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Chapter 2

Of the word DEVIL, as it is a proper name to the Devil, and any or all his host, Angels, &c.

It is a question, not yet determined by the learned, whether the word Devil be a singular, that is to say, the name of a person standing by himself, or a noun of multitude; if it be a singular, and so must be used personally only as a proper name, it consequently implies one imperial Devil, Monarch or King of the whole clan of Hell; justly distinguish’d by the term the Devil, or as the Scots call him, the muckle horn’d Dee’l, or as others in a wilder dialect, the Devil of Hell, that is to say, the Devil of a Devil; or (better still) as the Scripture expresses it, by way of emphasis, the great red Dragon, the Devil and Satan.

But if we take this word to be, as above, a noun of multitude, and so to be used ambo-dexter, as occasion presents, singular or plural; then the Devil signifies Satan by himself, or Satan with all his Legions at his heels, as you please, more or less; and this way of understanding the word, as it may be very convenient for my purpose, in the account I am now to give of the infernal Powers, so it is not altogether improper in the nature of the thing: It is thus express’d in Scripture, where the person possess’d Matt. iv. 24. is first said to be possess’d of the Devil (singular) and our Saviour asks him, as speaking to a single person, what is thy name? and is answer’d in the plural and singular together, my name is Legion, for we are many.

Nor will it be any wrong to the Devil, supposing him a single person, seeing entitling him to the conduct of all his inferior Agents, is what he will take rather for an addition to his infernal glory, than a diminution or lessening of him in the extent of his Fame.

Having thus articl’d with the Devil for liberty of speech, I shall talk of him sometimes in the singular, as a person, and sometimes in the plural, as an host of Devils or of infernal Spirits, just as occasion requires, and as the history of his affairs makes necessary.

But before I enter upon any part of his history, the nature of the thing calls me back, and my Lord B—— of —— in his late famous orations in defence of liberty, summons me to prove that there is such a thing or such a person as the Devil; and in short, unless I can give some evidence of his existence, as my Lord —— said very well, I am talking of nobody.

D—m me, Sir, says a graceless comrade of his to a great man, your Grace will go to the Devil.

D—m ye, Sir, says the D——, then I shall go no where; I wonder where you intend to go?

Nay, to the D——l too I doubt, says Graceless, for I am almost as wicked as my Lord Duke.

D. Thou ar’t a silly empty Dog, says the D—, and if there is such a place as a Hell, tho’ I believe nothing of it, ’tis a place for fools, such as thou art.

Gr. I wonder then, what Heaven the great wits go to, such as my Lord Duke; I don’t care to go there, let it be where it will; they are a tiresome kind of people, there’s no bearing them, they’ll make a Hell wherever they come.

D. Prithee hold thy fool’s tongue, I tell thee, if there is any such place as we call no where; that’s all the Heaven or Hell that I know of, or believe any thing about.

Gr. Very good, my Lord—; so that Heaven is no where, and Hell is no where, and the Devil is nobody, according to my Lord Duke!

D. Yes Sir, and what then?

Gr. And you are to go no where when you die, are you?

D. Yes, you Dog, don’t you know what that incomparable noble genius my Lord Rochester sings upon the subject, I believe it unfeignedly,

After death nothing is,
And nothing death.

Gr. You believe it, my Lord, you mean, you would fain believe it if you could; but since you put that great genius my Lord Rochester upon me, let me play him back upon your Grace; I am sure you have read his fine poem upon nothing, in one of the stanzas of which is this beautiful thought,

And to be part of [2] thee
The wicked wisely pray.

D. You are a foolish Dog.

Gr. And my Lord Duke is a wise Infidel.

D. Why? is it not wiser to believe no Devil, than to be always terrify’d at him?

Gr. But shall I toss another Poet upon you, my Lord?

If it should so fall out, as who can tell
But there may be a God, a Heaven and Hell?
Mankind had best consider well, for fear
’T should be too late when their mistakes appear.

D. D—m your foolish Poet, that’s not my Lord Rochester.

Gr. But how must I be damn’d, if there’s no Devil? Is not your Grace a little inconsistent there? My Lord Rochester would not have said that, and’t please your Grace.

D. No, you Dog, I am not inconsistent at all, and if I had the ordering of you, I’d make you sensible of it; I’d make you think your self damn’d for want of a Devil.

Gr. That’s like one of your Grace’s paradoxes, such as when you swore by God that you did not believe there was any such thing as a God, or Devil; so you swear by nothing, and damn me to no where.

D. You are a critical Dog, who taught you to believe these solemn trifles? who taught you to say there is a God?

Gr. Nay, I had a better school-master than my Lord Duke.

D. Why, who was your school-master pray?

Gr. The Devil, and’t please your Grace.

D. The Devil! the Devil he did? what you’re going to quote Scripture, are you? Prithee don’t tell me of Scripture, I know what you mean, the Devils believe and tremble; why then I have the whip-hand of the Devil, for I hate trembling; and I am deliver’d from it effectually, for I never believed any thing of it, and therefore I don’t tremble.

Gr. And there, indeed, I am a wickeder creature than the Devil, or even than my Lord Duke, for I believe, and yet don’t tremble neither.

D. Nay, if you are come to your penitentials I have done with you.

Gr. And I think I must have done with my Lord Duke, for the same reason.

D. Ay, ay, pray do, I’ll go and enjoy my self; I won’t throw away the pleasure of my life, I know the consequence of it.

Gr. And I’ll go and reform my self, else I know the consequence too.

This short Dialogue happen’d between two men of quality, and both men of wit too; and the effect was, that the Lord brought the reality of the Devil into the question, and the debate brought the profligate to be a penitent; so in short, the Devil was made a preacher of repentance.

The Truth is, God and the Devil, however opposite in their nature, and remote from one another in their place of abiding, seem to stand pretty much upon a level in our faith: For as to our believing the reality of their existence, he that denies one, generally denies both; and he that believes one, necessarily believes both.

Very few, if any of those who believe there is a God, and acknowledge the debt of homage which mankind owes to the supreme Governor of the World, doubt the existence of the Devil, except here and there one, whom we call practical Atheists; and ’tis the character of an Atheist, if there is such a creature on Earth, that like my Lord Duke, he believes neither God or Devil.

As the belief of both these stands upon a level, and that God and the Devil seem to have an equal share in our faith, so the evidence of their existence seems to stand upon a level too, in many things; and as they are known by their Works in the same particular cases, so they are discover’d after the same manner of demonstration.

Nay, in some respects ’tis equally criminal to deny the reality of them both, only with this difference, that to believe the existence of a God is a debt to nature, and to believe the existence of the Devil is a like debt to reason; one is a demonstration from the reality of visible causes, and the other a deduction from the like reality of their effects.

One demonstration of the existence of God, is from the universal well-guided consent of all nations to worship and adore a supreme Power; One demonstration of the existence of the Devil, is from the avow’d ill-guided consent of some nations, who knowing no other God, make a God of the Devil, for want of a better.

It may be true, that those nations have no other Ideas of the Devil than as of a superior Power; if they thought him a supreme Power it would have other effects on them, and they would submit to and worship him with a different kind of fear.

But ’tis plain they have right notions of him as a Devil or evil Spirit, because the best reason, and in some places the only reason they give for worshiping him is, that he may do them no hurt; having no notions at all of his having any power, much less any inclination to do them good; so that indeed they make a meer Devil of him, at the same time that they bow to him as to a God.

All the ages of Paganism in the World have had this notion of the Devil: indeed in some parts of the World they had also some Deities which they honour’d above him, as being supposed to be beneficent, kind and inclined, as well as capable to give them good things; for this reason the more polite Heathens, such as the Grecians and the Romans, had their Lares or houshold Gods, whom they paid a particular respect to; as being their Protectors from Hobgoblins, Ghosts of the Dead, evil Spirits, frightful Appearances, evil Genius’s and other noxious Beings from the invisible World; or to 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 call’d 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 ’tis 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 plac’d 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 enquire 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 his Schools, nor wholly to confine my self 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 punishments; 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: On the contrary, to conceive of a sublime fallen Arch-angel, 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, tho’ blessed in it self, is to them the most compleat 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 banish’d to them with inconceivable horror and amazement.

But when you have gone over all this, and a great deal more of the like, tho’ 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 suffer’d, 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 discover’d by the most learned; nor do I believe ’tis made less a difficulty by their medling 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 idoliz’d Numa, he is of the race of the Gods.

That Satan is a fallen Angel, a rebel Seraph, cast out for his Rebellion, is the general opinion, and ’tis not my business to dispute things universally receiv’d; as he was try’d, condemn’d, 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, ’tis certain, amounted to High-treason against his Lord and Governor, who was also his Maker; against whom he rose in rebellion, took up arms, and in a word, rais’d 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 commenc’d Devils, being transform’d 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 Mr. Milton’s majestick Poem; where, tho’ he has play’d the Poet in a most luxuriant manner, he has sinn’d against Satan most egregiously, and done the Devil a manifest injury in a great many particulars, as I shall shew in its place. And as I shall be oblig’d 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 tho’ 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 falsly 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, or 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 chain’d down; or at least that he is yet confin’d 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 form’d 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 oppos’d by any other argument, at least that will bear to be reason’d upon: All the notions of a parity of Devils, or making a common-wealth among the black Divan, seem to be enthusiastick 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 tho’ he, Satan, could not maintain his high station in Heaven, yet that he did continue his dignity among the rest, who are call’d 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; employ’d 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 all the rest, it remains that we enquire into his character, and something of his History; in which, tho’ we cannot perhaps produce such authentick documents as in the story of 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 employ’d in his business; it remains to enquire, whence he came? how he got hither, into this World? what that business is which he is employ’d 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 allow’d to take? in what manner he works, and how his instruments are likewise allow’d to work? what he has done ever since he commenc’d Devil, 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 question’d by some, with more face than fear, how it consists with a compleat 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 his holy place, and dash’d down into the abyss of eternal darkness, as into a place of punishment, a condemn’d hold, 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 thief that has broken 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 vanquish’d, 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 furnish’d with weapons to assist him.

These objections I shall give as good an answer to as the case will admit in this 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 jaylors, 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.




Daniel Defoe

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