitude, and that the Devil and his Angels are certainly no inconsiderable Number: It was a smart Repartee that a Venetian Nobleman made to a Priest who rallied him upon his refusing to give something to the Church, which the Priest demanded for the delivering him from Purgatory; when the Priest asking him, if he knew what an innumerable Number of Devils there were to take him? he answer'd, yes, he knew how many Devils there were in all: How many? says the Priest, his curiosity, I suppose, being rais'd by the novelty of the answer. Why ten millions five hundred and eleven thousand, six hundred and seventy five Devils and a half, says the Nobleman: A half! says the Priest, pray what kind of a Devil is that? your self, says the Nobleman, for you are half a Devil already (and will be a whole one when you come there) for you are for deluding all you deal with, and bringing us Soul and Body into your Hands, that you may be paid for letting us go again. So much for their Number.
Here also it would come in very aptly, to consider the state of that long interval between the Time of their Expulsion from Heaven, and the Creation of the World; and what the Posture of the Devil's Affairs might be, during that Time. The horror of their Condition can only be conceiv'd of at a Distance, and especially by us, who being embodied Creatures, cannot fully judge of what is, or is not a Punishment to Seraphs and Spirits; But 'tis just to suppose they suffer'd all that Spirits of a Seraphic Nature were capable to sustain, consistent with their Existence; notwithstanding which they retain'd still the Hellishness of their rebellious Principles; namely, their Hatred and Rage against God, and their Envy at the Felicity of his Creatures.
As to how long their time might be, I shall leave that Search; no lights being given me that are either probable or rational, and we have so little room to make a Judgment of it, that we may as well believe Father M——, who supposes it to be a hundred thousand Years, as those who judge it one thousand Years; 'tis enough that we are sure, it was before the Creation, how long before is not material to the Devil's History, unless we had some Records of what happen'd to him, or was done by him in the Interval.
During the wandring Condition the Devil was in at that Time, we may suppose, he and his whole Clan to be employ'd in exerting their Hatred and Rage at the Almighty, and at the Happiness of the remaining faithful Angels, by all the ways they had power to shew it.
From this determin'd stated Enmity of Satan and his Host against God, and at every thing that brought Glory to his Name, Mr. Milton brings in Satan, (when first he saw Adam in Paradise, and the Felicity of his Station there) swelling with Rage and Envy, and taking up a dreadful Resolution to ruin Adam and all his Posterity, meerly to disappoint his Maker of the Glory of his Creation; I shall come to speak of that in its Place.
How Satan, in his remote Situation, got Intelligence of the Place where to find Adam out, or that any such thing as a Man was created, is Matter of just Speculation, and there might be many rational Schemes laid for it: Mr. Milton does not undertake to tell us the Particulars, nor indeed could he find room for it; perhaps, the Devil having, as I have said, a Liberty to range over the whole Void or Abyss, which we want as well a Name for, as indeed Powers to conceive of; might have discovered that the Almighty Creator had form'd a new and glorious Work, with infinite Beauty and Variety, filling up the immense Wast of Space, in which he, (the Devil) and his Angels, had rov'd for so long a time, without finding any thing to work on, or to exert their Apostate Rage in against their Maker.
That at length they found the infinite untrodden Space, on a sudden spread full with glorious Bodies, shining in self-existing Beauty, with a new, and to them unknown Lustre, call'd Light: They found these luminous Bodies, tho' immense in Bulk, and infinite in Number, yet fixt in their wondrous Stations, regular and exact in their Motions, confin'd in their proper Orbits, tending to their particular Centers, and enjoying every one their peculiar Systems, within which was contain'd innumerable Planets with their Satellites or Moons, in which (again) a reciprocal Influence, Motion and Revolution conspired to Form the most admirable Uniformity of the whole.
Surprized, to be sure, with this sudden and yet glorious Work of the Almighty; for the Creation was enough, with its Lustre, even to surprize the Devils; they might reasonably be supposed to start out of their dark Retreat, and with a Curiosity not below the Seraphic Dignity; for these are some of the things which the Angels desire to look into, to take a flight thro' all the amazing Systems of the fix'd Suns or Stars, which we see now but at a Distance, and only make Astronomical Guesses at.
Here the Devil found not subject of Wonder only, but matter to swell his revolted Spirit with more Rage, and to revive the Malignity of his Mind against his Maker, and especially against this new encrease of Glory, which to his infinite Regret was extended over the whole Wast, and which he look'd upon, as we say in human Affairs, as a Pays conquis, or, if you will have it in the Language of the Devil, as an invasion upon his Kingdom.
Here it naturally occur'd to them, in their State of Envy and Rebellion, that tho' they could not assault the impregnable Walls of Heaven, and could no more pretend to raise War in the Place of Blessedness and Peace; yet that perhaps they might find Room in this new, and however glorious, yet inferior Kingdom or Creation, to work some despite to their great Creator, or to affront his Majesty in the Person of some of his new made Creatures; and upon this they may be justly supposed to double their Vigilance, in the survey they resolve to take of these new Worlds, however great, numberless and wonderful.
What Discoveries they may have made in the other and greater Worlds, than this Earth, we have not yet had an account; possibly they are conversant with other Parts of God's Creation, besides this little little Globe, which is but as a Point in comparison of the Rest; and with other of God's Creatures besides Man, who may, according to the Opinion of our Philosophers, inhabit those Worlds; but as no body knows that Part but the Devil, we shall not trouble our selves with the Enquiry.
But 'tis very reasonable, and indeed probable, that the Devils were more than ordinarily surpriz'd at the Nature and Reason of all this glorious Creation, after they had, with the utmost Curiosity, view'd all the parts of it; The Glories of the several Systems; the immense spaces in which those glorious Bodies that were created and made part of it, were allow'd respectively to move; the innumerable fix'd Stars, as so many Suns in the Center of so many distant Solar Systems; the (likewise innumerable) dark opaque Bodies receiving light, and depending upon those Suns respectively for such light, and then reflecting that light again upon and for the Use of one another; To see the Beauty and Splendor of their Forms, the Regularity of their Position, the Order and Exactness, and yet inconceivable Velocity of their Motions, the certainty of their Revolutions, and the Variety and Virtue of their Influences; and then, which was even to the Devils themselves most astonishing, That after all the rest of their Observations they should find this whole immense Work was adapted for, and made subservient to the Use, Delight and Blessing only of one poor Species, in itself small, and in Appearance contemptible; the meanest of all the Kinds supposed to inhabit so many glorious Worlds, as appeared now to be form'd; I mean, that Moon call'd the Earth, and the Creature call'd Man; that all was made for him, upheld by the wise Creator, on his account only, and would necessarily end and cease whenever that Species should end and be determin'd.
That this Creature was to be found no where but (as above) in one little individual Moon; a Spot less than almost any of the Moons, which were in such great Numbers to be found attendant upon, and prescrib'd with in every System of the whole created Heavens; This was astonishing even to the Devil himself, nay the whole Clan of Devils could scarce entertain any just Ideas of the thing; Till at last Satan, indefatigable in his Search or Enquiry into the Nature and Reason of this new Work, and particularly searching into the Species of Man, whom he found God had thus plac'd in the little Globe, call'd Earth; he soon came to an Eclairicissement, or a clear Understanding of the whole. For Example,
First, He found this Creature, call'd Man, was however mean and small in his Appearance, a kind of a Seraphic Species; that he was made in the very Image of God, endowed with reasonable Faculties to know Good and Evil, and possess'd of a certain thing till then unknown and unheard of even in Hell it self; that is, in the Habitation of Devils, let that be where it would, (viz.)
2. That GOD had made him indeed of the lowest and coarsest Materials, but that he had breath'd into him the Breath of Life, and that he became a living thing call'd SOUL, being a kind of an extraordinary heavenly and divine Emanation; and consequently that Man, however mean and Terrestrial his Body might be, was yet, Heaven-born, in his spirituous Part compleatly Seraphic; and after a Space of Life here, (determin'd to be a state of probation) he should be translated thro' the Regions of Death into a Life purely and truly Heavenly, and which should remain so for ever; being capable of knowing and enjoying God his Maker, and standing in his Presence, as the glorified Angels do.
3. That he had the most sublime Faculties infused into him; was capable not only of knowing and contemplating God, and which was still more, of enjoying him, as above; but (which the Devil now was not) capable of honouring and glorifying his Maker; who also had condescended to accept of Honour from him.
4. And which was still more, that being of an Angelic Nature, tho' mix'd with, and confined for the present in a Case of mortal Flesh; he was intended to be remov'd from this Earth after a certain time of Life here, to inhabit that Heaven, and enjoy that very Glory and Felicity, from which Satan and his Angels had been expell'd.
When he found all this, it presently occur'd to him, that God had done it all as an act of Triumph over him (Satan,) and that these Creatures were only created to people Heaven, depopulated or stript of its inhabitants by his Expulsion, and that these were all to be made Angels in the Devil's stead.
If this thought encreas'd his Fury and Envy, as far as Rage of Devils can be capable of being made greater; it doubtless set him on work to give a Vent to that Rage and Envy, by searching into the Nature and Constitution of this Creature, call'd Man; and to find out whether he was invulnerable, and could by no means be hurt by the Power of Hell, or deluded by his Subtilty; or whether he might be beguil'd and deluded, and so, instead of being preserv'd in Holiness and Purity, wherein he was certainly created, be brought to fall and rebell as he (Satan) had done before him; by which, instead of being transplanted into a glorious State, after this Life in Heaven, as his Maker had design'd him to be, to fill up the Angelic Choir, and supply the Place from whence he (Satan) had fallen, he might be made to fall also like him, and in a Word, be made a Devil like himself.
This convinces us that the Devil has not lost his natural Powers by his Fall; and our learned Commentator Mr. Pool is of the same Opinion; tho' he grants that the Devil has lost his moral Power, or his Power of doing Good, which he can never recover. Vide Mr. Pool upon Acts xix. 17. where we may particularly observe, when the Man possess'd with an evil Spirit flew upon the seven Sons of Scaeva the Jew, who would have Exorcis'd them in the Name of Jesus, without the Authority of Jesus, or without Faith in him; He flew on them and master'd them, so that they fled out of the House from the Devil conquered, naked and wounded: But of this Power of the Devil I shall speak by it self.
In a Word, and to sum up all the Devil's Story from his first Expulsion, it stands thus: For so many Years as were between his Fall and the Creation of Man, tho' we have no Memoirs of his particular Affairs, we have Reason to believe he was without any Manner of Employment; but a certain tormenting Endeavour to be always expressing his Rage and Enmity against Heaven; I call it tormenting, Because ever disappointed; every thought about it proving empty; every attempt towards it abortive; Leaving him only Light enough to see still more and more Reason to despair of Success; and that this made his Condition still more and more a Hell than it was before.
After a Space of Duration in this Misery, which we have no light given us to measure or judge of, He at length discovered the new Creation of Man, as above, upon which he soon found Matter to set himself to work upon, and has been busily employ'd ever since.
And now indeed there may be room to suggest a Local Hell, and the Confinement of Souls (made corrupt and degenerate by him) to it, as a Place; tho' he himself, as is still apparent by his Actings, is not yet confin'd to it; of this Hell, its Locality, Extent, Dimensions, Continuance and Nature, as it does not belong to Satan's History, I have a good excuse for saying nothing, and so put off my meddling with that, which if I would meddle with, I could say nothing of to the Purpose.
Of the Power of the Devil at the Time of the Creation of this World; whether it has not been farther straitn'd and limited since that Time, and what Shifts and Stratagems he is obliged to make use of to compass his Designs upon Mankind.
Cunning Men have fabled, and tho' it be without either Religion, Authority or physical Foundation, it may be we may like it ne'er the worse for that; that when God made the Stars and all the Heavenly Luminaries, the Devil, to mimick his Maker and insult his new Creation, made Comets, in Imitation of the fix'd Stars; but that the Composition of them being combustible, when they came to wander in the Abyss, rolling by an irregular ill-grounded Motion, they took Fire, in their Approach to some of those great Bodies of Flame, the fix'd Stars; and being thus kindled (like a Fire-work unskilfully let off) they then took wild and excentrick, as also different Motions of their own, out of Satan's Direction, and beyond his Power to regulate ever after.
Let this Thought stand by it self, it matters not to our purpose whether we believe any thing of it, or no; 'tis enough to our Case, that if Satan had any such Power then, he has no such Power now, and that leads me to enquire into his more recent Limitations.
I am to suppose, he and all his Accomplices being confounded at the Discovery of the new Creation, and racking their Wits to find out the meaning of it, had at last (no matter how) discover'd the whole System, and concluded, as I have said, that the Creature, call'd Man, was to be their Successor in the Heavenly Mansions; upon which I suggest that the first Motion of Hell was to destroy this new Work, and, if possible, to overwhelm it.
But when they came to make the Attempt, they found their Chains were not long enough, and that they could not reach to the Extremes of the System: They had no Power either to break the Order, or stop the Motion, dislocate the Parts, or confound the Situation of Things; they traversed, no doubt, the whole Work, visited every Star, landed upon every Solid, and sail'd upon every Fluid in the whole Scheme, to see what Mischief they could do.
Upon a long and full Survey, they came to this Point in their Enquiry, that in short they could do nothing by Force; that they could not displace any Part, annihilate any Atom, or destroy any Life in the whole Creation; but that as Omnipotence had created it, so the same Omnipotence had arm'd it at all Points against the utmost Power of Hell, had made the smallest Creature in it invulnerable, as to Satan; so that without the Permission of the same Power which had made Heaven, and conquer'd the Devil, he could do nothing at all, as to destroying any thing that God had made, no, not the little diminutive thing call'd Man, who Satan saw so much reason to hate, as being created to succeed him in Happiness in Heaven.
Satan found him placed out of his Power to hurt, or out of his Reach to touch; and here, by the way, appears the second Conquest of Heaven over the Devil; that having plac'd his Rival, as it were, just before his Face, and shew'd the hateful sight to him, he saw written upon his Image, Touch him if you dare.
It cannot be doubted, but, had it not been thus, Man is so far from being a Match for the Devil, that one of Satan's least Imps or Angels could destroy all the Race of them in the World, ay World and all in a moment;
As he is Prince of the Power of the Air, taking the Air for the Elementary World, how easily could he, at one Blast, sweep all the Surface of the Earth into the Sea, or drive weighty immense Surges of the Ocean over the whole Plane of the Earth, and deluge the Globe at once with a Storm? Or how easily could he, who, by the Situation of the Empire, must be supposed able to manage the Clouds, draw them up, in such Position as should naturally produce Thunders and Lightnings, cause those Lightnings to blast the Earth, dash in Pieces all the Buildings, burn all the populous Towns and Cities, and lay wast the World;
At the same time he might command suited Quantities of sublimated Air to burst out of the Bowels of the Earth, and overwhelm and swallow up, in the opening Chasms, all the Inhabitants of the Globe?
In a Word, Satan left to himself as a Devil, and to the Power, which by virtue of his Seraphic Original he must be vested with, was able to have made Devilish Work in the World, if by a superior Power he was not restrain'd.
But there is no doubt, at least to me, but that with his fall from Heaven, as he lost the Rectitude and Glory of his Angelic Nature, I mean his Innocence, so he lost the Power too that he had before; and that when he first commenc'd Devil, he received the Chains of Restraint too, as the Badge of his Apostacy, viz. a general Prohibition, to do any thing to the Prejudice of this Creation, or to act any thing by Force or Violence without special Permission.
This Prohibition was not sent him by a Messenger, or by an Order in Writing, or proclaimed from Heaven by a Law; but Satan, by a strange, invisible and unaccountable Impression felt the Restraint within him; and at the same time that his moral Capacity was not taken away, yet his Power of exerting that Capacity felt the Restraint, and left him unable to do, even what he was able to do at the same time.
I make no question, but the Devil is sensible of this Restraint, that is to say, not as it is a restraint only, or as an effect of his Expulsion from Heaven; But as it prevents his Capital Design against Man, who, for the Reason I have given already, he entertains a mortal Hatred of, and would destroy with all his Heart, if he might; and therefore, like a chain'd Mastiff, we find him oftentimes making a horrid hellish Clamour and Noise, barking and howling, and frighting the People, letting them know, that if he was loose he would tear them in pieces; but at the same time his very Fury shakes his Chain, which lets them know, to their Satisfaction, he can only Bark, but cannot Bite.
Some are of Opinion that the Devil is not restrain'd so much by the superior Power of his Sovereign and Maker; but that all his milder Measures with Man are the effect of a political Scheme, and done upon mature Deliberation; that it was resolved to act thus, in the great Council or P——t of Devils, call'd upon this very Occasion, when they first were inform'd of the Creation of Man; and especially when they considered what kind of Creature he was, and what might probably be the Reason of making him, (viz.) to fill up the Vacancies in Heaven; I say, that then the Devils resolv'd, that it was not for their Interest to fall upon him with Fury and Rage, and so destroy the Species, for that this would be no Benefit at all to them, and would only cause another original Man to be created; for that they knew GOD could, by the same Omnipotence, form as many new Species of Creatures as he pleased; and, if he thought fit, create them in Heaven too, out of the Reach of Devils or evil Spirits, and that therefore, to destroy Man would no way answer their End.
On the other hand, examining strictly the Mould of this new made Creature, and of what Materials he was form'd; how mixt up of a Nature convertible and pervertible, capable indeed of infinite Excellence, and consequently of eternal Felicity; but subject likewise to Corruption and Degeneracy, and consequently to eternal Misery; That instead of being fit to supply the Places of Satan and his rejected Tribe (the expell'd Angels) in Heaven, and filling up the Thrones or Stalls in the Celestial Choir, they might, if they could but be brought into Crime, become a Race of Rebels and Traytors like the rest; and so come at last to keep them Company, as well in the Place of eternal Misery, as in the Merit of it, and in a Word, become Devils instead of Angels.
Upon this Discovery, I say, they found it infinitely more for the Interest of Satan's infernal Kingdom, to go another way to work with Mankind, and see if it were possible, by the strength of all their infernal Wit and Counsels, to lay some Snare for him, and by some Stratagem to bring him to eternal Ruin and Misery.
This being then approv'd as their only Method, (and the Devil shew'd he was no Fool in the Choice) he next resolv'd that there was no time to be lost; that it was to be set about immediately, before the Race was Multiplied, and by that means the Work be not made greater only, but perhaps the more difficult too; accordingly the diligent Devil went instantly about it, agreeably to all the Story of Eve and the serpent, as before; the belief of which, whether historically or allegorically, is not at all obstructed by this Hypothesis.
I do not affirm that this was the Case at first, because being not present in that black Divan, at least not that I know of, for who knows where he was or was not in his pre-existent State? I cannot be positive in the Resolve that past there; but except for some very little Contradiction, which we find in the sacred Writings, I should, I confess, incline to believe it Historically; and I shall speak of those things which I call Contradictions to it more largely hereafter.
In the mean time, be it one way or other, that is to say, either that Satan had no Power to have proceeded with Man by Violence, and to have destroy'd him as soon as he was made; or that he had the Power, but chose rather to proceed by other Methods to deceive and debauch him; I say, be it which you please, I am still of the Opinion that it really was not the Devil's Business to destroy the Species; that it would have been nothing to the purpose, and no Advantage at all to him, if he had done it; for that, as above, God could immediately have created another Species to the same end, whom he either could have made invulnerable, and not subject to the Devil's Power, or remov'd him out of Satan's Reach, plac'd him out of the Devil's Ken, in Heaven or some other Place, where the Devil could not come to hurt him; and that therefore it is infinitely more his Advantage, and more suited to his real Design of defeating the End of Man's Creation, to debauch him and make a Devil of him, that he may be rejected like himself, and increase the infernal Kingdom and Company in the Lake of Misery in aeternum.
It may be true, for ought I know, that Satan has not the Power of Destruction put into his Hand, and that he cannot take away the Life of a Man: and it seems probable to be so, from the Story of Satan and Job, when Satan appear'd among the Sons of GOD, as the Text says, Job i. 6. Now when God gave such a Character of Job to him, and ask'd him if he had consider'd his Servant Job, ver. 8. why did not the Devil go immediately and exert his Malice against the good Man at once, to let his Maker see what would become of his Servant Job in his Distress? On the contrary, we see he only answers by shewing the Reason of Job's good Behaviour; that it was but common Gratitude for the Blessing and Protection he enjoy'd, ver. 10. and pleading that if his Estate was taken away, and he was expos'd as he (Satan) was, to be a beggar and a Vagabond, going to and fro in the Earth, and walking up and down therein, he should be a very Devil too, like himself, and curse God to his Face.
Upon this, the Text says, that God answered ver. 11. Behold all that he hath is in thy Power; now 'tis plain here, that God gave up Job's Wealth and Estate, nay his Family, and the Lives of his Children and Servants into the Devil's Power; and accordingly, like a true merciless Devil, as he is, he destroy'd them all; he mov'd the Sabeans to fall upon the Oxen and the Asses, and carry them off; he mov'd the Chaldeans to fall upon the Camels and the Servants, to carry off the first, and murther the last; he made Lightning flash upon the poor Sheep, and kill them all; and he blow'd his House down upon his poor Children, and buried them all in the Ruins.
Now here is (1.) a Specimen of Satan's good Will to Mankind, and what Havock the Devil would make in the World, if he might; and here is a Testimony too, that he could not do this without leave; so that I cannot but be of the Opinion he has some Limitations, some Bounds set to his natural Fury; a certain Number of Links in his Chain, which he cannot exceed, or, in a Word, that he cannot go a Foot beyond his Tether.
The same kind of Evidence we have in the Gospel, Matth. viii. 31. where Satan could not so much as possess the filthiest and meanest of all Creatures, the Swine, till he had ask'd leave; and that still, to shew his good Will, as soon as he had gotten leave, he hurried them all into the Sea and choak'd them; these, I say, are some of the Reasons why I am not willing to say, the Devil is not restrain'd in Power; but on the other side, we are told of so many mischievous things the Devil has done in the World, by virtue of his Dominion over the Elements, and by other Testimonies of his Power, that I don't know what to think of it; tho', upon the whole, the first is the safest Opinion; for if we should believe the last, we might, for ought I know, be brought, like the American Indians, to worship him at last, that he may do us no Harm.
And now I have nam'd those People in America, I confess it would go a great way in favour of Satan's Generosity, as well as in Testimony of his Power, if we might believe all the Accounts, which indeed Authors are pretty well agreed in the Truth of, namely, of the Mischiefs the Devil does in those Countries, where his Dominion seems to be establish'd; how he uses them when they deny him the Homage he claims of them as his Due; what Havock and Combustion he makes among them; and how Beneficent he is (or at least negative in his Mischiefs) when they Appease him by their hellish Sacrifices.
Likewise we see a Test of his wicked Subtilty in his Management of those dark Nations, when he was more immediately worship'd by them; namely, the making them believe that all their good Weather, Rains, Dews, and kind Influences upon the Earth, to make it fruitful, was from Him; whereas they really were the common Blessings of a higher Hand, and came not from him, the Devil, but from him that made the Devil, and made him a Devil or fallen Angel by his Curse.
But to go back to the Method the Devil took with the first of Mankind; 'tis plain the Policy of Hell was right, tho' the Execution of the Resolves they took did not fully answer their End neither; For Satan fastening upon poor, proud, ridiculous Mother Eve, as I have said before, made presently a true Judgment of her Capacities, and of her Temper; took her by the right Handle, and soothing her Vanity (which is to this Day the softest Place in the Head of all the Sex) wheedl'd her out of her Senses, by praising her Beauty, and promising to make her a Goddess.
The foolish Woman yielded presently, and that we are told is the Reason why the same Method so strangely takes with all her Posterity (viz.) that you are sure to prevail with them, if you can but once persuade them that you believe they are Witty and Handsome; for the Devil, you may observe, never quits any Hold he gets, and having once found a way into the Heart, always takes care to keep the Door open, that any of his Agents may enter after him without any more Difficulty: Hence the same Argument, especially the last, has so bewitching an Influence on the Sex, that they rarely deny you any thing, after they are but weak enough and vain enough to accept of the Praises you offer them on that Head; on the other hand you are sure they never forgive you the unpardonable Crime of saying they are Ugly or Disagreeable: It is suggested that the first Method the Devil took to insinuate all those fine things into Eve's giddy Head, was by creeping close to her one Night, when she was asleep, and laying his Mouth to her Ear, whispering all the fine things to her, which he knew would set her Fancy a Tip-toe, and so made her receive them involuntarily into her Mind; knowing well enough that when she had form'd such Ideas in her Soul, however they came there, she would never be quiet till she had work'd them up to some extraordinary thing or other.
It was evident what the Devil aim'd at, namely, that she should break in upon the Command of GOD, and so having corrupted her self, bring the Curse upon her self and all her Race, as GOD had threatn'd; but why the Pride of Eve should be so easily tickled by the Motion of her exquisite Beauty, when there then was no prospect of the use or want of those Charms? that indeed makes a kind of Difficulty here, which the learn'd have not determined. For,