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put it into the language of the day we live in, from the Devil, in whatever shape or appearance he might come to them, and from whatever might hurt them. And what was all this but setting up devils against devils, supplicating one devil, under the notion of a good spirit, to drive out and protect them from another, whom they called a bad spirit; the white devil against the black devil?
This proceeds from the natural notions mankind necessarily entertain of things to come; superior or inferior, God and the Devil, fill up all futurity in our thoughts; and it is impossible for us to form any images in our minds of an immortality and an invisible world, but under the notions of perfect felicity, or extreme misery.
Now, as these two respect the eternal state of man after life, they are respectively the object of our reverence and affection, or of our horror and aversion; but notwithstanding they are placed thus in a diametrical opposition in our affections and passions, they are on an evident level as to the certainty of their existence, and, as I said above, bear an equal share in our faith.
It being then as certain that there is a Devil, as that there is a God, I must from this time forward admit no more doubt of his existence, nor take any more pains to convince you of it; but speaking of him as a reality in being, proceed to inquire who he is, and from whence, in order to enter directly into the detail of his history.
Now, not to enter into all the metaphysical trumpery of the schools, nor wholly to confine myself to the language of the pulpit, where we are told, that to think of God and of the Devil, we must endeavour first, to form ideas of those things which illustrate the description of rewards and punishment; in the one the eternal presence of the highest good, and, as a necessary attendant, the most perfect, consummate, durable bliss and felicity, springing from the presence of that being in whom all possible beatitude is inexpressibly present, and that in the highest perfection; and on the contrary, to conceive of a sublime fallen archangel, attended with an innumerable host of degenerate, rebel seraphs or angels, cast out of heaven together, all guilty of inexpressible rebellion, and all suffering from that time, and to suffer for ever, the eternal vengeance of the Almighty, in an inconceivable manner; that his presence, though blessed in itself, is to them the most
CAST OUT FOR REBELLION.
complete article of terror; that they are in themselves perfectly miserable; and to be with whom for ever, adds an inexpressible misery to any state as well as place, and fills the minds of those who are to be, or expect to be, banished to them, with inconceivable horror and amazement.
But when you have gone over all this, and a great deal more of the like, though less intelligible language, which the passions of men collect to amuse one another with, you have said nothing if you omit the main article, namely, the personality of the Devil; and till you add to all the rest some description of the company with whom all this is to be suffered, viz., the Devil and his angels.
Now, who this Devil and his angels are, what share they have either actively or passively in the eternal miseries of a future state, how far they are agents in or partners with the sufferings of the place, is a difficulty yet not fully discovered by the most learned; nor do I believe it is made less a difficulty by their meddling with it.
But to come to the person and original of the Devil, or, as I said before, of devils; I allow him to come of an ancient family, for he is from heaven, and more truly than the Romans could say of their idolized Numa, he is of the race of the Gods.
That Satan is a fallen angel, a rebel seraph, cast out for his rebellion, it is the general opinion, and it is not my business to dispute things universally received; as he was tried, condemned, and the sentence of expulsion executed on him in heaven, he is in this world like a transported felon, never to return; his crime, whatever particular aggravations it might have, it is certain amounted to high treason against his lord and governor, who was also his maker, and against whom he rose in rebellion, took up arms, and, in a word, raised a horrid and unnatural war in his dominions; but being overcome in battle and made prisoner, he and all his host, whose numbers were infinite, all glorious angels like himself, lost at once their beauty and glory with their innocence, and commenced devils, being transformed by crime into monsters and frightful objects; such as, to describe, human fancy is obliged to draw pictures and descriptions in such forms as are most hateful and frightful to the imagination. These notions, I doubt not, gave birth to all the beauteous images and sublime expressions in Milton's majestic poem:
where, though he has played the poet in a most luxuriant manner, he has sinned against Satan most egregiously, and done the Devil a manifest injury in a great many particulars, as I shall show in its place. And as I shall be obliged to do Satan justice when I come to that part of his history, Mr. Milton's admirers must pardon me if I let them see, that though I admire Mr. Milton as a poet, yet that he was greatly out in matters of history, and especially the history of the Devil; in short, that he has charged Satan falsely in several particulars; and so he has Adam and Eve too: but that I shall leave till I come to the history of the royal family of Eden; which I resolve to present you with when the Devil and I have done with one another.
But not to run down Mr. Milton neither, whose poetry, nor his judgment, cannot be reproached without injury to our own; all those bright ideas of his, which make his poem so justly valued, whether they are capable of proof as to the fact, are, notwithstanding, confirmations of my hypothesis; and are taken from a supposition of the personality of the Devil, placing him at the head of the infernal host as a sovereign, elevated spirit, and monarch of Hell; and as such it is that I undertake to write his history.
By the word Hell, I do not suppose, or at least not determine, that his residence, or that of the whole army of devils, is yet in the same local hell to which the divines tell us he shall be at last chained down; or, at least, that he is yet. confined to it; for we shall find he is at present a prisoner at large; of both which circumstances of Satan I shall take occasion to speak in its course.
But when I call the Devil the monarch of Hell, I am to be understood as suits to the present purpose; that he is the sovereign of all the race of hell, that is to say, of all the devils or spirits of the infernal clan; let their numbers, quality, and powers, be what they will.
Upon this supposed personality and superiority of Satan, or, as I call it, the sovereignty and government of one Devil above all the rest; I say, upon this notion are formed all the systems of the dark side of futurity, that we can form in our minds; and so general is the opinion of it, that it will hardly bear to be opposed by any other argument, at least that will bear to be reasoned upon all the notions of a parity of devils, or making a commonwealth among the black divan, seem to
SUPERIORITY OVER OTHERS OF HIS RACE.
be enthusiastic and visionary, but with no consistency or certainty, and is so generally exploded that we must not venture so much as to debate the point.
Taking it, then, as the generality of mankind do, that there is a grand Devil, a superior of the whole black race; that they all fell, together with their general Satan at the head of them; that though he, Satan, could not maintain his high station in heaven, yet that he did continue his dignity among the rest who are called his servants, in Scripture, his angels; that he has a kind of dominion or authority over the rest, and that they were all, how many millions soever in number, at his command; employed by him in all his hellish designs, and in all his wicked contrivances for the destruction of man, and for the setting up his own kingdom in the world.
Supposing then, that there is such a superior master-Devil over the rest, it remains that we inquire into his character, and something of his history; in which, though we cannot perhaps produce such authentic documents as in the story oí other great monarchs, tyrants, and furies of the world; yet I shall endeavour to speak some things which the experience of mankind may be apt to confirm, and which the Devil himself will hardly be able to contradict.
It being then granted that there is such a thing or person, call him which we will, as a master-Devil; that he is thus superior to all the rest in power and in authority, and that all the other evil spirits are his angels, or ministers, or officers, to execute his commands, and are employed in his business; it remains to inquire, whence he came? how he came hither into this world? what that business is which he is employed about? what his present state is, and where and to what part of the creation of God he is limited and restrained? what the liberties are he takes, or is allowed to take? in what manner he works, and how his instruments are likewise allowed to work? what he has done ever since he commenced Devil, and what he is now doing, and what he may yet do before his last and closer confinement? as also what he cannot.do, and how far we may or may not be said to be exposed to him, or have or have not reason to be afraid of him? These and whatever else occurs in the history and conduct of this arch-devil and his agents, that may be useful for information, caution, or diversion, you may expect in the process of this work.
I know it has been questioned by some, with more face than fear, how it consists with a complete victory of the Devil, which they say was at first obtained by the heavenly powers over Satan and his apostate army in heaven, that when he was cast out of the holy place, and dashed down into the abyss of eternal darkness, as into a place of punishment, a condemned hole, or place of confinement, to be reserved there to the judgment of the great day; I say, how it consists with that entire victory, to let him loose again and give him liberty, like a thiet that has broke prison, to range about God's creation, and there to continue his rebellion, commit new ravages and acts of hostility against God, make new efforts at dethroning the Almighty Creator, and, in particular, to fall upon the weakest of his creatures, man; how Satan being so entirely vanquished, he should be permitted to recover any of his wicked powers, and find room to do mischief to mankind.
Nay, they go farther, and suggest bold things against the wisdom of heaven in exposing mankind, weak in comparison of the immense extent of the Devil's power, to so manifest an overthrow, to so unequal a fight, in which he is sure, if alone in the conflict, to be worsted, to leave him such a dreadful enemy to engage with, and so ill furnished with weapons to resist him.
These objections I shall give as good an answer to as the case will admit in their course, but must adjourn them for the present.
That the Devil is not yet a close prisoner, we have evidence enough to confirm; I will not suggest, that, like our Newgate thieves (to bring little devils and great devils together), he is let out by connivance, and has some little latitudes and advantages for mischief, by that means; returning at certain seasons to his confinement again. This might hold, were it not, that the comparison must suggest, that the power which has cast him down could be deluded, and the under-keepers or jailers, under whose charge he was in custody, could wink at his excursions, and the lord of the place know nothing of the matter. But this wants farther explanation.