Of the name of the Devil, his original, and the nature of his circumstances since he has been called by that name.
The Scripture is the first writing on earth where we find the Devil called by his own proper distinguishing denomination, DEVIL, or the  Destroyer; nor indeed is there any other author of antiquity or of sufficient authority which says any thing of that kind about him.
Here he makes his first appearance in the world, and on that occasion he is called the Serpent; but the Serpent however since made to signify the Devil, when spoken of in general terms, was but the Devil’s representative, or the Devil in quo vis vehiculo, for that time, clothed in a bodily shape, acting under cover and in disguise, or if you will the Devil in masquerade: Nay, if we believe Mr. Milton, the Angel Gabriel’s spear had such a secret powerful influence, as to make him strip of a sudden, and with a touch to unmask, and stand upright in his naked original shape, meer Devil, without any disguises whatsoever.
Now as we go to the Scripture for much of his history, so we must go there also for some of his names; and he has a great variety of names indeed, as his several mischievous doings guide us to conceive of him. The truth is, all the ancient names given him, of which the Scripture is full, seems to be originals derived from and adapted to the several steps he has taken, and the several shapes he has appeared in to do mischief in the world.
Here he is called the Serpent, Gen. iii. 1.
The old Serpent, Rev. xii. 9.
The great red Dragon, Rev. xii. 3.
The Accuser of the Brethren, Rev. xii. 10.
The Enemy, Matt. xxiii. 29.
Satan, Job i. Zech. iii. 1, 2.
Belial, 2 Cor. vi. 15.
Beelzebub, Matt. xii. 24.
Mammon, Matt. vi. 24.
The Angel of light, 2 Cor. xi. 14.
The Angel of the bottomless pit, Rev. ix. 11.
The Prince of the power of the air, Eph. ii. 2.
Lucifer, Isa. xiv. 12.
Abbaddon or Apollion, Rev. ix. 11.
Legion, Mark v. 9.
The God of this world, 2 Cor. iv. 4.
The Foul Spirit, Mark ix. 5.
The Unclean Spirit, Mark i. 27.
The Lying Spirit, 2 Chron. xxx.
The Tempter, Matt. iv. 3.
The Son of the morning, Isa. xiv. 12.
But to sum them all up in one, he is called in the new Testament plain Devil; all his other names are varied according to the custom of speech, and the dialects of the several nations where he is spoken of; But in a word, Devil is the common name of the Devil in all the known languages of the earth. Nay, all the mischiefs he is empowered to do, are in Scripture placed to his account, under the particular title of the Devil, not of Devils in the plural number, though they are sometimes mentioned too; but in the singular it is the identical individual Devil, in and under whom all the little Devils, and all the great Devils, if such there be, are supposed to act; nay, they are supposed to be govern’d and directed by him. Thus we are told in Scripture of the works of the Devil, 1 John iii. 8. of casting out the Devil, Mark i. 34. of resisting the Devil, James iv. 5. of our Saviour being tempted of the Devil, Mat. iv. 1. of Simon Magus, a child of the Devil, Acts xiii. 10. The Devil came down in a great wrath, Rev. xii. 12. and the like. According to this usage in speech we go on to this day, and all the infernal things we converse with in the world, are fathered upon the Devil, as one undivided simple essence, by how many agents soever working: Every thing evil, frightful in appearance, wicked in its actings, horrible in its manner, monstrous in its effects, is called the Devil; in a word, Devil is the common name for all Devils; that is to say, for all evil Spirits, all evil Powers, all evil Works, and even all evil things: Yet ’tis remarkable the Devil is no old Testament word, and we never find it used in all that part of the Bible but four times, and then not once in the singular number, and not once to signify Satan as ’tis now understood.
It is true, the Learned give a great many differing interpretations of the word Devil; the English Commentators tell us, it means a destroyer, others that it signifies a deceiver, and the Greeks derive it from a Calumniator or false witness; for we find that Calumny was a Goddess, to whom the Athenians built altars and offer’d Sacrifices upon some solemn occasions, and they call her Διαβολὴ from whence came the masculine Διάβολος which we translate Devil.
Thus we take the name of Devil to signify not persons only, but actions and habits; making imaginary Devils, and transforming that substantial creature call’d Devil into every thing noxious and offensive: Thus St. Francis being tempted by the Devil in the shape of a bag of money lying in the highway, the Saint having discover’d the fraud, whether seeing his Cloven-foot hang out of the purse, or whether he distinguish’d him by his smell of sulphur, or how otherwise, authors are not agreed; but, I say, the Saint having discover’d the cheat, and out-witted the Devil, took occasion to preach that eminent sermon to his disciples, where his Text was, Money is the Devil.
Nor, upon the whole, is any wrong done to the Devil by this kind of treatment, it only gives him the sovereignty of the whole army of Hell, and making all the numberless legions of the bottomless pit servants; or, as the Scripture calls them, Angels to Satan the grand Devil; all their actions, performances and atchievements are justly attributed to him, not as the prince of Devils only, but the Emperor of Devils; the prince of all the princes of Devils.
Under this denomination then of Devil, all the Powers of Hell, all the Princes of the air, all the black armies of Satan are comprehended, and in such manner they are to be understood in this whole work; mutatis mutandis, according to the several circumstances of which we are to speak of them.
This being premis’d, and my authority being so good, Satan must not take it ill, if I treat him after the manner of men, and give him those titles which he is best known by among us; for indeed having so many, ’tis not very easy to call him out of his name.
However, as I am oblig’d by the duty of an Historian to decency as well as impartiality, so I thought it necessary, before I used too much freedom with Satan, to produce authentick Documents, and bring antiquity upon the stage, to justify the manner of my writing, and let you see I shall describe him in no colours, nor call him by any name, but what he has been known by for many ages before me.
And now, though writing to the common understanding of my Readers, I am oblig’d to treat Satan very coarsly, and to speak of him in the common acceptation, calling him plain Devil, a word which in this mannerly age is not so sonorous as others might be, and which by the error of the Times is apt to prejudice us against his Person; yet it must be acknowledg’d he has a great many other names and sirnames which he might be known by, of a less obnoxious import than that of Devil, or Destroyer, &c.
Mr. Milton, indeed, wanting titles of honour to give to the Leaders of Satan’s Host, is oblig’d to borrow several of his Scripture names, and bestow them upon his infernal Heroes, whom he makes the Generals and Leaders of the armies of Hell; and so he makes Beelzebub, Lucifer, Belial, Mammon, and some others, to be the names of particular Devils, members of Satan’s upper house or Pandemonium; whereas indeed, these are all names proper and peculiar to Satan himself.
The Scripture also has some names of a coarser kind, by which the Devil is understood, as particularly, which is noted already, in the Apocalypse he is call’d the Great Red Dragon, the Beast, the Old Serpent, and the like: But take it in the Scripture, or where you will in History sacred or prophane, you will find that in general the Devil is, as I have said above, his ordinary name in all languages and in all nations; the name by which he and his works are principally distinguish’d: Also the Scripture, besides that it often gives him this name, speaks of the works of the Devil, of the subtilty of the Devil, of casting out Devils, of being tempted of the Devil, of being possess’d with a Devil, and so many other expressions of that kind, as I have said already, are made use of for us to understand the evil Spirit by, that in a word, Devil is the common name of all wicked Spirits: For Satan is no more the Devil, as if he alone was so, and all the rest were a diminutive species who did not go by that name; But, I say, even in Scripture, every Spirit, whether under his Dominion or out of his Dominion, is called the Devil, and is as much a real Devil, that is to say, a condemn’d Spirit, and employ’d in the same wicked work as Satan himself.
His Name then being thus ascertain’d, and his Existence acknowledg’d, it should be a little enquir’d what he is; we believe there is such a thing, such a creature as the Devil, and that he has been, and may still with propriety of speech, and without injustice to his Character be call’d by his antient name Devil.
But who is he? what is his original? whence came he? and what is his present station and condition? for these things and these enquiries are very necessary to his History, nor indeed can any part of his History be compleat without them.
That he is of an antient and noble original must be acknowledged, for he is Heaven-born, and of Angelic Race, as has been touch’d already: If Scripture-evidence may be of any weight in the question, there is no room to doubt the genealogy of the Devil; he is not only spoken of as an Angel, but as a fallen Angel, one that had been in Heaven, had beheld the face of God in his full effulgence of glory, and had surrounded the Throne of the most High; from whence, commencing rebel and being expell’d, he was cast down, down, down, God and the Devil himself only knows where; for indeed we cannot say that any man on Earth knows it; and wherever it is, he has ever since man’s creation been a plague to him, been a tempter, a deluder, a calumniator, an enemy and the object of man’s horror and aversion.
As his original is Heaven-born, and his Race Angelic, so the Angelic nature is evidently plac’d in a class superior to the human, and this the Scripture is express in also; when speaking of man, it says, he made him a little lower than the Angels.
Thus the Devil, as mean thoughts as you may have of him, is of a better family than any of you, nay than the best Gentleman of you all; what he may be fallen to, is one thing, but what he is fallen from, is another; and therefore I must tell my learned and reverend friend J. W. LL. D. when he spoke so rudely of the Devil lately, That in my opinion he abus’d his Betters.
Nor is the Scripture more a help to us in the search after the Devil’s Original, than it is in our search after his Nature: it is true, Authors are not agreed about his age, what time he was created, how many years he enjoy’d his state of blessedness before he fell; or how many years he continued with his whole army in a state of darkness, and before the creation of man. ’Tis supposed it might be a considerable space, and that it was a part of his punishment too, being all the while unactive, unemploy’d, having no business, nothing to do but gnawing his own Bowels, and rolling in the agony of his own self-approaches, being a Hell to himself in reflecting on the glorious state from whence he was fallen.
How long he remain’d thus, ’tis true, we have no light into from History, and but little from Tradition; Rabbi Judah says, the Jews were of the opinion, that he remain’d twenty thousand years in that condition, and that the World shall continue twenty thousand more, in which he shall find work enough to satisfy his mischievous desires; but he shews no authority for his opinion.
Indeed let the Devil have been as idle as they think he was before, it must be acknowledg’d that now he is the most busy, vigilant and diligent, of all God’s creatures, and very full of employment too, such as it is.
Scripture indeed, gives us light into the enmity there is between the two natures, the Diabolical and the Human; the reason of it, and how and by what means the power of the Devil is restrain’d by the Messias; and to those who are willing to trust to Gospel-light, and believe what the Scripture says of the Devil, there may much of his History be discover’d, and therefore those that list may go there for a fuller account of the matter.
But to reserve all Scripture-evidence of these things, as a Magazine in store for the use of those with whom Scripture-testimony is of force, I must for the present turn to other enquiries, being now directing my story to an age, wherein to be driven to Revelation and Scripture-assertions is esteem’d giving up the dispute; people now-a-days must have demonstration; and in a word, nothing will satisfy the age, but such evidence as perhaps the nature of the question will not admit.
It is hard, indeed, to bring demonstrations in such a case as this: No man has seen God at any time, says the scripture, 1 John iv. 12. So the Devil being a spirit incorporeal, an Angel of light, and consequently not visible in his own substance, nature and form, it may in some sense be said, no man has seen the Devil at any time; all those pretences of phrenziful and fanciful people, who tell us, they have seen the Devil, I shall examine, and perhaps expose by themselves.
It might take up a great deal of our time here, to enquire whether the Devil has any particular shape or personality of substance, which can be visible to us, felt, heard, or understood; and which he cannot alter, and then, what shapes or appearances the Devil has at any time taken upon him; and whether he can really appear in a body which might be handled and seen, and yet so as to know it to have been the Devil at the time of his appearing; but this also I defer as not of weight in the present enquiry.
We have divers accounts of Witches conversing with the Devil; the Devil in a real body, with all the appearance of a body of a man or woman appearing to them; also of having a Familiar, as they call it, an Incubus or little Devil, which sucks their bodies, runs away with them into the air, and the like: Much of this is said, but much more than it is easy to prove, and we ought to give but a just proportion of credit to those things.
As to his borrow’d shapes and his subtle transformings, that we have such open testimony of, that there is no room for any question about it; and when I come to that part, I shall be oblig’d rather to give a history of the fact, than enter into any dissertation upon the nature and reason of it.
I do not find in any author, whom we can call creditable, that even in those countries where the dominion of Satan is more particularly establish’d, and where they may be said to worship him in a more particular manner, as a Devil; which some tell us the Indians in America did, who worship’d the Devil that he might not hurt them; yet, I say, I do not find that even there the Devil appear’d to them in any particular constant shape or personality peculiar to himself.
Scripture and History therefore, giving us no light into that part of the question, I conclude and lay it down, not as my opinion only, but as what all ages seem to concur in, that the Devil has no particular body; that he is a spirit, and that tho’ he may, Proteus like, assume the appearance of either man or beast, yet it must be some borrow’d shape, some assum’d figure, pro hac vice, and that he has no visible body of his own.
I thought it needful to discuss this as a preliminary, and that the next discourse might go upon a certainty in this grand point; namely, that the Devil, however, he may for his particular occasions put himself into a great many shapes, and clothe himself, perhaps, with what appearances he pleases, yet that he is himself still a meer Spirit, that he retains the seraphic Nature, is not visible by our eyes, which are human and Organic, neither can he act with the ordinary Powers, or in the ordinary manner as bodies do; and therefore, when he has thought fit to descend to the meannesses of disturbing and frightning children and old women, by noises and knockings, dislocating the chairs and stools, breaking windows, and such like little ambulatory things, which would seem to be below the dignity of his character, and which in particular, is ordinarily performed by organic Powers; yet even then he has thought fit not to be seen, and rather to make the poor people believe he had a real shape and body, with hands to act, mouth to speak, and the like, than to give proof of it in common to the whole World, by shewing himself, and acting visibly and openly, as a body usually and ordinarily does.
Nor is it any disadvantage to the Devil, that his Seraphic nature is not confin’d or imprison’d in a body or shape, suppose that shape to be what monstrous thing we would; for this would, indeed, confine his actings within the narrow sphere of the organ or body to which he was limited; and tho’ you were to suppose the body to have wings for a velocity of Motion equal to spirit, yet if it had not a power of invisibility too, and a capacity of conveying it self, undiscover’d, into all the secret recesses of mankind, and the same secret art or capacity of insinuation, suggestion, accusation, &c. by which his wicked designs are now propagated, and all his other devices assisted, by which he deludes and betrays mankind; I say, he would be no more a Devil, that is a Destroyer, no more a Deceiver, and, no more a Satan, that is, a dangerous Arch enemy to the souls of men; nor would it be any difficulty to mankind to shun and avoid him, as I shall make plain in the other part of his History.
Had the Devil from the beginning been embodied, as he could not have been invisible to us, whose souls equally seraphic are only prescrib’d by being embody’d and encas’d in flesh and blood as we are; so he would have been no more a Devil to any body but himself: The imprisonment in a body, had the powers of that body been all that we can conceive to make him formidable to us, would yet have been a Hell to him; consider him as a conquer’d exasperated Rebel, retaining all that fury and swelling ambition, that hatred of God, and envy at his creatures which dwells now in his enrag’d spirit as a Devil: yet suppose him to have been condemn’d to organic Powers, confin’d to corporeal motion, and restrain’d as a Body must be supposed to restrain a Spirit; it must, at the same time, suppose him to be effectually disabled from all the methods he is now allow’d to make use of, for exerting his rage and enmity against God, any farther than as he might suppose it to affect his Maker at second hand, by wounding his Glory thro’ the sides of his weakest creature, Man.
He must, certainly, be thus confin’d, because Body can only act upon Body, not upon Spirit; no species being empower’d to act out of the compass of its own sphere: He might have been empower’d, indeed, to have acted terrible and even destructive things upon mankind, especially if this body had any powers given it which mankind had not, by which man would be overmatch’d and not be in a condition of self-defence; for example, suppose him to have had wings to have flown in the air; Or to be invulnerable, and that no human invention, art, or engine could hurt, ensnare, captivate, or restrain him.
But this is to suppose the righteous and wise Creator to have made a creature and not be able to defend and preserve him; or to have left him defenceless to the mercy of another of his own creatures, whom he had given power to destroy him; This indeed, might have occasion’d a general idolatry, and made mankind, as the Americans do to this day, worship the Devil, that he might not hurt them; but it could not have prevented the destruction of mankind, supposing the Devil to have had malice equal to his power: and he must put on a new nature, be compassionate, generous, beneficent, and steadily good in sparing the rival enemy he was able to destroy, or he must have ruin’d mankind: In short, he must have ceas’d to have been a Devil, and must have re-assum’d his original, Angelic, heavenly nature; been fill’d with the principles of love to, and delight in the Works of his Creator, and bent to propagate his Glory and Interest; or he must have put an end to the race of man, whom it would be in his Power to destroy, and oblige his Maker to create a new species, or fortify the old with some kind of defence, which must be invulnerable, and which his fiery darts could not penetrate.
On this occasion suffer me to make an excursion from the usual stile of this Work, and with some solemnity to express my Thoughts thus:
How glorious is the wisdom and goodness of the great Creator of the World! in thus restraining these seraphic outcasts from the power of assuming human or organic bodies! which could they do, envigorating them with the supernatural Powers, which, as Seraphs and Angels, they now possess and might exert, they would be able even to fright mankind from the face of the Earth, and to destroy and confound God’s Creation; nay, even as they are, were not their power limited, they might destroy the Creation it self, reverse and over-turn nature, and put the World into a general conflagration: But were those immortal Spirits embodied, tho’ they were not permitted to confound nature, they would be able to harrass poor weak and defenceless man out of his wits, and render him perfectly useless, either to his Maker or himself.
But the Dragon is chain’d, the Devil’s Power is limited; he has indeed a vastly extended Empire, being Prince of the Air, having, at least, the whole Atmosphere to range in, and how far that Atmosphere is extended, is not yet ascertain’d by the nicest observations; I say at least, because we do not yet know how far he may be allow’d to make excursions beyond the Atmosphere of this Globe into the planetary Worlds, and what power he may exercise in all the habitable parts of the solar system; nay, of all the other solar systems, which, for ought we know, may exist in the mighty extent of created space, and of which you may hear farther in its order.
But let his power be what it will there, we are sure ’tis limited here, and that in two particulars; first, he is limited as above, from assuming body or bodily shapes with substance; and secondly, from exerting seraphic Powers, and acting with that supernatural force, which, as an Angel, he was certainly vested with before the fall, and which we are not certain is yet taken from him; or at most, we do not know how much it may or may not be diminish’d by his degeneracy, and by the blow given him at his expulsion: this we are certain, that be his Power greater or less, he is restrain’d from the exercise of it in this World; and he, who was one equal to the Angel who kill’d 180000 men in one night, is not able now, without a new commission, to take away the life of one Job, nor to touch any thing he had.
But let us consider him then limited and restrained as he is, yet he remains a mighty, a terrible, an immortal Being; infinitely superior to man, as well in the dignity of his nature, as in the dreadful powers he retains still about him; it is true the brain-sick heads of our Enthusiasticks paint him blacker than he is, and, as I have said, wickedly represent him clothed with terrors that do not really belong to him; as if the power of good and evil was wholly vested in him, and that he was placed in the Throne of his Maker, to distribute both punishments and rewards; In this they are much wrong, terrifying and deluding fanciful people about him, till they turn their heads, and fright them into a belief that the Devil will let them alone, if they do such and such good things; or carry them away with him they know not whither, if they do not; as if the Devil, whose proper business is mischief, seducing and deluding mankind, and drawing them in to be rebels like himself, should threaten to seize upon them, carry them away, and in a word, fall upon them to hurt them, if they did evil, and on the contrary, be favourable and civil to them, if they did well.
Thus a poor deluded country fellow in our Town, that had liv’d a wicked, abominable, debauch’d life, was frighted with an Apparition, as he call’d it, of the Devil; He fancy’d that he spoke to him, and telling his tale to a good honest christian Gentleman his neighbour, that had a little more sense than himself; the Gentleman ask’d him if he was sure he really saw the Devil? yes, yes, Sir, says he, I saw him very plain, and so they began the following discourse.
Gent. See him! See the Devil! art thou sure of it, Thomas?
Tho. Yes, yes, I am sure enough of it, Master; to be sure ’twas the Devil.
Gent. And how do you know ’twas the Devil, Thomas? had you ever seen the Devil before?
Tho. No, no, I had never seen him before, to be sure; but, for all that, I know ’twas the Devil.
Gent. Well, if you’re sure, Thomas, there’s no contradicting you; pray what clothes had he on?
Tho. Nay, Sir, don’t jest with me, he had no clothes on, he was clothed with fire and brimstone.
Gent. Was it dark or day light when you saw him?
Tho. O! it was very dark, for it was midnight.
Gent. How could you see him then? did you see by the light of the fire you speak of?
Tho. No, no, he gave no light himself; but I saw him, for all that.
Gent. But was it within doors, or out in the street?
Tho. It was within, it was in my own Chamber, when I was just going into bed, that I saw him.
Gent. Well then, you had a candle, hadn’t you?
Tho. Yes, I had a candle, but it burnt as blue! and as dim!
Gent. Well, but if the Devil was clothed with fire and brimstone, he must give you some light, there can’t be such a fire as you speak of, but it must give a light with it.
Tho. No, no, He gave no light, but I smelt his fire and brimstone; he left a smell of it behind him, when he was gone.
Gent. Well, so you say he had fire, but gave no light, it was a devilish fire indeed; did it feel warm? was the room hot while he was in it?
Tho. No, no, but I was hot enough without it, for it put me into a great sweat with the fright.
Gent. Very well, he was all in fire, you say, but without light or heat, only, it seems, he stunk of brimstone; pray what shapes was he in, what was he like; for you say you saw him?
Tho. O! Sir, I saw two great staring saucer eyes, enough to fright any body out of their wits.
Gent. And was that all you saw?
Tho. No, I saw his cloven-foot very plain, ’twas as big as one of our bullocks that goes to plow.
Gent. So you saw none of his body, but his eyes and his feet? a fine vision indeed!
Tho. Sir, that was enough to send me going.
Gent. Going! what did you run away from him?
Tho. No, but I fled into bed at one jump, and sunk down and pull’d the bed-clothes quite over me.
Gent. And what did you do that for?
Tho. To hide my self from such a frightful creature.
Gent. Why, if it had really been the Devil, do you think the bed-clothes would have secur’d you from him?
Tho. Nay, I don’t know, but in a fright it was all I could do.
Gent. Nay, ’twas as wise as all the rest; but come, Thomas, to be a little serious, pray did he speak to you?
Tho. Yes, yes, I heard a voice, but who it was the Lord knows.
Gent. What kind of voice was it, was it like a man’s voice?
Tho. No, it was a hoarse ugly noise, like the croaking of a Frog, and it call’d me by my name twice, Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson.
Gent. Well, did you answer?
Tho. No, not I, I could not have spoke a word for my life; why, I was frighted to death.
Gent. Did it say any thing else?
Tho. Yes, when it saw that I did not speak, it said, Thomas Dawson, Thomas Dawson, you are a wicked wretch, you lay with Jenny S—— last night; if you don’t repent, I will take you away alive and carry you to Hell, and you shall be damned, you wretch.
Gent. And was it true, Thomas, did you lye with Jenny S—— the night before?
Tho. Indeed Master, why yes it was true, but I was very sorry afterwards.
Gent. But how should the Devil know it, Thomas?
Tho. Nay, he knows it to be sure; why, they say he knows every thing.
Gent. Well, but why should he be angry at that? he would rather did you lye with her again, and encourage you to lye with forty whores, than hinder you: This can’t be the Devil, Thomas.
Tho. Yes, yes. Sir, ’twas the Devil to be sure.
Gent. But he bid you repent too, you say?
Tho. Yes, he threatn’d me if I did not.
Gent. Why, Thomas, do you think the Devil would have you repent?
Tho. Why no, that’s true too, I don’t know what to say to that; but what could it be? ’twas the Devil to be sure, it could be nobody else?
Gent. No, no, ’twas neither the Devil, Thomas, nor any body else, but your own frighted imagination; you had lain with that wench, and being a young sinner of that kind, your Conscience terrified you, told you the Devil would fetch you away, and you would be damn’d; and you were so persuaded it would be so, that you at last imagin’d he was come for you indeed; that you saw him and heard him; whereas, you may depend upon it, if Jenny S—— will let you lye with her every night, the Devil will hold the candle, or do any thing to forward it, but will never disturb you; he’s too much a friend to your wickedness, it could never be the Devil, Thomas; ’twas only your own guilt frighted you, and that was Devil enough too, if you knew the worst of it, you need no other enemy.
Tho. Why that’s true, Master, one would think the Devil should not bid me repent, that’s true; but certainly ’twas the Devil for all that.
Now Thomas was not the only man that having committed a flagitious crime had been deluded by his own imagination, and the power of fancy, to think the Devil was come for him; whereas the Devil, to give him his due, is too honest to pretend to such things; ’tis his business to persuade men to offend, not to repent; and he professes no other; he may press men to this or that action, by telling them ’tis no sin, no offence, no breach of God’s Law, and the like, when really ’tis both; but to press them to repent, when they have offended, that’s quite out of his way; ’tis none of his business, nor does he pretend to it; therefore, let no man charge the Devil with what he is not concern’d in.
But to return to his Person, he is, as I have said, notwithstanding his lost glory, a mighty, a terrible and an immortal Spirit; he is himself call’d a Prince, the Prince of the Power of the Air; the Prince of Darkness, the Prince of Devils, and the like, and his attending Spirits are call’d his Angels: so that however Satan has lost the glory and rectitude of his Nature, by his apostate state, yet he retains a greatness and magnificence, which places him above our rank, and indeed above our conception; for we know not what he is, any more than we know what the blessed Angels are; of whom we can say no more than that they are ministring Spirits, &c. as the Scripture has describ’d them.
Two things, however, may give us some insight into the nature of the Devil, in the present state he is in; and these we have a clear discovery of in the whole series of his Conduct from the Beginning.
1. That he is the vanquish’d but implacable enemy of God his Creator, who has conquer’d him, and expell’d him from the habitations of bliss; on which account he is fill’d with envy, rage, malice, and all uncharitableness; would dethrone God and overturn the thrones of Heaven, if it was in his power.
2. That he is man’s irreconcilable Enemy; not as he is a man, nor on his own account simply, nor for any advantage he (the Devil) can make by the ruin and destruction of man; but in meer envy at the felicity he is supposed to enjoy as Satan’s rival; and as he is appointed to succeed Satan and his Angels in the possession of those glories from which they are fallen.
And here I must take upon me to say, Mr. Milton makes a wrong judgment of the reason of Satan’s resolution to disturb the felicity of man; He tells us it was meerly to affront God his Maker, rob him of the glory design’d in his new work of creations and to disappoint him in his main design, namely, the creating a new species of creatures in a perfect rectitude of soul, and after his own image, from whom he might expect a new Fund of glory should be rais’d, and who was to appear as the triumph of the Messiah’s victory over the Devil. In all which Satan could not be fool enough not to know that he should be disappointed by the same Power which had so eminently counter-acted his rage before.
But, I believe, the Devil went upon a much more probable design; and tho’ he may be said to act upon a meaner principle than that of pointing his rage at the personal glory of his Creator; yet I own, that in my opinion, it was by much the more rational undertaking, and more likely to succeed; and that was, that whereas he perceived this new species of creatures had a sublime as well as a human part, and were made capable of possessing the mansions of eternal Beatitude, from whence, he (Satan) and his Angels were expell’d and irretrievably banish’d; envy at such a rival mov’d him by all possible artifice, for he saw him deprived of capacity to do it by force, to render him unworthy like himself; that bringing him to fall into rebellion and disobedience, he might see his Rival damn’d with him; and those who were intended to fill up the empty spaces in Heaven, made so by the absence of so many millions of fallen Angels, be cast out into the same darkness with them.
How he came to know that this new species of creatures were liable to such imperfection, is best explain’d by the Devil’s prying, vigilant disposition, judging or leading him to judge by himself; (for he was as near being infallible as any of God’s creatures had been) and then inclining him to try whether it was so or no.
Modern Naturalists, especially some who have not so large a charity for the fair sex, as I have, tell us, that as soon as ever Satan saw the woman, and look’d in her face, he saw evidently that she was the best form’d creature to make a Tool of, and the best to make a hypocrite of, that could be made, and therefore the most fitted for his purpose.
1. He saw by some thwart lines in her face, (legible, perhaps, to himself only) that there was a throne ready prepar’d for the sin of pride to sit in state upon, especially if it took an early possession: Eve you may suppose was a perfect Beauty, if ever such a thing may be supposed in the human frame; her figure being so extraordinary, was the groundwork of his project; there needed no more than to bring her to be vain of it, and to conceit that it either was so, or was infinitely more sublime and beautiful than it really was; and having thus tickl’d her vanity, to introduce Pride gradually, till at last he might persuade her, that she was really Angelic, or of heavenly Race, and wanted nothing but to eat the forbidden fruit, and that would make her something more excellent still.
2. Looking farther into her Frame, and with a nearer view to her imperfections, he saw room to conclude that she was of a constitution easy to be seduc’d, and especially by flattering her; raising a commotion in her Soul, and a disturbance among her passions; and accordingly he set himself to work, to disturb her repose, and put dreams of great things into her head; together with something of a nameless Kind, which (however, some have been ill-natur’d enough to suggest) I shall not injure the Devil so much as to mention, without better evidence.
3. But, besides this, he found, upon the very first survey of her outside, something so very charming in her mein and behaviour, so engaging as well as agreeable in the whole texture of her person, and withal such a sprightly wit, such a vivacity of parts, such a fluency of tongue, and above all, such a winning prevailing whine in her smiles, or at least in her tears, that he made no doubt if he could but once delude her, she would easily be brought to delude Adam, whom he found set not only a great value upon her person, but was perfectly captivated by her charms; in a word, he saw plainly, that if he could but ruin her, he should easily make a Devil of her, to ruin her husband, and draw him into any gulph of mischief, were it ever so black and dreadful, that she should first fall into herself; how far some may be wicked enough, from hence, to suggest of the fair sex, that they have been Devils to their husbands ever since, I cannot say; I hope they will not be so unmerciful to discover truths of such fatal consequence, tho’ they should come to their knowledge.
Thus subtle and penetrating has Satan been from the beginning; and who can wonder that upon these discoveries made into the woman’s inside, he went immediately to work with her, rather than with Adam? not but that one would think, if Adam was fool enough to be deluded by his wife, the Devil might have seen so much of it in his countenance, as to have encourag’d him to make his attack directly upon him, and not go round about, beating the bush, and ploughing with the Heifer; setting upon the woman first, and then setting her upon her husband, who might as easily have been imposed upon as she.
Other Commentators upon this critical Text suggest to us, that Eve was not so pleased with the hopes of being made a Goddess; That the pride of a Seraphic Knowledge did not so much work upon her imagination to bring her to consent, as a certain secret Notion infus’d into her head by the same wicked instrument, that she should be wiser than Adam, and should by the superiority of her understanding, necessarily have the government over him; which, at present, she was sensible she had not, he being master of a particular air of gravity and majesty, as well as of strength, infinitely superior to her.
This is an ill-natur’d suggestion; but it must be confess’d the impatient desire of government, which (since that) appears in the general Behaviour of the sex, and particularly of governing husbands, leaves too much room to legitimate the supposition.
The Expositors, who are of this opinion, add to it, that this being her original crime, or the particular temptation to that crime; Heaven thought fit to shew his justice, in making her more entire subjection to her husband be a part of the Curse, that she might read her sin in the punishment, (viz.) he shall rule over thee.
I only give the general hint of these things as they appear recorded in the annals of Satan’s first Tyranny, and at the beginning of his government in the World; those that would be more particularly inform’d, may enquire of him and know farther.
I cannot however, but observe here with some regret, how it appears by the consequence, that the Devil was not mistaken when he made an early judgment of Mrs. Eve; and how Satan really went the right way to work, to judge of her; ’tis certain the Devil had nothing to do but to look in her face, and upon a near steady view he might easily see there, an instrument for his Turn; nor has he fail’d to make her a Tool ever since, by the very methods which he at first proposed; to which, perhaps, he has made some additions in the corrupting her composition, as well as her understanding; qualifying her to be a compleat snare to the poor weaker vessel Man; to wheedle him with her Syren’s voice, abuse him with her smiles, delude him with her crocodile tears, and sometimes cock her crown at him, and terrify him with the thunder of her Treble; making the effeminated Male Apple-eater tremble at the noise of that very Tongue, which at first commanded him to Sin. For it is yet a debate which the Learned have not decided, whether she persuaded and entreated him, or like a true she-tyrant, exercised her authority and oblig’d him to eat the forbidden fruit.
And therefore a certain author, whose name, for fear of the Sex’s resentment I conceal, brings her in, calling to Adam at a great distance, in an imperious haughty manner, beckoning to him with her hand, thus; Here, says she, you cowardly faint-hearted wretch, take this branch of heavenly fruit, eat and be a stupid fool no longer; eat and be wise; eat and be a God; and know, to your eternal shame, that your wife has been made an enlightn’d Goddess before you.
He tells you Adam hung back a little at first, and trembl’d, afraid to trespass: What ails the Sot, says the new Termagant? what are you afraid of? did God forbid you! yes, and why? that we might not be knowing and wise like himself! What reason can there be that we, who have capacious souls, able to receive knowledge, should have it withheld? take it, you Fool, and eat; don’t you see how I am exalted in soul by it, and am quite another Creature? Take it, I say, or, if you don’t, I’ll go and cut down the Tree, and you shall never eat any of it at all, and you shall be still a fool, and be governed by your wife for ever.
Thus, if this interpretation of the thing be just, she Scolded him into it; Rated him, and brought him to it by the terror of her voice; a thing that has retained a dreadful influence over him ever since; nor have the greatest of Adam’s Successors, how light soever some husbands make of it in this age, been ever able, since that, to conceal their terror, at the very Sound; nay, if we may believe history, it prevailed even among the Gods; not all the noise of Vulcan’s hammers could silence the clamours of that outrageous whore his Goddess; nay, even Jupiter himself led such a life with a termagant wife, that once, they say, Juno out-scolded the noise of all his Thunders, and was within an ace of brawling him out of Heaven. But to return to the Devil.
With these views he resolv’d, it seems, to attack the woman; and if you consider him as a Devil, and what he aim’d at, and consider the fair prospect he had of success, I must confess, I do not see who can blame him, or at least, how any thing less could be expected from him; But we shall meet with it again by and by.