I HAVE examined the antiquities of Satan’s history in the former part of this work, and brought his affairs down from the creation, as far as to our blessed Christian times; especially to the coming of the Messiah, when one would think the Devil could have nothing to do among us. I have indeed but touched at such things which might have admitted of a farther description of Satan’s affairs, and the particulars of which we may all come to a farther knowledge of hereafter; yet I think I have spoken to the material part of his conduct, as it relates to his empire in this world. What has happened to his more sublimated government, and his angelic capacities, I shall have an occasion to touch at in several solid particulars as we go along.
The Messiah was now born, the fullness of time was come, that the Old Serpent was to have his head broken; that is to say, his empire or dominion over man, which he gained by the fall of our first father and mother in paradise, received a downfall or overthrow.
It is worth observing, in order to confirm what I have already mentioned of the limitation of Satan’s power, that not only his angelic strength seems to have received a farther blow upon the coming of the Son of God into the world, but he seems to have had a blow upon his intellects; his serpentine craft and devil-like subtilty seems to have been circumscribed, and cut short; and instead of his being so cunning a fellow as before, when, as I said, it is evident he outwitted all mankind, not only Eve, Cain, Noah, Lot, and all the patriarchs, but even nations of men, and that in their public capacity; and thereby led them into absurd and ridiculous things, such as the building of Babel, and deifying and worshipping their kings, when dead and rotten; idolizing beasts, stocks, stones, anything, and even nothing; and, in a word, when he managed mankind just as he pleased.
Now, and from this time forward, he appeared a weak, foolish, ignorant Devil, compared to what he was before. He was upon almost every occasion resisted, disappointed, balked and defeated; especially in all his attempts to thwart or cross the mission and ministry of the Messiah, while he was upon earth, and sometimes upon other and very mean occasions too.
And first; how foolish a project was it, and how below Satan’s celebrated artifice in like cases, to put Herod upon sending to kill the poor innocent children in Bethlehem, in hopes to destroy the infant i for I take it for granted, it was the Devil put into Herod’s thoughts that execution, how simple and foolish soever; now we must allow him to be very ignorant of the nativity himself, or else he might easily have guided his friend Herod to the place where the infant was.
This shows that either the Devil is in general ignorant, as we ace, of what is to come in the world, before it is really come to pass; and, consequently, can fortell nothing, no not so much as our famous old Merlin or Mother Shipton did; or else that great event was hid from him by an immediate power superior to his, which I cannot think neither, considering how much he was concerned in it, and how certainly he knew that it was once to come to pass.
But be that as it will, it is certain the Devil knew nothing where Christ was born, or when; nor was he able to direct Herod to find him out; and therefore put him upon that foolish, as well as cruel order, to kill all the children, that he might be sure to destroy the Messiah among the rest.
The next simple step that the Devil took, and indeed the most foolish one that he could ever be charged with, unworthy the very dignity of a devil, and below the understanding that he always was allowed to act with, was that of coming to tempt the Messiah in the wilderness; it is certain, and he owned it himself afterwards, upon many occasions, that the Devil knew our Saviour to be the Son of God; and it is as certain that he knew, that as such he could have no power or advantage over him; how foolish then was it in him to attack him in that manner, “if thou beest the Son of God?” why he knew him to be the Son of God well enough; he said so afterwards, “ I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God;” how then could he be so weak a devil as to say, if thou art, then do so and so?
The case is plain, the Devil, though he knew him to be the Son of God, did not fully know the mystery of the incarnation; nor did he know how far the inanition of Christ extended, and whether, as man, he was not subject to fall as Adam was, though his reserved godhead might be still immaculate and pure; and upon this foot, as he would leave no method untried, he attempts him three times, one immediately after another; but then, finding himself disappointed, he fled.
This evidently proves, that the Devil was ignorant of the great mystery of godliness, as the text calls it, God manifest in the flesh; and therefore made that foolish attempt upon Christ, thinking to have conquered his human nature, as capable of sin, which it was not: and at this repulse hell groaned; the whole army of regimented devils received a wound, and felt the shock of it; it was a second overthrow to them; they had a long chain of success; carried a devilish conquest over the greatest part of the creation of God: but now they were cut short, the seed of the woman was now come to break the serpent’s head; that is, to cut short his power, to contract the limits of his kingdom, and, in a word, to dethrone him in the world. No doubt the Devil received a shock; for you find him, always afterward, crying out in a horrible manner, whenever Christ met with him, or else very humble and submissive; as when he begged leave to go into the herd of swine, a thing he has often done since.
Defeated here, the first stratagem I find him concerned in after it, was his entering into Judas, and putting him upon betraying Christ to the chief priest; but here again he was entirely mistaken; for he did not see, as much a devil as he was, what the event would be. But, when he came to know, that if Christ was put to death, he would become a propitiatory, and be the great sacrifice of mankind, so to rescue the fallen race from that death they had incurred the penalty of, by the fall; that this was the fulfilling of all scripture prophecy; and that thus it was that Christ was to be the end of the law; I say, as soon as he perceived this, he strove all he could to prevent it, and disturbed Pilate’s wife in her sleep, in order to set her upon her husband to hinder his delivering him up to the Jews; for then, and not till then, he knew how Christ was to vanquish hell by the power of his cross.
Thus the Devil was disappointed and exposed in every step he took; and as he now plainly saw his kingdom declining, and even the temporal kingdom of Christ rising up upon the ruins of his (Satan’s) power, he seemed to retreat into his own region the air, and to consult there with his fellow devils, what measures he should take next to preserve his dominion among men. Here it was that he resolved upon that truly hellish thing called persecution; by which, though he proved a foolish devil in that too, he flattered himself he should be able to destroy God’s church, and root out its professors from the earth, even almost as soon as it was established; whereas, on the contrary, Heaven counteracted him there too; and though he armed the whole Roman empire against the Christians, that is to say, the whole world, and they were fallen upon everywhere, with all the fury and rage of some of the most flaming tyrants that the world ever saw. of whom Nero was the first; yet, in spite of hell, God made all the blood, which the Devil caused to be spilt, to be semen ecclesia;; and the Devil had the mortification to see, that the number of Christians increased, even under the very means he made use of to root them out, and destroy them. This was the case through the reign of all the Roman emperors, for the first three hundred years after Christ.
Having thus tried all the methods that best suited his inclination, I mean those of blood and death, complicated with tortures, and all kinds of cruelty, and that for so long a space of time as above; “the Devil all on a sudden, as if glutted with blood, and satiated with destruction, sits still, and becomes a peaceable spectator for a good while; as if he either found himself unable, or had no disposition, to hinder the progress of Christianity, in the first ages of its settlement in the world. In this interval the Christian church was established under Constantine, religion flourished in peace, and under the most perfect tranquillity. The Devil seemed to be at a loss what he should do next, and things began to look as if Satan’s kingdom was at an end. But he soon let them see, that he was the same indefatigable Devil that ever he was; and the prosperity of the church gave him a large field of action; for knowing the disposition of mankind to quarrel and dispute, the universal passion rooted in nature, especially among the Churchmen, for precedency and dominion, he fell to work with them immediately; so that, turning the tables, and reassuming the subtlety and craft, which, I say, he seemed to have lost in the former four hundred years, he gained more ground in the next ages of the church, and went farther towards restoring his power and empire in the world, and towards overthrowing that very church which was so lately established, than all he had done by fire and blood before.
His policy now seemed to be edged with resentment, for the mistakes he had made; as if the Devil, looking back with anger at himself, to see what a fool he had been, to expect to crush religion by persecution, rejoiced for having discovered, that liberty and dominion was the only way to ruin the church, not fire and faggot; and that he had nothing to do, but to give the zealous people their utmost liberty in religion, only sowing error and variety of opinion among them, and they would bring fire and faggot in fast enough among themselves.
It must be confessed these were devilish politics; and so sure was the aim. and so certain was the Devil to hit his mark by them, that we find he not only did not fail then, but the same hellish methods have prevailed still, and will do so to the end of the world. Nor had the Devil ever a better game to play than this, for the ruin of religion, as we shall have room to show in many examples, besides that of the dissenters in England, who are evidently weakened by the late toleration. Whether the Devil had any hand in baiting his hook with an a of parliament or no, history is silent; but it is too evident he has catched the fish by it,: and if the honest church of England does not in pity, and Christian charity to the dissenters, straiten her hand a little, I cannot but fear the Devil will gain his point, and the dissenter will be undone by it.
Upon this new foot of politics the Devil began with the emperors themselves. Arius, the father of the heretics of that age, having broached his opinions; and Athanasius, the orthodox bishop of the east, opposing him; the Devil no sooner saw the door open to strife and imposition, but he thrust himself in, and raising the quarrel up to a suited degree of rage and spleen, he involved the good emperor himself in it first; and Athanasius was banished and recalled, and banished and recalled again, several times, as error ran high, and as the Devil either got or lost ground. After Constantine, the next emperor was a child of his own, (Arian;) and then the court came all into the quarrel, as courts often do; and then the Arians and the orthodox persecuted one another as furiously as the Pagans persecuted them all before. To such an height the Devil brought his conquest, in the very infancy of the question; and so much did he prevail over the true Christianity of the primitive church, even before they had enjoyed the liberty of the pure worship twenty years.
Flushed with this success, the Devil made one push for the restoring Paganism, and bringing on the old worship of the heathen idols and temples; but, like our H King James II. he drove too hard, and Julian had so provoked the whole Roman empire, which was generally, at that time, become Christian, that had the apostate lived, he would not have been able to have held the throne; and, as he was cut off in his beginning, Paganism expired with him, and the Devil himself might have cried out. as Julian did, and with much more propriety, Vicisti, Galilcee.
Jovian, the next emperor, being a glorious Christian, and a very good and great man, the Devil abdicated for a while, and left the Christian armies to reestablish the orthodox faith; nor could he bring the Christians to a breach again among themselves agreat while after.
However, time, and a diligent Devil, did the work at last; and when the emperors’ concerning themsejves one way or other did not appear sufficient to answer his end, he changed hands again, and went to work with the clergy. To set the doctors effectually together by the ears, he threw in the new notion of primacy among them, for a bone of contention; the bait took, the priests swallowed it eagerly down; and the Devil, a cunninger fisherman than ever St. Peter was, struck them (as the anglers call it) with a quick hand, and hung them fast upon the hook.
Having them thus in his clutches, and they being now, as we may say, his own, they took their measures afterwards from him, and most obediently followed his directions; nay, I will not say but he may have had pretty much the management of the whole society ever since, of what profession or party soever they may have been, with exception only to the reverend and right reverend among ourselves.
The sacred, as above, being thus hooked in, and the Devil being at the head of their affairs, matters went on most gloriously his own way; first, the bishops fell to bandying and party-making for the superiority, as heartily as ever temporal tyrants did for dominion; and took as black and devilish methods to carry it on, as the worst of those tyrants ever had done before them.
At last Satan declared for the Roman pontiff, and that upon excellent conditions, in the reign of the Emperor Mauritius; for Boniface, who had long contended for the title of supreme, fell into a treaty with Phocas, captain of the emperor’s guards; whether the hargain was from hell or not, let any one judge; the conditions absolutely entitle the Devil to the honor of making the contract; namely, that Phocas first murdering his master (the emperor,) and his sons, Boniface should countenance the treason, and declare him em peror; and, in return, Phocas should, acknowledge the primacy of the church of Rome, and declare Boniface universal bishop. A blessed compact! which at once set the Devil at the head of affairs in the Christian world, as well spiritual as temporal, ecclesiastic as civil. Since the conquest over Eve in Paradise, by which death and the Devil, hand in hand, established their first empire upon earth, the Devil never gained a more important point than he gained at this time.
He had indeed prospered in his affairs tolerably well for some time before this, and his interest among the clergy had got ground for some ages; but that was indeed a secret management, was carried on privately, and with difficulty; as in sowing discord and faction among the people, perplexing the councils of their princes, and secretly wheedling in with the dignified clergy.
Also he had raised abundance of little church-rebellions, by setting up heretics of several kinds, and raising them favorers among the clergy, such as Ebion, Cerinthus, Pelagius, and others.
He had drawn in the bishops of Rome to set up the ridiculous pageantry of the key; and while he, the Devil, set open the gates of hell to them all, put them upon locking up the gates of heaven, and giving the bishop the key; a cheat which r as gross as it was, the Devil so gilded over, or so blinded the age to receive it, that, like Gideon’s ephod, all the Catholic world went a whoring after the idol; and the bishop of Rome sent more fools to the Devil by it, than ever he pretended to let into heaven, though he opened the door as wide as his key was able to do.
The story of this key being given to the bishop of Rome by St. Peter, (who. by the way, never had it himself,) and of its being lost by somebody or other (the Devil it seems did not tell them who,) and its being found again by a “Lombard soldier, in the army of King Antharis; who, attempting to cut it with his knife, was miraculously forced to direct the wound to himself, and cut his own throat; that fcng Antharis and his nobles, happened to see the fellow do it, and were converted to Christianity by it; and that the king sent the key, with another made like it, to Pope Pelagius, then bishop.of Rome, who thereupon assumed the power of opening and shutting heaven’s gates; and he afterwards setting a price, or toll, upon the entrance, as we do here at passing a turnpike. These fine things, I say, were successfully managed for some years before this I am now speaking of; and the Devil got a great deal of ground by it too; but now he triumphed openly, and, having set up a murderer upon the temporal throne, and a church emperor upon the ecclesiastic throne, and both of his own choosing, the Devil may be said to begin his new kingdom from this epocha, and call it the restoration.
Since this time indeed, the Devil’s affairs went very merrily on, and the clergy brought so many gewgaws into their worship, and such devilish principles were mixed with that which we call the Christian faith; that in a word, from this time, the bishop of Rome commenced whore of Babylon, in all the most express terms that could be imagined. Tyranny of the worst sort crept into the pontificate, errors of all sorts into the profession; and they proceeded from one thing to another, till the very pope, for so the bishop of Rome was now called, by way of distinction; I say, the popes themselves, their spiritual guides, professed openly to confederate with the Devil, and to carry on a personal and private correspondence with him, at the same time taking upon them the title of Christ’s vicar, and the infallible guide of the consciences of Christians.
This we have sundry instances of in some merry popes; who, if fame lies not, were sorcerers, magicians, had familiar spirits, and immediate conversation with the Devil, as well visibly as invisibly, and by this means became what we call devils incarnate. Upon this account it is, that I have left the conversation that passes between devils and men to this place, as well because I believe it differs much now in his modem state, from what it was in his ancient state; and therefore, that which most concerns us belongs rather to this part of his history; as also, because, as I am now writing to the present age, I choose to bring the most significant parts of his history, especially as they relate to ourselves, into that part of time that we are most concerned in.
The Devil had once, as I observed before, the universal monarchy or government of mankind in himself; and I doubt not but, in that flourishing state of his affairs, he governed them like what he is, namely, an absolute tyrant; during this theocracy of his, for Satan is called the God of this world, he did not familiarize himself to mankind so much, as he finds occasion to do now; there was not then so much need of it; he governed them with an absolute sway; he had his oracles, where he gave audience to his votaries like a deity; and he had his sub-gods, who under his several dispositions, received the homage of mankind in their names; such were all the rabble of the heathen deities, from Jupiter the supreme, to the Lares, or household gods, of every family; these, I say, like residents, received the prostrations; but the homage was all Satan’s; the Devil had the substance of it all, which was the idolatry.
During this administration of hell, there was less witchcraft, less true literal magic, than there has been since; there was indeed no need of it, the Devil did not stoop to the mechanism of his more modern operations, but ruled as a deity, and received the vows and the bows of his subjects in more state, and with more solemnity; whereas, since that, he is content to employ more agents, and take more pains himself too; now he runs up and down hackney in the world, more like a drudge than a prince, and much more than he did then.
Hence all those things we call apparitions and visions of ghosts, familiar spirits, and dealings with the Devil, of which there is so great a variety in the world at this time, were not so much known among the people, in those first ages of the Devil’s kingdom; in a word, the Devil seems to be put to his shifts, and to fly to art and stratagem for the carrying on his affairs, much more now than he did then.
One reason for this may be, that he has been more discovered and exposed in these ages, than he was be fore; then he could appear in the world in his own proper shapes, and yet not be known; when the sons of God appeared at the divine summons, Satan came along with them; but now he has played so many scurvy tricks upon men, and they know him so well, that he is obliged to play quite out of sight, and act in disguise; mankind will allow nothing of his doing, and hear nothing of his saying, in his own name. And if you propose anything to be done, and it be but said the Devil is to help in the doing it; or if you say of any man, he deals with the Devil, or the Devil has a hand in it; everybody flies him, and shuns him, as the most frightful thing in the world.
Nay, if anything strange and improbable be done, or related to be done, we presently say the Devil was at the doing it. Thus the great ditch afNewmarketheath is called the Devil’s ditch; so the Devil built Crowland Abbey, and the whispering place in Gloucester cathedral; nay, the cave at Castleton, only be cause there is no getting to the farther end of it, is called the Devil’s place, and the like. The poor people of Wiltshire, when you ask them how the great stones at Stonehenge were brought thither? they will all tell you the Devil brought them. If any mischief extraordinary befalls us, we presently say the Devil was in it, and the Devil would have it so; in a word, the Devil has got an ill name among us, and so he is fain to act more incog, than he used to do, play out of sight himself, and work by the sap, as the engineers call it; and not openly and avowedly, in his own name and person, as formerly, though perhaps not with less success than he did before; and this leads me to inquire more narrowly into the manner of the Devil’s management of his affairs, since the Christian religion began to spread in the world, which manifestly differs from his conduct in more ancient times; in which, if we discover some of the most consummate fool’s policy, the most profound simple-craft, and the most subtle, shallow management of things that can, by our weak understandings, be conceived, we must only resolve it into this, that, in short, it is the Devil.
Of hell, as it is represented to us; and how the Devil is to be understood, as being personally in hell, when at the same time we find him at liberty ranging over the world.
IT is true, as that learned and pleasant author, the inimitable Dr. Brown, says, the Devil is his own hell; one of the most constituting parts of his infelicity is, that he cannot act upon mankind by his own inherent power, as well as rage; that he cannot unhinge this creation; which, as I have observed in its place, he had the utmost aversion to from its beginning, as it was a stated design in the Creator, to supply his place in heaven with a new species of beings called man, and fill the vacancies occasioned by his degeneracy and rebellion.
This rilled him with rage inexpressible, and horrible resolutions of revenge; and the impossibility of executing those resolutions torments him with despair; this, added to what he was before, makes him a complete devil, with an hell in his own breast, and a fire unquenchable burning about his heart.
I might enlarge here, and very much to the purpose, in describing spherically and mathematically that ex quisite quality called a devilish spirit; in which it would naturally occur, to give you a whole chapter upon the glorious articles of malice and envy, and especially upon that luscious, delightful triumphant passion called revenge; how natural to man, nay even to both sexes; how pleasant in the very contemplation, though there be not just at that time a power of ex ecution; how palatable it is in itself; and how well it relishes when dished up with proper sauces; such as plots, contrivance, scheme, and confederacy, all leading on to execution. How it possesses a human soul in all the most sensible parts; how it empowers mankind to sin in imagination, as effectually to all future intents and purposes, (death,) as if he had sinned actually. How safe a practice it is too, as to punishment in this life; namely, that it empowers us to cut throats clear of the gallows, to slander virtue, reproach innocence, wound honor, and stab reputation; and, in a word, to do all the wicked things in the world, out of the reach of the law.
It would also require some few words to describe the secret operations of those nice qualities, when they reach the human soul; how effectually they form an hell within us, and how imperceptibly they assimilate and transform us into devils, mere human devils, as really devils as Satan himself, or any of his angels; and that therefore it is not so much out of the way, as some imagine, to say, such a man is an incarnate devil; for as crime made Satan a devil, who was before a bright immortal seraph, or angel of light, how much more easily may the same crime make the same devil, though every way meaner, and more contemptible, of a man or a woman either? But this is too grave a subject for me at this time.
The Devil being thus, I say, fired with rage and envy, in consequence of his jealousy upon the creation of man, his torment is increased to the highest by the limitation of his power, and being forbid to act against mankind by force of arms; this is, I say, part of his hell, which, as above, is within him, and which he carries with him wherever he goes; nor is it so difficult to conceive of hell, or of the Devil either, under this just description, as it is by all the usual notions that we are taught to entertain of them, by (the old women) our instructors; for every man may, by taking but a common view of himself, and making a just scrutiny into his own passions, on some of their particular excursions, see an hell within himself, and himself a mere devil as long as the inflammation lasts; and that as really, and to all intents and purposes, as if he had the angel (Satan) before his face, in his locality and personality; that is to say, all devil and monster in his person; and an immaterial, but in tense fire flaming about and from within him, at all the pores of bis body.
The notions we receive of the Devil, as a person being in hell as a place, are infinitely absurd and ridiculous. The first we are certain is not true in fact, because he has a certain liberty, (however limited, that is not to the purpose,) is daily visible, and to be traced in his several attacks upon mankind, and has been so ever since his first appearance in Paradise; as to his corporal visibility, that is riot the present question neither; it is enough that we can hunt him by the foot, that we can follow him as hounds do a fox upon an hot scent. We can see him as plainly by the effect, by the mischief he does, and more by the mischief he puts us upon doing, I say, as plainly, as if we saw him by the eye.
It is not to be doubted but the Devil can see us when and where we cannot see him. And as he has a personality, though it be spirituous, he and his angels too may be reasonably supposed to inhabit the world of spirits, and to have free access from thence to the regions of life, arid to pass and repass in the air, as really, though not perceptible to us, as the spirits of men do, after their release from the body, pass to a place (wherever that is) which is appointed for them.
If the Devil was confined to a place (hell) as a prison, he could then have no business here; and if we pretend to describe hell, as not a prison, but that the devil has liberty to be there, or not to be there, as he pleased, then he would certainly never be there, or hell is not such a place as we are taught to understand it to be.
Indeed, according to some, hell should be a place of fire and torment to the souls that are cast into it, but not to the devils themselves; whom we make little more or less than keepers and turnkeys to hell, as a gaol; that they are sent about to bring souls thither, lock them in when they come, and then away upon the scent to fetch more. That one sort of devils are made to live in the world among men, and to be busy continually debauching and deluding mankind, bringing them as it were to the gates of hell; and then, another sort are porters and carriers to fetch them in.
This is, in short, little more or less than the old story of Pluto, of Cerberus, and of Charon; only that our tale is not half so well told, nor the parts of the fable so well laid together.
In all these notions of hell and the Devil, the torments of the first, and the agency of the last tormenting, we meet with not one word of the main, and perhaps only accent of horror, which belongs to us to judge of about hell, I mean the absence of heaven; expulsion and exclusion from the presence and face of the chief Ultimate, the only eternal and sufficient Good; and this loss sustained by a sordid neglect of our concern in that excellent part, in exchange for the most contemptible and justly condemned trifles, and all this eternal and irrecoverable. These people tell us nothing of the eternal reproaches of conscience, the horror of desperation, and the anguish of a mind hopeless of ever seeing the glory, which alone constitutes heaven, and which makes all other places dreadful, and even darkness itself.
And this brings me directly to the point in hand; namely, the state of that hell we ought to have in view, when we speak of the devil as in hell. This is the very hell, which is the torment of the devil; in short, the Devil is in hell, and hell is in the Devil; he is filled with this unquenchable fire, he is expelled the place of glory, banished from the regions of light; absence from the life of all beatitude is his curse; despair is the reigning passion in his mind; and all the little constituent parts of his torment, such as rage, envy, malice, and jealousy, are consolidated in this, to make his misery complete; namely, the duration of it all, the eternity of his condition; that he is without hope, without redemption, without recovery.
If anything can inflame this hell, and make it hotter, it is this only, and this does add an inexpressible horror to the Devil himself; namely, the seeing man (the only creature he hates) placed in a state of recovery, a glorious establishment of redemption formed for him in heaven, and the scheme of it perfected on earth; by which this man, though even the Devil by his art may have deluded him, and drawn him into crime, is yet in a state of recovery, which the Devil is not; and that it is not in his (Satan’s) power to prevent it. Now take the Devil as he is in his own nature angelic,. a bright immortal seraph, heaven-born, and having tasted the eternal beatitude, which these are appointed to enjoy; the loss of that state to himself, the possession of it granted to his rival, though wicked like and as himself; I say, take the Devil as he is, having a quick sense of his own perdition, and a stinging sight of his rival’s felicity, it is hell enough, and more than enough, even for an angel to support; nothing we can conceive, can be worse.
As to any other fire than this, such, and so immaterially intense, as to torment a spirit, which is itself fire also; I will not say it cannot be, because to Infinite everything is possible; but I must say, I cannot conceive rightly of it.
I will not enter here into the wisdom or reasonableness of representing the torments of hell to be fire, and that fire to be a commixture of flame and sulphur; it has pleased God to let the horror of those eternal agonies about a lost heaven be laid before us by those similitudes or allegories, which are most moving to our senses, and to our understandings; nor will I dispute the possibility; much less will I doubt but that there is to be a consummation of misery to all the objects of misery, when, the Devil’s kingdom in this world ending with the world itself, that liberty he has now may be farther abridged; when he may be returned to the same state he was in between the time of his fall and the creation of the world; with perhaps some additional vengeance on him, such as at present we cannot de scribe, for all that treason, and those high crimes and misdemeanors, which he has been guilty of here, in his conversation with mankind.
As his infelicity will be then consummated and completed, so the felicity of that part of mankind, who are condemned with him, may receive a considerable addition from those words in their sentence, to be tormented with the Devil, and his angels; for as the absence of the supreme Good is a complete hell, so the hated company of the deceiver, who was the great cause of his ruin, must be a subject of additional horror, and he will be always saying, as a Scotch gentleman, who died of his excesses, said to the famous Dr. P— — who came to see him on his death-bed, but had been too much his companion in his life,
“It is no time to trifle with truth.”
I would not treat the very subject itself with any indecency; nor do I think my opinion of that hell’, which I say consists in the absence of him, in whom is heaven, one jot less solemn than theirs who believe it all fire and brimstone; but I must own, that, to me, nothing can be more ridiculous, than the notions that we entertain, and fill our heads with, about hell, and about the Devil’s being there tormenting of souls, broiling them upon gridirons, hanging them up upon hooks, carrying them upon their backs, and the like; with the several pictures of hell, represented by a great mouth with horrible teeth, gaping like a cave on the side of a mountain; suppose that appropriated to Satan in the Peak, which indeed is not much unlike it, with a stream of fire coming out of it, as there is of water, and smaller devils going and coming continually in and out. to fetch and carry souls the Lord knows whither, and for the Lord knows what.
These things, however intended for terror, are indeed so ridiculous, that the Devil himself, to be sure, mocks at them; and a man of sense can hardly refrain doing the like; only I avoid it, because I would not give offence to weaker heads.
However, I must not compliment the brains of other men at the expence of my own, or talk nonsense be cause they can understand no other. I think all these notions and representations of hell, and of the Devil, to be as profane as they are ridiculous; and I ought no more to talk profanely than merrily of them.
Let us learn to talk of these things then, as we should do; and as we really cannot describe them to our reason and understanding, why should we describe them to our senses? We had, I think, much better not describe them at all, that, is to say, not attempt it. The blessed Apostle St. Paul was, as he said himself, carried up, or caught up, into the third heaven; yet, when he came down again, he could neither tell what he heard, or describe what he saw; all he could say of it was, that what he heard was unutterable, and what he saw was inconceivable.
It is the same thing as to the state of the Devil, in those regions which he now possesses, and where he now more particularly inhabits. My present business then is, not to enter into those grave things so as to make them ridiculous, as I think most people do that talk of them; but as the Devil, let his residence be where it will, has evidently free leave to come and go, not into this world only, (I mean the region of our atmosphere,) but, for aught we know, to all the other inhabited worlds which God has made, wherever they are, and by whatsoever names they are, or may be, known or distinguished; for if he is not confined in one place, we have no reason to believe he is excluded from any place, heaven only excepted, from whence he was expelled for his treason and rebellion.
His liberty then being thus ascertained, three things seem to be material for us to give an account of, in order to form this part of his history.
1. What his business is on this globe of earth which we vulgarly call the world; how he acts among us; what affairs mankind and he have together; and how far his conduct here relates to us, and ours is, or may be. influenced by him.
2. Where his principal residence is; and whether he has not a particular empire of his own, to which he retreats upon proper occasions; where he entertains his friends when they come under his particular administration; and where, when he gets any victory over his enemies, he carries his prisoners of war.
3. What may probably be the great business this black emperor has at present upon his hands, either in this world, or out of it; and by what agents he works.
As these things may, perhaps, run promiscuously through the course of this whole work, and frequently be touched at under other branches of the Devil’s history; so I do not propose them as heads of chapters, or particular sections, for the order of discourse to be handled apart; for (by the way) as Satan’s actings have not been the most regular things in the world, so, in our discourse about him, it must not be expected that we can always tie ourselves down to order and regularity either as to time, or place, or persons; for Satan being a loose, ungoverned fellow, we must be content to trace him where we can find him.
It is true, in the foregoing chapter, I showed you the Devil entered into the herd ecclesiastic, and gave you some account of the first successful step he took with mankind, since the Christian epocha; how having secretly managed both temporal and spiritual power apart, and by themselves, he now united them in point of management, and brought the church usurpation and the army’s usurpation together; the pope to bless the general in deposing and murdering his master the emperor; and the general to recognize the pope in de throning his master Christ Jesus.
From this time forward, you are to allow the Devil a mystical empire in this world; not an action of moment done without him, not a treason but he has an “hand in it, not a tyrant but he prompts him, not a government but he has an agent in it; not a fool but he tickles him, not a knave but he guides him; he has a finger in every fraud, a key to every cabinet, from the Divan at Constantinople, to the Mississippi in France, and to the South Sea; from the first attack upon the Christian world, in the person of the Romish Antichrist, down to the bull Unigenitus; and from the mixture of St. Peter and Confucius in China, to the holy office in Spain; and down to the Emlins and Dod wells of the current age.
How he has managed, and does manage, and how, in all probability, he will manage till his kingdom shall come to a period, and how, at last, he will probably be managed himself, inquire within the Sacred page, and you shall know farther.
Of the manner of Satan’s acting and carrying on his affairs in this world; and particularly of his ordinary ivorkings in the dark, by possession and agitation.
THE Devil being thus reduced to act upon mankind by stratagem only, it remains to inquire how he performs, and which way he directs his attacks. The faculties of man are a kind of a garrison in a strong castle, which, as they defend it on the one hand under the command of the reasoning power of man’s soul, so they are prescribed on the other hand, and can’t sally out without leave; for the governor of a fort does not permit his soldiers to hold any correspondence with the enemy, without special order and direction. Now the great inquiry before us is, how comes the Devil to a parley with us? How does he converse with our senses, and with the understanding? How does he reach us? Which way does he come at the affections, and which way does he move the passions? It is a little difficult to discover this treasonable correspondence; and that difficulty is, indeed, the Devil’s advantage, and, for aught I see, the chief advantage he has over mankind.
It is also a great inquiry here, whether the Devil knows our thoughts or no? If I may give my opinion, I am with the negative; I deny that he knows anything of our thoughts, except of those thoughts which he puts us upon thinking; for I will not doubt, but he has the art to inject thoughts, and to revive dormant thoughts in us. It is not so wild a scheme as some take it to be, that Mr. Milton lays down, to represent the Devil injecting corrupt desires, and wandering thoughts, into the head of Eve, by dreams; and that he brought her to dream whatever he put into her thoughts, by whispering to her vocally when she was asleep; and, to this end, he imagines the Devil laying himself close to her ear, in the shape of a toad, when she was fast asleep; I say, this is not so wild a scheme, seeing even now, if you can whisper anything close to the ear of a person in a deep sleep, so as to speak dis tinctly to the person, and yet not awaken him, as has been frequently tried, the person sleeping shall dream distinctly of what you say to him; nay, shall drearn the very words you say.
We have then no more to ask, but how the Devil can convey himself to the ear of a sleeping person; and it is granted then, that he may have power to make us dream what he pleases. But this is not all; for if he can so forcibly, by his invisible application, cause us to dream what he pleases, why can he not, with the same facility, prompt our thoughts, whether sleeping or waking’? To dream, is nothing else but to think sleeping; and we have abundance of deep-headed gentlemen among us, who give us ample testimony, that they dream waking.
But if the Devil can prompt us to dream, that is to say, to think; yet, if he does not know our thoughts, how then can he tell whether the whisper had its effect? The answer is plain; the Devil, like the angler, baits the hook; if the fish bite, he lies ready to take the advantage; he whispeas to the imagination, and then waits to see how it works; as Naomi said to Ruth, chap. hi. ver. 18. “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not be at rest until he have finished the thing.” Thus, when the Devil had whispered to Eve in her sleep, according to Milton, and suggested mischief to her imagination, he only sat still to see how the matter would work; for he knew, if it took with her, he should hear more of it; and then, by finding her alone the next day, without her ordinary guard, her husband, he presently concluded she had swallowed the bait; and so attacked her afresh.
A small deal of craft, and less, by far, than we have reason to believe the Devil is master of, will serve to discover, whether such and such thoughts as he knows he has suggested, have taken place or no; the action of the person presently discovers it, at least to him that lies always upon the watch, and has every word; every gesture, every step, we take subsequent to his operation, open to him. It may therefore, for aught we know, be a great mistake, and what most of us are guilty of, to tell our dreams to one another in the morning, after we have been disturbed with them in the night; for if the Devil converses with us so insensibly, as some are of opinion he does, that is to say, if he can hear as far as we can see, we may be telling our story to him indeed, when we think we are only talking to one another.
This brings me most naturally to the important in quiry, whether the Devil can walk about the world invisibly or no? The truth is, this is no question to me; for as I have taken away his visibility already, and have denied him all prescience of futurity too, and have proved he cannot know our thoughts, nor put any force upon persons or actions, if we should take away his invisibility too, we should undevil him quite, to all intents and purposes, as to any mischief he could do; nay, it would banish him the world, and he might even go and seek his fortune somewhere else; for if he could neither be visible or invisible, neither act in public or in private; he could neither have business or being in this sphere, nor could we be any way concerned with him.
The Devil therefore most certainly has a power and liberty of moving about in this world, after some manner or another; this is verified as well by way of allegory, as by way of history, in the scripture itself; and as the first strongly suggests and supposes it to be so, the last positively asserts it; and not to crowd this work with quotations from a book which we have not much to do with in the Devil’s story, at least not much to his satisfaction, I only hint his personal appearance to our Saviour in the wilderness, where it is said, “ the Devil taketh him up to an exceeding high mountain; “ and in another place, “the Devil departed from him.” What shape or figure he appeared in, we do not find mentioned; but I cannot doubt his appearing to him there, any more than I can his talking to our Saviour in the mouths, and with the voices, of the several persons who were under the terrible affliction of an actual possession.
These things leave us no room to doubt of what is advanced above; namely, that he (the Devil) has a certain residence, or liberty of residing in, and moving about upon, the surface of this earth, as well as in the compass of the atmosphere, vulgarly called the air, in some manner or other: that is the general.
It remains to inquire into the manner; which I resolve into two kinds:
1. Ordinary, which I suppose to be his invisible motions as a spirit; under which consideration I suppose him to have an unconfined, unlimited, unrestrained liberty, as to the manner of acting; and this either in persons, by possession; or in things; by agitation.
2. Extraordinary; which I understand to be his appearances in borrowed shapes and bodies, or shadows rather of bodies; assuming speech, figure, posture, and several powers, of which we can give little or no account; in which extraordinary maner of appearances, he is either limited by a superior power, or limits himself politically, as being not the way most for his interest or purpose, to act in his business, which is more effectually done in his state of obscurity.
Hence we must suppose the Devil has it very much in his own choice, whether to act in one capacity, or in the other, or in both; that is to say, of appearing, and not appearing, as he finds for his purpose. In this state of invisibility, and under the operation of these powers and liberties, he performs all his functions and offices, as devil, as prince of darkness, as god of this world, as tempter, accuser, deceiver, and all whatsoever other names of office, or titles of honor, he is known by.
Now taking him in this large unlimited, or little limited state of action, he is well called, the god of this world; for he has very much of the attribute of omnipresence, and may be said, either by himself, or his agents, to be everywhere, and see everything; that is to say, everything that is visible; for I cannot allow him any share of omniscience at all.
That he rages about everywhere, is with us. and sometimes in us, sees when he is not seen, hears when he is not heard, comes in without leave, and goes out without noise; is neither to be shut in, or shut out; that when he runs from us, we cannot catch him; arid when he runs after us, we cannot escape him; is seen when he is not known, and is known when he is not seen; all these things, and more, we have knowledge enough about, to convince us of the truth of them; so that, as I have said above, he is certainly walking to and fro through the earth, &c. after some manner or other, and in some figure or other, visible or in visible, as he finds occasion. Now, in order to make our history of him complete, the next question before us is, how, and in what manner, he acts with mankind? How his kingdom is carried on; and by what methods he does his business, for he certainly has a great deal of business to do; he is not an idle spectator, nor is he walking about incognito, and clothed in mist and darkness, purely in kindness to us, that we should not be frighted at him; but it is in policy, that he may act undiscovered, that he may see and not be seen, may play his game in the dark, and not be de tected in his roguery; that he may prompt mischief, raise tempests, blow up coals, kindle strife, embroil nations, use instruments, and not be known to have his hand in anything; when at the same time he really has an hand in everything.
Some are of opinion, and I among the rest, that if the Devil was personally and visibly present among us, and we conversed with him face to face, we should be so familiar with him in a little time, that his ugly figure would not affect us at all; that his terrors would not fright us; or that we should any more trouble ourselves about him, than we did with the great comet in 1678, which appeared so long, and so constantly, without any particular known event, that at last we took no more notice of it, than of the other ordinary stars which had appeared before we or our ancestors were born.
Nor indeed should we have much reason to be frighted at him, or at least none of those silly things could be said of him, which we now amuse ourselves about, and by which we set him up, like a scare-crow, to fright children and old women, to fill up old stories, make songs and ballads; and, in a word, carry on the low-prized buffoonry of the common people; we should either see him in his angelic form, as he was from the original; or, if he has any deformities entailed upon him by the supreme sentence, and injustice to the deformity of his crime, they would be of a superior nature, and fitted more for our contempt as well as horror, than those weak-fancied trifles contrived by our ancient devil-raisers and devil-makers, to feed the wayward fancies of old witches and sorcerers, who cheated the ignorant world with a devil of their own making, set forth in terror, with bat’s wings, horns, cloven foot, long tail, forked tongue, and the like.
In the next place, be his frightful figure what it would, and his legions as numerous as the host of heaven, we should see him still, as the prince of devils, though monstrous as a dragon, flaming as a comet, tall as a mountain, yet dragging his chain after him equal to the utmost of his supposed strength; always in custody of his gaolers the angels, his power overpowered, his rage cowed and abated, or at least awed, and un der correction, limited and restrained; in a word, we should see him a vanquished slave, his spirit broken, his malice, though not abated, yet hand-cuffed and overpowered, and he not able to work anything against us by force; so that he would be to us but like the lions in the tower, engaged and lacked up, unable to do the hurt he wishes to do, and that we fear, or in deed any hurt at all.
From hence it is evident, that it is not his business to be public, or to walk up and down in the world visibly, and in his own shape; his affairs require a quite different management, as might be made apparent from the nature of things, and the manner of our actings, as men, either with ourselves, or to one another.
Nor could he be serviceable in his generation, as a public person, as now he is, or answer the end of his party who employ him. and who, if he was to do their business in public, as he does in private, would not be able to employ him at all.
As in our modem meetings for the propagation of impudence, and other virtues, there would be no entertainment, and no improvement for the good of the age if the people did not all appear in masque, and concealed from the common observation; so neither could Satan (from whose management those more happy assemblies are taken, as copies of a glorious original,) perform the usual and necessary business of his profession, if he did not appear wholly in covert, and un der needful disguises. How, but for the convenience of his habit, could he cast himself into so many shapes, act on so many different scenes, and turn so many wheels of state in the world, as he has done? as a mere professed devil he could do nothing.
Had he been obliged always to. act the mere devil in his own clothes, and with his own shape, appearing uppermost in all cases and places, he could never have preached in so many pulpits, presided in so many councils, voted in so many committees, sat in so many courts, and influenced so many parties and factions in church and state, as we have reason to believe he has done in our nation, and in our memories too, as well as in other nations and in more ancient times. The share Satan has had in all the weighty confusions of the times, ever since the first ages of Christianity in the world, has been carried on with so much secrecy, and so much with an air of cabal and intrigue, that nothing can have been managed more subtly and closely; and in the same manner has he acted in our times in order to conceal his interest, and the influence he has had in the councils of the world.
Had it been possible for him to have raised the flames of rebellion and war so often in this nation, as he certainly has done? Could he have agitated the parties on both sides, and inflamed the spirits of three nations, if he had appeared in his own dress, a mere naked devil? It is not the Devil as a devil that does the mischief, but the Devil in masquerade, Satan in full disguise, and acting at the head of civil confusion and distraction.
If history may be credited, the French court at the time of our old confusions was made the scene of Satan’s politics, and prompted both parties in England and in Scotland also, to quarrel; and how was it done? Will any man offer to scandalize the Devil so much as to say, or so much as to suggest, that Satan had no hand in it? Did not the Devil, by the agency of Cardinal Richelieu, send four hundred thousand crowns at one time, and six hundred thousand at another, to the Scots, to raise an army, and march boldly into England? and did not the same Devil, at the same time, by other agents, remit eight hundred thousand crowns to the other party,, in order to raise an army to fall upon the Scots? Nay, did not the Devil, with the same subtlety, send down the Archbishop’s order to impose the service-book upon the people in Scotland; and at the same time raise a mob against it, in the great church (at St. Giles’s)? Nay, did not he actually, in the person of an old woman, (his favorite instrument,) throw the three-legged stool at the service-book, and animate the zealous people to take up arms for religion, and turn rebels for God’s sake?
All these happy and successful undertakings, though it is no more to be doubted they were done by the agency of Satan, and in a very surprising manner too, yet were all done in secret, by what I call possession and injection, and by the agency and contrivance of such instruments, or by the Devil in the disguise of such servants as he found out fitted to be employed in his work, and whom he took a more effectual care in concealing of.
But we shall have occasion to touch all this part over again, when we come to discourse of the particular habits and disguises which the Devil has made use of, all along in the world, the better to cover his actions, and to conceal his being concerned in them.
In the mean time the cunning or artifice the Devil makes use of in all these things is in itself very considerable; it is an old practice of his using, and he has gone on in divers measures, for the better concealing himself in it; which measures, though he varies sometimes, as his extraordinary affairs require, yet they are in all ages much the same, and have the same tendency; namely, that he may get all his business carried on by the instrumentality of fools; that he may make mankind agents in their own destruction; and that he may have all his work done in such’ a manner as that he may seem to have no hand in it; nay, he contrives so well, that the very name devil is put upon his opposite party, and the scandal of the black agent lies all upon them.
In order then to look a little into his conduct, let us inquire into the common mistakes about him, see what use is made of them to his advantage, and how far mankind is imposed upon in those particulars, anoTo what purpose.
Of Satan’s agents or missionaries, and their actings upon and in the winds of me?i, in his name.
INFINITE advantages attend the Devil in his retired government, as they respect the management of his interests, and the carrying on his absolute monarchy in the world; particularly as it gives him room to act by the agency of his inferior ministers and messengers, called on many occasions his angels, of whom he has an innumerable multitude at his command, enough, for aught we know, to spare one to attend every man and woman now alive in the world; and of whom, if we may believe our second sight Christians, the air is always as full as a beam of the evening sun is of in sects, where they are ever ready for business, and to go and come as their great governor issues out orders for their directions.
These, as they are all of the same spirituous quality with himself, and consequently invisible like him, ex cept as above, are ready upon all occasions to be sent to and into any such person, and for such purposes, superior limitations only excepted, as the grand director of devils, (the Devil, properly so called.) guides them; and be the subject, or the object, what it will, that is to say, be the person they are sent to. or into, as above, who it will, and the business the messenger is to do what it will, they are sufficiently qualified; for this is a particular to Satan’s messengers or agents, that they are not like us human devils here in the world, some bred up one way, and some another, some of one trade, some of another, and consequently some fit for some business, some for another, some good for something, and some good for nothing, but his people are every one fit for everything, can find their way everywhere, and are a match for everybody they are sent to; in a word, there are no foolish devils, they are all fully qualified for their employment, fit for anything he sets them about, and very seldom mistake their errand, or fail in the business they are sent to do.
Nor is it strange at all, that the Devil should have such a numberless train of deputy devils to act under him; for it must be acknowledged he has a great deal of business upon his hands, a vast deal of work to do, abundance of public affairs under his direction, and an infinite variety of particular cases always before him. For example:
How many governments in the world are wholly in his administration? How many divans and great councils under his direction? Nay, I believe, it would be hard to prove, that there is or has been one council of state in the world for many hundred years past, down to the year 1713, (we do not pretend to come nearer home,) where the Devil by himself, or his agents, in one shape or another, has not sat as a member, if not taken the chair.
And though some learned authors may dispute this point with me, by giving some examples, where the councils of princes have been acted by a better hand, and where things have been carried against Satan’s interest, and even to his great mortification, it amounts to no more than this; namely, that in such cases the Devil has been outvoted; but it does not argue but he might have been present there, and have pushed his interest as far as he could, only that he had not the success he expected; for I don’t pretend to say that he has never been disappointed; but those examples are so rare, and of so small signification, that when I come to the particulars, as I shall do in the sequel of this history, you will find them hardly worth naming; and that, take it one time with another, the Devil has met with such a series of success in all his affairs, and has so seldom been balked; and where he has met with a little check in his politics, has, notwithstanding, so soon, and so easily recovered himself, regained his lost ground, or replaced himself in another country, when he has been supplanted in one, that his empire is far from being lessened in the world for the last thousand years of the Christian establishment.
Suppose we take an observation from the beginning of Luther, or from the year 1420, and call the Reformation a blow to the Devil’s kingdom, which before that was come to such an height in Christendom, that it is a question not yet thoroughly decided, whether that medley of superstition and horrible heresies, that mass of enthusiasm and idols, called the Catholic hierarchy, was a church of God, or a church of the Devil; whether it was an assembly of saints, or a synagogue of Satan: I say, take that time to be the epoch of Satan’s declension, and of Lucifer’s falling from heaven, that is, from the top of his terrestrial glory; yet, whether he did not gain in the defection of the Greek church, about that time, and since, as much as he lost in the reformation of the Roman, is what authors are not yet agreed about, not reckoning what he has regained since of the ground which he had lost even by the reformation; namely, the countries of the Duke of Savoy’s dominion, where the reformation is almost eaten out by persecution; the whole Valtoline, and some adjacent countries; the whole kingdom of Poland, and almost all Hungary; for, since the last war, the reformation, as it were, lies gasping for breath, and expiring, in that country; also several large provinces in Germany, as Austria, Carinthia, and the whole kingdom of Bohemia, where the reformation once powerfully planted, received its death’s wound at. the battle of Prague, anno 1627, and languished but a very little while, died, and was buried, and good king Popery reigned in its stead.
To these countries thus regained to Satan’s infernal empire, let us add his modern conquests, and the en croachments he has made upon the reformation in the present age, which are, however light we make of them, very considerable; namely, the Electorate of the Rhine, and the Palatinate, the one fallen to the House of Bavaria, and the other to that of Newburgrr, both popish; the Duchy of Deux Fonts fallen just now to a popish branch, the whole Electorate of Saxony fallen under the power of popish government by the apostasy of their princes, and more likely to follow the fate of Bohemia, whenever the diligent Devil can bring his new project in Poland to bear, as it is more than probable he will do some time or other.
But to sum up the dull story; we must add, in the roll of the Devil’s conquests, the whole kingdom of France, where we have in one year seen, to the im mortal glory of the Devil’s politics, that his measures have prevailed to the total extirpation of the protestant churches without a war; and that interest, which for two hundred years had supported itself in spite of persecutions, massacres, five civil wars, and innumerable battles and slaughters, at last received its mortal wound from its own champion, Henry IV., and sunk into utter oblivion, by Satan’s most exquisite management, under the agency of his two prime ministers, Cardinal Richelieu, and Louis the XlVth. whom he entirely possessed.
Thus far we have a melancholy view of the Devil’s new conquests, and the ground he has regained upon the reformation; in which his secret management has been so exquisite, and his politics so good, that could he but bring one thing to pass, which by his own former mistake (for the Devil is not infallible,) he has rendered impossible, he would bring the protestant interest so near its ruin, that heaven would be, as it were, put to the necessity of working by miracle to prevent it; the case is thus:
Ancient historians tell us, and from good authority, that the Devil finding it for his interest to bring his favorite, Mahomet, upon the stage, and spread the victorious half-moon upon the ruin of the cross, having, with great success, raised first the Saracen empire, and then the Turkish, to such an height, as that the name of Christian seemed to be extirpated in those two quarters of the world, which were then not the greatest only, but by far the most powerful, I mean Asia and Africa; having totally laid waste all those ancient and flourishing churches of Africa, the labors of St. Cyprian, Tert Lillian, St. Augustine, and six hundred and seventy Christian bishops and fathers, who governed there at once; also all the churches of Smyrna, Philadelphia, Ephesus, Sardis, Antioch, Laodicea, and innumerable others in Pontus, Bithynia, and the provinces of the lesser Asia;
The Devil having, I say, finished these conquests so much to his satisfaction, began to turn his eyes northward; and though he had a considerable interest in the Whore of Babylon, and had brought his power, by the subjection of the Roman hierarchy, to a great height, yet finding the interest of Mahomet most suitable to his devilish purposes, as most adapted to the destruction of mankind, and laying waste the world, he resolved to espouse the growing power of the Turk, and bring him in upon Europe like a deluge.
In order to this, and to make way for an easy conquest, like a true devil, he worked under ground, and sapped the foundation of the Christian power, by sowing discord among the reigning princes of Europe; that so envying one another, they might be content to stand still and look on, while the Turk devoured them one by one, and, at last, might swallow them all up.
This devilish policy took to his heart’s content; the Christian princes stood still, stupid, dozing and unconcerned, till the Turk conquered Thrace, overrun Servia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and all the remains of the Grecian empire, and last the imperial city of Constantinople itself.
Finding this politic method so well answer his ends, the Devil, who always improves upon the success of his own experiments, resolved, from that time, to lay a foundation for the making those divisions and jealousies of the Christian princes immortal; whereas they were at first only personal, and founded in private quarrels between the princes respectively; such as emulation of one another’s glory, envy at the extraordinary valor, or other merit, of this or that leader, or revenge of some little affront; for which, notwithstanding, so great was the piety of Christian princes in those days, that they made no scruple to sacrifice whole armies, yea, nations, to their piques, and private quarrels; a certain sign whose management they were under.
These being the causes by which the Devil first sowed the seeds of mischief among them, and the success so well answering his design, he could not but wish to have the same advantage always ready at his hand; and therefore he resolved to order it so, that these divisions, which, however useful to him, were only personal, and consequently temporary, like an annual in the garden, which must be raised anew every season, might for the future be rational, and consequently durable and immortal.
To this end it was necessary to lay the foundation of eternal feud, not in the humors and passions of men only, but in the interests of nations. The way to do this was to form and state the dominion of those Princes, by such a plan drawn in hell, and laid out from a scheme truly political, of which the Devil was chief engineer; that the divisions should always remain, being made a natural consequence of the situation of the country, the temper of their people, the nature of their commerce, the climate, the manner of living, or something which should for ever render it impossible for them to unite.
This, I say, was a scheme truly infernal, in which the Devil was as certainly the principal operator, to illustrate great things by small, as ever John of Leyden was of the High Dutch rebellion, or Sir John B 1 of the late project, called the South Sea Stock.
Nor did this contrivance of the Devil at all dishonor its author, or the success appear unworthy of the undertaker; for we see it not only answered the end, and made the Turk victorious at the same time, and formidable to Europe ever after, but it works to this day; the foundation of the divisions remains in all the several nations, and that to such a degree, that it is impossible they should unite.
This is what I hinted before, in which the Devil was mistaken, and is another instance that he knows nothing of what is to come; for this very foundation of immortal jealousy and discord between the several nations of Spain, France, Germany and others, which the Devil himself, with so much policy, contrived, and which served his interests so long, is now the only obstruction to his designs, and prevents the entire ruin of the reformation; for though the reformed countries are very powerful, and some of them, as Great Britain and Prussia are particularly, more powerful than ever; yet it cannot be said that the Protestant interests in general are stronger than formerly, or so strong as they were in 1623, under the victorious arms of the Swede. On the other hand, were it possible that the popish powers, to wit, of France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Poland, which are entirely popish, could heartily unite their interests, and should join their powers to attack the Protestants, the latter would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to defend themselves.
But as fatal as such an union of the popish powers would be, and as useful as it would be to the Devil’s cause at this time, not the Devil with all his angels is able to bring it to pass; no, not with all his craft and cunning; he divided them, out he cannot unite them; so that even just as it is Avith men, so it is with devils, they may do in an hour what they cannot undo in an age.
This may comfort those faint-hearted Christians among us, who cry out of the dangers of religious war in Europe, and what terrible things will happen when France, and Spain, and Germany, and Italy, and Poland, shall all unite. Let this answer satisfy them, the Devil himself can never make France and Spain, or France and the emperor, unite; jarring humors may be reconciled, but jarring interests never can. They may unite so as to make peace, though that can hardly be long, but never so as to make conquests together; they are too much afraid of one another, for one to bear that any addition of strength should come to the other. But this is a digression. We shall find the Devil mistaken and disappointed too on several occasions, as we go along,
I return to Satan’s interest in the several governments and nations, by virtue of his invisibility, and which he carries on by possession: it is by this invisibility that he presides in all the councils of foreign powers; (for we never mean our own, that we always premise;) and what though it is alleged by the critics, that he does not preside, because there is always a president; I say, if he is not in the president’s chair, yet if he be in the president himself, the difference is not much; and if he does not vote as a counsellor, if he votes in the counsellor, it is much the same; and here, as it was in the story of Abab, the king of Israel, as he was a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets; so we find him a spirit of some particular evil quality or other, in all the transactions and transactors on that stage of life we call the state.
Thus he was a dissembling spirit in Charles IX., a turbulent spirit in Charles V. emperor; a bigoted spirit of fire and fagot in our Queen Mary; an apostate spirit in Henry IV.; a cruel spirit in Peter of Castile; a revengeful spirit in Ferdinand II.; a phaeton in Louis XIV.; a Sardanapalus in C II.
In the great men of the world, take them a degree lower than the class of crowned heads, he has the same secret influence; and hence it comes to pass, that the greatest heroes, and men of the highest character for achievements of glory, either by their virtue or valor; however they have been crowned with victories, and elevated by human tongues, whatever the most consummate virtues or good qualities they have been known by, yet they have always had some devil or other in them, to preserve Satan’s claim to them uninterrupted, and prevent their escape out of his hands; thus we have seen a bloody devil in a D’ Alva; a profligate devil in a Buckingham; a lying, artful, or politic devil in a Richelieu; a treacherous devil in a Mazarin; a cruel, merciless devil in a Cortez; a de bauched devil in an Eugene; a conjuring devil in a Luxemburg; and a covetous devil in a M h. In a word, tell me the man, I will tell you the spirit that reigned in him.
Nor does he thus carry on his secret management by possession in men of the first magnitude only; but have you not had evidences of it among ourselves? How has he been a lying spirit in the mouths of our prophets, a factious spirit in the heads of our politicians, a proud spirit in my Lord Plausible, a bullying spirit in my Lord Bugbear, a talkative spirit in his grace the duke of Rattle-hail, a scribbling spirit in my Lord Hateful, a run-away spirit in my Lord Frightful; and so through a long roll of heroes, whose exceeding and particular qualifications proclaim loudly what handle the Devil took them by, and how fast he held them! for these were all men of ancient fame; I hope you know that.
From men of figure, we descend to the mob, and it is there the same thing. Possession, like the plague, is morbus plebcei: not a family but he is a spirit of strife and contention among them: not a man but he has a part in him; he is a drunken devil in one, a vile devil in another, a thieving devil in a third, a lying devil in a fourth, and so on to a thousand, and an hundred thousand, ad infinitum.
Nay, even the ladies have their share in the possession; and if they have not the Devil in their heads, in their faces, or their tongues, it must be some poor despicable devil that Satan did not think it worth his while to meddle with; and the number of those that are below his operation, I doubt is very small. But that part I have much more to say to in its place.
From degrees of persons, to professions and employments, it is the same. We find the Devil is a true posture-master, he assumes any dress, appears in any shape, counterfeits every voice, acts upon every stage; here he wears a gown, there a long robe; here he wears the jack-boots, there the small sword; is here an en thusiast, there a buffoon; on this side he acts the mountebank, on that side the merry Andrew; nothing comes amiss to him, from the great Mogul to the scaramouch; the Devil is in them, more or less, and plays his game so well, that he makes sure work with them all. He knows where the common foible lies, which is universal passion, what handle to take hold of every man by, and how to cultivate his interest so, as not to fail of his end, or mistake the means.
How then can it be denied but that his acting thus in tenebris, and keeping out of the sight of the world, is abundantly his interest; and that he could do nothing comparatively speaking, by any other method?
Infinite variety illustrates the Devil’s reign among the sons of men; all which he manages with admirable dexterity, and a slight particular to himself, by the mere advantage of his present concealed situation, and which, had he been obliged to have appeared in public, had been all lost, and he capable of just nothing at all, or at least of nothing more than the other ordinary politicians of wickedness could have done without him.
Now, authors are much divided as to the manner how the Devil manages his proper instruments for mischief; for Satan has a great many agents in the dark, who neither have the Devil in them, nor are they much acquainted with him, and yet he serves himself of them, whether of their folly, or of that other frailty called wit, it is all one, he makes them do his work, when they think they are doing their own; nay, so cunning is he in his guiding the weak part of the world, that even when they think they are serving God, they are doing nothing less or more than serving the Devil; nay, it is some of the nicest part of his operation, to make them believe they are serving God,, when they are doing his work. Thus those who the Scripture foretold should persecute Christ’s church in the latter days, were to think they do God good service. Thus the Inquisition (for example,) it may be, at this time, in all the acts of Christian cruelty which they are so famous for, (if any of them are ignorant enough not to know that they are devils incarnate,) may, for ought we know, go on for God’s sake; torture, murder, starve to death, mangle, and macerate, and all for God, and God’s Catholic church; and it is certainly the Devil’s master-piece to bring mankind to such a perfection of devilisrn as that of the Inquisition is; for if the Devil had not been in them, could they christen such an hellfire judicature as the Inquisition is, by the name of the Holy Office? And so in paganism, how could so many nations among the poor Indians offer human sacrifices to their idols, and murder thousands of men, women, and children, to appease this god of the air, when he is angry, if the Devil did not act in them under the vizor of devotion?
But we need not go to America, or to the Inquisition, not to paganism or to popery either, to look for people that. are sacrificing to the Devil, or that give their peace-offerings to him, while they are offered upon God’s altar. Are not our churches, (ay, and meetinghouses too. as much as they pretend to be more sanctified than their neighbors,) full of Devil-worshippers?
Do not the sons of God make assignations with the daughters of men, in the very house of worship? Do they not talk to them in the language of the eyes? And what is at the bottom of it, while one eye is upon the prayer book, and the other adjusting their dress 7 Are they not sacrificing to Venus and Mercury, nay, and the very Devil they dress at?
Let any man impartially survey the church gestures, the air, the postures, and the behavior; let him keep an exact roll, and if I do not show him two Devilworshippers for one true saint, then the word saint must have another signification than I ever yet understood by it.
The church (as a place) is the receptacle of the dead, as well as the assembly of the living. What relates to those below, I doubt Satan, if he would be so kind, could give a better account of than I can; but as to the superficies, I pretend to so much penetration as to tell you, that there are more spectres, more apparitions always there, than you that know nothing of the matter, may be aware of.
I happened to be at an eminent place of God’s most devout worship the other day, with a gentleman of my acquaintance, who, I observed, minded very little the business he ought to come about; first I saw him al ways busy staring about him, and bowing this way and that way, nay he made two or three bows and scrapes when he was repeating the responses to the ten commandments, and assure you, he made it correspond strangely, so that the harmony was not so broken in upon as you would expect it should. Thus: Lord, (and a bow to a fine lady just come up to her seat,) have mercy upon us; (three bows to a throng of ladies that came into the next pew all together,) and incline (then stopped to make a great scrape to my Lord) our hearts just then the hearts of all the church were gone off from the subject, for the response was over; so he huddled up the rest in whispers; for God could hear him well enough, he said, nay, as well as if he had spoken as loud as his neighbors did.
After we were come home, I asked him what he meant by all this, and what he thought of it.
“How could I help it?” said he, “I must not be rude.”
“What,” said I, “ rude to whom?”
“Why,” says he, “ there came in so many ladies, I could not help it.”
“What,” said I, “ could not you help bowing when you were saying your prayers?”
“O sir!” says he, “ the ladies would have thought I had slighted them; I could not avoid it.”
“Very well,” said I, “then you would be rude to God, because you could not be rude to the Devil?”
“Why, that is true,” said he, “ but what can we do? There is no going to church, as the case stands now, if we must not worship the Devil a little between whiles.”
This is the case indeed, and Satan carries his point on every hand; for if the fair-speaking world, and the fair-looking world are generally devils, that is to say, are in his management, we are sure the foul-speaking and the foul-doing world are all on his side; and you have then only the fair-doing part of the world that are out of his class; and when we speak of them, O how few!
But I return to the Devil’s managing our wicked part; for this he does with most exquisite subtilty; and this is one part of it; namely, he thrusts our vices into our virtues, by which he mixes the clean and the unclean; and thus, by the corruption of the one, poisons and debauches the other, so that the slave he governs cannot account for his own common actions, and is fain to be obliged to his Maker, to accept of the heart, without the hands and feqt; to take, as we vulgarly express it, the will for the deed, and if Heaven was not so good to come into that half-and-half service, I don’t see but the Devil would carry away all his servants. Here indeed I should enter into a long detail of involuntary wickedness, which, in short, is neither more nor less than the Devil in everybody, ay, in every one of you, (our governors excepted,) take it as you please.
What is our language, when we look back with reflection and reproach on past follies? I think I was bewitched. I was possessed, certainly the Devil was in me, or else I had never been such a sot. Devil in you, sir, ay, who doubts it? you may be sure the Devil was in you, and there he is still, and next time he can catch you in the same snare, you will be just the same sot that you say you were before.
In short, the Devil is too cunning for us, and manages us his own way; he governs the vices of men by his own methods; though every crime will not make a man a devil, yet it must be owned, that every crime puts the criminal, in some measure, into the Devil’s power, gives him a title to the man, and he treats him magisterially ever after.
Some tell us every single man, every individual, has a devil attending him, to execute the orders of the (grand signor) Devil of the whole clan; that this attending evil angel, for so he is called, sees every step you take, is with you in every action, prompts you to every mischief, and leaves you to do everything that is pernicious to yourself; they also allege, that there is a good spirit which attends him too, which latter is always accessory to everything that we do that is good, and reluctant to evil. If this is true, how comes it to pass that those two opposite spirits do not quarrel about it when they are pressing us to contrary actions, one good, and the other evil? And why does the evil tempting spirit so often prevail? Instead of answering this difficult question, I shall only tell you, as to this story of good and evil angels attending every particular person, it is a good allegory indeed to represent the struggles in the mind of men, between good and evil inclinations; but to the rest, the best thing I can say of it is, that I think it is a fib.
But to take things as they are, and only talk by way of natural consequence, for to argue from nature is certainly the best way to find out the Devil’s story; if there are good and evil spirits attending us, that is to say, a good angel and a devil, then it is no unjust reproach upon anybody to say, when they follow the dictates of the latter, the Devil is in them; or they are devils; nay, I must carry it farther still, namely, that as the generality and greatest number of peeple do follow and obey the evil spirit, and not the good, and that the predominant power is allowed to be the nominating power; you must then allow, that, in short, the greater part of mankind has the Devil in them, and so I come to my text.
To this purpose, give me leave to borrow a few lines of a friend, on this very part of the Devil’s management:
To places and persons he suits his disguises,
And dresses up all his banditti,
Who, as pickpockets flock to a country assizes,
Crowd up to the court and the city.
They ‘re at every elbow, and every ear,
And ready at every call, sir;
The vigilant scout plants his agents about,
And has something to do with us all, sir.
In some he has part, and in some he’s the whole,
And of some, (like the vicar of Baddow,)
It can neither be said they have body or soul j
But only are devils in shadow.
The pretty and witty are devils in masque,
The beauties are mere apparitions;
The homely alone by their faces are known,
And the good by their ugly conditions.
The beaux walk about like the shadows of men;
And wherever he leads ’em, they follow:
But take ’em and shake ’em, there’s not one in ten
But ’s as light as a feather and hollow.
Thus all his aifairs he drives on in disguise,
And he tickles mankind with a feather;
Creeps in at our ears, and looks out at our eyes,
And jumbles our senses together.
He raises the vapors, and prompts the desires,
And to every dark deed holds the candle j
The passions inflames, and the appetite fires,
And takes everything by the handle.
Thus he walks up and down in complete masquerade,
And with every company mixes,
Sells in every shop, works at every trade,
And everything doubtful perplexes.
How Satan comes by this governing influence in the minds, and upon the actions, of men is a question I am not yet come to, nor indeed does it so particularly belong to the Devil’s history, it seems rather a polemic, so it may pass at school among the metaphysics, and puzzle the heads of our masters.
Of the Devil’s management in the Pagan hierarchy, by omens, entrails, augurs, oracles, and such like pageantry of hell; and how they went off the stage at last by the introduction of true religion.
I HAVE adjourned, not finished, my account of the Devil’s secret management by possession, and shall reassume it, in its place; but I must take leave to mention some other parts of his retired scheme, by which he has hitherto managed mankind; and the first of these is by that fraud of all frauds, called oracle.
Here his trumpet yielded an uncertain sound for some ages, and like what he was, and according to what he practised from the beginning, he delivered out falsehood and delusion by retail. The priests of Apollo acted this farce for him, to a great nicety, at Delphos; there were divers others, at the same time, and some, which, to give the Devil his due, he had very little hand in, as we shall see presently.
There were also some smaller, some greater, some more, some less famous places where those oracles were seated, and audience given to the inquirers; in all which the Devil, or somebody for him, permissu superiorum, for either vindictive or other hidden ends and purposes, was allowed to make at least a pretension to the knowledge of things to come; but, as public cheats generally do, they acted in masquerade, and gave such uncertain and inconsistent responses, that they were obliged to use the utmost art to reconcile events to the prediction, even after things were come to pass.
Here the Devil was a lying spirit, in a particular and extraordinary manner, in the mouths of all the prophets; and yet he had the cunning to express himself so, that, whatever happened, the oracle was supposed to have meant as it fell out; and so all their augurs, omens and voices, by which the Devil amused the world, not at that time only, hut since, have been likewise interpreted.
Julian, the apostate, dealt mightily in these amusements; but the Devil, who neither wished his fall, or presaged it to him, evidenced that he knew nothing of Julian’s fate; for that, as he sent almost to all the oracles of the East, and summoned all the priests together, to inform him of the success of his Persian expedition, they all, like Ahab’s prophets, having a lying spirit in them, encouraged him. and promised him success.
Nay, all the ill omens which disturbed him, they presaged good from; for example, he was at a prodigious expense, when he was at Antioch, to buy up white beasts, and white fowls, for sacrifices, and for predicting from the entrails; from whence the Antiochians, in contempt, called him Victimarius; but whenever the entrails foreboded evil, the cunning Devil made the priests put a different construction upon them, and promise him good. When he entered into the temple of the Genii, to offer sacrifice, one of the priests dropped down dead; this, had it had any signification more than a man falling dead of an apoplectic, would have signified something fatal to Julian, who made himself a brother sacrist or priest; whereas the priests turned it presently to signify the death of his colleague, the Consul Sallust, which happened just at the same time, though eight hundred miles off. So, in another case, Julian thought it ominous, that he, who was Augustus, should be named with two other names of persons, both already dead. The case was thus; the style of the emperor was Julianus Felix Augustus, and two of his principal officers were Juliaixus and Felix; now both Julianus and Felix died within a few days of one another, which disturbed him much, who was the third of the three names; but his flattering devil told him it all imported good to him; namely, that though Julianus and Felix would die, Augustus should be immortal.
Thus, whatever happened, and whatever was foretold, and how much soever they differed from one another, the lying spirit was sure to reconcile the prediction and the event, and make them at least seem to correspond in favor of the person inquiring.
Now we are told oracles are ceased, and the Devil is farther limited for the good of mankind, not being allowed to vent his delusions by the mouths of the priests and augurs, as formerly: I will not take upon me to say, how far they are really ceased, more than they were before; I think it is much more reasonable to believe there was never any reality in them at all, or that any oracle ever gave out any answers but what were the invention of the priests, and the delusions of the Devil; I have a great many ancient authors on my side in this opinion, as Ensebius, Tertullian, Aristotle, and others, who, as they lived so near the pagan times, and when even some of those rites were yet in use, they had much more reason to know, and could probably pass a better judgment upon them; nay, Cicero himself ridicules them in the openest manner; again, other authors descend to particulars, and show how the cheat was managed by the heathen sacrists and priests, and in what enthusiastic manner they spoke; namely, by going into the hollow images, such as the brazen bull, and the image of Apollo, and how subtly they gave out dubious and ambiguous answers; that when the people did not find their expectations answered by the event, they might be imposed upon by the priests, arid confidently told they did not rightly understand the oracle’s meaning. However, I cannot say but that indeed there are some authors of good credit too, who will have it, that there was a real prophetic spirit in the voice or answers given by the oracles, and that oftentimes they were miraculously exact in those answers; and they give that of the Delphic oracle answering the question which was given about Crcesus, for an example; namely, What Croesus was doing at that time? to wit, that he was boiling a lamb and the flesh of a tortoise together, in a brass vessel, or boiler, with a cover of the same metal; that is to say, in a kettle with a brass cover.
To affirm, therefore, that they were all cheats, a man must encounter with antiquity, and set his private judgment up against an established opinion; but it is no matter for that. If I do not see anything in that received opinion capable of evidence, much less of demonstration, I must be allowed still to think as I do; others may believe as they list; I see nothing hard or difficult in the thing; the priests, who were always historically informed of the circumstances of the in quirer, or at least something about them, might easily find some ambiguous speech to make, and put some double entendre upon them, which, upon the event, solved the credit of the oracle, were it one way or other; and this they certainly did, or we have room to think the Devil knows less of things now than he did in former days.
It is true, that by these delusions the priests got in finite sums of money; and this makes it still probable that they would labor hard, and use the utmost of their skill, to uphold the credit of their oracles; and it is a full discovery, as well of the subtlety of the sacrists, as of the ignorance and stupidity of the people, in those early days of Satan’s witchcraft, to see what merry work the Devil made with the world, and what gross things he put upon mankind. Such was the story of the Dodonian oracle in Epirus; namely, That two pigeons flew out of Thebes, (N. B., it was the Egyptian Thebes.) from the temple of Belus, erected there by the ancient sacrists, and that one of these fled eastward into Libya, and the deserts of Africa, and the other into Greece, namely, to Dodona; and these communicated the divine mysteries to one another, and afterwards gave mystical solutions to the devout inquirers; first the Dodonian pigeon, perching upon an oak, spoke audibly to the people there, that the gods commanded them to build an oracle or temple, to Jupiter, in that place; which was accordingly done. The other pigeon did the like on the hill in Africa, where it commanded them to build another to Jupiter Ammon, or Hammon.
Wise Cicero contemned all this, and, as authors tell us, ridiculed the answer, which, as I have hinted above, the oracle gave to Croesus, proving that the oracle itself was a liar; that it could not come from Apollo, for that Apollo never spoke Latin. In a word, Cicero rejected them all. Arid Demosthenes also mentions the cheats of the oracles; when speaking of the oracle of Apollo, he said. Pythia philippized; that is, that when the priests were bribed with money, they always gave their answers in favor of Philip of Macedon.
Bat that which is most strange to me is, that in this dispute about the reality of oracles, the heathen, who made use of them, are the people who expose them, and who insist most positively upon their being cheats and impostors, and in particular those mentioned above; while the Christians, who reject them, yet believe they did really foretell things, answer questions, &c., only with this difference, that the heathen authors, who oppose them, insist that it is all delusion and cheat, and charge it upon the priests; and the Christian opposers insist that it was real, but that the Devil, not the Gods, gave the answers; and that he was permitted to do it by a superior power, to magnify that power in the total silencing them at last.
But, as I said before, I am with the heathen here, against the Christian writers; for I take it all to be a cheat and delusion. I must give my reason for it, or I do nothing; my reason is this: I insist Satan is as blind in matters of futurity as we are, and can tell nothing of what is to come. These oracles often pretending to predict, could be nothing else therefore but a cheat formed by the money-getting priests to amuse the world, and bring grist to their mill. If I meet with anything in my way to open my eyes to a better opinion of them, I shall tell it you as I go on.
On the other hand, whether the Devil really spake in those oracles, or set the cunning priests to speak for him; whether they predicted, or only made the people believe they predicted; whether they gave answers which came to pass, or prevailed upon the people to believe that what was said did come to pass, it was much at one, and fully answered the Devil’s end; namely, to amuse and delude the world: and as to do or to cause to be done, is the same part of speech, so whoever did it, the Devil’s interest was carried on by it, his government preserved, and all the mischief he could desire was effectually brought to pass, so that every way they were the Devil’s oracles; that is out of the question.
Indeed I have wondered sometimes why, since by this sorcery the Devil performed such wonders, that is, played so many tricks in the world, and had such universal success, he should set up no more of them; but there might be a great many reasons given for that, too long to tire you with at present. It is true, there were not many of them; and yet, considering what a great deal of business they dispatched, it was enough; for six or eight oracles were more than sufficient to amuse all the world. The chief oracles we meet with in history are among the Greeks and the Romans; namely,
That of Jupiter Ammon, in Lydia, as above.
The Dodonian. in Epirus.
Apollo Delphicus, in the country of Phocis, in Greece.
Apollo Clarius, in Asia Minor.
Seraphis, in Alexandria, in Egypt.
Trophonius, in Boeotia.
Sibylla Cumgea, in Italy.
Diana, at Ephesus.
Apollo Daphneus, at Antioch.
Besides many of lesser note, in several other planes, as I have hinted before.
I have nothing to do here with the story mentioned by Plutarch, of a voice being heard at sea, from some of the islands, called the Echinades, and calling upon Tharnuz, an Egyptian, who was on board a ship, bidding him, when he came to the Palodes, other islands in the Ionian sea, tell them there, that the great god Pan was dead. And when Thamuz performed it, great groanings and howlings, and lamentations were heard from the shore.
This tale tells but indifferently, though indeed it looks more like a Christian fable, than a pagan; because it seems as if made to honor the Christian worship, and blast all the pagan idolatry; and for that reason I reject it, the Christian profession needing no such fabulous stuff to confirm it.
Nor is it true, in fact, that the oracles did cease im mediately upon the death of Christ; but, as I noted before, the sum of the matter is this; the Christian religion spreading itself universally, as well as miraculously, and that too by the foolishness of preaching, into all parts of the world, the oracles ceased; that is to say, their trade ceased, their rogueries were daily detected, the deluded people, being better taught, came no more after them; and being ashamed as well as dis couraged, they sneaked out of the world as well as they could; in short, the customers fell off, and the priests, who were the shopkeepers, having no business to do, shut up their shops, broke, and went away; the trade and the tradesmen were hissed off the stage together; so that the Devil, who, it must be confessed, got infinitely by the cheat, became bankrupt, arid was obliged to set other engines to work, as other cheats and deceivers do, who, when one trick grows stale, and will serve no longer, are forced to try another.
Nor was the Devil to seek in new measures; for though he could not give out his delusive trash, as he did before, in pomp and state, with the solemnity of a temple, and a set of enthusiasts, called priests, who played a thousand tricks to amuse the world, he had then recourse to his old Egyptian method, which indeed was more ancient than that of oracles; and that was by magic, sorcery, familiars, witchcraft, and the like.
Of this we find the people of the south, that is, of Arabia and Chaldea, were the first, from whence we are told the wise men, that is to say, magicians, were called Chaldeans and soothsayers. Hence, also, we find Ahaziah, the king of Israel, sent to Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, to inquire whether he should live or die? This, some think, was a kind of an oracle, though others think it was only some overgrown magician, who counterfeited himself to be a Devil, and obtained upon that idol-hunting age to make a cunning man of him; and for that purpose he got himself made a priest of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, and gave out answers in his name. Thus those merry fellows in Egypt, Jarmes and Jambres, are said to mimic Moses and Aaron, when they worked the miraculous plagues upon the Egyptians; and we have some in stances in scripture to support this, such as the witch of Endor, the king Manasses, who dwelt with the Devil openly, and had a familiar; the woman mentioned Acts xvi. who had a spirit of divination, and who got money by playing the oracle; that is, answering doubtful questions, &c., which spirit, or devil, tfye apostles cast out.
Now though it is true, that the old women in the world have rilled us with tales, some improbable, others impossible; some weak, some ridiculous; and that this puts a general discredit upon all the graver matrons who entertain us with stories better put together; yet it is certain, and I must be allowed to affirm, that the Devil does not disdain to take into his service many troops of good old women, arid old women-men too, whom he finds it is for his service to keep in constant pay. To these he is found frequently to communicate his mind, and oftentimes we find them such proficients, that they know much more than the Devil can teach them.
I confess it is not very incongruous with the Devil’s temper, or with the nature of his business, to shift hands; possibly he found that he had tired the world with oracular cheats; that men began to be surfeited with them, and grew sick of the frauds which were so frequently detected; that it was time to take new measures, and contrive some new trick to bite the world, that he might not be exposed to contempt; or, perhaps he saw the approach of new light, which the Christian doctrine, bringing with it, began to spread in the minds of men; that it would outshine the dim burning ignis fatuus with which he had so long cheated mankind; and was afraid to stand it, lest he should be mobbed off the stage by his own people, when their eyes should begin to open. That, upon this foot, he might, in policy, withdraw from those old retreats, the oracles, and restrain those responses before they lost all their credit; for we find the people seemed to be at a mighty loss for some time for want of them, so that it made them run up and down to conjurers, and man-gossips, to brazen heads, speaking calves, and innumerable simple things, so gross that they are scarce fit to be named, to satisfy the itch of having their fortunes told them, as we call it.
Now, as the Devil is very seldom blind to his own interest, and therefore thought fit to quit his old way of imposing upon the world by his oracles, only because he found the world began to be too wise to be imposed upon that way; so, on the other hand, finding there was still a possibility to delude the world, though by other instruments, he no sooner laid down his oracles and the solemn pageantry, magnificent appearances, and other frauds of his priests and votaries, in their temples and shires, but he set up a new trade; and having, as I have said, agents and instruments sufficient for any business that he could have to employ them in, he begins in corners, as the learned and merry Dr. Brown says, and exercises his minor trumperies by way of his own contriving, lifting a great number of new found operators, such as witches, magicians, diviners, figure casters, astrologers, and such inferior seducers.
Now, it is true, as that doctor says, this was running into corners, as if he had been expelled his more triumphant way of giving audience in form, which for so many ages had been allowed him; yet I must add, that as it seemed to be the Devil’s own doing, from a right judgment of his affairs, which had taken a new turn in the world, upon the shining of new lights from the Christian doctrine, so it must be acknowledged the Devil made himself amends upon mankind, by the various methods he took, and the multitude of instruments he employed; and perhaps deluded mankind in a more fatal and sensible manner than he did before, though not so universally.
He had indeed before more pomp and figure put upon it, and he cheated mankind then in a way of magnificence and splendor; but this was not in above eight or ten principal places, and not fifty places in all, public or private: whereas now fifty thousand of his angels and instruments, visible and invisible, hardly may be said to suffice for one town or city; but, in short, as his invisible agents fill the air, and are at hand for mischief, on every emergency, so his visible tools swarm in every village, arid you have scarce an hamlet, or a town, but his emissaries are at hand for business; and, which is still worse, in all places he finds business; nay, even where religion is planted, and seems to flourish; yet he keeps his” ground, and pushes his interest according to what has been said elsewhere, upon the same subject, that wherever religion plants, the Devil plants close by it.
Nor, as I say, does he fail of success; delusion spreads like a plague, and the Devil is sure of votaries; like a true mountebank, he can always bring a crowd about his stage, and that some time faster than other people.
What I observe upon this subject is this; that the world is at a loss for want of the Devil. If it was not so, what is the reason that, upon the silencing the oracles, and religion telling them that miracles are ceased, and that God has done speaking by prophets, they never inquire, whether Heaven has established any other or new way of revelation, but away they run with their doubts and difficulties, to these dreamers of dreams, tellers of fortunes, and personal oracles, to be resolved; as if, when they acknowledge the Devil is dumb, these could speak; and as if the wicked spirit could do more than the good, the diabolical more than the divine; or that Heaven, having taken away the Devil’s voice, had furnished him with an equivalent, by allowing scolds, termagants, and old, weak arid superannuated wretches, to speak for him; for these are the people we go to now in our doubts and emergencies.
While this blindness continues among us, it is nonsense to say, that oracles are silenced, or the Devil is dumb; for the Devil gives audience still, by his deputies; only as Jeroboam made priests of the meanest of the people, so he is grown a little humble, and makes use of meaner instruments than he did before; for whereas the priests of Apollo and of Jupiter were splendid in their appearance, of grave and venerable aspect, and sometimes of no mean quality; now he makes use of scoundrels and rabble, beggars and vagabonds, old hags, superannuated miserable hermits, gypsies and strollers, the pictures of envy and ill luck.
Either the Devil is grown an ill master, and gives but mean wages, that he can get no hetter servants: or else common sense is grown very low priced and contemptible; that such as these are fit tools to continue the succession of fraud, and carry on the Devil’s interest in the world; for were not the passions and temper of mankind deeply preengaged in favor of this dark Prince, we could never suffer ourselves to accept of his favors, by the hands of such contemptible agents as these. How do we receive his oracles from an old witch of particular eminence, and whom we believe to be more than ordinary inspired from hell? I say, we receive the oracle with reverence; that is to say, with a kind of horror, with regard to the black prince it comes from; and, at the same time, turn our faces away from the wretch that mumbles out the answers, lest she should cast an evil eye, as we call it, upon us, and put a devil into us, when she plays the Devil before us. How do we listen to the cant of those worst of vagabonds, the gypsies, when, at the same time, we watch our hedges and hen-roosts, for fear of their thieving?
Either the Devil uses us more like fools than he did our ancestors, or we really are worse fools than those ages produced; for they were never deluded by such low-priced devils as we are; by such despicable Bridewell devils, that are fitter for a whipping-post than an altar, and, instead of being received as the voice of an oracle, should be sent to the house of correction, for pickpockets.
Nor is this accidental, and here and there one of these wretches to be seen; but, in short, if it has been in other nations as it is with us, I do not see that the Devil was able to get any better people into his pay, or at least very rarely. Where have we seen anything above a tinker turn wizard? And where have we had a witch of quality among us?
Magicians, soothsayers, devil-raisers, and such people, we have heard much of. but seldom above the degree of the meanest of the mean people, the lowest of the lowest rank. Indeed the woi’davise men, which the Devil would fain have had his agents honored with, was used a while in Egypt, and in Persia, among the Chaldeans; but it continued but a little while, and never reached so far northward as our country; nor, however the Devil has managed it, have many of our great men, who have been most acquainted with him, ever been able to acquire the title of wise men.
But I may be told this relates to wise men in another constitution, or wise men as they are opposed to fools; whereas we are talking of them now under another class, namely, as wise men, or magicians, soothsayers, &c., such as were in former times called by that name.
But to this I answer, that, take them in which sense you please, it may be the same; for if I were to ask the Devil the character of the best statesmen he had employed among us for many years past, I am apt to think that though oracles are ceased, he would honestly, according to the old ambiguous way, when I asked if they were Christians, answer they were (his) Privy Counsellors.
Of the extraordinary appearance of the Devil, and particularly of the cloven foot.
SOME people would fain have us treat this tale of the Devil’s appearing with a cloven foot with more solemnity than I believe the Devil himself does; for Satan, who knows how much of a cheat it is, must certainly ridicule it, in his own thoughts, to the last degree; but as he is glad of any way to hoodwink the understandings, and bubble the weak part of the world; so, if he sees men willing to take every scarecrow for a devil, it is not his business to undeceive them. On the other hand, he finds it in his interest to foster the cheat, and serve himself of the consequence. Nor could I doubt but the Devil, if any mirth be allowed him, often laughs at the many frightful shapes and figures we dress him up in, find especially to see how willing we are first to paint him as black, and make him appear as ugly as we can, and then stare and start at the spectrum of our own making.
The truth is, that among all the horribles that we dress up Satan in, I cannot but think we show the least of invention in this of a goat, or a thing with a goat’s foot, of all the rest; for though a goat is a creature made use of by our Saviour, in the allegory of the day of judgment, and is said there to represent the wicked rejected party, yet it seems to be only on account of their similitude to the sheep, and so to represent the just fate of hypocrisy and hypocrites; and, in particular, to form the necessary antithesis in the story; for else, our whimsical fancies excepted, a sheep, or a lamb, has a cloven foot, as well as a goat; nay, if scripture be of any value in the case, it is to the Devil’s advantage; for the dividing the hoof was the distinguishing character or mark of a clean beast; and how the Devil can be brought into that number, is pretty hard to say.
One would have thought, if we had intended to have given a just figure of the Devil, it would have been more apposite to have ranked him among the cat kind, and given him a foot, (if he is to be known by his foot,) like a lion, or like a red dragon, being the same creatures which he is represented by in the text; and so his claws would have had some terror in them, as well as his teeth.
But neither is the goat a true representative of the Devil at all, for we do not rank the goats among the subtle or cunning part of the brutes; he is counted a fierce creature indeed of his kind, though nothing like those other above mentioned; and he is emblematically used to represent a lustful temper, but even that part does not fully serve to describe the Devil, whose operation lies principally another way.
Besides, it is not the goat himself that is made use of, it is the cloven hoof only, and that so particularly, that the cloven hoof of a ram, or a swine, or any other creature, may serve as well as that of a goat; only that history gives us some cause to call it the goat’s foot.
In the next place, it is understood by us not as a bare token to know Satan by, but as if it were a brand upon him, and that, like the mark God put upon Cain, it was given him for a punishment, so that he cannot get leave to appear without it, nay, cannot conceal it whatever other dress or disguise he may put on; and as if it was to make him as ridiculous as possible, they will have it be, that whenever Satan has occasion to dress himself in any human shape, be it of what de gree soever, from the king to the beggar, be it of a fine lady or of an old woman (the latter, it seems, he oftenest assumes,) yet still he not only must have this cloven foot about him, but he is obliged to show it too; nay, they will not allow him any dress, but the cloven foot; they will not so much as allow him an artificial shoe, or a jack boot, as we often see contrived to conceal a club foot, or a wooden leg: but that the Devil may be known wherever he goes, he is bound to show his foot. They might as well oblige him to set a bill upon his cap, as folks do upon a house to be let, and have it written in capital letters, am the Demi.
It must be confessed this is very particular, and would be very hard upon the Devil, if it had not another article in it, which is some advantage to him, and that is, that the fact is not true; but the belief of this is so universal, that all the world runs away with it: by which mistake the good people miss the Devil many times where they look for him. and meet him as often where they did not expect him, and when for want of this cloven foot they did not know him.
Upon this very account I have sometimes thought, not that this has been put upon him by mere fancy, and the cheat of an heavy imagination, propagated by fable, and chimney-corner-divinity; but that it has been a contrivance of his own; and that, in short, the Devil raised this scandal upon himself, that he might keep his disguise the better, and might go a visiting among his friends without being known; for were it really so, that he could go nowhere without this particular brand of infamy, he could not come into company; the reason is plain, he would be always discovered, exposed, and forced to leave the good company, or, which would be as bad, the company would all cry out the Devil, and run out of the room as they were frighted; nor could all the help of invention do him any service, no dress he could put on would cover him; not all his friends could furnish him with an habit that would disguise or conceal him, this unhappy foot would spoil it all. Now this would be so great a loss to him, that I question whether he could carry on any of his most important affairs in the world without it; for though he has access to mankind in his complete disguise, I mean that of his invisibility, yet the learned very much agree in this, that his corporal presence in the world is absolutely necessary, upon many occasions, to support his interest, and keep up his correspondences, and particularly to encourage his friends, when numbers are requisite to carry on his affairs; but this part I shall have occasion to speak of again, when I come to consider him as a gentleman of business in his locality, and under the head of visible apparition; but I return to the foot.
As I have thus suggested, that the Devil himself has politically spread about this notion concerning his appearing with a cloven foot, so I doubt not that he has thought it for his purpose to paint this cloven foot so lively in the imaginations of many of our people, and especially of those clear-sighted folks, who see the Devil when he is not to be seen, that they would make no scruple to say, nay, and to make affidavit too, even before Satan himself, whenever he sat upon the bench, that they had seen his worship’s foot at such and such a time. This I advance the rather, because it is very much for his interest to do this; for if we had not many witnesses, viva voce, to testify it, we should have had some obstinate fellows always among us, who would have denied the fact, or at least have spoken doubtfully of it; and so have raised disputes and objections against it, as impossible, or at least as improbable; buzzing one ridiculous notion or other into our ears, as if the Devil was not so black as he was painted; that he had no more a cloven foot than a pope, whose apostolical toes have so often been reverentially kissed by kings and emperors; but now, alas! this part is out of the question. Not the man in the moon, not the groaning-board, not the speaking of Friar Bacon’s brazen head, not the inspiration of Mother Shipton, or the miracles of Dr. Faustus, things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed. The Devil not have a cloven foot! I doubt not but I could, in a short time, bring you a thousand old women together, that would as soon believe there was no Devil at all; nay, they will ‘tell you, he could not be a Devil without it, any more than he could come into the room, and the candles not burn blue; or go out, and not leave a smell of brimstone behind him.
Since then the certainty of the thing is so well established, and there are so many good and substantial witnesses ready to testify, that he has a cloven foot, and that they have seen it too: nay, and that we have antiquity on our side, for we have this truth confirmed by the testimony of many ages: why should we doubt it any longer? We can prove, that many of our ancestors have been of this opinion, and divers learned authors have left it upon record, as particularly that learned familiarist Mother Hazel, whose writings are to be found in MSS. in the famous library at Pye-Corner; also the admired Joan of Amesbury; the history ‘of the Lancashire Witches: and the reverend Exorcist of the Devils of London, whose history is extant among us to this day. All these and many more may be quoted, and their writings referred to, for the confirmation of the antiquity of this truth; but there seems to be no occasion for farther evidence, it is enough, Satan himself, if he did not raise the report, yet tacitly owns the fact; at least he appears willing to have it believed, and be received as a general truth, for the reasons above.
But besides all this, and as much a jest as some un believing people would have this story pass for, who knows but that if Satan is empowered to assume any shape or body, and to appear to us visibly, as if really so shaped; I say, who knows but he may, by the same authority, be allowed to assume the addition of the cloven foot, or two or four cloven feet, if he pleased? and why not a cloven foot as well as any other foot, if he thinks fit? For if the Devil can assume a shape, and can appear to mankind in a visible form, it may, I doubt not, with as good authority, be advanced, that he is left at liberty to assume what shape he pleases, and to choose what case of flesh and blood he will please to wear, whether real or imaginary; and if this liberty be allowed him, it is an admirable disguise for him to come generally with his cloven foot, that when he finds it for his purpose, on special occasions, to come without it, as I said above, he may not be suspected. But take this with you, as you go, that all this is upon a supposition, that the Devil can assume a visible shape, and make a real appearance, which, however, I do not yet think fit to grant, or deny.
Certain it is, the first people who bestowed a cloven foot upon the Devil, were not so despicable as you may imagine, but were real favorites of heaven; for did not Aaron set up the Devil of a calf in the congregation, and set the people a dancing about it for a god? Upon which occasion, expositors tell us, that particular command was given, Levit. xvii. 7, “ They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto Devils, after whom they have gone a whoring.” Likewise King Jeroboam set up the two calves, one at Dan, and the other at Bethel; and we find them charged afterwards with setting up the worship of Devils, instead of the worship of God.
After this we find some nations actually sacrificed to the Devil, in the form of a ram, and others of a goat; from which, and that above of the calves at Horeb, I doubt not the story of the cloven foot first derived; and it is plain, that the worship of that calf at Horeb is meant in the Scripture quoted above, Levit. xvii. 7, “Thou shalt no more offer sacrifices unto Devils. “ The original is Seghnirim; that is. rough and hairy goats, or calves. And some think also, in this shape, the Devil most ordinarily appeared to the Egyptians and Arabians, from whence it was derived.
Also, in the old writings of the Egyptians, I mean their hieroglyphic writing, before the use of letters was known, we are told, this was the mark that he was known by; and the figure of a goat was the hieroglyphic of the Devil. Some will affirm, that the Devil was particularly pleased to be so represented. How they came by their information, and whether they had it from his own mouth, or not, authors have not yet determined.
But be this as it will, I do not see that Satan could have been at a loss for some extraordinary figure to have bantered mankind with though this had not been thought of; but thinking of the cloven foot first, and the matter being indifferent, this took place, and easily rooted itself in the bewildered fancy of the people; and now it is riveted too fast for the Devil himself to remove it, if he was disposed to try; but, as I said above, it is none of his business to solve doubts, or remove difficulties out of our heads, but to perplex us with more, as much as he can.
Some people carry this matter a great deal higher still, and will have the cloven foot be like the great stone which the Brazilian conjurers used to solve all difficult questions upon, after having used a great many monstrous and barbarous gestures and distortions of their bodies, and cut certain marks, or magical figures upon the stone. So, I say, they will have this cloven foot be a kind of a conjuring stone; arid tell us, that, in former times, when Satan drove a greater trade with mankind, in public, than he has done of late, he gave this cloven foot as a token to his particular favorites, to work wonders with, and to conjure by; and that witches, fairies, hobgoblins, and such things, of which the ancients had several kinds, at least in their imagination, had all a goat’s leg, with a cloven foot, to put on upon extraordinary occasions. It seems this method is of late grown out of practice; and so, like the melting of marble, and the painting of glass, it is laid aside, among the various useful arts which, history tells us, are lost to the world. What may be practised in the fairy world, if such a place there be, we can give no particular account at present.
But neither is this all; for other would-be wise people take upon them to make farther and more considerable improvements upon this doctrine of the cloven foot, and treat it as a most significant instrument of Satan’s private operation; and that as Joseph is said to divine, that is to say, to conjure by his golden cup, which was put into Benjamin’s sack; so the Devil has managed several of his secret operations, and possessions, and other hellish mechanisms, upon the spirits as well as bodies of men, by the medium or instrumentality of the cloven foot; accordingly it had a kind of an hellish inspiration in it, and a separate and magical power, by which he wrought his infernal miracles. That the cloven foot had a superior signification, and was not only emblematic and significative of the conduct of men, but really guided their conduct in the most important affairs of life; and that the agents the Devil employed to influence mankind, and to delude them, and draw them into all the snares and traps that he lays continually for their destruction, were equipped with this foot, in aid of their other powers for mischief.
Here they read us learned lectures upon the sovereign operations which the Devil is at present master of, in the government of human affairs; and how the cloven foot is an emblem of the true double entendre, or divided aspect, which the great men of the world generally act with, and by which all their affairs are directed; from whence it comes to pass, that there is no such thing as a single-hearted integrity, or an upright meaning to be found in the world. That mankind, worse than the ravenous brutes, preys upon his own kind and devours them by all the laudable methods of flattery, whine, cheat, and treachery; crocodile-like, weeping over those it will devour, de stroying those it smiles upon; and, in a word, devours its own kind, which the very beasts refuse, and that by all the ways of fraud and allurement that hell can invent; holding out a cloven divided hoof, or hand, pretending to save, when the very pretence is made use of to ensnare and destroy.
Thus the divided hoof is the representative of a divided double tongue, and heart, an emblem of the most exquisite hypocrisy, the most fawning and fatally de ceiving flattery. And here they give us very diverting histories, though tragical in themselves, of the manner which some of the Devil’s inspired agents have managed themselves under the especial influence of the cloven foot. How they have made war under the pretence of peace; murdered garrisons under the most sacred capitulations; massacred innocent multitudes after surrenders to mercy.
Again, they tell us the cloven foot has been made use of in all treasons, plots, assassinations, and secret as well as open murders and rebellions. Thus Joab, under the treason of an embrace, showed IIOAV dexterously he could manage the cloven foot, and struck Abner under the fifth rib. Thus David played the cloven foot upon poor Uriah, when he had a mind to injure him. Thus Brutus played it upon Ceesar; and, to come nearer home, we have had a great many retrograde motions in this country, by this magical implement, the foot; such as that of the Earl of Essex’s fate, beheading the Queen of Scots, and divers others in Q,ueen Elizabeth’s time. That of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Sir Thomas Overbury, Gondamor, and Sir Walter Raleigh, and many others, in King James the First’s time; in all which, if the cloven foot had not been dexterously managed, those murders had not been so dexterously managed; or the murderers have so well been screened from justice: for which, and the imprecated justice of Heaven unappeased, some have thought the innocent branches of the royal house of Stuart did not fare the better, in the ages which followed.
It must be confessed, the cloven foot was in its full exercise in the next reign; and the generation that rose up immediately after them, arrived to the most exquisite skill for management of it. Here they fasted and prayed, there they plundered and murdered; here they raised Avar for the king, and there they fought against him, cutting throats for God’s sake, and deposing both king and kingly government, according to law.
Nor was the cloven foot unemployed on all sides; for it is the main excellency of this instrument of hell, that it acts on every side, it is its denominating quality, and is, for that reason, called a cloven or divided hoof.
This mutilated apparition has been so public in other countries too, that it seems to convince us the Devil is not confined to England only, but that as his empire extended to all the sublunary world, so he gives them all room to see he is qualified to manage them his own way.
What abundant use did that prince of dissemblers, Charles V. make of this foot? It was by the help of this apparition of the foot that he baited his hook with the city of Milan, and tickled Francis I. of France so well with it, that when he passed through France, and was in that king’s power, he let him go, and never got the bait off of the hook neither; it seems the foot was not on King Francis’ side at that time.
How cruelly did Philip II. of Spain manage this foot, in the murder of the nobility of the Spanish Netherlands, the assassination of the Prince of Orange, and, at last, in that of his own son, Don Carlos, infant of Spain? And yet, such was the Devil’s craft, and so nicely did he bestir his cloven hoof, that this monarch died consolated (though impenitent) in the arms of the church, and with the benediction of the clergy too, those second-best managers of the said hoof in the world.
I must acknowledge, I agree with this opinion thus far; namely, that the Devil, acting by this cloven foot as a machine, has done great things in the world for the propagating his dark empire among us; and history is full of examples, besides the little low-priced things done among us; for we are come to such a kind of degeneracy in folly, that we have even dishonored the Devil, and put this glorious engine, the cloven foot, to such mean uses, that the Devil himself seems to be ashamed of us.
But to return a little to foreign history. Besides what has been mentioned above, we find flaming examples of most glorious mischief done by this weapon, when put into the hands of kings and men of fame, in the world. How many games have the kings of France played with this cloven foot, and that within a few years of one another? First, Charles IX. played the cloven foot upon Gasper Coligni, admiral of France, when he caressed him, complimented him, invited him to Paris, to the wedding of the King of Navarre, called him father, kissed him, and when he was wounded, sent his own surgeons to take care of him; and yet, three days after, ordered him to be assassinated, and murdered, used with a thousand indignities, and at last thrown out of the window into the street, to be in sulted by the rabble.
Did not Henry III. in the same country, play the cloven foot upon the Duke of Guise, when he called him to his council, and caused him to be murdered as he went in at the door? The Guises again played the same game back upon the king, when they sent out a Jacobin friar to assassinate him in his tent, as he lay at the siege of Paris.
In a word, this opera of the cloven foot has been acted all over the Christian world, ever since Judas betrayed the Son of God with a kiss; nay, our Saviour says expressly of him, “ One of you is a devil;” and the sacred text says in another place, “ The Devil en tered into Judas.”
It remains to tell you, that this merry story of the cloven foot is very essential to the history which I am now writing, as it has been all along the great emblem of the Devil’s government in the world, and by which all his most considerable engagements have been answered, and executed; for as he is said not to be able to conceal this foot, but that he carries it always with him, it imports most plainly, that the Devil would be no devil, if he was not a dissembler, a deceiver, and carried a double entendre in all he does or says; that he cannot but say one thing and mean another; promise one thing, and do another; engage, and not perform; declare, and not intend; and act like a true devil as he is, with a countenance that is no index of his heart.
I might indeed go back to originals, and derive this cloven foot from Satan’s primitive state, as a cherubirn, or a celestial being; which cherubims, as Moses is said to have seen them about the throne of God, in mount Sinai; and as the same Moses, from the original, represented them afterwards covering the ark; had the head and face of a man, wings of an eagle, body of a lion, and legs and feet of a calf. But this is not so much to our present purpose, for as we are to allow that whatever Satan had of heavenly beauty before the fall, he lost it all when he commenced Devil; so to fetch his original so far up, would be only to say, that he retained nothing but the cloven foot; and that all the rest of him was altered and deformed, become horrible and frightful as the Devil; but his cloven foot, as we now understand it, is rather mystical and emblematic, and describes him only as the fountain of mischief and treason, and the prince of hypocrites; and as such we are now to speak of him.
It is from this original all the hypocritic world copy; he wears the foot on their account, and from this model they act. This made our hlessed Lord tell them “The works of your father ye will do,” meaning the Devil, as he had expressed it just before.
Nor does he deny the use of the foot to the meaner class of his disciples in the world, but decently equips them all, upon every occasion, with a needful proportion of hypocrisy and deceit; that they may hand on the power of promiscuous fraud through all his temporal dominions, and wear the foot always about them, as a badge of their professed share in whatever is done by that means.
Thus every dissembler, every false friend, every secret cheat, every bear-skin jobber, has a cloven foot; and so far hands on the Devil’s interest by the same powerful agency of art, as the Devil himself uses to act when he appears in person, or would act if he was just now upon the spot; for this foot is a machine which is to be wound up and wound down, as the cause it appears for requires; and there are agents and engineers to act in it by the directions of Satan (the grand engineer,) who lies still in his retirement, only issuing out his orders as he sees convenient.
Again, every class, every trade, every shopkeeper, every pedlar, nay, that meanest of tradesmen, the church pedlar the Pope, has a cloven foot, with which he paw-loo’s upon the world; wishes them all well, and at the same time cheats them; wishes them all fed, and at the same time starves them; wishes them all in Heaven, and at the same time marches before them directly to the Devil, d-la-mode de cloven foot.
Nay, the very bench, the ever-living foundation of justice in the world; how often has it been made the tool of violence, the refuge of oppression, the seat of bribery and corruption, by this monster in masquerade, and that everywhere, (our own country always ex cepted!) They had much better wipe out the picture of justice blinded, and having the sword and scales in Jier hand, which in foreign countries is generally painted over the seat of those who sit to do justice, and place, instead thereof, a naked, unarmed cloven hoof, a proper emblem of that spirit that influences the world, and of the justice we often see administered among them. Human imagination cannot form an idea more suitable, nor the Devil propose an engine more or better qualified for an operation of justice, by the influence of bribery and corruption; it is this magnipotent instrument in the hands of the Devil, which, under the closest disguise, agitates every passion, bribes every affection, blackens every virtue, gives a double face to words and actions, and to all persons who have any concern to them, and, in a word, makes us all devils to one another.
Indeed the Devil has taken but a dark emblem to be distinguished by; for this of a goat was said to be a creature hated by mankind from the beginning, and that there is a natural antipathy in mankind against them: hence the scapegoat was to bear the sins of the people, and to go into the wilderness with all that burden upon him.
But we have a saying among us, in defence of which we must inquire into the proper sphere of action, which may be assigned to this cloven foot, as hitherto described. The proverb is this: Every devil has not a cloven foot. This proverb, instead of giving us some more favorable thoughts of the Devil, confirms “what I have said already, that the Devil raised this scandal upon himself; I mean the report that he cannot conceal or disguise his devil’s foot or hoof, but that it must appear, under whatever habit he shows himself; and the reason I gave holds good still; namely, that he may be more effectually concealed when he goes abroad without it: for if the people were fully persuaded that the Devil could not appear without this badge of his honor, or mark of his infamy, take it as you will; and that he was bound also to show it upon all occasions; it would be natural to conclude, that whatever frightful appearances might be seen in the world, if the cloven foot did not also appear, we had no occasion to look for the Devil, or so much as to think of him, much less to apprehend he was so near us; and as this might be a mistake, and that the Devil might be there while we thought ourselves so secure, it might on many occasions be a mistake of very ill consequence; and in particular, as it would give the Devil room to act in the dark, and not to be discovered, where it might be most needful to know him.
From this short hint, thus repeated, I draw a new thesis; namely, that devil is most dangerous that has no cloven foot; or, if you will have it in words more to the common understanding, the Devil seems to be most dangerous when he goes without his cloven foot
And here a learned speculation effers itself to our debate, and which indeed I ought to call a council of casuists, and men learned in the Devil’s politics, to determine:
Whether is most hurtful to the world, the Devil walking about without his cloven foot, or the cloven foot walking about without the Devil?
It is indeed a nice and difficult question, and merits to be well inquired into; for which reason, and divers others, I have referred it to be treated with some decency, and as a dispute of dignity, sufficient to take up a chapter by itself.
Whether is most hurtful to the world, the Devil walking about without his cloven foot, or the cloven foot walking about without the Devil?
IN discussing this most critical distinction of Satan’s private motions, I must, as the pulpit gentlemen direct us, explain the text, and let you know what I mean by several dark expressions in it, that I may not be understood to talk (as the Devil walks) in the dark.
1. As to the Devil’s walking about.
2. His walking without his cloven foot.
3. The cloven foot walking about without the Devil.
Now as I study brevity, and yet would be understood too, you may please to understand me as I understand myself; thus:
1. That I must be allowed to suppose the Devil really has an intercourse in, and through, and about this globe, with egress and regress, for the carrying on his special affairs, when, how, and where, to his majesty, in his great wisdom, it shall seem meet; that sometimes he appears and becomes visible, and that, like a mastiff without his clog, he does not always carry his cloven foot with him. This will necessarily bring me to some debate upon the most important question of apparitions, hauntings, walking, &c. y whether of Satan in human shape, or of human creatures in the Devil’s shape, or in any other manner whatsoever.
2. I must also be allowed to tell you, that Satan has a great deal of wrong done him by the general embracing vulgar errors, and that there is a cloven foot oftentimes without a devil; or, in short, that Satan is not guilty of all the simple things, no, or of all the wicked things we charge him with.
These two heads well settled will fully explain the title of this chapter, answer the query mentioned in it, and at the same time correspond very well with, and give us a farther prospect into, the main and original design of this work; namely, the history of the Devil. We are so fond of, and pleased with, the general notion of seeing the Devil, that I am loth to disoblige my readers so much as the calling in question his visibility would do. Nor is it my business, any more than it is his, to undeceive them, where the belief is so agreeable to them; especially, since, upon the whole, it is not one farthing matter, either on one side or on the other, whether it be so or no, or whether the truth of fact be ever discovered or not.
Certain it is, whether we see him or no, here he is, and I make no doubt but he is looking on while I am writing this part of his story, whether behind me, or at my elbow, or over my shoulder, is not material to me, nor have I once turned my head about to see whether he is there or no; for if he be not in the inside, I have so mean an opinion of all his extravasated powers, that it seems of very little consequence to me what shape he takes up, or in what posture he appears; nor indeed can I find in all my inquiry, that ever the Devil appeared (qim devil) in any of the most dangerous or important of his designs in the world; the most of his projects, especially of the significant part of them, having been carried on another way.
However, as I am satisfied nobody will be pleased if I should dispute the reality of his appearance, and the world runs away with it as a received point, and that admits no dispute, I shall most readily grant the general, and give you some account of the particulars.
History is fruitful of particulars, whether invention has supplied them or not, I will not say, where the Devil is brought upon the stage in plain and undeniable apparition. The story of Samuel being raised by the witch of Endor, I shall leave quite out of my list, because there are so many scruples and objections against that story; and as I shall not dispute with the scripture, so, on the other hand, I have so much deference for the dignity of the Devil, as not to determine rashly how far it may be in the power of every old (witch) woman, to call him up whenever she pleases, and that he must come, whatever the pretence is, or whatever business of consequence he may be engaged in, as often as it is needful for her to paw-wa for half a crown, or perhaps less than half the money.
Nor will I undertake to tell you, till I have talked farther with him about it, how far the Devil is concerned to discover frauds, detect murders, reveal secrets, and especially to tell where any money is hid, and show folks where to find it; it is an odd thing that Satan should think it of consequence to come and tell us where such a miser hid a strong box, or where such an old woman buried a pot full of money; the value of all which is perhaps but a trifle, when at the same time he lets so many veins of gold, so many un exhausted mines, nay, mountains of silver, as, we may depend upon it, are hid in the bowels of the earth, and which it would be so much to the good of whole nations to discover, lie still there, and never say one word of them to anybody. Besides, how does the Devil’s doing things so foreign to himself, and so out of his way, agree with the rest of his character; namely, showing a kind of a friendly disposition to mankind, or doing beneficent things? This is so beneath Satan’s quality, and looks so little, that I scarce know what to say to it; but that which is still more pungent in the case is, these things are so out of his road, and so foreign to his calling, that it shocks our faith in them, and seems to clash with all the just notions we have of him. and of his business in the world. The like is to be said of those little merry turns we bring him in acting with us, and upon us, upon trifling and simple occasions, such as tumbling chairs and stools about the house, setting pots and vessels bottom upward, tossing the glass and crockery ware about, without breaking; and such like mean foolish things, beneath the dignity of the Devil, who, in my opinion, is rather employed in setting the world with the bottom upward, tumbling kings and crowns about, and dashing the nations one against another; raising tempests and storms, whether at sea or on shore; and, in a word, doing capital mischiefs suitable to his nature, and agreeable to his name, Devil; and suited to that circumstance of his condition, which I have fully represented in the primitive part of his exiled state.
But to bring in the Devil playing at push-pin with the world, or like Domitian catching flies; that is to say, doing nothing to the purpose; this is not onlydeluding ourselves, but putting a slur upon the Devil himself; and I say, I shall not dishonor Satan so much as to suppose anything in it. However, as I must have a care too how I take away the proper materials of winter evening frippery, and leave the good wives nothing of the Devil to fright the children with, I shall carry the weighty point no farther. No doubt the Devil and Dr. Faustus were very intimate; I should rob you of a very significant proverb,3 if I should so much as doubt it; no doubt the Devil showed himself in the glass to that fair lady who looked in it to see where to place her patches; but then it should follow too, that the Devil is an enemy to the ladies wearing patches; and that has some difficulties in it which we cannot so easily reconcile; but we must tell the story, and leave out the consequences.
3 As great as the Devil and Dr. Faustus. Vulg. Dr. Foster.
But to come to more remarkable things, and in which the Devil has thought fit to act in a figure more suitable to his dignity, and on occasions consistent with himself; take the story of the appearance of Julius Caesar, or the Devil assuming that murdered emperor, to the great Marcus Brutus, who, notwithstanding all the good things said to justify it, was no less than a king-killer and an assassinator, which we in our language call by a very good name, and peculiar to the English tongue, a ruffian.
The spectre had certainly the appearance of Caesar, with his wounds bleeding afresh, as if he had just received the fatal blow; he had reproached him with his ingratitude, with “What, thou, Brutus! Thou, my adopted son!” Now, history seems to agree universally, not only in the story itself, but in the circumstances of it; we have only to observe, that the Devil had certainly power to assume, not an human shape only, but the, shape of Julius Caesar in particular.
Had Brutus been a timorous, conscience-harried, weak-headed wretch, had he been under the horror of the guilt, and terrified with the dangers that were be fore him at that time, we might suggest that he was over-run with the vapors, that the terrors which were upon his mind disordered him, that his head was delirious and prepossessed, and that his fancy only placed Caesar so continually in his eye, that it realized him to his imagination, and he believed he saw him; with many other suggested difficulties to invalidate the story, and render the reality of it doubtful.
But the contrary, to an extreme, was the case of Brutus; his known character placed him above the power of all hypochondriacs, or fanciful delusions; Brutus was of a true Roman spirit, a bold hero, of an intrepid courage; one that scorned to fear even the Devil, as the story allows. Besides, he gloried in the action; there could be no terror of mind upon him; he valued himself upon it, as done in the service of liberty, and the cause of his country; and was so far from being frighted at the Devil in the worst shape, that he spoke first to him, and asked him, What art thou? And when he was cited to see him again at Philippi, answered, with a gallantry that knew no fear,
Well, I will see thee there. Whatever the Devil’s business was with Brutus, this is certain, according to all the historians who give us the account of it, that Brutus discovered no fear; he did not, like Saul, at Endor, fall to the ground in a swoon, 1 Sam. xxviii. 20. “ Then Saul fell all along upon the earth, and there was no strength in him, and was sore afraid.” In a word, I see no room to charge Brutus with being overrun with the hypo, or with vapors, or with fright and terror of mind; but he saw the Devil, that is certain, and with eyes open, his courage not at all daunted, his mind resolute, and with the utmost composure spoke to him, replied to his answer, and defied his summons to death, which indeed he feared not, as appeared afterward.
I come next to an instance as eminent in history as the other; this was in Charles VI. of France, surnamed the Beloved; who riding over the forest near Mans, a ghastly frightful fellow (that is to say, the Devil so clothed in human vizor,) came up to his horse, and taking hold of his bridle, stopped him, with the addition of these words, Stop, king; whither go you? You are betrayed! and immediately disappeared. It is true, the king had been distempered in his head before, and so he might have been deceived; and we might have charged it to the account of a whimsical brain, or the power of his imagination; but this was in the face of his attendants, several of his great officers, courtiers, and princes of the blood, being with him, who all saw the man, heard the words, and immediately, to their astonishment, lost sight of the spectre, who vanished from them all.
Two witnesses will convict a murderer, why not a traitor? This must be the old gentleman, emblematically so called, or who must it be? nay, who else could it be? His ugliness is not the case, though ugly as the Devil, is a proverb in his favor; but vanishing out of sight is an essential to a spirit, and to an evil spirit in our times especially.
These are some of the Devil’s extraordinaries, and it must be confessed they are not the most agreeable to mankind; for sometimes he takes upon him to disorder his friends very much on these occasions, as in the above case of Charles VI. of France; the king, they say, was really demented ever after; that is, as we vulgarly, but not always improperly, express it, he was really frightened out of his wits. Whether the malicious Devil intended it so, or not. is not certain, though it was not so foreign to his particular disposition if he did.
But where he is more intimate, we are told he appears in a manner less disagreeable, and there he is more properly a familiar spirit, that is, in short, a Devil of their acquaintance. It is true, the ancients understand the word, a familiar spirit, to be one of the kinds of possession; but if it serves our turn as well under the denomination of an intimate devil, or a devil visitant, it must be acknowledged to be as near in the literal sense and acceptation of the word, as the other; nay, it must be allowed it is a very great piece of familiarity in the Devil to make visits, and show none of his disagreeables, not appear formidable, or in the shape of what he is, respectfully withholding his dismal part, in compassion to the infirmities of his friends.
It is true, Satan may be obliged to make different appearances, as the several circumstances of things call for it; in some cases he makes his public entry, and then he must show himself in his habit of ceremony; in other cases he comes upon private business, and then he appears in disguise; in some public cases he may think fit to be incog, and then he appears dressed a la masque; so they say he appeared at the famous St. Bartholomew wedding at Paris, where he came in dressed up like a trumpeter, danced in his habit, sounded a Levet, and then went out and rung the alarm bell (which was the signal to begin the massacre,) half an hour before the time appointed, lest the king’s mind should alter, and his heart fail him.
If the story be not made upon him (for we should not slander the Devil,) it should seem, he was not thoroughly satisfied in King Charles IX.‘s steadiness in his cause; for the king, it seems, had relaxed a little once before; and Satan might be afraid he would fall off again, and so prevent the execution. Others say the king did relent immediately after the ringing the alarm bell; but that then it was too late, the work was begun, and the rage of blood having been let loose among the people, there was no recalling the order. If the Devil was thus brought to the necessity of a secret management, it must be owned he did it dexterously; but I have not authority enough for the story, to charge him with the particulars, so I leave it au croc.
I have much better vouchers for the story following, which I had so solemnly confirmed by one that lived in the family, that I never doubted the truth of it. There lived, in the parish of St. Bennet Fynk, near the Royal Exchange, an honest poor widow woman, who, her husband being lately dead, took lodgers into her house; that is, she let out some of her rooms, in order to lessen her own charge of rent; among the rest, she let her garrets to a working watch-wheel-maker, or one some way concerned in making the movements of watches, and who worked to those shopkeepers who sell watches, as is usual.
It happened that a man and woman went up, to speak with this movement-maker upon some business which related to his trade; and when they were near the top of the stairs, the garret door where he usually worked being wide open, they saw the poor man (thewatch maker, or wheel maker,) had hanged himself upon a beam which was left open in the room a little lower than the plaster, or ceiling. Surprised at the sight, the woman stopped, and cried out to the man, who was behind her on the stairs, that he should run up, and cut the poor creature down.
At that very moment comes a man hastily from another part of the room which they upon the stairs could not see, bringing a joint stool in his hand, as if in great haste, and sets it down just by the wretch that was hanged, and, getting up as hastily upon it, pulls a knife out of his pocket, and, taking hold of the rope with one of his hands, beckoned to the woman and the man behind her with his head, as if to stop, and not come up, showing them the knife in his other hand, as if he was just going to cut the poor man down.
Upon this, the woman stopped a while, but the man who stood on the joint-stool continued with his hand and knife as if fumbling at the knot, but did not yet cut the man down; at which the woman cried out again, and the man behind her called to her, “ Go up,” says he, “ and help the man upon the stool! “ supposing something hindered. But the man upon the stool made signs to them again to be quiet, and not come on, as if saying, I shall do it immediately; then he made two strokes with his knife, as if cutting the rope, and then stopped again; and still the poor man was hanging, and, consequently, dying. Upon this, the woman on the stairs cried out to him, “What ails you? Why don’t you cut the poor man down?” And the man behind her, having no more patience, thrusts her by, and said to her, “ Let me come, I’ll warrant you I’ll doit;” and with that runs up and forward into the room to the man; but when he came there, behold, the poor man was there hanging; but no man with a knife, or joint-stool, or any such thing to be seen; all that was spectre and delusion, in order, no doubt, to let the poor creature that had hanged himself perish and expire.
The man was so frighted and surprised, that with all the courage he had before, he dropped on the floor as one dead; and the woman at last was fain to cut the poor man down with a pair of scissors, and had much to do to effect it.
As I have no room to doubt the truth of this story, which I had from persons on whose honesty I could depend, so I think it needs very little trouble to convince us who the man upon the stool must be, and that it was the Devil who placed himself there, in order to finish the murder of the man, whom he had, devil-like, tempted before, and prevailed with to be his own executioner. Besides, it corresponds so well with the Devil’s nature, and with his business; namely, that of a murderer; that I never questioned it; nor can I think we wrong the Devil at all to charge him with it.
N. B. I cannot be positive in the remaining part of this story; namely, whether the man was cut down soon enough to be recovered, or whether the Devil carried his point, and kept off the man and woman till it was too late; but be it which it will, it is plain ha did his devilish endeavor, and stayed till he was forced to abscond again.
We have many solid tales well attested, as well in history as in the reports of honest people, who could not be deceived, intimating the Devil’s personal appearance, some in one place, some in another; as also sometimes in one habit or dress, and sometimes in another; and it is to be observed, that in none of those which are most like to be real, and in which there is least of fancy and vapor, you have any mention of the cloven foot; which rather seems to be a mere in vention of men, (and perhaps chiefly of those who had a cloven understanding, I mean a shallow kind of craft, the effect of an empty and simple head,) thinking by such a well-meant, though weak fraud, to represent the Devil to the old women and children of the age, with some addition suitable to the weakness of their intellects, and suited to making them afraid of him.
I have another account of a person who travelled upwards of four years with the Devil in his company, and conversed most intimately with him all the while; nay, if I may believe the story, he knew most part of the time that he was the Devil, and yet conversed with him, and that very profitably; for he performed many very useful services for him, and constantly preserved him from the danger of wolves and wild beasts, which the country he travelled through was intolerably full of. Where, by the way, you are to understand, that the wolves and bears in those countries knew the Devil, whatever disguise he went in; or that the Devil has some way to fright bears, and such creatures, more than we know of. Nor could this devil ever be prevailed upon to hurt him, or any of his company. This account has an innumerable series of diverting incidents attending it; but they are equal to all the rest in bulk, and therefore too long for this book.
I find too upon some more ordinary occasions the Devil has appeared to several people at their call. This indeed shows abundance of good humor in him, considering him as a devil, and that he was mighty complaisant. Nay, some, they tell us, have a power to raise the devil whenever they think fit; this I cannot bring the Devil to a level with, unless I should allow him to be se?wts servorum, as another devil in disguise calls himself; subjected to every old wizard’s call; or that he is under a necessity of appearing on such or such particular occasions, whoever it is that calls him; which would bring the Devil’s circumstances to a pitch of slavery which I see no reason to believe of them.
Here also I must take notice again, that though I say the Devil, when I speak of all these apparitions, whether of a greater or lesser kind, yet I am not obliged to suppose Satan himself in person is concerned to show himself; but that some of his agents, deputies, and servants, are sent to that purpose, and directed what disguise of flesh and blood to put on, as may be suitable to the occasion.
This seems to be the only way to reconcile all those simple and ridiculous appearances which not Satan, but his emissaries (which we old women call imps,) sometimes make, and the mean and sorry employment they are put to. Thus fame tells us of a certain witch of quality, who called the Devil once to carry her over a brook where the water was swelled with an hasty rain, and lashed him soundly with her whip for letting her ladyship fall into the water before she was quite over. Thus also, as fame tells us, she set the Devil to work, and made him build Crowland Abbey, where there was no foundation to be found, only for disturbing the workmen a little who were first set about it. So it seems another laborious devil was obliged to dig the great ditch cross the country from the Fen country to the edge of Suffolk and Essex; which however he has preserved the reputation of. and where it crosses New Market Heath, it is called Devil’s Ditch to this day.
Another piece of punishment no doubt it was, when the Devil was obliged to bring the stones out of Wales into Wiltshire, to build Stone-henge. How this was ordered in those days, when it seems they kept Satan to hard labor, I know not; I believe it must be registered among the ancient pieces of art which are lost in the world, such as melting of stone, painting of glass, &c.
Certainly they had the Devil under correction in those days; that is to say, those lesser sorts of devils; but I cannot think that the muckle thief Devil, as they call him in the north, the grand signor Devil of all, was ever reduced to discipline. What devil it was that Dunstan took by the nose with his red-hot tongs, I have not yet examined antiquity enough to be certain of, any more than I can what devil it was that St. Francis played so many warm tricks with, and made him run away from him so often. However, this I take upon me to say, in the Devil’s behalf, that it could not be our Satan, the arch-devil of all devils, of whom I have been talking so long.
Nor is it unworthy the occasion to take notice, that we really wrong the Devil, and speak of him very much to his disadvantage, when we say of such a great lord, or of such a lady of quality, “I think the Devil is in your grace.” No, no, Satan has other business; he very rarely possesses fools: besides, some are so far from having the Devil in them, that they are really transmigrated into the very essence of the Devil themselves; and others again not transmigrated, or assimilated, but in deed, and in truth, show us that they are or have mere native devils in every part and parcel of them; and that the rest is only masque and disguise. Thus, if rage, envy, pride and revenge, can constitute the parts of a devil, why should not a lady of such quality, in whom all those extraordinaries abound, have a right to the title of being a devil, really and substantially, and to all intents and purposes, in the most perfect and absolute sense, according to the most exquisite descriptions of devils already given by me, or anybody else? And even just as Joan of Arc, or Joan, Queen of Naples, were; who were both sent home to their native country, as soon as it was discovered that they were real devils; and that Satan acknowledged them in that quality.
It is true, in former times, Satan dealt much in old women, and those, as I have observed already, very ugly, Ugly as a witch, Black as a witch, I look like a witch, all proverbial speeches, and which testified what tools it was Satan generally worked with; and these old spectres, they tell us, used to ride through the air in the night, and upon broomsticks too, all mighty homely doings! Some say they used to go to visit their grand signor the Devil, in those noctural perambulations: but be that as it will, it is certain the Devil has changed hands, and that now he walks about the world clothed in beauty, covered with the charms of the lovely, and he fails not to disguise himself effectually by it; for who would think a beautiful lady could be a masque to the Devil? and that a fine face, a divine shape, an heavenly aspect, should bring the Devil in her company, nay. should be herself an apparition, a mere devil?
Of the cloven foot walking about the world without the Devil; namely, of witches making bargains for the Devil; and particularly of selling the soul to the Devil.
I HAVE dwelt long upon the Devil in masque, as he goes about the world incog., and especially without his cloven foot; and have touched upon some of his disguises in the management of his interest in the world. I must say some of his disguises only; for who can give a full account of all his tricks and arts in so narrow a compass as I am prescribed to?
But, as I said, that every devil has not a cloven foot, so I must add now for the present purpose, that every cloven foot is not the Devil.
Not but that wherever I should meet the cloven hoof, I should expect that the Devil was not far off, and should be apt to raise the posse against him, to apprehend him; yet it may happen otherwise, that is certain; every coin has its counterfeit, every art its pretender, every whore her admirer, every error its patron, and every day has its devil.
I have had some thought of making a full and complete discovery here of that great doubt which has so long puzzled the world; namely, whether there is any such thing as secret making bargains with the Devil: 20 and the first positive assurance I can give you in the case, is, that if there is not, it is not his fault; it is not for want of his endeavor, it is plain, if you will pardon me for taking so mean a step, as that of quoting scripture; I say, it is evident he would fain have made a contract with our Saviour, and he bid boldly, (give him his due;) namely, all the kingdoms of the world for one bend of his knee. Impudent seraph! To think thy Lord should pay thee homage! How many would agree with him here for a less price! They say Oliver Cromwell struck a bargain with him, and that he gave Oliver the protectorship, but would not let him call himself king; which stuck so close to that Furioso, that the mortification spread into his soul; and, it is said, he died of a gangrene in the spleen. But take notice, and do Oliver justice; I do not vouch the story, neither does the Bishop say one word of it.
Fame used to say, that the old famous Duke of Luxemburg made a magic compact of this kind; nay, I have heard many an (old woman) officer of the troops, who never cared to see his face, declare that he carried the Devil at his back. I remember a certain author of a newspaper, in London, was once taken up, and they say it cost him 50, for printing, in his news, that Luxemburg was hump-backed. Now, if I have resolved the difficulty, namely, that he was not humped, only carried the Devil at his back; I think the poor man should have his 50 again, or I should have it for the discovery.
I confess, I do not well understand this compacting with such a fellow as can neither write nor read; nor do I know who is the scrivener between them, or how the indenture can be executed; but that which is worse than all the rest is, that, in the first place, the Devil never keeps articles: he will contract, perhaps, and they say he is mighty forward to make con ditions; but who shall bind him to the performance, and where is the penalty if he fails? If we agree with him, he will be apt enough to claim his bargain, and demand payment; nay, perhaps before it is due; but who shall make him stand to his?
Besides, he is a knave in his dealing; for he really promises what he cannot perform; witness his impudent proposal to our Lord, mentioned above, “ All these kingdoms will I give thee!” Lying spirit! Why they were none of thine to give, no, not one of them; for the earth is the Lord’s and the kingdoms thereof; nor were they in his power any more than in his right. So (I have heard that) some poor dismal creatures have sold themselves to the Devil for a sum of money, for so much cash; and yet, even in that case, when the day of payment came, I never heard that he brought the money, or paid the purchase; so that he is a scoundrel in his treaties; for you shall trust for your bargain, but not be able to get your money; and yet, for your part, he comes for you to an hour: of which by itself.
In a word, let me caution you all, when you trade with the Devil, either get the price, or quit the bargain; the Devil is a cunning shaver, he will wriggle himself out of the performance, on his side, if possible, and yet expect you should be punctual on your side. They tell you of a poor fellow in Herefordshire, that offered to sell his soul to him for a cow; and though the Devil promised, and, as they say, signed the writings, yet the poor countryman could never get the cow off him, but still, as he brought a cow to him, somebody or other came, and challenged it, proving that it was lost, or stolen from them; so that the man got nothing but the name of a cow-stealer, and was, at last, carried to Hereford gaol, and condemned to be hanged, for stealing two cows, one after the other. The wicked fellow was then in the greatest distress imaginable; he summoned his devil to help him out, but he failed him, as the Devil always will; he really had not stolen the cows, but they were found in his possession, and he could give no account how he came by them; at last he was driven to confess the truth, told the horrid bargain he had made, and how the Devil often promised him a cow, but never gave him one, except that several times, in the morning early, he found a cow put into his yard, but it always proved to belong to some of his neighbors. Whether the man was hanged, or no, the story does not relate; but this part is to my purpose; that they that make bargains with the Devil, ought to make him give security for the performance of covenants; and whom the Devil would get to be bound for him, I cannot tell; they must look to that who make the bargain. Besides, if he had not had a mind to cheat or baffle the poor man, what need he have taken a cow so near home? If he had such and such powers as we talk of, and as fancy and fable furnish for him, could not he have carried a cow in the air, upon a broomstick, as well as an old woman? Could he not have stolen a cow for him in Lincolnshire, and set it down in Herefordshire, and so have performed his bargain, saved his credit, and kept the poor man out of trouble? So that if the story is true, as I really believe it is, either it is not the Devil that makes those bargains, or the Devil has not such power as we bestow on him, except on special occasions, he gets a permit, and is bid go, as in the case of Job, the Gadarene hogs, and the like.
We have another example of a man’s selling himself to the Devil, that is very remarkable, and that is in the Bible too; and even in that, I do not find what the Devil did for him, in payment of the purchase price. The person selling was Ahab, of whom the text says expressly, “ There was none like him, who did sell himself to work wickedness, in the sight of the Lord,” 1 Kings xxi. 20 and 25. I think it might have been rendered, if not translated, in spite of the Lord or in defiance of God; for certainly that is the meaning of it. And now, allowing me to preach a little upon this text, my sermon shall be very short. Ahab sold himself; whom did he sell himself to? I answer that question by a question; Who would buy him? Who, as we say, would give anything for him? And the answer to that is plain also; you may judge of the purchaser by the work he was to do; he that buys a slave in the market, buys him to work for him-, and to do such business as he has for him to do. Ahab was bought to work wickedness, and who would buy him for that but the Devil?
I think there is no room to doubt but Ahab sold himself to the Devil; the text is plain, that he sold himself, and the work he was sold to do points out the master that bought him; what price he agreed with the Devil for, that indeed the text is silent in; so we may let it alone, nor is it much to our purpose, unless it be to inquire whether the Devil stood to his bargain, or not, and whether he paid the money according to agreement, or cheated him, as he did the farmer at Hereford.
This buying and selling between the Devil and us, is, I must confess, an odd kind of stock-jobbing; and indeed the Devil may be said to sell the bear-skin, whatever he buys; but the strangest part is when he comes to demand the transfer; for, as I hinted before, whether he performs, or no, he expects his bargain to a tittle. There is indeed some difficulty in resolving how, and in what manner, payment is made. The stories we meet with in our chimney-corner histories, and which are so many ways made use of to make the Devil frightful to us, and our heirs forever, are generally so foolish and ridiculous, as, if true, or not true, they have nothing material in them, are of no signification; or else so impossible in their nature that they make no impression upon anybody above twelve years old, and under seventy; or else are so tragical that antiquity has fabled them down to our taste, that we might be able to hear them, and repeat them, with less horror than is due to them.
This variety has taken off our relish of the thing in general, and made the trade of soul-selling, like our late more eminent bubbles, be taken to be a cheat, and to have a little in it.
However, to speak a little more gravely to it, I cannot say but that, since by the two eminent instances of it above, in Ahab, and in Christ himself, the fact is evidently ascertained; and that the Devil has attempted to make such a bargain on one, and actually did make it with the other; the possibility of it is not to be disputed; but then I must explain the manner of it a little, and bring it down nearer to our understanding, that it may be more intelligible than it is; for as for this selling of the soul, and making a bargain to give the Devil possession by livery and seisin, on the day appointed, that I cannot come into, by any means: no nor into the other part, namely, of the Devil coming to claim his bargain, and to demand the soul, according to agreement, and, upon default of a fair delivery, taking it away by violence, case and all, of which we have many historical relations, pretty current among us.; some of which, for aught I know, we might have hoped had been true, if we had not been sure they were false; and others we had reason to fear were false, because it was impossible they should be true.
The bargains of this kind, according to the best accounts we have of them, used to consist of two main articles, according to the ordinary stipulations in all covenants; namely,
1. Something to be performed on the Devil’s part, buying.
2. Something to be performed on the man’s part, selling.
1. The Devil’s part. This was generally some poor trifle; for the Devil generally bought good pennyworths, and oftentimes, like a complete sharper, agreed to give what he was not able to procure; that is to say, would bargain for a price he could not pay, as in the case of the Hereford man and the cow; for example, 1. Long life. This, though the deluded chapman has often had folly enough to contract for, the Devil never had power to make good; and we have a famous story, how true I know not, of a wretch that sold himself to the Devil, on condition he, Satan, should assure him, 1. That he should never want victuals; 2. That he should never be cold; 3. That he should always come to him when he called him; and 4. That he should let him live one-and-twenty years, and then Satan was at liberty to have him; that is, I suppose, to take him wherever he could find him.
It seems, the fellow’s desire to be assured of twentyone years’ life, was chiefly, that, during that time, he might be as wicked as he would, and should yet be sure not to be hanged; nay, to be free from all punishment. Upon this foot, it is said, he commenced rogue, and committed a great many robberies, and other villanous things. Now, it seems the Devil was pretty true to his bargain, in several of those things; particularly, that two or three times, when the fellowwas taken up for petty crimes, and called for his old friend, he came and frighted the constables so, that they let the offender get away from them. But at length, having done some capital crime, a set of constables, or such-like officers, seized upon him, who were not to be frighted with the Devil, in what shape soever he appeared; so that they carried him off, and he was committed to Newgate, or some other prison as effectual.
Nor could Satan, with all his skill, unlock his fetters, much less the prison doors; but he was tried, convicted, and executed. The fellow, in his extremity, they say, expostulated with the Devil for his bargain, the term of twenty-one years, it seems, not being ex pired. But the Devil, it is said, shuffled with him, told him a good while he would get him out, bid him have patience, and stay a little; and thus led him on, till he came, as it were, within sight of the gallows, that is to say, within a day or two of his ex ecution; when the Devil cavilled upon his bargain, told him, he agreed to let him live twenty-one years, and he had not hindered him, but that he did not covenant to cause him to live that time; that there was a great deal of difference between doing and suffering; that he was to surfer him to live, and that he did; but he could not make him live, when he had brought himself to the gallows.
Whether this story were true or not, for you must not expect we historians should answer for the dis course between the Devil and his chaps, because we were not privy to the bargain; I say, whether it was true or not, the inference is to our purpose several ways.
1. It confirms what I have said of the knavery of the Devil, in his dealings; and that, when he has stockjobbed with us, on the best conditions he can get, he very seldom performs his bargain.
2. It confirms what I have likewise said, that the Devil’s power is limited; with this addition, that he not only cannot destroy the life of man, but that he cannot preserve it; in short, he can neither prevent, nor bring on, our destruction.
I may be allowed, I hope, for the sake of the present discourse, to suppose, that the Devil would have been so just to this wicked, though foolish creature, as to have saved him from the gallows if he could; but it seems, he at last acknowledged that it was not in his power; nay, he could not keep him from being taken and carried to prison, after he was gotten into trie hands of a bold fellow or two, that were not to be scared with his bluster, as some foolish creatures had been before.
And how simple, how weak, how unlike anything of an angelic nature, was it. to attempt to save the poor wretch, only by little noises, and sham appearances, putting out the candles, rushing and jostling in the dark, and the like! If the Devil was that mighty seraph, which we have heard of, if he is a god of this world, a prince of the air, a spirit able to destroy cities, and make havoc in the world; if he can raise tempests and storms, throw fire about the world, and do wonderful things, as an unchained devil no doubt could do; what need all this frippery? and what need he try so many ridiculous ways, by the emptiness, nay, the silly nonsensical manner, of which, he shows that he is able to do no better, and that his power is extinguished? In a word, he would certainly act otherwise, if he could. Sed caret pedibus, he wants power.
How weak a thing is it then, for any man to expect performance from the Devil? If he has not power to do mischief, which is his element, his very nature, and, on many accounts, is the very sum of his desires; how should he have power to do good? how power to deliver from danger, or from death? which deliverance would be in itself a good, and we know it is not in his nature to do good to, or for, any man.
In a word, the Devil is strangely impudent, to think that any man should depend upon him, for the performance of an agreement of any kind whatever, when he knows himself, that he is not able, if he was honest enough, to be as good as his word.
Come we, next, to his expecting our performance to him; though he is not so just to us, yet, it seems, he never fails to come and demand payment of us, at the very day appointed. He was but a weak trader in things of this nature, who, having sold his soul to the Devil, so our old women’s tales call the thing, and when the Devil came to demand his bargain, put it off, as a thing of no force; for that it was done so long ago, he thought he (the Devil) had forgot it. It was a better answer, which, they tell us. a Lutheran divine gave the Devil, in the name of a poor wretch, who had sold himself to the Devil, and who was in a terrible fright about his coming for his bargain, as he might well be indeed, if the Devil has such a power, as really to come and take it by force. The story (if you can hear a serious one) is this.
The man was in great horror of mind, and the family feared he would destroy himself; at length they sent for a Lutheran minister, to talk with him, and who, after some labor with him, got out the truth; namely, that he had sold himself to the Devil; and that the time was almost expired, when he expected the Devil would come and fetch him away; and he was sure he would not fail coming to the time, to a minute. The minister first endeavored to convince him of the horrid crime, and to bring him to a true penitence for that part; and having, as he thought, made him a sincere penitent, he then began to encourage him; and particularly desired of him, that when the time was come, that the Devil would fetch him away, he, the minister, should be in the house with him. Accordingly, to make the story short, the time came; the Devil came; and the minister was present, when the Devil came; what shape he was in, the story does not say; the man said he saw him, and cried out; the minister could not see him; but the man affirming he was in the room, the minister said aloud, “ In the name of the living God, Satan, what comest thou here for?” The Devil answered, “I come for my own;” the minister answered, “He is not thy own; for Jesus Christ has redeemed him, and in his name I charge thee to avoid and touch him not;” at which, says the story, the Devil gave a furious stamp, (with his cloven foot I suppose,) and went away, and was never known to molest him afterward.
I have heard of another person, that had actually signed a contract with the Devil; and. upon a fast kept by some protestant or Christian divines, while they were praying for the poor man, the Devil was obliged to come, and throw the contract in at the window.
But I vouch none of these stories; there may be much in them, and much use made of them, even whether exactly such in fact, as they are related, or no; the best use I can make of them is this, if any wicked, desperate wretches have made bargain and sale with Satan, their only way is to repent, if they know how, and that before he comes to claim them; then batter him with his own guns; play religion against devilism, and, perhaps, they may drive the Devil out of their reach; at least, he will not come at them, which is as well.
On the other hand, how many stories have we handed about, of the Devil’s really coming with a terrible appearance, at the time appointed, and powerfully, or by violence, carrying away those, that have given themselves thus up to him! nay, and sometimes a piece of the house along with them, as in the famous instance of Sudbury, anno 1662. It seems he comes with rage and fury, upon such occasions, pretending he only comes to take his own, or as if he had leave given him to come and take his goods, as we say, where he could find them, and would strike a terror into all that should oppose him.
The greatest part of the terror we are usually in, upon this occasion, is from a supposition, that when this hell-fire contract is once made, God allows the Devil to come and take the wicked creature, how, and in what manner, he thinks fit, as being given up to him by his own act and deed; but. in my opinion, there is no divinity at all in that; for, as in our law, we punish a felo de se, or self-murderer, because, as the law suggests, he had no right to dismiss his own life; that he being a subject of the commonwealth, the government claims the ward or custody of him; and so it was not murder only, but robbery, and is a felony against the state, robbing the king of his liege-man, as it is justly called; so neither has any man a right to dispose of his soul, which belongs to his Maker in property, and in right of creation. The man then having no right to sell, Satan has no right to buy; or, at best, he has made a purchase without a title, and consequently has no just claim to the possession.!
It is therefore a mistake to say, when any of us have been so mad, to make such a pretended contract with the Devil, that God gives him leave to take it as his due; it is no such thing; the Devil has bought what you had no right to sell; and therefore, as an unlawful oath is to be repented of, and then broken; so your business is, to repent of the crime, and then tell the Devil you have better considered of it, and that you won’t stand to your bargain, for you had no power to sell; and, if he pretends to violence after that, I am mistaken; I believe the Devil knows better.
It is true, our old mothers and nurses have told us other things; but they only told us what their mothers and nurses told them; and so the tale has been handed down, from one generation of old women to another; but we have no vouchers for the fact, other than oral tradition, the credit of which, I confess, goes but a very little way with me; nor do I believe it one jot the more, for all the frightful addenda which they generally join to the tale; for it never wants a great variety of that kind.
Thus, they tell us, the Devil carried away Dr. Faustus, and took a piece of the wall of his garden along with them. Thus, at Salisbury, the Devil, as it is said, and publicly printed, carried away two fellows that had given themselves up to him, and carried away the roof of the house with them, and the like; all which, I believe my share of. Besides, if these stories were really true, they are all against the Devil’s true interest; Satan must be a fool, which is indeed what I never took him to be, in the main; this would be the way not to increase the number of desperadoes, who should thus put themselves into his hand, but to make himself a terror to them; and this is one of the most powerful objections I have against the thing; for the Devil, I say, is no fool; that must be acknowledged; he knows his own game, and generally plays it sure.
I might, before I quit this point, seriously reflect here, upon our beau monde; namely, the gay part of mankind; especially those of the times we live in; who walk about in a composure and tranquillity inexpressible, and yet, as we all know, must certainly have all sold themselves to the Devil, ibr the power of acting the foolishest things with the greater applause. It is true, to be a fool is the most pleasant life in the world, if the fool has but the particular felicity, which few fools want, namely, to think themselves wise. The learned say, it is the dignity and perfection of fools, that they never fail trusting themselves; they believe themselves sufficient and able for everything; and hence, their want or waste of brains is no grievance to them, but they hug themselves in the satiety of their own wit. But to bring other people to have the same notion of them, which they have of themselves, and to have their apish and ridiculous conduct make the same impression on the minds of others, as it does on their own; this requires a general infatuation, and must either be a judgment from heaven, or a mist of hell; nothing but the Devil can make all the men of brains applaud a fool; and can any man believe, that the Devil will do this for nothing? No, no, he will be well paid for it; and I know no other way they have to compound with him, but this of bargain and sale.
It is the same thing with rakes and bullies, as it is with fools and beaux; and this brings me to the subject of buying and selling itself, and to examine what is understood by it in the world; what people mean by such and such a man selling himself to the Devil. I know the common acceptation of it is, that they make some capitulation for some indulgence in wickedness, on conditions of safety and impunity, which the Devil promises them; though, as I said above, he is a bite in that too, for he cannot perform the conditions; however, I say, he promises boldly, and they believe him; and for this privilege in wickedness, they consent that he shall come and fetch them for his own, at such or such a time.
This is the state of the case, in the general acceptation of it. I do not say it is really so; nay, it is even an inconsistency in itself; for, one would think, they need not capitulate with the Devil to be so and so, superlatively wicked, and give him such a price for it, seeing, unless we have a wrong notion of him, he is naturally inclined, as well as avowedly willing, to have all men be as superlatively wicked, as possibly they can; must necessarily be always ready to issue out his licenses gratis, as far as his authority will go in the case; and therefore I do not see why the wretches that deal with him should article with him for a price; but suppose, for argument-sake, that it is so, then the next thing is, some capital crime follows the contract; and then the wretch is forsaken, for then the Devil cannot protect him, as he promised; so he is trussed up, and, like Coleman at the gallows, he ex claims, that there is no truth in devils.
It may be true, however, that, under the powerful guard and protection of the Devil, men do sometimes go a great way in crime, and that perhaps farther in these our days of boasted morals, than was known among our fathers; the only difference that I meet with, between the sons of Belial in former days, and those of our ages, seems to be in the Devil’s management, not in theirs; the sum of which amounts to this, that Satan seems to act with more cunning, and they with less; for in the former ages of Satan’s dominion, he had much business upon his hands; all his art and engines, and engineers also, were kept fully employed to wheedle, allure, betray and circumvent people, and draw them into crimes, and they found him, as we may say, a full employment; I doubt not, he was called the tempter on that very account; but the case seems quite altered now, the tables are turned; then the Devil tempted men to sin; but now. in short, they tempt the Devil; men push into crimes before he pushes them; they outshoot him in his own bow, outrun him on his own ground, and, as we say of some hot-spurs who ride post, they whip the post-boy; in a word, the Devil seems to have no business now, but to sit still and look on.
This, I must confess, seems to intimate some secret compact between the Devil and them; but then it looks not as if they had contracted with the Devil for leave to sin, but that the Devil had contracted with them, that they should sin so and so, up to such a degree, and that without giving him the trouble of daily 21 solicitation, private management, and artful screwing up their passions, their affections, and their most retired faculties, as he was before obliged to do.
This also appears more agreeable to the nature of the thing; and as it is a most exquisite part of Satan’s cunning, so it is an undoubted testimony of his success; if it was not so, he could never bring his kingdom to such a height of absolute power as he has done. This also solves several difficulties in the affair of the world’s present way of sinning, which otherwise it would be very hard to understand; as particularly, how some eminent men of quality among us, whose upper rooms are not extraordinary well furnished in other cases, yet are so very witty in their wickedness, that they gather admirers by hundreds and thousands; who, however heavy, lumpish, slow and backward, even by nature, and in force of constitution, in better things; yet, in their race devil-wards, they are of a sudden grown nimble, light of foot, and outrun all their neighbors; fellows that are as empty of sense, as beggars are of honesty, and as far from brains, as a fool is of modesty; on a sudden you shall find them dip into polemics, study Michael Servetus, Socinus, and the most learned of their disciples; they shall reason against all religion, as strongly as a philosopher; blaspheme with such a keenness of wit, and satirize God and eternity with such a brightness of fancy, as if the soul of a Rochester, or an Hobbes were transmigrated into them; in a little length of time more they banter Heaven, burlesque the Trinity, and jest with every sacred thing; and all so sharp, so ready, and so terribly witty, as if they were born buffoons, and were singled out by nature to be champions for the Devil.
Whence can all this come? How is the change wrought? Who but the Devil can inject wit in spite of natural dullness, create brains, fill empty heads, and supply the vacuities in the understanding? And will Satan do all this for nothing? No, no, he is too wise for that; I can never doubt a secret compact, if there is such a thing in nature; when I see an head where there was no head, sense in posse where there is no sense in esse, wit without brains, and sight without eyes, it is all devil-work. Could G write satires, that could neither read Latin, or spell English, like old Sir William Read, who wrote a book of optics, which, when it was printed, he did not know which was the right side uppermost, and which the wrong? Could this eminent uninformed beau turn atheist, and make wise speeches against that Being, which made him a fool, if the Devil had not solcl him some wit in exchange for that trifle of his, called soul? Had he not bartered his inside with that son of the morning, to have his tongue tipped with blasphemy, he that knew nothing of a God, but to swear by him, could never have set up for a wit, to burlesque his providence, and ridicule his government of the world.
But the Devil, as he is god of this world, has one particular advantage, and that is, that when he has work to do, he very seldom wants instruments.; with this circumstance also, that the degeneracy of human nature supplies him; as the late King of France said of himself, when they told him what a calamity was like to befall his kingdom by the famine. Well, says the king, then I shall not want soldiers. And it was so, want of bread supplied his army with recruits; so want of grace supplies the Devil with reprobates for his work.
Another reason why I think the Devil has made more bargains of that kind we speak of, in this age, is, because he seems to have laid by his cloven foot; all his old emissaries, the tools of his trade, the engineers which he employed in his mines, such as witches, warlocks, magicians, conjurers, astrologers, and all the hellish train or rabble of human devils, who did his drudgery in former days, seem to be out of work; I shall give you a fuller enumeration of them in the next chapter.
These, I say, seem to be laid aside; not that his work is abated, or that his business with mankind, for their delusion and destruction, is not the same, or perhaps more than ever; but the Devil seems to have changed hands; the temper and genius of mankind is altered, and they are not to be taken by fright and horror, as they were then. The figure of those creatures was alwlys dismal and horrible, and that is it which I mean by the cloven foot; but now wit, beauty and gay things, are the sum of his craft; he manages by the soft and smooth, the fair and the artful, the kind and the cunning; not by the frightful and terrible, the ugly and the odious.
When the Devil, for weighty dispatches,
Wanted messengers cunning and bold,
He passed by the beautiful faces,
And picked out the ugly and old.
Of these he made warlocks and witches,
To run of his errands by night,
Till the over-wrought hag-ridden wretches
Were as fit as the Devil to fright.
But whoever has been his adviser,
As his kingdom increases in growth,
He now takes his measures much wiser,
And traffics with beauty and youth.
Disguised in the wanton and witty,
He haunts both the church and the court;
And sometimes he visits the city,
Where all the best Christians resort.
Thus dressed up in full masquerade,
He the bolder can range up and down;
For he better can drive on his trade
In any one’s name, than his own.
Of the tools the Devil works with, namely, Witches, Wizards or Warlocks, Conjurers, Magicians, Diviners, Astrologers, Interpreters of Dreams, Tellers of Fortunes, and, above all the rest, his particular modern Privy Counsellors, called Wits and Fools.
THOUGH, as I have advanced in the foregoing chapter, the Devil has very much changed hands in his modern management of the world, and that instead of the rabble, and long train of implements reckoned up above, he now walks about in beans, beauties, wits, and fools; yet I must not omit to tell you that hetfias not dismissed his former regiments, but like officers in time of peace, he keeps them all in half-pay; or like extraordinary men at the custom-house, they are kept at a call, to be ready to fill up vacancies, or to em ploy when he is more than ordinarily full of business; and therefore it may not be amiss to give some brief account of them from Satan’s own memoirs, their performance being no inconsiderable part of his history.
Nor will it be an unprofitable digression, to go back a little to the primitive institution of all these orders, for they are very ancient; and I assure you, it requires great knowledge of antiquity, to give a particular of their original. I shall be very brief in it.
In order then to this inquiry, you must know that it was not for want of servants, that Satan took this sort of people into his pay; he has, as I have observed in its place, millions of diligent devils at his call, whatever business, and however difficult, he had for them to do; but, as I have said above, that our modern people are forwarder than even the Devil himself can desire them to be; and that they come before they are called, run before they are sent, and crowd themselves into his service; so it seems it was in those early days, when the world was one universal monarchy, under his dominion, as I have at large described in its place.
In those days the wickedness of the world keeping a just pace with their ignorance, this inferior sort of low-priced instruments did the Devil’s work mighty well; they drudged on his black-art so laboriously, and with such good success, that he found it was better to employ them as tools, to delude and draw in mankind, than to send his invisible implements about, and oblige them to take such shapes and dresses as were necessary upon every trifling occasion which, perhaps, was more cost than worship, more pains than Pay-
Having then a set of these volunteers in his service, the true Devil had nothing to do but to keep an exact correspondence with them, and communicate some needful powers to them to make them be and do something extraordinary, and give them a reputation in their business; and these, in a word, did a great part of, nay, almost all, the Devil’s business in the world.
To this purpose gave he them power, if we may be lieve old Glanville, Baxter, Hicks, and other learned consulters of oracles, to walk invisible, to fly in the air, ride upon broomsticks, and other wooden gear, to interpret dreams, answer questions, betray secrets, to talk (gibberish) the universal language, to raise storms, swell winds, bring up spirits, disturb the dead, and torment the living, with a thousand other needful tricks to amuse the world, keep themselves in veneration, and carry on the Devil’s empire in the world.
The first nations among whom these infernal practices were found, were Chaldeans; and that I may do justice in earnest, as well as in jest, it must be allowed that the Chaldeans, or those of them so called, were not conjurers, or magicians, only philosophers and studiers of nature, wise, sober, and studious men, at first, and we have an extraordinary account of them; and, if we may believe some of our best writers of fame. Abraham was himself famous among them for such magic, as Sir Walter Raleigh expresses it, Qui contemplatione creaturarum cognovit Creatorem.
Now, granting this, it is all to my purpose; namely, That the Devil drew these wise men in, to search after more knowledge than nature could instruct them in; and the knowledge of the true God being, at that time, sunk very low, he debauched them all with dreams, apparitions, conjurers, &c., till he ruined the just notions they had, and made devils of them all, like himself.
The learned Senensis, speaking of this Chaldean kind of learning, gives us an account of five sorts of them. You will pardon me for being so grave as to go this length back.
1. Chascedin, or Chaldeans, properly so called, being astronomers.
2. Asaphim, or magicians; such were Zoroastres, and Balaam the son of Beor.
3. Chatumim, or interpreter of dreams, and hard speeches, enchanters, &c.
4. Mecasphim, or witches, called, at first, prophets, afterwards Malefici, or Venifici, poisoners.
5. Gazarim, or Aruspices, and diviners, such as divined by the entrails of beasts, the liver in particular; mentioned in Ezekiel, or, as others, called augurs.
Now, as to all these, I suppose I may do them no wrong, if I say, however justifiable they were in the beginning, the Devil got them all into his service at last; and that brings me to my text again, from which the rest was a digression.
1. The Chascedin, or Chaldean astronomers, turned astrologers, fortune tellers, calculators of nativities, and vile deluders of the people, as if the wisdom of the holy God was in them, as Nebuchadnezzar said of Daniel, on that very account.
2. The Asaphim, or magi, or magicians. Sixtus Senensis says, they were such as wrought by covenant with devils, but turned to it from their wisdom, which was to study the practical part of natural philosophy, working admirable effects by the mutual application of natural causes.
3. The Chatumirn, from being reasoners, or disputers upon difficult points in philosophy, became enchanters and conjurers. So,
4. The Mecasphim, or prophets, they turned to be sorcerers, raisers of spirits, such as wounded by an evil eye, and by bitter curses, and were afterwards famed for having familiar converse with the Devil, and were called witches.
5. The Gazarim, from the bare observing of the good and bad omens, by the entrails of beasts, flying of birds, &c., were turned to sacrists or priests of the heathen idols and sacrifices.
Thus, I say, first or last, the Devil engrossed all the wise men of the East, for so they are called; made them all his own; and by them he worked wonders, that is, he filled the world with lying wonders, as if wrought by these men, when indeed it was all his own, from beginning to the end, and set on foot merely to propagate delusion, impose upon blinded and ignorant men; the god of this world blinded their minds, and they were led away by the subtilty of the Devil, to Say no worse of it, till they became devils themselves, as to mankind; for they carried on the Devil’s work upon all occasions, and the race of them still continue in other nations, and some of them among ourselves, as we shall see presently.
The Arabians followed the Chaldeans in this study, while it was kept within its due bounds, and after them the Egyptians; and among the latter we find that Jannes and Jambres were famous for their leading Pharaoh by their pretended magic performances, to reject the real miracles of Moses; and history tells us of strange pranks the wise men, the magicians, and the soothsayers, played to delude the people in the most early ages of the world.
But, as I say, now, the Devil has improved himself, so he did then; for the Grecian and Roman heathen rites coming on, they out-did all the magicians and soothsayers, by establishing the Devil’s lying oracles, which, as a masterpiece of hell, did the Devil more honor, and brought more homage to him, than ever he had before, or could arrive to since.
Again, as by the setting up the oracles, all the magicians and soothsayers grew out of credit; so at the ceasing of those oracles, the Devil was fain to go back to the old game again, and take up with the agency of witches, divinations, enchantment, and conjurings. as I hinted before, answerable to the four sorts mentioned in the story of Nebuchadnezzar; namely, magicians, astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers How these began to be out of request, I have mentioned al ready; but as the Devil has not quite given them over, only laid them aside a little for the present, we may ventufe to ask what they were, and what use he made of them when he did employ them.
The truth is, I think, as it was a very mean em ployment for anything that wears an human countenance to take up; so I must acknowledge, I think, it was a mean, low-priced business for Satan to take up with; below the very Devil; below his dignity as an angelic, though condemned creature; below him even as a devil; to go to talk to a parcel of ugly, deformed, spiteful, malicious old women; to give them power to do mischief, who never. had a will, after they entered into the state of old-womanhood, to do anything else.
Why the Devil always chose the ugliest old women he could find; whether wizardism made them ugly, that were not so before; and whether the ugliness, as it was a beauty in witchcraft, did not increase according to the meritorious performance in the black trade? These are all questions of moment to be decided, (if human learning can arrive to so much perfection,) in ages to come.
Some say the evil eye, and the wicked look, were parts of the enchantment; and that the witches, when they were in the height of their business, had a powerful influence with both; that by looking upon any person they could bewitch them, and make the Devil, as the Scots express it, ride through them booted and spurred; and that hence came that very significant saying, to look like a witch.
The strange work which the Devil has made in the world, by this sort of his agents, called witches, is such, and so extravagantly wild, that except our hope that most of those tales happen not to be true, I know not how any one could be easy to live near a widow, after she was five-and-fifty.
All the other sorts of emissaries which Satan em ploys, comes short of these. Ghosts and apparitions sometimes come and show themselves, on particular accounts; and some of those particulars respect doing justice, repairing wrongs, preventing mischief; sometimes in matters very considerable, and on things so necessary to public benefit, that we are tempted to be lieve they proceed from some vigilant spirit, who wishes us well; but, on the other hand, these witches are never concerned in anything but mischief; nay, if what they do, portends good to one, it issues in hurt to many; the whole tenor of their life, their design in general, is to do mischief; and they are only employed in mischief, and nothing else. How far they are furnished with ability suitable to the horrid will they are vested with, remains to be described.
These witches, it is said, are furnished with power suitable to the occasion that is before them, and particularly that which deserves to be considered: as predictions, and foretelling events, which, I insist, the author of witchcraft is not accomplished with himself, OF THE DEVIL. nor can he communicate it to any other. How then witches come to be able to foretell things to come, which, it is said, the Devil himself cannot know, and which, as I have shown, it is evident he does not know himself, is yet to be determined. That witches do foretell, is certain, from the Witch of Endor, who foretold things to Saul, which he knew not before, namely, that he should be slain in battle the next day, which accordingly came to pass.
There are, however, and notwithstanding this particular case, many instances wherein the Devil has not been able to foretell approaching events, and that in things of the utmost consequence; and he has given certain foolish or false answers in such cases. The devil’s priests, which were summoned in by the prophet Elijah, to decide the dispute between God and Baal, had the Devil been able to have informed them of it, would certainly have received notice from him, of what was intended against them by Elijah; that is to say, that they would be all cut in pieces; for Satan was not such a fool as not to know, that Baal was a nonentity, a nothing, at best a dead man, perished and rotting in his grave; for Baal was Bel, or Belus, an ancient king of the Assyrian monarchy; and he could no more answer, by fire, to consume the sacrifice; than he could raise himself from the dead.
But the priests of Baal were left of their master to their just fate, namely, to be a sacrifice to the fury of a deluded people. Hence I infer his inability; for it would have been very unkind and ungrateful in him not to have answered them, if he had been able. There is another argument raised here most justly against the Devil, with relation to his being under restraint, and that of greater eminence than we imagine; and it is drawn from this very passage, thus: It is not to be doubted but that Satan, who has much of the element put into his hands, as prince of the air, had a power, or was able, potentially speaking, to have answered Baal’s priests by fire; fire being, in virtue of his airy principality, a part of his dominion; but he was certainly withheld by the Superior hand, which gave him that dominion, I mean, withheld for the occasion only. So in another case, it was plain that Balaam, who was one of those sort of Chaldeans, mentioned above, who dealt in divinations and en chantments, was withheld from cursing Israel.
Some are of opinion, that Balaam was not a witch, or a dealer with the Devil; because it is said of him, or rather, he says it of himself, that he saw the visions of God, Numb. xxiv. 16. “ He hath said, who heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open.” Hence they allege he was one of those magi, which St. Augustine speaks of, dc Divinatione, who, by the study of nature, and by the contemplation of created beings, came to the knowledge of the Creator; and that Balaam’s fault was, that, being tempted by the rewards and honors that the king promised him, he intended to have cursed Israel; but when his eyes were opened, and that ho saw they were God’s own people, he durst not do it; they will have it therefore, that, except as above, Balaam was a good man, or at least, that he had the knowledge of the true God, and the fear of that God upon him; and that he honestly declares this. Nijmb. xxii. 18. “ If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God.” Where, though he is called a false prophet by some, he evidently owns God, and assumes a property in him, as other prophets did; my God, and I cannot go beyond his orders. But that which gives me a better opinion of Balaam than all this, is his plain prophecy of Christ, chapter xxiv. 17, where he calls him the Star of Jacob; and declares, “I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab. and destroy all the children of Sheth;” all which express not a knowledge only, but a faith in Christ; but I have done preaching; this is all by-the-by; I return to my business, which is, the history.
There is another piece of dark practice here, which lies between Satan and his particular agents, and which they must give us an answer to, when they can, which, I think, will not be in haste; and that is, about the obsequious devil submitting to be called up into visibility, whenever an old woman has her hand crossed with a white sixpence, as they call it. One would think that instead of these vile things, called witches, being sold to the Devil, the Devil was really sold for a slave to them; for how far soever Satan’s residence is off of this state of life, they have power, it seems, to fetch him from home, and oblige him to come at their call.
I can give little account of this, only that indeed so it is; nor is the thing so strange in itself, as the methods to do it are mean, foolish, and ridiculous; as making a circle, and dancing in it, pronouncing such and such words, saying the Lord’s prayer backward T and the like. Now is this agreeable to the dignity of the prince of the air or atmosphere, that he should be commanded forth with no more pomp or ceremony, than that of muttering a few words, such as the old witches and he agree about? or is there something else in it, which none of us, or themselves, understand?
Perhaps, indeed, he is always with those people called witches and conjurers, or, at least, some of his camp volant are always present; and so, upon the least call of the wizard, it is but putting off the misty cloak, and showing themselves.
Then we have a piece of mock pageantry in bringing those things called witches or conjurers to justice; that is, first, to know if a woman be a witch, throw her into a pond, and if she be a witch, she will swim, and it is not in her own power to prevent it; if she does all she can to sink herself, it will not do, she will swim like a cork. Then, that a rope will riot hang a witch, but you must get a withe, a green osier; that if you nail an horseshoe on the sill of the door, she cannot come into the house, or get out, if she be in; these, and a thousand more, too simple to be believed, are yet so vouched, so taken for granted, and so universally received for truth, that there is no resisting them without being thought atheistical.
Of the various methods the Devil takes to converse with mankind.
HAVING spoken something of persons, and particularly of such as the Devil thinks fit to employ in his affairs in the world, it comes next of course to say something of the manner how he communicates his mind to them, and, by them, to the rest of his acquaintance in the world.
I take the Devil to be under great difficulties in his affairs on his part, especially occasioned by the bounds which are set him, or which policy obliges him to set to himself, in his access to the conversing with mankind; it is evident he is not permitted to fall upon them with force and arms, that is to say, to muster up his infernal troops, and attack them with fire and sword; if he was loose, to act in this manner, as he was able, by his own seraphic power to have destroyed the whole race, and even the earth they dwelt upon, so he would certainly, and long ago, have effectually done it; his particular interests and inclinations are well enough known.
But, in the next place, as he is thus restrained from violence, so prudentials restrain him, in all his other actings with mankind; and, being confined to stratagem, and soft, still methods, such as persuasion, al lurement, feeding the appetite, prompting, and then gratifying corrupt desires, and the like; he finds it for his purpose not to appear in person, except very rarely, and then in disguise: but to act all the rest in the dark, under the vizor of art and craft, making use of persons and methods concealed, or at least not fully understood or discovered.
As to the persons whom he employs, I have taken some pains, you see, to discover some of them; but the methods he uses with them, either to inform and in struct, and give orders to them, or to converse with other people by them, these are very particular, and deserve some place in our memoirs; particularly as they may serve to remove some of our mistakes, and to take off some of the frightful ideas we are apt to entertain, in prejudice of this great manager; as if he was no more to be matched in his politics, than he -would be to be matched in his power, if it was let loose; which is so much a mistake, that, on the contrary, we read of several people that have abused and cheated the Devil, a thing, which I cannot say r is very honest nor just, notwithstanding the old Latin proverb, Fatter e fallentem non est fraus, (which men construe, or rather render, by way of banter upon Satan, It is no sin to cheat the Devil;) which, for all that, upon the whole, I deny; and allege, that let the Devil act how he will by us, we ought to deal fairly by him.
But to come to the business, without circumlocutions; I am to inquire how Satan issues out his orders, gives his instructions, and fully delivers his mind to his emissaries, of whom I mentioned some in the title to chapter IX. In order to this, you must form an idea of the Devil sitting in great state, in open campaign, with all his legions about him, in the height of the atmosphere; or, if you will, at a certain distance from the atmosphere, and above it, that the plan of his encampment might not be hurried round its own axis, with the earth’s diurnal motion, which might be some disturbance to him.
By this fixed situation, the earth performing its rotation, he has every part and parcel of it brought to a direct opposition to him, and consequently to his view once in twenty-four hours. The last time I was there, if I remember right, he had this quarter of the world, which we call Christendom, just under his eye; and the motion is not so swift, but that his piercing optics can take a strict view of it en passant; for the circumference of it being but twenty-one thousand miles, and its circular motion being full twenty-four hours performing, he has something more than an hour to view every thousand miles, which, to his supernatural penetration, is not worth naming.
As he takes thus a daily view of all the circle, and an hourly view of the parts, he is fully master of all transactions, at least such as are done above board, by all mankind; and then he despatches his emissarias, or aid-decamps, to every part, with his orders and instructions. Now these emissaries, you are to understand, are not the witches and diviners, whom I spoke of above, for I call them also emissaries; but they are all devils, or (as you know they are called) devil’s angels; and these may, perhaps, come and converse personally with the sub-emissaries I mentioned, to be ready for their support and assistance, on all occasions of business. These are those devils which the witches are said to raise; for we can hardly suppose the master Devil comes himself, at the summons of every ugly old woman.
These run about into every nook and corner, wherever Satan’s business calls them, and are never wanting to him; but are the most diligent devils imaginable; like the Turkish chiaux, they no sooner receive their errand, but they execute it with the utmost alacrity; and as to their speed, it may be truly written as a motto, upon the head of every individual devil,
Non indiget calcaribus.
These are those, whom, they tell us, our witches, sorcerers, wizards, and such sorts of folks, converse freely with, and are therefore called their familiars; and, as they tell us, come to them in human shapes, talk to them with articulate plain voices, as if men; and that yet the said witches, &c. know them to be devils.
History has not yet enlightened us in this part of useful knowledge, or at least not sufficiently for a description of the persons or habits of these sorts of appearances; as what shapes they take up, what language they speak, and what particular works they perform; so we must refer it to farther inquiry; but if we may credit history, we are told many famous stories of these appearances; for example, the famous Mother Laldand, who was burnt for a witch at Ipswich, A. D. 1646, confessed, at the time of her execution, or a little before it, that she had frequent conversation with the Devil himself; that she being very poor, and, withal, of a devilish passionate, cruel, and revengeful disposition, before, used to wish she had it in her power to do such and such mischievous things to some that she hated; and that the Devil himself, who, it seems, knew her temper, came to her one night, as she lay in her bed, and was between sleeping and waking, and, speaking in a deep hollow voice, told her, if she would serve him in some things he would employ her to do, she should have her will of all her enemies, and should want for nothing. That she was much afraid at first; but that he, soliciting her very often, bade her not be afraid of him, and still urged her to yield; and, as she says, struck his claw into her hand, and though it did not hurt her, made it bleed, and with the blood wrote the covenant; that is to say, the bargain between them. Being asked what was in it, and whether he required her to curse or deny God or Christ? she said no.
N. B. I do not find she told them, whether the Devil wrote it with a pen, or whether on paper, or parchment, nor whether she signed it or no; but it seems he carried it away with him. I suppose, if Satan’s register were examined, it might be found among the archives of hell, the rolls of his acta publica; and, when his historiographer royal publishes them, we may look for it among them.
Then he furnished her with three devils, to wait upon her (I suppose;) for she confessed they were to be employed in her service; they attended in the shapes of two little dogs, and a mole. The first she bewitched was her own husband, by which he lay awhile in great misery, and died; then she sent to one Captain Beal, and burnt a new ship of his, just built, which had never been at sea; these, and many other horrid things, she did and confessed; and having been twenty years a witch, at last the Devil left her, and she was burnt as she deserved.
That some extraordinary occasions may bring these agents of the Devil, nay, sometimes the Devil himself, to assume human shapes, and appear to other people, we cannot doubt; he did thus in the case of our Saviour as a tempter, and some think he did so to Manasses as a familiar, whom the Scripture charges with sorcery, and having a familiar or devil; fame tells us, that St.
Dunstan frequently conversed with him, and finally, took him by the nose; arid so of others.
But, in these modern ages of the world, he finds it much more to his purpose to work under ground, as I have observed, and to keep upon the reserve; so that we have no authentic accounts of his personal appearance, but what are very ancient, or very remote from our faith, as well as our inquiry.
It seems to be a question, that would bear some de bating, whether all apparitions are not devils, or from the Devil; but there being so many of those apparitions, which we call spirits, which really assume shapes, and make appearances, in the world, upon such accounts as, we know, Satan himself scorns to be employed in, that I must dismiss the question in favor of the Devil; assuring them, that as he never willingly did any good in his life, so he would be far from giving himself the trouble of setting one foot into the world, on such an errand; and, for that reason, we may be assured those certain apparitions, which we are told came to detect a murderer in Gloucestershire, and others, who appeared to prevent the ruining an orphan, for want of finding a deed that was not lost, was certainly some other power equally concerned, and not the Devil.
On the other hand, neither will it follow, that Satan never appears in human shape; for though every apparition may not be the Devil, yet it does not follow, that the Devil never makes an apparition. All I shall say to it is, as I have mentioned before, that, generally speaking, the Devil finds it more for his purpose, to have his interest in the world propagated another way; namely, in private; and his personal appearances are reserved for things only of extraordinary consequence, and, as I may say, of evident necessity, where his honor is concerned, and where his interest could be carried on no other way; not forgetting to take notice, that this is very seldom.
It remains to inquire, what then those things are, which we make so much stir about, and which are called apparitions, or spirits assuming human shapes, and showing themselves to people on particular occasions? Whether they are evil spirits, or good? And though, indeed, this is out of my way at this time, and does not relate at all to the Devil’s history, yet I thought it not amiss to mention it: 1. Because, as I have said, I do not wholly exclude Satan from all concern in such things; and, 2. Because I shall dis miss the question with so very short an answer; namely, that we may determine which are, and which are not, the Devil’s, by the errand they come upon; every one to his own business; if it comes of a good errand, you may certainly acquit the Devil of it, conclude him innocent, and that he has no hand in it; if he comes of a wicked and devilish errand, you may even take him up upon suspicion, it is ten to one but you find him at the bottom of it.
Next to apparitions, we find mankind disturbed by abundance of little odd reserved ways, which the Devil is shrewdly suspected of having an hand in, such as dreams, noises, voices, &c. smells of brimstone, candles burning blue, and the like.
As to dreams, I have nothing to say in Satan’s prejudice at all there; I make no question but he deals very much in that kind of intelligence; and why should he not? We know heaven itself formerly conversed very often with the greatest of men, by the same method; arid the Devil is known to mimic the methods, as well as the actions of his Maker; whether heaven has not quite left off that way of working, we are not certain; but we pretty well know the Devil has not left it; and I believe some instances may be given where his worship has been really seen and talked to in sleep, as much as if the person had been awake with his eyes open.
These are to be distinguished too, pretty much by the goodness or badness of the subject. How often have men committed murder, robbery, and adultery, in a dream; and, at the same time, except an extraordinary agitation of the soul, and expressed by ex traordinary noises in the sleep, by violent sweating, and other such ways, the head has never been removed from the pillow, or the body so much as turned in the bed!
Whether in such cases, the soul, with all the passions and affections, being agitated, and giving their full assent to the facts, of what kind soever, the man is not as guilty as if the sins so dreamed, of his com mitting had been actually committed? though it be no doubt to me, but that it is so; yet, as it is foreign to the present affair, and not at all relating to the Devil’s history, I leave it to the reverend doctors of the church, as properly belonging to them to decide.
By this method, the Devil injects powerful incentives to crimes; provokes avarice, by laying a great quantity of gold in your view, and nobody present, giving you an opportunity to steal it, or some of it, at the same time, perhaps, knowing your circumstances to be such, as that you are at that time in a great want of the money.
I knew a tradesman, and in great distress for money in his business, dreamed that he was walking all alone in a great wood, and that he met a little child with a bag of gold in its hand, and a fine necklace of diamonds on its neck. Upon the sight, his wants presently dictated to him to rob the child; the little innocent creature (just so he dreamed) riot being able to resist; or to tell who it was. Accordingly he consented to take the money from the child, and then to take the diamond necklace from it too, and did so.
But the Devil, (a full testimony, as I told him, that it was the Devil,) not contented with that, hinted to him, that perhaps the child might, some time or other, know him and single him out, by crying out or pointing, or some such thing, especially if he was suspected, and showed to it; and therefore it would be better for him to kill the child, prompting him to kill it for his own safety, and that he need do no more but twist the neck of it a little, or crush it with his knee; he told me he stood debating with himself, whether he should do so or not; but that in that instant, his heart struck him with the word murder, and he entertained an horror of it, refused to do it, and immediately waked.
He told me, that when he waked, he found himself in so violent a sweat, as he never had known the tike; that his pulse beat with that heat and rage, that it was like a palpitation of the heart to him; and that the agitation of his spirits was such, that he was not fully composed in some hours: though the satisfaction and joy that attended him, when he found it was but a dream, assisted much to return his spirits to their due temperament.
It is neither my business or inclination to turn divine here, nor is the age I write to sufficiently grave to relish a sermon, if I was disposed to preach, though they must allow the subject would very well bear it; but I shall only ask them, if they think this is not the Devil, what they think it is? If they believe it is the Devil, they will act accordingly, I hope, or let it alone, as Satan and they can agree about it.
I should not oblige the Devil over-much, whatever I might do to those that read it, if I should enter here upon a debate of interests; namely, to inquire whether the Devil has not a vast advantage upon mankind this way, and whether it is not much his interest to preserve it. And if I prove the affirmative, I leave it to you to inquire, whose interest it is to disappoint and supplant him.
In short, I take dreams to be the second best of the advantages the Devil has over mankind; the first, I suppose, you all know, namely, the treachery of the garrison within; by dreams he may be said to get into the inside of us, without opposition; here he opens and locks without a key, and like an enemy laying siege to a fortified city, reason and nature, the governor of the city, keep him out by day, and keep the garrison true to their duty; but in the dark he gets in, and parleys with the garrison (the affections and passions;) debauches their loyalty, stirring up them to disloyalty and rebellion; so they betray their trust, revolt, mutiny, and go over to the besieger.
Thus he manages his interest, I say, and insinuates himself into the inside of us, without our consent; nay, without our knowledge; for, whatever speculation may do, it is evident demonstration does not assist us to dis cover, which way he gets access to the soul, while the organ tied up, and dozed with sleep, has locked it up from action. That it is so, is clear; but how he does it, is a secret, which I do not find the ancients or moderns have yet made a discovery of.
That devil of a creature, mother Lakland, whose story I mentioned above, acknowledged, that the first time the Devil attempted to draw her in, to be a witch, was in a dream; and even when she consented, she said, she was between sleeping and waking; that is, she did not know whether she was awake or asleep; and the cunning Devil, it seems, was satisfied with her assent given so, when she was asleep, or neither asleep nor awake; so taking the advantage of her incapacity to act rationally.
The stories of her bewitching several people, and the manner in which they died, are so formidable and ex travagant, that I care not to put any one’s faith to the stretch about them; though published by authority, and testified by abundance of witnesses; but this is recorded in particular, and to my purpose; whether from her own mouth or not, I do not say; namely, the description of a witch, and the difference between witches, and those other Satan’s acquaintance who act in his name.
1. They have consulted and covenanted with a spirit, or devil.
2. They have a deputy devil; sometimes several, to serve and assist them.
3. These they employ as they please; call them by name; and command their appearance in whatever shape they think fit.
4. They send them abroad to, or into, the persons whom they design to bewitch; whom they always torment, and often murder them, as mother Lakland did several.
As to the difference between the several devils that appear, it relates to the office of the persons who em ploy them; as conjurers, who seem to command the particular devil that waits upon them with more authority; and raise them, and lay them, at pleasure; drawing circles, casting figures, and the like; but the witch, in a more familiar manner, whispers with the Devil; keeps the Devil in a bag, or a sack, sometimes in her pocket; and the like; and, like Mr. Faux, shows tricks with him.
But all these kinds deal much in dreams; talk with the Devil in their sleep; arid make other people talk with him in their sleep too; and it is on this occasion
I mention it here; in short, the Devil may well take this opportunity with mankind, for not half the world that came into his measures would comply, if they were awake; but of that hereafter.
And yet his thus insinuating himself by dream, does not seem sufficient, in my opinion, to answer the Devil’s end, and to carry on his business; and therefore we must be forced to allow him a kind of actual possession, in particular cases, and that in the souls of some people, by different methods from others. Luther is of the opinion that the Devil gets a familiarity with some souls just at, or rather before, their being em bodied; as to the manner and method how he gets in, that is another question, and may be spoken of by itself; besides, why may not he, that at Satan’s request to enter into the herd of swine, said, Go, give the same commission to possess a sort of creatures so many degrees below the dignity of the Gadarenian swine, and open the door too. But as for that, when our Lord said, Go, the Devil never inquired which way he should get in.
When then I see nations, or indeed herds of nations, set on fire of hell, and, as I may say, inflamed by the Devil; when I see towns, parties, factions, and rabbles of people, visibly possessed, it is enough to me that the great master of the Devils has said to him, Go; there is no need to inquire which way he finds open, or at what postern-gate he gets in; as to his appearing, it is plain he often gets in without appearing; and therefore the question about his appearing still remains a doubt, and is not very easy to be resolved.
In the scripture we have some light into it, and that is all the help I find from antiquity; and it goes a great way to solve the phenomena of Satan’s appearing. What I mean by the scripture giving some light to it, is this. It is said in several places, and of several persons, God came to them in a dream. Gen. xx. 3. “ God came to Abimelech in a dream by night.” Gen. xxxi. 34. “And came to Laban the Syrian, in a dream.” Matt. ii. 13. “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.” Short comments are sufficient to plain texts. Applying this to my friend, when he wanted to be satisfied about the how. relating to his dream; namely, how he should come to dream such wicked things’? 1 told him, in short, the case was plain, the Devil came to him in a dream by night. How, and in what manner, he formed the wicked representations, and spread debauched appearances before his fancy, by real whispers and voice, according to Milton, or by what other methods, the learned are not arrived to any certainty about it.
This leads me necessarily to inquire, whether the Devil, or some of his agents are not always in our company, whether they make any visible appearances or no? For my part, I make no question of it; how else could he come at the knowledge of what we do? for as I can allow him no prescience at all, as for many reasons I have observed already, he must be able to see and know us, and what we are about, when we know nothing of him, or else he could know nothing of us and our affairs, which yet we find otherwise; and this gives him infinite advantage to influence our actions, to judge of our inclinations, and to bring our passions to clash with our reason, as they often do, and get the better of it too.
All this he obtains by his being able to walk about invisible, and see when he is not seen, of which I have spoken already; hence that most wise and solid suggestion, that when the candles burn blue, the devil is in the room; which great secret in nature, that you may be more fully convinced of its imaginary reality, I must tell you the following story, which I saw in a letter directed to a particular friend; take it word for word as in the letter, because I do not make myself accountable for the facts, but take them ad referendum.
SIR, We had one day, very early in the morning, and for the most part of the day, a great deal of rain, with an high wind, and the clouds very thick and dark all day.
In the evening, the cloudy thick weather continued, though not the rain; when being at a friend’s house in Lane, London, and several ladies, and some gentlemen, in the room, besides two or three servants, (for we had been eating,) the following interlude happened for our entertainment. When the cloth was taken away, two large candles were brought upon the table, and placed there with some bottles and glasses for the gentlemen, who, it seems, were intending to drink, and be very merry; two large wax candles were also set on another table, the ladies being going to cards; also there were two large candles in sconces over or near the chimney; and one more in a looking-glass sconce, on a pier by the window.
With all this apparatus, the company separating sat down; the gentlemen at their table, and the ladies at theirs, to play as above; when, after some time, the gentleman of the house said hastily to a servant,
“What a p ails the candles?’ 1 and turning to the servant, raps out an oath or two, and bids him snuff the candles, for they burnt as if the Devil was in the room.
The fellow, going to snuff one of the candles, snuffs it out; at which, his master being in a passion, the fellow lights it again immediately at the other candle; and then, being in a little hurry, going to snuff the other candle, snuffed that out too.
The first candle that was relighted (as is usual in such cases) burned dim and dull for a good while; and, the other being out, the room was much darker than before; and a wench that stood by the ladies’ table, bawls out to her mistress, “ Law, madam! the candles burn blue!” An old lady that sat by says, “Ay, Betty, so they do.” Upon this, one of the ladies starts up; “Mercy upon us!” said she, “ what is the matter?” In this unlucky moment another servant, without orders, went to the great pier-sconce; and because, as he thought, he would be sure to snuff the candle well, he offers to take it down, but very unhappily, I say, the hook came out, down falls the sconce, candle and all; and the looking-glass broke all to pieces, with an horrible noise; however the candle falling out of the sconce did not go out, but lay on the floor burning dully, and as it is usual on such cases, all on one side. Betty cries out again, “Law, madam, that candle burns blue too;” the very moment she said this, the footman that had thrown down the sconce, says to his fellow-servant, that came to his assistance, “I think the Devil is in the candles to-night;” and away he ran out of the room, for fear of his master.
The old lady, who, upon the maid Betty’s notion of the candles burning blue, had her head just full of that old chimney-corner story, “ the candles burn blue when the spirits are in the room,” heard the footman say the word Devil, but heard nothing else of what he said; upon this, she rises up in a terrible fright, and cries out, that the footman said the Devil was in the room. As she was, indeed, frighted out of her wits, she frighted the ladies most terribly; and they all starting up together, down goes the card-table, and put the wax candles out.
Mrs. Betty, that had frighted them all, runs to the sconce next the chimney; but that having a long snuff, she cried out it burnt blue too, and she durst not touch it; in short, though there were three candles left still burning in. the room, yet the ladies were all so frighted, that they and the maids too ran out of the parlor, screaming like mad folks. The master, in a rage, kicked his first man out of the room; and the second man was run out to avoid, as I said before, the like: so that no servant was to be had, but all was in confusion.
The two other gentlemen, who were sitting at the first table, kept their seats, composed and easy enough, only concerned to see all the house in such a fright; it was true, they said, the candles burnt dim and very oddly; but they could not perceive they burnt blue, except one of those over the chimney, and that on the table, which was relighted after the fellow had snuffed it out.
However, the rnaid, the old lady, and the footman that pulled down the sconce, all insist that the candles burnt blue: and all pretend that the Devil was certainly in the room, and was the occasion of it; and they now come to me with the story, to desire my opinion of it.
This put me upon inquiry into the notion of candles burning blue when spirits are in a room; which, upon all the search into things, that I am able to make, amounts to no more than this; that upon any extraordinary emission of sulphureous, or of nitrous particles, 23 either in a close room, or in any not very open place, if the quantity be great, a candle or lamp, or any such little blaze of fire, will seem to be, or to barn blue; and if then they can prove, that any such effluvia attend or are emitted from a spirit, then when Satan is at hand, it may be so.
But then it is begging the question grossly, because no man can assure us, that the Devil has any sulphureous particles about him.
It is true, the candles burn thus in mines and vaults, and damp places; and it is as true, that they will do so upon occasion of very damp, stormy and moist air, when an extraordinary quantity of vapors are supposed to be dispersed abroad, as was the case when this happened; and if there was anything of that in it on that Monday night, the candles might, perhaps, burn blue upon that occasion; but that the Devil was abroad upon any extraordinary business that night, that I cannot grant, unless I have some better testimony than the old lady that heard the footman’s outcry but by halves, or than Mrs. Betty, who first fancied the candles burnt blue; so I must suspend my judgment till I hear farther.
This story, however, may solve a great many of those things which pass for apparitions in the world, and which are laid to the Devil’s charge, though he really may know nothing of the matter; and this would bring me to defend Satan in many things, wherein he may truly be said to suffer wrongfully; and if I thought it would oblige him, I might say something to his advantage this way; however, I will venture a word or two for an injured devil, take it as yon will.
First, it is certain, that as this invisibility of the Devil is very much to our prejudice, so the doctrine of his visibility is a great prejudice to him, as we make use of it.
By his invisibility he is certainly vested with infinite advantages against us: while he can be present with us. and we know nothing of the matter, he informs himself of all our measures, and arms himself in the best and most suitable manner to injure and assault us, as he can counteract all our secret concerted designs, disappoint all our schemes, and, except when Heaven apparently concerns itself to overrule him, can defeat all our enterprises, break all our measures, and do us mischief in almost every part of our life; and all this, because we are not privy to all his motions, as he is to ours.
But now for his visibility and his real appearance in the world, and particularly among his disciples and emissaries, such as witches and wizards, demoniacs, and the like; here, I think Satan has a great deal of loss, suffers manifest injury, and has great injustice done him; and that therefore I ought to clear this matter up a little, if it be possible, to do justice to Satan, and set matters right in the world about him, according to that useful old maxim, of setting the saddle upon the right horse, or giving the Devil his due.
First, as I have said, we are not to believe every idle head, who pretends even to converse face to face with the Devil; and who tell us they have thus seen him, and been acquainted with him every day. Many of these pretenders are manifest cheats; and, however they would have the honor of a private interest in him, and boast how they have him at their beck; can call him this way, and send him that, as they please; raise him, and lay him, when, and how, and as often as they find for their purpose; I say, whatever boasts they make of this kind, they really have nothing of truth in them.
Now the injuries and injustice done to the Devil, in these cases, are manifest; namely, that they entitle the Devil to all the mischief they are pleased to do in the world; and if they commit a murder or a robbery, fire an house, or do any act of violence in the world, they presently are said to do it by the agency of the Devil, and the Devil helps them; so Satan bears the reproach, and they have all the guilt, This is, 1, A grand cheat upon the world; and, 2, A notorious slander upon the Devil; and it would be a public benefit to mankind, to have such would-bedevils as these turned inside out, that we might know when the Devil was really at work among us, and when not; what mischiefs were of his doing, and which were not; and that these fellows might not slip their necks out of the halter, by continually laying the blame of their wickedness upon the Devil.
Not that the Devil is not very willing to have his hand in any mischief, or in all the mischief that is done in the world; but there are some low-priced rogueries that are too little for him, beneath the dignity of his operation, and which it is really a scandal to the Devil to charge upon him. I remember the Devil had such a cheat put upon him in East Smithfield once, where a person pretended to converse with the Devil face to face, and that in open day too, and to cause him to tell fortunes, foretell good and evil, &c.; discover stolen goods; tell where they were who stole them, and how to find them again; nay, and even to find out the thieves. But Satan was really slandered in the case; the fellow had no more to do with the Devil than other people, and, perhaps, not so much neither. This was one of those they called cunning men, or at least he endeavored to pass for such an one; but it was all a cheat.
Besides, what had the Devil to do to detect thieves, and restore stolen goods? Thieving and robbing, trick and cheat, are part of the craft of his agency, and of the employments which it is his business to encourage. They greatly mistake him, who think he will assist anybody in suppressing and detecting such laudable arts, and such diligent servants.
I wont say, but the Devil, to draw these people we call cunning men, into a snare, and to push on his farther designs, may encourage them privately, and in a manner that they themselves know nothing of, to make use of his name, and abuse the world about him, till at last they may really believe they do deal with the Devil, when, indeed, it is only he deals with them, and they know nothing of the matter.
In other cases, he may encourage them in these little frauds and cheats, and give them leave, as above, to make use of his name, to bring them afterwards, and by degrees, to have a real acquaintance with him; so bringing the jest of their trade into earnest, till at length, prompting them to commit some great villany, he secures them to be his own, by their very fear of his leaving them to be exposed to the world; thus he puts a Jonathan Wild upon them, a’nd makes them be the very wretches they only pretended to be before. So old Parsons, of Clithroe, as fame tells, was twenty-five years a cunning man, and twenty-two years a witch; that is to say, for five-and-twenty years, he was only pretending to deal with the Devil, when Satan and he had no manner of acquaintance, and he only put his legerdemain upon the people in the Devil’s name, without his leave; but, at length, the Devil’s patience being tired quite out, he told the old counterfeit, that, in short, he had been his stalkinghorse long enough: and that now, if he thought fit to enter himself, and take a commission, well and good; and he should have a lease to carry on his trade for so many years more, to his heart’s content; but if not, he would expose his knavery to the world, for that he should take away his people’s trade no longer; but that he (Satan) would set up another in his room, that should make a mere fool of him, and carry away all his customers.
Upon this, the old man considered of it, took the Devil’s counsel, and listed in his pay; so he, that had played his pranks twenty-five years as a conjurer, when he was no conjurer, was then forced really to deal with the Devil, for fear the people should know he did not. Till now, he had, ambo dexter, cheated the Devil on one hand, and the people on the other; but the Devil gained his point at last, and so he was a real wizard ever after.
But this is not the only way the Devil is injured neither; for we have often found people pretend upon him in other cases, and of nearer concern to him a great deal, and in articles more weighty, as, in particular, in the great business of possession. It is true this point is not thoroughly understood among men, neither has the Devil thought fit to give us those illuminations about it, as I believe he might do; particularly that great and important article is not, for aught I can see, rightly explained; namely, whether there are not two several kinds of possession; namely, some wherein the Devil possesses us, and some in which we really possess the Devil; the nicety of which, I doubt, this age. with all its penetration, is not qualified to explain; and a dissertation upon it, being too long for this work, especially so near its conclusion, I am obliged to omit, as I am also the practical discourses upon the usefulness and advantages of real possession, whether considered one way or other to mankind, all which I must leave to hereafter.
But to come back to the point in hand, and to consider the injustice done to the Devil, in the various turns and tricks which men put upon him very often in this one article; namely, pretending to possession, and to have the Devil in them, when really it is not so; certainly the Devil must take it very ill, to have all their demented, lunatic tricks charged upon him: some of which, nay, most of which, are so gross, so simple, so empty, and so little to the purpose, that the Devil must be ashamed to see such things pass in his name, or that the world should think he was concerned in them.
It is true, that possession being one of the principal pieces of the Devil’s artifice in his managing mankind, and in which, with the most exquisite skill, he plays the Devil among us, he has the more reason to be affronted, when he finds himself invaded in this part, and angry, that anybody should pretend to possess, or be possessed, without his leave; and this may be the reason, for aught we know, why so many blunders have been made, when people have pretended to it without him, and he has thought fit not to own them in it; of which we have many examples in history, as in Simon Magus, the Devil of London, the fair Maid of Kent, and several others, whose history it is not worth while to enlarge upon.
In short, possessions, as I have said, are nice things. As it is not so easy to mimic the Devil in that part, as it may be in some other; designing men have attempted it often; but their manner has been easily distinguished, even without the Devil’s assistance.
Thus the people of Salem, in New England, pretended to be bewitched, and that a black man tormented them by the instigation of such and such, whom they resolved to bring to the gallows. This black man they would have to be the Devil, employed by the person whom they accused for a witch; thus making the Devil a page, or a footman, to the wizard, to go and torment whomever the said wizard commanded, till the Devil himself was so weary of the foolish part, that he left them to go on their own way; and at last they overacted the murdering part so far, that when they confessed themselves to be witches, and possessed, and that they had correspondence with the Devil, Satan not appearing to vouch for them, no jury would condemn them upon their own evidence, and they could not get themselves hanged, whatever pains they took to bring it to pass.
Thus you see the Devil may be wronged, and falsly accused, in many particulars, and often has been so; there are likewise some other sorts of counterfeit devils in the world, such as gypsies, fortune-tellers, foretellers of good and bad luck, sellers of winds, raisers of storms, and many more, some practised among us, some in foreign parts, too many almost to reckon up; nay, I almost doubt, whether the Devil himself knows all the sorts of them; for it is evident, he has little or nothing to do with them, I mean not in the way of their craft.
These I take to be interlopers; or, with the Guinea merchants’ leave, separate traders, and who act under the screen and protection of Satan’s power, but without his license or authority; no doubt these carry away a great deal of his trade; that is to say, the trade which otherwise the Devil might have carried on by agents of his own. I cannot but say, that while these people would fain be thought devils, though they really are not, it is but just they should be really made as much devils as they pretended to be, or that Satan should do himself justice upon them, as he threatened to do upon old Parsons, of Clithroe, above mentioned, and let the world know them.
Of divination, sorcery, the black art, pa-wawing, and such like pretenders to devilism; and how far the Devil is, or is not, concerned in them.
THOUGH I am writing the history of the Devil, I have not undertaken to do the like of all the kinds of people, male or female, who set up for devils in the world. This would be a task for the Devil indeed, and fit only for him to undertake; for their number is, and has been, prodigious great; and may, with his other legions, be ranked among the innumerable.
What a world do we inhabit! where there is not only with us a great roaring-lion-devil daily seeking whom of us he may devour, and innumerable millions of lesser devils hovering in the whole atmosphere over us, nay, for aught we know, other millions always in visibly moving about us, and perhaps in us, or at least in many of us; but that have, besides all these, a vast many counterfeit hocus-pocus-devils; human devils, who are visible among us, of our own species and fraternity, conversing with us upon all occasions; who like mountebanks set up their stages in every town, chat with us at every tea-table, converse with us in every coffee-house, and impudently tell us to our faces, that they are devils, boast of it, and use a thousand tricks and arts to make us believe it too, and that too often with success.
It must be confessed there is a strong propensity in man’s nature, especially the more ignorant part of mankind, to resolve every strange thing, or whether really strange or no, if it be but strange to us, into devilism, and to say everything is the Devil, that they can give no account of.
Thus the famous doctors of the faculty at Paris, when John Faustus brought the first printed books that had then been seen in the world, or at least seen there, into the city, and sold them for manuscripts; they were surprised at the performance, and questioned
Faustus about it; but he affirming they were manuscripts, and that he kept a great many clerks employed to write them, they were satisfied for a while.
But looking farther into the work, they observed the exact agreement of every book, one with another, that every line stood in the same place, every page a like number of lines, every line a like number of words; if a word was misspelt in one, it was misspelt also in all; nay, that if there was a blot in one, it was alike in all; they began again to muse, how this should be? In a word, the learned divines, not being able to comprehend the thing (and that was always sufficient,) concluded it must be the Devil; that it was done by magic and witchcraft; and that, in short, poor Faustus (who was indeed nothing but a mere printer) dealt with the Devil.
N. B. John Faustus was servant, or journeyman, or compositor, or what you please to call it, to Koster, of Harlem, the first inventor of printing; and having printed the psalter, sold them at Paris, as manuscripts; because, as such, they yielded a better price.
But the learned doctors, not being able to understand how the work was performed, concluded as above, it was all the Devil, and that the man was a witch; accordingly they took him up for a magician, and a conjurer, and one that worked by the black art; that is to say, by the help of the Devil; and, in a Avord, they threatened to hang him for a witch; and, in order to it, commenced a process against him in their criminal courts, which made such a noise in the world, as raised the fame of poor John Faustus to a frightful height, till at last he was obliged, for fear of the gallows, to discover the whole secret to them.
N. B. This is the true original of the famous Dr. Faustus or Foster, of whom we have believed such strange things, as that it is become a proverb, as great as the Devil and Dr. Foster. Whereas poor Faustus was no doctor, and knew no more of the Devil than another body.
Thus the magistrates of Bern, in Switzerland, finding a gang of French actors of puppet-show opened their stage in the town, upon hearing the surprising accounts which the people gave of their wonderful puppets, how they made them speak, answer questions, and discourse, appear and disappear in a moment, pop up here, as if they rose out of the earth, and down there, as if they vanished, and abundance more feats of art, censured them as demons; arid, if they had not packed up their trinkets, and disappeared, almost as dexterously as their puppets, they had certainly condemned the poor puppets to the flames for Devils, and censured, if not otherwise punished, their masters. See the Count de Rochfort’s Memoirs, p. 179.
Wonderful operations astonish the mind, especially where the head is not overburdened with brains; and custom has made it so natural to give the Devil either the honor or scandal of everything, that we cannot otherwise account for, that it is not possible to put the people out of the road of it.
The magicians were, in the Chaldean monarchy, called the wise men; and though they are joined with the sorcerers and astrologers in the same place, Dan. ii. 2, yet they were generally so understood among those people; but in our language we understand them to be people that have an art to reveal secrets, interpret dreams, foretell events, &c., and that use enchantments and sorceries; by all which we understand the same thing; which now in a more vulgar way we ex press by one general coarse expression, dealing with the Devil.
The scripture speaks of a spirit of divination, Acts xvi. 16. “and a wench that was possessed by this spirit brought her master much gain by soothsaying;” that is to say, according to the learned, by oracling, or answering questions; whence you will see in the margin, that this soothsaying Devil is there called Python, that is, Apollo, who is often called Python, and who at the oracle of Delphos gave out such answers, and double entendres, as this wench possibly did; and hence all those spirits which were called spirits of divination, were in another sense called Pythons.
Now when the apostle St. Paul came to see this creature, this spirit takes upon it to declare, that those men, meaning St. Paul and Timotheus, were the servants of the Most High God, which showed unto them the way of salvation. This was a good turn of the Devil, to preserve his authority in the possessed girl; she brought them gain by soothsaying; that is to sayyresolving difficult questions, answering doubts, interpreting dreams, &c. Among these doubts, he makes her give testimony to Paul and Timotheus, to wheedle in with the new Christians, and perhaps, (though very ignorantly,) even with Paul and Tirnotheus themselves, so to give a kind of credit and respect to her for speaking.
But the Devil, who never speaks truth, but with some sinister end, was discovered here, and detected; his flattering recognition not accepted, and he himself unkennelled as he deserved; there the Devil was over shot in his own bow again.
Here now was a real possession, and the evil spirits who. possessed her, did stoop to sundry little acts of servitude, that we could give little or no reason for, only that the girl’s master might get money by her; but perhaps this was a particular case, and prepared to honor the authority and power the apostles had over evil spirits.
But we find these things carried a great way farther in many cases; that is to say, where the parties are thus really possessed; namely, the Devil makes agents of the possessed parties to do many things for the propagating his interest and kingdom, and particularly for the carrying on his dominion in the world. But I am for the present not so much upon the real possession as the pretended; and particularly we have had many that have believed themselves possessed, when the Devil never believed it of them, and perhaps knew them better; some of these are really poor devils, to be pitied, and are what I call diables imaginaires; these have, notwithstanding, done the Devil good service, and brought their masters good gain by soothsaying.
We find possessions acknowledged in scripture to be really and personally the Devil, or according to the text, legions of devils in the plural. The Devil, or devils rather, which possessed the man among the tombs, is positively affirmed to be the Devil, in the scripture; all the evangelists agree in calling him so, and his very works show it; namely, the mischief he did, as well to the poor creature among the tombs, who was made so fierce, that he was the terror of all the country, as to the herd of swine, and to the country in the loss of them.
I might preach you a lecture here of the Devil’s terror upon the approach of our Saviour, the dread of his government, and how he acknowledged that there was a time for his torment, which was not yet come. “ Art thou come to torment us before our time?” It is evident the devils apprehended that Christ would chain them up before the day of judgment; and therefore some think the Devil here, being, as it were, caught out of his due bounds, possessing the poor man in such a furious manner, was afraid, and petitioned Christ not to chain him up for it, and as the text says, “They besought him to suffer them to go away,” &c.; that is to say, when they say, “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” the meaning is, they begged he would not cast them into torment before the time which was already fixed; but that, if he would cast them out of the man, he would let them go away, &c.
The evangelist St. Luke says, the devils besought him, that he would not command them to go out into the deep. Our learned annotators think that part is not rightly rendered; adding, that they do not believe the Devil fears drowning; but with submission, I be lieve the meaning is, that they would not be confined to the vast ocean, where no inhabitants being to be seen, they would be effectually imprisoned and tied down from doing mischief, which would be an hell to them; as to their going into the swine, that might afford us some allegory; but I am not disposed to jest with the scripture; no nor with the Devil neither, farther than needs must.
It is evident the Devil makes use of very mean in struments sometimes, such as the damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, and several others.
I remember a story, how true I know not, of a weak creature, next door to an idiot, who was established in the country for an oracle, and would tell people strange things that should be, long before they came to pass; when people were sick, would tell them whether they should live or die; if people were married, tell how many children they should have; and an hundred such things as filled the people with admiration; and they were the easier brought to believe that the girl was possessed; but then they were divided about her loo, and that was the finest spun thread the Devil could work, for he carried a great point in it; some said she had a good spirit, and some a bad; some said she was a prophetess, and some that she was the Devil.
Now, had I been there to decide the question, I should certainly have given it for the latter; if it were only upon this account; namely, that the Devil has often found fools very necessary agents for the propagating his interest and kingdom, but we never knew the good spirits do so; on the other hand, it does not seem likely that Heaven should deprive a poor creature of its senses, and as it were take her soul from her, and then make her an instrument of instruction to others, and an oracle to declare its decrees by; this does not seem to be rational.
But as far as this kind of divination is in use in our days, yet I do not find room to charge the Devil with making any great use of fools, unless it be such as he has particularly qualified for his work; for as to idiots and naturals, they are perfectly useless to him; but a sort of fools called the Magi, indeed we have some reason to think he often works with.
We are not arrived at a certainty yet, in the settling this great point; namely, what magic is? whether a diabolical art, or a branch of the mathematics? Our most learned Lexicon Technicum is of the latter opinion, and gives the magic square, and the magic lantern, two terms of art.
The magic square is when numbers in arithmetical proportion are disposed into such parallels, or equal ranks, as that the sums of each row as well diagonally as laterally shall be all equal: for example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Place these nine in a square of three, they will directly and diagonally make 18. Thus,
This he calls the magic square, but gives no reason for the term, nor any account of what infernal operations are wrought by this concurrence of the num bers; neither do I see that there can be any such use made of it.
The magic lantern is an optic machine, by the means of which are represented, on a wall in the dark, many phantasms, and terrible appearances, but no Devil in all this; only that they are taken for the effects of magic, by .those that are not acquainted with the secret,
All this is done by the help of several little painted pieces of glass, only so and so situated, placed in certain oppositions to one another, and painted with different figures, the most formidable being placed foremost, and such as are most capable of terrifying the spectators; and by this all the figures may be represented upon the opposite wall, in the largest size.
I cannot but take notice, that this very piece of optic delusion seems too much akin to the mock possessions, and infernal accomplishments, which most of the possessionists of this age pretend to, so that they are most of them mere phantasms and appearances, and no more. Nor is the spirit of divination, the magic, and necromancing, and other arts which were called diabolical, found to be of any use in modern practice; at least, in these parts of the world; but the Devil seems to do most of his work himself, and by shorter methods; for he has so complete an influence among those that he now lists into his service, that he brings all the common affairs of mankind into a narrower compass in his management, with a dexterity peculiar to himself, and by which he carries on his in terest silently and surely, much more to the detriment of virtue and good government, and consequently much more to his satisfaction, than ever he did before.
There is a kind of magic or sorcery, or what else you may please to call it, which, though unknown to us, is yet, it seems, still very much encouraged by the Devil; but this is a great way off, and in countries where the politer instruments, which he finds here, are riot to be had; namely, among the Indians of North America. This is called pa-wawing, and they have their divines, which they call pa-waws or witches, who use strange gestures, distortions, horrid smokes, burnings and scents, and several such things which the sorcerers and witches in ancient times are said to use in casting nativities, in philtres, and in determining, or, as they pretended, directing, the fate of persons; by burning such and such herbs and roots, such as hellebore, wormwood, storax, devilwort, mandrake, nightshade, and abundance more such, which are called noxious plants, or the product of noxious plants, also melting such and such minerals, gums, and poisonous things, and by several hellish mutterings and markings over them; the like do these pawaws; and the Devil is pleased, it seems (or is permitted,) to fall in with these things, and as some people think, appears often to them for their assistance upon those occasions.
But be that as it will, he is eased of all that trouble here; he can pa-waw here himself, without their aid; and. having laid them all aside, he negotiates much of his business without ambassadors; he is his own plenipotentiary; for he finds man so easy to come at, and so easy when he is come at, that he stands in no need of secret emissaries, or at least not so much as he used to do.
Upon the whole, as the world, within the compass of a few past years, is advanced in all kinds of knowledge and arts, and every useful branch of what they knew before improved, and innumerable useful parts of knowledge, which were concealed before, are dis covered; why should we think the Devil alone should stand at a stay, has taken no steps to his farther accomplishment, and made no useful discoveries in his way? That he alone should stand at a stay, and be just the same unimproved devil that he was before? No, no, as the world is improved every day, and every age is grown wiser and wiser than their fathers; so, no doubt, he has bestirred himself too, in order to an increase of knowledge and discovery, and that he finds every day a nearer way to go to work with mankind than he had before.
Besides, as men in general seem to have altered their manner, and that they move in an higher and more exalted sphere, especially as to vice and virtue; so the Devil may have been obliged to change his measures, and alter his way of working; particularly. those things which would take in former times, and which a stupid age would come easily into, will not go down with us now. As the taste of vice and virtue alters, the Devil is forced to bait his hook with new compositions; the very thing called temptation is al tered in its nature; and that which served to delude our ancestors, whose gross conceptions of things caused them to be manageable with less art, will not do now; the case is quite altered; in some things, perhaps, as I hinted above, we come into crime with ease, and may be led by a finger; but when we come to a more refined way of sinning, which our ancestors never understood, other and more refined politics must be made use of; and the Devil has been put upon many useful projects and inventions, to make many new discoveries and experiments to carry on his affairs; and, to speak impartially, he is strangely improved, either in knowledge or experiment, within these few years; he has found out a great many new inventions to shorten his own labor, and carry on his business in the world currently, which he never was master of before, or at least we never knew he was.
No wonder then that he has changed hands too, and that he has left off pa-wawing in these parts of the world; that we don’t find our houses disturbed as they used to be, and the stools and chairs walking about out of one room into another, as formerly; that children do not vomit crooked pins, and rusty stub-nails, as of old; the air is not full of noises, nor the churchyard full of hobgoblins; ghosts do not walk about in winding-sheets, and the good old scolding wives visit and plague their husbands after they are dead, as they did when they were alive.
The age is grown too wise to be agitated by these dull scare-crow things which their forefathers were tickled with; Satan has been obliged to lay by his puppet-shows, and his tumblers; those things are grown stale; his morrice-dancing Devils, his mountebanking and quacking, will not do now; those things, as they may be supposed to be very troublesome to him (and but that he has servants enough would be chargeable too,) are now of no great use in the new management of his affairs.
In a word, men are too much devils themselves, in the sense that I have called them so, to be frighted with such little, low-priced appearances as these; they are better acquainted with the old archangel than so, and they seem to tell him they must be treated after another manner, and that then, as they are goodnatured and tractable, he may deal with them on better terms.
Hence the Devil goes to work with mankind a much shorter way; for, instead of the art of wheedling and whining, together with the laborious part of tricking and sharping, hurrying and driving, frighting and terrifying, all which the Devil was put to the trouble of before; in short, he acts the Grand Manner, as the architects call it (I don’t know whether our Freemasons may understand the word; and therefore I may hereafter explain it. as it is to be diabolically as well as mathematically understood.)
At present my meaning is, he acts with them immediately and personally by a magnificent transformation, making them mere devils to themselves, upon all needful occasions, and devils to one another too, whenever he (Satan) has need of their service.
This way of embarking mankind in the Devil’s particular engagement, is really very modern; and though the Devil himself may have been long acquainted with the method, and as I have heard, began to practise it towards the close of the Roman empire, when men be gan to act upon very polite principles, and were capable of the most refined wickedness, and afterwards with some popes, who likewise were a kind of church devils, such as Satan himself could hardly expect to find in the world; yet I do not find that he was ever able to bring it into practice, at least so universally as he does now. But now the case is altered, and, men being generally more expert in wickedness than they were formerly, they suffer the smaller alteration of the species, in being transmigrated; in a word, they turn into devils, with no trouble at all hardly, either to the Devil, or to themselves.
How many mad fellows appear among us everyday in the critical juncture of their transmigration, just when they have so much of the man left as to be known by their names, and enough of the Devil taken up to settle their characters! This easiness of the Devil’s access to these people, and the great convenience it is to him in his general business, is a proof to me that he has no more occasion for diviners, magicians, sorcerers, and whatever else we please to call those people who were formerly so great with him; for what occasion has he to employ devils and wizards to confound mankind, when he is arrived to such a perfection of art as to bring men at least in these parts of the world, to do it all themselves? Upon this account we do not find any of the old sorcerers and diviners, magicians or witches, appear among us; not that the Devil might not be as well able to employ such people as formerly, and qualify them for the em ployment too, but that really there is no need of them hereabout, the Devil having a shorter way, and mankind being much more easily possessed; not the old herd of swine were sooner agitated, though there were full two thousand of them together; nature has opened the door, and the Devil has egress and regress at pleasure, so that the witches and diviners are quite out of the question.
Nor let any man be alarmed at this alteration in the case, as it stands between mankind and the Devil, and think the Devil, having gained so much ground, may in time, by encroachment, come to a general possession of the whole race, and so we should all come to be devils incarnate; I say, let us not be alarmed; for Satan does not get these advantages by encroachment, and by his infernal power or art; no, not at all; but it is the man himself does it, by his indolence and negligence on one hand, and his complaisance to the Devil on the other; and both ways he, as it were, opens the door to him, beckons him with his very hand to come in, and the Devil has nothing to do but enter and take possession. Now, if it be so, and man is so frank to him; you know the Devil is no fool, not to take the advantage when it is offered him; and therefore it is no wonder if the consequences which I have been just now naming follow.
But let no man be discouraged by this, from reassuming his natural and religious powers, and venturing to shut the Devil out; for the case is plain, he may be shut out; the soul is a strong castle, and has a good garrison placed within, to defend it; if the garrison behave well, and do their duty, it is impregnable, and the cowardly Devil must raise his siege and begone; nay, he must fly, or, as we call it, make his escape, lest he be laid by the heels; that is, lest his weakness be exposed, and all his lurking, lying-inwait, ambuscade tricks. This part would bear a great en largement; but I have not room to be witty upon him; so you must take it in the gross, the Devil lies at Blye Bush, as our country people call it, to watch your coming out of your hold; and, if you happen to go abroad unarmed, he seizes upon and masters you with ease.
Unarmed! you will say; what arms should I take? what fence against a flail? What weapons can a man take to fight the Devil? I could tell you what to fight him with, and what you might fright him with; for the Devil is to be frighted with several things besides holy water; but it is too serious for you, and you will tell me I am a-preaching and a-canting, and the like; so I must let the Devil manage you, rather than dis please you with talking scripture and religion.
Well, but may not the Devil be fought with some of his own weapons’? Is there no dealing with him in a way of human nature? This would require along answer, and some philosophy might be acted, or at least imitated, and some magic, perhaps; for they tell us, there are spells to draw away even the Devil himself; as in some places they nail horseshoes upon the threshold of the door to keep him out; in other places old pieces of flint, with so many holes, and so many corners, and the like. But I must answer in the negative; I don’t know what Satan might be scared at in those days; but he is either grown cunninger since, or bolder; for he values none of those things now. I question much whether he would value St. Dunstan and his red-hot tongs, if he was to meet him now, or St. Francis, or any of the saints, no, not the host itself in full procession; and therefore, though you do not care I should preach, yet, in short, if you are afraid he should charge upon you and attack you, if you will not make use of the scripture weapons I should have mentioned, and which you may hear of, if you inquire at Eph. vi. 16, you must look for better where you think you can find them.
But to go on with my work, the Devil, I say, is not to be scared with maukins, nor does he employ his old instruments, but does much of his work himself without instruments.
And yet I must enter a caveat here too against being misunderstood in my saying the Devil stands in no need of agents; for when I speak so, I am to be taken in a limited sense; I do not say he needs them nowhere, but only that he does not need them in those polite parts of the world which I have been speaking of, and perhaps not much here; but in many remote countries it is otherwise still; the Indians of America are particularly said to have witches among them, as well in those countries where the Spaniards, and the English, and other notions have planted themselves, as amongst those where the European nations seldom come; for example, the people of Canada; that is, of the countries under the French government of Quebec, the Esquimaux, and other northern climates, have magicians, wizards, and witches, whom they call Pilloatas, or Pillotoas. These pretend they speak intimately and familiarly with the Devil, and receive from him the knowledge of things to come; all which, by the way, I take to be little more than this; that these fellows, being a little more cunning than the rest, think that, by pretending to something more than human, they shall make the stronger impressions on the ignorant people; as Mahomet amused the world with his pigeon, vising it to pick peas out of his ear, and persuaded the people it brought him superior revelations and inspirations from Paradise.
Thus these Pillotoas, gaining an opinion among the people, behave like so many mountebanks of hell, pretending to understand dark things, cure diseases, practise surgery, physic, arid necromancy, all together. I will not say, but Satan may pick out such tools to work with, and I believe does in those parts; but I think he has found a nearer way to the wood with us; and that is sufficient to my present purpose.
Some would persuade me, the Devil had a great hand in the late religious breaches in France, among the clergy; namely, about the Pope’s Constitution Unigenitus; and that he made a fair attempt to set the Pope and the Gallican church together by the ears; for they were all just upon the point of breaking out into a church war, that, for aught we knew, might have gone farther than the Devil himself cared it should. Now I am of the quite contrary opinion. I believe the Devil really did not make the breach, but rather heftled it, for fear it should have gone so far among them as to have set them all in a flame, and have opened the door to the return of the Hugonots again, which it was in a fair way to have done.
I might anticipate all your objections, by granting the busy Devil is at this time employing all his agents and instruments (for I never told you they were idle and useless) in striving to inflame the Christian world, and bring a new war to overspread Europe; I might, perhaps, point out to you some of the measures he takes, the provocatives which his state-physicians administer to the courts and counsellors of princes, to foment and ferment the spirits and members of nations, kingdoms, empires and states, in the world, in order to bring these glorious ends of blood and war to pass; for you cannot think but he that knows so much of the Devil’s affairs, as to write his history, must know something of all these matters more than those that do not know so much as he.
But all this is remote to the present case; for this is no impeachment of Satan’s new methods with mankind, in this part of the world, and in his private and separate capacity; all this only signifies, that in his more general and national affairs, the Devil acts still by his old methods; and when he is to seduce or em broil nations, he, like other conquerors, subdues them by armies, employs mighty squadrons of devils, and sends out strong detachments, with generals and generalissimos to lead them, some to one part of the world, some to another; some to influence one nation, some to manage and direct another, according as business presents, and his occasions require, that his affairs may be carried on currently, and to his satisfaction.
If it were not thus, but that the Devil by his new and exquisite management, of which I have said so much, had brought mankind in general to be the agents of their own mischiefs, and that the world were so at his beck, that he need but command them to go and fight, declare war, raise armies, destroy cities, kingdoms, countries, and people; the world would be a field of blood indeed, and all things would run into confusion presently.
But this is not the case at all; Heaven has not let go the government of the creation to his subdued enemy, the Devil; that would overturn the whole system of God, and give Satan more power, than ever he was, or will be vested with. When, therefore, I speak of a few forward wretches in our day, who are so warm in their wickedness, that they anticipate the Devil, save him the trouble to tempt, turn devils to themselves, and gallop hellward faster than he drives; I speak of them as single persons, and acting in their own personal and private capacity; but when I speak of nations and kingdoms, there the Devil is obliged to go on in the old road, and act by stratagem, by his proper machinery, and to make use of all his arts, and all his agents, just as he has done in all ages, from the beginning of his politic government to this day.
And if it was not thus too, what would become of all his numberless legions, of which all ages have heard so much, and all parts of the world have had so much fatal experience? They would seem to be quite out of employment, and be rendered useless in the world of spirits, where it is to be supposed they reside; not the Devil himself could find any business for them, which, by the way, to busy and mischievous spirits, as they are, would be an hell to them, even before their time; they would be, as it were, doomed to a state of inactivity, which we may suppose was one part of their expulsion from blessedness, and the creation of man; or as they were for the surprising interval between the destruction of mankind by the deluge and Noah’s coming out of the ark, when indeed they might be said to have nothing at all to do.
But this is not Satan’s case; and therefore let me tell you too, that you may not think I treat the case with more levity than I really do, and than I am sure I intend to do; though it is too true, that. our modern and modish sinners have arrived to more exquisite ways of being wicked than their fathers, and really seem, as I have said, to need no devil to tempt them; nay, that they do Satan’s work for him as to others also, and make themselves devils to their neighbors, tempting others to crime even faster than the Devil desires them, running before they are sent, and going the Devil’s errands gratis; by wmch means, Satan’s work is, as to them, done to his hand, and they may be said to save him a great deal of trouble; yet after all, the Devil has still a great deal of business upon his hands, and as well himself, as all his legions, find themselves a full employment in disturbing the world, and opposing the glory and kingdom of their great Superior, whose kingdom it is their whole business, however vain in its end, to overthrow and destroy, if they were able, or at least to endeavor it.
This being the case, it follows of course, that the general mischiefs of mankind, as well national and public, as family mischiefs, and even personal (except as before excepted,) lie all still at the Devil’s door, as much as ever, let his advocates bring him off it, if they can. Arid this brings us back again to the manner of the Devil’s management, and the way of his working by human agents, or. if you will, the way of human devils working in affairs of low life, such as we call divination, sorcery, black art, necromancy, and the like; all which I take to consist of two material parts, and both very necessary for us to be rightly in formed of.
1. The part which Satan by himself, or his inferior devils, empowers such people to do, as he is in confederacy with here on earth, to whom he may be said, like the master of an opera or comedy, to give their part to act, and to qualify them to act it; whether he obliges them to a rehearsal in his presence, to try their talents, and see what they are capable of performing, that indeed I have not inquired into.
2. That part which these empowered people da volunteer, or beyond their commission, to show their diligence in the service of their new master; and either, 1. To bring grist to their own mill, and make their market of their employment in the best manner they can; or, 2. To gain applause, be admired, wondered at, and applauded, as if they were ten times more devils than really they are.
In a word, the matter consists of what the Devil does by the help of those people, and what they do in his name without him. The Devil is sometimes cheated in his own business. There are pretenders to witchcraft and black art, whom Satan never made any bargain with, but whom he connives at, because at least they do his cause no harm, though their business is rather to get money, than to render him any service; of which I gave you a remarkable in stance before.
But to go back to his real agents, of which I reckon two:
Those who act by direction and confederacy, as I have said already many do.
Those whom he acts in and by, and they perhaps know it not; of which sort history gives us plenty of examples, from Machiavel’s first disciple to the famous Cardinal Alberoni, and even to some more modern than his eminence, of whom I can say no more till farther occasion offers.
1. Those who act by immediate direction of the Devil, and in confederacy with him. These are such as I mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, whose arts are truly black, because really infernal. It will be very hard to decide the dispute between those who really act thus, in confederacy with the Devil, and those who only pretend to it; so I shall leave that dispute where I found it. But that there are, or at least have been, a set of people in the world, who really are of his acquaintance, and very intimate with him; and though, as I have said, he has much altered his schemes, and changed hands, of late; yet that there are such people, perhaps of all sorts; and that the Devil keeps np his correspondence with them; I must not venture to deny that part, lest I bring upon me the whole posse of the conjuring and bewitching crew, male and female, and they should mob me for pretending to deny them the honor of dealing with the Devil, which they are so exceeding willing to have the fame of.
Not that I am hereby obliged to believe all the strange things the witches and wizards, who have been allowed to be such, nay, who have been hanged for it, have said of themselves; nay, that they have confessed of themselves, even at the gallows; and if I come to have an occasion to speak freely of the matter, I may perhaps convince you, that the Devil’s possessing power is much lessened of late; and that he either is limited, and his fetter shortened more than it has been, or that he does not find the old way, as I said before, so fit for his purpose as he did formerly, and therefore takes other measures. But I must adjourn that to a time and place by itself. But we are told, that there are another sort of people, and, perhaps, a great many of them too, in whom, and by whom, the Devil really acts, and they know it not.
It would take up a great deal of time and room, too much for this place, so near the close of this work, to describe and mark out the involuntary devils which there are in the world; of whom it may be truly said, that really the Devil is in them, and they know it not. Now, though the Devil is cunning and managing, and can be very silent, where he finds it for his interest not to be known; yet it is very hard for him to conceal himself, and to give so little disturbance in the house, as that the family should not know who lodged in it. Yet, I say, the Devil is so subtle and so mischievous an agent, that he uses all manner of methods and craft, to reside in such people as he finds for his purpose, whether they will or no; and which is more, whether they know it or no.
And let none of my readers be angry, or think themselves ill used, when I tell them, the Devil may be in them, and may act them, and by them, and they not know it; for I must add, it may, perhaps, be one of the greatest pieces of human wisdom in the world, for 25 a man to know when the Devil is in him, and when not; when he is a tool and agent of hell, and when he is not; in a word, when he is doing the Devil’s work, and under his direction, and when not.
It is true, this is a very weighty point, and might deserve to be handled in a more serious way than I seem to be talking in all this book. But give me leave to talk of things my own way; and withal, to tell you that there is no part of this work so seemingly ludicrous, but a grave and well-weighed mind may make a serious and solid application of it, if they please; nor is there any part of this work, in which a clear sight, and a good sense may not see, that the author’s design is, that they should do so; and, as I am now so near the end of my book, I thought it was meet to tell you so, and lead you to it as far as I can.
I say, it is a great part of human wisdom, to know when the Devil is acting in us and by us, and when not; the next, and still greatest part, would be, to prevent him, put a stop to his progress, bid him go about his business, and let him know, he should carry on his designs no farther in that manner; that we will be his tools no longer; in short, to turn him out of doors, and bring a stronger power to take possession. But this, indeed, is too solid a subject, and too great to begin with here.
But now, as to the bare knowing when he is at work with us, I say, this, though it is considerable, may be done, nor is it so difficult; for example, you have no more to do, but look a little more into the microcosm of the soul, and see there, how the passions which are the blood, and the affections, which are the spirits, move in their particular vessels; how they circulate, and in what temper the pulse beats there, and you may easily see who turns the wheel. If a perfect calm possesses the soul; if peace and temper prevail, and the mind feels no tempests rising; if the affections are regular, and exalted to virtuous and sublime objects, the spirits cool, and the mind sedate; the man is in a general rectitude of mind; he may be truly said to be his own man; Heaven shines upon his soul with Us benign influences, and he is out of the reach of the evil spirit; for the divine spirit is an influence of peace, all calm and bright, happy and sweet, like itself, and tending to everything that is good, both present and future.
But, on the other hand, if at any time the mind is ruffled; if vapors rise, clouds gather; if passions swell the breast; if anger, envy, revenge, hatred, wrath, strife, if these, or any of these, hover over you; much more, if you feel them within you; if the affections are possessed, and the soul hurried down the stream to em brace low and base objects; if those spirits, which are the life and enlivening powers of the soul, are drawn off to parties, and to be engaged in a vicious and corrupt manner, shooting out wild and wicked desires, and running the man headlong into crime; the case is easily resolved, the man is possessed, the Devil is in him; and, having taken the fort, or at least the counterscarp and out-works, is making his lodgment to cover and secure himself in his hold, that he may not be dispossessed.
Nor can he be easily dispossessed, when he has got such hold as this; and it is no wonder, that being lodged thus upon the out-works of the soul, he continues to sap the foundation of the rest; and by his incessant and furious assaults, reduces the man at last to a surrender.
If the allegory be not as just and apposite as you would have it be, you may, however, see by it, in a full view, the state of the man, and how the Devil carried on his designs. Nothing is more common, and, I believe, there are few thinking minds but may reflect upon it in their own compass, than for our passions and affections to flow out of the ordinary channel; the spirits and blood of the soul to be extravasated, the passions grow violent and outrageous, the affections impetuous, corrupt, and violently vicious. Whence does all this proceed? From Heaven we cannot pretend it comes; if we must not say it is the Devil, whose door must it lie at? Pride swells the passions; avarice moves the affections; and what is pride, and what is avarice, but the Devil in the inside of the man? ay, as personally and really as ever he was in the herd of swine.
Let not any man then, who is a slave to his passions, or who is chained down to his covetousness, pretend to take it ill, when I say, he has the Devil in him, or that he is a devil. What else can it be, and how comes it to pass that passion and revenge so often dispossess the man of himself, as to lead him to commit murder, to lay plots and snares for the life of his enemies, and so to thirst for blood? How conies this, but by the Devil’s putting those spirits of the soul into so violent a ferment, into a fever, that the circulation is precipitated to that degree, and that the man too is precipitated into mischief, and at last into ruin? It is all the Devil, though the man does not know it.
In like manner, avarice leads him to rob, plunder and destroy, for money, and to commit sometimes the worst of violences, to obtain the wicked reward. How many have had their throats cut for their money, have been murdered on the highway, or in their beds, for the desire of what they had? It is the same thing in other articles; every vice is the Devil in a man; lust of rule is the Devil of great men; and that ambition is their devil, as much as whoring is Fatheri ——’s devil; one has a devil of one class acting him, one another; and every man’s reigning vice is a devil to him.
Thus the Devil has his involuntary instruments, as well as those who act in confederacy with him; he has a very great share in many of us, and acts us, and in us, unknown to ourselves, though we know nothing of it, and indeed though we may not suspect it ourselves; like Hazael the Assyrian, who, when the prophet told him how he would act the Devil upon the poor Israelites, answered with detestation, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” and yet he was that dog, and did all those cruel things for all that; the Devil acting him, or acting in him, to make him wickeder than ever he thought it was possible for him to be.
Of the Devil’s last scene of liberty, and what may be supposed to be his end; with what we are to understand of his being tormented for ever and ever.
As the Devil is a prince of the power of the air, his kingdom is mortal, and must have an end; and as he is called the god of this world, that is, the great usurper of the homage and reverence which mankind ought of right to pay to their Maker, so his usurpation also, like the world itself, must have an end. Satan is called the god of the world, as men too much prostrate and prostitute themselves to him; yet he is not the governor of this world; and therefore the homage and worship he has from the world is an usurpation; and this will have an end, because the world itself will have an end; and all mankind, as they had a beginning in time, so must expire, and be removed, before the end of time.
Since then the Devil’s empire is to expire, and come to an end; and that the Devil himself, and all his host of devils, are immortal seraphs, spirits that are not embodied, and cannot die, but are to remain in being; the question before us next will be, What is to become of him? what is his state to be? whither is he to wander? and in what condition is he to remain to that eternity to which he is still to exist?
I hope no man will mistake me so much in what I have said as to spirits, which are all flame, not being affected with fire, as if I supposed there was no place of punishment for the Devil, nor any kind of punishment that could affect them; and so of our spirits also, when transformed into flame.
I must be allowed to speak there of that material fire, by which, as by an allegory, all the terrors of an eternal state are represented to us in scripture, and in the writings of the learned commentators, and by which the pain of sense is described. This, perhaps,
I do not understand as they seem to do, and therefore have said,
When we are all flame, (that is, all spirit,) we shall all fire (that is, all such fire as this) despise. And thus I claim to be understood.
It does not follow from hence, neither do I suggest, or so much as think, that infinite power cannot form a something (though inconceivable to us here,) which shall be as tormenting, and as insupportable, to a devil, an apostate seraph, and to a spirit, though exalted, unembodied, and rarefied into flame, as fire would be to other bodies; in which I think I am orthodox, and do not give the least occasion to an enemy to charge me with profane speaking, in those words, or to plead for thinking profanely himself.
It must be atheistical to the last degree, to suggest, that whereas the Devil has been heaping up and amassing guilt ever since the creation of man, increasing in hatred of God, and rebellion against him, and in all possible endeavor to dethrone and depose the majesty of heaven; that yet Heaven had not prepared, or could not prepare, a just penalty for him; and that it should not all end in God’s entire victory over hell, and in Satan’s open condemnation. Heaven could not be just to its own glory, if he should not avenge himself upon this rebel, for all his superlative wickedness in. his modern as well as ancient station; for the blood of so many millions of his faithful subjects and saints whom he has destroyed; and, if nothing else offered itself to prove this part, it would appear undoubted to me. But this, I confess, does not belong to Satan’s history; and therefore I have reserved it to this place, and shall also be the shorter in it.
That his condition is to be a state of punishment, and that by torment, the Devil himself has owned; and his calling out to our blessed Lord, when he cast him out of the furious man among the tombs, is a proof of it; “What have we to do with thee;” and “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” (Luke viii. 28,) where the Devil acknowledges four things, and three of them are directly to my present purpose; and, if you won’t believe the word of God, I hope you will believe the Devil, especially when it is an open confession against himself.
He confessed Christ to be the Son of God, (that by the way,) and no thanks to him; for that does not want the Devil’s evidence.
He acknowledges he may be tormented.
He acknowledges Christ was able to torment him.
He acknowledges that there is a time appointed when he shall be tormented.
As to how, in what manner, and by what means, this tormenting the Devil is to be performed or executed, that I take to be as needless to us, as it is im possible, to know; and, not being at present inclined to fill your heads and thoughts with weak and imperfect guesses, I leave it where I find it.
It is enough to us, that this torment of the Devil is represented to us by fire; it being impossible for our confined thoughts to conceive of torment by anything in the world more exquisite. Whence I conclude, that devils shall at last receive a punishment suitable to their spirituous nature, and as exquisitely tormenting as a burning fire would be to our bodies.
Having thus settled my own belief of this matter, and stated it so, as I think will let you see it is rightly founded, the matter stands thus:
Satan, having been let loose to play his game in this world, has improved his time to the utmost; he has not failed on all occasions to exert his hatred, rage and malice, at his conqueror and enemy, namely, his Maker; he has not failed, from principles of mere envy and pride, to pursue mankind with all possible rancor, in order to deprive him of the honor and felicity which he was created for, namely, to succeed the Devil and his angels in the state of glory from which they fell.
This hatred of God, and envy at man, having broken out in so many several ways in the whole series of time from the creation, must necessarily have greatly increased his guilt;,and, as Heaven is righteous to judge him, must terminate in an increase of punishment, adequate to his crime, and sufficient to his nature.
Some have suggested, that there is yet a time to come, when the Devil shall exert more rage and do more mischief than ever yet he has been permitted to do. Whether he shall break his chain, or be unchained for a time, they cannot tell, nor I either; and it is happy for my work, that even this part too does not belong to his history. If ever it shall be given an account of by mankind, it must be after it is come to pass; for my part is not prophecy of foretelling what the Devil shall do, but history of what he has done.
Thus, good people, I have brought the history of the Devil down to your own times; I have, as it were, raised him for you, and set him in your view, that you may know him and have a care of him.
If any curminger men among you think they are able now to lay him again, and so dispose of him out of your sight, that you shall be troubled no more with him, either here or hereafter, let them go to work with him their own way; you know things future do not belong to an historian; so I leave him among you, wishing you may be able to give no worse an account of him for the time to come, than I have done for the time past.
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Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07