The Notions we receive of the Devil, as a Person being in Hell as a Place, are infinitely absurd and ridiculous; the first we are certain is not true in Fact, because he has a certain Liberty, (however limited that is not to the Purpose) is daily visible, and to be trac'd in his several Attacks upon Mankind, and has been so ever since his first Appearance in Paradise; as to his corporal Visibility that is not the present Question neither; 'tis enough that we can hunt him by the Foot, that we can follow him as Hounds do a Fox upon a hot Scent: We can see him as plainly by the Effect, by the Mischief he does, and more by the Mischief he puts us upon doing, I say, as plainly, as if we saw him by the Eye.
It is not to be doubted but the Devil can see us when and where we cannot see him: and as he has a Personality, tho' it be spirituous, he and his Angels too may be reasonably supposed to inhabit the World of Spirits, and to have free Access from thence to the Regions of Life, and to pass and repass in the Air, as really, tho' not perceptible to us, as the Spirits of Men do after their release from the Body, pass to the Place (wherever that is) which is appointed for them.
If the Devil was confin'd to a Place (Hell) as a Prison, he could then have no Business here; and if we pretend to describe Hell, as not a Prison, but that the Devil has Liberty to be there, or not be there as he pleased, then he would certainly never be there, or Hell is not such a Place as we are taught to understand it to be.
Indeed according to some, Hell should be a Place of Fire and Torment to the Souls that are cast into it, but not to the Devils themselves; who we make little more or less than keepers and Turnkeys to Hell, as a Goal; that they are sent about to bring Souls thither, lock them in when they come, and then away upon the Scent to fetch more: That one Sort of Devils are made to live in the World among Men, and to be busy continually debauching and deluding Mankind bringing them as it were to the Gates of Hell; and then another Sort are Porters and Carriers to fetch them in.
This is, in short, little more or less than the old Story of Pluto, of Cerberus, and of Charon; only that our Tale is not half so well told, nor the Parts of the Fable so well laid together.
In all these Notions of Hell and Devil, the Torments of the first, and the Agency of the last Tormenting, we meet with not one Word of the main and perhaps only Accent of Horror, which belongs to us to judge of about Hell, I mean the Absence of Heaven; Expulsion, and Exclusion from the Presence and Face of the chief Ultimate, the only eternal and sufficient Good; and this loss sustain'd by a sordid Neglect of our Concern in that excellent Part, in exchange for the most contemptible and justly condemn'd Trifles, and all this eternal and irrecoverable: These People tell us nothing of the eternal Reproaches of Conscience, the Horror of Desperation, and the Anguish of a Mind hopeless of ever seeing the Glory, which alone constitutes Heaven, and which makes all other Places dreadful, and even Darkness it self.
And this brings me directly to the Point in Hand, (viz.) the State of that Hell which we ought to have in view when we speak of the Devil as in Hell: This is the very Hell, which is the Torment of the Devil; in short, the Devil is in HELL, and HELL is in the Devil; he is fill'd with this unquenchable Fire, he is expel'd the Place of Glory, banish'd from the Regions of Light, Absence from the Life of all Beatitude is his Curse, Despair is the reigning Passion in his Mind, and all the little Constituent Parts of his Torment, such as Rage, Envy, Malice, and Jealousy are consolidated in this, to make his Misery compleat, (viz.) the Duration of it all, the Eternity of his Condition; that he is without Hope, without Redemption, without Recovery.
If any thing can inflame this Hell and make it hotter, 'tis this only, and this does add an inexpressible Horror to the Devil himself; namely, the seeing Man (the only Creature he hates) placed in a State of Recovery, a glorious Establishment of Redemption form'd for him in Heaven, and the Scheme of it perfected on Earth; by which this Man, tho' even the Devil by his Art may have deluded him, and drawn him into Crime, is yet in a State of Recovery, which the Devil is not; and that it is not in his (Satan's) Power to prevent it: Now take the Devil as he is in his own Nature Angelic, a bright immortal Seraph, Heaven-born, and having tasted the eternal Beatitude, which these are appointed to enjoy; the Loss of that State to himself, the Possession of it granted to his Rival tho' wicked like and as himself; I say, take the Devil as he is, having a quick Sense of his own Perdition, and a stinging Sight of his Rival's Felicity, 'tis Hell enough, and more than enough, even for an Angel to support; nothing we can conceive can be worse.
As to any other Fire than this, such and so immaterially intense as to Torment a Spirit, which is it self Fire also; I will not say it cannot be, because to Infinite every Thing is possible, but I must say, I cannot conceive rightly of it.
I will not enter here into the Wisdom or Reasonableness of representing the Torments of Hell to be Fire, and that Fire to be a Commixture of Flame and Sulphur; it has pleased God to let the Horror of those eternal Agonies about a lost Heaven, be laid before us by those Similitudes or Allegories, which are most moving to our Senses and to our Understandings; nor will I dispute the Possibility; much less will I doubt but that there is to be a Consummation of Misery to all the Objects of Misery when the Devil's Kingdom in this World ending with the World it self, that Liberty he has now may be farther abridg'd; when he may be return'd to the same State he was in between the Time of his Fall and the Creation of the World; with perhaps some additional Vengeance on him, such as at present we cannot describe, for all that Treason and those high Crimes and Misdemeanours which he has been guilty of here, in his Conversation with Mankind.
As his Infelicity will be then consummated and compleated, so the Infelicity of that Part of Mankind, who are condemn'd with him, may receive a considerable Addition from those Words in their Sentence, to be tormented with the Devil and his Angels; for as the Absence of the Supreme Good is a compleat Hell, so the hated Company of the Deceiver, who was the great Cause of his Ruine, must be a Subject of additional Horror, and he will be always saying, as a Scots Gentleman, who died of his Excesses, said to the famous Dr. P——, who came to see him on his Death-bed, but had been too much his Companion in his Life,
O tu fundamenta jecisti———
I would not treat the very Subject it self with any Indecency, nor do I think my Opinion of that Hell, which I say consists in the Absence of him, in whom is Heaven, one Jot less Solemn than theirs who believe it all Fire and Brimstone; but I must own, that to me nothing can be more ridiculous than the Notions that we entertain and fill our Heads with about Hell, and about the Devil's being there tormenting of Souls, broiling them upon Gridirons, hanging them up upon Hooks, carrying them upon their Backs, and the like, with the several Pictures of Hell, represented by a great Mouth with horrible Teeth, gaping like a Cave on the Sides of a Mountain; suppose that appropriated to Satan in the Peak, which indeed is not much unlike it, with a Stream of Fire coming out of it, as there is of Water, and smaller Devils going and coming continually in and out, to fetch and carry Souls the Lord knows whither, and for the Lord knows what.
These Things, however intended for Terror, are indeed so ridiculous, that the Devil himself, to be sure, mocks at them, and a Man of Sense can hardly refrain doing the like, only I avoid it, because I would not give offence to weaker Heads.
However, I must not Compliment the Brains of other Men, at the Expence of my own, or talk Nonsense because they can understand no other; I think all these Notions and Representations of Hell and of the Devil, to be as prophane as they are ridiculous, and I ought no more to talk prophanely than merrily of them.
Let us learn to talk of these Things then, as we should do; and as we really cannot describe them to our Reason and Understanding, why should we describe them to our Senses; we had, I think, much better not describe them at all, that is to say, not attempt it: The blessed Apostle St. Paul was, as he said himself, carried up, or caught up into the third Heaven, yet when he came down again, he could neither tell what he heard or describe what he saw; all he could say of it was, that what he heard was inutterable, and what he saw was inconceivable.
It is the same thing as to the State of the Devil in those Regions which he now possesses, and where he now more particularly inhabits; my present Business then is not to enter into those grave Things so as to make them ridiculous, as I think most People do that talk of them; but as the Devil, let his Residence be where it will, has evidently free Leave to come and go, not into this World only; (I mean, the Region of our Atmosphere,) but for ought we know, to all the other inhabited Worlds which God has made, where-ever they are, and by whatsoever Names they are or may be known or distinguished; for if he is not confined in one Place, we have no Reason to believe he is excluded from any Place, Heaven only excepted, from whence he was expell'd for his Treason and Rebellion.
His Liberty then being thus ascertain'd, three Things seem to be material for us to give an Account of, in order to form this Part of his History.
1. What his Business is on this Globe of Earth which we vulgarly call the World, how he acts among us, what Affairs Mankind and he have together, and how far his Conduct here relates to Us, and Ours is, or may be influenc'd by him.
2. Where his Principal Residence is, and whether he has not a particular Empire of his own, to which he retreats upon proper Occasions; where he entertains his Friends when they come under his particular Administration; and where, when he gets any Victory over his Enemies, he carries his Prisoners of War.
3. What may probably be the great Business this black Emperor has at present upon his Hands, either in this World or out of it, and by what Agents he works.
As these Things may perhaps run promiscuously thro' the Course of this whole Work, and frequently be touch'd at under other Branches of the Devil's History, so I do not propose them as Heads of Chapters or Particular Sections, for the Order of Discourse to be handled apart; for (by the way) as Satan's Actings have not been the most regular Things in the World, so in our Discourse about him, it must not be expected that we can always tie our selves down to Order and Regularity, either as to Time, or Place, or Persons; for Satan being hic & ubique, a loose ungovern'd Fellow, we must be content to trace him where we can find him.
It is true, in the foregoing Chapter, I shew'd you the DEVIL entred into the Herd Ecclesiastick, and gave you some Account of the first successful Step he took with Mankind since the Christian Epocha; how having secretly managed both Temporal and Spiritual Power apart, and by themselves, he now united them in Point of Management, and brought the Church Usurpation and the Army's Usurpation together; the Pope to bless the General in deposing and murthering his Master the Emperor; and the General to recognise the Pope in dethroning his Master Christ Jesus.
From this time forward you are to allow the Devil a mystical Empire in this World; not an Action of Moment done without him, not a Treason but he has a Hand in it, not a Tyrant but he prompts him, not a Government but he has a —— in it; not a Fool but he tickles him, not a Knave but he guides him; he has a Finger in every Fraud, a Key to every Cabinet, from the Divan at Constantinople, to the Mississipi in France, and to the South-Sea Cheats at ———; from the first Attack upon the Christian World, in the Person of the Romish Antichrist, down to the Bull Unigenitus; and from the Mixture of St. Peter and Confucius in China, to the Holy Office in Spain; and down to the Emlins and Dodwells of the current Age.
How he has managed, and does manage, and how in all Probability he will manage till his Kingdom shall come to a Period, and how at last he will probably be managed himself, Enquire within, and you shall know farther.
Of the Manner of Satan's acting and carrying on his Affairs in this World, and particularly of his ordinary Workings in the dark, by Possession and Agitation.
The Devil being thus reduc'd to act upon Mankind by Stratagem only, it remains to enquire how he performs, and which way he directs his Attacks; the Faculties of Man are a kind of a Garrison in a strong Castle, which as they defend it on the one hand under the Command of the reasoning Power of Man's Soul, so they are prescribed on the other hand, and can't sally out without Leave; for the Governor of a Fort does not permit his Soldiers to hold any Correspondence with the Enemy, without special Order and Direction. Now the great Enquiry before us is, How comes the DEVIL to a Parley with us? how does he converse with our Senses, and with the Understanding? How does he reach us, which way does he come at the Affections, and which way does he move the Passions? 'Tis a little difficult to discover this treasonable Correspondence, and that Difficulty is indeed the Devil's Advantage, and, for ought I see, the chief Advantage he has over Mankind.
It is also a great Enquiry here, whether the Devil knows our Thoughts or no? If I may give my Opinion, I am with the negative; I deny that he knows any thing of our Thoughts, except of those Thoughts which he puts us upon thinking, for I will not doubt but he has the Art to inject Thoughts, and to revive dormant Thoughts in us: It is not so wild a Scheme as some take it to be, that Mr. Milton lays down, to represent the Devil injecting corrupt Desires and wandring Thoughts into the Head of Eve, by Dreams, and that he brought her to Dream whatever he put into her Thoughts, by whispering to her vocally when she was asleep; and to this End, he imagines the DEVIL laying himself close to her Ear, in the Shape of a Toad, when she was fall asleep; I say, this is not so wild a Scheme, seeing even now, if you can whisper any thing close to the Ear of a Person in a deep Sleep, so as to speak distinctly to the Person, and yet not awaken him, as has been frequently tried, the Person sleeping shall dream distinctly of what you say to him; nay, shall dream the very Words you say.
We have then no more to ask, but how the DEVIL can convey himself to the Ear of a sleeping Person, and it is granted then that he may have Power to make us dream what he pleases: But this is not all, for if he can so forcibly, by his invisible Application, cause us to dream, what he pleases, why can he not with the same Facility prompt our Thoughts, whether sleeping or waking? To dream, is nothing else but to think sleeping; and we have abundance of deep-headed Gentlemen among us, who give us ample Testimony that they dream waking.
But if the DEVIL can prompt us to dream, that is to say, to think, yet if he does not know our Thoughts, how then can he tell whether the Whisper had its Effect? The answer is plain, the DEVIL, like the Angler, baits the Hook, if the Fish bite he lies ready to take the Advantage, he whispers to the Imagination, and then waits to see how it works; as Naomi said to Ruth, Chap. iii. 5, 18. Sit still, my Daughter, until thou know how the Matter will fall, for the Man will not be at rest until he have finished the thing. Thus when the DEVIL had whisper'd to Eve in her Sleep, according to Milton, and suggested Mischief to her Imagination, he only sat still to see how the Matter would work, for he knew if it took with her, he should hear more of it; and then by finding her alone the next Day, without her ordinary Guard her Husband, he presently concluded she had swallowed the Bait, and so attack'd her afresh.
A small deal of Craft, and less by far than we have reason to believe the Devil is Master of, will serve to discover whether such and such Thoughts as he knows he has suggested, have taken Place or no; the Action of the Person presently discovers it, at least to him that lies always upon the Watch, and has every Word, every Gesture, every Step we take subsequent to his Operation, open to him; it may therefore, for ought we know, be a great Mistake, and what most of us are guilty of, to tell our Dreams to one another in the Morning, after we have been disturb'd with them in the Night; for if the Devil converses with us so insensibly as some are of the Opinion he does, that is to say, if he can hear as far as we can see, we may be telling our Story to him indeed, when we think we are only talking to one another.
This brings me most naturally to the important Enquiry, whether the Devil can walk about the World invisibly or no? The Truth is, this is no question to me; for as I have taken away his Visibility already, and have denied him all Prescience of Futurity too, and have prov'd he cannot know our Thoughts, nor put any Force upon Persons or Actions, if we should take away his Invisibility too, we should undevil him quite, to all Intents and Purposes, as to any Mischief he could do; nay, it would banish him the World, and he might e'en go and seek his Fortune some where else; for if he could neither be visible or invisible, neither act in publick or in private, he could neither have Business or Being in this Sphere, nor could we be any way concern'd with him.
The Devil therefore most certainly has a Power and Liberty of moving about in this World, after some manner or another; this is verify'd as well by way of Allegory, as by way of History, in the Scripture it self; and as the first strongly suggests and supposes it to be so, the last positively asserts it; and, not to croud this Work with Quotations from a Book which we have not much to do with in the Devil's Story, at least not much to his Satisfaction, I only hint his personal Appearance to our Saviour in the Wilderness, where it is said, the Devil taketh him up to an exceeding high Mountain; and in another Place, the Devil departed from him. What Shape or Figure he appear'd in, we do not find mentioned, but I cannot doubt his appearing to him there, any more than I can his talking to our Saviour in the Mouths, and with the Voices of the several Persons who were under the terrible Affliction of an actual Possession.
These Things leave us no room to doubt of what is advanced above, namely, that he, (the Devil) has a certain Residence, or Liberty of residing in, and moving about upon the Surface of this Earth, as well as in the Compass of the Atmosphere, vulgarly call'd the Air, in some manner or other: That is the general.
It remains to enquire into the manner, which I resolve into two Kinds;
1. Ordinary, which I suppose to be his invisible Motions as a Spirit; under which Consideration I suppose him to have an unconfin'd, unlimited, unrestrain'd Liberty, as to the manner of acting; and this either in Persons, by Possession; or in Things, by Agitation.
2. Extraordinary; which I understand to be his Appearances in borrowed Shapes and Bodies, or Shadows rather of Bodies; assuming Speech, Figure, Posture, and Several Powers, of which we can give little or no Account; in which extraordinary manner of Appearances, he is either limited by a Superior Power, or limits himself politically, as being not the Way most for his Interest or Purpose, to act in his Business, which is more effectually done in his State of Obscurity.
Hence we must suppose the Devil has it very much in his own Choice, whether to act in one Capacity, or in the other, or in both; that is to say, of appearing, and not appearing, as he finds for his Purpose: In this State of Invisibility, and under the Operation of these Powers and Liberties, he performs all his Functions and Offices, as Devil, as Prince of Darkness, as God of this World, as Tempter, Accuser, Deceiver, and all whatsoever other Names of Office, or Titles of Honour he is known by.
Now taking him in this large unlimited, or little limited State of Action, he is well call'd, the God of this World, for he has very much of the Attribute of Omnipresence, and may be said, either by himself or his Agents, to be every where, and see every thing; that is to say, every thing that is visible; for I cannot allow him any Share of Omniscience at all.
That he ranges about every where, is with us, and sometimes in us, sees when he is not seen, hears when he is not heard, comes in without Leave, and goes out without Noise, is neither to be shut in or shut out, that when he runs from us we can't catch him, and when he runs after us we can't escape him, is seen when he is not known, and is known when he is not seen; all these things, and more, we have Knowledge enough about to convince us of the Truth of them; so that, as I have said above, he is certainly walking to and fro thro' the Earth, &c. after some manner or other, and in some Figure or other, visible or invisible, as he finds Occasion. Now in order to make our History of him complete, the next Question before us is, how, and in what manner he acts with Mankind? how his Kingdom is carried on, and by what Methods he does his Business, for he certainly has a great deal of Business to do; he is not an idle Spectator, nor is he walking about incognito, and cloth'd in Mist and Darkness, purely in Kindness to us, that we should not be frighted at him; but 'tis in Policy, that he may act undiscover'd, that he may see and not be seen, may play his Game in the dark, and not be detected in his Roguery; that he may prompt Mischief, raise Tempests, blow up Coals, kindle Strife, embroil Nations, use Instruments, and not be known to have his Hand in any thing, when at the same time he really has a Hand in every thing.
Some are of Opinion, and I among the rest, that if the Devil was personally and visibly present among us, and we conversed with him Face to Face, we should be so familiar with him in a little time, that his ugly Figure would not affect us at all, that his Terrors would not fright us, or that we should any more trouble our selves about him, than we did with the last great Comet in 1678, which appear'd so long and so constantly without any particular known Event, that at last we took no more Notice of it than of the other ordinary Stars which had appear'd before we or our Ancestors were born.
Nor indeed should we have much Reason to be frighted at him, or at least none of those silly Things could be said of him which we now amuse our selves about, and by which we set him up like a Scare-Crow to fright Children and old Women, to fill up old Stories, make Songs and Ballads, and in a Word, carry on the low priz'd Buffoonery of the common People; we should either see him in his Angelic Form, as he was from the Original, or if he has any Deformities entail'd upon him by the supreme Sentence, and in Justice to the Deformity of his Crime, they would be of a superior Nature, and fitted more for our Contempt as well as Horror, than those weak fancied Trifles contrived by our antient Devil-raisers and Devil-makers, to feed the wayward Fancies of old Witches and Sorcerers, who cheated the ignorant World with a Devil of their own making, set forth, in terrorem, with Bat's Wings, Horns, cloven Foot, long Tail, fork'd Tongue, and the like.
In the next Place, be his frightful Figure what it would, and his Legions as numerous as the Host of Heaven, we should see him still, as the Prince of Devils, tho' monstrous as a Dragon, flaming as a Comet, tall as a Mountain, yet dragging his Chain after him equal to the utmost of his supposed Strength; always in Custody of his Jailors the Angels, his Power over-power'd, his Rage cow'd and abated, or at least aw'd and under Correction, limited and restrain'd; in a Word, we should see him a vanquish'd Slave, his Spirit broken, his Malice, tho' not abated, yet Hand-cuff'd and overpower'd, and he not able to work any Thing against us by Force; so that he would be to us but like the Lions in the Tower, encag'd and lock'd up, unable to do the Hurt he wishes to do, and that we fear, or indeed any hurt at all.
From hence 'tis evident, that 'tis not his Business to be public, or to walk up and down in the World visibly, and in his own Shape; his Affairs require a quite different Management, as might be made apparent from the Nature of Things, and the Manner of our Actings, as Men, either with our selves or to one another.
Nor could he be serviceable in his Generation, as a public Person as now he is, or answer the End of his Party who employ him, and who, if he was to do their Business in public, as he does in private, would not be able to employ him at all.
As in our modern Meetings for the Propagation of Impudence and other Virtues, there would be no Entertainment and no Improvement for the Good of the Age, if the People did not all appear in Masque, and conceal'd from the common Observation; so neither could Satan (from whose Management those more happy Assemblies are taken as Copies of a glorious Original) perform the usual and necessary Business of his Profession, if he did not appear wholly in Covert and under needful Disguises; how, but for the Convenience of his Habit, could he call himself into so many Shapes, act on so many different Scenes, and turn so many Wheels of State in the World, as he has done? as a meer profess'd Devil he could do nothing.
Had he been oblig'd always to act the meer Devil in his own Clothes, and with his own Shape, appearing uppermost in all Cafes and Places, he could never have preach'd in so many Pulpits, presided in so many Councils, voted in so many Committees, sat in so many Courts, and influenc'd so many Parties and Factions in Church and State, as we have Reason to believe he has done in our Nation, and in our Memories too, as well as in other Nations and in more antient Times. The Share Satan has had in all the weighty Confusions of the Times, ever since the first Ages of Christianity in the World, has been carried on with so much Secresy, and so much with an Air of Cabal and Intrigue, that nothing can have been manag'd more subtilly and closely, and in the same Manner has he acted in our Times, in order to conceal his Interest, and conceal the Influence he has had in the Councils of the World.
Had it been possible for him to have raised the Flames of Rebellion and War so often in this Nation, as he certainly has done? Could he have agitated the Parties on both Sides, and inflam'd the Spirits of three Nations, if he had appears in his own Dress, a meer naked DEVIL? It is not the Devil as a Devil that does the Mischief, but the Devil in Masquerade, Satan in full Disguise, and acting at the Head of civil Confusion and Distraction.
If History may be credited, the French Court at the Time of our old Confusions was made the Scene of Satan's Politicks, and prompted both Parties in England and in Scotland also to quarrel, and how was it done? Will any Man offer to scandalize the Devil so much as to say, or so much as to suggest that Satan had no Hand in it all? Did not the Devil, by the Agency of Cardinal Richlieu, send 400000 Crowns at one Time, and 600000 at another, to the Scots, to raise an Army and march boldly into England? and did not the same Devil at the same time, by other Agents, remit 800000 Crowns to the other Party, in order to raise an Army to fall upon the Scots? nay, did not the Devil with the same Subtilty send down the Archbishop's Order to impose the Service-Book upon the People in Scotland, and at the same Time raise a Mob against it, in the great Church (at St. Giles's)? Nay, did not he actually, in the Person of an old Woman (his favourite Instrument) throw the three-leg'd Stool at the Service-Book, and animate the zealous People to take up Arms for Religion, and turn Rebels for God Sake?
All these happy and successful Undertakings, tho' 'tis no more to be doubted they were done by the Agency of Satan, and in a very surprizing Manner too, yet were all done in secret, by what I call Possession and Injection, and by the Agency and Contrivance of such Instruments, or by the Devil in the Disguise of such Servants as he found out fitted to be employ'd in his Work, and who he took a more effectual Care in concealing of.
But we shall have Occasion to touch all this Part over again, when we come to discourse of the particular Habits and Disguises which the Devil has made use of, all along in the World, the better to cover his Actions, and to conceal his being concern'd in them.
In the mean Time the Cunning or Artifice the Devil makes use of in all these Things is in it self very considerable; 'tis an old Practice of his using, and he has gone on in diverse Measures, for the better concealing himself in it; which Measures, tho' he varies sometimes, as his extraordinary Affairs require, yet they are in all Ages much the same, and have the same Tendency; namely, that he may get all his Business carried on by the Instrumentality of Fools; that he may make Mankind Agents in their own Destruction, and that he may have all his Work done in such a Manner as that he may seem to have no Hand in it; nay he contrives so well, that the very Name Devil is put upon his opposite Party, and the Scandal of the black Agent lies all upon them.
In order then to look a little into his Conduct, let us enquire into the common Mistakes about him, see what Use is made of them to his Advantage, and how far Mankind is imposed upon in those Particulars, and to what Purpose.
Of Satan's Agents or Missionaries, and their Actings upon and in the Minds of Men in his Name.
Infinite Advantages attend the Devil in his retired Government, as they respect the Management of his Interests, and the carrying on his absolute Monarchy in the World; particularly as it gives him room to act by the Agency of his inferior Ministers and Messengers, call'd on many Occasions his Angels, of whom he has an innumerable Multitude, at his Command, enough, for ought we know, to spare one to attend every Man and Woman now alive in the World; and of whom, if we may believe our second sight Christians, the Air is always as full, as a Beam of the Evening Sun is of Insects, where they are ever ready for Business, and to go and come as their great Governor issues out Orders for their Directions.
These, as they are all of the same spirituous Quality with himself, and consequently invisible like him, except as above, are ready upon all Occasions to be sent to and into any such Person, and for such Purposes, superior Limitations only excepted, as the grand Director of Devils, (The Devil properly so call'd guides them;) and be the Subject or the Object what it will, that is to say, be the Person they are sent to, or into, as above, who it will, and the Business the Messenger is to do what it will, they are sufficiently qualified; for this is a Particular to Satan's Messengers or Agents, that they are not like us humane Devils here in the World, some bred up one Way, some another, some of one Trade, some of another, and consequently some fit for some Business, some for another, some good for something, and some good for nothing, but his People are every one fit for every Thing, can find their Way every where, and are a Match for every Body they are sent to; in a Word, there are no foolish Devils, they are all fully qualified for their Employment, fit for any thing he sets them about, and very seldom mistake their Errand or fail in the Business they are sent to do.
Nor is it strange at all, that the Devil should have such a numberless Train of Deputy Devils to act under him; for it must be acknowledged he has a great deal of Business upon his Hands, a vast deal of Work to do, abundance of public Affairs under his Direction, and an infinite Variety of particular Cases always before him; for Example.
How many Governments in the World are wholly in his Administration? how many Divans and great Councils under his Direction? nay, I believe, 'twould be hard to prove that there is or has been one Council of State in the World for many hundred Years past, down to the Year 1713, (we don't pretend to come nearer home) where the Devil by himself, or his Agents in one Shape or another, has not sat as a Member, if not taken the Chair.
And tho' some learn'd Authors may dispute this Point with me, by giving some Examples where the Councils of Princes have been acted by a better Hand, and where Things have been carried against Satan's Interest, and even to his great Mortification, it amounts to no more than this; namely, that in such Cases the Devil has been out-voted; but it does not argue but he might have been present there, and have push'd his Interest as far as he could, only that he had not the Success he expected; for I don't pretend to say that he has never been disappointed; but those Examples are so rare, and of so small Signification, that when I come to the Particulars, as I shall do in the Sequel of this History, you will find them hardly worth naming; and that, take it one Time with another, the Devil has met with such a Series of Success in all his Affairs, and has so seldom been baulk'd; and where he has met with a little Check in his Politicks, has notwithstanding, so soon and so easily recover'd himself, regain'd his lost Ground, or replac'd himself in another Country when he has been supplanted in one, that his Empire is far from being lessen'd in the World, for the last thousand Years of the Christian Establishment.
Suppose we take an Observation from the Beginning of Luther, or from the Year 1420, and call the Reformation a Blow to the Devil's Kingdom, which before that was come to such a Height in Christendom, that 'tis a Question not yet thorowly decided, whether that Medley of Superstition and horrible Heresies, that Mass of Enthusiam and Idols call'd the Catholick Hierarchy, was a Church of God or a Church of the Devil; whether it was an Assembly of Saints or a Synagogue of Satan: I say, take that Time to be the Epocha of Satan's Declension and of Lucifer's falling from Heaven, that is, from the Top of his terrestrial Glory, yet whether he did not gain in the Defection of the Greek Church about that Time and since, as much as he lost in the Reformation of the Roman, is what Authors are not yet agreed about, not reckoning what he has regain'd since of the Ground which he had lost even by the Reformation, (viz.) the Countries of the Duke of Savoy's Dominion, where the Reformation is almost eaten out by Persecution; the whole Valtoline and some adjacent Countries; the whole Kingdom of Poland and almost all Hungary; for since the last War the Reformation, as it were, lies gasping for Breath, and expiring in that Country, also several large Provinces in Germany, as Austria, Carinthia, and the whole Kingdom of Bohemia, where the Reformation once powerfully planted, receiv'd its Death's Wound at the Battle of Prague, Ann. 1627, and languish'd but a very little while, died and was buried, and good King POPERY reign'd in its stead.
To these Countries thus regain'd to Satan's infernal Empire, let us add his modern Conquests and the Encroachments he has made upon the Reformation in the present Age, which are, however light we make of them, very considerable (viz.) the Electorate of the Rhine and the Palatinate, the one fallen to the House of Bavaria, and the other to that of Neuburgh, both Popish; the Dutchy of Deux Ponts fallen just now to a popish Branch, the whole Electorate of Saxony fallen under the Power of popish Government by the Apostacy of their Princes, and more likely to follow the Fate of Bohemia, whenever the diligent Devil can bring his new Project in Poland to bear, as 'tis more than probable he will do so some time or other, by the growing Zeal as well as Power of (that House of Bigots) the House of A——.
But to sum up the dull Story; we must add in the Roll of the Devil's Conquests, the whole Kingdom of France, where we have in one Year seen, to the immortal Glory of the Devil's Politicks, that his Measures have prevailed to the total Extirpation of the Protestant Churches without a War; and that Interest which for 200 Years had supported it self in spight of Persecutions, Massacres, five civil Wars and innumerable Battles and Slaughters, at last receiv'd its mortal Wound from its own Champion Henry IV. and sunk into utter Oblivion, by Satan's most exquisite Management under the Agency of his two prime Ministers Cardinal Richlieu and Lewis the XIV, whom he entirely possess'd.
Thus far we have a melancholy View of the Devil's new Conquests, and the Ground he has regain'd upon the Reformation, in which his secret Management has been so exquisite, and his Politicks so good, that could he bring but one Thing to pass, which by his own former Mistake, (for the Devil is not infallible) he has rendred impossible, he would bring the Protestant Interest so near its Ruin, that Heaven would be, as it were, put to the Necessity of working by Miracle to prevent it; the Case is thus.
Antient Historians tell us, and from good Authority, that the DEVIL finding it for his Interest to bring his favourite Mahomet upon the Stage, and spread the victorious Half-Moon upon the Ruin of the Cross, having with great Success, rais'd first the Saracen Empire, and then the Turkish to such a Height, as that the Name of Christian seemed to be extirpated in those two Quarters of the World, which were then not the greatest only, but by far the most powerful, I mean Asia and Africa; having totally laid wast all those antient and flourishing Churches of Africa, the Labours of St. Cyprian, Tertullian, St. Augustine, and 670 Christian Bishops and Fathers, who govern'd there at once, also all the Churches of Smyrna, Philadelphia, Ephesus, Sardis, Antioch, Laodicea, and innumerable others in Pontus, Bithynia, and the Provinces of the lesser Asia.
The Devil having, I say, finish'd these Conquests so much to his Satisfaction, began to turn his Eyes Northward, and tho' he had a considerable Interest in the Whore of Babylon, and had brought his Power by the Subjection of the Roman Hierarchy to a great Height, yet finding the Interest of Mahomet most suitable to his devilish Purposes, as most adapted to the Destruction of Mankind, and laying waste the World, he resolv'd to espouse the growing Power of the Turk, and bring him in upon Europe like a Deluge.
In order to this, and to make Way for an easy Conquest, like a true Devil he work'd under Ground, and sap'd the Foundation of the Christian Power, by sowing Discord among the reigning Princes of Europe; that so envying one another they might be content to stand still and look on while the Turk devoured them one by one, and at last might swallow them up all.
This devilish Policy took to his Heart's Content; the Christian Princes stood still, stupid, dozing, and unconcern'd, till the Turk conquered Thrace, over-run Servia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and all the Remains of the Grecian Empire, and at last the Imperial City of Constantinople it self.
Finding this politic Method so well answer his Ends, the Devil, who always improves upon the Success of his own Experiments, resolv'd from that time to lay a Foundation for the making those Divisions and Jealousies of the Christian Princes immortal; whereas they were at first only personal, and founded in private Quarrels between the Princes respectively; such as Emulation of one another's Glory, Envy at the extraordinary Valour, or other Merit of this or that Leader, or Revenge of some little Affront; for which notwithstanding, so great was the Piety of Christian Princes in those Days, that they made no Scruple to sacrifice whole Armies, yea, Nations, to their Piques and private Quarrels, a certain Sign whose Management they were under.
These being the Causes by which the DEVIL first sow'd the Seeds of Mischief among them, and the Success so well answering his Design, he could not but wish to have the same Advantage always ready at his Hand; and therefore he resolv'd to order it so, that these Divisions, which, however useful to him, were only personal, and consequently temporary, like an Annual in the Garden, which must be rais'd anew every Season, might for the future be national, and consequently durable and immortal.
To this end it was necessary to lay the Foundation of eternal Feud, not in the Humours and Passions of Men only, but in the Interests of Nations: The Way to do this was to form and state the Dominion of those Princes, by such a Plan drawn in Hell, and laid out from a Scheme truly political, of which the Devil was chief Engineer; that the Divisions should always remain, being made a natural Consequence of the Situation of the Country, the Temper of their People, the Nature of their Commerce, the Climate, the Manner of living, or something which should for ever render it impossible for them to unite.
This, I say, was a Scheme truly infernal, in which the Devil was as certainly the principal Operator, to illustrate great Things by small, as ever John of Leyden was of the High Dutch Rebellion, or Sir John B———t of the late Project, called the South-Sea Stock. Nor did this Contrivance of the Devil at all dishonour his Author, or the Success appear unworthy of the Undertaker; for we see it not only answer the End, and made the Turk victorious at the same Time, and formidable to Europe ever after, but it works to this Day, the Foundation of the Divisions remains in all the several Nations, and that to such a Degree that it is impossible they should unite.
This is what I hinted before, in which the Devil was mistaken, and is another instance that he knows nothing of what is to come; for this very Foundation of immortal Jealousy and Discord between the several Nations of Spain, France, Germany, and others, which the Devil himself with so much Policy contriv'd, and which serv'd his Interests so long, is now the only Obstruction to his Designs, and prevents the entire Ruin of the Reformation; for tho' the reform'd Countries are very Powerful, and some of them, as Great Britain and Prussia is particularly, more powerful than ever; yet it cannot be said that the Protestant Interests in general are stronger than formerly, or so strong as they were in 1623 under the victorious Arms of the Swede; On the other Hand, were it possible that the Popish Powers, to wit, of France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Poland, which are intirely Popish, could heartily unite their Interests, and should join their Powers to attack the Protestants, the latter would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to defend themselves.
But as fatal as such a Union of the Popish Powers would be, and as useful as it would be to the Devil's Cause at this time, not the Devil with all his Angels are able to bring it to pass; no, not with all his Craft and Cunning; he divided them, but he can't unite them; so that even just as 'tis with Men, so 'tis with Devils, they may do in an Hour what they can't undo in an Age.
This may comfort those faint-hearted Christians among us, who cry out of the Danger of a religious War in Europe, and what terrible Things will happen when France, and Spain, and Germany, and Italy, and Poland shall all unite; let this Answer satisfy them, The Devil himself can never make France and Spain, or France and the Emperor unite; jarring Humours may be reconcil'd, but jarring Interests never can: They may unite so as to make Peace, tho' that can hardly be long, but never so as to make Conquests together; they are too much afraid of one another, for one to bear, that any Addition of Strength should come to the other. But this is a Digression. We shall find the Devil mistaken and disappointed too on several other Occasions, as we go along.
I return to Satan's Interest in the several Governments and Nations, by vertue of his Invisibility, and which he carries on by Possession; 'tis by this Invisibility that he presides in all the Councils of foreign Powers, (for we never mean our own, that we always premise;) and what tho' it is alledged by the Criticks, that he does not preside, because there is always a President; I say, if he is not in the President's Chair, yet if he be in the President himself, the Difference is not much; and if he does not vote as a Counsellor, if he votes in the Counsellor, 'tis much the same; and here, as it was in the Story of Ahab the King of Israel, as he was a lying Spirit in the Mouths of all his Prophets, so we find him a Spirit of some particular evil Quality or other, in all the Transactions and Transactors on that Stage of Life we call the State.
Thus he was a dissembling Spirit in Char. IX. a turbulent Spirit in Char. V. Emperors; a bigotted Spirit of Fire and Faggot in our Queen Mary; an apostate Spirit in Hen. IV.; a cruel Spirit in Peter of Castile; a revengeful Spirit in Ferdinand II.; a Phaeton in Lewis XIV.; a Sardanapalus in C——— II.
In the Great Men of the World, take them a degree lower than the Class of Crown'd Heads, he has the same secret Influence; and hence it comes to pass, that the greatest Heroes, and Men of the highest Character for Atchievements of Glory, either by their Virtue or Valour, however they have been crowned with Victories, and elevated by human Tongues, whatever the most consummate Virtues or good Qualities they have been known by, yet they have always had some Devil or other in them to preserve Satan's Claim to them uninterrupted, and prevent their Escape out of his Hands; thus we have seen a bloody Devil in a D'Alva; a profligate Devil in a Buckingham; a lying, artful, or politick Devil in a Richlieu; a treacherous Devil in a Mazarin; a cruel, merciless Devil in a Cortez; a debauch'd Devil in an Eugene; a conjuring Devil in a Luxemburg; and a covetous Devil in a M————-h: In a word, tell me the Man, I tell you the Spirit that reign'd in him.
Nor does he thus carry on his secret Management by Possession in Men of the first Magnitude only, but have you not had Evidences of it among our selves? how has he been a lying Spirit in the Mouths of our Prophets, a factious Spirit in the Heads of our Politicians, a profuse Devil in a B——-s, a corrupt Devil in M——-, a proud Spirit in my Lord Plausible, a bullying Spirit in my Lord Bugbear, a talkative Spirit in his Grace the D—— of Rattle-hall, a scribling Spirit in my Lord H———, a run-away Spirit in my Lord Frightful; and so thro' a long Roll of Heroes, whose exceeding, and particular Qualifications proclaim loudly what Handle the Devil took them by, and how fast he held them; for these were all Men of ancient Fame, I hope you know that.
From Men of Figure, we descend to the Mob, and 'tis there the same thing; Possession, like the Plague, is Morbus Plebaei; not a Family but he is a Spirit of Strife and Contention among them; not a Man but he has a Part in him; he is a drunken Devil in one, a whoring Devil in another, a thieving Devil in a third, a lying Devil in the fourth, and so on, to a thousand, and a hundred thousand, ad infinitum.
Nay, even the Ladies have their Share in the Possession; and if they have not the Devil in their Heads, or in their Tails, in their Faces or their Tongues, it must be some poor despicable She-devil that Satan did not think it worth his while to meddle with; and the Number of those that are below his Operation, I doubt is very small. But that Part I have much more to say to in its Place.
From Degrees of Persons, to Professions and Employments, 'tis the same; we find the Devil is a true Posture-master, he assumes any Dress, appears in any Shape, counterfeits every Voice, acts upon every Stage; here he wears a Gown, there a long Robe; here he wears the Jack-Boots, there the Small-Sword; is here an Enthusiast, there a Buffoon; on this Side he acts the Mountebank, on that Side the Merry-Andrew; nothing comes amiss to him, from the Great Mogul, to the Scaramouch; the Devil is in them, more or less, and plays his Game so well that he makes sure Work with 'em all: He knows where the Common Foible lies, which is UNIVERSAL PASSION, what Handle to take hold of every Man by, and how to cultivate his Interest so, as not to fail of his End, or mistake the Means.
How then can it be deny'd but that his acting thus in tenebris, and keeping out of the sight of the World, is abundantly his Interest, and that he could do nothing, comparatively speaking, by any other Method?
What would this publick Appearance have signified? Who would have entertain'd him in his own proper Shape and Person? Even B—— B—— himself, tho' all the World knows him to have a foolish Devil in him, would not have been Fool enough to have taken him into his Service, if he had known him: And my Lord Simpleton also, who Satan has set up for a cunning Fool, seems to have it sit much better upon him now he passes for a Fool of Art, than it should have done if the naked DEVIL had come and challenged him for a Fool in Nature.
Infinite Variety illustrate the Devil's Reign among the Sons of Men; all which he manages with admirable Dexterity, and a Slight particular to himself, by the mere Advantage of his present conceal'd Situation, and which, had he been obliged to have appear'd in Publick, had been all lost, and he capable of just nothing at all, or at least of nothing more than the other ordinary Politicians of Wickedness could have done without him.
Now, Authors are much divided as to the manner how the Devil manages his proper Instruments for Mischief; for Satan has a great many Agents in the Dark, who neither have the DEVIL in them, nor are they much acquainted with him, and yet he serves himself of them, whether of their Folly, or of that other Frailty call'd Wit, 'tis all one, he makes them do his Work, when they think they are doing their own; nay, so cunning is he in his guiding the weak Part of the World, that even when they think they are serving God, they are doing nothing less or more than serving the Devil; nay, 'tis some of the nicest Part of his Operation, to make them believe they are serving God, when they do his Work. Thus those who the Scripture foretold should persecute Christ's Church in the latter Days, were to think they do God good Service: Thus the Inquisition, (for Example,) it may be, at this time, in all the acts of Christian Cruelty which they are so famous for (if any of them are ignorant enough not to know that they are Devils incarnate) they may, for ought we know, go on for God's sake; torture, murther, starve to Death, mangle and macerate, and all for God, and God's Catholic Church; and 'tis certainly the Devil's Master-piece to bring Mankind to such a Perfection of Devilism as that of the Inquisition is; for if the Devil had not been in them, could they christen such a Hell-fire Judicature as the Inquisition is, by the Name of the Holy Office? And so in Paganism, how could so many Nations among the poor Indians offer human Sacrifices to their Idols, and murther thousands of Men, Women and Children, to appease this God of the Air, when he is angry, if the Devil did not act in them under the Vizor of Devotion?
But we need not go to America, or to the Inquisition, not to Paganism or to Popery either, to look for People that are sacrificing to the Devil, or that give their Peace-offerings to him, while they are offer'd upon God's Altar; are not our Churches (ay, and Meeting-houses too, as much as they pretend to be more sanctified than their Neighbours) full of Devil Worshipers? Where do his Devotees gratulate one another, and congratulate him, more than at Church? where, while they hold up their Hands, and turn up their Eyes towards Heaven, they make all their Vows to Satan, or at least to the fair Devils his Representatives, which I shall speak of in their Place.
Do not the Sons of God make Assignations with the Daughters of Men in the very House of Worship? Do they not talk to them in the Language of the Eyes? And what is at the Bottom of it, while one Eye is upon the Prayer-book, and the other adjusting their Dress? Are they not sacrificing to Venus and Mercury, nay, and the very Devil they dress at?
Let any Man impartially survey the Church-Gestures, the Air, the Postures and the Behaviour; let him keep an exact Roll, and if I do not shew him two Devil Worshipers for one true Saint, then the Word Saint must have another Signification than I ever yet understood it by.
The Church (as a Place) is the Receptacle of the Dead, as well as the Assembly of the Living; what relates to those below, I doubt Satan, if he would be so kind, could give a better Account of than I can; but as to the Superficies, I pretend to so much Penetration as to tell you, that there are more Spectres, more Apparitions always there, than you that know nothing of the matter may be aware of.
I happen'd to be at an eminent Place of God's most devout Worship the other Day, with a Gentleman of my Acquaintance, who, I observed, minded very little the Business he ought to come about; first I saw him always busy staring about him and bowing this Way and that Way, nay, he made two or three bows and Scrapes when he was repeating the Responses to the Ten Commandments, and assure you he made it correspond strangely, so that the Harmony was not so broken in upon as you would expect it should; thus; Lord, and a Bow to a fine Lady just come up to her Seat, have Mercy upon us; —— three Bows to a Throng of Ladies that came into the next Pew altogether, and incline —— then stop'd to make a great Scrape to my Lord ——, our Hearts, just then the Hearts of all the Church were gone off from the Subject, for the Response was over, so he huddled up the rest in Whispers, for God a Mighty could hear him well enough, he said, nay, as well as if he had spoken as loud as his Neighbours did.
After we were come home, I ask'd him what he meant by all this, and what he thought of it?
How could I help it, said he, I must not be rude.
What, says I, rude to who?
Why, says he, there came in so many she Devils I could not help it.
What, said I, could not you help bowing when you were saying your Prayers?
O Sir! says he, the Ladies would have thought I had slighted them, I could not avoid it.
Ladies! said I, I thought you call'd them Devils just now.
Ay, ay, Devils, said he, little charming Devils, but I must not be rude to them however.
Very well, said I, then you would be rude to God a Mighty, because you could not be rude to the Devil?
Why that's true, said he, but what can we do? there's no going to Church as the Case stands now, if we must not worship the Devil a little between whiles.
This is the Case indeed, and Satan carries his Point on every Hand; for if the fair speaking World, and the fair looking World are generally Devils, that is to say, are in his Management, we are sure the foul speaking and the foul doing World are all on his Side, and you have then only the fair-doing Part of the World that are out of his Class, and when we speak of them, O how few!
But I return to the Devil's managing our wicked Part, for this he does with most exquisite Subtilty; and this is one Part of it, (viz.) he thrusts our Vices into our Virtues, by which he mixes the Clean and the Unclean, and thus by the Corruption of the one, poisons and debauches the other, so that the Slave he governs cannot account for his own common Actions, and is fain to be oblig'd to his Maker to accept of the Heart without the Hands and Feet; to take, as we vulgarly express it, the Will for the Deed, and if Heaven was not so good to come into that half in half Service, I don't see but the Devil would carry away all his Servants: Here indeed I should enter into a long Detail of involuntary Wickedness, which in short, is neither more or less than the Devil in every Body, ay, in every one of you, (our Governors excepted) take it as you please.
What is our Language when we look back with Reflection and Reproach on past Follies? I think I was bewitch'd, I was posses'd, certainly the Devil was in me, or else I had never been such a Sot: Devil in you, Sir! Ay, who doubts it; you may be sure the Devil was in you, and there he is still, and next Time he can catch you in the same Snare, you'll be just the same SOT that you say you were before.
In short, the Devil is too cunning for us, and manages us his own Way; he governs the Vices of Men by his own Methods; tho' every Crime will not make a Man a Devil, yet it must be owned that every Crime puts the Criminal in some Measure into the Devil's Power, gives him a Title to the Man, and he treats him magisterially ever after.
Some tell us every single Man, every individual has a Devil attending him, to execute the Orders of the (Grand Signior) Devil of the whole Clan; that this attending evil Angel, for so he is call'd, sees every Step you take, is with you in every Action, prompts you to every Mischief, and leaves you to do every Thing that is pernicious to your self; they also alledge that there is a good Spirit which attends him too, which latter is always accessary to every Thing that we do that is good, and reluctant to evil; If this is true, how comes it to pass that those two opposite Spirits do not quarrel about it when they are pressing us to contrary Actions, one good and the other evil? and why does the evil tempting Spirit so often prevail? Instead of answering this difficult Question, I shall only tell you, as to this Story of good and evil Angels attending every particular Person, 'tis a good Allegory indeed to represent the Struggle in the Mind of Man between good and evil Inclinations; but as to the rest, the best Thing I can say of it is, that I think 'tis a Fib.
But to take Things as they are, and only talk by way of natural Consequence, for to argue from Nature is certainly the best Way to find out the Devil's Story; if there are good and evil Spirits attending us, that is to say, a good Angel and a Devil, then 'tis no unjust Reproach upon any Body to say, when they follow the Dictates of the latter, the Devil is in them; or they are Devils; nay, I must carry it farther still, namely, that as the Generality and greatest Number of People do follow and obey the evil Spirit and not the good, and that the predominate Power is allowed to be the nominating Power; you must then allow, that in short, the greater Part of Mankind has the Devil in them, and so I come to my Text.
To this Purpose give me leave to borrow a few Lines of a Friend on this very Part of the Devil's Management.
To Places and Persons he suits his Disguises, And dresses up all his Banditti, Who as Pickpockets flock to a Country Assizes, Croud up to the Court and the City.
They're at every Elbow and every Ear, And ready at every call, Sir; The vigilant Scout plants his Agents about, And has something to do with us all, Sir.
In some he has Part, and in some he's the Whole, And of some (like the Vicar of Baddow) It can neither be said they have Body or Soul, But only are Devils in Shadow.
The Pretty and Witty, are Devils in Masque, The Beauties are meer Apparitions; The homely alone by their Faces are known, And the Good by their ugly Conditions.
The Beaus walk about like the Shadows of Men. And wherever he leads 'em they follow, But tak'em and shak'em, there's not one in ten But's as light as a Feather and hollow.
Thus all his Affairs he drives on in Disguise, And he tickles Mankind with a Feather: Creeps in at our Ears, and looks out at our Eyes, And jumbles our Senses together.
He raises the Vapours, and prompts the Desires, And to ev'ry dark Deed holds the Candle; The Passions enflames and the Appetite fires, And takes ev'ry Thing by the Handle.
Thus he walks up and down in compleat Masquerade, And with every Company mixes, Sells in every Shop, works at every Trade, And ev'ry Thing doubtful perplexes.
How Satan comes by this governing Influence in the Minds and upon the Actions of Men, is a Question I am not yet come to, nor indeed does it so particularly belong to the Devil's History, it seems rather a Polemick, so it may pass at School among the Metaphysicks, and puzzle the Heads of our Masters; wherefore I think to write to the learned Dr. B—— about it, imploring his most sublime Haughtiness, that when his other more momentous Avocations of Pedantry and Pedagogism will give him an Interval from Wrath and Contention, he will set apart a Moment to consider human Nature Deviliz'd, and give us a Mathematical Anatomical Description of it; with a Map of Satan's Kingdom in the Microcosm of Mankind, and such other Illuminations as to him and his Contemporaries —— and, —— &c. in their great Wisdom shall seem meet.
Of the Devil's Management in the Pagan Hierarchy by Omens, Entrails, Augurs, Oracles, and such like Pageantry of Hell; and how they went off the Stage at last by the Introduction of true Religion.
I have adjourn'd, not finished, my Account of the Devil's secret Management by Possession, and shall reassume it, in its Place; but I must take leave to mention some other Parts of his retir'd Scheme, by which he has hitherto manag'd Mankind, and the first of these is by that Fraud of all Frauds call'd Oracle.
Here his Trumpet yielded an uncertain Sound for some Ages, and like what he was, and according to what he practised from the Beginning, he deliver'd out Falshood and Delusion by Retale: The Priests of Apollo acted this Farce for him to a great Nicety at Delphos; there were divers others at the same Time, and some, which to give the Devil his due, he had very little Hand in, as we shall see presently.
There were also some smaller, some greater, some more, some less famous Places where those Oracles were seated, and Audience given to the Enquirers, in all which the Devil, or some Body for him, Permissu Superiorum, for either vindictive or other hidden Ends and Purposes, was allow'd to make at least a Pretension to the Knowledge of Things to come; but, as publick Cheats generally do, they acted in Masquerade, and gave such uncertain and inconsistent Responses, that they were oblig'd to use the utmost Art to reconcile Events to the Prediction, even after things were come to pass.
Here the Devil was a lying Spirit, in a particular and extraordinary manner, in the Mouths of all the Prophets; and yet he had the Cunning to express himself so, that whatever happen'd, the Oracle was suppos'd to have meant as it fell out; and so all their Augurs, Omens and Voices, by which the Devil amus'd the World, not at that Time only, but since, have been likewise interpreted.
Julian the Apostate dealt mightily in these Amusements, but the Devil, who neither wish'd his Fall, or presag'd it to him, evidenc'd that he knew nothing of Julian's Fate; for that, as he sent almost to all the Oracles of the East, and summon'd all the Priests together to inform him of the Success of his Persian Expedition, they all, like Ahab's Prophets, having a lying Spirit in them, encourag'd him and promis'd him Success.
Nay, all the ill Omens which disturb'd him, they presag'd good from; for Example, he was at a prodigious Expence when he was at Antioch to buy up white Beasts, and white Fowls, for Sacrifices, and for predicting from the Entrails; from whence the Antiochians, in contempt, call'd him Victimarius; but whenever the Entrails foreboded Evil, the cunning Devil made the Priests put a different Construction upon them, and promise him Good: When he entred into the Temple of the Genij to offer Sacrifice, one of the Priests dropt down dead; this, had it had any Signification more than a Man falling dead of an Apoplectic, would have signified something fatal to Julian, who made himself a Brother Sacrist or Priest; whereas the Priests turn'd it presently to signify the Death of his Colleague, the Consul Sallust which happen'd just at the same Time, tho' eight hundred Miles off; so in another Case, Julian thought it ominous that he, who was Augustus should be nam'd with two other Names of Persons, both already dead; the Case was thus, the Stile of the Emperor was Julianus Foelix Augustus, and two of his principal Officers were Julianus and Foelix; now both Julianus and Foelix died within a few Days of one another, which disturb'd Him much, who was the third of the three Names; but his flattering Devil told him it all imported Good to him (viz.) that tho' Julianus and Foelix should die, Augustus should be immortal.
Thus whatever happen'd, and whatever was foretold, and how much soever they differ'd from one another, the lying Spirit was sure to reconcile the Prediction and the Event, and make them at least seem to correspond in Favour of the Person enquiring.
Now we are told Oracles are ceased, and the Devil is farther limited for the Good of Mankind, not being allow'd to vent his Delusions by the Mouths of the Priests and Augurs, as formerly: I will not take upon me to say how far they are really ceas'd, more than they were before; I think 'tis much more reasonable to believe there was never any Reality in them at all, or that any Oracle ever gave out any Answers but what were the Invention of the Priests and the Delusions of the DEVIL; I have a great many antient Authors on my Side in this Opinion, as Eusebius, Tertullian, Aristotle, and others, who as they liv'd so near the Pagan Times, and when even some of those Rites were yet in Use, they had much more Reason to know, and could probably pass a better Judgment upon them; nay Cicero himself ridicules them in the openest manner; again, other Authors descend to Particular and shew how the Cheat was manag'd by the Heathen Sacrists and Priests, and in what enthusiastic manner they spoke; namely, by going into the hollow Images, such as the brazen Bull and the Image of Apollo, and how subtilly they gave out dubious and ambiguous Answers; that when the People did not find their Expectations answer'd by the Event, they might be imposed upon by the Priests, and confidently told they did not rightly understand the Oracle's Meaning: However, I cannot say but that indeed there are some Authors of good Credit too, who will have it that there was a real prophetic Spirit in the Voice or Answers given by the Oracles, and that oftentimes they were miraculously exact in those Answers; and they give that of the Delphic Oracle answering the Question which was given about Croesus for an Example, viz. what Croesus was doing at that time? to wit, that he was boiling a Lamb and the Flesh of a Tortoise together, in a brass Vessel, or Boiler, with a Cover of the same Metal; that is to say, in a Kettle with a brass Cover.
To affirm therefore, that they were all Cheats, a Man must encounter with Antiquity, and set his private Judgment up against an establish'd Opinion; but 'tis no matter for that; if I do not see any thing in that receiv'd Opinion capable of Evidence, much less of Demonstration, I must be allow'd still to think as I do; others may believe as they list; I see nothing hard or difficult in the Thing; the Priests, who were always historically inform'd of the Circumstances of the Enquirer, or at least something about them, might easily find some ambiguous Speech to make, and put some double Entendre upon them, which upon the Event solv'd the Credit of the Oracle, were it one way or other; and this they certainly did, or we have room to think the DEVIL knows less of Things now than he did in former Days.
It is true that by these Delusions the Priests got infinite Sums of Money, and this makes it still probable that they would labour hard, and use the utmost of their Skill to uphold the Credit of their Oracles; and 'tis a full Discovery, as well of the Subtlety of the Sacrists, as of the Ignorance and Stupidity of the People, in those early Days of Satan's Witchcraft; to see what merry Work the Devil made with the World, and what gross Things he put upon Mankind: Such was the Story of the Dordonian Oracle in Epirus, viz. That two Pigeons flew out of Thebes (N. B. it was the Egyptian Thebes) from the Temple of Belus, erected there by the antient Sacrists, and that one of these fled Eastward into Lybia, and the Desarts of Africk, and the other into Greece, namely, to Dordona, and these communicated the divine Mysteries to one another, and afterwards gave mystical Solutions to the devout Enquirers; first the Dordonian Pigeon perching upon an Oak spoke audibly to the People there, that the Gods commanded them to build an Oracle, or Temple, to Jupiter, in that Place; which was accordingly done: The other Pigeon did the like on the Hill in Africa, where it commanded them to build another to Jupiter Ammon, or Hammon.
Wise Cicero contemned all this, and, as Authors tell us, ridiculed the Answer, which, as I have hinted above, the Oracle gave to Croesus proving that the Oracle it self was a Liar, that it could not come from Apollo, for that Apollo never spoke Latin: In a Word, Cicero rejected them all, and Demosthenes also mentions the Cheats of the Oracles; when speaking of the Oracle of Apollo, he said, Pithia Philippiz'd; that is, that when the Priests were brib'd with Money, they always gave their Answers in favour of Philip of Macedon.
But that which is most strange to me is, that in this Dispute about the Reality of Oracles, the Heathen who made use of them are the People who expose them, and who insist most positively upon their being Cheats and Impostors, as in particular those mentioned above; while the Christians who reject them, yet believe they did really foretel Things, answer Questions, &c. only with this Difference, that the Heathen Authors who oppose them, insist that 'tis all Delusion and Cheat, and charge it upon the Priests; and the Christian Opposers insist that it was real, but that the Devil, not the Gods, gave the Answers; and that he was permitted to do it by a superior Power, to magnify that Power in the total silencing them at last.
But, as I said before, I am with the Heathen here, against the Christian Writers, for I take it all to be a Cheat and Delusion: I must give my Reason for it, or I do nothing; my Reason is this, I insist Satan is as blind in Matters of Futurity, as we are, and can tell nothing of what is to come; these Oracles often pretending to predict, could be nothing else therefore but a Cheat form'd by the Money-getting Priests to amuse the World, and bring Grist to their Mill: If I meet with any thing in my Way to open my Eyes to a better Opinion of them, I shall tell it you as I go on.
On the other hand, whether the Devil really spake in those Oracles, or set the cunning Priests to speak for him; whether they predicted, or only made the People believe they predicted; whether they gave Answers which came to pass, or prevail'd upon the People to believe that what was said did come to pass, it was much at one, and fully answer'd the Devil's End; namely, to amuse and delude the World; and as to do, or to cause to be done, is the same Part of Speech, so whoever did it, the Devil's Interest was carried on by it, his Government preserv'd, and all the Mischief he could desire was effectually brought to pass, so that every way they were the Devil's Oracles, that's out of the Question.
Indeed I have wonder'd sometimes why, since by this Sorcery the Devil perform'd such Wonders, that is, play'd so many Tricks in the World, and had such universal Success, he should set up no more of them; but there might be a great many Reasons given for that, too long to tire you with at present: 'Tis true, there were not many of them, and yet considering what a great deal of Business they dispatch'd, it was enough, for six or eight Oracles were more than sufficient to amuse all the World: The chief Oracles we meet with in History are among the Greeks and the Romans, viz.
That of Jupiter Ammon, in Lybia, as above.
The Dordonian, in Epirus.
Apollo Delphicus, in the Country of Phocis in Greece.
Apollo Clavius, in Asia Minor.
Serapis, in Alexandria in Egypt.
Trophomis, in Baeotia.
Sybilla Cumaea, in Italy.
Diana, at Ephesus.
Apollo Daphneus, at Antioch.
Besides many of lesser Note, in several other Places, as I have hinted before.
I have nothing to do here with the Story mentioned by Plutarch, of a Voice being heard at Sea, from some of the Islands call'd the Echinades, and calling upon one Thamuz, an Egyptian, who was on board a Ship, bidding him, when he came to the Palodes, other Islands in the Ionian Seas, tell them there that the great God PAN was dead; and when Thamuz perform'd it, great Groanings, and Howlings, and Lamentation were heard from the Shore.
This Tale tells but indifferently, tho' indeed it looks more like a Christian Fable, than a Pagan; because it seems as if made to honour the Christian Worship, and blast all the Pagan Idolatry; and for that Reason I reject it, the Christian Profession needing no such fabulous Stuff to confirm it.
Nor is it true in fact, that the Oracles did cease immediately upon the Death of Christ; but, as I noted before, the Sum of the Matter is this; the Christian Religion spreading it self universally, as well as miraculously, and that too by the Foolishness of Preaching, into all Parts of the World, the Oracles ceas'd; that is to say, their Trade ceas'd, their Rogueries were daily detected, the deluded People being better taught, came no more after them, and being asham'd, as well as discourag'd, they sneak'd out of the World as well as they could; in short the Customers fell off, and the Priests, who were the Shopkeepers, having no Business to do, shut up their Shops, broke, and went away; the Trade and the Tradesmen were hiss'd off the Stage together; so that the Devil, who, it must be confess'd, got infinitely by the Cheat, became bankrupt, and was oblig'd to set other Engines at work, as other Cheats and Deceivers do, who when one Trick grows stale, and will serve no longer, are forc'd to try another.
Nor was the Devil to seek in new Measures; for tho' he could not give out his delusive Trash as he did before, in Pomp and State, with the Solemnity of a Temple and a Set of Enthusiasts call'd Priests, who plaid a thousand Tricks to amuse the World, he then had Recourse to his old Egyptian Method, which indeed was more antient than that of Oracles; and that was by Magic, Sorcery, Familiars, Witchcraft, and the like.
Of this we find the people of the South, that is, of Arabia and Chaldea were the first, from whence we are told of the Wise Men, that is to say, Magicians, were call'd Chaldeans and Southsayers. Hence also we find Ahaziah the King of Israel sent to Baalzebub the God of Ekron, to enquire whether he should live or die? This some think was a kind of an Oracle, tho' others think it was only some over-grown Magician, who counterfeited himself to be a Devil, and obtain'd upon that Idol-hunting Age to make a Cunning Man of him; and for that Purpose he got himself made a Priest of Baalzebub, the God of Ekron, and gave out Answers in his Name. Thus those merry Fellows in Egypt, Jannes and Jambres, are said to mimick Moses and Aaron, when they work'd the miraculous Plagues upon the Egyptians; and we have some Instances in Scripture that support this, such as the Witch of Endor, the King Manasses, who dealt with the Devil openly, and had a Familiar; the Woman mentioned Acts xvi. who had a Spirit of Divination, and who got Money by playing the Oracle; that is, answering doubtful Questions, &c. which Spirit, or Devil, the Apostles cast out.
Now tho' it is true that the old Women in the World have fill'd us with Tales, some improbable, others impossible; some weak, some ridiculous, and that this puts a general Discredit upon all the graver Matrons, who entertain us with Stories better put together, yet 'tis certain, and I must be allow'd to affirm, that the Devil does not disdain to take into his Service many Troops of good Old Women, and Old Women-Men too, who he finds 'tis for his Service to keep in constant Pay; to these he is found frequently to communicate his Mind, and oftentimes we find them such Proficients, that they know much more than the Devil can teach them.
How far our antient Friend Merlin, or the grave Matron his (Satan's) most trusty and well-beloved Cousin and Counsellor, Mother Shipton, were commissioned by him to give out their prophetic Oracles, and what degree of Possession he may have arrived to in them upon their Midnight Excursions, I will not undertake to prove; but that he might be acquainted with them both, as well as with several of our modern Gentlemen, I will not deny neither.
I confess it is not very incongruous with the Devil's Temper, or with the Nature of his Business, to shift hands; possibly he found that he had tried the World with Oracular Cheats; that Men began to be forfeited with them, and grew sick of the Frauds which were so frequently detected; that it was time to take new Measures, and contrive some new Trick to Bite the World, that he might not be expos'd to Contempt; or perhaps he saw the Approach of new Light, which the Christian Doctrine bringing with it began to spread in the Minds of Men; that it would out-shine the dim burning ignis fatuus, with which he had so long cheated Mankind, and was afraid to stand it, lest he should be mobb'd off the Stage by his own People, when their Eyes should begin to open: That upon this foot he might in Policy withdraw from those old Retreats the Oracles, and restrain those Responses before they lost all their Credit; for we find the People seem'd to be at a mighty Loss for some time, for want of them, so that it made them run up and down to Conjurers, and Man-Gossips, to brazen Heads, speaking Calves, and innumerable simple Things, so gross that they are scarce fit to be named, to satisfy the Itch of having their Fortunes told them, as we call it.
Now as the DEVIL is very seldom blind to his own Interest, and therefore thought fit to quit his old way of imposing upon the World by his Oracles, only because he found the World began to be too wise to be imposed upon that way; so on the other hand, finding there was still a Possibility to delude the World, tho' by other Instruments, he no sooner laid down his Oracles, and the solemn Pageantry, magnificent Appearances, and other Frauds of his Priests and Votaries, in their Temples and Shrines; but he set up a new Trade, and having, as I have said, Agents and Instruments sufficient for any Business that he could have to employ them in, he begins in Corners, as the learned and merry Dr. Brown says, and exercises his minor Trumperies by way of his own contriving, lifting a great Number of new-found Operators, such as Witches, Magicians, Diviners, Figure-casters, Astrologers, and such inferior Seducers.
Now it is true, as that Doctor says, this was running into Corners, as if he had been expell'd his more triumphant way of giving Audience in Form, which for so many Ages had been allow'd him; yet I must add, that as it seem'd to be the DEVIL's own doing, from a right Judgment of his Affairs, which had taken a new Turn in the World, upon the shining of new Lights from the Christian Doctrine, so it must be acknowledged the Devil made himself amends upon Mankind, by the various Methods he took, and the Multitude of Instruments he employ'd, and perhaps deluded Mankind in a more fatal and sensible manner than he did before, tho' not so universally.
He had indeed before more Pomp and Figure put upon it, and he cheated Mankind then in a Way of Magnificence and Splendor; but this was not in above eight or ten principal Places, and not fifty Places in all, public or private; whereas now fifty thousand of his Angels and Instruments, visible and invisible, hardly may be said to suffice for one Town or City; but in short, as his invisible Agents fill the Air, and are at hand for Mischief on every Emergence, so his visible Fools swarm in every Village, and you have scarce a Hamlet or a Town but his Emissaries are at Hand for Business; and which is still worse, in all Places he finds Business; nay even where Religion is planted and seems to flourish; yet he keeps his Ground and pushes his Interest according to what has been said elsewhere upon the same Subject, that wherever Religion plants, the Devil plants close by it.
Nor, as I say, does he fail of Success, Delusion spreads like a Plague, and the Devil is sure of Votaries; like a true Mountebank, he can always bring a Croud about his Stage, and that some Times faster than other People.
What I observe upon this Subject is this, that the World is at a strange Loss for want of the Devil; if it was not so, what's the Reason, that upon the silencing the Oracles, and Religion telling them that Miracles are ceas'd, and that God has done speaking by Prophets, they never enquire whether Heaven has established any other or new Way of Revelation, but away they ran with their Doubts and Difficulties to these Dreamers of Dreams, Tellers of Fortunes, and personal Oracles to be resolv'd; as if when they acknowledge the Devil is dumb, these could speak; and as if the wicked Spirit could do more than the Good, the Diabolical more than the Divine, or that Heaven having taken away the DEVIL's Voice, had furnish'd him with an Equivalent, by allowing Scolds, Termagants, and old weak and superannuated Wretches to speak for him; for these are the People we go to now in our Doubts and Emergencies.
While this Blindness continues among us, 'tis Nonsense to say that Oracles are silenced, or the Devil is dumb, for the Devil gives Audience still by his Deputies; only as Jeroboam made Priests of the meanest of the People, so he is grown a little humble, and makes use of meaner Instruments than he did before; for whereas the Priests of Apollo, and of Jupiter, were splendid in their Appearance, of grave and venerable Aspect, and sometimes of no mean Quality; now he makes use of Scoundrels and Rabble, Beggars and Vagabonds, old Hags, superannuated miserable Hermits, Gypsies and Strollers, the Pictures of Envy and ill Luck.
Either the Devil is grown an ill Master, and gives but mean Wages, that he can get no better Servants; or else Common Sense is grown very low priz'd and contemptible; that such as these are fit Tools to continue the Succession of Fraud, and carry on the Devil's Interest in the World; for were not the Passions and Temper of Mankind deeply pre-engaged in favour of this dark Prince, we could never suffer our selves to accept of his Favours by the Hands of such contemptible Agents as these! How do we receive his Oracles from an old Witch of particular Eminence, and who we believe to be more than ordinarily inspir'd from Hell; I say, we receive the Oracle with Reverence; that is to say, with a kind of Horror, with regard to the Black Prince it comes from, and at the same time turn our Faces away from the Wretch that mumbles out the Answers, lest she should cast an Evil Eye, as we call it, upon us, and put a Devil into us when she plays the Devil before us? How do we listen to the Cant of those worst of Vagabonds the Gypsies, when at the same time we watch our Hedges and Hen-roosts for fear of their thieving?
Either the DEVIL uses us more like Fools than he did our Ancestors, or we really are worse Fools than those Ages produced, for they were never deluded by such low-priz'd Devils as we are; by such despicable Bridewell DEVILS, that are fitter for a Whipping-post than an Altar, and instead of being receiv'd as the Voice of an Oracle, should be sent to the House of Correction for Pick-pockets.
Nor is this accidental, and here and there one of these Wretches to be seen, but in short, if it has been in other Nations as it is with us, I do not see that the DEVIL was able to get any better People into his Pay, or at least very rarely: Where have we seen any thing above a Tinker turn Wizard? and where have we had a Witch of Quality among us, Mother Je———gs excepted? and if she had not been more of something else than a Witch, 'twas thought she had never got so much Money by her Profession.