Of the Number of Satan’s Host; how they came first to know of the new created Worlds, now in being, and their Measures with Mankind upon the Discovery.
Several things have been suggested to set us a calculating the number of this frightful throng of Devils, who with Satan, the Master-Devil, was thus cast out of Heaven; I cannot say, I am so much Master of Political Arithmetick as to cast up the Number of the Beast, no, nor the Number of the Beasts or Devils, who make up this Throng. St. Francis, they tell us, or some other Saint, they do not say who, ask’d the Devil once, how strong he was? for St. Francis, you must know, was very familiar with him; The Devil, it seems, did not tell him, but presently raised a great Cloud of Dust, by the help, I suppose, of a Gust of Wind, and bid that Saint count it; He was, I suppose, a Calculator, that would be call’d grave, who dividing Satan’s Troops into three Lines, cast up the Number of the Devils of all sorts in each Battalia, at ten hundred times a hundred thousand millions of the first Line, fifty millions of times as many in the second Line, and three hundred thousand times as many as both in the third Line.
The Impertinence of this account would hardly have given it a place here, only to hint that it has always been the Opinion, that Satan’s Name may well be call’d a Noun of Multitude, and that the Devil and his Angels are certainly no inconsiderable Number: It was a smart Repartee that a Venetian Nobleman made to a Priest who rallied him upon his refusing to give something to the Church, which the Priest demanded for the delivering him from Purgatory; when the Priest asking him, if he knew what an innumerable Number of Devils there were to take him? he answer’d, yes, he knew how many Devils there were in all: How many? says the Priest, his curiosity, I suppose, being rais’d by the novelty of the answer. Why ten millions five hundred and eleven thousand, six hundred and seventy five Devils and a half, says the Nobleman: A half! says the Priest, pray what kind of a Devil is that? your self, says the Nobleman, for you are half a Devil already (and will be a whole one when you come there) for you are for deluding all you deal with, and bringing us Soul and Body into your Hands, that you may be paid for letting us go again. So much for their Number.
Here also it would come in very aptly, to consider the state of that long interval between the Time of their Expulsion from Heaven, and the Creation of the World; and what the Posture of the Devil’s Affairs might be, during that Time. The horror of their Condition can only be conceiv’d of at a Distance, and especially by us, who being embodied Creatures, cannot fully judge of what is, or is not a Punishment to Seraphs and Spirits; But ’tis just to suppose they suffer’d all that Spirits of a Seraphic Nature were capable to sustain, consistent with their Existence; notwithstanding which they retain’d still the Hellishness of their rebellious Principles; namely, their Hatred and Rage against God, and their Envy at the Felicity of his Creatures.
As to how long their time might be, I shall leave that Search; no lights being given me that are either probable or rational, and we have so little room to make a Judgment of it, that we may as well believe Father M——, who supposes it to be a hundred thousand Years, as those who judge it one thousand Years; ’tis enough that we are sure, it was before the Creation, how long before is not material to the Devil’s History, unless we had some Records of what happen’d to him, or was done by him in the Interval.
During the wandring Condition the Devil was in at that Time, we may suppose, he and his whole Clan to be employ’d in exerting their Hatred and Rage at the Almighty, and at the Happiness of the remaining faithful Angels, by all the ways they had power to shew it.
From this determin’d stated Enmity of Satan and his Host against God, and at every thing that brought Glory to his Name, Mr. Milton brings in Satan, (when first he saw Adam in Paradise, and the Felicity of his Station there) swelling with Rage and Envy, and taking up a dreadful Resolution to ruin Adam and all his Posterity, meerly to disappoint his Maker of the Glory of his Creation; I shall come to speak of that in its Place.
How Satan, in his remote Situation, got Intelligence of the Place where to find Adam out, or that any such thing as a Man was created, is Matter of just Speculation, and there might be many rational Schemes laid for it: Mr. Milton does not undertake to tell us the Particulars, nor indeed could he find room for it; perhaps, the Devil having, as I have said, a Liberty to range over the whole Void or Abyss, which we want as well a Name for, as indeed Powers to conceive of; might have discovered that the Almighty Creator had form’d a new and glorious Work, with infinite Beauty and Variety, filling up the immense Wast of Space, in which he, (the Devil) and his Angels, had rov’d for so long a time, without finding any thing to work on, or to exert their Apostate Rage in against their Maker.
That at length they found the infinite untrodden Space, on a sudden spread full with glorious Bodies, shining in self-existing Beauty, with a new, and to them unknown Lustre, call’d Light: They found these luminous Bodies, tho’ immense in Bulk, and infinite in Number, yet fixt in their wondrous Stations, regular and exact in their Motions, confin’d in their proper Orbits, tending to their particular Centers, and enjoying every one their peculiar Systems, within which was contain’d innumerable Planets with their Satellites or Moons, in which (again) a reciprocal Influence, Motion and Revolution conspired to Form the most admirable Uniformity of the whole.
Surprized, to be sure, with this sudden and yet glorious Work of the Almighty; for the Creation was enough, with its Lustre, even to surprize the Devils; they might reasonably be supposed to start out of their dark Retreat, and with a Curiosity not below the Seraphic Dignity; for these are some of the things which the Angels desire to look into, to take a flight thro’ all the amazing Systems of the fix’d Suns or Stars, which we see now but at a Distance, and only make Astronomical Guesses at.
Here the Devil found not subject of Wonder only, but matter to swell his revolted Spirit with more Rage, and to revive the Malignity of his Mind against his Maker, and especially against this new encrease of Glory, which to his infinite Regret was extended over the whole Wast, and which he look’d upon, as we say in human Affairs, as a Pays conquis, or, if you will have it in the Language of the Devil, as an invasion upon his Kingdom.
Here it naturally occur’d to them, in their State of Envy and Rebellion, that tho’ they could not assault the impregnable Walls of Heaven, and could no more pretend to raise War in the Place of Blessedness and Peace; yet that perhaps they might find Room in this new, and however glorious, yet inferior Kingdom or Creation, to work some despite to their great Creator, or to affront his Majesty in the Person of some of his new made Creatures; and upon this they may be justly supposed to double their Vigilance, in the survey they resolve to take of these new Worlds, however great, numberless and wonderful.
What Discoveries they may have made in the other and greater Worlds, than this Earth, we have not yet had an account; possibly they are conversant with other Parts of God’s Creation, besides this little little Globe, which is but as a Point in comparison of the Rest; and with other of God’s Creatures besides Man, who may, according to the Opinion of our Philosophers, inhabit those Worlds; but as no body knows that Part but the Devil, we shall not trouble our selves with the Enquiry.
But ’tis very reasonable, and indeed probable, that the Devils were more than ordinarily surpriz’d at the Nature and Reason of all this glorious Creation, after they had, with the utmost Curiosity, view’d all the parts of it; The Glories of the several Systems; the immense spaces in which those glorious Bodies that were created and made part of it, were allow’d respectively to move; the innumerable fix’d Stars, as so many Suns in the Center of so many distant Solar Systems; the (likewise innumerable) dark opaque Bodies receiving light, and depending upon those Suns respectively for such light, and then reflecting that light again upon and for the Use of one another; To see the Beauty and Splendor of their Forms, the Regularity of their Position, the Order and Exactness, and yet inconceivable Velocity of their Motions, the certainty of their Revolutions, and the Variety and Virtue of their Influences; and then, which was even to the Devils themselves most astonishing, That after all the rest of their Observations they should find this whole immense Work was adapted for, and made subservient to the Use, Delight and Blessing only of one poor Species, in itself small, and in Appearance contemptible; the meanest of all the Kinds supposed to inhabit so many glorious Worlds, as appeared now to be form’d; I mean, that Moon call’d the Earth, and the Creature call’d Man; that all was made for him, upheld by the wise Creator, on his account only, and would necessarily end and cease whenever that Species should end and be determin’d.
That this Creature was to be found no where but (as above) in one little individual Moon; a Spot less than almost any of the Moons, which were in such great Numbers to be found attendant upon, and prescrib’d with in every System of the whole created Heavens; This was astonishing even to the Devil himself, nay the whole Clan of Devils could scarce entertain any just Ideas of the thing; Till at last Satan, indefatigable in his Search or Enquiry into the Nature and Reason of this new Work, and particularly searching into the Species of Man, whom he found God had thus plac’d in the little Globe, call’d Earth; he soon came to an Eclairicissement, or a clear Understanding of the whole. For Example,
First, He found this Creature, call’d Man, was however mean and small in his Appearance, a kind of a Seraphic Species; that he was made in the very Image of God, endowed with reasonable Faculties to know Good and Evil, and possess’d of a certain thing till then unknown and unheard of even in Hell it self; that is, in the Habitation of Devils, let that be where it would, (viz.)
2. That God had made him indeed of the lowest and coarsest Materials, but that he had breath’d into him the Breath of Life, and that he became a living thing call’d Soul, being a kind of an extraordinary heavenly and divine Emanation; and consequently that Man, however mean and Terrestrial his Body might be, was yet, Heaven-born, in his spirituous Part compleatly Seraphic; and after a Space of Life here, (determin’d to be a state of probation) he should be translated thro’ the Regions of Death into a Life purely and truly Heavenly, and which should remain so for ever; being capable of knowing and enjoying God his Maker, and standing in his Presence, as the glorified Angels do.
3. That he had the most sublime Faculties infused into him; was capable not only of knowing and contemplating God, and which was still more, of enjoying him, as above; but (which the Devil now was not) capable of honouring and glorifying his Maker; who also had condescended to accept of Honour from him.
4. And which was still more, that being of an Angelic Nature, tho’ mix’d with, and confined for the present in a Case of mortal Flesh; he was intended to be remov’d from this Earth after a certain time of Life here, to inhabit that Heaven, and enjoy that very Glory and Felicity, from which Satan and his Angels had been expell’d.
When he found all this, it presently occur’d to him, that God had done it all as an act of Triumph over him (Satan,) and that these Creatures were only created to people Heaven, depopulated or stript of its inhabitants by his Expulsion, and that these were all to be made Angels in the Devil’s stead.
If this thought encreas’d his Fury and Envy, as far as Rage of Devils can be capable of being made greater; it doubtless set him on work to give a Vent to that Rage and Envy, by searching into the Nature and Constitution of this Creature, call’d Man; and to find out whether he was invulnerable, and could by no means be hurt by the Power of Hell, or deluded by his Subtilty; or whether he might be beguil’d and deluded, and so, instead of being preserv’d in Holiness and Purity, wherein he was certainly created, be brought to fall and rebell as he (Satan) had done before him; by which, instead of being transplanted into a glorious State, after this Life in Heaven, as his Maker had design’d him to be, to fill up the Angelic Choir, and supply the Place from whence he (Satan) had fallen, he might be made to fall also like him, and in a Word, be made a Devil like himself.
This convinces us that the Devil has not lost his natural Powers by his Fall; and our learned Commentator Mr. Pool is of the same Opinion; tho’ he grants that the Devil has lost his moral Power, or his Power of doing Good, which he can never recover. Vide Mr. Pool upon Acts xix. 17. where we may particularly observe, when the Man possess’d with an evil Spirit flew upon the seven Sons of Scæva the Jew, who would have Exorcis’d them in the Name of Jesus, without the Authority of Jesus, or without Faith in him; He flew on them and master’d them, so that they fled out of the House from the Devil conquered, naked and wounded: But of this Power of the Devil I shall speak by it self.
In a Word, and to sum up all the Devil’s Story from his first Expulsion, it stands thus: For so many Years as were between his Fall and the Creation of Man, tho’ we have no Memoirs of his particular Affairs, we have Reason to believe he was without any Manner of Employment; but a certain tormenting Endeavour to be always expressing his Rage and Enmity against Heaven; I call it tormenting, Because ever disappointed; every thought about it proving empty; every attempt towards it abortive; Leaving him only Light enough to see still more and more Reason to despair of Success; and that this made his Condition still more and more a Hell than it was before.
After a Space of Duration in this Misery, which we have no light given us to measure or judge of, He at length discovered the new Creation of Man, as above, upon which he soon found Matter to set himself to work upon, and has been busily employ’d ever since.
And now indeed there may be room to suggest a Local Hell, and the Confinement of Souls (made corrupt and degenerate by him) to it, as a Place; tho’ he himself, as is still apparent by his Actings, is not yet confin’d to it; of this Hell, its Locality, Extent, Dimensions, Continuance and Nature, as it does not belong to Satan’s History, I have a good excuse for saying nothing, and so put off my meddling with that, which if I would meddle with, I could say nothing of to the Purpose.