Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

SUBTLETY PRACTISED ON THE WOMAN.

329

groundwork of his project; there needed no more than to bring her to be vain of it, and to conceit that it either was so, or was infinitely more sublime and beautiful than it really was; and having thus tickled her vanity, to introduce pride gradually, till at last he might persuade her that she was really angelic, or of heavenly race, and wanted nothing but to eat the forbidden fruit, and that would make her something more excellent still.

2. Looking farther into her frame, and with a nearer view to her imperfections, he saw room to conclude that she was of a constitution easy to be seduced, and especially by flattering her, raising a commotion in her soul, and a disturbance among her passions; and accordingly he set himself to work, to disturb her repose, and put dreams of great things into her head; together with something of a nameless nature, which (however some have been ill-natured enough to suggest) I shall not injure the Devil so much as to mention without better evidence.

3. But, besides this, he found, upon the very first survey of her outside, something so very charming in her mien and behaviour, so engaging as well as agreeable in the whole texture of her person, and withal such a sprightly wit, such a vivacity of parts, such a fluency of tongue, and, above all, such a winning prevailing whine in her smiles, or at least in her tears, that he made no doubt if he could but once delude her, she would easily be brought to delude Adam, whom he found set not only a great value upon her person, but was perfectly captivated by her charms; in a word, he saw plainly, that if he could but ruin her, he should easily make a devil of her, to ruin her husband, and draw him into any gulf of mischief, were it ever so black and dreadful, that she should first fall into herself. How far some may be wicked enough, from hence, to suggest of the fair sex, that they have been devils to their husbands ever since, I cannot say; I hope they will not be so unmerciful to discover truths of such fatal consequence, though they should come to their knowledge.

Thus subtle and penetrating has Satan been from the beginning; and who can wonder that, upon these discoveries made into the woman's inside, he went immediately to work with her, rather than with Adam? not but that one would think, if Adam was fool enough to be deluded by his wife,

the Devil might have seen so much of it in his countenance, as to have encouraged him to make his attack directly upon him, and not go round about, beating the bush, and ploughing with the heifer; setting upon the woman first, and then setting her upon her husband, who might as easily have been imposed upon as she.

Other commentators upon this critical text suggest to us, that Eve was not so pleased with the hopes of being made a goddess; that the pride of a seraphic knowledge did not so much work upon her imagination to bring her to consent, as a certain secret notion, infused into her head by the same wicked instrument, that she should be wiser than Adam, and should by the superiority of her understanding, necessarily have the government over him; which, at present, she was sensible she had not, he being master of a particular air of gravity and majesty, as well as of strength, infinitely superior to her.

This is an ill-natured suggestion; but it must be confessed, the impatient desire of government which (since that) appears in the general behaviour of the sex, and particularly of governing husbands, leaves too much room to legitimate the supposition.

The philosophers and expositors who are of this opinion, add to it, that this being her original crime, or the particular temptation to that crime, Heaven thought fit to show his justice, in making her more entire subjection to her husband be a part of the curse, that she might read her sin in the punishment, viz., He shall rule over thee.

I only give the general hint of these things as they appear recorded in the annals of Satan's first tyranny, and at the beginning of his government in the world; those that would be more particularly informed, may inquire of him and know farther.

I cannot, however, but observe here, with some regret, how it appears by the consequence, that the Devil was not mistaken when he made an early jndgment of Mrs. Eve; and how Satan really went the right way to work, to judge of her; it is certain the Devil had nothing to do but to look in her face, and upon a near steady view he might easily see there an instrument for his turn; nor has he failed to make her a tool ever since, by the very methods which he at first proposed; to which, perhaps, he has made some additions in

THE WOMAN AITURES THE MAN.

331

the corrupting her composition, as well as her understanding; qualifying her to be a complete snare to the poor weaker vessel man; to wheedle him with her syren's voice, abuse him with her smiles, delude him with her crocodile tears, and sometimes cock her crown at him, and terrify him with the thunder of her treble; making the effeminated male appleeater tremble at the noise of that very tongue which at first commanded him to sin. For it is yet a debate, which the learned have not decided, whether she persuaded and entreated him, or, like a true she-tyrant, exercised her authority and obliged him to eat the forbidden fruit.

And therefore a certain author, whose name, for fear of the sex's resentment, I conceal, brings her in, calling to Adam at a great distance, in an imperious haughty manner, beckoning to him with her hand, thus; Here, says she, you cowardly faint-hearted wretch, take this branch of heavenly fruit, eat and be a stupid fool no longer; eat and be wise; eat and be a god; and know, to your eternal shame, that your wife has been made an enlightened goddess before you.

He tells you, Adam hung back a little at first, and trembled, afraid to trespass: What ails the sot? says the new termagant; what are you afraid of? did God forbid you! yes; and why? that we might not be knowing and wise like himself! what reason can there be that we, who have capacious souls, able to receive knowledge, should have it withheld? take it, you fool, and eat; don't you see how I am exalted in soul by it, and am quite another creature? take it, I say, or, if you don't, I will go and cut down the tree, and you shall never eat any of it at all, and you shall be still a fool, and be governed by your wife for ever.

Thus, if this interpretation of the thing is just, she scolded him into it, rated him, and brought him to it by the terror of her voice; a thing that has retained a dreadful influence over him ever since; nor have the greatest of Adam's successors, how light soever some husbands make of it in this age, been ever able, since that, to conceal their terror at the very sound; nay, if we may believe history, it prevailed even among the gods; not all the noise of Vulcan's hammers could silence the clamours of that outrageous whore, his goddess; nay, even Jupiter himself led such a life with a termagant wife, that once, they say, Juno outscolded the noise of all his

thunders, and was within an ace of brawling him out of heaven. But to return to the Devil.

With these views he resolved, it seems, to attack the woman; and if we consider him as a devil, and what he aimed it, and consider the fair prospect he had of success, I must confess I do not see who can blame him, or at least, how anything less could be expected from him; but we shall meet with it again by and by.

CHAPTER V.

OF THE STATION SATAN HAD IN HEAVEN BEFORE HE FELL; THE NATURE AND ORIGINAL OF HIS CRIME, And some of mR. MILTON'S

MISTAKES ABOUT IT.

THUS far I have gone upon general observation in this great affair of Satan and his empire in this world; I now come to my title, and shall enter upon the historical part, as the main work before me.

Besides what has been said poetically, relating to the fall and wandering condition of the Devil and his host, which poetical part I offer only as an excursion, and desire it should be taken so; I shall give you what I think is deduced from good originals on the part of Satan's story in a few words.

He was one of the created angels, formed by the same omnipotent hand and glorious power who created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein: this innumerable heavenly host, as we have reason to believe, contained angels of higher and lower stations, of greater and of lesser degree, expressed in the Scripture by thrones, dominions, and principalities: this, I think, we have as much reason to believe, as we have that there are stars in the firmament (or starry heavens) of greater and of lesser magnitude.

What particular station among the immortal choir of angels this arch-seraph, this prince of devils, called Satan, was placed in before his expulsion, that, indeed, we cannot come at the knowledge of, at least, not with such an authority as may be depended upon; but as from Scripture authority, he is placed at the head of all the apostate armies, after he was fallen, we cannot think it in the least assuming to say, that he might be supposed to be one of the principal agents iz

STATION IN HEAVEN BEFORE THE FALL.

333

the rebellion which happened in heaven, and, consequently, that he might be one of the highest in dignity there, before that rebellion.

The higher his station, the lower, and with the greater precipitation, was his overthrow; and therefore, those words, though taken in another sense, may very well be applied to him: How art thou fallen, O Lucifer! Son of the Morning.

Having granted the dignity of his person, and the high station in which he was placed among the heavenly host, it would come then necessarily to inquire into the nature of his fall, and, above all, a little into the reason of it; certain it is, he did fall, was guilty of rebellion and disobedience, the just effect of pride; sins which, in that holy place, might well be called wonderful.

But what to me is more wonderful, and which, I think, will be very ill accounted for, is, How came seeds of crime to rise in the angelic nature? created in a state of perfect, unspotted holiness? how was it first found in a place where no unclean thing can enter? how came ambition, pride, or envy, to generate there? could there be offence where there was no crime? could untainted purity breed corruption? could the nature contaminate and infect, which was always partaking nourishment from, and taking in principles of, perfection?

Happy it is to me, that writing the history, not solving the difficulties of Satan's affairs, is my province in this work; that I am to relate the fact, not give reasons for it, or assign causes; if it was otherwise, I should break off at this difficulty, for I acknowledge I do not see through it; neither do I think that the great Milton, after all his fine images and lofty excursions upon the subject, has left it one jot clearer than he found it. Some are of opinion, and among them the great Dr. B-s, that crime broke in upon them at some interval when they omitted, but one moment, fixing their eyes and thoughts on the glories of the divine face, to admire and adore, which is the full employment of angels; but even this, though it goes as high as imagination can carry us, does not reach it, nor, to me, make it one jot more comprehensible than it was before; all I can say to it here, is, that so it was, the fact was upon record, and the rejected troop are in being (whose circumstances confess the guilt), and still groan under the punishment.

« VorigeDoorgaan »