Of the Devil’s last Scene of Liberty, and what may be supposed to be his End, with what we are to understand of his being tormented for ever and ever.
As the Devil is a Prince of the Power of the Air, his Kingdom is mortal, and must have an End; and as he is call’d the God of this World, that is, the great Usurper of the Homage and Reverence which Mankind ought of right to pay to their Maker, so his Usurpation also, like the World it self, must have an End: Satan is call’d the God of the World, as Men too much prostrate and prostitute themselves to him, yet he is not the Governor of this World; and therefore the Homage and Worship he has from the World is an Usurpation; and this will have an End, because the World it self will have an End; and all Mankind, as they had a beginning in Time, so must expire and be remov’d before the End of Time.
Since then the Devil’s Empire is to expire and come to an End, and that the Devil himself and all his Host of Devils are immortal Seraphs, Spirits that are not embodied and cannot die, but are to remain in being; the Question before us next will be, what is to become of him? what is his State to be? whether is he to wander, and in what Condition is he to remain to that Eternity to which he is still to exist?
I hope no Man will mistake me so much in what I have said as to Spirits, which are all Flame, not being affected with Fire, as if I supposed there was no Place of Punishment for the Devil, nor any Kind of Punishment that could affect them; and so of our Spirits also when transform’d into Flame.
I must be allow’d to speak there of that material Fire, by which, as by an Allegory, all the Terrors of an eternal State are represented to us in Scripture, and in the Writings of the learned Commentators, and by which the Pain of Sense is describ’d; this, perhaps, I do not understand as they seem to do, and therefore have said,
When we’re all Flame (that is all Spirit) we shall all Fire (that is, all such Fire as this) despise. And thus I claim to be understood.
It does not follow from hence, neither do I suggest, or so much as think that infinite Power cannot form a something (tho’ inconceivable to us here) which shall be as tormenting, and as insupportable to a Devil, an apostate Seraph, and to a Spirit, tho’ exalted, unembodied and rarified into Flame, as Fire would be to other Bodies; in which I think I am orthodox, and do not give the least Occasion to an Enemy to charge me with profane Speaking, in those Words, or to plead for thinking prophanely himself.
It must be Atheistical to the last Degree to suggest, that whereas the Devil has been heaping up and amassing Guilt ever since the Creation of Man, encreasing in hatred of God and Rebellion against him, and in all possible endeavour to dethrone and depose the Majesty of Heaven; that yet Heaven had not prepar’d, or could not prepare a just Penalty for him; and that it should not all end in God’s entire Victory over Hell, and in Satan’s open Condemnation: Heaven could not be just to its own Glory, if he should not avenge himself upon this Rebel, for all his superlative Wickedness in his modern as well as ancient Station; for the Blood of so many millions of his faithful Subjects and Saints whom he has destroy’d; and if nothing else offer’d it self to prove this Part, it would appear undoubted to me; but this, I confess, does not belong to Satan’s History, and therefore I have reserv’d it to this Place, and shall also be the shorter in it.
That his Condition is to be a State of Punishment, and that by Torment, the Devil himself has own’d, and his calling out to our blessed Lord when he cast him out of the furious Man among the Tombs, is a Proof of it, What have we to do with thee, and art thou come to torment us before the Time? Luke viii. 28. where the Devil acknowledges four Things, and three of them are directly to my present Purpose, and if you won’t believe the Word of God, I hope you will believe the Devil, especially when ’tis an open Confession against himself.
1. He confess Christ to be the Son of God (that by the Way) and no Thanks to him, for that does not want the Devil’s Evidence.
2. He acknowledges he may be tormented.
3. He acknowledges Christ was able to torment him.
4. He acknowledges that there is a Time appointed when he shall be tormented.
As to how, in what Manner, and by what Means, this tormenting the Devil is to be performed or executed, that I take to be as needless to us as ’tis impossible to know, and being not at present inclined to fill your Heads and Thoughts with weak and imperfect Guesses, I leave it where I find it.
It is enough to us that this Torment of the Devil is represented to us by Fire, it being impossible for our confin’d Thoughts to conceive of Torment by any Thing in the World more exquisite; whence I conclude, that Devils shall at last receive a Punishment suitable to their Spirituous Nature, and as exquisitely Tormenting as a burning Fire would be to our Bodies.
Having thus settl’d my own Belief of this Matter, and stated it so, as I think will let you see ’tis rightly sounded, the Matter stands thus.
Satan having been let loose to play his Game in this World, has improv’d his Time to the utmost; he has not fail’d on all Occasions to exert his Hatred, Rage, and Malice at his Conqueror and Enemy, namely, his Maker; he has nor fail’d, from Principles of meer Envy and Pride, to pursue Mankind with all possible Rancour, in order to deprive him of the Honour and Felicity which he was created for, namely, to succeed the Devil and his Angels in the State of Glory from which they fell.
This Hatred of God and Envy at Man, having broken out in so many several Ways in the whole Series of Time from the Creation, must necessarily have greatly encreased his Guilt; and as Heaven is righteous to judge him, must terminate in an encrease of Punishment, adequate to his Crime, and sufficient to his Nature.
Some have suggested, that there is yet a Time to come, when the Devil shall exert more Rage, and do more Mischief than ever yet he has been permitted to do; whether he shall break his Chain, or be unchain’d for a Time, they cannot tell, nor I neither; and ’tis happy for my Work, that even this Part too does not belong to his History; if ever it shall be given an Account of by Mankind, it must be after it is come to pass, for my Part is not Prophesy of foretelling what the Devil shall do, but History of what he has done.
Thus, good People, I have brought the History of the Devil down to your own Times; I have, as it were, rais’d him for you, and set him in your View, that you may know him and have a Care of him.
If any cunninger Men among you think they are able now to lay him again, and so dispose of him out of your Sight, that you shall be troubled no more with him, either here or hereafter, let them go to work with him their own Way; you know Things future do not belong to an Historian, so I leave him among you, wishing you may be able to give no worse an Account of him for the Time to come, than I have done for the Time past.