Being an Introduction to the whole Work.
I doubt not but the title of this book will amuse some of my reading friends a little at first; they will make a pause, perhaps, as they do at a witch’s prayer, and be some time resolving whether they had best look into it or no, lest they should really raise the Devil by reading his story.
Children and old women have told themselves so many frightful things of the Devil, and have form’d ideas of him in their minds, in so many horrible and monstrous shapes, that really it were enough to fright the Devil himself, to meet himself in the dark, dress’d up in the several figures which imagination has form’d for him in the minds of men; and as for themselves, I cannot think by any means that the Devil would terrify them half so much, if they were to converse face to face with him.
It must certainly therefore be a most useful undertaking to give the true history of this Tyrant of the air, this God of the world, this terror and aversion of mankind, which we call Devil; to shew what he is, and what he is not, where he is, and where he is not, when he is in us, and when he is not; for I cannot doubt but that the Devil is really and bona fide in a great many of our honest weak-headed friends, when they themselves know nothing of the matter.
Nor is the work so difficult as some may imagine. The Devil’s history is not so hard to come at, as it seems to be; His original and the first rise of his family is upon record, and as for his conduct, he has acted indeed in the dark, as to method in many things; but in general, as cunning as he is, he has been fool enough to expose himself in some of the most considerable transactions of his Life, and has not shewn himself a politician at all: Our old friend Matchiavel outdid him in many things, and I may in the process of this work give an account of several of the sons of Adam, and some societies of ’em too, who have out-witted the Devil, nay, who have out-sin’d the Devil, and that I think may be call’d out-shooting him in his own bow.
It may perhaps be expected of me in this history, that since I seem inclin’d to speak favourably of Satan, to do him justice, and to write his story impartially, I should take some pains to tell you what religion he is of; and even this part may not be so much a jest, as at first sight you may take it to be; for Satan has something of religion in him, I assure you; nor is he such an unprofitable Devil that way, as some may suppose him to be; for tho’, in reverence to my brethren, I will not reckon him among the Clergy; No not so much as a gifted Brother, yet I cannot deny, but that he often preaches, and if it be not profitably to his hearers; ’tis as much their fault, as it is out of his design.
It has indeed been suggested that he has taken orders, and that a certain Pope, famous for being an extraordinary favourite of his, gave him both institution and induction; but as this is not upon record, and therefore we have no authentic document for the probation, I shall not affirm it for a truth, for I would not slander the Devil.
It is said also, and I am apt to believe it, that he was very familiar with that holy father Pope Silvester II. and some charge him with personating Pope Hildebrand on an extraordinary occasion, and himself sitting in the chair apostolick, in a full congregation; and you may hear more of this hereafter: But as I do not meet with Pope Diabolus among the list; in all father Platina’s lives of the Popes, so I am willing to leave it as I find it.
But to speak to the point, and a nice point it is I acknowledge; namely, what religion the Devil is of; my answer will indeed be general, yet not at all ambiguous, for I love to speak positively and with undoubted evidence.
1. He is a believer. And if in saying so it should follow, that even the Devil has more religion than some of our men of fame can at this time be charged with, I hope my Lord —— and his Grace the —— of —— and some of the upper class in the red-hot club, will not wear the coat, however well it may sit to their shapes, or challenge the Satyr, as if it were pointed at them, because ’tis due to them: In a word, whatever their Lordships are, I can assure them that the Devil is no Infidel.
2. He fears God. We have such abundant evidence of this in sacred History, that if I were not at present, in common with a few others, talking to an infidel sort of Gentlemen, with whom those remote things call’d Scriptures are not allow’d in evidence, I might say it was sufficiently prov’d; but I doubt not in the process of this undertaking to shew, that the Devil really fears God, and that after another manner than ever he fear’d Saint Frances or Saint Dunstan; and if that be proved, as I take upon me to advance, I shall leave it to judgment, who’s the better Christian, the Devil who believes and trembles, or our modern gentry of —— who believe neither God nor Devil.
Having thus brought the Devil within the Pale, I shall leave him among you for the present; not but that I may examine in its order who has the best claim to his brotherhood, the Papists or the Protestants; and among the latter the Lutherans or the Calvinists; and so descending to all the several denominations of churches, see who has less of the Devil in them, and who more; and whether less or more the Devil has not a seat in every synagogue, a pew in every church, a place in every pulpit, and a vote in every synod; even from the Sanhedrim of the Jews, to our friends at the Bull and Mouth, &c. from the greatest to the least.
It will, I confess, come very much within the compass of this part of my discourse, to give an account, or at least make an essay toward it, of the share the Devil has had in the spreading religion in the world; and especially of dividing and subdividing opinions in religion; perhaps, to eke it out and make it reach the farther; and also to shew how far he is or has made himself a missionary of the famous clan de propaganda fide; it is true, we find him heartily employ’d in almost every corner of the world ad propagandum errorem: But that may require a history by it self.
As to his propagating religion, ’tis a little hard indeed, at first sight, to charge the Devil with propagating religion, that is to say, if we take it literally, and in the gross; but if you take it as the Scots insisted to take the oath of fidelity, viz. with an explanation, it is plain Satan has very often had a share in the method, if not in the design of propagating the christian faith: For example.
I think I do no injury at all to the Devil, to say that he had a great hand in the old holy war, as it was ignorantly and enthusiastically call’d; stirring up the christian princes and powers of Europe to run a madding after the Turks and Saracens, and make war with those innocent people above a thousand miles off, only because they entred into God’s heritage when he had forsaken it; graz’d upon his ground when he had fairly turn’d it into a common, and laid it open for the next comer; spending their nation’s treasure, and embarking their kings and people, (I say) in a war above a thousand miles off, filling their heads with that religious madness, call’d, in those days, holy zeal to recover the terra sancta, the sepulchers of Christ and the Saints, and as they call’d it falsly, the holy city, tho’ true religion says it was the accursed city, and not worth spending one drop of blood for.
This religious Bubble was certainly of Satan, who, as he craftily drew them in, so like a true Devil he left them in the lurch when they came there, fac’d about to the Saracens, animated the immortal Saladin against them, and manag’d so dexterously that he left the bones of about thirteen or fourteen hundred thousand Christians there as a trophy of his infernal politicks; and after the christian world had run a la santa terra, or in English a saunt’ring, about a hundred year, he dropt it to play another game less foolish, but ten times wickeder than that which went before it, namely, turning the crusadoes of the Christians one against another; and, as Hudibras said in another case,
“Made them fight like mad or drunk
“For dame religion as for punk.
Of this you have a compleat account in the history of the Popes decrees against the Count de Thoulouse, and the Waldenses and Albigenses, with the crusadoes and massacres which follow’d upon them, wherein to do the Devil’s politicks some justice, he met with all the success he could desire; the zealots of that day executed his infernal orders most punctually, and planted religion in those countries in a glorious and triumphant manner, upon the destruction of an infinite number of innocent people, whose blood has fatten’d the soil for the growth of the Catholick faith, in a manner very particular, and to Satan’s full satisfaction.
I might, to compleat this part of his history, give you the detail of his progress in these first steps of his alliances with Rome; and add a long list of massacres, wars, and expeditions in behalf of religion, which he has had the honour to have a visible hand in; such as the Parisian massacre, the Flemish war under the Duke d’ Alva, the Smithfield fires in the Marian days in England, and the massacres in Ireland; all which would most effectually convince us that the Devil has not been idle in his business; but I may meet with these again in my way, ’tis enough, while I am upon the generals only, to mention them thus in a summary way; I say, ’tis enough to prove that the Devil has really been as much concerned as any body, in the methods taken by some people for propagating the christian religion in the world.
Some have rashly, and I had almost said maliciously charg’d the Devil with the great triumphs of his friends the Spaniards in America, and would place the conquest of Mexico and Peru to the credit of his account.
But I cannot join with them in this at all, I must say, I believe the Devil was innocent of that matter; my reason is, because, Satan was never such a fool as to spend his time, or his politicks, or embark his allies to conquer nations who were already his own; that would be Satan against Beelzebub, making war upon himself, and at least doing nothing to the purpose.
If they should charge him, indeed, with deluding Philip II. of Spain into that preposterous attempt call’d the Armada, (anglice, the Spanish Invasion,) I should indeed more readily join with them; but whether he did it weakly, in hope, which was indeed not likely, that it should succeed; or wickedly, to destroy that great fleet of the Spaniards, and draw them within the reach of his own dominions, the elements; this being a question which authors differ exceedingly about, I shall leave it to decide it self.
But the greatest piece of management, which we find the Devil has concern’d himself in of late, in the matter of religion, seems to be that of the mission into China; and here indeed Satan has acted his master-piece: It was, no doubt, much for his service that the Chineses should have no insight into matters of religion, I mean, that we call christian; and therefore, tho’ Popery and the Devil are not at so much variance as some may imagine, yet he did not think it safe to let the general system of Christianity be heard of among them in China. Hence when the name of the christian religion had but been received with some seeming approbation in the country of Japan, Satan immediately, as if alarm’d at the thing, and dreading what the consequence of it might be, arm’d the Japoneses against it with such fury, that they expell’d it at once.
It was much safer to his designs, when, if the story be not a fiction, he put that Dutch witicism into the mouths of the States commanders, when they came to Japan; who having more wit than to own themselves Christians in such a place as that, when the question was put to them, answered negatively, That they were not, but that they were of another religion call’d Hollanders.
However, it seems the diligent Jesuits out-witted the Devil in China, and, as I said above, over-shot him in his own Bow; for the mission being in danger by the Devil and the Chinese Emperor’s joining together, of being wholly expell’d there too, as they had been in Japan, they cunningly fell in with the ecclesiasticks of the country, and joining the priestcraft of both religions together, they brought Jesus Christ and Confucius to be so reconcilable, that the Chinese and the Roman idolatry appeared capable of a confederacy, of going on hand in hand together, and consequently of being very good friends.
This was a master-piece indeed, and, as they say, almost frighted Satan out of his wits; but he being a ready manager, and particularly famous for serving himself of the rogueries of the priests, fac’d about immediately to the mission, and making a virtue of necessity, clapt in, with all possible alacrity, with the proposal; so the Jesuits and he form’d a hotch-potch of religion made up of Popery and Paganism and calculated to leave the latter rather worse than they found it, binding the faith of Christ and the philosophy or morals of Confucius together, and formally christening them by the name of religion; by which means the politick interest of the mission was preserved; and yet Satan lost not one inch of ground with the Chineses, no, not by the planting the Gospel it self, such as it was, among them.
Nor has it been such disadvantage to him that this plan or scheme of a new modell’d religion would not go down at Rome, and that the Inquisition damn’d it with Bell, Book and Candle; distance of place serv’d his new allies, the missionaries, in the stead of a protection from the Inquisition; and now and then a rich present well plac’d found them friends in the congregation it self; and where any Nuncio with his impudent zeal pretended to take such a long voyage to oppose them, Satan took care to get him sent back re infecta, or inspir’d the million to move him off the premisses, by methods of their own (that is to say, being interpreted) to murther him.
Thus the mission has in itself been truly devilish, and the Devil has interested himself in the planting the christian religion in China.
The influence the Devil has in the Politicks of mankind, is another especial part of his history, and would require, if it were possible, a very exact description; but here we shall necessarily be obliged to inquire so nicely into the Arcana of circumstances, and unlock the cabinets of state in so many courts, canvass the councils of ministers and the conduct of princes so fully, and expose them so much, that it may, perhaps, make a combustion among the great politicians abroad; and in doing that we may come so near home too, that tho’ personal safety and prudentials forbid our medling with our own country, we may be taken in a double entendre, and fall unpitied for being only suspected of touching truths that are so tender, whether we are guilty or no; on these accounts I must meddle the less with that part, at least for the present.
Be it that the Devil has had a share in some of the late councils of Europe, influencing them this way or that way, to his own advantage, what is it to us? For example, What if he has had any concern in the late affair of Thorn? What need we put it upon him, seeing his confederates the Jesuites with the Assessorial tribunal of Poland take it upon themselves? I shall leave that part to the issue of time. I wish it were as easy to persuade the world that he had no hand in bringing the injur’d Protestants to leave the justice due to the cries of protestant blood to the arbitrament of a popish power, who dare say that the Devil must be in it, if justice should be obtain’d that way: I should rather say, the Devil is in it, or else it would never be expected.
It occurs next to enquire from the premisses, whether the Devil has more influence or less in the affairs of the world now, than he had in former ages; and this will depend upon comparing, as we go along, his methods and way of working in past times, and the modern politicks by which he acts in our days; with the differing reception which he has met with among the men of such distant ages.
But there is so much to enquire of about the Devil, before we can bring his story down to our modern times, that we must for the present let them drop, and look a little back to the remoter parts of this history; drawing his picture that people may know him when they meet him, and see who and what he is, and what he has been doing ever since he got leave to act in the high station he now appears in.
In the mean time, if I might obtain leave to present an humble petition to Satan, it should be, that he would according to modern usage oblige us all, with writing the history of his own times; ’twould, as well as one that is gone before it, be a Devilish good one; for as to the sincerity of the performance, the authority of the particulars, the justice of the characters, &c. if they were no better vouch’d, no more consistent with themselves, with charity, with truth, and with the honour of an historian, than the last of that kind which came abroad among us, it must be a reproach to the Devil himself to be the author of it.
Were Satan to be brought under the least obligation to write truth, and that the matters of fact, which he should write, might be depended upon, he is certainly qualified by his knowledge of things to be a compleat historian; nor could the Bishop himself, who, by the way, has given us already the Devil of a history, come up to him: Milton’s Pandemonium, tho’ an excellent dramatick performance, would appear a meer trifling sing-song business, beneath the dignity of Chevy-chase: The Devil could give us a true account of all the civil wars in Heaven; how and by whom, and in what manner he lost the day there, and was oblig’d to quit the field: The fiction of his refusing to acknowledge and submit to the Messiah, upon his being declar’d Generalissimo of the Heavenly forces, which Satan expected himself, as the eldest officer; and his not being able to brook another to be put in over his head; I say, that fine-spun thought of Mr. Milton would appear to be strain’d too far, and only serve to convince us that he (Milton) knew nothing of the matter. Satan knows very well, that the Messiah was not declared to be the Son of God with power till by and after the resurrection from the dead, and that all power was then given him in Heaven and earth, and not before; so that Satan’s rebellion must derive from other causes, and upon other occasions, as he himself can doubtless give us an account, if he thinks fit, and of which we shall speak further in this work.
What a fine History might this old Gentleman write of the Antediluvian world, and of all the weighty affairs, as well of state as of religion, which happen’d during the fifteen hundred years of the patriarchal administration!
Who, like him, could give a full and compleat account of the Deluge, whether it was a meer vindictive, a blast from Heaven, wrought by a supernatural power in the way of miracle? or whether, according to Mr. Burnet’s Theory, it was a consequence following antecedent causes by the meer necessity of nature; seen in constitution, natural position, and unavoidable working of things, as by the Theory publish’d by that learn’d enthusiast it seems to be?
Satan could easily account for all the difficulties of the Theory, and tell us whether, as there was a natural necessity of the Deluge, there is not the like necessity and natural tendency to a Conflagration at last.
Would the Devil exert himself as an Historian, for our improvement and diversion, how glorious an account could he give us of Noah’s Voyage round the world, in the famous Ark! he could resolve all the difficulties about the building it, the furnishing it, and the laying up provision in it for all the collection of kinds that he had made; He could tell us whether all the creatures came voluntier to him to go into the ark, or whether he went a hunting for several years before, in order to bring them together.
He could give us a true relation how he wheedled the people of the next world into the absurd ridiculous undertaking of building a Babel; how far that stupendous stair-case, which was in imagination to reach up to Heaven, was carried, before it was interrupted and the builders confounded; how their speech was alter’d, how many Tongues it was divided into, or whether they were divided at all; and how many subdivisions or dialects have been made since that, by which means very few of God’s creatures, except the Brutes, understand one another, or care one farthing whether they do or no.
In all these things Satan, who, no doubt, would make a very good chronologist, could settle every Epocha, correct every Calendar, and bring all our accounts of time to a general agreement; as well the Grecian Olympiads, the Turkish Heghira, the Chinese fictitious account of the world’s duration, as our blind Julian and Gregorian accounts, which have put the world, to this day, into such confusion, that we neither agree in our holy-days or working days, fasts or feasts, nor keep the same sabbaths in any part of the same globe.
This great Antiquary could bring us to a certainty in all the difficulties of ancient story, and tell us whether the tale of the siege of Troy, and the rape of Helen was a fable of Homer or a history; whether the fictions of the Poets are form’d from their own brain, or founded in facts; and whether letters were invented by Cadmus the Phœnician, or dictated immediately from Heaven at mount Sinai.
Nay, he could tell us how and in what manner he wheedled Eve, deluded Adam, put Cain into a passion, till he made him murther his own brother; and made Noah, who was above 500 years a preacher of righteousness, turn Sot in his old age, dishonour all his ministry, debauch himself with wine, and by getting drunk and exposing himself, become the jest and laughing-stock of his children, and of all his posterity to this day.
And would Satan, according to the modern practice of the late right reverend Historian, enter into the characters of the great men of his age, how should we be diverted with the just history of Adam, in paradise and out of it; his character, and how he behaved at and after his expulsion; how Cain wandered in the land of Nod, what the mark was which God set upon him, whose daughter his wife was, and how big the city was he built there, according to a certain Poet of noble extraction,
How Cain in the land of Nod
When the rascal was alone
Like an owl in an ivy tod
Built a city as big as Roan.
He could have certainly drawn Eve’s picture, told us every feature in her face, and every inch in her shape, whether she was a perfect beauty or no, and whether with the fall she did grow crooked, ugly, ill-natur’d and a scold; as the learned Valdemar suggests to be the effects of the curse.
Descending to the character of the Patriarchs in that age, he might, no doubt, give us in particular the characters of Belus, worship’d under the name of Baal; with Satan, and Jupiter, his successors; who they were here, and how they behaved; with all the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Abimilechs of Canaan, and the great monarchs of Assyria and Babylon.
Hence also he is able to write the lives of all the Heroes of the world, from Alexander of Macedon to Lewis the XIV. and from Augustus to the great King George; nor could the Bishop himself go beyond him for flattery, any more than the Devil himself could go beyond the Bishop for falshood.
I could enlarge with a particular satisfaction upon the many fine things which Satan, rummaging his inexhaustible storehouse of slander, could set down to blacken the characters of good men, and load the best Princes of the world with infamy and reproach.
But we shall never prevail with him, I doubt, to do mankind so much service, as resolving all those difficulties would be; for he has an indelible grudge against us; as he believes, and perhaps is assur’d that men were at first created by his sovereign, to the intent that after a certain state of Probation in life, such of them as shall be approved, are appointed to fill up those vacancies in the Heavenly Host, which were made by the abdication and expulsion of him (the Devil) and his Angels; so that man is appointed to come in Satan’s stead, to make good the breach, and enjoy all those ineffable Joys and Beatitudes which Satan enjoy’d before his fall; no wonder then, that the Devil swells with envy and rage at mankind in general, and at the best of them in particular; nay, the granting this point is giving an unanswerable reason, why the Devil practises with such unwearied and indefatigable application upon the best men, if possible, to disappoint God Almighty’s decree, and that he should not find enough among the whole Race, to be proper subjects of his clemency, and qualified to succeed the Devil and his host, or fill up the places vacant by the Fall. It is true indeed, the Devil, who we have reason to say is no fool, ought to know better than to suppose that if he should seduce the whole race of mankind, and make them as bad as himself, he could, by that success of his wickedness, thwart or disappoint the determined purposes of Heaven; but that those which are appointed to inherit the Thrones, which he and his followers abdicated, and were deposed from, shall certainly be preserv’d in spite of his Devices for that inheritance, and shall have the possession secur’d to them, notwithstanding all that the Devil and all the Host of Hell can do to prevent it.
But, however he knows the certainty of this, and that when he endeavours the seducing the chosen servants of the most High, he fights against God himself, struggles with irresistible grace, and makes war with infinite power; undermining the church of God, and that faith in him which is fortified with the eternal promises of Jesus Christ, that the gates of Hell, that is to say, the Devil and all his power, shall not prevail against them; I say, however he knows the impossibility there is that he should obtain his ends, yet so blind is his rage, so infatuate his wisdom, that he cannot refrain breaking himself to pieces against this mountain, and splitting against the rock. qui Jupiter vult perdere hos dementat.
But to leave this serious part, which is a little too solemn, for the account of this rebel; seeing we are not to expect he will write his own History for our information and diversion, I shall see if I cannot write it for him: In order to this, I shall extract the substance of his whole story, from the beginning to our own times, which I shall collect out of what is come to hand, whether by revelation or inspiration, that’s nothing to him; I shall take care so to improve my intelligence, as may make my account of him authentick, and, in a word, such as the Devil himself shall not be able to contradict.
In writing this uncouth story I shall be freed from the censures of the Criticks, in a more than ordinary manner, upon one account especially; (viz.) that my story shall be so just and so well grounded, and, after all the good things I shall say of Satan, will be so little to his satisfaction, that the Devil himself will not be able to say, I dealt with the Devil in writing it: I might, perhaps, give you some account where I had my intelligence, and how all the Arcana of his management have come to my hands; but pardon me, Gentlemen, this would be to betray conversation, and to discover my agents, and you know statesmen are very careful to preserve the correspondences they keep in the enemy’s country, lest they expose their friends to the resentment of the Power whose councils they betray.
Besides, the learned tell us, that ministers of state make an excellent plea of their not betraying their intelligence, against all party inquiries into the great sums of money pretended to be paid for secret service; and whether the secret service was to bribe people to betray things abroad or at home; whether the money was paid to some body or to no body, employ’d to establish correspondences abroad, or to establish families and amass treasure at home; in a word, whether it was to serve their country or serve themselves, it has been the same thing, and the same plea has been their protection: Likewise in the important affair which I am upon, ’tis hoped you will not desire me to betray my Correspondents; for you know Satan is naturally cruel and malicious, and who knows what he might do to shew his resentment? at least it might endanger a stop of our intelligence for the future.
And yet, before I have done, I shall make it very plain, that however my information may be secret and difficult, that yet I came very honestly by it, and shall make a very good use of it; for ’tis a great mistake in those who think that an acquaintance with the affairs of the Devil may not be made very useful to us all: They that know no evil can know no good; and, as the learned tell us, that a stone taken out of the head of a Toad is a good antidote against poison; so a competent knowledge of the Devil, and all his ways, may be the best help to make us defie the Devil and all his works.