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Chapter 3

Of the original of the Devil, who he is, and what he was before his expulsion out of Heaven, and in what state he was from that time to the creation of Man.

To come to a regular enquiry into Satan’s affairs, ’tis needful we should go back to his original, as far as history and the opinion of the learned World will give us leave.

It is agreed by all Writers, as well sacred as prophane, that this creature we now call a Devil, was originally an Angel of light, a glorious Seraph; perhaps the choicest of all the glorious Seraphs. See how Milton describes his original glory:

Satan, so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in Heaven: He of the first,
If not the first Archangel; great in power,
In favour and preeminence.
lib. v. fol. 140.

And again the same author, and upon the same subject:

———Brighter once amidst the host
Of Angels, than that star the stars among.
lib. vii. fol. 189.

 

The glorious figure which Satan is supposed to make among the Thrones and Dominions in Heaven is such, as we might suppose the highest Angel in that exalted train could make; and some think, as above, that he was the chief of the Arch-angels.

Hence that notion, (and not ill founded) namely, that the first cause of his disgrace, and on which ensued his rebellion, was occasioned upon God’s proclaiming his Son Generalissimo, and with himself supreme ruler in heaven; giving the dominion of all his works of creation, as well already finish’d, as not then begun, to him; which post of honour (say they) Satan expected to be conferr’d on himself, as next in honour, majesty and power to God the Supreme.

This opinion is follow’d by Mr. Milton too, as appears in the following lines, where he makes all the Angels attending all a general summons, and God the Father making the following declaration to them.

“Here, all ye Angels, prodigy of light,
“Thrones, dominions, princedoms, virtues, pow’rs!
“Hear my decree, which unrevok’d shall stand.
“This day I have begot whom I declare
“My only Son, and on this hill
“Him have anointed, whom you now behold
“At my right hand; your Head I Him appoint:
“And my self have sworn to him shall bow
“All knees in Heav’n, and shall confess him Lord,
“Under his great vice-gerent reign abide
“United, as one individual soul,
“For ever happy: Him who disobeys,
“Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day
“Cast out from God, and blessed vision, falls
“Into utter darkness, deep ingulph’d, his place
“Ordain’d without redemption, without end.

 

Satan, affronted at the appearance of a new Essence or Being in Heaven, call’d the Son of God; for God, says Mr. Milton, (tho’ erroneously) declared himself at that time, saying, This day have I begotten him, and that he should be set up, above all the former Powers of Heaven, of whom Satan (as above) was the Chief and expecting, if any higher post could be granted, it might be his due; I say, affronted at this he resolv’d

“With all his Legions to dislodge, and leave
“Unworship’d, unobey’d, the throne supreme
“Contemptuous. ———
Par. lost, lib. v. fo. 140.

 

But Mr. Milton is grosly erroneous in ascribing those words, This day have I begotten thee, to that declaration of the Father before Satan fell, and consequently to a time before the creation; whereas, it is by Interpreters agreed to be understood of the Incarnation of the Son of God, or at least of the Resurrection: [3] see Pool upon Acts xiii. 33.

In a word, Satan withdrew with all his followers malecontent and chagrine, resolv’d to disobey this new command, and not yield obedience to the Son.

But Mr. Milton agrees in that opinion, that the number of Angels which rebel’d with Satan was infinite, and suggests in one place, that they were the greatest half of all the angelick Body or seraphick Host.

“But Satan with his Power,
“An host
“Innumerable as the stars of night,
“Or stars of morning, dew drops, which the Sun
“Impearls on ev’ry leaf and ev’ry flower.
ib. lib. v. fo. 142.

 

Be their number as it is, numberless millions and legions of millions, that is no part of my present enquiry; Satan the leader, guide and superior, as he was author of the celestial rebellion, is still the great Head and Master-Devil as before; under his authority they still act, not obeying but carrying on the same insurrection against God, which they begun in Heaven; making war still against Heaven, in the person of his Image and Creature man; and tho’ vanquish’d by the thunder of the Son of God, and cast down headlong from Heaven, they have yet reassumed, or rather not lost either the will or the power of doing evil.

This fall of the Angels, with the war in Heaven which preceded it, is finely describ’d by Ovid, in his war of the Titans against Jupiter; casting mountain upon mountain, and hill upon hill (Pelion upon Ossa) in order to scale the Adamantine walls, and break open the gates of Heaven; till Jupiter struck them with his thunder-bolts and overwhelm’d them in the abyss: Vide Ovid Metam. new translation, lib. i. p. 19.

“Nor were the Gods themselves secure on high,
“For now the Gyants strove to storm the sky,
“The lawless brood with bold attempt invade
The Gods, and mountains upon mountains laid.
“But now the bolt, enrag’d the Father took,
Olympus from her deep foundations shook,
“Their structure nodded at the mighty stroke,
“And Ossa’s shatter’d top o’er Pelion broke,
“They’re in their own ungodly ruines slain.—

 

Then again speaking of Jupiter, resolving in council to destroy mankind by a deluge, and giving the reasons of it to the heavenly Host, say thus, speaking of the demy-Gods alluding to good men below.

“Think you that they in safety can remain,
“When I my self who o’er Immortals reign,
“Who send the lightning, and Heaven’s empire sway,
“The stern [4] Lycaon practis’d to betray.
ib. p. 10.

 

Since then so much poetic liberty is taken with the Devil, relating to his most early state, and the time before his fall, give me leave to make an excursion of the like kind, relating to his History immediately after the fall, and till the creation of man; an interval which I think much of the Devil’s story is to be seen in, and which Mr. Milton has taken little notice of, at least it does not seem compleatly fill’d up; after which I shall return to honest Prose again, and persue the duty of an Historian.

Satan, with hideous ruin thus supprest
Expell’d the seat of blessedness and rest,
Look’d back and saw the high eternal mound,
Where all his rebel host their outlet found
Restor’d impregnable: The breach made up,
And garrisons of Angels rang’d a top;
In front a hundred thousand thunders roll,
And lightnings temper’d to transfix a soul,
Terror of Devils. Satan and his host,
Now to themselves as well as station lost,
Unable to support the hated sight,
Expand seraphic wings, and swift as light
Seek for new safety in eternal Night.

In the remotest gulphs of dark they land,
Here vengeance gives them leave to make their stand,
Not that to steps and measures they pretend,
Councils and schemes their station to defend;
But broken, disconcerted and dismay’d,
By guilt and fright to guilt and fright betray’d;
Rage and confusion ev’ry Spirit possess’d,
And shame and horror swell’d in ev’ry breast;
Transforming envy to their essentials burns,
And the bright Angel to a frightful Devil turns.
Thus Hell began; the fire of conscious rage
No years can quench, no length of time asswage.
Material Fire, with its intensest flame,
Compar’d with this can scarce deserve a Name;
How should it up to immaterials rise,
When we’re all flame, we shall all fire despise.
This fire outrageous and its heat intense
Turns all the pain of loss to pain of sense.
The folding flames concave and inward roll,
Act upon spirit and penetrate the soul:
Not force of Devils can its new powers repel,
Where’er it burns it finds or makes a Hell;
For Satan flaming with unquench’d desire
Forms his own Hell, and kindles his own fire,
Vanquish’d, not humbl’d, not in will brought low,
But as his powers decline his passions grow:
The malice, Viper like, takes vent within,
Gnaws its own bowels, and bursts in its own sin:
Impatient of the change he scorns to bow,
And never impotent in power till now;
Ardent with hate, and with revenge distract,
A will to new attempts, but none to act;
Yet all seraphick, and in just degree,
Suited to Spirits high sense of misery,
Deriv’d from loss which nothing can repair,
And room for nothing left but meer despair.
Here’s finish’d Hell! what fiercer fire can burn?
Enough ten thousand Worlds to over-turn.
Hell’s but the frenzy of defeated pride,
Seraphick Treason’s strong impetuous tide,
Where vile ambition disappointed first,
To its own rage and boundless hatred curst;
The hate’s fan’d up to fury, that to flame,
For fire and fury are in kind the same;
These burn unquenchable in every face,
And the word Endless constitutes the place.

O state of Being! where being’s the only grief,
And the chief torture’s to be damn’d to life;
O life! the only thing they have to hate;
The finish’d torment of a future state,
Compleat in all the parts of endless misery,
And worse ten thousand times than not to Be!
Could but the Damn’d the immortal law repeal,
And Devils dye, there’d be an end of Hell;
Could they that thing call’d Being annihilate,
There’d be no sorrows in a future state;
The Wretch, whose crimes had shut him out on high,
Could be reveng’d on God himself and die;
Job’s Wife was in the right, and always we
Might end by death all human misery,
Might have it in our choice, to be or not to be.




Daniel Defoe

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