Introduction to the whole work,
I DOUBT not but the title of this book will amuse some of my reading friends a little at first; they will make a pause, perhaps, as they do at a witch’s prayer, and be some time resolving whether they had best look into it or no, lest they should really raise the Devil, by reading his story.
Children and old women have told themselves so many frightful things of the Devil, and have formed ideas of him in their minds, in so many horrible and monstrous shapes, that really it were enough to fright the Devil himself to meet himself in the dark, dressed up in the several figures which imagination has formed for him in the minds of men; and, as for themselves, I cannot think by any means that the Devil would terrify them half so much, if they were to converse face to face with him.
It must certainly therefore be a most useful undertaking, to give a true history of this tyrant of the air, this god of the world, this terror and aversion of mankind, which we call Devil; to show what he is, and what he is NOT; where he is, and where he is NOT; when he is IN us, and when he is NOT; for I cannot doubt but that the Devil is really and bona fide in a great many of our honest weak-headed friends, when they themselves know nothing of the matter.
Nor is the work so difficult as some may imagine.
The Devil’s history is not so hard to come at, as it seems to be; his original and the first rise of his family is upon record; and as for his conduct, he has acted indeed in the dark, as to method, in many things; but in general, as cunning as he is, he has been fool enough to expose himself in some of the most considerable transactions of his Ike, and has not shown himself a politician at all; our old friend Matchiavel outdid him in many things, and I may, in the process of this work, give an account of several of the sons of Adam, and some societies of them too, who have outwitted the Devil, nay, who have outsinned the Devil, and that I think may be called outshooting him in his own bow.
It may, perhaps, be expected of me in this history, that since I seem inclined to speak favorably of Satan, to do him justice, and to write his story impartially, I should take some pains to tell you what religion he is of: and even this part may not be so much a jest, as at first sight you may take it to be; for Satan has something of religion in him, I assure you; nor is he such an unprofitable Devil that way as some may suppose him to be; for though, in reverence to my brethren, I will not reckon him among the clergy; no not so much as a gifted brother; yet I cannot deny, but that he often preaches; and if it be not profitable to his hearers, it is as much their fault, as it is out of his design.
It has indeed been suggested, that he has taken orders; and that a certain Pope, famous for being an extraordinary favorite of his, gave him both institution and induction; but as this is not upon record, and therefore we have no authentic document for the probation, I shall not affirm it for a truth, for I would not slander the Devil.
It is said also, and I am apt to believe it, that he was very familiar with that holy father Pope Silvester II., and some charge him with personating Pope Hildebrand on an extraordinary occasion, and himself sitting in the chair apostolic, in a full congregation; and you may hear more of this hereafter; but as I do not meet with Pope Diabolus among the list; in all Father Platina’s Lives of the Popes, so I am willing to leave it as I find it.
But to speak to the point, and a nice point it is, I acknowledge; namely, what religion the Devil is of; my answer will indeed be general, yet not at all ambiguous; for I love to speak positively, and with undoubted evidence.
1. He is a believer. And if in saying so it should follow, that even the Devil has more religion than some of our men of fame can at this time be charged with, I can assure them, however, that the Devil is no infidel.
2. He fears God. We have such abundant evidence of this in sacred history, that if I were not at present, in common with a few others, talking to an infidel sort of gentlemen, with whom those remote things called scriptures are not allowed in evidence, I might say it was sufficiently proved; but I doubt not in the process of this undertaking, to show that the Devil really fears God, and that after another manner than ever he feared Saint Francis or Saint Dunstan, and if that be proved, as I take upon me to advance, I shall leave it to judgment, who is the better Christian, the Devil who believes and trembles, or our modern infidels who believe neither God nor Devil.
Having thus brought the Devil within the pale, I shall leave him among you for the present; not but that I may examine in its order, who has the best claim to his brotherhood, the papists or the protestants; and among the latter, the Lutherans or the Calvinists; and so descending to all the several de nominations of churches, see who has less of the Devil in them, and who more; and whether less or more, the Devil has not a seat in every synagogue, a pew in every church, a place in every pulpit, and a vote in every synod; even to the Sanhedrim of the Jews.
I think I do no injury at all to the Devil, to say that he had a great hand in the old Holy War, as it was ignorantly and enthusiastically called; stirring up the Christian princes and powers of Europe to run a madding after the Turks and Saracens, and make war with those innocent people above a thousand miles off, only because they entered into God’s heritage when he had forsaken it; grazed upon his ground when he had fairly turned it into a common, and laid it open for the next comer; spending their nations’ treasure, and embarking their kings and people, I say, in a war above a thousand miles off, filling their heads with that religious madness, called, in those days, holy zeal to recover the terra sancta, the sepulchres of Christ and the saints, and as they called it falsely, the holy city, though true religion says it was the accursed city, and not worth spending one drop of blood for.
This religious bubble was certainly of Satan, who, as he craftily drew them in, so like a true Devil he left them in the lurch when they came there, faced about to the Saracens, animated the immortal Saladin against them, and managed so dextrously, that he left the bones of about thirteen or fourteen hundred thousand Christians there, as a trophy of his infernal politics: and after the Christian world had run d la santa terra, or in English, a sauntering about a hundred year, he dropt it to play another game less foolish, but ten times wickeder than that which went before it, namely, turning the crusadoes of the Christians, one against another; and, as Hudibras said in another case,
“Made them fight like mad or drunk,
For Dame Religion, as for Punk.”
Of this you have a complete account in the history of the Pope’s decrees against the Count de Thoulouse, and the Waldenses and Albigenses, with the crusadoes and massacres which followed upon them; wherein, to do the Devil’s politics some justice, he met with all the success he could desire; the zealots of that day executed his infernal orders most punctually, and planted religion in those countries in a glorious and triumphant manner, upon the destruction of an infinite number of innocent people, whose blood has fattened the soil for the growth of the Catholic faith, in a manner very particular, and to Satan’s full satisfaction.
I might, to complete this part of his history, give you the detail of his progress in these first steps of his alliances with Rome; and add a long list of massacres, wars and expeditions, in behalf of religion, which he has had the honor to have a visible hand in; such as the Parisian massacre, the Flemish war, under the Duke d’Alva, the Smithfield fires in the Marian days in England, and the massacres in Ireland; all which would most effectually convince us, that the Devil has not been idle in his business; but I may meet with these again in my way; it is enough while I am upon the generals only, to mention them thus in a summary way: I say, it is enough to prove that the Devil has really been as much concerned as any body, in the methods taken by some people for propagating the Christian religion in the world.
Some have rashly, and I had almost said maliciously, charged the Devil with the great triumphs of his friends the Spaniards in America, and would place the conquest of Mexico and Peru to the credit of his account.
But I cannot join with them in this at all: I must say, I believe the Devil was innocent of that matter; my reason is, because Satan was never such a fool as to spend his time, or his politics, or embark his allies, to conquer nations who were already his own; that would be Satan against Beelzebub, a making war upon himself, and at least doing nothing to the purpose.
But the greatest piece of management, which we find the Devil has concerned himself in of late, in the matter of religion, seems to be that of the mission into China; and here, indeed, Satan has acted his masterpiece: it was, no doubt, much for his service, that the Chinese should have no insight into matters of religion, I mean, that we call Christian; and, therefore, though popery and the Devil are not at so much variance as some may imagine, yet he did not think it safe to let the general system of Christianity be heard of among them in China. Hence when the name of the Christian religion had but been received with some seeming approbation in the country of Japan, Satan immediately, as if alarmed at the thing, and dreading what the consequences of it might be, armed the Japanese against it with such fury, that they expelled it at once.
It was much safer to his designs, when, if the story be not a fiction, he put that Dutch witticism into the mouths of the States’ commanders, when they came to Japan; who, having more wit than to own themselves Christians in such a place as that, when the question was put to them, answered negatively, that they were not, but that they were of another religion, called Hollanders.
However, it seems the diligent Jesuits outwitted the Devil in China, and, as I said above, overshot him in his own bow; for the mission being in danger by the Devil and the Chinese Emperor’s joining together, of being wholly expelled there too, as they had been in Japan, they cunningly fell in with the ecclesiastics of the country, and joining the priestcraft of both religions together, they brought Jesus Christ and Confucius to be so reconcilable, that the Chinese and the Roman Idolatry appeared capable of a confederacy, of going on hand in hand together, and consequently of being very good friends.
This was a master-piece indeed, and, as they say. almost frighted Satan out of his wits; but he, being a ready manager, and particularly famous for serving himself of the rogueries of the priests, faced about im mediately to the mission, and making a virtue of necessity, clapt in, with all possible alacrity, with the proposal*; so the Jesuits and he formed a hotch-potch of religion made up of popery and paganism, and calculated to leave the latter rather worse than they found it, blending the faith of Christ and the philosophy or morals of Confucius together, and formally christening them by the name of religion; by which means the politic interest of the mission was preserved; and yet Satan lost not one inch of ground with the Chinese, no, not by the planting the gospel itself, such as it was, among them.
N.B. He never refus’d setting his hand to any opinion, which he thought it for his interest to acknowledge.
Nor has it been such disadvantage to him that this plan or scheme of a new-modelled religion would not go down at Rome, and that the Inquisition damneol it with bell, book and candle; distance of place served his new allies, the missionaries, in the stead of a protection from the Inquisition; and now and then a rich present well placed found them friends in the congregation itself; and where any nuncio with his impudent zeal pretended to take such a long voyage to oppose them, Satan took care to get him sent back re infecta, or inspired the mission to move him off the premises, by methods of their own; that is to say, being interpreted, to murder him.
But there is so much to inquire of about the Devil, before we can bring his story down to our modern times, that we must for the present let them drop, and look a little back to the remoter parts of this history; drawing his picture, that people may know him when they meet him, and see who and what he is, and what he has been doing ever since he got leave to act in the high station he now appears in.
But, however, he knows the certainty of this fact, that when he endeavors the seducing the chosen servants of the Most High, he fights against God himself, struggles with irresistible grace, and makes war with infinite power; undermining the church of God, and that faith in him, which is fortified with the eternal promises of Jesus Christ, that the gates of hell, that is to say, the Devil and all his power, shall not prevail against them; I say, however he knows the impossibility there is that he should obtain his ends, yet so blind is his rage, so infatuate his wisdom, that he cannot refrain breaking himself to pieces against this mountain, and splitting against the rock.
But to leave this serious part, which is a little too solemn for the account of this rebel: seeing we are not to expect he will write his own history for our information and diversion, I shall see if I cannot write it for him: in order to this, I shall extract the substance of his whole story, from the beginning to our own times, which I shall collect out of what is come to hand, whether by revelation or inspiration, that’s nothing to him: I shall take care so to improve my intelligence, as may make my account of him authentic, and, in a word, such as the Devil himself shall not be able to contradict.
In writing this uncouth story, I shall be freed from the censures of the critics, in a more than ordinary manner, upon one account especially; namely, that my story shall be so just, and so well-grounded, and, after all the good things I shall say of Satan, will be so little to his satisfaction, that the Devil himself will not be able to say, I dealt with the Devil in writing it: I might, perhaps, give you some account where I had my intelligence, and how all the arcana of his management have come to my hands; but pardon me, gentlemen; this would be to betray conversation, and to discover my agents; and you know statesmen are very careful to preserve the correspondences they keep in the enemy’s country, lest they expose their friends to the resentment of the power whose counsels they betray.
Besides, the learned tell us, that ministers of state make an excellent plea of their not betraying their intelligence, against all party inquiries into the great sums of money pretended to be paid for secret service; and whether the secret service was to bribe people to betray things abroad, or at home; whether the money was paid to somebody, or to nobody; employed to establish correspondences abroad, or to establish families, and amass treasure, at home; in a word, whether it was to serve their country, or serve themselves; it has been the same thing, and the same plea has been their protection: likewise in the important affair which I am upon, it is hoped you will not desire me to betray my correspondents; for you know Satan is naturally cruel and malicious, and who knows what he might do, to show his resentment? at least it might endanger a stop of our intelligence for the future.
And yet, before I have done, I shall make it very plain, that however my information may be secret and difficult, that yet I came very honestly by it, and shall make a very good use of it; for it is a great mistake in those who think that an acquaintance with the affairs of the Devil may not be made very useful to us all: they that know no evil can know no good: and, as the learned tell us, that a stone taken out of the head of a toad is a good antidote against poison; so a competent knowledge of the Devil, and all his ways, may be the best help to make us defy the Devil, and all his works.
Of the word Devil, as it is a proper name to the Devil, and any or all of his host, angels, &c.
IT is a question, not yet determined by the learned, whether the word Devil be a singular, that is to say, the name of a person standing by himself, or a noun of multitude: if it be a singular, and so must be used personally only as a proper name, it consequently implies one imperial Devil, monarch or king of the whole clan of hell; justly distinguished by the term the Devil, or, as the Scots call him, the muckle horrid Dee’l, or, as others in a wilder dialect, the Devil of hell, that is to say, the Devil of a Devil; or (better still) as the scripture expresses it, by way of emphasis, the great red Dragon, the Devil, and Satan.
But if we take this word to be, as above, a noun of multitude, and so to be used ambo-dezter, as occasion presents, singular or plural; then the Devil signifies Satan by himself, or Satan with all his legions at his heels, as you please, more or less; and this way of understanding the word, as it may be very convenient for my purpose, in the account I am now to give of the infernal powers, so it is not altogether improper in the nature of the thing: it is thus expressed in scripture, where the person possessed (Mark v. 9,) is first said to be possessed of the Devil (singular); and our Saviour asks him, as speaking to a single person, What is thy name? and is answered in the plural and singular together, My name is Legion, for we are many.
Nor will it be any wrong to the Devil, supposing him a single person, seeing entitling him to the conduct of all his inferior agents, is what he will take rather for an addition to his infernal glory, than a diminution or lessening of him, in the extent of his fame.
Having thus articled with the Devil for liberty of speech, I shall talk of him sometimes in the singular, as a person, and sometimes in the plural, as an host of devils, or of infernal spirits, just as occasion requires, and as the history of his affairs makes necessary.
The truth is, God and the Devil, however opposite in their nature, and remote from one another in their place of abiding, seem to stand pretty much upon a level in our faith: for as to our believing the reality of their existence, he that denies one, generally denies both; and he that believes one, necessarily believes both.
Very few, if any, of those who believe there is a God, and acknowledge the debt of homage which mankind owes to the Supreme governor of the world, doubt the existence of the Devil, except here and there one, whom we call practical Atheists; and it is the character of an Atheist, if there is such a creature on earth, that he believes neither God nor Devil.
As the belief of both these stands upon a level, and that God and the Devil seem to have an equal share in our faith, so the evidence of their existence seems to stand upon a level too, in many things; and as they are known by their works in the same particular cases, so they are discovered after the same manner of demonstration.
Nay, in some respects it is equally criminal to deny the reality of them both; only with this difference, that to believe the existence of a God is a debt to nature, and to believe the existence of the Devil is a like debt to reason: one is a demonstration from the reality of visible causes, and the other a deduction from the like reality of their effects.
One demonstration of the existence of God, is from the universal well-guided consent of all nations to worship and adore a supreme power: one demonstration of the existence of the Devil, is from the avowed ill-guided consent of some nations, who, knowing no other God, make a God of the Devil for want of a better.
It may be true, those nations have no other ideas of the Devil than as of a superior power; if they thought him a supreme power, it would have other effects on them, and they would submit to and worship him with a different kind of fear.
But it is plain they have right notions of him as a devil, or evil spirit; because the best reason, and in some places the only reason they give for worshipping him is, that he may do them no hurt; having no notions at all of his having any power, much less any inclination, to do them good; so that indeed they make a mere devil of him, at the same time that they bow to him as God.
All the ages of paganism in the world have had this notion of the Devil: indeed in some parts of the world they had also some deities which they honored above him, as being supposed to be beneficent, kind, and in clined, as well as capable, to give them good things; for this reason the more polite heathens, such as the Grecians and Romans, had their Lares, or household gods, whom they paid a particular respect to; as being their protectors from hobgoblins, ghosts of the dead, evil spirits, frightful appearances, evil geniuses, and other noxious beings from the invisible world; or, to put it into the language of the day we live in, from the Devil, in whatever shape or appearance he might come to them, and from whatever might hurt them; and what was all this but setting up Devils against Devils, supplicating one Devil under the notion of a good spirit, to drive out and protect them from another, whom they called a bad spirit, the white Devil against the black Devil?
This proceeds from the natural notions mankind necessarily entertain of things to come: superior or in ferior, God and the Devil, fill up all futurity in our thoughts; and it is impossible for us to form any image in our minds of an immortality, and invisible world, but under the notions of perfect felicity, or extreme misery.
Now as these two respect the eternal state of man after life, they are respectively the object of our reverence and affection, or of our horror and aversion; but notwithstanding they are placed thus in a diametrical opposition in our affections and passions, they are on an evident level as to the certainty of their existence, and, as I said above, bear an equal share in our faith.
It being then as certain that there is a Devil, as that there is a God, I must from this time forward admit no more doubt of his existence, nor take any more pains to convince you of it; but speaking of him as a reality in being, proceed to inquire who he is, and from whence, in order to enter directly into the detail of his history.
Now not to enter into all the metaphysical trumpery of his schools; nor wholly to confine myself to the language of the pulpit; where we are told, that to think of God, and of the Devil, we must endeavor first to form ideas of those things which illustrate the descriptions of rewards and punishments; in the one the eternal presence of the highest good, and, as a necessary attendant, the most perfect, consummate, durable bliss and felicity, springing from the presence of that being in whom all possible beatitude is inexpressibly present, and that in the highest perfection; on the contrary, to conceive of a sublime fallen archangel attended with an innumerable host of degenerate, rebel seraphs, or angels, cast out of heaven together; all guilty of inexpressible rebellion, and all suffering from that time, and to suffer for ever, the eternal vengeance of the Almighty, in an inconceivable manner; that his presence, though blessed in itself, is to them the most complete article of terror; that they are in themselves perfectly miserable; and to be with whom for ever, adds an inexpressible misery to any state as well as place; and fills the minds of those who are to be, or expect to be, banished to them, with inconceivable horror and amazement.
But when you have gone over all this, and a great deal more of the like, though less intelligible language, which the passions of men collect to amuse one another with; you have said nothing, if you omit the main article, namely, the personality of the Devil; and till you add to all the rest some description of the company with whom all this is to be suffered; namely, the Devil and his angels.
Now who this Devil and his angels are, what share they have either actively or passively in the eternal miseries of a future state, how far they are agents in, or partners with, the sufferings of the place, is a difficulty yet not fully discovered by the most learned; nor do I believe it is made less a difficulty by their meddling with it.
But to come to the personal and original of the Devil, or, as I said before, of Devils; I allow him to come of an ancient family, for he is from heaven; and, more truly than the Romans could say of their idolized Numa, he is of the race of the gods.
That Satan is a fallen angel, a rebel seraph, cast out for his rebellion, is the general opinion, and it is not my business to dispute things universally received; as he was tried, condemned, and the sentence of expulsion executed on him, in heaven, he is in this world like a transported felon never to return; his crime, whatever particular aggravations it might have, it is certain, amounted to high treason against his Lord and Governor, who was also his Maker; against whom he rose in rebellion, took up arms, and, in a word, raised an horrid and unnatural war in his dominions; but being overcome in battle, and made prisoner, he and all his host, whose numbers were infinite, all glorious angels like himself, lost at once their beauty and glory with their innocence, and commenced Devils, being trans formed by crime into monsters and frightful objects; such as to describe, human fancy is obliged to draw pictures and descriptions in such forms as are most hateful and frightful to the imagination.
These notions, I doubt not, gave birth to all the beauteous images and sublime expressions in Mr. Milton’s majestic poem; where, though he has played the poet in the most luxuriant manner, he has sinned against Satan most egregiously, and done the Devil a manifest injury in a great many particulars, as I shall show in its place. And as I shall be obliged to do Satan justice when I come to that part of his history, Mr. Milton’s admirers must pardon me, if I let them see, that though I admire Mr. Milton as a poet, yet that he was greatly out in matters of history, and especially the history of the Devil; in short, that he has charged Satan falsely in several particulars; and so he has Adam and Eve too: but that I shall leave till I come to the history of the royal family of Eden; which I resolve to present you with when the Devil and I have done with one another.
But not to run down Mr. Milton neither, whose poetry, or his judgment, cannot he reproached without injury to our own; all those bright ideas of his, whicli make his poem so justly valued, whether they are capable of proof as to the fact, are, notwithstanding, confirmations of my hypothesis; and are taken from a supposition of the personality of the Devil, placing him at the head of the infernal host, as a sovereign elevated spirit, and monarch of hell; and as such it is that I undertake to write his history.
By the word hell I do not suppose, or at least not determine, that his residence, or that of the whole army of Devils, is yet in the same local hell, to which the divines tell us he shall be at last chained down; or at least that he is yet confined to it; for we shall find he is at present a prisoner at large; of both which circumstances of Satan, I shall take occasion to speak in its course.
But when I call the Devil the monarch of hell. I am to be understood as suits to the present purpose; that he is the sovereign of all the race of hell, that is to say, of all the devils or spirits of the infernal clan, let their numbers, quality and powers be what they will.
Upon this supposed personality and superiority of Satan, or, as I call it, the sovereignty and government of one Devil above all the rest; I say, upon this notion are formed all the systems of the dark side of futurity, that we can form in our minds: and so general is the opinion of it, that it will hardly bear to be opposed by any other argument, at least that will bear to be reasoned upon: all the notions of a parity of Devils, or making a commonwealth among the black divan, seem to be enthusiastic and visionary; but with no consistency or certainty; and is so generally exploded, that we must not venture so much as to debate the point.
Taking it then, as the generality of mankind do, that there is a grand Devil, a superior of the whole black race; that they all fell, together with their general, Satan, at the head of them; that though he,
Satan, could not maintain his high station in heaven, yet that he did continue his dignity among the rest; who are called his servants, in scripture, his angels; that he has a kind of dominion or authority over the rest; and that they were all, how many millions soever in number, at his command; employed by him in all his hellish designs, and in all his wicked contrivances for the destruction of man, and for the setting up his own kingdom in the world;
Supposing then that there is such a superior master Devil over all the rest, it remains that we inquire into his character, and something of his history; in which, though we cannot perhaps produce such authentic documents as in the story of other great monarchs, tyrants and furies of the world; yet I shall endeavor to speak some things which the experience of mankind may be apt to confirm, and which the Devil himself will hardly be able to contradict.
It being then granted, that there is such a thing or person, call him which we will, as a master Devil; that he is thus superior to all the rest in power and in authority; and that all the other evil spirits are his angels, or ministers, or officers, to execute his commands, and are employed in his business; it remains to inquire, Whence he came? How he got hither, into this world? What that business is which he is em ployed about? What his present state is, and where, and to what part of the creation of God, he is limited and restrained? What the liberties are he takes, or is allowed to take? In what manner he works, and how his instruments are likewise allowed to work? What he has done ever since he commenced Devil, what he is now doing, and what he may yet do before his last and closer confinement? as also, What he cannot do, and how far we may or may not be said to be exposed to him, or have or have not reason to be afraid of him 7 These, and whatever else occurs in the history and conduct of this arch-devil and his agents, that may be useful for information, caution, or diversion, you may expect in the process of this work.
I know it has been questioned by some, with more face than fear, how it consists with a complete victory of the Devil, which they say was at first obtained by the heavenly powers over Satan and his apostate army in heaven, that when he was cast out of his holy place, and dashed down into the abyss of eternal darkness, as into a place of punishment, a condemned hold, or place of confinement, to he reserved there to the judgment of the great day; I say. how it consists with that entire victory, to let him loose again, and give him liberty, like a thief that has broken prison, to range about God’s creation, and there to continue his rebellion, commit new ravages and acts of hostility against God, make new efforts at dethroning the Almighty Creator; and in particular to fall upon the weakest of his creatures, man? How Satan being so entirely vanquished, he should be permitted to recover any of his wicked powers, and find room to do mischief tcr mankind?
Nay, they go farther, and suggest bold things against the wisdom of heaven, in exposing mankind, weak in comparison of the immense extent of the Devil’s power, to so manifest an overthrow, to so unequal a fight, in which he is sure, if alone in the conflict, to be worsted; to leave him such a dreadful enemy to engage with, and so ill-furnished with weapons to assist him.
These objections I shall give as good an answer to, as the case will admit of in this course, but must adjourn them for the present.
That the Devil is not yet a close prisoner, we have evidence enough to confirm: I will not suggest, that like our Newgate thieves (to bring little devils and great devils together) he is let out by connivance, and has some little latitudes and advantages for mischief, by that means; returning at certain seasons to his confinement again.
This might hold, were it not that the comparison must suggest, that the power which has cast him down could be deluded, and the under-keepers or gaolers, under whose charge he was in custody, could wink at his excursions, and the Lord of the place know nothing of the matter. But this wants farther explanation.
Of the original of the Devil, who he is, and what he was before his expulsion out of Heaven, and in what state he was from that time to the creation of man,
To come to a regular inquiry into Satan’s affairs, it is needful we should go back to his original, as far as history and the opinion of the learned world will give us leave.
It is agreed by all writers, as well sacred as profane, that this creature we now call a Devil, was originally an angel of light, a glorious seraph; perhaps the choicest of all the glorious seraphs. See how Milton describes his original glory:
“Satan, so call him now; his former name
Is heard no more in heaven: he of the first,
If not the first archangel; great in power,
In favor and preeminence.”
—— Lib. v. fol. 140.
And again the same author, and upon the same subject:
“Brighter once amidst the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among.”
—— Lib. vii. fol. 189.
The glorious figure which Satan is supposed to make among the thrones and dominions in heaven is such, as we might suppose the highest angel in that exalted train could make; and some think, as above, that he was the chief of the archangels.
Hence that notion (and not ill-founded); namely, that the first cause of his disgrace, and on which ensued his rebellion, was occasioned upon God’s proclaiming his son generalissimo, and with himself supreme ruler in heaven; giving the dominion of all his works of creation, as well already finished, as not then begun, to him; which post of honor (say they) Satan .expected to be conferred on himself, as next in honor, majesty, and power, to God the Supreme. 3
This opinion is followed by Mr. Milton too, as appears in the following lines, where he makes all the angels attending a general summons, and God the Father making the following declaration to them:
“Hear all ye angels, progeny of light,
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers!
Hear my decree, which unrevok’d shall stand.
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand; your head I him appoint:
And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow
All knees in heav’n, and shall confess him Lord;
Under his great vicegerent reign abide
United, as one individual soul,
For ever happy: him who disobeys,
Me disobeys, breaks union; and that day
Cast out from God, and blessed vision, falls
Into utter darkness, deep ingulph’d, his place
Ordain’d without redemption, without end.”
Satan, affronted at the appearance of a new essence or being in heaven, called the Son of God, for God, says Mr. Milton, (though erroneously,) declared himself at that time, saying, This day have I begotten him, and that he should be set up above all the former powers of heaven, of whom Satan (as above) was the chief, and expecting, if any higher post could be granted, it might be his due; I say, affronted at this, he resolved
“With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworship’d, unobey’d, the throne supreme,
—— Par. Lost, lib. v. fol. 140.
But Mr. Milton is grossly erroneous in ascribing those words, This day have I begotten thee, to that declaration of the Father, before Satan fell, and consequently to a time before the creation; whereas it is by interpreters agreed to be understood of the incarnation of the Son of God, or at least of the resurrection: see Pool upon Acts xiii. 33.1
1 Mr. Pool’s words are these: Some refer the words, this day have I begotten thee, to the incarnation of the Son of God, others to the resurrection; our translators lay the stress on the preposition of which the verb is compounded, and by adding again, (namely) raised up Jesus again, (Acts xiii. 33,) intended it to be understood of the resurrection; and there is ground for it in the context; for the resurrection of Christ is that which St. Paul had propounded in verse 30 of the same chapter, as his theme or argument to preach upon.
Not that Christ at his resurrection began to be the Son of God, but that he was manifested then to be so.
In a word, Satan withdrew with all his followers, malcontent and chagrin, resolved to disobey this new command, and not yield obedience to the Son.
Now Mr. Milton agrees in that opinion, that the number of angels which rebelled with Satan was infinite; and suggests in one place, that they were the greatest half of all the angelic body, or seraphic host.
“But Satan with his powers
Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun
Impearls on ev’ry leaf, and ev’ry flower.”
—— Ib. lib. v. fol. 142.
Be their number as it is, numberless millions, and legions of millions, that is no part of my present inquiry; Satan, the leader, guide and superior, as he was author of the celestial rebellion, is still the great head and master-devil as before; under his authority they still act, not obeying, but carrying on the same insurrection against God, which they began in heaven; making war still against heaven, in the person of his image and creature, man; and though vanquished by the thunder of the Son of God, and cast down headlong from heaven, they have yet reassumed, or rather not lost, either the will or the power of doing evil.
This fall of the angels, with the war in heaven which preceded it, is finely described by Ovid, in his War of the Titans against Jupiter; casting mountain upon mountain, and hill upon hill, (Pelion upon Ossa,) in order to scale the adamantine walls, and break open the gates of heaven; till Jupiter struck them with his thunder-bolts, and overwhelmed them in the abyss. Vide Ovid Metam., new translation, lib. i. p. 19.
“Nor were the gods themselves secure on high;
For now the giants strove to storm the sky:
The lawless brood with bold attempt invade
The gods, and mountains upon mountains laid.
But now the bolt, enrag’d, the Father took:
Olympus from her deep foundations shook:
Her structure nodded at the mighty stroke,
And Ossa’s shatter’d top o’er Pelion broke:
They ‘re in their own ungodly ruins slain.”
Then again speaking of Jupiter, resolving in council to destroy mankind by the deluge, and giving the reasons of it to the heavenly host, says thus, speaking of the demigods, alluding to good men below:
“Think you that they in safety can remain,
When me myself, who o’er immortals reign,
Who send the lightning, and heaven’s empire sway,
The stern Lycaon* practis’d to betray.”
Ib. p. 10.
Since then so much poetic liberty is taken with the Devil, relating to his most early state, and the time before his fall, give me leave to make an excursion of the like kind, relating to his history immediately after the fall, and till the creation of man; an interval which I think much of the Devil’s story is to be seen in, andf which Mr. Milton has taken little notice of; at least it does not seem completely filled up; after which I shall return to honest prose again, and pursue the duty of an historian.
Satan, with hideous ruin thus supprest,
Expell’d the seat of blessedness and rest,
Looked back, and saw the high eternal mound,
Where all his rebel host their outlet found,
Restored impregnable: the breach made up,
And garrisons of angels ranged a-top
In front an hundred thousand thunders roll,
And lightnings temper’d to transfix a soul,
Terror of devils. Satan and his host,
Now to themselves as well as station lost,
Unable to support the hated sight,
Expand seraphic wings, and swift as light
Seek for new safety in eternal night.
In the remotest gulfs of dark they land:
Here vengeance gives them leave to make their stand:
Not that to steps and measures they pretend,
Councils and schemes their station to defend;
But broken, disconcerted, and dismayed,
By guilt and fright to guilt and fright betrayed j
Rage and confusion ev’ry spirit possessed,
And shame and horror swelled in ev’ry breast;
Transforming envy their essentials burns,
And the bright angel a frightful devil turns.
Thus hell began; the fire of conscious rage
No years can quench, no length of time assuage.
Material fire, with its intensest flame,
Compar’d with this, can scarce deserve a name;
How should it up to immaterials rise?
“When we ‘re all flame, we shall all fire despise.
This fire outrageous, and its heat intense,
Turns all the pain of loss to pain of sense,
The folding flames concave and inward roll,
Act upon spirit, and penetrate the soul:
Not force of devils can its new pow’rs repel,
Where’er it burns it finds or makes a hell:
For Satan, flaming with unquenched desire,
Forms his own hell, and kindles his own fire: Vanquished, not humbled, not in will brought low 3
But, as his pow’rs decline, his passions grow:
The malice, viper-like, takes vent within,
Gnaws its own bowels, and bursts in its own sin:
Impatient of the change, he scorns to bow:
And never impotent in power till now;
Ardent with hate, and with revenge distract,
A will to new attempts, but none to act;
Yet all seraphic, and in just degree,
Suited to spirits’ high sense of misery,
Derived from loss which nothing can repair,
And room for nothing left but mere despair.
Here’s finish’d Hell! what fiercer fire can burn?
Enough ten thousand worlds to overturn.
Hell’s but the phrensy of defeated pride,
Seraphic treason’s strong impetuous tide,
Where vile ambition disappointed first,
To its own rage, and boundless hatred, cursed j
The hate’s fann’d up to fury, that to flame;
For fire and fury are in kind the same;
These burn unquenchable in ev’ry face,
And the word ENDLESS constitutes the place.
state of being! where being’s the only grief,
And the chief torture’s to be damn’d to life!
Life! the only thing they have to hate;
The finish’d torment of a future state;
Complete in all the parts of endless misery,
And worse ten thousand times than not to BE!
Could but the damn’d th’ immortal law repeal,
And devils die, there ‘d be an end of Hell;
Could they that thing called being annihilate,
There ‘d be no sorrows in a future state;
The wretch whose crimes had shut him out on high,
Could be reveng’d on God himself, and die:
Job’s wife was in the right, and always we
Might end by death all human misery;
Might have it in our choice, to be or not to be.
Of the name of the Devil, his original, and the nature of his circumstances since he has been called by that name.
THE scripture is the first writing on earth where we find the Devil called by his own proper distinguishing denomination, DEVIL, or the Destroyer;2 nor indeed is there any other author of antiquity, or of sufficient authority, which says anything of that kind about him.
The meaning of the word Devil is destroyer. See Pool upon Acts xiii. 10.
Here he makes his first appearance in the world, and on that occasion he is called the Serpent; but the Serpent, however since made to signify the Devil, when spoken of in general terms, was but the Devil’s representative, or the Devil in qnovis vehiculo, for that time, clothed in a bodily shape, acting under cover, and in disguise, or, if you will, the Devil in masquerade: nay, if we believe Mr. Milton, the angel Gabriel’s spear had such a secret powerful influence, as to make him strip of a sudden, and with a touch to unmask, and stand upright in his naked original shape, mere Devil, without any disguises whatsoever.
Now as we go to the scripture for much of his history, so we must go there also for some of his names; and he has a great variety of names indeed, as his several mischievous doings guide us to conceive of him. The truth is, all the ancient names given him, of which the scripture is full, seem to be originals derived from, and adapted to, the several steps he has taken, and the several shapes he has appeared in, to do mischief in the world.
Here he is called the Serpent, Gen. iii. 1.
The Old Serpent, Rev. xii. 9.
The Great Red Dragon, Rev. xii. 3.
The Accuser of the Brethren, Rev. xii. 10.
The Enemy, Matt. xiii. 39.
Satan, Job i., Zech. iii. 1, 2.
Belial, 2 Cor. vi. 15.
Beelzebub, Matt. xii. 24.
Mammon, Matt. vi. 24.
The Angel of Light, 2 Cor. xi. 14.
The Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Rev. ix. 11.
The Prince of the Power of the Air, Eph. ii. 2.
Lucifer, Isa. xiv. 12.
Abaddon or Apollyon, Rev. ix. 11.
Legion, Mark v. 9.
Joke God of this World, 2 Cor. iv. 4.
The Foul Spirit, Mark ix. 25.
The Unclean Spirit, Mark i. 27.
The Lying Spirit, 2 Chron. xxx.
The Tempter, Matt. iv. 3.
The Son of the Morning, Isa. xiv. 12.
But to sum them all up in one, he is called in the New Testament plain DEVIL; all his other names are varied according to the custom of speech, and the dialects of the several nations where he is spoken of: but in a word, Devil is the common name of the Devil in all the known languages of the earth. Nay, all the mischiefs he is empowered to do, are in scripture placed to his account, under the particular title of the Devil, not of Devils in the plural number, though they are sometimes mentioned too; but in the singular it is the identical individual Devil, in and under whom all the little Devils, and all the great Devils, if such there fye, are supposed to act; nay, they are supposed to be governed arid directed by him. Thus we are told in scripture of the works of the Devil, 1 John iii. 8; of casting out the Devil, Mark i. 34; of resisting the Devi], James iv. 7; of our Saviour being tempted of the Devil, Matt. iv. 1; of Simon Magus, a child of the Devil, Acts xiii. 10; the Devil came down in great wrath, Rev. xii. 12; and the like. According to this usage in speech we go on to this day, and all the infernal things we converse with in the world, are fathered upon the Devil, as one undivided simple essence, by how many agents soever working: everything evil, frightful in appearance, wicked in its actings, horrible in its manner, monstrous in its effects, is called the Devil; in a word, Devil is a common name for all devils; that is to say, for all evil spirits, all evil powers, all evil works, and even all evil things: yet it is remarkable the Devil is no Old Testament word, and we never find it used in all that part of the Bible but four times, and then not once in the singular number, and not once to signify Satan as it is now understood.
It is true the learned give a great many differing interpretations of the word Devil; the English commentators tell us, it means a destroyer, others that it signifies a deceiver, and the Greeks derive it from a calumniator, or false witness; for we find that Calumny was a goddess, to whom the Athenians built altars, and offered sacrifices, upon some solemn occasions; and they call her Διαβολὴ from whence came the masculine Διάβολος which we translate Devil.
Thus we take the name of Devil to signify not persons only, but actions and habits; making imaginary devils, and transforming that substantial creature called Devil into everything noxious and offensive: thus, St. Francis being tempted by the Devil in the shape of a bag of money lying in the highway, the Saint having discovered the fraud, whether seeing his cloven-foot hang out of the purse, or whether he dis tinguished him by his smell of sulphur, or how otherwise, authors are not agreed; but I say, the Saint, having discovered the cheat, and outwitted the Devil, took occasion to preach that eminent sermon to his disciples, where his text was, Money is the Devil.
Nor, upon the whole, is any wrong done to the Devil by this kind of treatment; it only gives him the sovereignty of the whole army of hell; and, making all the numberless legions of the bottomless pit servants, or, as the scripture calls them, angels, to Satan, the grand devil, all their actions, performances and achievements, are justly attributed to him, not as the prince of devils only, but the emperor of devils; the prince of all the princes of devils.
Under this denomination, then, of Devil, all the powers of hell, all the princes of the air, all the black armies of Satan, are comprehended; and in such manner they are to be understood in this whole work, mutatis mutandis, according to the several circumstances of which we are to speak of them.
This being premised, and my authority being so good, Satan must not take it ill, if I treat him after the manner of men, and give him those titles which he is best known by among us; for indeed, having so many, it is not very easy to call him out of his name.
However, as I am obliged by the duty of an historian to decency as well as impartiality, so I thought it necessary, before I used too much freedom with Satan, to produce authentic documents, and bring antiquity upon the stage, to justify the manner of my writing, and let you see I shall describe him in no colors, nor call him by any name, but what he has been known by for many ages before me.
And now, though, writing to the common understanding of my readers, I am obliged to treat Satan very coarsely, and to speak of him in the common acceptation, calling him plain Devil, a word which in this mannerly age is not so sonorous as others might be, and which by the error of the times is apt to prejudice us against his person; yet it must be acknowledged he has a great many other names and surnames which he might be known by, of a less obnoxious im port than that of Devil or Destroyer, &c.
Mr. Milton, indeed, wanting titles of honor to give to the leaders of Satan’s host, is obliged to borrow several of his scripture names, and bestow them upon his infernal heroes, whom he makes the generals and leaders of the armies of hell; and so he makes Beelzebub, Lucifer, Belial, Mammon, and some others, to be the names of particular devils, members of Satan’s upper house, or Pandemonium; whereas indeed, these are all names proper and peculiar to Satan himself.
The scripture also has some names of a coarser kind, by which the Devil is understood, as particularly, which is noted already, in the Apocalypse he is called the Great Red Dragon, the Beast, the Old Serpent, and the like. But take it in the scripture, or where you will in history sacred or profane, you will find that in general the Devil is, as I have said above, his ordinary name in all languages, and in all nations; the name by which he and his works are principally distinguished: also the, scripture, besides that it often gives him this name, speaks of the works of the Devil, of the subtilty of the Devil, of casting out Devils, of being tempted of the Devil, of being possessed with a Devil; and so many other expressions of that kind, as I have said already, are made use of for us to understand the evil spirit by, that, in a word, Devil is the common name of all wicked spirits: for Satan is no more the Devil, as if he alone was so, and all the rest were a diminutive species who did not go by that name; but, I say, even in scripture, every spirit, whether under his dominion, or out of his dominion, is called the Devil, and is as much a real devil, that is to say, a condemned spirit, and employed in the same wicked work, as Satan himself.
His name then being thus ascertained, and his existence acknowledged, it should be a little inquired, what he is. We believe there is such a thing, such a creature, as the Devil; and that he has been, and may still with propriety of speech, and without injustice to his character, be called by his ancient name, Devil.
But who is he? What is his original? Whence came he? And what is his present station and condition? For these things, and these inquiries, are very necessary to his history; nor indeed can any part of his history be complete without them.
That he is of an ancient and noble original must be acknowledged; for he is heaven-born and of angelic race, as has been touched already: if scripture evidence may be of any weight in the question, there is no room to doubt the genealogy of the Devil; he is not only spoken of as an angel, but as a fallen angel, one that had been in heaven, had beheld the face of God in his full effulgence of glory, and had surrounded the throne of the Most High; from whence, commencing rebel, and being expelled, he was cast down, down, down, God and the Devil himself only know where; for indeed we cannot say that any man on earth knows it; and wherever it is, he has ever since man’s creation been a plague to him, been a tempter, a delnder, a calumniator, an enemy, and the object of man’s horror and aversion.
As his original is heaven-born, and his race angelic; so the angelic nature is evidently placed in a class superior to the human; and this the scripture is express in also, when, speaking of man, it says, he made him a little lower than the angels.
Thus the Devil, as mean thoughts as you may have of him, is of a better family than any of you, nay, than the best gentleman of you all; what he may be fallen to, is one thing, but what he is fallen from, is another.
Nor is the scripture more an help to us in the search after the Devil’s original, than it is in our search after his nature. It is true, authors are not agreed about his age, what time he was created, how many years he enjoyed his state of blessedness before he fell; or how many years he continued with his whole army in a state of darkness, and before the creation of man. It is supposed it might be a considerable space; and that it was a part of his punishment too, being all the while unactive, unemployed, having no business, nothing to do but gnawing his own bowels, and rolling in the agony of his own self-reproaches, being an hell to himself in reflecting on the glorious state from whence he was fallen.
How long he remained thus, it is true, we have no light into from history, and but little from tradition: Rabbi Judah says, the Jews were of the opinion, that he remained twenty thousand years in that condition; and that the world shall continue twenty thousand more, in which he shall find work enough to satisfy his mischievous desires; but he shows no authority for his opinion.
Indeed, let the Devil have been as idle as they think he was before, it must be acknowledged, that now he is the most busy, vigilant and diligent of all God’s creatures, and very full of employment too, such as it is.
Scripture, indeed, gives us light into the enmity there is between the two natures, the diabolical and the human; the reason of it, and how arid by what means the power of the Devil is restrained by the
Messias; and to those who are willing to trust to gospel light, and believe what the scripture says of the DevilJ” there may much of his history be discovered, and therefore those that list may go there for a fuller account of the matter.
But to reserve all scripture evidence of these things, as a magazine in store for the use of those with whom scripture testimony is of force, I must, for the present, turn to other inquiries, being now directing my story to an age, wherein to be driven to revelation and scripture assertions is esteemed giving up the dispute; people now-a-days must have demonstration; and, in a word, nothing will satisfy the age, but such evidence as perhaps the nature of the question will not admit.
It is hard, indeed, to bring demonstrations in such a case as this: No man has seen God at any time, says the scripture, (1 John iv. 12.) So the Devil, being a spirit incorporeal, an angel of light, and consequently not visible in his own substance, nature and form, it may in some sense be said, no man hath seen the Devil at any time; all those pretences of phrensiful and fanciful people, who tell us, they have seen the Devil, I shall examine, and perhaps expose by themselves.
It might take up a great deal of our time here, to inquire whether the Devil has any particular shape, or personality of substance, which can be visible to us. felt, heard, or understood, and which he cannot alter; arid then, what shapes or appearances the Devil has at any time taken upon him; and whether he can really appear in a body which might be handled and seen, and yet so as to know it to have been the Devil at the time of his appearing; but this also I defer, as not of weight in the present inquiry.
We have divers accounts of witches conversing with the Devil; the Devil in a real body, with all the appearance of a body of a man or woman appearing to them; also of having a familiar, as they call it, an incubus or little devil, which sucks their bodies, runs away with them into the air, and the like: much of this is said, but much more than it is easy to prove; and we ought to give but a just proportion of credit to those things. I As to his borrowed shapes, and his subtle transformings, that we have such open testimony of, that there is no room for any question about it; and when I come to that part, I shall be obliged rather to give an history of the fact, than enter into any dissertation upon the nature and reason of it.
I do not find in any author whom we can call creditable, that even in those countries where the dominion of Satan is more particularly established, and where they may be said to worship him in a more particular manner, as a Devil; which some tell us the Indians in America did, who worshipped the Devil, that he might not hurt them; yet, I say, I do not find, that even there the Devil appeared to them in any particular constant shape or personality peculiar to himself.
Scripture and history, therefore, giving us no light into that part of the question, I conclude, and lay it down, not as my opinion only, but as what all ages seem to concur in, that the Devil has no particular body; that he is a spirit; and that though he may, Proteus like, assume the appearance of either man or beast, yet it must be some borrowed shape, some assumed figure; and that he has no visible body of his own.
I thought it needful to discuss this as a preliminary, and that the next discourse might go upon a certainty in this grand point; namely, that the Devil, however lie may for his particular occasions put himself into a great many shapes, and clothe himself, perhaps, with what appearances he pleases, yet that he is himself still a mere spirit, that he retains the seraphic nature, is not visible by our eyes, which are human and organic, neither can he act with the ordinary powers, or in the ordinary manner, as bodies do; and therefore, when he has thought fit to descend to the meannesses of disturbing and frightening children and old women, by noises and knockings, dislocating the chairs and stools, breaking windows, and such like little ambulatory things, which would seem to be below the dignity of his character, and which, in particular, are. ordinarily performed by organic powers; yet even then he has thought fit not to be seen, and rather to make the poor people believe he had a real shape and body, with hands to act, mouth to speak, and the like, than to give proof of it in common to the whole world, by showing himself, and acting, visibly and openly, as a body usually and ordinarily does.
Nor is it any disadvantage to the Devil, that his seraphic nature is not confined or imprisoned in a body or shape, suppose that shape to be what monstrous thing we would; for this would, indeed, confine his actings within the narrow sphere of the organ or body to which he was limited; and though you were to suppose the body to have wings for a velocity of motion equal to spirit, yet if it had not a power of in visibility too, and a capacity of conveying itself, undiscovered, into all the secret recesses of mankind, and the same secret art or capacity of insinuation, suggestion, accusation, &c. by which his wicked designs are now propagated, and all his other devices assisted, by which he deludes and betrays mankind; I say, he would be no more a Devil, that is, a destroyer, no more a deceiver, and no more a Satan, that is, a dangerous arch-enemy to the souls of men: nor would it be any difficulty to mankind to shun and avoid him, as I shall make plain in the other part of his history.
Had the Devil from the beginning been embodied, as he could not have been invisible to us, whose souls equally seraphic are only prescribed by being embodied and encased in flesh and blood as we are; so he would have been no more a Devil to any body but himself: the imprisonment in a body, had the powers of that body been all that we can conceive to make him formidable to us, would yet have been an hell to him: consider him as a conquered, exasperated rebel, retaining all that fury, and swelling ambition, that hatred of God, and envy at his creatures, which dwells now in his enraged spirit as a Devil; yet suppose him to have been condemned to organic powers, confined to corporeal motion, and restrained as a body must be supposed to restrain a spirit; it must, at the same time, suppose him to be effectually disabled from all the methods he is now allowed to make use of, for exerting his rage and enmity against God, any farther than as he might suppose it to affect his Maker at second hand, by wounding his glory through the sides of his weakest creature, man.
He must, certainly, be thus confined, because body ‘can only act upon body, not upon spirit; no species being empowered to act out of the compass of its own sphere: he might have been empoAvered. indeed, to have acted terrible and even destructive things upon mankind, especially if this body had any powers given it which mankind had riot, by which man would be overmatched, and not be in a condition of self-defence: for example, suppose him to have had wings to have flown in the air; or to be invulnerable; and that no human invention, art or engine, could hurt, ensnare, captivate or restrain him.
But this is to suppose the righteous and wise Creator to have made a creature, and not be able to defend and preserve him; or to have left him defenceless to the mercy of another of his own creatures, whom he had given power to destroy him: this indeed might have occasioned a general idolatry, and made mankind, as the American Indians do to this day, worship the Devil, that he might not hurt them; but it could not have prevented the destruction of mankind, supposing the Devil to have had malice equal to his power; and he must put on a new nature, be compassionate, generous, beneficent, and steadily good, in sparing the rival enemy he was able to destroy, or he must have ruined mankind: in short, he must have ceased to have been a Devil, and must have reassumed his original, angelic, heavenly nature; been filled with the principles of love to, and delight in, the works of his creator, and bent to propagate his glory and interest; or he must have put an end to the race of man, whom it would be in his power to destroy, and oblige his Maker to create a new species, or fortify the old with some kind of defence, which must be invulnerable, and which his fiery darts could not penetrate.
On this occasion, suffer me to make an excursion, from the usual style of this work, and with some solemnity to express my thoughts thus:
How glorious is the wisdom and goodness of the great Creator of the world! in thus restraining these seraphic outcasts from the power of assuming human or organic bodies! which could they do, invigorating them with the supernatural powers, which, as seraphs and angels, they now possess, and might exert, they would be able even to fright mankind from the face of the earth, and to destroy and confound God’s creation; nay, even as they are, were not their power limited, they might destroy the creation itself, reverse and overturn nature, and put the world into a general conflagration: but were those immortal spirits embodied, though they were not permitted to confound nature, they would be able to harass poor, weak and defenceless man out of his wits, and render him perfectly useless, either to his Maker or himself.
But the dragon is chained, the Devil’s power is limited; he has, indeed, a vastly extended empire, being prince of the air, having, at least, the whole atmosphere to range in; and how far that atmosphere is ex tended, is not yet ascertained by the nicest observations; I say at least, because we do not yet know how far he may be allowed to make excursions beyond the atmosphere of this globe into the planetary worlds, and what power he may exercise in all the habitable parts of the solar system; nay, of all the other solar systems, which, for aught we know, may exist in the mighty extent of created space, and of which you may hear farther in its order.
But let his power be what it will there, we are sure it is limited here, and that in two particulars; first, he is limited, as above, from assuming body, or bodily shapes, with substance; and secondly, from exerting seraphic powers, and acting with that supernatural force, which, as an angel, he was certainly vested with before the fall, and which we are not certain is yet taken from him; or, at most, we do not know how much it may or may not be diminished by his degeneracy, and by the blow given him at his expulsion: this we are certain, that be his power greater or less, he is restrained from the exercise of it in this world; and he, who was once equal to the angel who killed 180,000 men in one night, is not able now, without a new commission, to take away the life of one Job, nor touch anything he had.
But let us consider him then limited and restrained as he is, yet he remains a mighty, a terrible, an im mortal being; infinitely superior to man, as well in the dignity of his nature, as in the dreadful powers he retains still about him. It is true the brain-sick heads of our enthusiastics paint him blacker than he is; and, as I have said, wickedly represent him clothed with terrors that do not really belong to him; as if the power of good and evil was wholly vested in him, and that he was placed in the throne of his Maker, to distribute both punishments and rewards: in this they are much wrong, terrifying and deluding fanciful people about him, till they turn their heads, and fright them into a belief that the Devil will let them alone, if they do such and such good things; or carry them away with him they know not whither, if they do not; as if the Devil, whose proper business is mischief, seducing and deluding mankind, and drawing them in to be rebels like himself, should threaten to seize upon them, carry them away, and, in a word, fall upon them to hurt them, if they did evil; and, on the contrary, be favorable and civil to them, if they did well.
Thus a poor deluded country fellow in our town, that had lived a wicked, abominable, debauched life, was frightened with an apparition, as he called it, of the Devil: he fancied that he spoke to him, and, telling his tale to a good, honest Christian gentleman, his neighbor, that had a little more sense than himself; the gentleman asked him if he was sure he really saw the Devil? “Yes, yes, sir,” says he, “I saw him very plain.” And so they began the following discourse:
Gentleman. See him! see the Devil! art thou sure of if, Thomas?
Thomas. Yes, yes, I am sure enough of it, master; to be sure it was the Devil.
Gent. And how do you know it was the Devil, Thomas? Had you ever seen the Devil before?
Tho. No, no, I had never seen him before, to be sure; but. for all that, I know it was the Devil.
Gent. Well, if you are sure, Thomas, there is no contradicting you; pray what clothes had he on?
Tho. Nay, sir, don’t jest with me; he had no clothes on; he was clothed with fire and brimstone.
Gent. Was it dark or day-light when you saw him?
Tho. O! it was very dark, for it was midnight.
Gent. How could you see him then? did you see by the light of the fire you speak of?
Tho. No, no, he gave no light himself; but I saw him, for all that.
Gent. But was it within doors, or out in the street?
Tho. It was within, it was in my own chamber, when I was just going into bed. that I saw him.
Gent. Well then, you had a candle, hadn’t you?
Tho. Yes, I had a candle; but it burnt as blue! and as dim!
Gent. Well, but if the Devil was clothed with fire and brimstone, he must give you some light; there can’t be such a fire as you speak of, but it must give a light with it.
Tho. No, no, he gave no light, but I smelt his fire and brimstone; he left a smell of it behind him, when he was gone.
Gent. Well, so you say he had fire, but gave no light; it was a devilish fire indeed; did it feel warm? was the room hot while he was in it?
Tho. No, no, but I was hot enough without it, for it put me into a great sweat wkh the fright.
Gent. Very well, he was all in fire, you say, but without light or heat; only, it seems, he stunk of brimstone; pray what shapes was he in? what was he like? for you say you saw him.
Tho. O! sir, I saw two great staring saucer eyes, enough to fright any body out of their wits.
Gent. And was that all you saw?
Tho. No, I saw his cloven-foot very plain, it was as big as one of our bullocks that goes to plough.
Gent. So you saw none of his body, but his eyes and his feet? a fine vision indeed!
Tho. Sir, that was enough to send me going.
Gent. Going! what, did you run away from him?
Tho. No, but I fled into bed at one jump, and sunk down, and pulled the bed-clothes quite over me.
Gent. And what did you do that for?
Tho. To hide myself from such a frightful creature.
Gent. Why, if it had really been the Devil, do you think the bed-clothes would have secured you from him?
Tho. Nay, I don’t know; but in a fright it was all I could do.
Gent. Nay, it was as wise as all the rest; but come, Thomas, to be a little serious, pray did he speak to you?
Tho. Yes, yes, I heard a voice; but who it was the Lord knows.
Gent. What kind of voice was it? was it like a man’s voice?
Tho. No, it was a hoarse, ugly noise, like the croaking of a frog; and it called me by my name, twice, “ Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson.”
Gent. Well, did yon answer?
Tho. No, not I, I could not have spoke a word for my life; why, I was frightened to death.
Gent. Did it say anything else?
Tho. Yes, when it saw that I did not speak, it said, “Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson, you are a wicked wretch; you committed a great sin last night; if you don’t repent, I will take you away alive, and carry you to hell, and you shall be punished, you wretch.”
Gent. And was it true, Thomas? did you commit a crime the night before?
Tho. Indeed, master, why, yes, it was true; but I was very sorry afterwards.
Gent. But how should the Devil know it, Thomas?
Tho. Nay, he knows it to be sure; why, they say he knows everything.
Gent. Well, but why should he be angry at that? he would rather bid you do greater crimes, and encourage you. This can’t be the Devil, Thomas.
Tho. Yes, yes, sir, it was the Devil, to be sure.
Gent. But he bid you repent too, you say?
Tho. Yes, he threatened me if I did not.
Gent. Why, Thomas, do you think the Devil would have you repent?
Tho. Why no, that’s true, too; I don’t know what to say to that; but what could it be? It was the Devil, to be sure, it could be nobody else.
Gent. No, no, it was neither the Devil, Thomas, nor any body else, but your own frightened imagination; you had committed a great sin, and being a young sinner of that kind, your conscience terrified you, told you the Devil would fetch you away, and you would be damned; and you were so persuaded it would be so, that you at last imagined he was come for you indeed; that you saw him and heard him; whereas, you may depend upon it, if you commit sin every night, the Devil will hold the candle, or do anything to forward it, but will never disturb you; he is too much a friend to your wickedness; it could never be the Devil, Thomas; it was only your own guilt frightened you, and that was Devil enough too; if you knew the worst of it, you need no other enemy.
Tho. Why that’s true, master; one would think the Devil should not bid me repent, that’s true; but certainly it was the Devil for all that.
Now Thomas was not the only man that, having committed a flagitious crime, had been deluded by his own imagination, and the power of fancy, to think the Devil was come for him; whereas the Devil, to give him his due, is too honest to pretend to such things; it is his business to persuade men to offend, not to repent; and he professes no other: he may press men to this or that action, by telling them it is no sin, no offence, no breach of God’s law, and the like, when really it is both; but to press them to repent, when they have offended, that is quite out of his way; it is none of his business, nor does he pretend to it: therefore, let no man charge the Devil with what he is not concerned in.
But to return to his person; he is, as I have said, notwithstanding his lost glory, a mighty, a terrible, and an immortal spirit; he is himself called a prince, the prince of the power of the air; the prince of darkness, the prince of devils, and the like; and his attending spirits are called his angels: so that, however Satan has lost the glory and rectitude of his nature, by his apostate state, yet he retains a greatness arid magnificence, which places him above our rank, and indeed above our conception; for we know not what he is, any more than we know what the blessed angels are; of whom we can say no more than that they are ministering spirits, &c., as the scripture has described them.
Two things, however, may give us some insight into the nature of the Devil, in the present state he is in; and these we have a clear discovery of in the whole series of his conduct from the beginning.
1. That he is the vanquished, but implacable, enemy of God his Creator, who has conquered him, and expelled him from the habitations of bliss; on which account he is filled with envy, rage, malice, and all uncharitableness; would dethrone God, and overturn the thrones of heaven, if it were in his power.
2. That he is man’s irreconcilable enemy; not as he is a man, nor on his own account simply, nor for any advantage he (the Devil) can make by the ruin and destruction of man; but in mere envy at the felicity he is supposed to enjoy as Satan’s rival; and as he is appointed to succeed Satan, and his angels, in the possession of those glories from which they are fallen.
And here I must take upon me to say, Mr. Milton makes a wrong judgment of the reason of Satan’s resolution to disturb the felicity of man. He tells us it was merely to affront God, his Maker, rob him of the glory designed in his new work of creation, and to disappoint him in his main design, namely, the creating a new species of creatures in a perfect rectitude of soul, and after his own image, from whom he might expect a new fund of glory should be raised, and who was to appear as the triumph of the Messiah’s victory over the Devil. In all which Satan could not be fool enough not to know that he should be disappointed by the same power which had so eminently counteracted his rage before.
But, I believe, the Devil went upon a much more probable design; and though he may be said to act upon a meaner principle than that of pointing his rage at the personal glory of his Creator, yet I own, that in my opinion, it was by much the more rational undertaking, and more likely to succeed; and that was, that whereas he perceived this new species of creatures had a sublime as well as a human part, and were made capable of possessing the mansions of eternal beatitude, from whence he (Satan) and his angels were expelled, and irretrievably banished; envy at such a rival moved him by all possible artifice, for he saw him deprived of capacity to do it by force, to render him unworthy like himself; that, bringing him to fall into rebellion and disobedience, he might see his rival damned with him; and those who were intended to fill up the empty spaces in heaven, made so by the absence of so many millions of fallen angels, be cast out into the same darkness with them.
How he came to know, that this new species of creatures were liable to such imperfection, is best ex plained by the Devil’s prying, vigilant disposition, judging or leading him to judge by himself, (for he was as near being infallible as any of God’s creatures had been;) and then inclining him to try whether it was so or no.
Modern naturalists, especially some who have not so large a charity for the fair sex as I have, tell us, that as soon as ever Satan saw the woman, and looked in her face, he saw evidently, that she was the best formed creature to make a tool of, and the best to make an hypocrite of, that could be made, and therefore the most fitted for his purpose.
1. He saw by some thwart lines in her face, (legible, perhaps, to himself only,) that there was a throne ready prepared for the sin of pride to sit in state upon, especially if it took an early possession. Eve, you may suppose, was a perfect beauty, if ever such a thing may be supposed in the human frame; her figure being so extraordinary, was the ground work of his project; there needed no more than to bring her to be vain of it, and to conceit that it either was so, or was infinitely more sublime and beautiful than it really was; and having thus tickled her vanity, to produce pride gradually, till at last he might persuade her, that she was really angelic, or of heavenly race, and wanted nothing but to eat the forbidden fruit, and that would make her something more excellent still.
2. Looking farther into her frame, and with a nearer view to her imperfections, he saw room to conclude, that she was of a constitution easy to be seduced, and especially by flattering her; raising a commotion in her soul, and a disturbance among her passions; and accordingly he set himself to work, to disturb hei repose, and put dreams of great things into her head; together with something of a nameless kind, which (however some have been ill-natured enough to suggest) I shall not injure the Devil so much as to mention, without better evidence.
3. But, besides this, he found, upon the very first survey of her outside, something so very charming in her mien and behavior, so engaging as well as agreeable in the whole texture of her person, and withal such a sprightly wit, such a vivacity of parts, such a fluency of tongue, and, above all, such a winning, prevailing whine in her smiles, or at least in her tears, that he made no doubt if he could but once delude her, she would easily be brought to delude Adam, who he found set not only a great value upon her person, hut was perfectly captivated by her charms; in a word, he saw plainly, that if he could but ruin her, he should easily make a devil of her to ruin her husband, and draw him into any gulf of mischief, were it ever so black and dreadful, that she should first fall into herself. How far some may be wicked enough, from hence, to suggest of the fair sex, that they have been devils to their husbands ever since, I cannot say; I hope they will not be so unmerciful to discover truths of such fatal consequence, though they should come to their knowledge.
Thus subtle and penetrating has Satan been from the beginning; and who can wonder, that upon these discoveries made into the woman’s inside, he went immediately to work with her, rather than with Adam? Not but that one would think, if Adam was fool enough to be deluded by his wife, the Devil might have seen so much of it in his countenance, as to have encouraged him to make his attack directly upon him, and not go round about, beating the bush, arid plowing with the heifer, setting upon the woman first, and then setting her upon her husband, who might as easily have been imposed upon as she?
Other commentators upon this critical text suggest to us, that Eve was not so pleased with the hopes of being made a goddess, that the pride of a seraphic knowledge did not so much work upon her imagination to bring her to consent, as a certain secret notion infused into her head by the same wicked instrument, that, she should be wiser than Adam, and should, by the superiority of her understanding, necessarily have the government over him; which, at present, she was sensible she had not, he being master of a particular air of gravity and majesty, as well as of strength, infinitely superior to her.
This is an ill-natured suggestion; but it must be confessed the impatient desire of government, which (since that) appears in the general behavior of the sex, and particularly of governing husbands, leaves too much room to legitimate the supposition.
The expositors, who are of this opinion, add to it, that this being her original crime, or the particular temptation to that crime; Heaven thought fit to show his justice, in making her more entire subjection to her husband be a part of the curse, that she might read her sin in the punishment; namely, He shall rule over thee.
I only give the general hint of these things, as they appear recorded in the annals of Satan’s first tyranny, and at the beginning of his government in the world; those that would be more particularly informed, may inquire of him, and know farther.
I cannot, however, but observe here, with some regret, how it appears by the consequence, that the Devil was not mistaken when he made an early judgment of Mrs. Eve; and how Satan really went the right way to work, to judge of her: it is certain the Devil had nothing to do but to look in her face, and upon a near steady view, he might easily see there an instrument for his turn; nor has he failed to make her a tool ever since, by the very methods which he at first proposed; to which, perhaps, he has made some additions in the corrupting her composition, as well as her understanding; qualifying her to be a complete snare to the poor weaker vessel, man; to wheedle him with her siren’s voice, abuse him with her smiles, delude him with her crocodile tears, and sometimes cock her crown at him, and terrify him with the thunder of her treble; making the effeminated male apple-eater tremble at the noise of that very tongue which at first commanded him to sin. For it is yet a debate which the learned have not decided, whether she persuaded and intreated him, or. like a true she-tyrant, exercised her authority, and obliged him to eat the forbidden fruit.
And therefore a certain author, whose name, for fear of the sex’s resentment, I conceal, brings her in, calling to Adam at a great distance, in an imperious, haughty manner, beckoning to him with her hand, thus: “ Here,” says she, “ you cowardly, faint-hearted wretch, take this branch of heavenly fruit; eat, and be a stupid fool no longer; eat, and be wise; eat, and be a god; and know to your eternal shame, that your wife has been made an enlightened goddess before you.”
He tells you Adam hung back a little at first, and trembled, afraid to trespass: “What ails the sot?” says the new termagant; “what are you afraid of? did God forbid you? yes, and why? that we might not be knowing and wise like himself! What reason can there be, that we. who have capacious souls, able to receive knowledge, should have it withheld? Take it, you fool, and eat; don’t you see how I am exalted in soul by it, and am quite another creature? take it, I say; or, if you don’t, I’ll go and cut down the tree, and you shall never eat any of it at’ all, and you shall be still a fool, and be governed by your wife for ever.”
Thus, if this interpretation of the thing be just, she scolded him into it; rated him, and brought him to it by the terror of her voice; a thing that has retained a dreadful influence over him ever since; nor have the greatest of Adam’s successors, how light soever some husbands make of it in this age, been ever able, since that, to conceal their terror at the very sound; nay, if we may believe history, it prevailed even among the gods; not all the noise of Vulcan’s hammers could silence the clamors of that outrageous goddess; nay, even Jupiter himself led such a life with a termagant wife, that once, they say. Juno out-scolded the noise of all his thunders, and was within an ace of brawling him out of heaven. But to return to the Devil.
With these views he resolved, it seems, to attack the woman; and if you consider him as a devil, and what he aimed at, and consider the fair prospect he had of success, I must confess, I do not see who can blame him, or, at least, how anything less could be expected from him: but we shall meet with it again by-and-by. 5
Of the station Satan had in heaven before he fell; the nature and original of his crime; and some of Mr. Milton’s mistakes about it.
THUS far I have gone upon general observation, in this great affair of Satan, and his empire in the world; I now come to my title, and shall enter upon the historical part, as the main work before me.
Besides what has been said poetically, relating to the fall and wandering condition of the Devil and his host, which poetical part I offer only as an excursion, and desire it should be taken so; I shall give you what I think is deduced from good originals on the part of Satan’s story, in a few words.
He was one of the created angels, formed by the same omnipotent hand, and glorious power, who created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein: this innumerable heavenly host, as we have reason to believe, contained angels of higher and lower stations, of greater and of lesser degree, expressed in the scripture by thrones, dominions and principalities: this, I think, we have as much reason to believe, as we have, that there are stars in the firmament (or starry heavens) of greater and of lesser magnitude.
What particular station among the immortal choir of angels, this arch-seraph, this prince of devils, called Satan, was placed in before his expulsion, that, indeed, we cannot come at the knowledge of; at least, not with such an authority as may be depended upon; but as, from scripture authority, he is placed at the head of all the apostate armies, after he was fallen, we cannot think it in the least assuming to say, that he might be supposed to be one of the principal agents in the rebellion which happened in heaven; and consequently that he might be one of the highest in dignity there, before that rebellion.
The higher his station, the lower, and with the greater precipitation, was his overthrow; and therefore those words, though taken in another sense, may very well be applied to him: How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
Having granted the dignity of his person, and the high station in which he was placed among the heavenly host, it would come then necessarily to inquire into the nature of his fall, and, above all, a little into the reason of it: certain it is, he did fall, was guilty of rebellion and disobedience, the just effect of pride; sins, which, in that holy place, might well be called wonderful.
But what to me is more wonderful, and which, I think, will be very ill-accounted for, is, how carne seeds of crime to rise in the angelic nature, created in a state of perfect, unspotted holiness? How was it first found in a place where no unclean thing can enter? How came ambition, pride, or envy, to generate there? Could there be offence where there was no crime? Could untainted purity breed corruption? Could that nature contaminate and infect, which was always drinking in principles of perfection?
Happy it is to me, that writing the history, not solving the difficulties, of Satan’s affairs, is my province in this work; that I am to relate the fact, not give reasons for it, or assign causes; if it was otherwise, I should break off at this difficulty, for I acknowledge I do not see through it: neither do I think that the great Milton, after all his fine images, and lofty excursions, upon the subject, has left it one jot clearer than he found it. Some are of opinion, and among them the great Dr. B——s, that crime broke in upon them at some interval, when they omitted but one moment fixing their eyes and thoughts on the glories of the divine face, to admire and adore which is the full employment of angels: but even this, though it goes as high as imagination can carry us, does not reach it, nor, to me, make it one jot more comprehensible than it was before. All I can say to it here, is, that so it was; the fact was upon record; and the rejected troop are in being, whose circumstances confess the guilt, and still groan under the punishment.
If you will bear with a poetic excursion upon the subject, not to solve, but to illustrate, the difficulty; taKe it in a few lines, thus:
Thou sin of witchcraft! first-born child of crime!
Produced before the bloom of time;
Ambition’s maiden sin, in heaven conceived!
And who could have believed
Defilement could in purity begin,
And bright eternal day be soiled with sin?
Tell us, sly penetrating crime,
How cam’st thou here, thou fault sublime?
How didst thou pass the adamantine gate;
And into spirit thyself insinuate?
From what dark state? from what deep place?
From what strange, uncreated race?
Where was thy ancient habitation found,
Before void chaos heard the forming sound?
Wast thou a substance, or an airy ghost,
A vapor flying in the fluid waste
Of unconcocted air?
And how at first didst thou come there?
Sure there was once a time when thou wert not:
By whom wast thou created? and for what?
Art thou a steam from some contagious damp exhaled?
How should contagion be entailed
On bright seraphic spirits, and in a place,
Where all’s supreme, and glory fills the space?
No noxious vapor there could rise;
For there no noxious matter lies:
Nothing that’s evil could appear;
Sin never could seraphic glory bear;
The brightness of the eternal face,
Which fills as well as constitutes the place,
Would be a fire too hot for crime to bear,
‘T would calcine sin, or melt it into air.
How then did first defilement enter in?
Ambition, thou first vital seed of sin!
Thou life of death, how cam’st thou there?
In what bright form didst thou appear?
In what seraphic orb didst thou arise?
Surely that place admits of no disguise:
Eternal sight must know thee there,
And, being known, thou soon must disappear.
But since the fatal truth we know,
Without the matter whence, or manner how:
Thou highest superlative of sin,
Tell us thy nature, where thou didst begin?
The first degree of thy increase
Debauched the regions of eternal peace
And filled the breasts of loyal angels there
With the first treason, and infernal war.
Thou art the high extreme of pride,
And dost o’er lesser crimes preside;
Not for the mean attempt of vice designed,
But to embroil the world, and damn mankind.
Transforming mischief! how hast thou procured,
That loss that’s ne’er to be restored,
And made the bright seraphic morning star
In horrid monstrous shapes appear?
Satan, that, while he dwelt in glorious light,
Was always then as pure as he was bright,
That in effulgent rays of glory shone,
Excelled by eternal Light, by him alone,
Distorted now, and stript of innocence,
And banished with thee from the high preeminence.
How has the splendid seraph changed his face,
Transformed by thee, and like thy monstrous race!
Ugly as is the crime for which he fell;
Fitted by thee to make a local hell;
For such must be the place where either of you dwell.
Thus, as I told yon, I only moralize upon the subject; but, as to the difficulty. I must leave it as I find it, unless, as I hinted at first, I could prevail with Satan to set peri to paper, and write this part of his own history: no question, but he could let us into the secret; but, to be plain, I doubt I shall tell so many plain truths of the Devil in this history, and discover so many of his secrets, which it is not for his interest to have discovered, that before I have done, the Devil and I may not be so good friends as you may suppose we are; at least, not friends enough to obtain such a favor of him, though it be for public good; so we must be content till we come on the other side of the blueblanket, and then we shall know the whole story.
But now, though, as I said, I will not attempt to solve the difficulty, I may, I hope, venture to tell you, that there is not so much difficulty in it, as at first sight appears; and especially not so much as some people would make us believe: let us see how others are mistaken in it; perhaps that may help us a little in the inquiry; for to know what it is not. is one help towards knowing what it is.
Mr. Milton has indeed told us a great many merry things of the Devil, in a most formal, solemn manner; till, in short, he has made a good play of heaven and hell; and, no doubt, if he had lived in our times, he might have had it acted with our Pluto and Proserpine. He has made fine speeches both for God and the Devil; and a little addition might have turned it, d la moderne, into an Harlequin Dieu et Diable.
I confess I do not well know how far the dominion of poetry extends itself; it seems the buts and bounds of Parnassus are not yet ascertained; so that, for aught I know, by virtue of their ancient privilege, called licentia poetarum, there can be no blasphemy in verse; as some of our divines say, there can be no treason in the pulpit. But they that will venture to write that way, ought to be better satisfied about that point than I am.
Upon this foot, Mr. Milton, to grace his poem, and give room for his towering fancy, has gone a length beyond all that ever went before him, since Ovid in his Metamorphosis. He has indeed complimented God Almighty with a flux of lofty words, and great sounds; and has made a very fine story of the Devil; but he has made a mere je ne scai quoi of Jesus Christ. In one line he has him riding on a cherub, and in another sitting on a throne, both in the very same moment of action. In another place, he has brought him in making a speech to his saints, when it is evident he had none there; for we all know man was not created till a long while after; and nobody can be so dull as to say the angels may be called saints, without the greatest absurdity in nature. Besides, he makes Christ himself distinguish them, as in two several bands, and of differing persons and species, as to be sure they are.
“Stand still in bright array, ye saints,
Par. Lost. lib. vi. fol. 174.
So that Christ here is brought in drawing up his army before the last battle, and making a speech to them, to tell them they shall only stand by in warlike order; but that they shall have no occasion to fight, for he alone will engage the rebels. Then, in embattling his legions, he places the saints here, and the angels there; as if one were the main battle of infantry, and the other the wings of cavalry. But who are those saints? They are indeed all of Milton’s own making; it is certain there were no saints at all in heaven or earth at that time; God and his angels filled up the place; and till some of the angels fell, and men were created, had lived, and were dead, therg could have been no saints there. Saint Abel was certainly the proto-saint of all that ever were seen in heaven, as well as the proto-martyr of all that have been upon earth.
Just such another mistake, riot to call it a blunder, he makes about hell; which he not only makes local, but gives it a being before the fall of the angels; and brings it in opening its mouth to receive them. This is so contrary to the nature of the thing, and so great an absurdity, that no poetic license can account for it; for though poesy may form stories, as idea and fancy may furnish materials; yet poesy must not break in upon chronology, and make things which in time were to exist, act before they existed.
Thus a painter may make a fine piece of work, the fancy may be good, the strokes masterly, and the beauty of the workmanship inimitably curious and fine; and yet have some unpardonable improprieties, which mar the whole work. So the famous painter of Toledo painted the story of the three wise men of the east coming to worship, and bring their presents to, our Lord upon his birth at Bethlehem; where he represents them as three Arabian or Indian kings; two of them are white, and one black: but unhappily, when he drew the latter part of them kneeling, which to be sure were done after their faces; their legs being necessarily a little intermixed; he made three black feet for the negro king, and but three white feet for the two white kings; and yet never discovered the mistake till the piece was presented to the king, and hung up in the great church. As this is an unpardonable error in sculpture or limning, it must be much more so in poetry, where the images must have no improprieties, much less inconsistencies.
In a word, Mr. Milton has indeed made a fine poem; but it is the Devil of an history. I can easily allow Mr. Milton to make hills and dales, flowery meadows and plains, (and the like,) in heaven; and places of retreat and contemplation in hell; though I must add, that it can be allowed to no poet on earth but Mr.
Milton. Nay, I will allow Mr. Milton, if you please, to set the angels a dancing in heaven, (lib. v. fol. 138.) and the devils a singing in hell, (lib. i. fol. 44,) though they are, in short, especially the last, most horrid absurdities. But I cannot allow him to make their music in hell to be harmonious and charming, as he does; such images being incongruous, and, indeed, shocking to nature. Neither can I think we should allow things to be placed out of time in poetry, any more than in history; it is a confusion of images, which is agreed to be disallowed by all the critics, of what tribe or species soever, in the world; and. is indeed unpardonable. But we shall find so many more of these things in Mr. Milton, that really taking notice of them all, would carry me quite out of my Avay, I being at this time not writing the history of Mr. Milton, but of the Devil: besides, Mr. Milton is such a celebrated man, that who but he that can write the history of the Devil dare meddle with him?
But to come back to the business. As I had cautioned you against running to scripture for shelter in cases of difficulty, scripture weighing very little among the people I am directing my speech to; so indeed scripture gives but very little light into anything of the Devil’s story before his fall, and but to very little of it for some time after.
Nor has Mr. Milton said one word to solve the main difficulty; namely, How the Devil came to fall, and how sin came into heaven? How the spotless seraphic nature could receive infection? Whence the contagion proceeded? What noxious matter could emit corruption there? How and whence any vapor to poison the angelic frame could rise up, or how it increased and grew up to crime? But all this he passes over, and, hurrying up that part in two or three words, only tells us,
Had cast him out of heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring,
He trusted to have equalled the Most High.”
Lib. i. fol. 3.
His pride! but how came Satan, while an archangel, to be proud? How did it consist, that pride and perfect holiness should meet in the same person? Here we must bid Mr. Milton good night; for, in plain terms, he is in the dark about it, and so we are all; and the most than can be said, is, that we know the fact is so, but nothing of the nature or reason of it.
But to come to the history. The angels fell, they sinned (wonderful!) in heaven, and God cast them out: what their sin was, is not explicit; but in general it is called a rebellion against God; all sin must be so.
Mr. Milton here takes upon him to give the history of it, as particularly as ‘if he had been born there, and came down hither on purpose to give us an account of it; (I hope he is better informed by this time;) but this he does in such a manner, as jostles with religion, and shocks our faith in so many points, necessary to be believed, that we must forbear to give up to Mr. Milton, or must set aside part of the sacred text, in such a manner as will assist some people to set it all aside.
I mean by this, his invented scheme of the Son’s being declared in heaven to be begotten then, and then to be declared generalissimo of all the armies of heaven; and of the Father’s summoning all the angels of the heavenly host to submit to him, and pay him homage. The words are quoted already in a former page.
I must own the invention, indeed, is very fine; the images exceeding magnificent, the thought rich and bright, and, in some respect, truly sublime: but the authorities fail most wretchedly, and the mis-timing of it is unsufferably gross, as is noted in the introduction to this work; for Christ is not declared the Son of God but on earth: it is true, it is spoken from heaven, but then it is spoken as perfected on earth; if it was at all to be assigned to heaven, it was from eternity; and there, indeed, his eternal generation is allowed; but to take upon us to say, that on a day, a certain day, for so our poet assumes, (lib. v. fol. 138.)
“When on a day,
-On such a day,
As heaven’s great year brings forth, the empyreal host
Of angels, by imperial summons called,
Forthwith from all the ends of heaven appeared.”
This is, indeed, too gross; at this meeting he makes God declare the Son to be that day begotten, as before. Had he made him not begotten that day, but declared general that day, it would be reconcilable with scripture, and with sense; for either the begetting is meant of ordaining to an office, or else the eternal generation falls to the ground; and if it was to the office, (mediator,) then Mr. Milton is out in ascribing another fixed day to the work; (see lib. x. fol. 194.) But then the declaring him that day, is wrong chronology too; for Christ is declared the Son of God with power, only by the resurrection of the dead; and this is both a declaration in heaven, and in earth, (Rom. i. 4.) And Milton can have no authority to tell us, there was any declaration of it in heaven before this, except it be that dull authority called poetic license, which will not pass in so solemn an affair as that.
But the thing was necessary to Milton, who wanted to assign some cause or original of the Devil’s rebellion; and so, as I said above, the design is well laid; it only wants two trifles, called truth and history; so I leave it to struggle for itself.
This ground-plot being laid, he has a fai’r field for the Devil to play the rebel in; for he immediately brings him in, not satisfied with the exaltation of the Son of God. The case must be thus: Satan, being an eminent archangel, and perhaps the highest of all the angelic train, hearing this sovereign declaration, that the Son of God was declared to be head or generalissimo of all the heavenly host, took it ill to see another put into the high station over his head, as the soldiers call it; he, perhaps, thinking himself the senior officer, and disdaining to submit to any but to his former immediate sovereign; in short, he threw up his commission, and, in order not to be compelled to obey, revolted, and broke out in open rebellion.
All this part is a decoration noble and great, nor is there any objection to be made against the invention, because a deduction of probable events; but the plot is wrong laid, as is observed above, because contradicted by the scripture account, according to which Christ was declared in heaven, not then, but from eternity, and not declared with power, but on earth; namely, in his victory over sin and death, by the resurrection from the dead: so that Mr. Milton is not orthodox in this part; but lays an avowed foundation for the corrupt doctrine of Arius, which says, there was a time when Christ was not the Son of God.
But to leave Mr. Milton to his flights, I agree with him in this part; namely, that the wicked or sinning angels, with the great archangel at the head of them, revolted from their obedience, even in heaven itself; that Satan began the wicked defection, and, being a chief among the heavenly host, consequently carried over a great party with him, who all together rebelled against God; that upon this rebellion they were sentenced by the righteous judgment of God, to be ex pelled the holy habitation: this, besides the authority of scripture, we have visible testimonies of, from the devils themselves; their influences and operations among us every day, of which mankind are witnesses; in all the merry things they do in his name, and under his protection, in almost every scene of life they pass through, whether we talk of things done openly, or in masquerade, things done in earnest or in jest.
But then, what comes of the long and bloody war that Mr. Milton gives such a full and particular account of, and the terrible battles in heaven between Michael with the royal army of angels on one hand, and Satan with his rebel host on the other; in which he supposes the numbers and strength to be pretty near equal? But at length brings in the Devil’s army, upon doubling their rage, arrd bringing new engines of war into the field, putting Michael and all the faithful army to the worst; and, in a word, defeats them? For though they were not put to a plain flight, in which case he must, at least, have given an account of two or three thousand millions of angels cut in pieces and wounded, yet he allows them to give over the fight, and make a kind of retreat; so making way for the complete victory of the Son of God. Now this is all invention, or, at least, a borrowed thought from the old poets, and the fight of the giants against Jupiter, so nobly designed by Ovid, almost two thousand years ago: and there it was well enough; but whether poetic fancy should be allowed to fable upon heaven, or no, and upon the King of Heaven too, that I leave to the sages.
By this expulsion of the devils, it is allowed hy most authors, they are, ipso facto, stript of the rectitude and holiness of their nature, which was their beauty and perfection; and being ingulfed in the abyss of irrecoverable ruin, it is no matter where, from that very time they lost their angelic beautiful form, commenced ugly frightful monsters and devils, and became evil doers, as well as evil spirits; filled with an horrid malignity and enmity against their Maker, and armed with an hellish resolution to show and exert it on all occasions; retaining however their exalted, spirituous nature, and having a vast extensive power of action, all which they can exert in nothing else but doing evil; for they are entirely divested of either power or will to do good; and, even in doing evil, they are under restraints and limitations of a superior power, which it is their torment, and, perhaps, a great part of their hell, that they cannot break through.
What became of the Devil, and his host of fallen spirits, after their being expelled from heaven, and his wandering condition till the creation; with some more of Mr. Milton’s absurdities on that subject.
HAVING thus brought the Devil and his innumerable legions to the edge of the bottomless pit, it remains, before I bring them to action, that some inquiry should be made into the posture of their affairs immediately after their precipitate fall, and into the place of their immediate residence; for this will appear to be very necessary to Satan’s history, and, indeed, so as that, without it, all the farther account we have to give of him, will be inconsistent and imperfect.
And first, I take upon me to lay down some fundamentals, which I believe I shall be able to make out historically, though, perhaps, not so geographically as some have pretended to do.
1. That Satan was not immediately, nor is yet, locked down in the abyss of a local hell, such as is supposed by some, and such as he shall be at last; or that,
2. If he was, he has certain liberties allowed him for excursions into the regions of this air, and certain spheres of action, in which he can and does move, to do. like a very devil as he is, all the mischief he can. and of which we see so many examples both about us and in us; in the inquiry after which, I shall take occasion to examine whether the Devil is not in most, of us sometimes, if not in all of us one time or other.
3. That Satan has no particular residence in this globe or earth where we live; that he rambles about among us, and marches over and over our whole country, he and his devils, in camps volant; but that he pitches his grand army, or chief encampment, in our adjacencies or frontiers, which the philosophers call atmosphere; and whence he is called the prince of the power of that element or part of the world we call air; from whence he sends out his spies, his agents and emissaries, to get intelligence, and to carry his commissions to his trusty and well-beloved cousins and counsellors on earth, by which his business is done, and his affairs carried on, in the world.
Here, again, I meet Mr. Milton, full in my face, who will have it that the Devil, immediately at his expulsion, rolled down directly into hell proper and local; nay, he measures the very distance, at least gives the length of the journey by the time they were passing or falling, which, he says, was nine days; a good poetical flight, but neither founded on scripture or philosophy. He might every jot as well have brought hell up to the walls of heaven, advanced to receive them; or he ought to have considered the space which is to be allowed to any locality, let him take what part of infinite distance between heaven and created hell he pleases.
But let that be as Mr. Milton’s extraordinary genius pleases to place it; the passage, it seems, is just nine days betwixt heaven and hell; well might Dives then see father Abraham, and talk to him too; but then the great gulf, which Abraham tells him was fixed between them, does not seem to be so large, as, according to 6
Sir Isaac Newton, Dr. Halley, Mr. Whiston, and the rest of our men of science, we take it to be.
But suppose the passage to he nine days, according to Mr. Milton, what followed? Why, hell gaped wide, opened its frightful mouth, and received them all at once; millions and thousands of millions as they were, it received them all at a gulp, as we call it; they had no difficulty to go in, no, none at all.
“Facilis descensus Averni:
Sed revocare gradum
Hoc opus, hie labor est.” — Virg.
All this, as poetical, we may receive, but not at all as historical; for then come difficulties insuperable in our way; some of which may be as follow: 1. Hell is here supposed to be a place; nay, a place created for the punishment of angels and men, and likewise created long before those had fallen, or these had being: this makes me say, Mr. Milton was a good poet, but a bad historian: Tophet was prepared of old, indeed; but it was for the king, that is to say, it was prepared for those whose lot it should be to come thither; but this does not at all suppose it was prepared before it was resolved whether there should be subjects for it, or no; else we must suppose both men and angels were made by the glorious and upright Maker of all things, on purpose for destruction, which would be incongruous and absurd.
But there is worse yet to come: in the next place he adds, that hell having received them, closed upon them; that is to say, took them in, closed or shut its mouth; and in a word, they were locked in, as it was said in another place, they were locked in, and the key is carried up to heaven, and kept there; for we know the angel came down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit; but first, see Mr. Milton:
“Nine days they fell: confounded chaos roared,
And felt tenfold confusion in their fall:
Hell at last
Yawning received them whole, and on them closed;
Down from the verge of heaven, eternal wrath
Burnt after them Unquenchable.”
This scheme is certainly deficient, if not absurd; and I think is more so than any other he has laid: it is evident, neither Satan, or his host of devils, are, no not any of them, yet, even now, confined in the eternal prison, where, the scripture says, he shall be reserved in chains of darkness. They must have mean thoughts of hell, as a prison, a local confinement, that can suppose the Devil able to break gaol, knock off his fetters, and come abroad, if he had been once locked in there, as Mr. Milton says he was: now we know, that he is abroad again; he presented himself before God, among his neighbors, when Job’s case came to be discoursed of; and, more than that, it is plain he was a prisoner at large, by his answer to God’s question, which was, Whence comest thou? to which he answered, From going to and fro through the earth, &c. This, I say, is plain; and if it be as certain, that hell closed upon them, I demand then, how got he out? And why was there not a proclamation for apprehending him, as there usually is, after such rogues as break prison?
In short, the true account of the Devil’s circumstances, since his fall from heaven, is much more likely to be thus: That he is more of a vagrant than a prisoner; that he is a wanderer in the wild unbounded waste, where he and his legions, like the hordes of Tartary, who, in the wild countries of Karakathay, the deserts of Barkan, Kassan, and Astracan, live up and down where they find proper; so Satan and his innumerable legions rove about hie et ubique, pitching their camps (being beasts of prey) where they find the most spoil; watching over this world (and all the other worlds, for aught we know, and if there are any such;) I say watching and seeking whom they may devour, that is, whom they may deceive and delude, and so destroy, for devour they cannot.
Satan, being thus confined to a vagabond, wandering, unsettled condition, is without any certain abode; for though he has, in consequence of his angelic nature, a kind of empire in the liquid waste of air; yet this is certainly part of his punishment, that he is continually hovering over this inhabited globe of earth; swelling with the rage of envy at the felicity of his rival man; and studying all the means possible to injure and ruin him; but extremely limited in power, to his unspeakable mortification: this is his present state, without any fixed abode, place, or space, allowed him to rest the sole of his foot upon.
From his expulsion, I take his first view of horror to be that of looking back towards the heaven which he had lost; there to see the chasm or opening made up, out at which, as at a breach in the wall of the holy place, he was thrust headlong by the power which expelled him; I say, to see the breach repaired, the mounds built up, the walls garrisoned with millions of angels, and armed with thunders; and above all, made terrible by that glory from whose presence they were expelled, as is poetically hinted at before.
Upon this sight, it is no wonder (if there was such a place) that they fled till the darkness might cover them, and that they might be out of the view of so hated a sight.
Wherever they found it, you may be sure they pitched their first camp; and began, after many a sour reflection upon what was passed, to consider arid think a little upon what was to come.
If I had as much personal acquaintance with the Devil, as would admit it, and could depend upon the truth of what answer he would give me, the first question I would ask him, should be, what measures they resolved on at their first assembly? And the next should be, how they were employed in all that space of time, between their so flying the face of their almighty Conqueror, and the creation of man? As for the length of the time, which, according to the learned, was twenty thousand years, and, according to the more learned, not half a quarter so much, I would not concern my curiosity much about it; it is most certain, there was a considerable time between; but of that immediately: first let me inquire what they were doing all that time.
The Devil and his host being thus, I say, cast out of heaven, and not yet confined strictly to hell, it is plain they must be somewhere; Satan and all his legions did not lose their existence, no, nor the existence of devils neither; God was so far from annihilating him, that he still preserved his being; and this not Mr. Milton only, but God himself, has made known to us, having left his history so far upon record: several expressions in scripture also make it evident, as particularly the story of Job, mentioned before; the like in our Saviour’s time, and several others.
If hell did not immediately engulf them, as Milton suggests, it is certain, I say, that they fled somewhere, from the anger of Heaven, from the face of the Avenger; and his absence, and their own guilt, wonder not at it, would make hell enough for them, wherever they went.
Nor need we fly to the dreams of our astronomers, who took a great deal of pains to fill up the vast spaces of the starry heavens with innumerable habitable worlds: allowing as many solar systems as there are fixed stars, and that not only in the known constellations, but even in the galaxy itself; who to every such system allow a certain number of planets, and to every one of those planets so many satellites or moons, and all these planets or moons to be worlds; solid, dark, opaque bodies, habitable, and (as they would have us believe) inhabited by the like animals and rational creatures as on this earth; so that they may, at this rate, find room enough for the Devil and all his angels, without making an hell on purpose; nay, they may, for aught I know, find a world for every devil in all the Devil’s host; and so every one may be a monarch or master-devil, separately in his own sphere or world, and play the devil there by himself.
And even if this were so, it cannot be denied but that one devil in a place would be enough for a whole systemary world, and be able, if not restrained, to do mischief enough there too, and even to ruin and overthrow the whole body of people contained in it,
But, I say, we need not fly to these shifts, or consult the astronomers in the decision of this point; for wherever Satan and his defeated host went, at their expulsion from heaven, we think we are certain none of all these beautiful worlds, or be they worlds or no, I mean the fixed stars, planets, &c. had then any existence; for the beginning, as the scripture calls it, was not yet begun.
But to speak a little by the rules of philosophy, that is to say, so as to be understood by others, even when we speak of things we cannot fully understand ourselves: though in the beginning of time, all this glorious creation was formed, the earth, the starry heavens, and all the furniture thereof, and there was a time when they were not; yet we cannot say so of the void, or that nameless nowhere, as I called it before, which now appears to be a somewhere, in which these glorious bodies are placed. That immense space which those take up, and which they move in at this time, must be supposed, before they had being, to be placed there; as God himself was, and existed, before all being, time, or place; so the heaven of heavens, or the place where the thrones and dominions of his kingdom then existed, inconceivable and ineffable, had an existence before the glorious seraphs, the innumerable company of angels which attended about the throne of God, existed; these all had a being long before, as the eternal creator of them all had before them.
Into this void or abyss of nothing, however im measurable, infinite, and even to those spirits themselves inconceivable, they certainly launched from the bright precipice which they fell from, and here they shifted as well as they could.
Here expanding those wings which fear and horror at their defeat furnished them, as I hinted before, they hurried away to the utmost distance possible, from the face of God their conqueror, and then most dreaded enemy; formerly their joy and glory.
Be this utmost removed distance where it will, here, certainly, Satan and all his gang of devils, his numberless, though routed armies, retired. Here Milton might, with some good ground, have formed his pandemonium, and have brought them in, consulting what was next to be done, and whether there was any room left to renew the war, or to carry on the rebellion; but had they been cast immediately into hell, closed up there, the bottomless pit locked upon them, and the key carried up to heaven, to be kept there, as Mr. Milton himself in part confesses, and the scripture affirms; I say, had this been so, the Devil himself could not have been so ignorant as to think of any future steps to be taken, to retrieve his affairs; and therefore a pandemonium, or divan in hell, to consult of it, was ridiculous.
All Mr. Milton’s scheme of Satan’s future conduct, and all the scripture expressions about the Devil and his numerous attendants, and of his actings since that time, make it not reasonable to suggest, that the devils were confined to their eternal prison, at their expulsion out of heaven; but that they were in a state of liberty to act, though limited in acting, of which I shall also speak in its place.
Of the number of Satan’s host. How they came first to know of the new-created worlds now in being; and their measures with makind upon the discovery.
SEVERAL things have been suggested to set us a calculating the number of this frightful throng of devils, who with Satan, the master-devil, was thus cast out of heaven. I cannot say I am so much master of political arithmetic, as to cast up the number of the beast, no, nor the number of the beasts or devils, who make up this throng. St. Francis, they tell us, or some other saint, they do not say who, asked the Devil once, how strong he was? for St. Francis, you must know, was very familiar with him: the Devil, it seems, did not tell him; but presently raised a great cloud of dust, by the help, I suppose, of a gust of wind, and bid that saint count it: he was, I suppose, a calculator, that would be called grave, who, dividing Satan’s troops into three lines, cast up the number of the devils of all sorts in each battalia, at ten hundred times a hundred thousand millions of the first line, fifty millions of times as many in the second line, and three hundred thousand times as many as both in the third line.
The impertinence of this account would hardly have given it a place here, only to hint, that it has always been the opinion, that Satan’s name may well be called a noun of multitude, and that the Devil and his angels are certainly no inconsiderable number. It was a smart repartee that a Venetian nobleman made to a priest, who rallied him upon his refusing to give something to the church, which the priest demanded for the delivering him from purgatory; when the priest asking him, “if he knew what an innumerable number of devils there were to take him?” he answered. “ yes, he knew how many devils there were in all.” “ How many?” says the priest; his curiosity, I suppose being raised by the novelty of the answer. “Why, ten millions five hundred and eleven thousand six hundred and seventy-five devils and an half,” says the nobleman. “ An half,” says the priest, “ pray what kind of a devil is that?” “ Yourself,” says the nobleman; “for you are half a devil already, (and will be a whole one when you come there;) for you are for deluding all you deal with, and bringing us soul and body into your hands, that you may be paid for letting us go again.” So much for their number.
Here also it would come in very aptly, to consider the state of that long interval between the time of their expulsion from heaven, and the creation of the world; and what the posture of the Devil’s affairs might be, during that time. The horror of their condition can only be conceived of at a distance, and especially by us, who, being embodied creatures, cannot fully judge of what is, or is not, a punishment to seraphs and spirits; but it is just to suppose they suffered all that spirits of a seraphic nature were capable to sustain, consistent with their existence; notwithstanding which they retained still the hellishness of their rebellious principles; namely, their hatred and rage against God, and their envy at the felicity of his creatures.
As to how long their time might be, I shall leave that search, no lights being given me that are either probable or rational; and we have so little room to make a judgment of it, that we may as well believe Father M— — who supposes it to be an hundred thousand years, as those who judge it one thousand years; it is enough that we are sure, it was before the creation, how long before is not material to the Devil’s history, unless we had some records of what happened to him, or was done by him, in the interval.
During the wandering condition the Devil was in at that time, we may suppose him and his whole clan to be employed in exerting their hatred and rage at the Almighty, and at the happiness of the remaining faithful angels, by all the ways they had power to show it.
From this determined stated enmity of Satan and his host against God, and at everything that brought glory to his name, Mr. Milton brings in Satan, (when first he saw Adam in Paradise, and the felicity of his station there,) swelling with rage and envy, and taking up a dreadful resolution to ruin Adam and all his posterity, merely to disappoint his Maker of the glory of his creation. I shall come to speak of that in its place.
How Satan, in his remote situation, got intelligence of the place where to find Adam out, or that any such thing as a man was created, is matter of just speculation, and there might be many rational schemes laid for it. Mr. Milton does not undertake to tell us the particulars, nor indeed could he find room for it; perhaps, the Devil, having, as I have said, a liberty to range over the whole void or abyss, which we want as well a name for, as indeed powers to conceive of, might have discovered, that the Almighty creator had formed a new and glorious work, with infinite beauty and variety, filling up the immense waste of space, in which he, (the Devil,) and his angels, had roved for so long a time, without finding anything to work on, or to exert their apostate rage in against their Maker.
That at length they found the infinite untrodden space on a sudden, spread full with glorious bodies, shining in self-existing beauty, with a new and to them unknown lustre, calted light. They found these luminous bodies, though immense in bulk, and infinite in number, yet fixed in their wondrous stations regular and exact in their motions, confined in their proper orbits, tending to their particular centres, and enjoying every one their peculiar systems, within which were contained innumerable planets, with their satellites or moons, in which, again, a reciprocal influence, motion, and revolution, conspired to form the most admirable uniformity of the whole.
Surprised, to be sure, with this sudden and yet glorious work of the Almighty, (for the creation was enough, with its lustre, even to surprise the Devils,) they might reasonably be supposed to start out of their dark retreat, and with a curiosity not below the seraphic dignity (for these are some of the things which the angels desire to look into) to take a flight through all the amazing systems of the fixed suns or stars, which we see now but at a distance, and only make astronomical guesses at.
Here the Devil found not subject of wonder only, but matter to swell his revolted spirit with more rage, and to revive the malignity of his mind against his Maker, and especially against this new increase of glory, which to his infinite regret was extended over the whole waste, and which he looked upon, as we say in human affairs, as a pays conquis, or, if you will have it in the language of the Devil, as an invasion upon his kingdom.
Here it naturally occurred to them, in their state of envy and rebellion, that though they could not assault the impregnable walls of heaven, and could no more pretend to raise war in the place of blessedness and peace; yet that perhaps they might find room in this new, and however glorious, yet inferior kingdom or creation, to work some despite to their great Creator, or to affront his majesty in the person of some of his new-made creatures; and upon this they may be justly supposed to double their vigilance, in the survey they resolve to take of these new worlds, however great, numberless, and wonderful.
What discoveries they may have made in the other and greater worlds, than this earth, we have not yet had an account: Possibly they are conversant with other parts of God’s creation, besides this little, little globe, which is but as a point in comparison of the rest; and with other of God’s creatures besides man, who may, according to the opinion of our philosophers, inhabit those worlds; but as nobody knows that part but the Devil, we shall not trouble ourselves with the inquiry.
But it is very reasonable, and indeed probable, that the Devils were more than ordinarily surprised at the nature and reason of all this glorious creation, after they had, with the utmost curiosity, viewed all the parts of it. The glories of the several systems; the immense spaces in which those glorious bodies that were created, and made part of it, were allowed respectively to move; the innumerable fixed stars, as so many suns in the centre of so many distant solar systems; the (likewise innumerable) dark opaque bodies receiving light, and depending upon those suns respectively for such light, and then reflecting that light again upon, and for the use of, one another. To see the beauty and splendor of their forms, the regularity of their position, the order and exactness, and yet inconceivable velocity, of their motions, the certainty of their revolutions, and the variety and virtue of their influences; and then, which was even to the Devils themselves most astonishing, that after all the rest of their observations they should find this whole immense work was adapted for. and made subservient to, the use, delight, and blessing, only of one poor species, in itself small, and in appearance contemptible; the meanest of all the kinds supposed to inhabit so many glorious worlds, as appeared now to be formed; I mean, that moon called the earth, and the creature called man; that all was made for him, upheld by the wise Creator, on his account only; and would necessarily end and cease whenever that species should end, and be determined.
That this creature was to be found nowhere but (as above) in one little individual moon; a spot less than almost any of the moons, which were in such great numbers to be found attendant upon, and prescribed within, every system of the whole created Heavens: this was astonishing even to the Devil himself; nay, the whole clan of devils could scarce entertain any jnst ideas of the thing; till at last Satan, indefatigable in his search or inquiry into the nature and reason of this new work, and particularly searching into the species of man, whom he found God had thus placed in the little globe, called earth; he soon came to an eclair cissement, or a clear understanding of the whole. For example:
1. He found this creature, called man, was, however mean and small in his appearance, a kind of a seraphic species: that he was made in the very image of God, endowed with reasonable faculties to know good and evil, and possessed of a certain thing till then unknown and unheard of even in hell itself; that is, in the habitation of devils, let that be where it would; namely,
2. That God had made him indeed of the lowest and coarsest materials; but that he had breathed into him the breath of life, and that he became a living thing called Soul, being a kind of an extraordinary heavenly and divine emanation; and consequently that man, however mean and terrestrial his body might be, was yet heaven-born, in his spirituous part completely seraphic; and after a space of life here, (determined to be a state of probation,) he should be translated through the regions of death into a life purely and truly heavenly, and which should remain so forever: being capable of knowing and en joy ingGod, his Maker, and standing in his presence, as the glorified angels do.
3. That he had the most sublime faculties infused into him; was capable not only of knowing and contemplating God, and, which was still more, of enjoying him, as above; but (which the Devil now was not,) capable of honoring and glorifying his Maker; who also had condescended to accept of honor from him.
4. And, which was still more, that, being of an angelic nature, though mixed with, and confined for the present in, a case of mortal flesh, he was intended to be removed from this earth after a certain time of life here, to inhabit that heaven, and enjoy that very glory and felicity, from which Satan and his angels had been expelled.
When he found all this, it presently occurred to him, that God had done it all as an act of triumph over him, (Satan;) and that these creatures were only created to people heaven, depopulated or stript of its inhabitants by his expulsion; and that these were all to be made angels in the devils’ stead.
If this thought increased his fury and envy, as far as rage of devils can be capable of being made greater; it doubtless set him on work to give a vent to that rage and envy, by searching into the nature and constitution of this creature, called man; and to find out whether he was invulnerable, and could by no means be hurt by the power of hell, or deluded by his subtilty; or whether he might be beguiled and deluded; and so, instead of being preserved in holiness and purity, wherein he was certainly created, be brought to fall and rebel, as he (Satan) had done before him; by which, instead of being transplanted into a glorious state, after this life, in heaven, as his Maker had designed him to be, to fill up the angelic choir, and supply the place, from whence he (Satan) had fallen, he might be made to fall also like him, and, in a word, be made a devil like himself.
This convinces us, that the Devil has not lost his natural powers by his fall; and our learned commentator, Mr. Pool, is of the same opinion; though he grants, that the Devil has lost his moral power, or his power of doing good, which he can never recover. Vide Mr. Pool upon Acts xix. 16, where we may particularly observe, when the man possessed with an evil spirit flew upon the seven sons of Sceva, the Jew, who would have exorcised them in the name of Jesus, without the authority of Jesus, or without faith in him, he flew on them, and mastered them, so that they fled out of the house from the Devil, conquered, naked, arid wounded. But of this power of the Devil I shall speak by itself.
In a word, and to sum up all the Devil’s story from his first expulsion, it stands thus: For so many years as were between his fall and the creation of man, though we have no memoirs of his particular affairs, we have reason to believe he was without any manner of employment; but a certain tormenting endeavor to be always expressing his rage and enmity against heaven; I call it tormenting, because ever disappointed; every thought about it proving empty; every attempt towards it abortive; leaving him only light enough to see still more and more reason to despair of success; and that this made his condition still more and more an hell than it was before.
After a space of duration in this misery, which we have no light given us to measure, or judge of, he at length discovered the new creation of man, as above; upon which he soon found matter to set himself to work, and has been busily employed ever since.
And now indeed there may be room to suggest a local hell, and the confinement of souls (made corrupt and degenerate by him) to it, as a, place; though he himself, as is still apparent by his actings, is not yet con&ned to it. Of this hell, its locality, extent, dimensions, continuance, and nature, as it does not belong to Satan’s history, I have a good excuse for saying nothing, and so put off my meddling with that, which if I would meddle with, I could say nothing of to the purpose.
Of the power of the Demi at the time of the creation of this world; whether it has not been farther straitened and limited since that time; and what shifts and stratagems he is obliged to make use of to compass his designs upon mankind.
CUNNING men have fabled, and though it be without either religion, authority, or physical foundation, it may be we may like it never the worse for that; that when God made the stars, and all the heavenly luminaries, the Devil, to mimic his Maker, and insult his new creation, made comets, in imitation of the fixed stars; but that the composition of them being combustible, when they came to wander in the abyss, rolling by an irregular ill-grounded motion, they took fire, in their approach to some of those great bodies of flame, the fixed stars; and being thus kindled (like a firework unskilfully let off) they then took wild and eccentric, as also different motions of their own, out of Satan’s direction, and beyond his power to regulate ever after.
Let this thought stand by itself, it matters not to pur purpose whether we believe anything of it, or no; it is enough to our case, that if Satan had any such power then, he has no such power now; and that leads me to inquire into his more recent limitations.
I am to suppose, he and all his accomplices, being confounded at the discovery of the new creation, and racking their wits to find out the meaning of it, had at last (no matter how) discovered the whole system, and concluded, as I have said, that the creature, called man, was to be their successor in the heavenly mansions; upon which I suggest, that the first motion of hell was to destroy this new work, and, if possible, to overwhelm it.
But when they came to make the attempt, they found their chains were not long enough, and that they could not reach the extremes of the systems. They had no power either to break the order, or to stop the motion, dislocate the parts, or confound the situation, of things; they traversed, no doubt, the whole work, visited every star, landed upon every solid, and sailed upon every fluid, in the whole scheme, to see what mischief they could do.
Upon a long and full survey, they came to this point in their inquiry, that, in short, they could do nothing by force; that they could riot displace any part, annihilate any atom, or destroy any life, in the whole creation; but that as omnipotence had created it f so the same omnipotence had armed it at all points against the utmost power of hell; had made the smallest creature in it invulnerable, as to Satan; so that without the permission of the same power which had made heaven, and conquered the Devil, he could do nothing at all, as to destroying anything that God had made, no, not the little diminutive thing called man, whom Satan saw so much reason to hate, as being created to succeed him in happiness in heaven.
Satan found him placed out of his power to hurt, or out of his reach to touch. And here, by the way, appears the second conquest of heaven over the Devil; that having placed his rival, as it were, just before his face, and showed the hateful sight to him, he saw written upon his image, touch him if you dare.
It cannot be doubted, but, had it not been thus, man is so far from being a match for the Devil, that one of Satan’s least imps or angels could destroy all the race of them in the world, ay, world and all, in a moment.
As he is prince of the power of the air, taking the air for the elementary world, how easily could he, at one blast, sweep all the surface of the earth into the sea; or drive weighty immense surges of the ocean over the whole plain of the earth, and deluge the globe at once with a storm! Or how easily could he, who, by the situation of the empire, must be supposed able to manage the clouds, draw them up in such position as should naturally produce thunders and lightnings, cause those lightnings to blast the earth, dash in pieces all the buildings, burn all the populous towns and cities, and lay waste the world!
At the same time he might command suited quantities of sublimated air to burst out of the bowels of the earth, and overwhelm and swallow up, in the opening chasms, all the inhabitants of the globe.
In a word, Satan left to himself as a devil, and to the power which by virtue of his seraphic original he must be vested with, was able to have made devilish work in the world, if by a superior power he was not restrained.
But there is no doubt, at least to me, but that with his fall from heaven, as he lost the rectitude and glory of his ajigelic nature. I mean his innocence, so he lost the power too that he had before; and that when he first commenced devil, he received the chains of restraint too, as the badge of his apostasy; namely, a general prohibition to do anything to the prejudice of this creation, or to act anything by force or violence without special permission.
This prohibition was not sent him by a messenger, or by an order in writing, or proclaimed from heaven by a law; but Satan, by a strange, invisible and unaccountable impression, felt the restraint within him; and at the same time that his moral capacity was not taken away, yet his power of exerting that capacity felt the restraint, and left him unable to do, even what he was able to do at the same time.
I make no question but the Devil is sensible of this restraint; that is to say, not as it is a restraint only, or as an effect of his expulsion from heaven; but as it prevents his capital design against man, whom, for the reason I have given already, he entertains a mortal hatred of, and would destroy with all his heart if he might; and therefore, like a chained mastiff, we find him oftentimes making an horrid hellish clamor and noise, barking and howling, and frightening the people, letting them know, that, if he was loose, he would tear them in pieces; but at the same time his very fury shakes his chain, which lets them know, to their satisfaction, he can only bark, but cannot bite.
Some are of opinion, that the Devil is not restrained so much by the superior power of his Sovereign and Maker; but that all his milder measures with man are the effect of a political scheme, and done upon mature deliberation; that it was resolved to act thus, in the great council of devils, called upon this very occasion, when they first were informed of the creation of man; and especially when they considered what kind of creature he was, and what might probably be the reason of making him; namely, to fill up the vacancies in heaven; I say, that then the devils resolved, that it was not for their interest to fall upon him with fury and rage, and so destroy the species, for that this would be no benefit at all to them, and would only cause another original man to be created; for that they knew God could, by the same omnipotence, form as many new species of creatures as he pleased; and, if he thought fit, create them in heaven too, out of the reach of devils, or evil spirits; and that, therefore, to destroy man would no way answer their end.
On the other hand, examining strictly the mould of this new made creature, and of what materials he was formed; how mixed up of a nature convertible and pervertible; capable indeed of infinite excellence, and consequently of eternal felicity; but subject, likewise, to corruption and degeneracy, and, consequently, to eternal misery; that, instead of being fit to supply the places of Satan and his rejected tribe (the expelled angels) in heaven, and filling up the thrones or stalls in the celestial choir, they might, if they could but be brought into crime, become a race of rebels and traitors like the rest; and so come at last to keep them company, as well in the place of eternal misery as in the merit of it, and, in a word, become devils instead of angels;
Upon this discovery, I say, they found it infinitely more for the interest of Satan’s infernal kingdom, to go another way to work with mankind, and see if it were possible, by the strength of their infernal wit and counsels, to lay some snare for him, and by some stratagem to bring him to eternal ruin and misery.
This being then approved as their only method, (and the Devil showed he was no fool in the choice,) he next resolved, that there was no time to be lost; that it was to be set about immediately, before the race was multiplied, and by that means the work be not made greater only, but perhaps the more difficult too. Accordingly the diligent Devil went instantly about it, agreeably to all the story of Eve and the serpent, as before; the belief of which, whether historically or allegorically, is not at all obstructed by this hypothesis.
I do not affirm that this was the case at first, because being not present in that black divan, at least not that I know of, (for who knows where he was, or was not, in his preexistent state?) I cannot be positive in the resolve that passed there; but except for some very little contradiction, which we find in the sacred writings, I should, I confess, incline to believe it historically; and I shall speak of those things which I call contradictions to it more largely hereafter.
In the mean time, be it one way or other, that is to say, either that Satan had no power to have proceeded with man by violence, and to have destroyed him as soon as he was made; or that he had the power, but chose rather to proceed by other methods to deceive and debauoh him; I say, be it which you please, I am still of the opinion, that it really was not the Devil’s business to destroy the species; that it would have been nothing to the purpose, and no advantage at all to him, if he had done it; for that, as above, God could immediately have created another species to the same end, whom he either could have made invulnerable, and not subject to the Devil’s power, or removed him out of Satan’s reach; placed him out of the Devil’s ken, in heaven, or some other place, where the Devil could not come to hurt him; and that, therefore, it is infinitely more his advantage, and more suited to his real design of defeating the end of man’s creation, to debauch him, and make a devil of him, that he may be rejected like himself, and increase the infernal kingdom and company in the lake of misery, in ceternum.
It may be true, for aught I know, that Satan has not the power of destruction put into his hand, and that he cannot take away the life of a man: and it seems probable to be so, from the story of Satan and Job, when Satan appeared among the sons of God, as the text says, (Job i. 6.) Now when God gave such a character of Job to him, and asked him if he had considered his servant Job, (verse 8,) why did not the Devil go immediately and exert his malice against the good man at once, to let his Maker see what would become of his servant Job in his distress? On the contrary, we see he only answers by showing the reason of Job’s good behavior; that it was but common gratitude for the blessing and protection he enjoyed, (verse 10,) and pleading that if his estate was taken away, and he was exposed as he (Satan) was, to be a beggar and a vagabond, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down therein, he should be a very devil too like himself, and curse God to his face.
Upon this, the text says that God answered, (verse 11,) “ Behold, all that he hath is in thy power.” Now it is plain here, that God gave up Job’s wealth and estate, nay, his family, and the lives of his children and servants, into the Devil’s power; and accordingly, like a true merciless devil, as he is, he destroyed them all; he moved the Sabeans to fall upon the oxen arid the asses, and carry them off; he moved the Chaldeans to fall upon the camels and the servants, to carry off the first, and murder the last; he made lightning flash upon the poor sheep, and kill them all; and he blowed his house down upon his poor children, and buried them all in the ruins.
Now here is a specimen of Satan’s good will to mankind, and what havoc the Devil would make in the world, if he might; and here is a testimony too, that he could not do this without leave; so that I cannot but be of the opinion he has some limitations, some bounds set to his natural fury; a certain number of links in his chain, which he cannot exceed, or, in a word, that he cannot go a foot beyond his tether.
The same kind of evidence we have in the gospel, (Matt. viii. 31,) where Satan could not so much as possess the filthiest and meanest of all creatures, the swine, till he had asked leave; and that still, to show his good will, as soon as he had gotten leave, he hurried them all into the sea, and choked them; these, I say, are some of the reasons why I am not willing to say, the Devil is not restrained in power. But, on the other side, we are told of so many mischievous things the Devil has done in the world, by virtue of his dominion over the elements, and by other testimonies of his power, that I do not know what to think of it; though, upon the whole, the first is the safest opinion; for if we should believe the last, we might, for aught I know, be brought, like the American Indians, to worship him at last, that he may do us no harm.
And now I have named the Indians in America, I confess it would go a great way in favor of Satan’s generosity, as well as in testimony of his power, if we might believe all the accounts which indeed authors are pretty well agreed in the truth of; namely, of the mischiefs the Devil does in those countries, where his dominion seems to be established; how he uses them when they deny him the homage he claims of them as his due; what havoc and combustion he makes among them; and how beneficent he is (or at least negative in his mischiefs) when they appease him by their hellish sacrifices.
Likewise we see a test of his wicked subtilty in his management of those dark nations, when he was more immediately worshipped by them; namely, the making them believe, that all their good weather, rains, dews, and kind influences upon the earth, to make it fruitful, were from him; whereas they really were the common blessings of an higher hand, and came not from him, (the Devil,) but from him that made the Devil, and made him a devil, or a fallen angel, by his curse.
But to go back to the method the Devil took with the first of mankind; it is plain the policy of hell was right, though the execution of the resolves they took did not fully answer their end neither: for Satan, fastening upon poor, proud, ridiculous Mother Eve, as I have said before, made presently a true judgment of her capacities, and of her temper; took her by the right handle, and, soothing her vanity, (which is, to this day. the softest place in the head of all the sex,) wheedled her out of her senses by praising her beauty, and promising to made her a goddess.
The foolish woman yielded presently, and that we are told is the reason why the same method so strangely takes with all her posterity; namely, that you are sure to prevail with them, if you can but once persuade them that you believe they are witty and handsome; for the Devil, you may observe, never quits any hold he gets; and, having once found a way into the heart, always takes care to keep the door open, that any of his agents may enter after him without any more difficulty: hence the same argument, especially the last, has so bewitching an influence on the sex, that they rarely deny you anything, after they are but weak enough, and vain enough, to accept of the praises you offer them on that head: on the other hand, you are sure they never forgive you the unpardonable crime of saying they are ugly or disagreeable. It is suggested, that the first method the Devil took to insinuate all those fine things into Eve’s giddy head was by creeping close to her one night, when she was asleep, and laying his mouth to her ear, whispering all the fine things to her, which he knew would set her fancy on tip-toe, and so make her receive them involuntarily into her mind; knowing well enough, that when she had formed such ideas in her soul, however they came there, she would never be quiet till she had worked them up to some extraordinary thing or other.
It was evident what the Devil aimed at, namely, that she should break in upon the command of God, and so, having corrupted herself, bring the curse upon herself and all the race, as God. had threatened: but why the pride of Eve should be so easily tickled by the notion of her exquisite beauty, when there then was no prospect of the use or want of those charms, that indeed makes a kind of difficulty here, which the learned have not determined. For,
1. If she had been as ugly as the Devil, she had nobody to rival her; so that she need not fear Adam should leave her, and get another mistress.
2. If she had been as bright and as beautiful as an angel, she had no other admirer but poor Adam; and he could have no room to be jealous of her, or afraid she should cuckold him; so that, in short, Eve had no such occasion for her beauty, nor could she make any use of it to a bad purpose, or to a good; and therefore I believe the Devil, who is too cunning to do anything that signifies nothing, rather tempted her by the hope of increasing her wit, than her beauty.
But to come back to the method of Satan’s tempting her; namely, by whispering to her in her sleep. It was a cunning trick, that is the truth of it; and by that means he certainly set her head a madding after deism, and to be made a goddess; and then backed it by the subtle talk he had with her afterwards.
I am the more particular upon this part, because, however the Devil may have been the first that ever practised it, yet I can assure him the experiment has been tried upon many a woman since, to the wheedling her out of her modesty, as well as her simplicity; and the cunning men tell us still, that if you can come at a woman when she is in a deep sleep, and whisper to her close to her ear, she will certainly dream of the thing you say to her, and so will a man too.
Well, be this so to her race or not, it was, it seems, so to her; for she waked with her head filled with pleasing ideas, and, as some will have it, unlawful desires; such as, to be sure, she had never entertained before. These are supposed to be fatally infused in her dream, and suggested to her waking soul, when the organ ear which conveyed them was dozed and insensible; strange fate of sleeping in paradise! that whereas we have notice but of two sleeps there, that in one a woman should go out of him, and in the other the Devil should come into her.
Certainly, when Satan first made the attempt upon Eve, he did not think he should have so easily conquered her, or have brought his business about so soon; the Devil himself could not have imagined she should have been so soon brought to forget the command given, or at least who gave it, and have ventured to transgress against him. and made her forget, that God had told her, it should be death to her to touch it; and, above all, that she should aspire to be as wise as him, who was so ignorant before, as to believe it was for fear of her being like himself, that he had forbid it her.
Well might she be said to be the weaker vessel, though Adam himself had little enough to say for his being the stronger of the two, when he was over-persuaded (if it were done by persuasion,) by his wife to the same thing.
And mark how wise they were after they had eaten, and what fools they both acted like, even to one another; nay, even all the knowledge they attained to by it, was, for aught I see, only to know that they were fools, and to be sensible both of sin and shame; and see how simply they acted, I say, upon their having committed the crime, and being detected in it:
“View them today conversing with their God,
His image both enjoyed and understood;
To-morrow skulking with a sordid flight,
Among the bushes, from the Infinite,
As if that power was blind, which gave them sight;
With senseless labor tagging fig-leaf vests,
To hide their bodies from the sight of beasts.
Hark! how the fool pleads faint, for forfeit life
First he reproaches heaven, and then his wife:
‘The woman which thou gavest,’ as if the gift
Could rob him of the little reason left;
A weak pretence to shift his early crime,
As if accusing her would excuse him;
But thus encroaching crime dethrones the sense,
And intercepts the heavenly influence;
Debauches reason, makes the man a fool,
And turns his active light to ridicule.”
It must be confessed, that it was an unaccountable degeneracy, even of their common reasoning, which Adam and Eve both fell into upon the first committing the offence of tasting the forbidden fruit: if that was their being made as gods, it made but a poor appearance in its first coming, to hide their nakedness when there was nobody to see them, and cover themselves among the bushes from their Maker: but thus it was, and this the Devil had brought them to; and well might he, and all the clan of hell, as Mr. Milton brings them in, laugh and triumph over the man after the blow was given, as having so egregiously abused and deluded them both.
But here, to be sure, began the Devil’s new kingdom; as he had now seduced the two first creatures, he was pretty sure of success upon all the race; and therefore prepared to attack them also, as soon as they came on; nor was their increasing multitude any dis couragement to his attempt, but just the contrary; for he had agents enough to employ, if every man and woman that should be born was to want a devil to wait upon them, separately and singly to seduce them; whereas some whole nations have been such willing subjects to him, that one of his seraphic imps may, for aught we know, have been enough to guide a whole country; the people being entirely subjected to his government for many ages; as in America, for example, where some will have it, that he conveyed the first inhabitants; at least, if he did not, we do not well know who did, or how they got thither.
And how came all the communication to be so entirely cut off between the nations of Europe and Africa, from whence America must certainly have been peopled, or else the Devil must have done it indeed? I say, how came the communication to be entirely cut off between them, that except the time, whenever it was, that people did at first reach from one to the other, none ever came back to give their friends any account of their success, or invite them to follow? Nor did they hear of one another afterwards, as we have reason to think. Did Satan politically keep them thus asunder, lest news from heaven should reach them, and so they should be recovered out of his government? We cannot tell how to give any other rational account of it, that a nation, nay, a quarter of the world, or, as some will have it to be, half the globe, should be peopled from Europe or Africa, or both, and nobody ever go after them, or come back from them, in above three thousand years after.
Nay, that those countries should be peopled when there was no navigation in use in these parts of the world, no ships made that could carry provisions enough to support the people that sailed in them, but that they must have been starved to death before they could reach the shore of America; the ferry from Europe or Africa in any part, (which we have known navigation to be practised in,) being at least a thousand miles, and in most places much more.
But as to the Americans, let the Devil and them alone to account for their coming thither; this we are certain of, that we knew nothing of them for a many hundred years; and when we did, when the discovery was made, they that went from hence found Satan in a full and quiet possession of them, ruling them with an arbitrary government, particular to himself: he had led them into a blind subjection to himself, nay, I might call it devotion, (for it was all of religion that was to be found among them;) worshipping horrible idols in his name, to whom he directed human sacrifices continually to be made, till he deluged the country with blood, arid ripened them up for the destruction that followed, from the invasion of the Spaniards, who he knew would hurry them all out of the world as fast as he (the Devil) himself could desire of them.
But to go back a little to the original of things. It is evident that Satan has made a much better market of mankind, by thus subtly attacking them, and bringing them to break with their Maker as he had done before them, than he could have done by fulminating upon them at first, and sending them all out of the world at once; for now he has peopled his own dominions with them; and though a remnant are snatched, as it were, out of his clutches, by the agency of invincible grace, of which I am not to discourse in this place, yet this may be said of the Devil, without offence, that he has in some sense, carried his point, and, as it were, forced his Maker to be satisfied with a part of mankind, and the least part too, instead of the great glory he would have brought to himself by keeping them all in his service.
Mr. Milton, as I have noted above, brings the Devil and all hell with him, making a feu de joie for the victory Satan obtained over one silly woman. Indeed it was a piece of success greater in its consequence than in the immediate appearance: nor was 8 the conquest so complete as Satan himself imagined to make, since the promise of a redemption out of his hands, which was immediately made to the man, in behalf of himself and his believing posterity, was a great disappointment to Satan, and, as it were, snatched the best part of his victory out of his hands.
It is certain, the devils knew what the meaning of that promise was, and who was to be the seed of the woman, namely, the incarnate Son of God; and that it was a second blow to the whole infernal body; but as if they had resolved to let. that alone, Satan went on with his business; and as he had introduced crime into the common parent of mankind, and thereby secured the contamination of blood, and the descent or propagation of the corrupt seed, he had nothing to do but to assist nature in time to come, to carry on its own rebellion, and act itself in the breasts of Eve’s tainted posterity; and that indeed has been the Devil’s business ever since his first victory upon the kind, to this day.
His success in this part has been such, that we see upon innumerable occasions a general defection has followed; a kind of taint upon nature, call it what you will, a blast upon the race of mankind; and were it not for one thing, he had ruined the whole family;
I say, were it not for one thing, namely, a selected company or number, which his Maker has resolved he shall not be able to corrupt, or, if he does, the sending the promised seed shall recover back again from him, by the power of irresistible grace; which number thus selected or elected, call it which we will, are still to supply the vacancies in heaven, which Satan’s defection has left open; and what was before filled up with created seraphs, is now to be restored by recovered saints, by whom infinite glory is to accrue to the kingdom of the Redeemer.
This glorious establishment has robbed Satan of all the jov of his victory, and left him just where he was, defeareh and disappointed; nor does the possession of all the myriads of the sons of perdition, who yet some are of the opinion will be snatched from him too at last; I say, the possession of all these makes no amends to him: for he is such a devil in his nature, that the envy at those he cannot seduce, eats out all the satisfaction of the mischief he has done in seducing all the rest; hut I must not preach, so I return to things as much needful to know, though less solemn.
Of the progress of Satan in carrying on his conquest over mankind, from the fall of Eve to the Deluge.
I DOUBT, if the Devil was asked the question plainly, he would confess, that after he had conquered Eve by his own wicked contrivance, and then by her assistance had brought Adam too (like a fool as he was,) into the same gulf of misery, he thought he had done his work, compassed the whole race, that they were now his own, and that he had put an end to the grand design of their creation; namely, of peopling heaven with a new angelic race of souls, who, when glorified, should make up the defection of the host of hell, that had been expunged by their crime; in a word, that he had gotten a better conquest than if he had destroyed them all.
But, in the midst of his conquest, he found a check put to the advantages he expected to reap from his victory, by the immediate promise of grace to a part of the posterity of Adam, who, notwithstanding the fall, were to be purchased by the Messiah, and snatched out of his (Satan’s) hands, and over whom he could make no final conquest; so that his power met with a new limitation, and that such, as indeed fully disappointed him in the main thing he aimed at; namely, preventing the beatitudes of mankind; which were thus secured; (and what if the numbers of mankind were upon this account increased in such a manner, that the selected number should, by length of time, amount to just as many as the whole race, had they not fallen, would have amounted to in all?) And thus, indeed, the world may be said to be upheld and continued for the sake of those few, since, till their number can be completed, the creation cannot fall, any more than that without them, or but for them, it would not have stood.
Bat leaving this speculation, and not having inquired of Satan what he has to say on that subject, let us go back to the antediluvian world. The Devil, to be sure, gained his point upon Eve, and in her upon all her race: he drew her into sin; got her turned out of paradise, and the man with her: the next thing was to go to work with her posterity, and particularly with her two sons, Cain and Abel.
Adam having, notwithstanding his fall, repented very sincerely of his sin, received the promise of redemption and pardon, with an humble, but believing heart; charity bids us suppose that he led a very religious and sober life ever after; arid, especially in the first part of his time, that he brought up his children very soberly, and gave them all the necessary advantages of a religious education, and a good introduction into the world, that he was capable of; and that Eve likewise assisted to both in her place and degree.
Their two eldest sons, Cain and Abel, the one heir apparent to the patriarchal empire, and the other heir presumptive, I suppose also, lived very sober and religious lives; and as the principles of natural religion dictated an homage and subjection due to the Almighty Maker, as an acknowledgment of his mercies, and a recognition of their obedience; so the received usage of religion dictating, at that time, that this homage was to be paid by a sacrifice, they either of them brought a free-will offering to be dedicated to God respectively for themselves and families.
How it was, and for what reason, that God had respect to the offering of Abel, which, the learned say, was a lamb of the firstlings of the flock, and did not give any testimony of the like respect to Cain, and his offering, which was of the first fruits of the earth, the offerings being equally suited to the respective employment of the men, that is not my present business; but this we find made heart-burnings, and raised envy and jealousy in the mind of Cain; and at that door the Devil immediately entered; for he, who, from the beginning, was very diligent in his way, never slipped any opportunity, or missed any advantages, that the circumstances of mankind offered him to do mischief.
What shape or appearance the Devil took up to enter into a conversation with Cain upon the subject, that authors do not take upon them to determine; but it is generally supposed he personated some of bain’s sons or grandsons to begin the discourse, who attacked their father, or perhaps grandfather, upon this occasion, in the following manner, or to that purpose:
D. Sir, I perceive your majesty (for the first race were certainly all monarchs as great as kings, to their immediate posterity) to be greatly disturbed of late; your countenance is changed, your noble cheerfulness, the glories of your face, are strangely sunk and gone, and you are not the man you used to be. Please your majesty to communicate your griefs to us your children; you may be sure, that, if it be possible, we would procure you relief, and restore your delights, the loss of which, if thus you go on to subject yourself to too much melancholy, will be very hurtful to you, and, in the end, destroy you.
Cain. It is very kind, my dear children, to show your respect thus to your true progenitor, and to offer your assistance. I confess, as you say. my mind is oppressed and displeased; but, though it is very heavy, yet I know not which way to look for relief; for the distemper is above our reach, no cure can be found for it on earth.
D. Do not say so, sir: there can be no disease sure on earth, but may be cured on earth; if it be a mental evil, we have heard that your great ancestor, the first father of us all, who lives still on the great Western Plains towards the Sea, is the oracle to which all his children fly for direction in such cases as are out of the reach of the ordinary understanding of mankind; please you to give leave, we will take a journey to him, and, representing your case to him, we will hear his advice, and bring it to you with all speed, for the ease of your mind.
Cain. I know not whether he can reach my case or no.
D. Doubtless he may; and. if not. the labor of our journey is nothing, when placed in competition with the ease of your mind; it is but a few days’ travel lost; and you will not be the worse, if we fail of the desired success.
Cain. The offer is filial, and I accept your affectionate concern for me, with a just sense of an obliged parent; go then, and my blessing be upon you. But, alas! why do I bless? Can he bless whom God has not blessed?
D. O! sir, do not say so; has not God blessed you? are you not the second sovereign of the earth? and does he not converse with you face to face? are noj you the oracle to all your growing posterity, and, next after his Sovereign Imperial Majesty Lord Adam, patriarch of the world?
Cain. But has not God rejected me, and refused to converse any more with me, while he daily favors and countenances my younger brother, Abel, as if he resolved to set him up to rule over me?
D. No, sir, that cannot be, you cannot be disturbed at such a thing; is not the right of sovereignty yours by primogeniture? Can God himself take that away, when it is once given? Are you not Lord Adam’s eldest son? are you not the first-born glory of the creation? and does not the government descend to you by the divine right of birth and blood?
Cain. But what does all that signify to me, while God appears to favor and caress my younger brother, and to shine upon him, while a black dejection, and token of displeasure, surround me every day, and he does not appear to me as he used to do?
D. And what need your majesty be concerned at that, if it be so? if he does not appear pleased, you have the whole world to enjoy yourself in, and all your numerous and rising posterity adore and honor you; what need those remote things be any disturbance to you?
Cain. How! my children, not the favor of God be valued! yes, yes, in his favor is life; what can all the world avail without the smiles and countenance of him that made it?
D. Doubtless, sir, he that made the world, and placed you at the head of it all, to govern and direct it, has made it agreeable; and it is able to give you a full satisfaction and enjoyment, if you please to con sider it well, though you were never to converse with him all the while you live in it.
Cain. You are quite wrong there, my children, quite wrong.
D. But do you not, great sir, see all your children as well as us, rejoicing in the plenty of all things? and are they not completely happy, and yet they know little of this great God’? He seldom converses among us; we hear of him indeed by your sage advices, and we bring our offerings to you for him, as you direct; and when that’s done, we enjoy whatever our hearts desire; and so doubtless may you in an abundant manner, if you please.
Cain. But your felicity is wrong placed then, or you suppose that God is pleased and satisfied in that your offerings are brought to me; but what would you say, if you knew that God is displeased’? that he does not accept your offerings? that when I sacrificed to him in behalf of you all, he rejected my offerings, though I brought a princely gift, being of the finest of the wheat, the choicest and earliest fruits, and the sweetest of the oil, an offering suited to the Giver of them all?
D. But if you offered them, sir, how are you sure they were not accepted?
Cain. Yes, yes, I am sure; did not my brother Abel offer, at the same time, a lamb of his flock? for he, you know, delights in cattle, and covers the mountains with his herds. Over him, all the while he was sacrificing, a bright emanation shone cheering and en livening, a pledge of favor; and light ambient flames played hovering in the lower air, as if attending his sacrifice; and, when ready prepared, immediately descended, and burnt up the flesh, a sweet odoriferous savor ascending to him, who thus testified his acceptance; whereas, over my head, a black cloud, misty, and distilling vapor, hung dripping upon the humble altar I had raised, and, wetting the finest and choicest things I had prepared, spoiled and defaced them; the wood, unapt to burn by the moisture which fell, scarce received the fire I brought to kindle it; and, even then, rather smothered and choked, than kindled into a flame; in a word, it went quite out, without consuming what was brought to be offered up.
D. Let not our truly reverenced lord and father be disquited at all this; if he accepts not what you bring, you are discharged of the debt, and need bring no more; nor have the trouble of such labored collections of rarities any more; when he thinks fit to require it again, you will have notice, no question, and then it, being called for, will be accepted, or else why should it be required?
Cain. That may indeed be the case, nor do I think of attempting any more to bring an offering; for I rather take it, that I am forbidden for the present; but then, what is it that my younger brother triumphs in? and how am I insulted, in that he and his house are all joy and triumph, as if they had some great advantage over me, in that their offering was accepted when mine was not?
D. Does he triumph over your majesty, our lord and sovereign? Give us but your order, and we will go and pull him and all his generation in pieces; for to triumph over you, who are his elder brother, is an horrid rebellion and treason, arid he ought to be ex pelled the society of mankind.
Cain. I think so too, indeed; however, my dear children, and faithful subjects, though I accept your offer of duty and service, yet I will consider very well, before I take up arms against my brother; besides, our sovereign father, and patriarchal lord, Adam, being yet alive, it is not in my right to act offensively without his command.
D. We are ready therefore to carry your petition to him, and doubt not to obtain his license and commission too, to impower you to do yourself justice upon your younger brother; who, being your vassal, or at least inferior, as he is junior in birth, insults you upon the fancied opinion of having a larger share in the Divine favor, and receiving a blessing on his sacrifices, on pretence of the same favor being denied you.
Cain. I am content. Go, then, and give a just account of the state of our affairs.
D. We shall soon return with the agreeable answer; let not our lord and father continue sad and dejected, but depend upon a speedy relief, by the assistance of thy numerous issue, all devoted to thy interest and felicity.
Cain. My blessing be with you in your way, and give you a favorable reception at the venerable tent of our universal lord and father.
Note. Here the cursed race being fully given up to the direction of the evil spirit, which so early possessed them, and swelling with rage at the innocent Abel, and his whole family, they resolved upon forming a most wicked and detestable lie, to bring about the advice which they had already given their father Cain a touch of; and to pretend, that Adam, being justly provoked at the imdutiful behavior of Abel, had given Cain a commission to chastise him, and by force to cut him off, and all his family, as guilty of rebellion and pride.
Filled with this mischievous and bloody resolution, they came back to their father Cain, after staying a few days, such as were sufficient to make Cain believe they had been at the spacious plains, where Adam dwelt; the same which are now called the blessed Valleys, or the Plains of Mecca in Arabia Felix, near the banks of the Red Sea.
Note here also, that Cain having received a wicked hint from these men, his children and subjects, as before, intimating that Abel had broken the laws of primogeniture in his behavior towards him (Cain;) and that he might be justly punished for it; Satan, that cunning manager of all our wayward passions, fanned the fire of envy and jealousy with his utmost skill all the while his other agents were absent; and by the time they came back had blown it up into such an heat of fury and rage, that it wanted nothing but air to make it bum out, as it soon afterwards did in a furious flame of wrath and revenge, even to blood and destruction.
Just in the very critical moment, while things stood thus with Cain, Satan brings in his wicked instruments, as if just arrived with the return of his message from Adam, at whose court they had been for orders; and thus they, that is, the Devil assuming to speak by them, approach their father with an air of solemn, but cheerful satisfaction at the success of their embassy.
D. Hail, sovereign, reverend, patriarchal lord! we come with joy to render thee an account of the successs of our message.
Cain. Have you then seen the venerable tents where dwell the heaven-born, the angelic pair, to whom all human reverence highly due, is and ought always to be humbly paid?
D. We have.
Cain. Did you, together with my grand request, a just and humble homage for me pay, to the great sire and mother of mankind 1
D. We did.
Cain. Did you in humble language represent the griefs and anguish which oppress my soul?
D. We did, and back their blessing to thee bring.
Cain. I hope, with humblest signs of filial duty, you took it for me on your bending knees?
D. W“e did, and had our share; the patriarch lifting up his hands to heaven, expressed his joy to see his spreading race, and blessed us all.
Cain. Did you my solemn message too deliver, my injuries impartially lay down, and due assistance and direction crave?
D. We did.
Cain. What spoke the oracle? he is God to me; what just commands do ye bring? what is to be done? Am I to bear the insulting junior’s rage? and meekly suffer what unjustly he, affronting primogeniture, arid laws of God and man, imposes by his pride iinsnfferable? Am I to be crushed, and be no more the firstborn son on earth, but bow and kneel to him?
D. Forbid it, heaven! as Adam too forbids, who with a justice godlike, and peculiar to injured parents, Abel’s pride resents, and gives his high command to thee to punish.
Cain. To punish? say you, did he use the word, the very word? am I commissioned then to punish Abel?
D. Not Abel only, but his rebel race, as they, alike in crime, alike are joined in punishment.
Cain. The race indeed have shared the merit with him; how did they all insult, and with a shout of triumph mock my sorrow, when they saw me from my sacrifice dejected come, as if my disappointment was their joy?
D. This too the venerable prince resents; and to preserve the race in bounds of law subordinate arid limited to duty, commands that this first, breach be not passed by, lest the precedent upon record stand to future times to encourage like rebellion.
Cain. And is it then my sovereign parent’s will?
D. It is his will, that thou his eldest son, his image, his beloved, should be maintained in all the rights of sovereignty derived to thee from him; and not be left exposed to injury, and power usurped, but should do thyself justice on the rebel race.
Cain. And so I will; Abel shall quickly know what it is to trample on his elder brother; shall know that he is thus sentenced by his father; and I am commissioned bat to execute his high command, his sentence, which is God’s; and that he falls by the hand of heavenly justice.
So now Satan had done his work, he had deluded the mother to a breach against the first and only command; he had drawn Adam into the same snare; and now he brings in Cain prompted by his own rage, and deluded by his (Satan’s) craft, to commit murder, nay, a fratricide, an aggravated murder.
Upon this he sends out Cain, while the bloody rage was in its ferment, and wickedly at the same time, bringing Abel, innocent, and fearing no ill, just in his way, he suggests to his thoughts such words as these:
Look you, Cain, see how divine justice concurs with your father’s righteous sentence; see, there is thy brother Abel directed by Heaven to fall into thy hands unarmed, unguarded, that thou mayst do thyself justice upon him without fear; see, thou mayst kill him; and, if thou hast a mind to conceal it, no eyes can see, nor will the world ever know it, so that no resentment or revenge upon thee, or thy posterity, can be apprehended, but it may be said some wild beast had rent him; nor will any one suggest, that thou, his brother and superior, could possibly be the person.
Cain, prepared for the fact by his former avowed rage, and resolution of revenge, was so much the less prepared to avoid the snare thus artfully contrived by the master of all subtlety, the Devil; so he immediately runs upon his brother Abel, and, after a little unarmed resistance, the innocent poor man, expecting no such mischief, was conquered and murdered; after which, as is to be supposed, the exasperated crew of Cain’s outrageous race overrun all his family and household, killing man, woman, and child.
It is objected here, that we have no authority in scripture to prove this part of the story; but I answer, it is not likely but that Abel, as well as Cain, being at man’s estate long before this, had several children by their own sisters; for they were the only men in the world who were allowed the marrying their own sisters, there being no other women then in the world; and as we never read of any of Abel’s posterity, it is likewise as probable they were all murdered, as that they should kill Abel only, whose sons might immediately fall upon Cain for the blood of their father, and so the world have been involved in a civil war as soon as there were two families in it.
But be it so or not, it is not doubted the Devil wrought with Cain in the horrid murder, or he had never done it; whether it was directly, or by agents, is not material, nor is the latter unlikely; and, if the latter, then there is no improbability in the story; for why might not he that made use of the serpent to tempt Eve, be as well supposed to make a tool of some of Cain’s sons or grandsons to prompt him in the wicked attempt of murdering his brother? and why must we be obliged to bring in a miracle, or an apparition, into the story, to make it probable that the Devil had any hand in it, when it was so natural to a degenerate race to act in such a manner?
However it was, arid by whatever tool the Devil wrought, it is certain that this was the consequence, poor Abel was butchered; and thus the Devil made a second conquest in God’s creation; for Adam was now, as may be said, really childless; for his two sons were thus far lost, Abel was killed, and Cain was curst, and driven out from the presence of the Lord, and his race blasted with him.
It would be an useful inquiry here, and worthy our giving an account of, could we come to a certainty in it; namely, what was the mark that God set uponCain, by which he was kept from being fallen upon by Abel’s friends or relations? but as this does not belong to the Devil’s history, and it was God’s mark, not the Devil’s, — I have nothing to do with it here.
The Devil had now gained his point; the kingdom of grace, so newly erected, had been as it were extinct without a new creation, had not Adam and Eve been alive, and had not Eve, though now one hundred and thirty years of age, been a breeding young lady; for we must suppose the Tvomen, in that state of longevity, bare children till they were seven or eight, hundred years old. This teeming of Eve peopled not the world so much as it restored the blessed race; for, though Abel was killed, Cain had a numerous offspring presently, which, had Seth (Adam’s third son) never been born, would soon have replenished the world with people, such as they were; the seed of a murderer, cursed of God, branded with a mark of infamy, and who afterwards fell all together in the universal ruin of the race by the deluge.
But after the murder of Abel, Adam had another son born, namely, Seth, the father of Enos, and indeed the father of the holy race; for during his time and his son Enos, the text says, that men began to call on the name of the Lord; that is to say, they began to look back upon Cain and his wicked race; and, being convinced of the wickedness they had committed, and led their whole posterity into, they began to sue to Heaven for pardon of what was past, and to lead a new sort of life.
But the Devil had met with too much success in his first attempts, not to go on with his general resolution of debauching the minds of men, and Bringing them off from God; and therefore, as he kept his hold upon Cain’s cursed race, embroiled already in blood and murder; so he proceeded with his degenerate offspring, till, in a word, he brought both the holy seed, and the degenerate race, to join in one universal consent of crime, and to go on in it with such aggravating circumstances, as that it repented the Lord that he had made man, and he resolved to overwhelm them again with a general destruction, and clear the world of them.
The succession of blood in the royal original line of Adam is preserved in the sacred histories, and brought down as low as Noah and his three sons, for a continued series of fourteen hundred and fifty years, say some, sixteen hundred and forty say others; in which time sin spread itself so generally through the whole race, and the sons of God, so the scripture calls the Men of the righteous seed, the progeny of Seth, came in unto the daughters of men, that is, joined themselves to the cursed race of Cain, and married promiscuously with them, according to their fancies, the women, it seems, being beautiful and tempting; and though the Devil could not make the women handsome or ugly in one or other families, yet he might work up the gust of wicked inclination on either side, so as to make both the men and the women tempting and agreeable to one another, where they ought not to have been so; and perhaps, as it is often seen to this day, the more tempting for being under legal restraint.
It is objected here, that we do not find in the scripture, that the men and women of either race were at that time forbidden intermarrying with one another; and it is true, that literally it is not forbid. But if we did not search rather to make doubts than to explain them, we might suppose it was forbidden by some particular command at that time; seeing we may reasonably allow every thing to be forbidden, which they are taxed with a crime in committing; and as the sons of God taking them wives, as they thought fit to choose, though from among the daughters of the cursed race, is there charged upon them as a general depravation, an4 a great crime, and for which it is said, God even repented that he had made them, we need go no further to satisfy ourselves, that it was certainly forbidden.
Satan, no doubt, too, had a hand in this wickedness; for as it was his business to prompt men to do everything which God had prohibited, so the reason given why the men of those days did this thing was, they saw the daughters of men, that is, of the wicked race, or forbidden sort, were fair; he tempted them by the lust of the eye; in a word the ladies were beautiful and agreeable, and the Devil knew how to make use of the allurement; the men liked and took them by the mere direction of their fancy and appetite; without regarding the supreme prohibition: They took them wives of all which they chose, or such as they liked to choose.
But the Jext adds, that this promiscuous generation went farther than the mere outward crime of it; for it showed that the wickedness of the heart of man was great before God, und that he resented it. In short, God perceived a degeneracy or defect of virtue had seized upon the whole race; that there was a general corruption of manners, a depravity of nature upon them; that even the holy seed was tainted with it; that the Devil had broken in upon them, and prevailed to a great degree; that not only the practice of the age was corrupt, for that God could easily have restrained, but that the very heart of man was debauched, his desires wholly vitiated, and his senses engaged in it; so that, in a word, it became necessary to show the divine dis pleasure, not in the ordinary manner, by judgment and reproofs of such kind as usually reclaim men, but by a general destruction to sweep them away, clear the earth of them, and put an end to the wickedness at once, removing the offence and the offenders all together; this is signified at large, Gen. vi. 5. “ God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” And again, ver. 11, 12. “The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”
It must be confessed it was a strange conquest the Devil had made in the antediluvian world, that he had, as I may say. brought the whole race of mankind into a general revolt from God. Noah was indeed a preacher of righteousness, and he had preached about five hundred years to as little purpose as most of the good ministers ever did; for we do not read there was one man converted by him, or at least not one of them left; for that at the deluge there was either none of them alive, or none spared but Noah and his three sons, and their wives; and even they are (it is evident) recorded, not so much to be saved for their own goodness, but because they were his sons: nay, without breach of charity we may conclude, that at least one went to the Devil even of those three; namely, Ham or Cham, for triumphing in a brutal manner over his father’s drunkenness; for we find the special curse reached to him and his posterity for many ages; and whether it went no farther than the present state of life with them, we cannot tell.
We will suppose now, that through this whole fifteen hundred years, the Devil, having so effectually de bauched mankind, had advanced his infernal kingdom to a prodigious height; for the text says, the whole earth was filled with violence: in a word, blood, murder, rape, robbery, oppression and injustice, prevailed everywhere; and man, like the wild bear in the forest, lived by prey, biting and devouring one another.
At this time Noah begins to preach a new doctrine to them; for as he had before been a preacher of righteousness, now he becomes a preacher of vengeance; first he tells them they shall be all overwhelmed with a deluge, that for their sins God repented they were made, and that he would destroy them all; adding, that to prevent the ruin of himself and family, he resolved to build him a ship to have recourse to when the water should come over the rest of the world.
What jesting, what scorn, what contempt, did this work expose the good old man to for above one hundred years? for so long the work was building, as ancient authors say. Let us represent to ourselves in the most lively manner how the witty world at that time behaved to poor old Noah; how they took their evening walks to see what he was doing, and passed their judgment upon it, and upon the progress of it; I say, to represent this to ourselves, we need go no farther than to our own witticisms upon religion, and upon the most solemn mysteries of divine worship; how we damn the serious for enthusiasts, think the grave mad, and the sober melancholy; call religion itself flatus and hypo; make the devout ignorant, the divine mercenary, and the whole scheme of divinity a frame of priestcraft: and thus no doubt the building an ark or boat, or whatever they called it, to float over the mountains, and dance over the plains, what could it be but a religious frenzy, and the man that so busied himself, a lunatic? and all this in an age when divine things came by immediate revelation into the minds of men! The Devil must therefore have made a strange conquest upon mankind to obliterate all the reverence which but a little before was so strangely impressed upon them concerning their Maker.
This was certainly the height of the Devil’s kingdom, and we shall never find him arrive to such a pitch again; he was then truly and literally the universal monarch, nay, the god of this world; and, as all tyrants do, he governs them with an arbitrary, absolute sway; and had not God thought fit to give him a writ of ejectment, and afterwards drown him out of possession, I know not what would have been the case; he might have kept his hold, for aught I know, till the seed of the woman came to bruise his head, that is to say, cripple his government, dethrone him, and depose his power, as has been fulfilled in the Messiah.
But as he was, I say, drowned out of the world, his kingdom for the present was at an end; at least, if he had a dominion, he had no subjects; and as the creation was in a manner renewed, so the Devil had all his work to do over again. Unhappy man! how has he, by his weak resistance, made the Devil’s recovering his hold too easy to him, and given him all the advantages, except as before excepted, which he had before? Now whither he retired in the mean time, and how he got footing again after Noah and his family were landed upon the new surface, that we come next to inquire.
Of the Devil’s second kingdom, and how he got footing in the renewed world by his victory over Noah and his race.
THE story of Noah, his building the ark, his embarking himself and all nature’s stock for a new world on board it, the long voyage they took, and the bad weather they met with, though it would embellish this work very well, and come in very much to the purpose in this place; yet as it does not belong to the Devil’s story, for I cannot prove what some suggest; namely, that he was in the ark among the rest; I say, for that reason I must omit it.
And now having mentioned Satan’s being in the ark; as I say, I cannot prove it, so there are, I think, some good reasons to believe he was not there: first, I know no business he had there; secondly, we read of no mischief done there; and these joined together make me conclude he was absent; the last I chiefly insist upon, that we read of no mischief done there; which, if he had been in the ark, would certainly have happened; and therefore I suppose rather, that when he saw his kingdom dissolved, his subjects all ingulfed in an inevitable ruin and desolation, a sight suitable enough to him, except as it might unking him for a time: I say, when he saw this, he took care to speed himself away as well as he could, and make his retreat to a place of safety; where that was, is no more difficult to us, than it was to him.
It is suggested, that as he is prince of the power of the air, he retired only into that region. It is most rational to suppose he went no farther on many accounts, of which I shall speak by-and-by. Here he staid hovering in the earth’s atmosphere, as he has often done since, and perhaps now does; or, if the atmosphere of this globe was affected by the indraught of the absorption, as some think, then he kept himself upon the watch, to see what the event of the new phenomenon would be; and this watch, wherever it was, I doubt not, was as near the earth as he could place himself, perhaps in the atmosphere of the meon; or, in a word, the next place of retreat he could find.
From hence I took upon me to insist, that Satan has riot a more certain knowledge of events than we; I say, he has not a more certain knowledge; that he may be able to make stronger conjectures, and more rational conclusions from that he sees, I will not deny; and that which he most outdoes us in is, that he sees more to conclude from than we can; but I am satisfied he knows nothing of futurity more than we can see by observation and inference; nor, for example, did he know whether God would re-people the world any more or no.
I must therefore allow, that he only waited to see what would be the event of this strange eruption of water; and what God proposed to do with the ark, and all that was in it.
Some philosophers tell us, besides what I hinted above, that the Devil could have no retreat in the earth’s atmosphere; for that the air being wholly condensed into water, and having continually poured down its streams to deluge the earth, that body was become so small, and had suffered such convulsions, that there was but just enough air left to surround the water, or as might serve by its pressure to preserve the natural position of things, and supply the creatures in the ark with a part to breathe in.
The atmosphere indeed might suffer some strange and unnatural motions at that time, but not (I believe) to that degree; however, I will not affirm, that there could be room in it, or is now, for the Devil, much less for all the numberless legions of Satan’s host; but there was, and now certainly is, sufficient space to receive him, and a sufficient body of his troops for the business he had for them at that time, and that is enough to the purpose; or if the earth’s atmosphere did suffer any particular convulsion on that occasion, he might make his retreat to the atmosphere of the rnoon, or of Mars, or of Venus, or of any of the other planets; or to any other place; for he that, is prince of the air could not want retreats in such a case, from whence he might watch for the issue of things; certainly he did not go far, because his business lay here, and he never goes out of his way of doing mischief.
In particular, his more than ordinary concern was, to see what would become of the ark. He was wise enough, doubtless, to see, that God. who had directed its making, nay, even the very structure of it, would certainly take care of it, preserve it upon the water, and bring it to some place of safety or other; though where it should be, the Devil with all his cunning could not resolve, whether on the same surface, the waters drawing off, or in any other created, or to be created place; and this state of uncertainty beirf evidently his case, and which proves his ignorance of futurity, it was his business, I say, to watch with the utmost vigilance for the event.
If the ark was, (as Mr. Burnet thinks,) guided by two angels, they not only held it from foundering, or being swallowed up, in the water, but certainly kept the waters calm about it, especially when the Lord brought a strong wind to blow over the whole globe, which, by the way, was the firsthand, I suppose, the only universal storm that ever blew; for to be sure, it blew over the whole surface at once; I say, if it was thus guided, to be sure the Devil saw it, and that with envy and regret, that he could do it no injury; for, doubtless, had it been in the Devil’s power, as God had drowned the whole race of man, except what was in the ark, he would have taken care to have despatched them too, and so made an end of the creation at once; but either he was not empowered to go to the ark, or it was so well guarded by angels, that when he came near it, he could do it no harm: so it rested at length, the waters abating, on the mountains of Ararat in Armenia, or somewhere else that way, and where they say a piece of the keel is remaining to this day; of which, however, with Dr. — — I say, I believe not one word.
The ark being safe landed, it is reasonable to believe Noah prepared to go on shore, as the seamen call it, as soon as the dry land began to appear; and here you must allow me to suppose Satan, though himself clothed with a cloud, so as not to be seen, came immediately, and, perching on the roof, saw all the heaven-kept household safely landed, and all the host of living creatures dispersing themselves down the sides of the mountains, as the search of their food, or other proper occasions, directed them.
This sight was enough; Satan was at no loss to conclude from hence, that the design of God was to repeople the world by the way of ordinary generation, from the posterity of these eight persons, without creating any new species.
Very well, says the Devil; then my advantage over them, by the snare I laid for poor Eve, is good still; and I am now just where I was after Adam’s expulsion from the garden, and when I had Cain, and his race, to go to work with; for here is the old expunged corrupted race still: as Cain was the object then, so Noah is my man now; and if I do not master him one way or another, I am mistaken in my mark. Pardon, me for making a speech for the Devil.
Noah, big with a sense of his late condition, and while the wonders of the deluge were fresh in his mind, spent his first days in the ecstasies of his soul, giving thanks, and praising the power that had been his protection in and through the flood of waters, and which had in so miraculous a manner safely la-nded him on the surface of the newly discovered land; and the text tells us, as one of the first things he was em ployed in, he built an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings upon the altar. Gen. viii. 20.
While Noah was thus employed, he was safe, the Devil himself could nowhere break in upon him; and we may suppose very reasonably, as he found the old father invulnerable, he left him for some years, watching notwithstanding all possible advantages against his sons, and their children; for now the family began to increase, and Noah’s sons had several children; whether himself had any more children after the flood or not, that we are not arrived to any certainty about.
Among his sons the Devil found Japhet and Shem, good, pious, religious, and very devout persons; serving God daily, after the example of their good old father Noah; and he could make nothing of them, or of any of their posterity; but Ham, the second, or, according to some, the younger son of Noah, had a son, who was named Canaan, a loose young profligate fellow; his education was probably but cursory and superficial, his father Ham not being near so religious and serious a man as his brothers Shem and Japhet were; and, as Canaan’s education was defective, so he proved, as untaught youth generally do, a wild, and, in short, a very wicked fellow, and consequently a fit tool for the Devil to go to work with.
Noah, a diligent industrious man, being with all his family thus planted in the rich fruitful plains of Armenia, or wherever you please, let it be near the mountains of Caucasus or Ararat, went immediately to work, cultivating and improving the soil, increasing his cattle and pastures, sowing corn, and among other things planted trees for food; and among the fruittrees he planted vines, of the grapes whereof he made, no doubt, as they still in the same country do make, most excellent wine, rich, luscious, strong, and pleasant.
I cannot come into the notion of our critics, who, to excuse Noah from the guilt of what followed, or at least from the censure, tell us, he knew not the strength or the nature of wine; but that gathering the heavy clusters of the grapes, and their own weight crushing out their balmy juices into his hand, he tasted the tempting liquor; and that, the Devil assisting, he was charmed with the delicious fragrance, and tasted again and again, pressing it out into a bowl, or dish, that he might take a larger quantity; till at length the heady froth ascended, and seized his brain; he became intoxicate and drunk, not in the least imagining there was any such strength in the juice of that excellent fruit.
But to make out this story, which is indeed very favorable for Noah, but in itself extremely ridiculous, you must necessarily fall into some absurdities, and beg the question most egregiously in some particular cases; which way of arguing will by no means support what is suggested; at first you must suppose there was no such thing as wine made before the deluge, and that nobody had been ever made drunk with the juice of the grape before Noah; which, I say, is begging the question in the grossest manner.
If the contrary is true, as I see no reason to question; if, I say, it was true, that there was wine drank, and that men were or had been drunk with it before; they cannot then but suppose, that Noah, who was a wise, a great and good man, and a preacher of righteousness, both knew of it, and without doubt had, in his preaching against their crimes, preached against this among the rest, upbraided them with it, reproved them for it, and exhorted them against it.
Again, it is highly probable they had grapes growing, and consequently wines made from them, in the antediluvian world: how else did Noah come by the vines which he planted? For we are to suppose, he could plant no trees or shrubs, but such as he found the roots of in the earth, and which no doubt had been there before in their highest perfection, and had con sequently grown up, and brought forth the same luscious fruit, before.
Besides, as he found the roots of the vines, so he understood what they were, and what fruit they bore, or else it may be supposed also he would not have planted them; for he planted them for their fruit, as he did it in the provision he was making for his subsistence, and the subsistence of his family; and if he did not know what they were, he would not have set them; for he was not planting for diversion, but for profit.
Upon the whole, it seems plain to me. he knew what he did, as well when he planted the vines, as when he pressed out the grapes; and also, when he drank the juice, that he knew it was wine, was strong, and would make him drunk, if he took enough of it. He knew that other men had been drunk with such liquor before the flood; and that he had reprehended them for it: and therefore it was not his ignorance, but the Devil took him at some advantage, when his appetite was eager, or he thirsty, and the liquor cooling and pleasant; and in short, as Eve said, the serpent be guiled her, and she did eat, so the Devil beguiled Noah, and he did drink; the temptation was too strong for Noah, not the wine; he knew well enough what he did, but, as the drunkards say to this day, it was so good he could not forbear it, and so he got drunk before be was aware; or, as our ordinary speech expresses it, he was overtaken with drink; and Mr. Pool, and other expositors, are partly of the same mind.
No sooner was the poor old man conquered, and the wine had lightened his head, but it may be supposed he falls off from the chair or bench where he sat, and, tumbling backward, his clothes, which in those hot countries were only loose open robes, like the vests which the Armenians wear to this day, flying abroad y or the Devil so assisting on purpose to expose him, he lay there in a naked indecent posture not fit to be seen.
In this juncture who should come by but young Canaan! say some; or, as others think, this young fellow first attacked him by way of kindness, and pretended affection; prompted his grandfather to drink, on pretence of the wine being good for him, and proper for the support of his old age; and subtly set upon him, drinking also with him; and so (his head being too strong for the old man’s) drank him down, and then, devil-like, triumphed over him; boasted of his conquest, insulted the body as it were dead, and un covered him on purpose to expose him; and, leaving him in that indecent posture, went and made sport with it to his father Ham, who in that part, wicked like himself, did the same to his brethren, Japhet and Shem; but they, like modest and good men, far from carrying on the wicked insult on their parent, went and covered him, as the Scripture expresses it, and, as may be supposed, informed him how he had been abused, and by whom.
Why else should Noah, when he came to himself, show his resentment so much against Canaan his grandson, rather than against Ham his father; and whom it is supposed in the story the guilt chiefly lay upon? We see the curse is (as it were) laid wholly upon Canaan, the grandson, and not a word of the father is mentioned, Gen. ix. 25, 26, 27. “ Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be,” &c.
That Ham was guilty that is certain from the history of fact; but I cannot but suppose his grandson was the occasion of it; and in this case the Devil seems to have made Canaan the instrument or tool to delude Noah, and draw him in to drunkenness, as he made the serpent the tool to beguile Eve. and draw her into disobedience.
Possibly Canaan might do it without design at first, but might be brought in to ridicule, and make a jest of, the old patriarch afterward, as is too frequent since in the practice of our days; but I rather believe he did it really with a wicked design, and on purpose to ex pose and insult his reverend old parent; and this seems more like too, because of the great bitterness with which Noah resented it after he came to be in formed of it.
But be that as it will, the Devil certainly made a great conquest here, and, as to outward appearance, no less than that which he gained before over Adam; nor did the Devil’s victory consist barely in his having drawn in the only righteous man of the whole antediluvian world, and so beginning or initiating the new young progeny with a crime; but here was the great oracle silenced at once; the preacher of righteousness, for such no doubt he would have been to the new world, as he was to the old, I say, the preacher was turned out of office, or his mouth stopt, which was worse; nay, it was a stopping of his mouth in the worst kind, far worse than stopping his breath; for had he died, the office had descended to his sons Shem and Japhet; but he was dead to the office of an in structor, though alive as to his being: for of what force could his preachings be, who had thus fallen himself into the most shameful and beastly excess?
Besides, some are of the opinion, though I hope without ground, that Noah was not only overtaken once in his drink, but that, being fallen into that sin, it became habitual, and he continued in it a great while; and that it was this which is the meaning of his being uncovered in his tent, and that his son saw his nakedness; that is, he continually exposed himself for a long time, an hundred years, say they: and that his son Ham. and his grandson Canaan, having drawn him into it, kept him in it. encouraged and prompted it, and all the while. Satan still prompting them, joined their scoffs and contempt of him, with their wicked 10 endeavors to promote the wickedness; and both with as much success as the Devil himself could wish for.
Then, as for his two sons modestly and decently covering their father, they tell us, that represents Shem and Japhet applying themselves in an humble and dutiful manner to their father, to intreat and beseech him to consider his ancient glory, his own pious exhortations to the late drowned world, and to consider the offence which he gave by his evil courses to God, and the scandal to his whole family; arid also that they are brought in effectually prevailing upon him; and that then Noah cursed the wickedness of Ham’s degenerate race, in testimony of his sincere repentance after the fact.
The story is not so very unlikely, as it is certain that it is not to be proved; and therefore we had better take it as we find it, namely, for one single act. But suppose it was so, it is still certain that Noah’s preaching was sadly interrupted, the energy of his words flattened, and the force of his persuasions enervated and abated, by this shameful fall; that he was effectually silenced for an instructor ever after. And this was as much as the Devil had occasion for; and therefore in deed we read little more of him, except that he lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood; nay, we do not so much as read, that he had any more children, but the contrary; nor indeed could Noah have any more children, except by his old and perhaps superannuated wife, whom it was very likely he had had four or five hundred years, unless you will suppose he was allowed to marry some of his own progeny, daughters or grand-daughters, which we do not suppose was allowed, no not to Adam himself.
This was certainly a master-piece of the Devil’s policy, and a fatal instance of his unhappy diligence; namely, that the door of the ark was no sooner open, and the face of the world hardly dry from the universal destruction of mankind, but he was at work among them; and that not only to forma general defection among the race, upon the foot of the original taint of nature, but like a bold Devil he strikes at the very root, and flies at the next general representative of mankind, attacks the head of the family, that in his miscarriage the rise and progress of a reformation of the new world should receive an early check, and should be at once prevented; I say, like a bold devil, he strikes at the root; and alas! poor unhappy Noah! he proved too weajr for him; Satan prevailed in his very first attempt and got the victory over him at once.
Noah thus overcome, and Satan’s conquest carried on to the utmost of his own wishes, the Devil had little more to do in the world for some ages, than to carry on an universal degeneracy among mankind, and to finish it by a like diligent application, in deluding the generality of the race, and them as they came on gradually into life; this he found the less difficult, because of the first defection which spread like a contagion upon the earth immediately after.
The first evidence we have of his success in this mischievous design was in the building that great stupendous staircase, for such it seems it was intended, called Babel, which, if the whole world had not been drunk, or otherwise infatuated, they would never have undertaken; even Satan himself could never have prevailed with them to undertake such a preposterous piece of work, for it had neither end or means, possibility or probability in it.
I must confess I am sometimes apt to vindicate our old ancestors, in my thoughts, from the charge itself, as we generally understand it; namely, that they really designed to build a tower which should reach up to heaven, or that it should secure them in case of another flood; and Father Casaubon is of my opinion. Whether I am of his or no, is a question by itself. His opinion is, that the confusion was nothing but a breach among the undertakers and directors of the work; and that the building was designed chiefly for a storehouse for provisions, in case of a second deluge. As to their notion of its reaching up to heaven, he takes the expression to be allegorical rather than literal, and only to mean that it should be exceeding high. Perhaps they might not be astronomers enough to measure the distance of space between the earth and heaven, as we pretend to do now; but as Noah was then alive, and as we believe all his three sons were so too, they were able to have informed them how absurd it was to suppose either the one or the other; namely, 1, that they could build up to heaven, or, 2, that they could build firm enough to resist, or high enough to overtop the waters, supposing such another flood should happen. I would rather think it was only that they intended to build a most glorious and magnificent city, where they might all inhabit together; and that this tower was to be built for ornament, and also for strength, or as above, and for a storehouse to lay up vast magazines of provisions, in case of extraordinary floods, or other events, the city being built in a great plain, namely, the plains of Shinar, near the river Euphrates.
But the story, as it is recorded, suits better with Satan’s measures at that time; and as he was from the beginning prompting them to everything that was contrary to the happiness of man, so the more preposterous it was, and the more inconsistent with common sense, the more to his purpose; and it showed the more what a complete conquest he had gained over the reason as well as the religion of mankind at that time.
Again, it is evident in this case, they were not only acting contrary to the nature of things, but contrary to the design and to the command of heaven; for God’s command was, that they should replenish the earth, that is, that they should spread their habitations over it, and people the whole globe; whereas they were pitching in one place, as if they were not to multiply sufficient to take up any more.
But what cared the Devil for that? or, to put it a little handsomer, that was what Satan aimed at; for it was enough to him, to bring mankind to act just contrary to what heaven had directed or commanded them in anything, and if possible, in everything.
But God himself put a stop ‘to this foolish piece of work; and it was time indeed to do so, for a madder thing the Devil himself never proposed to them; I say, God himself put a stop to this new undertaking, and disappointed the Devil; and how was it done? Not in judgment and anger, as perhaps the Devil expected, and hoped for, but as pitying the simplicity of that dreaming creature man, he confused their speech, or as some say, divided and confused their counsels, so that they could not agree with one another; which would be the same thing as not to understand one another; or he put a new Shibboleth upon their tongues, thereby separating them into tribes or families, for by this every family found themselves under a necessity of keeping together; and this naturally in creased that different jargon of language, for at first it might be no more.
What a confusion this was to them we all know, by their being obliged to leave off their building, and im mediately separating one from another; but what a surprise it was to the old serpent, that remains to be considered of, for indeed it belongs to his history.
Satan had never met with any disappointment in all his wicked attempts till now; for first, he succeeded even to triumph upon Eve, he did the like upon Cain, and, in short, upon the whole world, one man (Noah) excepted; when he blended the sons of God, and the daughters of hell, for so the word is understood, together, in promiscuous voluptuous living as well as generation.
As to the deluge, authors are not agreed whether it was a disappointment to the Devil or no; it might he indeed a surprise to him; for though Noah had preached of it for an hundred years together; yet, as he (Satan) daily prompted the people not to heed or believe what that old fellow Noah said to them, and to ridicule his whimsical building a monstrous tub to swim or float in, when the said deluge should come; so I am of the opinion he did not believe it himself, and am positive he could not foresee it, by any insight into futurity that he was master of.
It is true the astronomers tell us, there was a very terrible comet seen in the air; that it appeared for one hundred and eighty days before the flood continually; and that as it approached nearer and nearer every day all the while, so that at last it burst and fell down in a continual spout or stream of water, being of a watery substance, and the quantity so great, that it was forty days a falling; so that this comet not only foretold the deluge or drowning of the earth, but actually performed it, and drowned it from itself.
But to Cleave this tale to them that told it, let us consider the Devil, surprised, and a little amazed, at the absorption or inundation, or whatever we are to call it, of the earth in the deluge; not, I say, that he was much concerned at it, perhaps just the contrary; and if God would drown it again, and as often as he thought fit, I do not see by anything I meet with in Satan’s history, or in the nature of him, that he would be at all disturbed at it; all that I can see in it, that could give Satan any concern, would be, that all his favorites were gone, and he had his work to do over again, to lay a foundation for a new conquest in the generation that was to come. But in this his prospect was fair enough; for why should he be discouraged, when he had now eight people to work upon, who met with such success when he had but two? And why should he question breaking in now, where nature was already vitiated and corrupted, when he had before conquered the same nature, when in its primitive rectitude and purity, just come out of the hands of its maker, and fortified with the awe of his high and solemn command just given them, and the threatening of death also annexed to it, if broken?
But I go back to the affair of Babel, this confusion of language, or of counsels, take it which way you will, as the first disappointment that I find the Devil met with, in all his attempts and practices upon mankind, or upon the new creature, which I mentioned above; for now he foresaw what would follow; namely, that the people would separate and spread themselves over the whole surface of the earth, and a thousand new scenes of actions would appear, in which he therefore prepares himself to behave as he should see occasion.
How the Devil learned to speak all the languages that were now to be used, and how many languages they were, the several ancient writers of the Devil’s story have not yet determined; some tell us they were divided only into fifteen, some into seventy-two, others into one hundred and eighty, and others again into several thousands.
It also remains a doubt with me, and, I suppose, will be so with others also, whether Satan has yet found out a method to converse with mankind, without the help of language and words, or not; seeing man has no other medium of conversing, no not with himself. This I have not time to enter upon here; however, this seems plain to me; namely, that the Devil soon learned to make mankind understand him, whatever language he spoke; and no doubt but he found ways and means to understand them, whatever language they spoke.
After the confusion of languages, the people necessarily sorted themselves into families and tribes, every family understanding their own particular speech, and that only; and these families multiplying grew into nations; and those nations, wanting room, and seeking out habitations, wandered some this way, some that, till they found out countries respectively proper for their settling; and there they became a kingdom, spreading and possessing still more and more land as their people increased, till at last the whole earth was scarce big enough for them. This presented Satan with an opportunity to break in upon their morals at another door, namely, their pride; for men being naturally proud and envious, nations and tribes began to jostle with one another for room; either one nation enjoyed better accommodation, or “had a better soil, or a more favorable climate, than another; and these, being numerous and strong, thrust the other out, and encroached upon their land; the other, liking their situation, prepare for their defence; and so began oppression, invasion, war, battle and blood; Satan all the while beating the drums, and his attendants clapping their hands as men do when they set dogs upon one another.
The bringing mankind thus to war and confusion, as it was the first game the Devil played after the confounding of languages, and divisions at Babel, so it was a conquest upon mankind, purely devilish, born from hell, and so exactly tinctured with Satan’s original sin, ambition, that it really transformed men into mere devils; for when is man transformed into the very image of Satan himself, when is he turned into a mere devil, if it is not when he is fighting with his fellow creatures, and dipping his hands in the blood of his own kind? Let his picture be considered, the fire of hell flames or sparkles in his eyes; a voracious grin sits upon his countenance; rage and fury distort the muscles of his face; his passions agitate his whole body; and he is metamorphosed from a comely beauteous angelic creature, into a fury, a satyr, a terrible and frightful monster, nay, into a devil; for Satan himself is described by the same word which on his very account is changed into a substantive, and the devils are called furies.
This sowing the seeds of strife in the world, and bringing nations to fight and make war upon one another, would take up a great part of the Devil’s history, and abundance of extraordinary things would occur in relating the particulars; for there have been very great conflagrations kindled in the world by the artifice of hell, under this head, namely, of making war; in which it has been the Devil’s master-piece, and he has indeed shown himself a workman in it, that he has wheedled mankind into strange, unnatural notions of things, in order to propagate and support the fighting principle in the world; such as laws of war, fair fighting, behaving like men of honor, fighting at the last drop; and the like, by which killing and murdering is understood to be justifiable. Virtue, and a true greatness in spirit, is rated now by rules which God never appointed; and the standard of honor is quite different from that of reason, and of nature. Bravery is denominated not from a fearless undaunted spirit in the just defence of life and liberty, but from a daring defiance of God and man, fighting, killing, and treading under foot his fellow-creatures, at the ordinary command of the officer, whether it be right or wrong, and whether it be in a just defence of life, and our country’s life, that is, liberty, or whether it be for the support of injury and oppression.
A prudent avoiding causeless quarrels is called cowardice, and to take an affront, baseness and meanness of spirit; to refuse fighting, and putting life at a cast on the point of a sword, a practice forbid by the laws of God, and of all good government, is yet called cowardice; and a man is bound to die duelling, or live and be laughed at.
But thus has Satan abused the reason of man; and if a man does me the greatest injury in the world, I must do myself justice upon him, by venturing my life upou an even lay with him, and must fight him upon equal hazard, in which the injured person is as often killed as the person offering the injury. But this indeed is the reasoning which the Devil has brought mankind to at this day: but to go back to the subject, namely, the Devil bringing the nations to fall out, and to quarrel for room in the world, and so to fight in order to dispossess one another of their settlements. This began at a time when certainly there were places enough in the world for every one to choose in; and therefore the Devil, not the want of elbow-room, must be the occasion of it; and it is carried on ever since, as apparently, from the same interest, and by the same original.
But we shall meet with this part again very often in the Devil’s story, and as we bring him farther on in the management of mankind: I therefore lay it by for the present, and come to the next steps the Devil took with mankind after the confusion of languages: and this was in the affair of worship. It does not appear yet, that ever the Devil was so bold, as either,
1. To set himself up to be worshipped as a God; or, which was still worse,
2. To persuade man to believe there was no God at all to worship.
Both these are introduced since the deluge, one indeed by the Devil, who soon found means to set himself up for a god in many parts of the world, and holds it to this day; but the last is brought in by the invention of man, in which, it must be confessed, man has out-sinned the Devil; for, to do Satan justice, he never thought it could ever pass upon mankind, or that anything so gross would go down with them; so that, in short, these modern casuists, in the reach of our days, have, I say, out-sinned the Devil.
As then both these are modern inventions, Satan went on gradually; and, being to work upon human nature by stratagem, not by force, it would have been too gross to have set himself up as an object of worship at first; it was to be done step by step: for ex ample:
1. It was sufficient to bring mankind to a neglect of God, to worship him by halves, and give little or no regard to his laws, and so grow loose and immoral, in direct contradiction to his commands; this would not go down with them at first; so the Devil went on gradually.
2. From a negligence in worshipping the true God, he by degrees introduced the worship of false gods: and to introduce this, he began with the sun, moon, and stars, called in the holy text the host of heaven; these had greater majesty upon them, and seemed fitter to command the homage of mankind; so it was not the hardest thing in the world to bring men, when they had once forgotten the true God, to embrace the worship of such gods as those.
3. Having thus debauched their principles in worship, and led them from the true and only object of worship to a false, it was the easier to carry them on; so in a few gradations more he brought them to downright idolatry; and even in that idolatry he proceeded gradually too; for he began with awful names, such as were venerable in the thoughts of men, as Baal or Bel, which, in the Chaldaic and Hebrew, signifies lord or sovereign, or mighty and magnificent; and this was therefore a name ascribed at first to the true God; but afterwards they descended to make images and figures to represent him, and then they were called by the same name, as Baal, Baalim, and afterwards Bel; from which, by an hellish degeneracy, Satan brought mankind to adore every block of their own hewing, and to worshipping stocks, stones, monsters, hobgoblins, and every sordid frightful thing, and at last the Devil himself.
What notions some people may entertain of the forwardness of the first ages of the world to run into idolatry, I do not inquire here; I know they tell us strange things, of its being the product of mere nature, one remove from its primitive state; but I, who pre tend to have so critically inquired into Satan’s history, can assure you, and that from very good authority, that the Devil did not find it so easy a task to obliterate the knowledge of the true God in the minds and consciences of men, as those people suggest.
It is true he carried things a great length under the patriarchal government of the first ages; but still he was sixteen hundred years bringing it to pass: and though we have reason to believe the old world, before the flood, was arrived to a very great height of wickedness; and Ovid very nobly describes it by the war of the Titans against Jupiter; yet we do not read that ever Satan was come to such a length as to bring them to idolatry: indeed we do read of wars carried on among them, whether it was one nation against another, or only personal, we cannot tell: but the world seemed to be swallowed up in a life of wickedness, that is to say, of luxury and lewdness, rapine and violence; and there were giants among them, and men of renown, that is to say, men famed for their mighty valor, great actions of war, we may suppose, and their strength, who personally opposed others. We read of no considerable wars indeed; but it is not to be doubted but there were such wars; or else it is to be understood that they lived (in common) a life somewhat like the brutes, the strong devouring the weak; for the texts say, the whole earth was filled with violence, hunting and tearing one another in pieces, either for dominion, or for wealth; either for ambition, or for avarice, we know not well which.
Thus far the old antediluvian world went; and very wicked they were, there is no doubt of that; but we have reason to believe that was no idolatry; the Devil had not brought them that length yet; perhaps it would soon have followed, but the deluge intervened.
After the deluge, as I have said, he had all his work to do over again, and he went on by the same steps; first he brought them to violence and Avar, then to oppression and tyranny, then to neglect of true worship, then to false worship, and then idolatry by the mere natural consequence of the thing. Who were the first nation or people that fell from the worship of the true God. is something hard to determine; the Devil, who certainly of all God’s creatures is best able to inform us, having left us nothing upon record upon that subject: but we have reason to believe it was thus introduced:
Nimrod was the grandson of Ham, Noah’s second son, the same who was cursed by his father for exposing him in his drunkenness: this Nimrod was the first whom it seems Satan picked out for an hero: here he inspired him with ambitious thoughts, dreams of em pire, and having the government of all the rest, that is to say, universal monarchy; the very same bait with which he has played upon the frailty of princes, ano> ensnared the greatest of them ever since, even from his most august imperial majesty King Nimrod the first, to his most Christian majesty Louis XIV., and many a mighty monarch between.
When these mighty monarchs and men of fame went off the stage, the world had their memories in esteem many ages after; and as their great actions were no otherwise recorded than by oral tradition, and the tongues and memories of fallible men, time and the custom of magnifying the past actions of kings, men soon fabled up their histories, Satan assisting, into miracle and wonder: hence their names were had in veneration more and more; statues and bustoes representing their persons, and great actions, were set up in public places, till from heroes and champions they made gods of them; and thus (Satan prompting) the world was quickly filled with idols.
This Nimrod is he, who, according to the received opinion, though I do not find Satan’s history exactly concurring with it, was first called Belus, then Baal, and worshipped in most of the eastern countries under those names; sometimes with additions of surnames, according to the several countries, or people, or towns, where he was particularly set up, as Baal-Peor, BaalZephon, Baal-Phegor, and in other places plain Baal, as Jupiter in aftertimes had the like additions: as Jupiter Ammon, Jupiter Capitolinus, Jupiter Pistor, Jupiter Feretrius, and about ten or twelve Jupiters more.
I must acknowledge that I think it was a masterpiece of hell, to bring the world to idolatry so soon after they had had such an eminent example of the infinite power of the true (jrod, as was seen in the deluge, and particularly in the escape of Noah in the ark; to bring them (even before Noah or his sons were dead) to forget whose hand it was, and give the homage of the world to a name, and that a name of a mortal man dead and rotten, who was famous for nothing when he was alive, but blood and war; I say, to bring the world to set up this nothing, this mere name, nay, the very image and picture of him, for a God! It was first a mark of prodigious stupidity in the whole race of men, a monstrous de generacy from nature, and even from common sense; and in the next place it was a token of an inexpressible craft and subtility in the Devil, who had now gotten the people into so full and complete a management, that, in short, he could have brought them by the same rule, to have worshipped anything; and in a little while more, did bring many of them to worship himself, plain devil as he was. and knowing him to be such.
As to the antiquity of this horrible defection of mankind, though we do not find the beginning of it particularly recorded, yet we are certain, it was not long after the confusion of Babel: for Nimrod, as is said, was no more than Noah’s great-grandson, and Noah himself, I suppose, might be alive some years after Nimrod was born; and as Nimrod was not long dead, before they forgot that he was a tyrant, and a murderer, and made a Baal, that is, a lord or idol of him; I say, he was not long dead; for Nimrod was born in the year of the world 1847, and built Babylon the year 1879: and we find Terah, the father of Abraham, who lived from the year 1879, was an idolater, as was doubtless Bethuel, who was Terah’s grandson; for we find Laban, who was Bethuel’s son, was so, and all this was during the life of the first postdiluvian family; for Terah was born within one hundred ninety-three years after the flood, and one hundred fiftyseven years before Noah was dead; and even Abraham himself was eight-and-fifty years old before Noah died; and yet idolatry had been then, in all probability, above an hundred years practised in the world.
N. B. It is worth remark here, what a terrible advantage the Devil gained by the debauching poor Noah, and drawing him into the sin of drunkenness; for by this, as I said, he silenced and stopped the mouth of the great preacher of righteousness, that father and patriarch of the whole world; who not being able, for the shame of his own foul miscarriage, to pretend to instruct or reprove the world any more, the Devil took hold of them immediately; and for want of a prophet to warn and admonish, run that little of religion which there might be left in Shem and Japhet, quite out of the world, and deluged them all in Idolatry.
How long the whole world may be said to be thus overwhelmed in ignorance and idolatry, we may make some tolerable guess at by the history of Abraham; for it was not till God called him from his father’s house, that any such thing as a church was established in the world; nor even then, except in his own family and successors for almost four hundred years after that call; and till God brought the Israelites back out of Egypt, the whole world might be said to be involved in idolatry and devil-worship.
So absolute a conquest had the Devil made over mankind immediately after the flood; and all taking its rise and beginning at the fatal defeat of Noah, who, had he lived untainted and invulnerable, as he had done for six hundred years before, would have gone a great way to have stemmed the torrent of wickedness which broke in upon mankind; and therefore the Devil, I say, was very cunning, and very much in the right of it. take him as he is a mere devil, to attack Noah personally, and give him a blow so soon.
It is true, the Devil did not immediately raze out the notion of religion, and of a God, from the minds of men; nor could he easily suppress the principle of worship and homage, to be paid to a sovereign being, the author of nature, and guide of the world: the Devil saw this clearly in the first ages of the new world; and therefore, as I have said, he proceeded politically, and by degrees. That it was so, is evident from the story of Job. and his three friends; who. if we may take it for an history, not a fable, and may judge of the time of it by the length of Job’s life, and by the family of Eliphaz the Temanite, who it is manifest was at least grandson, or great-grandson, to Esau, Isaac’s eldest son; and by the language of Abimelech King of Gerar to Abraham, and of Laban to Jacob, both the latter being at the same time idolaters; I say, if we may judge of it by all these, there were still very sound notions of religion in the minds of men; nor could Satan with all his cunning and policy deface those ideas, and root them out of the minds of the people.
And this put him upon taking new measures to keep up his interest, and preserve the hold he got upon mankind; and this method was like himself, subtle and politic to the last degree, as his whole history makes appear; for, seeing he found they could not but believe the being of a God, and that they would needs worship something, it is evident, he had no game left him to play but this; namely, to set up wrong notions of worship, and bring them to a false worship instead of a true, supposing the object worshipped to be still the same.
To finish this stratagem, he first insinuates, that the true God was a terrible, a dreadful, unapproachable being; that to see him was so frightful that it would be present death; that to worship him immediately, was a presumption which would provoke his wrath; and that as he was a consuming fire in himself, so he would burn up those in his anger that dared to offer up any sacrifice to him, but by the interposition of some medium, which might receive their adorations in his name.
Hence it occurred presently, that subordinate Gods were to be found out, and set up, to whom the people might pay the homage due to the Supreme God, and whom they might worship in his name. This I take from the most ancient account of idolatry in the world; nor, indeed, could the Devil himself find out any other reason why men should canonize, or rather deify their princes and men of fame, and worship them after they were dead, as if they could save them from death and calamity, who were not able to save themselves when they were alive; much less could Satan bring men to swallow so gross, so absurd a thing as the bowing the knee to a stock, or a stone, a calf, an ox, a lion, nay, the image or figure of a calf, such as the Israelites made at mount Sinai, and say, These be thy Gods, O Israel, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.
Having thus, I say, brought them to satisfy themselves, that they worshipped the true God, and no other, under the figures and appearances which they made to represent him, it was easy after that to worship anything for the true God. And thus in a few ages they worshipped nothing but idols, even throughout the whole world; nor has the Devil lost his hold in some parts of the world, nay, not in most parts of the world, to this day. He holds still all the eastern parts of Asia, and the southern parts of Africa, and the northern parts of Europe; and in them the vast countries of China and Tartary, Persia and India, Guinea, Ethiopia, Zanqnebar, Congo. Angola, Moriomotapa, &c. in which, except Ethiopia, we find no vestiges of any other worship, but that of idols, monsters, and even the Devil himself; till after the coming of our Saviour, and even then, if it be true that the gospel was preached in the Indies and China by St. Thomas, and in other remote countries by other of the Apostles, we see that whatever ground Satan lost, he seems to have recovered it again; and all Asia and Africa is at present overrun with Paganism or Mahometanism, which I think of the two is rather the worst; besides all America, a part of the world, as some say, equal in bigness to all the other, in which the Devil’s kingdom was never in terrupted from its first being inhabited, whenever it was, to the first discovery of it by the European nations in the sixteenth century.
In a word, the Devil got what we may call an en tire victory over mankind, and drove the worship of the true God, in a manner, quite out of the world, forcing, as it were, his Maker, in a new kind of Creation, the old one proving thus ineffectual, to recover a certain number by force, and mere omnipotence, to return to their duty, serve him, and worship him. But of that hereafter.
Of Gods calling a church out of the midst of a de generate world; and of Satan’s new measures upon that incident. How he attacked them immediately; and his success in those attacks.
SATAN having, as I have said in the preceding chapter, made, as it were, a full conquest of mankind; de bauched them all to idolatry; and brought them at least to worship the true God by the wretched medium of corrupt and idolatrous representations; God seemed to have no true servants or worshippers left in the world; but if I may be allowed to speak so, was obliged, in order to restore the world to their senses again, to call a select number out from among the rest, who he himself undertook should own his godhead, or supreme authority, and worship him as he required to be worshipped. This, I say, God was obliged to do, because it is evident it has not been done so much by the choice and counsel of men, for Satan would have overruled that part, as by the power and energy of some irresistible and invincible operation, and this our Divines give high names to; but be it what they will, it is the second defeat or disappointment that the Devil has met with in his progress in the world; the first I have spoken of already.
It is true, Satan very well understood what was threatened to him in the original promise to the Woman immediately after the fall; namely, Thou shalt bruise his head, &c., but he did not expect it so suddenly, but thought himself sure of mankind, till the fulness of time when the Messiah should come; and therefore it Avas a great surprise to him, to see that Abraham, being called, was so immediately received and established, though he did not so immediately follow the voice that directed him, yet in him, in his loins, was all God’s church at that time contained.
In the calling Abraham, it is easy to see that there was no other way for God to form a church, that is to say, to single out a people to himself, as the world was then stated, but by immediate revelation, arid a voice from heaven. All mankind were gone over to the enemy, overwhelmed in idolatry: in a word were en gaged to the Devil; God Almighty, or, as the Scripture distinguishes him, the Lord, the true God, was out of the question; mankind knew little or nothing of him; much less did they know anything of his worship, or that there was such a being in the world.
Well might it be said the Lord appeared to Abraham, Gen. xii. 7, for if God had not appeared himself, he must have sent a messenger from heaven; and perhaps it was so too, for he had not one true servant or worshipper that we know of then on earth, to send on that errand; no prophet, no preacher of righteousness. Noah was dead, and had been so above seventeen years; and if he had not, his preaching, as I observed, after his great miscarriage, had but little effect. We are indeed told that Noah left behind him certain rules and orders for the true worship of God, which were called the precepts of Noah, and remained in the world for a long time; though how written, when neither any letters, much less writing, were known in the world, is a difficulty which remains to be solved; and this makes me look upon those laws called the precepts of Noah to be a modern invention, as I do also the Alphabetum Noachi, which Bochart pretends to give an account of.
But to leave that fiction and come back to Abraham; God called him, whether at first by voice without any vision, whether in a dream, or night vision, which was very significant in those days, or whether by some awful appearance, we know not; the second time, it is indeed said expressly, God appeared to him. Be it which way it will, God himself called him, showed him the land of Canaan, gave him the promise of it for his posterity, and withal gave him such a faith, that the Devil soon found there was no room for him to meddle with Abraham. This is certain, we do not read that the Devil ever so much as attempted Abraham at all. Some will suggest that the command to Abraham to go and offer up his son Isaac, was a temptation of the Devil, if possible, to defeat the glorious work of God’s calling an holy seed into the world. For the first, if Abraham had disobeyed that call, the new favorite had been overcome, arid made a rebel of; or, secondly, if he had obeyed, then the promised seed had been cut off, and Abraham defeated; but as the text is express, that God himself proposed it to Abraham, I shall not start, the suggestions of the critics, in bar of the sacred oracle.
Be it one way or other, Abraham showed an herolike faith and courage; and, if the Devil had been the author of it, he had seen himself disappointed in both his views; 1, by Abraham’s ready and bold compliance, as believing it to be God’s command; and 2, by the divine countermand of the execution, just as the fatal knife was lifted up.
But if the Devil left Abraham, and made no attack upon him, seeing him invulnerable, he made himself amends upon the other branch of his family, his poor nephew Lot; who, notwithstanding he was so immediately under the particular care of heaven, as that the angel who was sent to destroy Sodom, could do nothing till he was out of it; and who, though after he had left Zoar, and was retired into a cave to dwell, yet the subtle Devil found him out, deluded his two daughters, took an advantage of the fright they had been in about Sodom and Gomorrah, made them believe the whole world was burnt too, as well as those cities, and that, in short, they could never have any husbands, &c., and so, in their abundant concern to repeople the world, and that the race of mankind might not be destroyed, they go and lie with their own father; the Devil telling them doubtless how to do it, by intoxicating his head with wine; in all which story, whether they were not as drunk as their father, seems to be a question; or else they could not have supposed all the men in the earth were consumed, when they knew that the little city Zoar had been preserved for their sakes.
This now was the third conquest Satan obtained by the gust of human appetite; that is to say, once by eating, and twice by drinking, or drunkenness; and still the last was the worst, and most shameful; for
Lot, however his daughters managed him, could not pretend he did not understand what the strength of wine was; and one would have thought, after so terrible a judgment as that of Sodom was, which was, as we may say, executed before his face, his thoughts should have been too solemnly engaged in praising God for sparing his life, to be made drunk, and that two nights together.
But the Devil played his game sure, he set his two daughters to work; and as the Devil’s instruments seldom fail, so he secured his by that hellish stratagem of deluding the daughters to think all the world was consumed but they two, and their father. To be sure the old man could not suspect that his daughters’ design was so wicked as indeed it was, or that they intended to debauch him with wine, and make him drink till he knew not what he did.
Now the Devil, having carried his game here, gained a great point; for as there were but two religious families in the world before, from whence a twofold generation might be supposed to rise, religious and righteous like their parents, namely, that of Abraham, and this of Lot; this crime ruined the hopes of one of them; it could no more be said that just Lot was in being, who vexed his righteous soul from day to day with the wicked behavior of the people of Sodom; righteous Lot was degenerated into drunken, incestuous Lot, Lot fallen from what he was, to be a wicked and unrighteous man; no pattern of virtue, no reprover of the age, but a poor, fallen, degenerate patriarch, who could now no more reprove or exhort, but look down and be ashamed, and nothing to do but to repent; and see the poor mean excuses of all the three:
Eve says, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
Noah says, “my grandson beguiled me, or the wine beguiled me, and I did drink.”
Lot says, “My daughters beguiled me, and I also did drink.”
It is observable, that, as I said before, Noah was silenced, and his preaching at an end, after that one action, so the like may be said of Lot; and, in short, you never hear one more word of either of them after it; as for mankind, both were useless to them; and as to themselves, we never read of any of their repentance, nor have we much reason to believe they did repent.
From this attack of the Devil upon Lot, we hear no more of the Devil being so busily employed as he had been before in the world; he had indeed but little to do; for all the rest of the world was his own, lulled asleep under the witchcraft of idolatry, and are so still.
But it could not be long that the Devil lay idle; as soon as God called himself a people, the Devil could not be at rest till he attacked them.
“Wherever God sets up an house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there.”
Abraham indeed went off the stage free, and so did Isaac too; they were a kind of first-rate saints; we do not so much as read of any failing they had, or of anything the Devil had ever the face to offer to them; no, or with Jacob either, if you will excuse him for beguiling his brother Esau of both his birthright and his blessing; but he was busy enough with all his children; for example,
He sent Judah to his sheep-shearing, and placed Tamar in his way, in the posture of temptation; so made him commit incest.
He sent incestuous Reuben to take his father’s concubine, Bilhah.
He sent Dinah to the ball, to dance with the Shechernite ladies, and play the sinner with their master.
He enraged Simeon and Levi at the supposed injury, and then prompted them to revenge; for which their father heartily cursed them.
He set them all together to fall upon poor Joseph, first to murder him intentionally, and then actually sell him to the Midianites.
He made them show the party-colored coat, and tell a lie to their father, to make the poor old man believe Joseph was killed by a lion, &c.
He sent Potiphar’s wife to attack Joseph’s chastity, and filled her with rage at the disappointment.
He taught Joseph to swear by the life of Pharaoh.
In a word, he debauched the whole race, except Benjamin; and never man had such a set of sons; so wicked, and so notorious, after so good an introduction into the world as they all of them had, to be sure; for Jacob, no doubt, gave them as good instruction as the circumstances of his wandering condition would allow him to do.
We must now consider the Devil and his affairs in a quite differing situation. When the world first appeared peopled by the creating power of God, he had only Adam and Eve to take care of, and I think he plied his time with them to purpose enough. After the deluge he had Noah only to pitch upon, and he quickly conquered him by the instigation of his grand-son.
At the building of Babel he guided them by their acting all in a body, as one man; so that, in short, he managed them with ease, taking them as a body politic; and we find they came into his snare as one man; but now, the children of Israel multiplying in the land of their bondage, and God seeming to show a particular concern for them, the Devil was obliged to new measures, stand at a distance, and look on for some time.
The Egyptians were plagued even without his help; for, though the cunning artist, as I said, stood and looked on, yet he durst not meddle; nor could he make a few lice, the least and meanest of the armies of insects raised to afflict the Egyptians.
However, when he perceived that God resolved to bring the Israelites out, he prepared to attend them, to watch them, and be at hand upon all the wicked occasions that might offer; as if he had been fully satisfied such occasions would offer, and that he should not fail to have an opportunity to draw them into some snare or other; and that therefore it was his business not to be out of the way, but to be ready (as we say) to make his market of them in the best manner he could. How many ways he attempted them, nay, how many times he conquered them in their journey, we shall see presently.
First he put them in a fright at Baal-Zephon, where he thought he had drawn them into a noose, and where he sent Pharaoh and his army to block them up between the mountains of Pihahiroth and the Red Sea; but there indeed Satan was outwitted by Moses, so far ajs it appeared to be an human action; for he little thought of their going dry-footed through the sea, but depended upon having them all cut in pieces the next morning by the Egyptians; an eminent proof, by the way, that the Devil has no knowledge of events, or any insight into futurity; nay, that he has not so much as a second sight, or knows today what his Maker intends to do tomorrow; for had Satan known that God intended to ford them over the sea, if he had not been able to have prevented the miracle, he would certainly have prevented the escape, by sending out Pharaoh and his army time enough to have taken the strand before them, and so have driven them to the necessity of travelling on foot round the north point of that sea, by the wilderness of Etan, where he would have pursued and harassed them with his cavalry, and in all probability have destroyed them: but the blind, short-sighted Devil, perfectly in the dark, and unacquainted with futurity, knew nothing of the matter, was as much deceived as Pharaoh himself, stood still, flattering himself with the hopes of his booty, and the revenge he should take upon them the next morning; till he saw the frighted waves in an uproar, and to his utter astonishment and confusion, saw the passage laid open, and Moses leading his vast army in full march over the dry space; nay, even then it is very probable Satan diAnot know that if the Egyptians followed them, the sea would return upon and overwhelm them; for I can hardly think so hard of the Devil himself, that if he had, hewould have suffered, much less prompted Pharaoh to follow the chase at such an expense; so that either he must be an ignorant, unforeseeing Devil, or a very un grateful, false Devifto his friends the Egyptians.
I am inclined ~also to the more charitable opinion of Satan too, because the escape of the Israelites was really a triumph over himself; for the war was certainly his, or at least he was auxiliary to Pharaoh; it was a victory over hell arid Egypt together; and he would never have suffered the disgrace, if he had known it beforehand; that is to say, though he could not have prevented the escape of Israel, or the dividing the water, yet he might have warned the Egyptians, and cautioned them not to venture in after them.
But we shall see a great many weak steps taken by the Devil in the affair of this very people, and their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness; and, though he was in some things successful, and wheedled them into many foolish and miserable murmurings and wranglings against God, and mutinies against poor Moses, yet the Devil was oftentimes balked and dis appointed; and it is for this reason that I choose to finish the first part of his history with the particular relation of his behavior among the Jews, because also we do not find any extraordinary things happening anywhere else in the world for above one thousand five hundred years, no variety, no revolutions; all the rest of mankind lay still under his yoke, quietly submitted to his government, did just as he bade them, worshipped every idol he set up. and, in a word, he had no difficulty with any body but the Jews; and, for this reason, I say, this part of his story will be the more useful and instructing.
To return therefore to Moses, and his dividing the Red Sea; that the people went, over or through it, that we have the sacred history for; but how the Devil behaved, that you must come to me for, or I know not where you will find a true account of it, at least not in print.
1. It was in the night they marched through; whether the Devil saw it in the dark or no, that is not my business.
But when he had day-light for it, and viewed the next day’s work, I make no question but all hell felt the surprise, the prey being thus snatched out of their hands unexpectedly. It is true the Egyptians’ host was sent to him in their room; but that was not what he aimed at; for he was sure enough of them his own way, and if it was not just at that time, yet he knew what and who they were; but as he had devoured the whole Israelitish host in his imagination, to the tune of at least a million and an half of souls; men, women, and children; it was, no doubt, a great disappointment to the Devil to miss of his prey, and to see them all triumphing on the other side in safety.
It is true, Satan’s annals do not mention this defeat; for historians are generally backward to register their own misfortunes; but as we have an account of the fact from other hands, so as we cannot question the truth of it; the nature of the thing will tell us it was a disappointment to the Devil, and a very great one too.
I cannot but observe here, that I think this part of the Devil’s story very entertaining, because of the great variety of incidents which appear in every part of it; sometimes he is like an hunted fox, curvetting and counter-running to avoid his being pursued and found out, while at the same time he is carrying on his secret designs to draw the people he pretends to manage, into some snare or other, to their hurt; at another time, though the comparison is a little too low for his dignity, like a monkey that has done mischief, and which, making his own escape, sits and chatters at a distance, as if he had triumphed in what he had done; so Satan, when he had drawn them in to worship a calf, to offer strange fire, to set up a schism, and the like; and so to bring the Divine vengeance upon themselves; leaving them in their distress, kept at a dis tance, as if he looked on with satisfaction to see them burnt, swallowed up, swept away, and the like; as the several stories relate.
His indefatigable vigilance is, on the other hand, an useful caveat, as Avell as an improving view to us; no sooner is he routed and exposed, defeated and disappointed in one enterprize, but he begins another, and, like a cunning gladiator, warily defends himself, and boldly attacks his enemy at the same time. Thus we see him up and down, conquering and conquered, through this whole part of his story, till, at last, he receives a total defeat; of which you shall hear in its place. In the mean time, let us take up his story again at the Red Sea, where he received a great blow, instead 12 of which he expected a complete victory; for, doubtless, the Devil and the king of Egypt too, thought of nothing but conquest at Pihahiroth.
However, though the triumph of the Israelites over the Egyptians must needs be a great mortification to the Devil, and exasperated him very much, yet the consequence was only this; namely, that Satan, like an enemy who is balked and defeated, but not overcome, redoubles his rage, and reinforces his army, and what the Egyptians could not do for him, he resolves to do for himself. In order then to take his opportunity for what mischief might offer, being defeated, and provoked, I say, at the slur that was put upon him. he resolves to follow them into the wilderness, and many a vile prank he played them there; as first, he straitens them for water, and makes them murmur against God, and against Moses, within a very few days, nay, hours, of their great deliverance of all.
Nor was this all, but in less than one year more we find them (at his instigation too) setting up a golden calf, arid making all the people dance about it at Mount Sinai; even when God himself had but just before appeared to them in the terrors of a burning fire upon the top of the mountain; and what was the pretence? Truly, nothing but that they had lost Moses, who used to be their guide, and he had hid himself in the mount, and had not been seen in forty days; so that they could not tell what was become of him. This put them all into confusion. A poor pretence indeed, to turn them all back to idolatry! But the watchful Devil took the hint, pushed the advantage, and insinuated, that they should never see Moses again; that he was certainly devoured by venturing too near the flashes of fire in the mount, and presuming upon the liberty he had taken before. In a word, that God had destroyed Moses, or he was starved to death for want of food, having been forty days and forty nights absent.
All these were, it is true, in themselves most foolish suggestions, considering Moses was admitted to the vision of God, and that God had been pleased to appear to him in the most intimate manner; that, as they might depend God would not destroy his faithful servant, so they might have concluded he was ahle to support his being without food as long as he thought fit. But to a people so easy to believe anything, what could be too gross for the Devil to persuade them to?
A people who could dance round a calf, and call it their God, might do anything; that could say to one another, that this was the Great Jehovah, that brought them out of the land of Egypt; and that within so few days after God’s miraculous appearance to them, and for them; I say, such a people were really fitted to be imposed upon, nothing could be too gross for them.
This was indeed his first considerable experiment upon them as a people, or as a body; and the truth is, his affairs required it; for Satan, who had been a successful Devil in most of his attempts upon mankind, could hardly doubt of success in anything after he had carried his point at Mount Sinai. To bring them to idolatry in the very face of their deliverer, and just after the deliverance! It was more astonishing in the main than even their passing the Red Sea. In a word, the Devil’s whole history doth not furnish us with a story equally surprising.
And how was poor Aaron bewildered in it too! He that was Moses’ partner in all the great things that Moses did in Pharaoh’s sight, and that was appointed to be his assistant and oracle, or orator rather, upon all public occasions; that he, above all the rest, should come into this absurd and ridiculous proposal, he that was singled out for the sacred priesthood, for him to defile his holy hands with a polluted abominable sacrifice, and with making the idol for them too (for it is plain that he made it,) how monstrous it was!
And see what an answer he gives to his brother Moses, how weak! how simple! I did so and so, in deed; I bade them bring the ear-rings, &c., and I cast the gold into the fire, and it ca’me out this calf. Ridiculous! as if the calf came. out by mere fortuitous adventure, without a mould to cast it in: which could not be supposed. And if it had not come out so without a mould, Moses would certainly have known of it. Had Aaron been innocent, he would have answered after quite another manner, and told Moses honestly, that the whole body of the people came to him in a fright, that they forced him to make them an idol; which he did, by making first the proper mould to cast it in, and then taking the proper rnetal to cast it from. That indeed he had sinned in so doing, but that he was mobbed into it, and the people terrified him, perhaps they threatened to kill him; and, if he had added, that the Devil, prompting his fear, beguiled him, he had said nothing but what was certainly true; for if it was in Satan’s power to make the people insolent and outrageous enough to threaten and bully the old venerable prophet, (for he was not yet a priest.) who was the brother of their oracle Moses, and had been partner with him in so many of his commissions; I say, if he could bring up the passions of the people to an height to be rude and unmannerly to him, (Aaron.) and perhaps to threaten and insult him, he may be easily supposed to be able to intimidate Aaron, and terrify him into a compliance.
See this cunning agent, when he has man’s destruction in his view, how securely he acts! he never wants an handle; the best of men have one weak place or other, and he always finds it out, takes the advantage of it, and conquers them by one artifice or another; only take it with you as you go, it is always by stratagem, never by force; a proof that he is riot empowered to use violence. He may tempt, and he does prevail; but it is all legerdemain, it is all craft and artifice; he is still diabole, the calumniator and deceiver, that is, the misrepresenter; he misrepresents man to God. and misrepresents God to man; also he misrepresents things; he puts false colors, and then manages the eye to see them with an imperfect view, raising clouds and fogs to intercept our sight; in short, he deceives all our senses, and imposes upon us in things which otherwise would be the easiest to discern and judge of.
This indeed is in parf the benefit of the Devil’s history, to let us see that he has used the same method all along; and that ever since he has had anything to do with mankind, he has practised upon them with stratagem and cunning; also it is observable that he has carried his point better that way than he would have done by fury and violence, if he had been allowed to make use of it; for by his power indeed he might have laid the world desolate, and made an heap of rubbish of it long ago; but, as I have observed before, that would not have answered his ends half so well; for by destroying men he would have made martyrs, and sent abundance of good men to heaven, who would much rather have died than yielded to serve him, and, as he aimed to have it, to fall down and worship him; I say, he would have made martyrs, arid that not a few. But this was none of Satan’s business; his design lies quite another way; his business is to make men sin, not to make them suffer; to make devils of them, not saints; to delude them, and draw them away from their Maker, not send them away to him; and therefore he works by stratagem, not by force.
We are now come to his story, as it relates to the Jewish church in the wilderness, and to the children of Israel in their travelling circumstances; and this was the first scene of public management that the Devil had upon his hands in the world; for, as I have said, till now, he dealt with mankind either in their separate condition one by one, or else carried all before him, engrossing whole nations in his systems of idolatry, and overwhelming them in an ignorant destruction.
But having now a whole people as it were snatched away from him, taken out of his government, and, which was still worse, having a view of a kingdom being set up independent of him, and superior to his authority, it is not to be wondered at if he endeavored to overthrow them in the infancy of their constitution, and tried all possible arts to bring them back into his own hands again.
He found them not only carried away from the country where they were even in his clutches, surrounded with idols, and where we have reason to be lieve the greatest part of them were polluted with the idolatry of the Egyptians; for we do not read of any stated worship which they had of their own; or if they did worship the true God, we scarce know in what manner they did it; they had no law given them, nothing but the covenant of circumcision, and even
Moses himself had not strictly observed that, till he was frightened into it; we read of no sacrifices among them, no feasts were ordained, no solemn worship appointed; and how, or in what manner, they performed their homage, we know not; the passover was not ordained till just at their coming away; so that, there was not much religion among them, at least that we have any account of; and we may suppose the Devil was pretty easy with them all the while they were in the house of their bondage.
But now, to have a million of people fetched out of his hands, as it were all at once, and to have the im mediate power of heaven engaged in it, and that Satan saw evidently God had singled them out in a miraculous manner to favor them, and call them his own; this alarmed him at once; and therefore he resolves to follow them, lay close siege to them, and take all the measures possible to bring them to rebel against, and disobey God, that he might be provoked to destroy them; and how near he went to bring it to pass, we shall see presently.
This making a calf, and paying an idolatrous worship to it (for they acted the heathens and idolaters, not in the setting up the calf only, but in the manner of their worshipping, namely, dancing and music, things they had not been acquainted with in the worship of the true God,) I mention here, to observe how the Devil not only imposed upon their principles, but upon their senses too; as if the awful majesty of heaven, whose glory they had seen in mount Sinai, where they stood, and whose pillar of cloud and fire was their guide and protection, would be worshipped by dancing round a calf! and that not a living creature, or a real calf, but the mere image of a calf cast in gold, or, as some think, in brass gilded over.
But this was the Devil’s way with mankind, namely, to impose upon their senses, and bring them into the grossest follies and absurdities; and then, having first made them fools, it was much the easier making them offenders.
In this very manner he acted with them through all the course of their wilderness travels; for, as they were led by the hand like children, defended by omnipotence, fed by miracles, instructed immediately from heaven, and in all things had Moses for their guide; they had no room to miscarry, but by acting the greatest absurdities, and committing the greatest follies in nature; and, even these, the Devil brought them to be guilty of, in a surprising manner. 1. As God himself relieved them in every exigence, and supplied them in every want, one would think it was impossible they should be ever brought to question either his willingness or his ability, and yet they really objected against both, which was indeed very provoking; and I doubt not, that when the Devil had brought them to act in such a preposterous manner, he really hoped and be lieved God would be provoked effectually. The testimonies of his care of them, and ability to supply them, were miraculous and undeniable; he gave them water from the rock, bread from the air, sent the fowls to feed them with flesh, and supported them all the way by miracles; their health was preserved, none were sick among them, their clothes did not wear out, nor their shoes grow old upon their feet; could anything be more absurd than to doubt, whether he could provide for them, who had never let them want for so many years?
But the Devil managed them in spite of miracles; nor did he ever give them over till he had brought six hundred thousand of them to provoke God so highly that he would not suffer above two of them to go into the land of promise; so that, in short, Satan gained his point as to that generation, for all their carcases fell in the wilderness. Let us take but a short view to what an height he brought them, and in what a rude, absurd manner they acted; how he set them upon murmuring upon every occasion, now for water, then for bread; nay, they murmured at their bread when they had it; “Our soul loaths this light bread.”
He sowed the seeds of church-rebellion in the sons of Aaron, and made Nadab and Abihu offer strange fire till they were strangely consumed by fire for the doing it.
He set them a complaining at Taberah, and a lusting for flesh at the first three days’ journey from mount Sinai.
He planted envy in the hearts of Miriam and Aaron, against the authority of Moses, to pretend God had spoken by them as well as by him, till he humbled the father, and made a leper of the daughter.
He debauched ten of the spies, frighted them with sham appearances of things, when they went out to search the land; and made them fright the whole people out of their understanding as well as duty, for which six hundred thousand of their carcases fell in the wilderness.
He raised the rebellion of Korah, and the two hundred and fifty princes, till he brought them to be swallowed up alive.
He put Moses into a passion at Meribah, and ruffled the temper of the meekest man upon earth; by which he made both him and Aaron forfeit their share of the promise, and be shut out from the holy land.
He raised a mutiny among them when they travelled from mount Hor, till they brought fiery serpents among them to destroy them.
He tried to make Balaam the prophet curse them; but there the Devil was disappointed. However, he brought the Midianites to debauch them with women, as in the case of Zimri and Cozbi.
He tempted Achan with the wedge of gold, and the Babylonish garment, that he might take off the accursed thing, and be destroyed.
He tempted the whole people, not effectually to drive out the cursed inhabitants of the land of promise, that they might remain, and be goads in their sides, till, at last, they often oppressed them for their idolatry, and, which was worse, debauched them to idolatry.
He prompted the Benjamites to refuse satisfaction to the people, in the case of the wickedness of the men of Gibeah, to the destruction of the whole tribe, six hundred men excepted in the rock Rimmon.
At last he tempted them to reject the theocracy of their Maker, and call upon Samuel to make them a king; and most of those kings he made plagues and sorrows to them in their time, as you shall hear in their order.
Thus he plagued the whole body of the people continually, making them sin against God, and bring judgments upon themselves, to the consuming some millions of them, first and last, by the vengeance of their Maker.
As he did with the whole congregation, so he did with their rulers, and several of the judges, who were made instruments to deliver the people; yet were drawn into snares by this subtle serpent, to ruin themselves, or the people they had delivered.
He tempted Gideon to make an ephod contrary to the law of the tabernacle; and made the children of Israel go a whoring (that is, a worshipping,) after it.
He tempted Samson to debauch himself with an harlot, and betray his own happy secret to a harlot, at the expense of both his eyes, and at last, of his life.
He tempted Eli’s sons to sin at the very doors of the tabernacle, when they came to bring their offerings to the priest; and he tempted poor Eli to connive at them, or not sufficiently reprove them.
He tempted the people to carry the ark of God into the camp, that it might fall into the hands of the Philistines. And
He tempted Uzzah to reach out his hand to hold it up; as if he that had preserved it in the house of Dagon the idol of the Philistines, could not keep it from falling out of the cart.
When the people had gotten a king, he immediately set to work in divers ways to bring that king to load them with plagues and calamities not a few.
He tempted Saul to spare the king of Amelek, contrary to God’s express command.
He not only tempted Saul, but possessed him with an evil spirit, by which he was left to wayward dispositions, and was forced to have it fiddled out of him with a minstrel.
He tempted Saul with a spirit of discontent, and with a spirit of envy at poor David, to hunt him like a partridge upon the mountains.
He tempted Saul with a spirit of divination, and sent him to a witch to inquire of Samuel for him; as if God would help him when he was dead, that had forsaken him when he was alive.
After that, he tempted him to kill himself, on a pretence that he might not fall into the hands of the un circnmcised; as if self-murder was not half so bad, either for sin against God, or disgrace among men, as being taken prisoner by a Philistine! A piece of madness none but the Devil could have brought mankind to submit to, though some ages after that he made it a fashion among the Romans.
After Saul was dead, and David came to the throne, by how much he was a man chosen and particularly favored by Heaven, the Devil fell upon him with the more vigor, attacked him so many ways, and conquered him so very often, that as no man was so good a king, so hardly any good king was ever a worse man; in many cases one would have almost thought the Devil had made sport with David, to show how easily he could overthrow the best man God could choose of the whole congregation.
He made him distrust his benefactor so much as to feign himself mad before the king of Gath, when he had fled to him for shelter.
He made him march with his four hundred cutthroats, to cut off poor Nabal, and all his household, only because he would not send him the good cheer he had provided for his honest sheep-shearers.
He made him, for his word’s sake, give Ziba half his master’s estate for his treachery, after he knew he had been the traitor, and betrayed poor Mephibosheth for the sake of it; in which
“The good old king, it seems, was very loth,
To break his word, and therefore broke his oath.”
Then he tempted him to the ridiculous project of numbering the people, though against God’s express command; a thing Joab himself was not wicked enough to do, till David and the Devil forced him to it.
And to make him completely wickepl, he carried him to the top of his house, and showed him Uriah’s wife, bathing in her garden. In which it appeared that the
Devil knew David too well, and what was the particular sin of his inclination; and so took him by the right handle; drawing him at once into the sins of murder and adultery.
Then, that he might not quite give him over, (though David’s repentance for the last sin kept the Devil off for a while,) when he could attack him no farther personally, he fell upon him in his family, and made him as miserable as he could desire him to be, in his children; three of whom he brought to destruction before his face, and another after his death.
First, he tempted Ammon to ravish his sister, Tamar; so there was an end of her, poor girl, as to this world; for we never hear any more of her.
Then he tempted Absalom to murder his brother Ammon, in reveuge for Tamar’s virtue.
Then he made Joab run Absalom through the body, contrary to David’s command.
And after David’s death he brought Adonijah (weak man!) to the block, for usurping king Solomon’s throne.
As to Absalom, he tempted him to rebellion, and raising war against his father, to the turning him shamefully out of Jerusalem, and almost out of the kingdom.
He tempted him for David’s farther mortification, to insult his father’s wives, in the face of the whole city; and, had Achitophel’s honest counsel been followed, he had certainly sent him to sleep with his fathers, long before his time but there Satan and Achitophel were both outwitted together.
Through all the reigns of the several successors of David, the Devil took care to carry on his own game, to the continual insulting the measures which God himself had taken for the establishing his people in the world, and especially as a church: till at last he so effectually debauched them to idolatry; that crime which of all others was most provoking to God, as it was carrying the people away from their allegiance, and transposing the homage they owed God their Maker, to a contemptible block of wood, or an image of a brute beasl .; and this how sordid and brutish soever it was in itself, yet so did his artifice prevail among them, that, first or last, he brought them all into it, the ten tribes as well as the two tribes; till, at last, God himself was provoked to unchurch them, gave them up to their enemies, and the few that were left of them, after incredible slaughters and desolation, were hurried away, some into Tartary, and others into Babylon, from whence very few, of that few that were carried away, ever found their way home again; and some, when they might have come, would not accept of it, but continued there to the very coming of the Messiah. See epistles of Su James, and of St. Peter, at the beginning.
But to look a little back upon this part (for it cannot be omitted, it makes so considerable a part of the Devil’s history;) I mean his drawing God’s people, kings and all, into all the sins and mischiefs which gradually contributed to their destruction:
First, (for he began immediately with the very best and wisest of the race,) he drew in King Solomon, in the midst of all his zeal for the building God’s house, and for the making the most glorious and magnificent appearance for God’s worship that ever the world saw I say, in the middle of all this, he drew him into such immoderate and insatiable an appetite for fame, as to set up the first, and perhaps the greatest seraglio that ever any prince in the world had, or pretended to be fore; nay, and to bring it so much into reputation, that, as the text says, Seven hundred of them were princesses; that is to say, ladies of quality: not as the grand signers, and great moguls (other princes of the Eastern world,) have since practised, namely, to pick up their most beautiful slaves; but these, it seems, were women of rank, king’s daughters, as Pharaoh’s daughter, and the daughters of the princes and prime men among the Moabites, Ammonites, Zidonians, Hittites, &c. 1 Kings xi. 1.
Nor was this all; but as he drew him into the love of those forbidden women (for such they were, as to their nation, as well as number,) so he ensnared him by those women to a familiarity with their worship; and by degrees brought that famous prince (famous for his wisdom) to be the greatest and most imposedupon old fool in the world; bowing down to those idols by the enticing of his women, whom he had abhorred and detested in his youth, as dishonoring that God for whom, and for whose worship, he had finished and dedicated the most magnificent building and temple in the world. Nothing but the invincible subtlety of this arch-devil could ever have brought such a man as Solomon to such a degeneracy of manners, and to such meannesses; no, not his Devil himself, without the assistance of his agents, nor the agents themselves, without the Devil to help them.
As to Solomon, Satan had made conquest enough there; we need hear no more of him. The next advance he made, was in the person of his son Rehoboam. Had not the Devil prompted his pride, and tyrannical humor, he would never have given the people such an answer as he did; and when he saw a fellow at the head of them too, who he knew wanted and waited for an occasion to raise a rebellion, and had ripened up the people’s humor to the occasion. Weil might the text call it listening to the counsel of the young heads; that it was indeed with a vengeance! but those young heads too were acted by an old Devil, who, for his craft, is called, as I have observed, the old Serpent.
Having thus paved the way, Jeroboam revolts. So far God had directed him; for the text says expressly, speaking in the first person of God himself, “This thing is of me.”
But though God might appoint Jeroboam to be king (that is to say, of ten tribes.) yet God did not appoint him to set up the two calves in the two extreme parts of the land; namely, in Dan, and in Bethel; that was Jeroboam’s own doing, and done on purpose to keep the people from falling back to Rehoboam, by being obliged to go to Jerusalem to the public worship. And the text adds. “Jeroboam made Israel to sin.” This was indeed a master-piece of the Devil’s policy, and it was effectual to answer the end: nothing could have been more to the purpose. What reason he had to expect the people would so universally come into it, and be so well satisfied with a couple of calves, instead of the true worship of God at Jerusalem; or what arts and management he (Satan) made use of afterwards, to bring the people in, to join with such a delu13 sion; that we find but little of in all the annals of Satan; nor is it much to the case. It is certain the Devil found a strange kind of propensity to worshipping idols rooted in the temper of that whole people, even from their first breaking away from the Egyptian bondage; so that he had nothing to do but to work upon the old stock, and propagate the crime that he found was so natural to them. And this is Satan’s general way of working, not with them only, but with us also, and with all the world, even then, and ever since.
When he had thus secured Jeroboam’s revolt, we need not trace him among his successors; for the same reason of state that held for the setting up the calves at Bethel and Dan, held good for the keeping them up r to all Jeroboam’s posterity; nor had they one good king ever after: even Jehu, who called his friends to come and see his zeal for the Lord, and who fulfilled the threatenings of God upon Ahab and his family, and upon Queen Jezebel, and her offspring, and knew all the white that he was executing the judgment of the true God upon an idolatrous race; yet he would not part with his calves, but would have thought it had been parting with his kingdom, and that as the people would have gone up to Jerusalem to worship, so they would at the same time have transferred their civil obedience to the king of Judah (whose right it really was, as far as they could claim by birth and right line;) so that, by the way, Satan any more than other politicians, is not for the jus div’mum of lineal succession, or what we call hereditary right, any farther than serves for his purpose.
Thus Satan ridded his hands of ten of the twelve tribes; let us now see how he went on with the rest, for his work was now brought into a narrower compass; the church of God was now reduced to two tribes, except a few religious people, who separated from the schism of Jeroboam, and came and planted themselves among the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The first thing the Devil did after this, was to foment a war between the two kings, while Judah was governed by a boy or youth, Abijah by name; and he none of the best neither. But God’s time was not come, and the Devil received a great disappointment; when Jeroboam was so entirely overthrown, that, if the records of those ages do not mistake, no less than five hundred thousand men of Israel were killed; suck a slaughter, that one would think the army of Judah, had they known how to improve as well as gain a victory, might have brought all the rest back again, and have entirely reduced the house of Jeroboam, and the ten tribes that followed him, to their obedience; nay, they did take a great deal of the country from them, and among the rest Bethel itself; and yet so cunningly did Satan manage, that the king of Judah, who was himself a wicked king, and perhaps an idolater in his heart, did not take down the golden calf that Jeroboam had there, no nor destroy the idolatry itself; so that, in short, his victory signified nothing.
From hence to the captivity, we find the Devil busy with the kings of Judah; especially the best of them. As for such as Manasseh, and those who transgressed by the general tenor of their lives, those he had no great trouble with,
But such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, he hung about them, and their courts, till he brought every one of them into some mischief or other.
As first, good King Asa, of whom the Scripture says, his heart was perfect all his days, yet this subtle spirit, that could break in upon him nowhere else, tempted him, when the king of Israel came out against him, to send to hire Benhadad, the king of Syria, to help him; as if God, who had before enabled him to conquer the Ethiopians with an army of ten hundred thousand men, could not have saved him from the king of the ten tribes.
In the same manner he tempted Jehoshaphat to join with that wicked King Ahab against the king of Syria, and also to marry his son to Ahab’s daughter, which was fatal to Jehoshaphat, and to his posterity.
Again, he tempted Hezekiah to show all his riches to the king of Babylon’s messengers; and who can doubt, but that he (Satan) is to be understood by the wicked spirit which stood before the Lord, 2 Chron. xviii. 20, and offered his service to entice Ahab the king of Israel to come out to battle, to his ruin, by being a lying spirit in the months of all his prophets; and who, for that time, had a special commission, as he had another time, in the case of Job? and indeed, it was a commission fit for nobody but the Devil: “Thou shait entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: Go out, and do even so,” verse 21.
Even good Josiah himself, of whom it is recorded, that “like him there was no king before him, neither after him arose there any like him,” 2 Kings xxiii. 25, yet the Devil never left him with his machinations, till, finding he could not tempt him to anything wicked in his government, he tempted or moved him to a needless war with the king of Egypt, in which he lost his life.
From the death of this good king, the Devil prevailed so with the whole nation of the Jews, and brought them to such an incorrigible pitch of wickedness, that God gave them up, forsook his habitation of glory, the temple, which he suffered to be spoiled first, then burnt and demolished; destroying the whole nation of the Jews, except a small number that were left, and those the enemy carried away into captivity.
Nor was he satisfied with this general destruction of the whole people of Israel, for the ten tribes were gone before; but he followed them even into their captivity; those that fled away to Egypt, which they tell us were seventy thousand, he first corrupted, and then they were destroyed there, upon the overthrow of Egypt, by the same king of Babylon.
Also he went very near to have them rooted out. Young and old, man, woman, and child, who were in captivity in Babylon, by the ministry of that true agent of hell, Haman, the Agagite; but there Satan met with a disappointment too, as in the story of Esther, which was but the fourth that he had met with, in all his management since the creation; I say, there he was disappointed, and his prime minister, Haman, was ex alted, as he deserved.
Having thus far traced the government and dominion of the Devil, from the creation of man to the captivity; I think I may call upon him to set up his standard of universal empire, at that period; it seemed just then as if God had really forsaken the earth, and given the entire dominion of mankind up to his outrageous enemy the Devil; for, excepting the few Israelites which were left in the territories of the king of Babylon, and they were but a few, I say, except among them, there was not one corner of the world left where the true God was called upon, or his dominion so much as acknowledged; all the world was buried in idolatry, and that of so many horrid kinds, that one would think, the light of reason should have convinced mankind, that he who exacted such bloody sacrifices as that of Moloch, and such a bloody cutting themselves with knives, as the priests of Baal did, could not be a God, a good and beneficent being, but must be a cruel, voracious and devouring devil, whose end was not the good, but the destruction of his creatures. But to such a height was the blind, dementated world arrived at that time, that in these sordid and corrupt ways they went on worshipping dumb idols, and offering human sacrifices to them; and, in a word, committing all the most horrid and absurd abominations that they were capable of, or that the Devil could prompt them too, till heaven was again put, as it were, to the necessity of bringing about a revolution, in favor of his own forsaken people, by miracle and surprise, as he had done before,
We come therefore to the restoration or return of the captivity. Had Satan been able to have acted anything by force, as I have observed before, all the princes and powers of the world having been, as they really were, at his devotion, he might easily have made use of them, armed all the world against the Jews, and prevented the rebuilding the temple, and even the return of the captivity.
But now the Devil’s power manifestly received a check, and the hand of God appeared in it; and that he was resolved to reestablish his people the Jews, and to have a second temple built. The Devil who knew the extent of his own power too well, and what limitations were laid upon him, stood still, as it were, looking on, and not daring to oppose the return of the captivity, which he very well knew had been prophesied, and would come to pass,
He did indeed make some little opposition to the building, and to the fortifying the city, but as it was to no purpose, so he was soon obliged to give it over; and thus the captivity being returned, and the temple rebuilt, the people of the Jews increased and multiplied to an infinite number and strength; and from this time we may say, the power of the Devil rather declined and decreased, than went on with success, as it had done before: it is true the Jews fell into sects and errors, and divisions of many kinds, after the return from the captivity, and no doubt the Devil had a great hand in those divisions; but he could never bring them back to idolatry; and his not being able to do that, made him turn his hand so many ways to plague and oppress them; as particularly by Antiochus the Great, who brought the abomination of desolation into the holy place; and there the Devil triumphed over them for some time; but they were delivered many ways, till at last they came peaceably under the protection rather than the dominion of the Roman empire: when Herod the Great governed them as a king, and reedified, nay, almost rebuilt their temple, with so great an expense and magnificence, that he made it, as some say, greater and more glorious than that of Solomon’s; though, that I take to be a great fable, to say no worse of it.
In this condition the Jewish church stood, when the fullness of time, as it is called in scripture, was come; and the Devil was kept at bay, though he had made some encroachments upon them as above; for there was a glorious remnant of saints among them, such as old Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, and old Simeon, who waited for the salvation of Israel; I say, in this condition the Jewish church stood when the Messiah came into the world; which was such another mortal stab to the thrones and principalities infernal, as that of which I have spoken already, (chap, iii.,) at the creation of man; and therefore, with this I break off the antiquities of the Devil’s history, or the ancient part of his kingdom; for from hence downward we shall find his empire has declined gradually; and though, by his wonderful address, his prodigious application, and the vigilance and fidelity of his instruments, as well human as infernal and diabolical, and of the human as well the ecclesiastic as the secular, he has many times retrieved what he has lost, and sometimes bid fair for recovering the universal empire he once possessed over mankind; yet he has been still defeated again, repulsed, and beaten back, and his kingdom has greatly declined in many parts of the world; and especially in the northern parts, except Great Britain; and how he has politically maintained his interest, and increased his dominion among the wise and righteous generation that we cohabit with and among, will be the subject of the modern part of Satan’s history, and of which we are next to give an account.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53