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 learn’d 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 brevi Manu, by his own inherent Power, as well as Rage; that he cannot unhinge this Creation, which, as I have observ’d 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 call’d Man, and fill the Vacancies occasion’d by his Degeneracy and Rebellion.
This fill’d 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 compleat Devil, with a 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 exquisite Quality call’d 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 call’d Revenge; how natural to Man, nay even to both Sexes; how pleasant in the very Contemplation, tho’ there be not just at that Time a Power of Execution; how palatable it is in it self, and how well it relishes when dish’d up with its proper Sauces, such as Plot, 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 (Damnation) 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 Honour 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 a Hell within us, and how imperceptibly they assimilate and transform us into Devils, meer human Devils, as really Devils as Satan himself, or any of his Angels; and that therefore ’tis 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, tho’ 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, fir’d with Rage and Envy, in consequence of his Jealousy upon the Creation of Man, his Torment is encreased to the highest by the Limitation of his Power, and his 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 a Hell within himself, and himself a meer 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 intense Fire flaming about and from within him, at all the Pores of his 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 trac’d in his several Attacks upon Mankind, and has been so ever since his first Appearance in Paradise; as to his corporal Visibility that is not the present Question neither; ’tis enough that we can hunt him by the Foot, that we can follow him as Hounds do a Fox upon a 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, tho’ 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, and to pass and repass in the Air, as really, tho’ not perceptible to us, as the Spirits of Men do after their release from the Body, pass to the Place (wherever that is) which is appointed for them.
If the Devil was confin’d 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 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; who we make little more or less than keepers and Turnkeys to Hell, as a Goal; 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 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 sustain’d by a sordid Neglect of our Concern in that excellent Part, in exchange for the most contemptible and justly condemn’d 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 it self.
And this brings me directly to the Point in Hand, (viz.) the State of that Hell which 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 fill’d with this unquenchable Fire, he is expel’d the Place of Glory, banish’d 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 compleat, (viz.) the Duration of it all, the Eternity of his Condition; that he is without Hope, without Redemption, without Recovery.
If any thing can inflame this Hell and make it hotter, ’tis 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 form’d for him in Heaven, and the Scheme of it perfected on Earth; by which this Man, tho’ 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 tho’ 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, ’tis 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 it self Fire also; I will not say it cannot be, because to Infinite every Thing 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 it self, that Liberty he has now may be farther abridg’d; when he may be return’d 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 describe, for all that Treason and those high Crimes and Misdemeanours which he has been guilty of here, in his Conversation with Mankind.
As his Infelicity will be then consummated and compleated, so the Infelicity of that Part of Mankind, who are condemn’d 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 compleat Hell, so the hated Company of the Deceiver, who was the great Cause of his Ruine, must be a Subject of additional Horror, and he will be always saying, as a Scots 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,
O tu fundamenta jecisti———
I would not treat the very Subject it self 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 Sides 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 because they can understand no other; I think all these Notions and Representations of Hell and of the Devil, to be as prophane as they are ridiculous, and I ought no more to talk prophanely 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 inutterable, 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 ought we know, to all the other inhabited Worlds which God has made, where-ever 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 expell’d for his Treason and Rebellion.
His Liberty then being thus ascertain’d, 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 influenc’d 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 thro’ the Course of this whole Work, and frequently be touch’d 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 our selves down to Order and Regularity, either as to Time, or Place, or Persons; for Satan being hic & ubique, a loose ungovern’d Fellow, we must be content to trace him where we can find him.
It is true, in the foregoing Chapter, I shew’d you the Devil entred into the Herd Ecclesiastick, 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 murthering his Master the Emperor; and the General to recognise the Pope in dethroning 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 a Hand in it, not a Tyrant but he prompts him, not a Government but he has a —— 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 Mississipi in France, and to the South-Sea Cheats at ———; 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 Dodwells 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, Enquire within, and you shall know farther.