This unusual Phaenomenon has been seen but a little while, and but a little way, and the general Part of Mankind cannot come into the same Notions about it; nay, perhaps they will all think it strange; but be it as strange as it will, the Nature of the Thing confirms it, this lower Sphere is full of Devils; and some of both Sexes have given strange Testimonies of the Reality of their pre-existent Devilism for many Ages past, tho' I think it never came to that Height as it has now.
It is true, in former times Satan dealt much in old Women, and those, as I have observ'd already, very ugly, Ugly as a Witch, Black as a Witch, I look like a Witch, all proverbial Speeches, and which testify'd what Tools it was Satan generally work'd with; and these old Spectres, they tell us, us'd to ride thro' the Air in the Night, and upon Broomsticks too, all mighty homely Doings; some say they us'd to go to visit their Grand Seignior the Devil, in those Nocturnal Perambulations: But be that as it will, 'tis certain the Devil has chang'd hands, and that now he walks about the World cloth'd in Beauty, cover'd with the Charms of the Lovely, and he fails not to disguise himself effectually by it, for who would think a beautiful Lady could be a Masque to the Devil? and that a fine Face, a divine Shape, a heavenly Aspect, should bring the Devil in her Company, nay, should be herself an Apparition, a mere DEVIL.
The Enquiry is indeed worth our while, and therefore I hope all the enamour'd Beaus and Boys, all the Beauty-hunters and Fortune-hunters, will take heed, for I suppose if they get the Devil, they will not complain for want of a Fortune; and there's Danger enough, I assure you, for the World is full of Apparitions, non rosa sine spinis; not a Beauty without a Devil, the old Women Spectres, and the young Women Apparitions; the ugly ones Witches, and the handsome ones Devils; Lord ha' Mercy, and a may be Set on the Man's Door that goes a courting.
Of the Cloven-Foot walking about the World without the Devil, (viz.) of Witches making Bargains for the Devil, and particularly of selling the Soul to the Devil.
I have dwelt long upon the Devil in Masque as he goes about the World incog. and especially without his Cloven-Foot, and have touched upon some of his Disguises in the Management of his Interest in the World; I must say some of his Disguises only, for who can give a full account of all his Tricks and Arts in so narrow a Compass as I am prescrib'd to?
But as I said, that every Devil has not a Cloven-Foot, so I must add now for the present Purpose, that every Cloven-Foot is not the Devil.
Not but that wherever I should meet the Cloven-Hoof, I should expect that the Devil was not far off, and should be apt to raise the Posse against him, to apprehend him; yet it may happen otherwise, that's certain; every Coin has its Counterfeit, every Art its Pretender, every Whore her Admirer, every Error its Patron, and every Day has its DEVIL.
I have had some thought of making a full and compleat Discovery here of that great Doubt which has so long puzzl'd the World, namely, whether there is any such Thing, as secret making Bargains with the Devil, and the first positive Assurance I can give you in the Case, is, that if there is not, 'tis not his Fault, 'tis not for want of his Endeavour, 'tis plain, if you will pardon me for taking so mean a Step, as that of quoting Scripture; I say, 'tis evident he would fain have made a Contract with our Saviour, and he bid boldly (give him his due) namely, all the Kingdoms of the World for one bend of his Knee: Impudent Seraph! To think thy Lord should pay thee Homage! How many would agree with him here for a less Price! They say, Oliver Cromwell struck a Bargain with him, and that he gave Oliver the Protectorship, but would not let him call himself King, which stuck so close to that Furioso, that the Mortification Spread into his Soul, and 'tis said, he dy'd of a Gangreen in the Spleen. But take Notice and do Oliver Justice; I do not vouch the Story, neither does the Bishop say one Word of it.
Fame us'd to say, that the old famous Duke of Luxemburg made a Magic compact of this Kind; nay, I have heard many an (old Woman) Officer of the Troops, who never car'd to see his Face, declare that he carry'd the Devil at his Back. I remember a certain Author of a News Paper in London was once taken up, and they say, it cost him 50l. for printing in his News, that Luxemburg was Humpback'd. Now if I have resolv'd the Difficulty, namely, that he was not hump'd, only carry'd the Devil at his Back; I think the poor Man should have his 50l. again, or I should have it for the Discovery.
I confess, I do not well understand this compacting with such a Fellow as can neither write nor read; nor do I know who is the Scrivener between them, or how the Indenture can be executed; but that which is worse than all the rest is, that in the first Place, the Devil never keeps Articles; he will contract perhaps, and they say he is mighty forward to make Conditions; but who shall bind him to the Performance, and where is the Penalty if he fails? if we agree with him, he will be apt enough to claim his Bargain and demand Payment; nay, perhaps before it is due; but who shall make him stand to his.
Besides, he is a Knave in his Dealing, for he really promises what he cannot perform; witness his impudent Proposal to our Lord mentioned above. All these Kingdoms will I give thee! Lying Spirit! Why they were none of thine to give, no not one of them; for the Earth is the Lords and the kingdoms thereof, nor were they in his Power any more than in his Right: So (I have heard that) some poor dismal Creatures have sold themselves to the Devil for a Sum of Money, for so much Cash, and yet even in that Case, when the Day of Payment came, I never heard that he brought the Money or paid the Purchase, so that he is a Scoundrel in his Treaties, for you shall trust for your Bargain, but not be able to get your Money; and yet for your Part, he comes for you to an Hour: Of which by it self.
In a Word, let me caution you all, when you trade with the Devil, either get the Price or quit the Bargain; the Devil is a cunning Shaver, he will wriggle himself out of the Performance on his Side if possible, and yet expect you should be punctual on your Side. They tell you of a poor Fellow in Herefordshire, that offer'd to sell his Soul to him for a Cow, and though the Devil promised, and as they say, sign'd the Writings, yet the poor Countryman could never get the Cow of him, but still as he brought a Cow to him, some body or other came and challeng'd it, proving that it was lost or stolen from them; so that the Man got nothing but the Name of a Cow-stealer, and was at last carried to Hereford Goal, and condemn'd to be hang'd for stealing two Cows, one after the other: The wicked Fellow was then in the greatest Distress imaginable, he summon'd his Devil to help him out, but he failed him, as the Devil always will; he really had not stolen the Cows, but they were found in his Possession, and he could give no Account how he came by them; at last he was driven to confess the Truth, told the horrid Bargain he had made, and how the Devil often promis'd him a Cow, but never gave him one, except that several Times in the Morning early he found a Cow put into his Yard, but it always prov'd to belong to some of his Neighbours: Whether the Man was hang'd or no, the Story does not relate; but this Part is to my Purpose, that they that make Bargains with the Devil, ought to make him give Security for the Performance of Covenants, and who the Devil would get to be bound for him, I can't tell, they must look to that who make the Bargain: Besides, if he had not had a Mind to cheat or baffle the poor Man, what need he have taken a Cow so near home? if he had such and such Powers as we talk of, and as Fancy and Fable furnish for him, could not he have carried a Cow in the Air upon a Broom-stick, as well as an old Woman? Could he not have stole a Cow for him in Lincolnshire, and set it down in Herefordshire, and so have performed his Bargain, saved his Credit, and kept the poor Man out of Trouble? so that if the Story is True, as I really believe it is, either it is not the Devil that makes those Bargains, or the Devil has not such Power as we bestow on him, except on Special Occasions he gets a Permit, and is bid go, as in the Case of Job, the Gadaren Hogs, and the like.
We have another Example of a Man's selling himself to the Devil, that is very remarkable, and that is in the Bible too, and even in that, I do not find, what the Devil did for him, in Payment of the Purchase Price. The Person selling was Ahab, of whom the Text says expresly, there was none like him, who did sell himself to work Wickedness in the Sight of the LORD, 1 Kings xxi. 20, and the 25. I think it might have been rendred, if not translated in Spight of the Lord, or in Defiance of God; for certainly that's the Meaning of it; and now allowing me to preach a little upon this Text, my Sermon shall be very short. Ahab sold himself, who did he sell himself to? I answer that Question by a Question; who would buy him? who, as we say, would give any thing for him? and the Answer to that is plain also, you may judge of the Purchaser by the Work he was to do; he that buys a Slave in the Market, buys him to work for him, and to do such Business as he has for him to do: Ahab was bought to work wickedness, and who would buy him for that but the Devil?
I think there's no room to doubt but Ahab sold himself to the Devil; the Text is plain that he sold himself, and the Work he was sold to do points out the Master that bought him; what Price he agreed with the Devil for, that indeed the Text is silent in, so we may let it alone, nor is it much to our Purpose, unless it be to enquire whether the Devil stood to his Bargain or not, and whether he paid the Money according to Agreement, or cheated him as he did the Farmer at Hereford.
This buying and selling between the Devil and us, is, I must confess, an odd kind of Stock-jobbing, and indeed the Devil may be said to sell the Bear-skin, whatever he buys; but the strangest Part is when he comes to demand the transfer; for as I hinted before, whether he Performs or no, he expects his Bargain to a Tittle; there is indeed some Difficulty in resolving how and in what Manner Payment is made; the Stories we meet with in our Chimney-Corner Histories, and which are so many Ways made Use of to make the Devil frightful to us and our Heirs for ever, are generally so foolish and ridiculous, as, if true or not true, they have nothing Material in them, are of no Signification, or else so impossible in their Nature, that they make no Impression upon any body above twelve Years old and under seventy; or else are so tragical that Antiquity has fabled them down to our Taste, that we might be able to hear them and repeat them with less Horror than is due to them.
This Variety has taken off our Relish of the Thing in general, and made the Trade of Soul-selling, like our late more eminent Bubbles, be taken to be a Cheat and to have little in it.
However, to speak a little more gravely to it, I cannot say but that since, by the two eminent Instances of it above in Ahab, and in Christ himself, the Fact is evidently ascertain'd; and that the Devil has attempted to make such a Bargain on one, and actually did make it with the other. The Possibility of it is not to be disputed; but then I must explain the Manner of it a little, and bring it down, nearer to our Understanding, that it may be more intelligible than it is; for as for this selling the Soul, and making a Bargain to give the Devil Possession by Livery and Seisin on the Day appointed, that I cannot come into by any Means; no nor into the other Part, namely, of the Devil coming to claim his Bargain, and to demand the Soul according to Agreement, and upon Default of a fair Delivery, taking it away by Violence Case and all, of which we have many historical Relations pretty current among us; some of which, for ought I know, we might have hop'd had been true, if we had not been sure they were false, and others we had Reason to fear were false, because it was impossible they should be true.
The Bargains of this Kind, according to the best Accounts we have of them, used to consist of two main Articles, according to the ordinary Stipulations in all Covenants; namely,
1. Something to be perform'd on the Devil's Part, buying.
2. Something to be performed on the Man's Part, selling.
1. The Devil's Part: This was generally some poor Trifle, for the Devil generally bought good Penny-worths, and oftentimes like a compleat Sharper, agreed to give what he was not able to procure; that is to say, would bargain for a Price he could not pay, as in the Case of the Hereford Man and the Cow; for Example, 1. Long Life: This tho' the deluded Chapman has often had folly enough to contract for, the Devil never had Power to make good; and we have a famous Story, how true I know not, of a Wretch that sold himself to the DEVIL on Condition he, Satan, should assure him (1.) That he should never want Victuals; (2.) That he should never be a cold; (3.) That he should always come to him when he call'd him; and (4.) That he should let him live one and twenty Years, and then Satan was at Liberty to have him; that is, I suppose, to take him wherever he could find him.
It seems, the Fellow's desire to be assur'd of 21 Years Life, was chiefly, that during that Time, he might be as wicked as he would, and should yet be sure not to be hang'd, nay, to be free from all Punishment; upon this Foot 'tis said he commenc'd Rogue, and committed a great many Robberies and other villanous Things; now it seems the Devil was pretty true to his Bargain in several of those things; particularly, that two or three times when the Fellow was taken up for petty Crimes, and call'd for his old Friend, he came and frighted the Constables so, that they let the Offender get away from them: But at Length having done some capital Crime, a Set of Constables, or such like Officers, seiz'd upon him, who were not to be frighted with the Devil, in what Shape soever he appear'd; so that they carry'd him off, and he was committed to Newgate or some other Prison as effectual.
Nor could Satan with all his Skill unlock his Fetters, much less the Prison Doors; But he was try'd, convicted, and executed. The Fellow in his Extremity, they say, expostulated with the Devil for his Bargain, the Term of 21 Years it seems not being expir'd. But the Devil, it is said, shuffl'd with him, told him a good while, he would get him out, bid him have Patience and stay a little, and thus led him on, till he came as it were within Sight of the Gallows, that is to say, within a Day or two of his Execution; when the Devil cavill'd upon his Bargain, told him, he agreed to let him live 21 Years, and he had not hindred him, but that he did not Covenant to cause him to live that Time; that there was a great deal of Difference between doing and suffering; that he was to suffer him to live, and that he did; but he could not make him live when he had brought himself to the Gallows.
Whether this Story were true or not, for you must not expect we Historians should answer for the Discourse between the Devil and his Chaps, because we were not privy to the Bargain: I say, whether it was true or not, the Inference is to our Purpose several Ways.
1. It confirms what I have said of the Knavery of the Devil in his Dealings, and that when he has Stock-jobb'd with us on the best Conditions he can get, he very seldom performs his Bargain.
2. It confirms what I have likewise said, that the Devil's Power is limited; with this Addition, that he not only cannot destroy the Life of Man, but that he cannot preserve it; in short, he can neither prevent or bring on our Destruction.
I may be allow'd, I hope, for the Sake of the present Discourse, to suppose that the Devil would have been so just to this wicked, tho' foolish Creature, as to have sav'd him from the Gallows if he could; but it seems, he at last acknowledg'd that it was not in his Power; nay, he could not keep him from being taken and carry'd to Prison, after he was gotten into the Hands of a bold Fellow or two, that were not to be fear'd with his Bluster, as some foolish Creatures had been before.
And how simple, how weak, how unlike any Thing of an Angelick Nature, was it to attempt to save the poor Wretch, only by little Noises and sham Appearances, putting out the Candles, rushing and josteling in the Dark, and the like! If the Devil was that mighty Seraph, which we have heard of, if he is a God of this World, a Prince of the Air, a Spirit able to destroy Cities and make Havock in the World; if he can raise Tempests and Storms, throw Fire about the World, and do wonderful Things, as an unchain'd Devil no Doubt could do; what need all this Frippery? and what need he try so many ridiculous Ways, by the Emptiness, nay, the silly nonsensical Manner, of which, he shews, that he is able to do no better, and that his Power is extinguish'd? In a Word, he would certainly act otherwise, if he could. Sed caret pedibus, he wants Power.
How weak a thing is it then, for any Man to expect Performance from the Devil? If he has not Power to do Mischief, which is his Element, his very Nature, and on many Accounts, is the very sum of his Desires; How should he have Power to do Good? how Power to deliver from Danger or from Death? which Deliverance would be in itself a Good, and we know it is not in his Nature to do Good to or for any Man?
In a Word, the Devil is strangely impudent, to think that any Man should depend upon him for the Performance of an Agreement of any Kind whatever, when he knows himself, that he is not able, if he was honest enough, to be as good as his Word.
Come we next to his expecting our Performance to him; tho' he is not so just to us, yet, it seems, he never fails to come and demand Payment of us at the very Day appointed: He was but a weak Trader in Things of this Nature, who having sold his Soul to the Devil, so our old Women's Tales call the Thing, and when the Devil came to demand his Bargain, put it off as a Thing of no Force, for that it was done so long ago, he thought he (the Devil) had forgot it. It was a better Answer, which they tell us, a Lutheran Divine gave the Devil in the Name of a poor Wretch, who had sold himself to the Devil, and who was in a terrible Fright about his coming for his Bargain, as he might well be indeed, if the Devil has such a Power, as really to come and take it by Force. The Story (if you can bear a serious one) is this.
The Man was in great Horror of Mind, and the Family fear'd he would destroy himself; at length they sent for a Lutheran Minister to talk with him, and who after some Labour with him, got out the Truth (viz.) that he had sold himself to the Devil, and that the Time was almost expir'd, when he expected the Devil would come and fetch him away, and he was sure he would not fail coming to the Time to a Minute; the Minister first endeavour'd to convince him of the horrid Crime, and to bring him to a true Penitence for that Part; and having as he thought made him a sincere Penitent, he then began to encourage him, and particularly, desir'd of him, that when the Time was come, that the Devil should fetch him away, he, the Minister, should be in the House with him; accordingly, to make the Story short, the Time came, the Devil came, and the Minister was present, when the Devil came; what Shape he was in, the Story does not say; the Man said he saw him, and cry'd out; the Minister could not see him, but the Man affirming he was in the Room, the Minister said aloud, in the Name of the living God, Satan, what comest thou here for? The Devil answer'd, I come for my own; the Minister answer'd, He is not thy own, for Jesus Christ has redeem'd him, and in his Name I charge thee to avoid and touch him not; at which, says the Story, the Devil gave a furious Stamp (with his Cloven-Foot I suppose) and went away, and was never known to molest him afterward.
Another Story, tho' it be in it self a long one, I shall abridge (for your reading with the less Uneasiness) as follows.
A young Gentleman of ——berg, in the Elector of Brandenburgh's (now the King of Prussia's) Dominions, being deeply in Love with a beautiful Lady, but something above his Fortune, and whom he could by no Means bring to love him again, apply'd himself to an old thing call'd a Witch, for her Assistance, and promised her great Things, if she could bring the Lady to love him, or any how compass her, so as he might have his Will of her; nay, at last he told her he would give up his Soul to her, if she would answer his Desire.
The old Hag, it seems, having had some of his Money, had very honestly tried what she could do, but all to no Purpose, the Lady would not comply; but when he offer'd such a great Price, she told him, she would consider farther against such a Time, and so appointed him the next Evening.
At the Time appointed he comes, and the Witch made a long Speech to him upon the Nicety of the Affair; I suppose to prepare him not to be surpriz'd at what was to come; for she suppos'd he was not so very desperately bent as he appear'd to be; she told him it was a Thing of very great Difficulty; but as he had made such a great Offer, of selling his Soul for it, she had an Acquaintance in the House, who was better skill'd (than she was) in such particular Things, and would treat with him farther, and she doubted not but that both together they might answer his End. The Fellow it seems was still of the same Mind, and told her, he car'd not what he pawn'd or sold, if he could but obtain the Lady; well, says the old Hag, sit still a while, and with that she withdraws.
By and by she comes in again with a Question in her Mouth; pray, says she, do you seek this Lady for a Wife, or for a Mistress, would you marry her, or would you only lie with her? The young Man told her no, no, he did not expect she would lie with him, therefore he would be satisfied to marry her, but asks her the Reason of the Question; why truly, says the old Hag, my Reason is very Weighty; for if you would have her for your Wife, I doubt, we can do you no Service; but if you have a Mind to lie with her, the Person, I speak of, will undertake it.
The Man was surpriz'd at that, only he objected that this was a transient or short Felicity, and that he should perhaps have her no more; the old Hag bid him not fear, but that if she once yielded to be his Whore, he might have her as often as he pleased; upon this he consents, for he was stark mad for the Lady; He having consented, she told him then, he should follow her, but told him, whoever he saw, he must speak to no body but her, till she gave him leave, and that he should not be surpriz'd, whatever happen'd, for no hurt should befall him; all which he agreed to, and the old Woman going out he follow'd her.
Being upon this led into another Room, where there was but very little Light, yet enough to let him see that there was no body in it but himself and the Woman, he was desired to sit down in a Chair next to a Table, and the old Woman clapping the Door too after her, he asked her why she shut the Door, and where was the Person she told him of? At which she answer'd there he is, pointing to a Chair at a little Distance: The young Gentleman turning his Head, saw a grave Kind of a Man sitting in an Elbow-Chair, tho' he said, he could have sworn there was no body in the Chair when the old Woman shut the Door; however, having promis'd not to speak to any body but the old Woman, he said not a Word.
By and by the Woman making abundance of strange Gestures and Motions, and mumbling over several Things which he could not understand, on a suddain a large Wicker-Chair, which stood by the Chimney, removes to the other End of the Table which he sat by, but there was no body in the Chair; in about two Minutes after that the Chair remov'd, there appear'd a Person sitting in that too, who, the Room being, as is said, almost dark, could not be so distinguish'd by the Eye, as to see his Countenance.
After some while, the first Man, and the Chair he sat in, mov'd, as if they had been one Body, to the Table also; and the old Woman and the two Men seem'd to talk together, but the young Man could not understand any Thing they said; after some Time the old Witch turn'd to the young Gentleman, told him his Request was granted, but not for Marriage, but the Lady should love and receive him.
The Witch then gave him a Stick dipt in Tar at both Ends, and bid him hold it to a Candle, which he did, and instead of burning like a Stick it burnt out like a Torch; then she bid him break it off in the Middle, and light the other End; he did that too, and all the Room seem'd to be in a light Flame; then she said, deliver one Piece here, pointing to one only of the Persons, so he gave the first Fire-stick to the first Man or Apparition; now says she, deliver the other here, so he gave the other Piece to the other Apparition, at which they both rose up and spoke to him Words, which he said he understood not, and could not repeat, and immediately vanish'd with the Fire-sticks and all, leaving the Room full of Smoke: I do not remember that the Story says any Thing of Brimstone, or the Smell of it, but it says the Door continu'd fast lock'd, and no Body was left in the Room but the young Gentleman and the Witch.
Now the Ceremony being over, he ask'd the Witch if the Business was done? She said yes. Well, but says he, have I sold my Soul to the Devil? Yes, says she, you have, and you gave him Possession, when you deliver'd the two Fire-sticks to him. To him! says he, why, was that the Devil? Yes, says the old Hag. At which the young Man was in a terrible Fright for a while, but it went off again.
And what's next, says he, when shall I see the Lady for whose sake I have done all this? You shall know that presently, said she, and opening the Door, in the next Room she presents him with a most beautiful Lady, but had charg'd him not to speak a Word to her: She was exactly dress'd like, and he presently knew her to be the Lady he desir'd; upon which he flew to her and clasped her in his Arms, but that Moment he had her fast, as he thought, in his Arms, she vanish'd out of his sight.
Finding himself thus disappointed, he upbraids the old Woman with betraying him, and flew out with ill Language at her, in a great Rage; the Devil often deluded him thus, after this, with Shews and Appearances, but still no Performance; after a while he gets an Opportunity to speak with the Lady her self in Reality, but she was as positive in her Denial as ever, and even took away all Hopes of his ever obtaining her, which put him into Despair; for now he thought he had given himself up to the Devil for nothing, and this brought him to himself; so that he made a penitent Confession of his Crime to some Friends, who took great Care of him, and encourag'd him, and at last furnish'd him with such an Answer as put the Devil into a Fright, when he came for the Bargain.
For Satan, it seems, as the Story says, had the Impudence to demand his Agreement, notwithstanding he had fail'd in the Performance on his Part; what the Answer was I do not pretend to have seen, but it seems it was something like what is mention'd above, (viz.) that he was in better Hands, and that he durst not touch him.
I have heard of another Person that had actually sign'd a Contract with the Devil; and upon a Fast kept by some Protestant or Christian Divines, while they were praying for the poor Man, the Devil was oblig'd to come and throw the Contract in at the Window.
But I vouch none of these Stories, there may be much in them and much Use made of them, even whether exactly such in Fact, as they are related, or no; the best Use I can make of them, is this, if any wicked desperate Wretches have made Bargain and Sale with Satan, their only Way is to repent, if they know how, and that before he comes to claim them; then batter him with his own Guns; play Religion against Devilism, and perhaps they may drive the Devil out of their Reach; at least he will not come at them, which is as well.
On the other Hand, how many Stories have we handed about of the Devil's really coming with a terrible Appearance at the Time appointed, and powerfully or by violence carrying away those, that have given themselves thus up to him; nay, and sometimes a Piece of the House along with them, as in the famous Instance of Sudbury, Anno 1662. It seems he comes with Rage and Fury upon such Occasions, pretending he only comes to take his own, or as if he had leave given him to come and take his Goods, as we say, where he could find them, and would strike a Terror into all that should oppose him.
The greatest Part of the Terror we are usually in upon this Occasion, is from a Supposition, that when this Hell-Fire Contract is once made, God allows the Devil to come and take the wicked Creature, how and in what manner he thinks fit, as being given up to him by his own Act and Deed; but in my Opinion there's no Divinity at all in that; for as in our Law we punish a Felo de se, or Self-murtherer, because, as the Law suggests, he had no Right to dismiss his own Life; that he being a Subject of the Common-wealth, the Government claims the Ward or Custody of him, and so 'twas not Murther only, but Robbery, and is a Felony against the State, robbing the King of his Liege-Man, as 'tis justly call'd; so neither has any Man a Right to dispose of his Soul, which belongs to his Maker in Property and in Right of Creation: The Man then having no Right to sell, Satan has no Right to buy, or at best he has made a Purchase without a Title, and consequently has no just Claim to the Possession.
It is therefore a Mistake to say, that when any of us have been so mad to make such a pretended Contract with the Devil, that God gives him leave to take it as his Due; 'tis no such thing; the Devil has bought, what you had no Right to sell, and therefore, as an unlawful Oath is to be repented of, and then broken; so your Business is to repent of the Crime, and then tell the Devil, you have better consider'd of it, and that you won't stand to your Bargain, for you had no Power to sell; and if he pretends to Violence after that, I am mistaken; I believe the Devil knows better.
It is true, our old Mothers and Nurses have told us other Things, but they only told us what their Mothers and Nurses told them, and so the Tale has been handed down from one Generation of old Women to another; but we have no Vouchers for the Fact other than Oral Tradition, the Credit of which, I confess, goes but a very little Way with me; nor do I believe it one Jot the more for all the frightful Addenda which they generally join to the Tale, for it never wants a great Variety of that Kind.
Thus they tell us the Devil carried away Dr. Faustus and took a Piece of the Wall of his Garden along with them: Thus at Salisbury the Devil as it is said, and publickly printed, carried away two Fellows that had given themselves up to him, and carried away the Roof of the House with them, and the like; all which I believe my Share of; besides, if these Stories were really true, they are all against the Devil's true Interest, Satan must be a Fool, which is indeed what I never took him to be in the Main; this would be the Way not to encrease the Number of Desperadoes, who should thus put themselves into his Hand, but to make himself a Terror to them; and this is one of the most powerful Objections I have against the Thing, for the Devil, I say, is no Fool, that must be acknowledg'd; he knows his own Game, and generally plays it sure.
I might, before I quit this Point, seriously reflect here upon our Beau mond (viz.) the gay Part of Mankind, especially those of the Times we live in, who walk about in a Composure and Tranquillity inexpressible, and yet as we all know, must certainly have all sold themselves to the Devil, for the Power of acting the foolishest Things with the greater Applause; it is true, to be a Fool is the most pleasant Life in the World, if the Fool has but the particular Felicity, which few Fools want, (viz.) to think themselves wise: The learned say, it is the Dignity and Perfection of Fools, that they never fail trusting themselves; they believe themselves sufficient and able for every Thing; and hence their want or waste of Brains is no Grievance to them, but they hug themselves in the Satiety of their own Wit; but to bring other People to have the same Notion of them, which they have of themselves, and to have their apish and ridiculous Conduct make the same Impression on the Minds of others, as it does on their own; this requires a general Infatuation, and must either be a Judgment from Heaven, or a Mist of Hell; nothing but the Devil can make all the Men of Brains applaud a Fool, and can any Man believe, that the Devil will do this for nothing? no, no, he will be well paid for it, and I know no other Way they have to compound with him, but this of Bargain and Sale.
'Tis the same thing with Rakes and Bullies, as 'tis with Fools and Beaus; and this brings me to the Subject of buying and selling it self, and to examine what is understood by it in the World, what People mean by such and such a Man selling himself to the Devil: I know the common Acceptation of it is, that they make some Capitulation for some Indulgence in Wickedness, on Conditions of Safety and Impunity, which the Devil promises them; tho' as I said above, he is a Bite in that too, for he can't perform the Conditions; however, I say, he promises boldly, and they believe him, and for this Privilege in Wickedness, they consent, that he shall come and fetch them for his own, at such or such a Time.
This is the State of the Case in the general Acceptation of it; I do not say 'tis really so, nay 'tis even an Inconsistency in it self; for one would think, they need not capitulate with the Devil to be so, and so, superlatively wicked, and give him such a Price for it, seeing, unless we have a wrong Notion of him, he is naturally enclin'd, as well as avow'dly willing to have all Men be as superlatively wicked as possibly they can, and must necessarily be always ready to issue out his Licenses gratis, as far as his Authority will go in the Case; and therefore I do not see why the Wretches that deal with him, should article with him for a Price; but suppose, for Argument sake, that it is so, then the next Thing is, some capital Crime follows the Contract, and then the Wretch is forsaken, for the Devil cannot protect him, as he promised; so he is Trust up, and like Coleman at the Gallows, he exclaims that there is no Truth in Devils.
It may be true, however, that under the powerful Guard and Protection of the Devil, Men do sometimes go a great Way in Crime, and that perhaps farther in these our Days of boasted Morals than was known among our Fathers; the only Difference that I meet with between the Sons of Belial in former Days, and those of our Ages, seems to be in the Devil's Management, not in theirs; the Sum of which amounts to this, that Satan seems to act with more Cunning, and they with less; for in the former Ages of Satan's Dominion, he had much Business upon his Hands, all his Art and Engines, and Engineers also, were kept fully employ'd, to wheedle, allure, betray and circumvent People, and draw them into Crimes, and they found him, as we may say, a full Employment; I doubt not, he was call'd the Tempter on that very Account; but the Case seems quite alter'd now, the Tables are turned; then the Devil tempted Men to sin, But now, in short, they tempt the Devil; Men push into Crimes before he pushes them; they out shoot him in his own Bow, out run him on his own Ground, and, as we say of some hot Spurs who ride Post, they whip the Post-Boy; in a Word, the Devil seems to have no Business now but to sit still and look on.
This, I must confess, seems to intimate some secret Compact between the Devil and them; but then it looks, not as is they had contracted with the Devil for leave to sin, but that the Devil had contracted with them, that they should sin so and so, up to such a Degree, and that without giving him the Trouble of daily Solicitation, private Management, and artful screwing up their Passions, their Affections and their most retir'd Faculties, as he was before oblig'd to do.
This also appears more agreeable to the Nature of the Thing; and as it is a most exquisite part of Satan's Cunning, so 'tis an undoubted Testimony of his Success; if it was not so, he could never bring his Kingdom to such a height of absolute Power as he has done; this also solves several Difficulties in the Affair of the World's present Way of sinning, which otherwise it would be very hard to understand; as particularly how some eminent Men of Quality among us, whose upper Rooms are not extraordinary well furnished in other Cases, yet are so very witty in their Wickedness, that they gather Admirers by hundreds and thousands; who, however heavy, lumpish, slow and backward, even by Nature, and in force of Constitution in better things, yet in their Race Devil-wards they are of a sudden grown nimble, light of Foot, and outrun all their Neighbours; Fellows that are as empty of Sense as Beggars are of Honesty, and as far from Brains as a Whore is of Modesty; on a sudden you shall find them dip into Polemicks, study Michael Servetus, Socinus, and the most learned of their Disciples; they shall reason against all Religion, as strongly as a Philosopher; blaspheme with such a Keenness of Wit, and satyrise God and Eternity, with such a Brightness of Fancy, as if the soul of a Rochester or a Hobbs was transmigrated into them; in a little length of Time more they banter Heaven, burlesque the Trinity, and jest with every sacred thing, and all so sharp, so ready, and so terribly witty, as if they were born Buffoons, and were singl'd out by Nature to be Champions for the Devil.
Whence can all this come? how is the Change wrought? who but the Devil can inject Wit in Spight of natural Dullness, create Brains, fill empty Heads, and supply the Vacuities in the Understanding? and will Satan do all this for nothing? No, no, he is too wise for that; I can never doubt a secret Compact, if there is such a thing in Nature; when I see a Head where there was no Head, Sense in Posse where there is no Sense in Esse, Wit without Brains, and Sight without Eyes, 'tis all Devil-Work: Could G—— write Satyrs, that could neither read Latin or spell English, like old Sir William Read, who wrote a Book of Opticks, which when it was printed, he did not know which was the right Side uppermost, and which the wrong? Could this eminent uninform'd Beau turn Atheist, and make wise Speeches against that Being, which made him a Fool, if the Devil had not sold him some Wit in exchange for that Trifle of his, call'd Soul? Had he not barter'd his Inside with that Son of the Morning, to have his Tongue tip'd with Blasphemy, he that knew nothing of a God, but only to swear by him, could never have set up for a Wit, to burlesque his Providence and ridicule his Government of the World.
But the Devil, as he is God of the World, has one particular Advantage, and that is, that when he has Work to do he very seldom wants Instruments; with this Circumstance also, that the Degeneracy of human Nature supplies him; as the late King of France said of himself, when they told him what a Calamity was like to befal his Kingdom by the Famine: Well, says the King, then I shall not want Soldiers; and it was so, want of Bread supplied his Army with Recruits; so want of Grace supplied the Devil with Reprobates for his Work.
Another Reason why, I think, the Devil has made more Bargains of that Kind we speak of, in this Age, is, because he seems to have laid by his Cloven-Foot; all his old Emissaries, the Tools of his Trade, the Engineers which he employ'd in his Mines, such as Witches, Warlocks, Magicians, Conjurers, Astrologers, and all the hellish Train or Rabble of human Devils, who did his Drudgery in former Days, seem to be out of Work: I shall give you a fuller Enumeration of them in the next Chapter.
These, I say, seem to be laid aside; not that his Work is abated, or that his Business with Mankind, for their Delusion and Destruction is not the same, or perhaps more than ever; but the Devil seems to have chang'd Hands; the Temper and Genius of Mankind is alter'd, and they are not to be taken by Fright and Horror, as they were then: The Figures of those Creatures was always dismal and horrible, and that is it which I mean by the Cloven-Foot; but now Wit, Beauty and gay Things, are the Sum of his Craft, he manages by the Soft and the Smooth, the Fair and the Artful, the Kind and the Cunning, not by the Frightful and Terrible, the Ugly and the Odious.
When the Devil for weighty Dispatches, Wanted Messengers cunning and bold, He pass'd by the beautiful Faces, And pick'd out the Ugly and Old.
Of these he made Warlocks and Witches, To run of his Errands by Night, Till the over wrought Hag-ridden Wretches, Were as fit as the Devil, to fright.
But whoever has been his Adviser, As his Kingdom encreases in Growth; He now takes his Measures much wiser, And Trafficks with Beauty and Youth.
Disguis'd in the Wanton and Witty, He haunts both the Church and the Court, And sometimes he visits the City, Where all the best Christians resort.
Thus dress'd up in full Masquerade, He the bolder can range up and down, For he better can drive on his Trade, In any one's Name than his own.
Of the Tools the Devil works with, (viz.) Witches, Wizards or Warlocks, Conjurers, Magicians, Divines, Astrologers, Interpreters of Dreams, Tellers of Fortunes; and above all the rest, his particular modern Privy-Counsellors call'd Wits and Fools.
Tho', as I have advanc'd in the foregoing Chapter, the Devil has very much chang'd Hands in his modern Management of the World, and that instead of the Rabble and long Train of Implements reckoned up above, he now walks about in Beaus, Beauties, Wits and Fools; yet I must not omit to tell you that he has not dismiss'd his former Regiments, but like Officers in Time of Peace, he keeps them all in half Pay, or like Extraordinary Men at the Custom-House, they are kept at a Call, to be ready to fill up Vacancies, or to employ when he is more than ordinarily full of Business; and therefore it may not be amiss to give some brief Account of them, from Satan's own Memoirs, their Performance being no inconsiderable Part of his History.
Nor will it be an unprofitable Digression to go back a little to the primitive Institution of all these Orders, for they are very antient, and I assure you, it requires great Knowledge of Antiquity, to give a Particular of their Original; I shall be very brief in it.
In order then to this Enquiry, you must know that it was not for want of Servants, that Satan took this Sort of People into his Pay; he had, as I have observ'd in its Place, Millions of diligent Devils at his Call, whatever Business, and however difficult, he had for them to do; but as I have said above, that our modern People are forwarder than even the Devil himself can desire them to be; and that they come before they are call'd, run before they are sent, and crowd themselves into his Service; so it seems it was in those early Days, when the World was one universal Monarchy under his Dominion, as I have at large describ'd in its Place.
In those Days the Wickedness of the World keeping a just Pace with their Ignorance, this inferior Sort of low priz'd Instruments did the Devil's work mighty well; they drudg'd on in his Black-Art so laboriously, and with such good Success, that he found it was better to employ them as Tools to delude and draw in Mankind, than to send his invisible Implements about, and oblige them to take such Shapes and Dresses as were necessary upon every trifling Occasion; which, perhaps, was more Cost than Worship, more Pains than Pay.
Having then a Set of these Voluntiers in his Service, the true Devil had nothing to do but to keep an exact Correspondence with them, and communicate some needful Powers to them, to make them be and do something extraordinary, and give them a Reputation in their Business; and these, in a Word, did a great Part of, nay almost all the Devil's Business in the World.
To this Purpose gave he them Power, if we may believe old Glanville, Baxter, Hicks, and other learn'd Consultors of Oracles, to walk invisible, to fly in the Air, ride upon Broom-sticks, and other Wooden Gear, to interpret Dreams, answer Questions, betray Secrets, to talk (Gibberish) the universal Language, to raise Storms, sell Winds, bring up Spirits, disturb the Dead, and torment the Living, with a thousand other needful Tricks to amuse the World, keep themselves in Veneration, and carry on the Devil's Empire in the World.
The first Nations among whom these infernal Practices were found, were the Chaldeans; and that I may do Justice in earnest, as well as in jest, it must be allow'd that the Chaldeans, or those of them so call'd, were not Conjurers or Magicians, only Philosophers and Studiers of Nature, wise, sober and studious Men at first, and we have an extraordinary Account of them; and if we may believe some of our best Writers of Fame, Abraham was himself famous among them for such Magick, as Sir Walter Raleigh expresses it, Qui Contemplatione Creaturarum Cognovit Creatorem.
Now granting this, it is all to my Purpose, namely, that the Devil drew these wise Men in, to search after more Knowledge than Nature could instruct them in; and the Knowledge of the true God being at that Time sunk very low, he debauch'd them all with Dreams, Apparitions, Conjurers, &c. till he ruin'd the just Notions they had, and made Devils of them all, like himself.
The learned Senensis, speaking of this Chaldean Kind of Learning, gives us an Account of five Sorts of them; you will pardon me for being so grave as to go this Length back.
1. Chascedin or Chaldeans, properly so call'd, being Astronomers.
2. Asaphim or Magicians, such was Zoroastres and Balaam the Son of Beor.
3. Chatumim or Interpreters of Dreams and hard Speeches, Inchanters, &c.
4. Mecasphim or Witches, call'd at first Prophets, afterwards Malefici or Venefici, Poisoners.
5. Gazarim or Auruspices, and Diviners, such as divin'd by the Entrails of Beasts, the Liver in particular; mention'd in Ezek. or as others, call'd Augurs.
Now, as to all these, I suppose, I may do them no wrong, if I say, however justifiable they were in the Beginning, the Devil got them all into his Service at last, and that brings me to my Text again, from which the rest was a Digression.
1. The Chascedin or Chaldean Astronomers turned Astrologers, Fortune-Tellers, Calculators of Nativities, and vile Deluders of the People, as if the Wisdom of the holy God was in them, as Nebuchadnezzar said of Daniel on that very Account.
2. The Asaphim or Magi, or Magicians; Sixtus Senensis says, they were such as wrought by Covenants with Devils, but turn'd to it from their Wisdom, which was to study the practical Part of Natural Philosophy, working admirable Effects by the mutual Application of Natural Causes.
3. The Chartumim from being Reasoners or Disputers upon difficult Points in Philosophy, became Enchanters and Conjurers. So,
4. The Mecasphim or Prophets, they turn'd to be Sorcerers, Raisers of Spirits, such as wounded by an evil Eye, and by bitter Curses, and were afterwards fam'd for having familiar Converse with the Devil, and were called Witches.
5. The Gazarim, from the bare observing of the good and bad Omens, by the Entrails of Beasts, flying of Birds, &c. were turn'd to Sacrists or Priests of the Heathen Idols and Sacrificers.
Thus, I say, first or last the Devil engross'd all the Wise-Men of the East, for so they are call'd; made them all his own, and by them he work'd Wonders, that is, he fill'd the World with lying Wonders, as if wrought by these Men, when indeed it was all his own, from Beginning to the End, and set on Foot meerly to propagate Delusion, impose upon blinded and ignorant Men; the God of this World blinded their Minds, and they were led away by the Subtilty of the Devil, to say no worse of it, till they became Devils themselves, as to Mankind; for they carried on the Devil's Work upon all Occasions, and the Race of them still continue in other Nations, and some of them among our selves, as we shall see presently.
The Arabians follow'd the Chaldeans in this Study, while it was kept within its due Bounds, and after them the Egyptians; and among the Latter we find that Jannes and Jambres were famous for their leading Pharaoh by their pretended magic Performances, to reject the real Miracles of Moses; and History tells us of strange Pranks the Wise-Men, the Magicians and the Southsayers plaid to delude the People in the most early Ages of the World.
But, as I say, now, the Devil has improv'd himself, so he did then; for the Grecian and Roman Heathen Rites coming on, they outdid all the Magicians and Southsayers, by establishing the Devil's lying Oracles, which, as a Master-Piece of Hell, did the Devil more Honour, and brought more Homage to him, than ever he had before, or could arrive to since.
Again, as by the setting up the Oracles, all the Magicians and Southsayers grew out of Credit; so at the ceasing of those Oracles, the Devil was fain to go back to the old Game again, and take up with the Agency of Witches, Divinations, Inchantments and Conjurings, as I hinted before, answerable to the four Sorts mention'd in the Story of Nebuchadnezzar, (viz.) Magicians, Astrologers, the Chaldeans and the Southsayers: How these began to be out of Request, I have mention'd already; but as the Devil has not quite given them over, only laid them aside a little for the present, we may venture to ask what they were, and what Use he made of them when he did employ them.
The Truth is, I think, as it was a very mean Employment for any thing that wears a human Countenance to take up, so I must acknowledge, I think, 'twas a mean low priz'd Business for Satan to take up with; below the very Devil; below his Dignity as an Angelic, tho' condemn'd Creature; below him even as a Devil; to go to talk to a parcel of ugly, deform'd, spiteful, malicious old Women; to give them Power to do Mischief, who never had a Will, after they enter'd into the State of old Woman-Hood, to do any thing else: Why the Devil always chose the ugliest old Women he could find; whether Wizardism made them ugly, that were not so before, and whether the Ugliness, as it was a Beauty in Witchcraft, did not encrease according to the meritorious Performance in the Black-Trade? These are all Questions of Moment to be decided, (if human Learning can arrive to so much Perfection) in Ages to come.
Some say the evil Eye and the wicked Look were Parts of the Enchantment, and that the Witches, when they were in the height of their Business, had a powerful Influence with both; that by looking upon any Person they could bewitch them, and make the Devil, as the Scots express it, ride through them booted and spurr'd; and that hence came that very significant Saying, to look like a Witch.
The strange Work which the Devil has made in the World, by this Sort of his Agents call'd Witches, is such, and so extravagantly wild, that except our Hope that most of those Tales happen not to be true, I know not how any one could be easy to live near a Widow after she was five and fifty.
All the other Sorts of Emissaries which Satan employs, come short of these Ghosts; and Apparitions sometimes come and shew themselves, on particular Accounts, and some of those Particulars respect doing Justice, repairing Wrongs, preventing Mischief; sometimes in Matters very considerable, and on Things so necessary to publick Benefit, that we are tempted to believe they proceed from some vigilant Spirit who wishes us well; but on the other Hand, these Witches are never concern'd in any thing but Mischief; nay, if what they do portends good to one, it issues in hurt to many; the whole Tenour of their Life, their Design in general, is to do Mischief, and they are only employ'd in Mischief, and nothing else: How far they are furnish'd with Ability suitable to the horrid Will they are vested with, remains to be describ'd.
These Witches, 'tis said, are furnish'd with Power suitable to the Occasion that is before them, and particularly that which deserves to be consider'd, as Prediction, and foretelling Events, which I insist the Author of Witchcraft is not accomplish'd with himself, nor can he communicate it to any other: How then Witches come to be able to foretel Things to come, which, 'tis said, the Devil himself cannot know, and which, as I have shewn, 'tis evident he does not know himself, is yet to be determin'd; that Witches do foretel, is certain, from the Witch of Endor, who foretold Things to Saul, which he knew not before, namely, that he should be slain in Battle the next Day, which accordingly came to pass.
There are, however, and notwithstanding this particular Case, many Instances wherein the Devil has not been able to foretel approaching Events, and that in Things of the utmost Consequence, and he has given certain foolish or false Answers in such Cases; the DEVIL's Priests, which were summon'd in by the Prophet Elija, to decide the Dispute between God and Baal, had the Devil been able to have inform'd them of it, would certainly have receiv'd Notice from him, of what was intended against them by Elija; that is to say, that they would be all cut in pieces; for Satan was not such a Fool as not to know that Baal was a Non-Entity, a Nothing, at best a dead Man, perish'd and rotting in his Grave; for Baal was Bell or Belus, an ancient King of the Assyrian Monarchy, and he could no more answer by Fire to consume the Sacrifice, than he could raise himself from the dead.
But the Priests of Baal were left of their Master to their just Fate, namely, to be a Sacrifice to the Fury of a deluded People; hence I infer his Inability, for it would have been very unkind and ungrateful in him not to have answer'd them, if he had been able. There is another Argument raised here most justly against the Devil, with Relation to his being under Restraint, and that of greater Eminence than we imagine, and it is drawn from this very Passage, thus; 'tis not to be doubted but that Satan, who has much of the Element put into his Hands, as Prince of the Air, had a Power, or was able potentially speaking, to have answer'd Baal's Priests by Fire; Fire being in Vertue of his airy Principality a Part of his Dominion; but he was certainly withheld by the Superior Hand, which gave him that Dominion, I mean withheld for the Occasion only: So in another Case, it was plain that Balaam, who was one of those Sorts of Chaldeans mention'd above, who dealt in Divinations and Inchantments, was withheld from cursing Israel.
Some are of Opinion that Balaam was not a Witch or a Dealer with the Devil because 'tis said of him, or rather he says it of himself, that he saw the Visions of God, Numb. xxiv. 16. He hath said, who heard the Words of GOD, and knew the Knowledge of the most High, which saw the Visions of the Almighty, falling into a TRANCE, but having his Eyes open: Hence they alledge he was one of those Magi, which St. Augustin speaks of, de Divinatione, who by the Study of Nature, and by the Contemplation of created Beings came to the Knowledge of the Creature; and that Balaam's Fault was, that being tempted by the Rewards and Honours that the King promised him, he intended to have curs'd Israel; but when his Eyes were open'd, and that he saw they were God's own People, he durst not do it; they will have it therefore, that except, as above, Balaam was a good Man, or at least that he had the Knowledge of the true God, and the Fear of that God upon him, and that he honestly declares this, Numb. xxii. 18. If Balak would give me his House full of Silver and Gold, I cannot go beyond the Word of the Lord MY GOD: Where tho' he is call'd a false Prophet by some, he evidently owns God, and assumes a Property in him, as other Prophets did; MY GOD, and I cannot go beyond his Orders; but that which gives me a better Opinion of Balaam than all this is, his plain Prophesy of Christ, Chap. xxiv. 17. where he calls him the Star of Jacob, and declares, I shall see him, but not now, I shall behold him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the Corners of Moab, and destroy all the Children of Seth, all which express not a Knowledge only, but a Faith in Christ; but I have done preaching, this is all by the by, I return to my Business, which is the History.
There is another Piece of dark Practice here, which lies between Satan and his particular Agents, and which they must give us an Answer to, when they can, which I think will not be in haste; and that is about the obsequious Devil submitting to be call'd up into Visibility, whenever an old Woman has her Hand cross'd with a white Six-pence, as they Call it: One would think that instead of these vile Things call'd Witches, being sold to the Devil, the Devil was really sold for a Slave to them; for how far soever Satan's Residence is off of this State of Life, they have Power, it seems, to fetch him from home, and oblige him to come at their Call.
I can give little Account of this, only that indeed so it is; nor is the Thing so strange in its self, as the Methods to do it are mean, foolish, and ridiculous; as making a Circle and dancing in it, pronouncing such and such Words, saying the Lord's Prayer backward, and the like; now is this agreeable to the Dignity of the Prince of the Air or Atmosphere, that he should be commanded forth with no more Pomp or Ceremony than that of muttering a few Words, such as the old Witches and he agree about? or is there something else in it, which none of us or themselves understand?
Perhaps, indeed, he is always with those People call'd Witches and Conjurers, or at least some of his Camp Volant are always present, and so upon the least call of the Wizard, it is but putting off the misty Cloak and showing themselves.
Then we have a Piece of mock Pageantry in bringing those Things call'd witches or Conjurers to Justice, that is, first to know if a Woman be a Witch, throw her into a Pond, and if she be a Witch, she will swim, and it is not in her own Power to prevent it; if she does all she can to sink her self, it will not do, she will swim like a Cork. Then that a Rope will not hang a Witch, but you must get a With, a green Osyer; that if you nail a Horse-Shoe on the Sill of the Door, she cannot come into the House, or go out, if she be in; these and a thousand more, too simple to be believ'd, are yet so vouch'd, so taken for granted, and so universally receiv'd for Truth, that there is no resisting them without being thought atheistical.
What Methods to take to know, who are Witches, I really know not; but on the other Side, I think there are variety of Methods to be used to know who are not; W—- G—-, Esq; is a Man of Fame, his Parts are great, because his Estate is so; he has threescore and eight Lines of Virgil by rote, and they take up many of the Intervals of his merry Discourses; he has just as many witty Stories to please Society; when they are well told, once over, he begins again, and so he lives in a round of Wit and Learning; he is a Man of great Simplicity and Sincerity; you must be careful not to mistake my Meaning, as to the Word Simplicity; some take it to mean Honesty, and so do I, only that it has a Negative attending it, in his particular Case; in a Word, W—— G—— is an honest Man, and no Conjurer; a good Character, I think, and without Impeachment to his Understanding, he may be a Man of Worth for all that; take the other Sex, there is the Lady H—— is another Discovery; bless us! what Charms in that Face! How bright those Eyes! How flowing white her Breasts! How sweet her Voice? add to all, how heavenly, divinely good her Temper! How inimitable her Behaviour! How spotless her Virtue! How perfect her Innocence! and to sum up her Character, we may add, the Lady H—— is no Witch; sure none of our Beau Critics will be so unkind now as to censure me in those honest Descriptions, as if I meant that my good Friend W—— G—— Esq; or my ador'd Angel, the bright, the charming Lady H—— were Fools; but what will not those Savages, call'd Critics, do, whose barbarous Nature enclines them to trample on the brightest Characters, and to cavil on the clearest Expressions?
It might be expected of me, however, in justice to my Friends, and to the bright Characters of abundance of Gentlemen of this Age, who, by the Depth of their Politics, and the Height of their Elevations might be suspected, and might give us Room to charge them with Subterranean Intelligence; I say, it might be expected that I should clear up their Fame, and assure the World concerning them, even by Name, that they are no Conjurers, that they do not deal with the Devil, at least, not by the Way Witchcraft and Divination, such as Sir T—-k, E—- B—-, Esq; my Lord Homily, Coll. Swagger, Jeoffry Well with, Esq; Capt. Harry Go Deeper, Mr. Wellcome Woollen, Citizen and Merchant Taylor of London, Henry Cadaver, Esq; the D—— of Caerfilly, the Marquess of Sillyhoo, Sir Edward Thro' and Thro' Bart. and a World of fine Gentlemen more, whose great Heads and Weighty Understandings have given the World such Occasion to challenge them with being at least descended from the Magi, and perhaps engaged with old Satan in his Politics and Experiments; but I, that have such good Intelligence among Satan's Ministers of State, as is necessary to the present Undertaking, am thereby well able to clear up their Characters: and I doubt not, but they will value themselves upon it, and acknowledge their Obligation to me, for letting the World know the Devil does not pretend to have had any Business with them, or to have enroll'd them in the List of his Operators; in a Word, that none of them are Conjurers: Upon which Testimony of mine, I expect they be no longer charg'd with, or so much as suspected of having an unlawful Quantity of Wit, or having any Sorts of it about them, that are contraband or prohibited, but that for the future they pass unmolested, and be taken for nothing but what they are, (viz.) very honest worthy Gentlemen.
Of the various Methods the Devil takes to converse with Mankind.
Having spoken something of Persons, and particularly of such as the Devil thinks fit to employ in his Affairs in the World, it comes next of course to say something of the Manner how he communicates his Mind to them, and by them to the rest of his Acquaintance in the World.
I take the Devil to be under great Difficulties in his Affairs on his Part, especially occasion'd by the Bounds which are set him, or which Policys oblige him to set to himself, in his Access to the conversing with Mankind; 'tis evident he is not permitted to fall upon them with Force and Arms, that is to say, to muster up his infernal Troops, and attack them with Fire and Sword; if he was not loose to act in this Manner as he was able, by his own seraphic Power to have destroy'd the whole Race, and even the Earth they dwelt upon, so he would certainly, and long ago have effectually done it; his particular Interests and Inclinations are well enough known.
But in the next Place, as he is thus restrain'd from Violence, so Prudentials restrain him in all his other Actings with Mankind; and being confin'd to Stratagem, and soft still Methods, such as Persuasion, Allurement, feeding the Appetite, prompting, and then gratifying corrupt Desires, and the like; he finds it for his Purpose not to appear in Person, except very rarely, and then in Disguise; but to act all the rest in the Dark, under the Vizor of Art and Craft, making Use of Persons and Methods conceal'd, or at least not fully understood or discover'd.
As to the Persons whom he employs, I have taken some Pains you see to discover some of them; but the Methods he uses with them, either to inform and instruct, and give Orders to them, or to converse with other People by them, these are very particular, and deserve some Place in our Memoirs, particularly as they may serve to remove some of our Mistakes, and to take off some of the frightful Ideas we are apt to entertain in Prejudice of this great Manager; as if he was no more to be match'd in his Politics, than he would be to be match'd in his Power, if it was let loose; which is so much a Mistake, that on the contrary, we read of several People that have abused and cheated the Devil, a Thing, which I cannot say, is very honest nor just, notwithstanding the old Latin Proverb, Fallere fallentem non est fraus, (which Men construe, or rather render, by way of Banter Upon Satan) 'tis no Sin to cheat the Devil, which for all that, upon the whole I deny, and alledge, that let the Devil act how he will by us, we ought to deal fairly by him.
But to come to the Business, without Circumlocutions; I am to enquire how Satan issues out his Orders, gives his Instructions and fully delivers his Mind to his Emissaries, of whom I have mention'd some in the Title to Chap. IX. In order to this, you must form an Idea of the Devil sitting in great State, in open Campaign, with all his Legions about him, in the height of the Atmosphere; or if you will, at a certain Distance from the Atmosphere, and above it, that the Plan of his Encampment might not be hurried round its own Axis, with the Earth's diurnal Motion, which might be some Disturbance to him.
By this fix'd Situation, the Earth performing its Rotation, he has every Part and Parcel of it brought to a direct Opposition to him, and consequently to his View once in twenty four Hours: The last time I was there, if I remember right, he had this Quarter of the World, which we call Christendom, just under his Eye; and as the Motion is not so swift, but that his piercing Opticks can take a strict View of it en passant; for the Circumference of it being but twenty one thousand Miles, and its circular Motion being full twenty four Hours performing, he has something more than an Hour to view every thousand Miles, which, to his supernatural Penetration, is not worth naming.
As he takes thus a daily View of all the Circle, and an hourly View of the Parts, he is fully Master of all Transactions, at least such as are done above Board by all Mankind; and then he dispatches his Emissaries or Aid du Camps to every Part with his Orders and Instructions: Now these Emissaries, you are to understand, are not the Witches and Diviners, who I spoke of above, for I call them also Emissaries; but they are all Devils or (as you know they are call'd) Devil's Angels; and these may, perhaps, come and converse personally with the Sub-emissaries I mention'd, to be ready for their Support and Assistance on all Occasions of Business: These are those Devils which the Witches are said to raise; for we can hardly suppose the Master Devil comes himself, at the Summons of every ugly old Woman.
These run about into every Nook and Corner, wherever Satan's Business calls them, and are never wanting to him; but are the most diligent Devils imaginable; like the Turkish Chaiux, they no sooner receive their Errand, but they execute it with the utmost Alacrity; and as to their Speed, it may be truly written as a Motto, upon the Head of every individual Devil,
Non indiget calcaribus.
These are those, who they tell us our Witches, Sorcerers, Wizards, and such Sorts of Folks converse freely with, and are therefore call'd their Familiars; and as they tell us, come to them in human Shapes, talk to them with articulate plain Voices, as if Men, and that yet the said Witches, &c. know them to be Devils.
History has not yet enlighten'd us in this Part of useful Knowledge, or at least not sufficiently for a Description of the Persons or Habits of these Sorts of Appearances; as what Shapes they take up, what Language they speak, and what particular Works they perform, so we must refer it to farther Enquiry; but if we may credit History, we are told many famous Stories of these Appearances; for Example, the famous Mother Lakland, who was burnt for a Witch at Ipswich, Anno 1646, confessed at the Time of her Execution, or a little before it, that she had frequent Conversation with the Devil himself; that she being very poor, and withal of a devilish passionate, cruel and revengeful Disposition before, used to wish she had it in her Power to do such and such mischievous Things to some that she hated; and that the Devil himself, who, it seems, knew her Temper, came to her one Night as she lay in her Bed, and was between sleeping and waking, and speaking in a deep hollow Voice, told her; if she would serve him in some Things he would employ her to do, she should have her Will of all her Enemies, and should want for nothing: That she was much afraid at first, but that he solliciting her very often, bad her not be afraid of him, and still urg'd her to yield, and as she says, struck his Claw into her Hand, and tho' it did not hurt her, made it bleed, and with the Blood wrote the Covenants, that is to say, the Bargain between them: being ask'd what was in them, and whether he requir'd her to curse or deny God or Christ? She said no.
N. B. I do not find she told them whether the Devil wrote it with a Pen, or whether on Paper or Parchment, nor whether she sign'd it or no, but it seems he carry'd it away with him. I suppose, if Satan's Register were examin'd, it might be found among the Archives of Hell, the Rolls of his acta Publica; and when his Historiographer Royal publishes them, we may look for it among them.
Then he furnish'd her with three Devils, to wait upon her (I suppose) for she confess'd they were to be employ'd in her Service; they attended in the Shapes of two little Dogs and a Mole: The first she bewitch'd was her own Husband, by which he lay a while in great Misery and died; then she sent to one Captain Beal and burnt a new Ship of his just built, which had never been at Sea; these and many other horrid Things she did and confess'd, and having been twenty Years a Witch, at last the Devil left her, and she was burnt as she deserv'd.
That some extraordinary Occasions may bring these Agents of the Devil, nay, sometimes the Devil himself, to assume human Shapes, and appear to other People we cannot doubt; he did thus in the Case of our Saviour as a Tempter, and some think he did so to Manasses as a Familiar, who the Scripture charges with Sorcery, and having a Familiar or Devil; Fame tells us that St. Dunstan frequently converst with him, and finally, took him by the Nose; and so of others.
But in these modern Ages of the World, he finds it much more to his Purpose to work under Ground as I have observ'd, and to keep upon the Reserve; so that we have no authentick Accounts of his personal Appearance, but what are very antient or very remote from our Faith, as well as our Enquiry.
It seems to be a Question that would bear some debating, whether all Apparitions are not Devils or from the Devil; but there being so many of those Apparitions which we call Spirits, which really assume Shapes and make Appearances in the World, upon such Accounts as we know Satan himself scorns to be employ'd in, that I must dismiss the Question in favour of the Devil; assuring them, that as he never willingly did any good in his Life, so he would be far from giving himself the Trouble of setting one Foot into the World, on such an Errand; and for that Reason we maybe assur'd those certain Apparitions, which we are told came to detect a Murther in Gloucestershire, and others who appear'd to prevent the ruining an Orphan for want of finding a Deed, that was not lost, was certainly some other Power equally concern'd, and not the Devil.
On the other Hand, neither will it follow that Satan never appears in human Shape; for tho' every Apparition may not be the Devil, yet it does not follow that the Devil never makes an Apparition: All I shall say to it is, as I have mention'd before, that generally speaking, the Devil finds it more for his Purpose, to have his Interest in the World propagated another Way; namely, in private, and his personal Appearances are reserv'd for Things only of extraordinary Consequence, and, as I may say, of evident Necessity, where his Honour is concern'd, and where his Interest could be carried on no other Way; not forgetting to take Notice that this is very seldom.
It remains to enquire, what then those Things are which we make so much stir about, and which are call'd Apparitions, or Spirits assuming human Shapes, and shewing themselves to People on particular Occasions? whether they are evil Spirits or good? and tho', indeed, this is out of my Way at this Time, and does not relate at all to the Devil's History, yet I thought it not amiss to mention it; (1.) Because, as I have said, I do not wholly exclude Satan from all Concern in such Things; and (2.) Because I shall dismiss the Question with so very short an Answer, namely, that we may determine which are and which are not the Devil's, by the Errand they come upon; every one to his own Business; if it comes of a good Errand, you may certainly acquit the Devil of it, conclude him innocent, and that he has no hand in it; if it comes of a wicked and devilish Errand, you may e'en take him up upon Suspicion, 'tis ten to one but you find him at the Bottom of it.
Next to Apparitions, we find Mankind disturb'd by abundance of little odd reserv'd Ways which the Devil is shrewdly suspected of having a Hand in, such as Dreams, Noises, Voices, &c. smells of Brimstone, Candles burning blue, and the like.
As to Dreams, I have nothing to say in Satan's Prejudice at all there; I make no Question but he deals very much in that Kind of Intelligence, and why should he not? we know Heaven it self formerly converst very often with the greatest of Men, by the same Method, and the Devil is known to mimick the Methods, as well as the Actions of his Maker; whether Heaven has not quite left off that Way of working, we are not certain; but we pretty well know the Devil has not left it, and I believe some Instances may be given where his Worship has been really seen and talk'd to in sleep, as much as if the Person had been awake with his Eyes open.
These are to be distinguish'd too, pretty much by the Goodness or Badness of the Subject; how often have Men committed Murther, Robbery and Adultery in a Dream, and at the same time except an extraordinary Agitation of the Soul, and express'd by extraordinary Noises in the Sleep, by violent Sweating and other such Ways, the Head has never been remov'd from the Pillow, or the Body so much as turn'd in the Bed?
Whether in such Cases, the Soul with all the Passions and Affections being agitated, and giving their full assent to the Facts, of whatever Kind soever, the Man is not as guilty as if the Sins so dream'd of his committing, had been actually committed? tho' it be no Doubt to me, but that it is so, yet as it is foreign to the present Affair, and not at all relating to the Devil's History, I leave it to the Reverend Doctors of the Church, as properly belonging to them to decide.
I knew a Person who the Devil so haunted with naked Women, fine beautiful Ladies in Bed with him, and Ladies of his Acquaintance too, offering their Favours to him, and all in his Sleep; so that he seldom slept without some such Entertainment; the Particulars are too gross for my Story, but he gave me several long Accounts of his Night's Amours, and being a Man of a virtuous Life and good Morals, it was the greatest Surprize to him imaginable; for you cannot doubt but that the cunning Devil made every thing be acted to the Life with him, and in a manner the most wicked; he own'd with Grief to me, that the very first Attack the Devil made upon him, was with a very beautiful Lady of his Acquaintance, who he had been really something freer than ordinary with in their common Conversation; This Lady he brought to him in a Posture for Wickedness, and wrought up his Inclination so high in his Sleep, that he, as he thought, actually went about to debauch her, she not at all resisting; but that he wak'd in the very Moment, to his particular Satisfaction.
He was greatly concern'd at this Part, namely, that he really gave the Consent of his Will to the Fact, and wanted to know if he was not as guilty of Adultery, as if he had lain with her; indeed he decided the Question against himself, so forcibly, that I, who was of the same Opinion before, had nothing to say against it; however, I confirm'd him in it, by asking him these Questions.
1. Whether he did not think the Devil had the chief Hand in such a Dream? he answer'd, it could certainly be no body else, it must be the Devil.
2. I then ask'd him what Reason the Devil could have for it, if his Consent to the Fact in Sleep had not been criminal? That's true indeed, says he, I am answer'd: But then he ask'd another Question, which, I confess, is not so easy to answer, namely, How he should prevent being serv'd so again.
Nor could all my Divinity or his own keep the Devil from attacking him again; on the other Hand, as I have said, he worried him to that Degree, that he injur'd his Health, bringing naked Women to him, sometimes one, sometimes another, sometimes in one Posture of Lewdness, sometimes in another, sometimes into his very Arms, sometimes with such Additions as I am not merry enough, and sometimes such as I am not wicked enough to put into your Heads; the Man, indeed, could not help it, and so the Devil was more Faulty than he; but as I hinted to him, he might bring his Mind to such a stated Habit of Virtue, as to prevent its assenting to any wicked Motion, even in Sleep, and that would be the Way to put an End to the Attempt; and this Advice he relish'd very well, and practised, I believe, with Success.
By this same Method, the same Devil injects powerful Incentives to other Crimes, provokes Avarice, by laying a great Quantity of Gold in your View, and no body present, giving you an Opportunity to steal it, or some of it, at the same time, perhaps, knowing your Circumstances to be such as that you are at that Time in a great want of the Money.
I knew another, who being a Tradesman, and in great Distress for Money in his Business, dream'd that he was walking all alone in a great Wood, and that he met a little Child with a Bag of Gold in its Hand, and a fine Necklace of Diamonds on its Neck, upon the Sight, his Wants presently dictated to him to rob the Child; the little innocent Creature, (just so he dream'd) not being able to resist; or to tell who it was, accordingly he consented to take the Money from the Child, and then to take the Diamond Necklace from it too, and did so.
But the Devil, (a full Testimony, as I told him, that it was the Devil, not contented with that, hinted to him, that perhaps the Child might some time or other know him, and single him out, by crying or pointing, or some such Thing, especially if he was suspected and shew'd to it, and therefore it would be better for him to kill the Child, prompting him to kill it for his own Safety, and that he need do no more but twist the Neck of it a little, or crush it with his Knee; He told me he stood debating with himself, whether he should do so or not; but that in that Instant his Heart struck him with the Word Murther, and he entertain'd a Horror of it, refus'd to do it, and immediately waked.
He told me, that when he wak'd, he found himself in so violent a Sweat as he never had known the like; that his Pulse beat with that Heat and Rage, that it was like a Palpitation of the Heart to him, and that the Agitation of his Spirits was such, that he was not fully composed in some Hours; tho' the Satisfaction and Joy that attended him, when he found it was but a Dream, assisted much to return his Spirits to their due Temperament.
It is neither my Business or Inclination to turn Divine here, nor is the Age I write to sufficiently Grave to relish a Sermon, if I was disposed to preach, though they must allow the Subject would very well bear it; but I shall only ask them, if they think this is not the Devil, what they think it is? If they believe it is the Devil, they will act accordingly I hope, or let it alone, as Satan and they can agree about it.
I should not oblige the Devil over much, whatever I might do to those that read it; if I should enter here upon a Debate of Interests, (viz.) to enquire whether the Devil has not a vast Advantage upon Mankind this Way, and whether it is not much his Interest to preserve it; and if I prove the Affirmative, I leave it to you to enquire whose Interest it is to disappoint and supplant him.
In short, I take Dreams to be the second Best of the Advantages the Devil has over Mankind; the first, I suppose, you all know (viz.) the Treachery of the Garrison within; by Dreams he may be said to get into the Inside of us without Opposition; here he opens and locks without a Key, and like an Enemy laying siege to a fortified City, Reason and Nature, the Governor of the City, keep him out by Day, and keep the Garrison true to their Duty; but in the Dark he gets in and parlees with the Garrison (the Affections and Passions) Debauches their Loyalty, stirring up them to Disloyalty and Rebellion, so they betray their Trust, Revolt, Mutiny, and go over to the Besieger.
Thus he manages his Interest, I say, and insinuates himself into the Inside of us, without our Consent, nay, without our Knowledge; for whatever Speculation may do, 'tis evident Demonstration does not assist us to discover which Way he gets Access to the Soul, while the Organ tied up, and dozed with Sleep has lock'd it up from Action; that it is so is clear, but how he does it is a Secret which I do not find the Antients or Moderns have yet made a Discovery of.
That Devil of a Creature, Mother Lakland, whose Story I mention'd above, acknowledg'd that the first Time the Devil attempted to draw her in to be a Witch was in a Dream, and even when she consented, she said, she was between sleeping and waking; that is, she did not know whether she was awake or asleep, and the cunning Devil it seems was satisfied with her Assent given so, when she was asleep, or neither asleep or awake, so taking the Advantage of her Incapacity to act rationally.
The Stories of her bewitching several People, and the manner in which they died, are so formidable and extravagant, that I care not to put any one's Faith to the stretch about them, tho' publish'd by Authority, and testified by Abundance of Witnesses; but this is recorded in particular, and to my Purpose, whether from her own Mouth or not, I do not say, namely, the Description of a Witch, and the Difference between Witches, and those other of Satan's Acquaintance who act in his Name.
1. They have consulted and covenanted with a Spirit or Devil.
2. They have a Deputy Devil, sometimes several to serve and assist them.
3. These they employ as they please, call them by Name, and command their Appearance in whatever Shape they think fit.
4. They send them abroad to or into the Persons who they design to bewitch, who they always torment, and often murther them, as Mother Lakland did several.
As to the Difference between the several Devils that appear, it relates to the Office of the Persons who employ them; as Conjurers, who seem to command the particular Devil that waits upon them with more Authority, and raise them and lay them at Pleasure, drawing Circles, casting Figures, and the like; but the Witch, in a more familiar manner, whispers with the Devil, keeps the Devil in a Bag or a Sack, sometimes in her Pocket, and the like, and like Mr. Faux shews Tricks with him.
But all these Kinds deal much in Dreams, talk with the Devil in their Sleep, and make other People talk with him in their Sleep too; and 'tis on this Occasion I mention it here; in short, the Devil may well take this Opportunity with Mankind, for not half the World that came into his Measures would comply, if they were awake; but of that hereafter.
And yet his thus insinuating himself by Dream, does not seem sufficient, in my Opinion, to answer the Devil's End, and to carry on his Business; and therefore we must be forc'd to allow him a Kind of actual Possession, in particular Cases, and that in the Souls of some People, by different Methods from others; Luther is of the Opinion that the Devil gets a Familiarity with some Souls just at, or rather before their being embodied; as to the Manner and Method how he gets in, that is another Question, and may be spoken of by it self; besides, why may not he, that at Satan's Request to enter into the Herd of Swine, said go, give the same Commission to possess a sort of Creatures so many Degrees below the Dignity of the Gaderenian Swine, and open the Door too? but as for that, when our Lord said go, the Devil never enquir'd which Way he should get in.
When then I see Nations, or indeed Herds of Nations set on Fire of Hell, and as I may say, enflam'd by the Devil; when I see Towns, Parties, Factions and Rabbles of People visibly possess'd; 'tis enough to me that the great Master of the Devils has said to him, GO; there's no need to enquire which Way he finds open, or at what postern Gate he gets in; as to his appearing, 'tis plain he often gets in without appearing, and therefore the Question about his appearing still remains a Doubt, and is not very easy to be resolv'd.