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business is mischief, seducing and deluding mankind, and drawing him in to be a rebel like himself, should threaten to seize upon them, carry them away, and, in a word, fall upon them to hurt them, if they did evil, and on the contrary, be favourable and civil to them, if they did well.
Thus a poor deluded country fellow in our town, that had lived a wicked, abominable, debauched life, was frightened with an apparition, as he called it, of the Devil; he fancied that he spoke to him, and telling his tale to a good honest Christian gentleman his neighbour, that had a little more sense than himself, the gentleman asked him if he was sure he really saw the Devil? Yes, yes, sir, says he, I saw him very plain; and so they began the following discourse.
GENT. See him! see the Devil! art thou sure of it, Thomas? THO. Yes, yes, I am sure enough of it, master; to be sure it was the Devil.
GENT. And how do you know 'twas the Devil, Thomas? had you ever seen the Devil before?
THO. No, no, I had never seen him before, to be sure, but for all that I know it was the Devil.
GENT. Well, if you are sure, Thomas, there's no contradicting you; pray what clothes had he on?
THO. Nay, sir, don't jest with me, he had no clothes on, he was clothed with fire and brimstone.
GENT. Was it dark or daylight when you saw him?
GENT. How could you see him then? did you see by the light of the fire you speak of?
THO. No, no, he gave me no light himself, but I saw him for all that.
GENT. But was it within doors, or out in the street? THO. It was within, it was in my own chamber, when I was just going into bed, that I saw him.
GENT. Well, then, you had a candle, hadn't you THO. Yes, I had a candle, but it burnt as blue! and as dim!
GENT. Well, but if the Devil was clothed with fire and brimstone, he must give you some light; there can't be such a fire as you speak of but it must give a light with it.
THO. No, no, he gave no light, but I smelt his fire and brimstone; he left a smell of it behind him, when he was gone.
EFFECT ON A TERRIFIED CONSCIENCE.
GENT. Well, so you say he had fire, but gave no light: it was a devilish fire, indeed; did it feel warm? was the room hot while he was in it?
THO. No, no, but I was hot enough without it, for it put me into a great sweet with the fright.
GENT. Very well, he was all in fire, you say, but without light or heat, only it seems he stunk of brimstone; pray what shape was he in? what was he like? for you say you saw him.
THO. O! sir, I saw two great staring saucer eyes, enough to frighten anybody out of their wits.
GENT. And was that all you saw?
THO. No, I saw his cloven-foot very plain; t'was as big as one of our bullocks that goes to plough.
GENT. So you saw none of his body but his eyes and his feet? a fine vision, indeed!
THO. No, that was enough to send me going.
GENT. Going what did you run away from him? THO. No, but I fled into bed at one jump, and sunk down, and pull'd the bedclothes quite over me.
GENT. And what did you do that for?
THO. To hide myself from such a frightful creature. GENT. Why, if it had really been the Devil, do you think the bedclothes would have secured you from him?
THO. Nay, I don't know, but in a fright it was all I could do.
GENT. Nay, 'twas as wise as all the rest; but come, Thomas, to be a little serious, pray did he speak to you? THO. Yes, yes, I heard a voice, but who it was the Lord knows.
GENT. What kind of voice was it? was it like a man's voice?
THO. No; it was a hoarse ugly noise, like the croaking of a frog, and it called me by my name twice, Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson !
GENT. Well, did you answer?
THO. No, not I, I could not have spoken a word for my life; why, I was frightened to death!
GENT. Did it say anything else?
THO. Yes, when it saw that I did not speak, it said Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson, you are a wicked wretch; you lay with Jenny Slast night; if you don't repent, I will take
you away alive and carry you to hell, and you shall be damn'd, you wretch.
GENT. And was it true, Thomas? did you lie with Jenny the night before?
THO. Indeed, master, it was true; but I was very sorry afterwards.
GENT. But how should the Devil know it, Thomas?
THO. Nay, he knows it to be sure; why, they say he knows everything.
GENT. Well, but why should he be angry at that? he would rather bid you lie with her again, and encourage you to lie with forty whores, than hinder you: this can't be th Devil, Thomas.
THO. Yes, yes, sir, 'twas the Devil to be sure.
GENT. But he bid you repent too, you say?
THO. Yes, he threatened me if I did not.
GENT. Why, Thomas, do you think the Devil would have you repent?
THO. Why no, that's true too; I don't know what to say to that; but what could it be? 'twas the Devil to be sure, it could be nobody else.
GENT. No, no, 'twas neither the Devil, Thomas, nor anybody else, but your own frightened imagination, Thomas; you had lain with that wench, and being a young sinner of that kind, your conscience terrified you, told you the Devil would fetch you away, and you would be damn'd; and you were so persuaded it would be so, that you at last imagined he was come for you indeed; that you saw him and heard him; whereas, you may depend upon it, if Jenny S will let you lie with her every night, the Devil will hold the candle, or do anything to forward it, but will never disturb you; he's too much a friend to your wickedness; it could never be the Devil, Thomas; 'twas only your own guilt frightened you, and that was devil enough, too, if you knew the worst of it; you need no other enemy.
THO. Why that's true, master, one would think the Devil should not bid me repent, that's true; but certainly 'twas the Devil for all that.
Now Thomas was not the only man that, having committed a flagitious crime, had been deluded by his own imagination, and the power of fancy, to think the Devil was come for him; whereas, the Devil, to give him his due, is too honest to
RETAINS GREATNESS AND MAGNIFICENCE.
pretend to such things; it is his business to persuade men to offend, not to repent, as he professes no other. He may press men to this or that action, by telling them it 's no sin, no offence, no breach of God's law, and the like, when really it is both; but to press them to repent, when they have offended, that is quite out of his way; it is none of his business, nor does he pretend to it; therefore, let no man charge the Devil with what he is not concerned in.
But to return to his person; he is, as I have said, notwithstanding his lost glory, a mighty, a terrible, and an immortal spirit; he is himself called a Prince, the Prince of the Power of the air, the Prince of Darkness, the Prince of Devils, and the like, and his attending spirits are called his angels; so that however Satan has lost the glory and rectitude of his nature, by his apostate state, yet he retains a greatness and magnificence, which places him above our rank, and indeed above our conception; for we know not what he is, any more than we know what the blessed angels are; of whom we can say no more than that they are ministering spirits, &c., as the Scripture has described them.
Two things, however, may give us some insight into the nature of the Devil, in the present state he is in; and these we have a clear discovery of in the whole series of his conduct from the beginning.
1. That he is the vanquished but implacable enemy of God his creator, who has conquered him, and expelled him from the habitations of bliss; on which account he is filled with envy, rage, malice, and all uncharitableness; would dethrone God, and overturn the thrones of heaven if it was in his power.
2. That he is man's irreconcilable enemy; not as he is a man, nor on his own account simply, nor for any advantage he (the Devil) can make by the ruin and destruction of man, but in mere envy at the felicity he is supposed to enjoy as Satan's rival; and as he is appointed to succeed Satan and his angels in the possession of those glories from which they are fallen.
And here I must take upon me to say, Mr. Milton makes a wrong judgment of the reason of Satan's resolution to disturb the felicity of man; he tells us it was merely to affront God his maker, rob him of the glory designed in his new work of creatic, and to disappoint him in his main design,
namely, the creating a new species of creatures, in a perfect rectitude of soul, and after his own image, from whom he might expect a new fund of glory should be raised, and who was to appear as the triumph of the Messiah's victory over the Devil. In all which Satan could not be fool enough not to know that he should be disappointed by the same power which had so eminently counteracted his rage before.
But, I believe, the Devil went upon a much more probable design; and though he may be said to act upon a meaner principle than that of pointing his rage at the personal glory of his Creator, yet I own, that in my opinion, it was by much the more rational undertaking, and more likely to succeed; and that was, that whereas he perceived this new species of creatures had a sublime as well as human part, and were made capable of possessing the mansions of eternal beatitude from whence he (Satan) and his angels were expelled and irretrievably banished; envy at such a rival moved him by all possible artifice (for he saw himself deprived of capacity to do it by force), to render him unworthy, like himself; and that bringing him to fall into rebellion and disobedience, he might see his rival damned with him; and those who were intended to fill up the empty spaces in heaven, made so by the absence of so many millions of fallen angels, be cast out into the same darkness with them.
How he came to know that this new species of creatures were liable to such imperfection, is best explained by the Devil's prying, vigilant disposition, judging or leading him to judge by himself (for he was as near being infallible as any of God's creatures had been), and then inclining him to try whether it was so or no.
Modern naturalists, especially some who have not so large a charity for the fair sex as I have, tell us, that as soon as ever Satan saw the woman, and looked in her face, he saw it evidently that she was the best-formed creature to make a fool of, and the best to make a hypocrite of, that could be made, and therefore the most fitted for his purpose.
1. He saw by some thwart lines in her face (legible, perhaps, to himself only) that there was a throne ready prepared for the sin of pride to sit in state upon, especially it took an early possession. Eve, you may suppose, was a perfect beauty, if ever such a thing may be supposed in the human frame; her figure being so extraordinary was the