Of The Station Satan Had In Heaven Before He Fell The Nature And Original Of His Crime And Some Of Mr Milton's Mistakes Aboutit
Thus far I have gone upon general observation, in this great affair of
Satan and his Empire in the World; I now come to my Title, and shall
enter upon the historical part, as the main work before me.
Besides what has been said Poetically, relating to the fall and
wandering condition of the Devil and his Host, which poetical part I
offer only as an excursion, and desire it should be taken so; I shall
ou what I think is deduc'd from good originals on the part of
Satan's story in a few words.
He was one of the created Angels, form'd by the same omnipotent hand and
glorious power, who created the Heavens and the Earth, and all that is
therein: This innumerable heavenly host, as we have reason to believe,
contain'd Angels of higher and lower stations, of greater and of lesser
degree, express'd in the Scripture by Thrones, Dominions, and
Principalities: This, I think, we have as much reason to believe, as
we have, that there are Stars in the Firmament (or starry Heavens) of
greater and of lesser magnitude.
What particular station among the immortal Choir of Angels, this
Arch-seraph, this Prince of Devils, call'd Satan, was plac'd in
before his expulsion, that indeed, we cannot come at the knowledge of,
at least, not with such an Authority as may be depended upon; but as
from Scripture authority, he is plac'd at the head of all the Apostate
armies, after he was fallen, we cannot think it in the least assuming to
say, that he might be supposed to be one of the principal Agents in the
Rebellion which happen'd in Heaven, and consequently that he might be
one of the highest in dignity there, before that Rebellion.
The higher his station, the lower, and with the greater precipitation,
was his overthrow; and therefore, those words, tho' taken in another
sense, may very well be apply'd to him: How art thou fallen, O
Lucifer! Son of the Morning!
Having granted the dignity of his Person, and the high station in which
he was placed among the heavenly Host; it would come then necessarily to
inquire into the nature of his fall, and above all, a little into the
reason of it; certain it is, he did fall, was guilty of Rebellion and
Disobedience, the just effect of Pride; sins, which, in that holy place,
might well be call'd wonderful.
But what to me is more wonderful, and which, I think, will be very ill
accounted for, is, how came seeds of crime to rise in the Angelic
Nature? created in a state of perfect, unspotted holiness? how was it
first found in a place where no unclean thing can enter? how came
ambition, pride, or envy to generate there? could there be offence where
there was no crime? could untainted purity breed corruption? could that
nature contaminate and infect, which was always Drinking in principles
Happy 'tis to me, that writing the History, not solving the
Difficulties of Satan's Affairs, is my province in this Work; that I
am to relate the Fact, not give reasons for it, or sign causes; if it
was otherwise, I should break off at this difficulty, for I acknowledge
I do not see thro' it; neither do I think that the great Milton, after
all his fine Images and lofty Excursions upon the Subject, has left it
one jot clearer than he found it: Some are of opinion, and among them
the great Dr. B----s, that crime broke in upon them at some interval,
when they omitted but one moment fixing their eyes and thoughts on the
glories of the divine face, to admire and adore, which is the full
employment of Angels; but even this, tho' it goes as high as imagination
can carry us, does not reach it, nor, to me, make it one jot more
comprehensible than it was before; all I can say to it here, is, that
so it was, the fact was upon Record, and the rejected Troop are in
being, whose circumstances confess the Guilt, and still groan under the
If you will bear with a poetic excursion upon the subject, not to solve
but to illustrate the difficulty; take it in a few lines, thus,
Thou sin of Witchcraft! firstborn child of Crime!
Produc'd before the bloom of Time;
Ambition's maiden Sin, in Heaven conceiv'd,
And who could have believ'd
Defilement could in purity begin,
And bright eternal Day be soil'd with Sin?
Tell us, sly penetrating Crime,
How cam'st thou there, thou fault sublime?
How didst thou pass the Adamantine Gate;
And into Spirit thy self insinuate?
From what dark state? from what deep place?
From what strange uncreated race?
Where was thy ancient habitation found
Before void Chaos heard the forming sound?
Wast thou a Substance, or an airy Ghost,
A Vapour flying in the fluid waste
Of unconcocted air?
And how at first didst thou come there?
Sure there was once a time when thou wert not,
By whom wast thou created? and for what?
Art thou a steam from some contagious damp exhal'd?
How should contagion be intail'd,
On bright seraphic Spirits, and in a place
Where all's supreme, and Glory fills the Space?
No noxious vapour there could rise,
For there no noxious matter lies;
Nothing that's evil could appear,
Sin never could Seraphic Glory bear;
The brightness of the eternal Face,
Which fills as well as constitutes the place,
Would be a fire too hot for crime to bear,
'Twould calcine Sin, or melt it into air.
How then did first defilement enter in?
Ambition, thou first vital seed of Sin!
Thou Life of Death, how cam'st thou there?
In what bright form didst thou appear?
In what Seraphic Orb didst thou arise?
Surely that place admits of no disguise,
Eternal Sight must know thee there,
And being known, thou soon must disappear.
But since the fatal Truth we know,
Without the matter whence or manner how:
Thou high superlative of Sin,
Tell us thy nature, where thou didst begin?
The first degree of thy increase,
Debauch'd the Regions of eternal Peace,
And fill'd the breasts of loyal Angels there
With the first Treason and infernal War.
Thou art the high extreme of pride,
And dost o'er lesser crimes preside;
Not for the mean attempt of Vice design'd,
But to embroil the World, and damn Mankind.
Transforming mischief, now hast thou procur'd
That loss that ne'er to be restor'd,
And made the bright Seraphic Morning-star
In horrid monstrous shapes appear?
Satan, that while he dwelt in glorious light,
Was always then as pure as he was bright,
That in effulgent rays of glory shone,
Excell'd by eternal Light, by him alone,
Distorted now, and stript of Innocence,
And banish'd with thee from the high Pre-eminence,
How has the splendid Seraph chang'd his face,
Transform'd by thee, and like thy monstrous race?
Ugly as is the crime, for which he fell, }
Fitted by thee to make a local Hell, }
For such must be the place where either of you dwell. }
Thus, as I told you, I only moralize upon the subject, but as to the
difficulty, I must leave it as I find it, unless, as I hinted at
first, I could prevail with Satan to set pen to paper, and write this
part of his own History: No question, but he could let us into the
secret; but to be plain, I doubt I shall tell so many plain truths of
the Devil, in this History, and discover so many of his secrets, which
it is not for his interest to have discover'd, that before I have done,
the Devil and I may not be so good friends as you may suppose we are;
at least, not friends enough to obtain such a favour of him, tho' it be
for public good; so we must be content till we come ont' other side the
Blue-Blanket, and then we shall know the whole Story.
But now, tho' as I said, I will not attempt to solve the difficulty, I
may, I hope, venture to tell you, that there is not so much difficulty
in it, as at first sight appears: and especially not so much as some
people would make us believe; let us see how others are mistaken in it,
perhaps, that may help us a little in the enquiry; for to know what it
is not, is one help towards knowing what it is.
Mr. Milton has indeed told us a great many merry things of the Devil,
in a most formal, solemn manner; till in short he has made a good PLAY
of Heaven and Hell; and no doubt if he had liv'd in our times, he
might have had it acted with our Pluto and Proserpine. He has made
fine Speeches both for God and the Devil, and a little addition
might have turn'd it a la modern into a Harlequin Dieu & Diable.
I confess I don't well know how far the dominion of Poetry extends
itself; it seems the Buts and Bounds of Parnassus are not yet
ascertain'd; so that for ought I know, by vertue of their antient
privileges call'd Licentia Poetarum, there can be no Blasphemy in
Verse; as some of our Divines say there can be no Treason in the
Pulpit. But they that will venture to write that way, ought to be
better satisfy'd about that Point than I am.
Upon this foot Mr. Milton, to grace his Poem, and give room for his
Towring Fancy, has gone a length beyond all that ever went before him,
since Ovid in his Metamorphosis. He has indeed complimented GOD
Almighty with a flux of lofty words, and great sounds; and has made a
very fine Story of the Devil, but he has made a meer je ne scay Quoi
of Jesus Christ. In one line he has him riding on a Cherub, and in
another sitting on a Throne, both in the very same moment of action. In
another place he has brought him in making a Speech to his Saints,
when 'tis evident he had none there; for we all know Man was not
created till a long while after; and no body can be so dull as to say
the Angels may be called Saints, without the greatest absurdity in
nature. Besides, he makes CHRIST himself distinguish them, as in two
several Bands, and of differing Persons and Species, as to be sure they
Stand still in bright array, ye Saints------
---- ------ -------- -------- Here stand,
Ye Angels. ------
Par. Lost. lib. vi. fo. 174.
So that CHRIST here is brought in drawing up his Army before the last
Battle, and making a Speech to them, to tell them they shall only stand
by in warlike order, but that they shall have no occasion to fight, for
he alone will engage the Rebels. Then in embattling his Legions, he
places the Saints here, and the Angels there, as if one were the main
Battle of Infantry, and the other the Wings of Cavalry. But who are
those Saints? they are indeed all of Milton's own making; 'tis certain
there were no Saints at all in Heaven or Earth at that time; GOD and
his Angels fill'd up the place; and till some of the Angels fell,
and Men were created, had liv'd, and were dead, there could have been no
Saints there. Saint Abel was certainly the Proto-Saint of all that
ever were seen in Heaven, as well as the Proto-martyr of all that have
been upon Earth.
Just such another Mistake, not to call it a Blunder, he makes about
Hell; which he not only makes LOCAL, but gives it a being before the
Fall of the Angels; and brings it in opening its mouth to receive
them. This is so contrary to the nature of the thing, and so great an
absurdity, that no Poetic License can account for it; for tho' Poesie
may form Stories, as Idea and Fancy may furnish Materials, yet Poesy
must not break in upon Chronology, and make things which in time were to
exist, act before they existed.
Thus a Painter may make a fine piece of Work, the fancy may be good, the
strokes masterly, and the beauty of the Workmanship inimitably curious
and fine, and yet have some unpardonable improprieties which marr the
whole Work. So the famous Painter of Toledo painted the story of the
three Wisemen of the East coming to worship, and bring their presents
to our Lord upon his birth at Bethlehem, where he represents them as
three Arabian or Indian Kings; two of them are white, and one black;
But unhappily when he drew the latter part of them kneeling, which to be
sure was done after their faces; their legs being necessarily a little
intermix'd, he made three black feet for the Negroe King, and but
three white feet for the two white Kings, and yet never discover'd the
mistake till the piece was presented to the King, and hung up in the
great Church. As this is an unpardonable error in Sculpture or Limning,
it must be much more so in Poetry, where the Images must have no
improprieties, much less inconsistencies.
In a word, Mr. Milton has indeed made a fine Poem, but it is the
Devil of a History. I can easily allow Mr. Milton to make Hills and
Dales, flowry Meadows and Plains (and the like) in Heaven; and places of
Retreat and Contemplation in Hell; tho' I must add, that it can be
allowed to no Poet on Earth but Mr. Milton. Nay, I will allow Mr.
Milton, if you please, to set the Angels a dancing in Heaven,
lib. v. fo. 138. and the Devils a singing in Hell, lib. i. fo.
44. tho' they are in short, especially the last, most horrid
Absurdities. But I cannot allow him to make their Musick in Hell to be
harmonious and charming as he does; such Images being incongruous, and
indeed shocking to Nature. Neither can I think we should allow things to
be plac'd out of time in Poetry, any more than in History; 'tis a
confusion of Images which is allow'd to be disallow'd by all the
Criticks of what tribe or species soever in the world, and is indeed
unpardonable. But we shall find so many more of these things in Mr.
Milton, that really taking notice of them all, would carry me quite
out of my way, I being at this time not writing the History of Mr.
Milton, but of the Devil: besides, Mr. Milton is such a
celebrated Man, that who but he that can write the History of the
Devil dare meddle with him?
But to come back to the business. As I had caution'd you against running
to Scripture for shelter in cases of difficulty, Scripture weighing very
little among the people I am directing my Speech to; so indeed Scripture
gives but very little light into any thing of the Devil's Story before
his Fall, and but to very little of it for some time after.
Nor has Mr. Milton said one word to solve the main difficulty (viz.)
How the Devil came to fall, and how Sin came into Heaven; how the
spotless Seraphic Nature could receive infection, whence the contagion
proceeded, what noxious matter could emit corruption there, how and
whence any vapour to poison the Angelick Frame could rise up, or how it
increas'd and grew up to crime. But all this he passes over, and
hurrying up that part in two or three words, only tells us,
------ his Pride,
Had cast him out of Heaven with all his Host
Of rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
He trusted to have equal'd the most High.
lib. i. fo. 3.
His pride! but how came Satan while an Arch-angel to be proud? How
did it consist, that Pride and perfect Holiness should meet in the same
Person? Here we must bid Mr. Milton good night; for, in plain terms,
he is in the dark about it, and so we are all; and the most that can be
said, is, that we know the fact is so, but nothing of the nature or
reason of it.
But to come to the History: The Angels fell, they sinn'd (wonderful!) in
Heaven, and God cast them out; what their sin was is not explicit, but
in general 'tis call'd a Rebellion against GOD; all sin must be so.
Mr. Milton here takes upon him to give the History of it, as
particularly as if he had been born there, and came down hither on
purpose to give us an account of it; (I hope he is better inform'd by
this time;) but this he does in such a manner, as jostles with Religion,
and shocks our Faith in so many points necessary to be believ'd, that we
must forbear to give up to Mr. Milton, or must set aside part of the
sacred Text, in such a manner, as will assist some people to set it all
I mean by this, his invented Scheme of the Son's being declared in
Heaven to be begotten then, and then to be declar'd Generalissimo of all
the Armies of Heaven; and of the Father's Summoning all the Angels of
the heavenly Host to submit to him, and pay him homage. The words are
quoted already, page 32.
I must own the Invention, indeed, is very fine; the Images exceeding
magnificent, the Thought rich and bright, and, in some respect, truly
sublime: But the Authorities fail most wretchedly, and the miss-timing
of it, is unsufferably gross, as is noted in the Introduction to this
Work; for Christ is not declar'd the Son of God but on Earth; 'tis true,
'tis spoken from Heaven, but then 'tis spoken as perfected on Earth; if
it was at all to be assign'd to Heaven, it was from Eternity, and there,
indeed, his eternal Generation is allow'd; but to take upon us to say,
that On a day, a certain day, for so our Poet assumes, lib. v. fol.
------ 'When on a day,
------ 'On such a day
'As Heaven's great Year brings forth, the empyreal Host
'Of Angels by imperial Summons call'd,
'Forthwith from all the ends of Heaven appear'd.
This is, indeed, too gross; at this meeting he makes God declare the Son
to be that day begotten, as before; had he made him not begotten that
day, but declared General that day, it would be reconcileable with
Scripture and with sense; for either the begetting is meant of ordaining
to an office, or else the eternal Generation falls to the ground; and if
it was to the office (Mediator) then Mr. Milton is out in ascribing
another fix'd day to the Work; see lib. x. fo. 194. But then the
declaring him that day, is wrong chronology too, for Christ is
declar'd the Son of God with power, only by the Resurrection of the
dead, and this is both a Declaration in Heaven and in Earth. Rom. i.
4. And Milton can have no authority to tell us, there was any
Declaration of it in Heaven before this, except it be that dull
authority call'd poetic License, which will not pass in so solemn an
affair as that.
But the thing was necessary to Milton, who wanted to assign some cause
or original of the Devil's Rebellion; and so, as I said above, the
design is well laid, it only wants two Trifles call'd Truth and
History; so I leave it to struggle for itself.
This Ground-plot being laid, he has a fair field for the Devil to play
the Rebel in, for he immediately brings him in, not satisfy'd with the
Exaltation of the Son of God. The case must be thus; Satan being an
eminent Arch-angel, and perhaps, the highest of all the Angelic Train,
hearing this Sovereign Declaration, that the Son of God was declar'd
to be Head or Generalissimo of all the heavenly Host, took it ill to see
another put into the high station over his head, as the Soldiers call
it; he, perhaps, thinking himself the senior Officer, and disdaining to
submit to any but to his former immediate Sovereign; in short, he threw
up his Commission, and, in order not to be compel'd to obey, revolted
and broke out in open Rebellion.
All this part is a Decoration noble and great, nor is there any
objection to be made against the invention, because a deduction of
probable Events; but the Plot is wrong laid, as is observ'd above,
because contradicted by the Scripture account, according to which Christ
was declared in Heaven, not then, but from Eternity, and not declared
with power, but on Earth, (viz.) in his victory over Sin and Death, by
the Resurrection from the dead: so that Mr. Milton is not orthodox in
this part, but lays an avow'd foundation for the corrupt Doctrine of
Arius, which says, there was a time when Christ was not the Son of
But to leave Mr. Milton to his flights, I agree with him in this part,
viz. that the wicked or sinning Angels, with the great Arch-angel at
the head of them, revolted from their obedience, even in Heaven it self;
that Satan began the wicked defection, and being a Chief among the
heavenly Host, consequently carry'd over a great party with him, who all
together rebel'd against God; that upon this Rebellion they were
sentenc'd, by the righteous judgment of GOD, to be expel'd the holy
Habitation; this, besides the authority of Scripture, we have visible
testimonies of, from the Devils themselves; their influences and
operations among us every day, of which Mankind are witnesses; in all
the merry things they do in his name, and under his protection, in
almost every scene of life they pass thro', whether we talk of things
done openly or in Masquerade, things done in--or out of it, things done
in earnest or in jest.
But then, what comes of the long and bloody War that Mr. Milton gives
such a full and particular account of, and the terrible Battles in
Heaven between Michael with the royal Army of Angels on one hand, and
Satan with his rebel Host on the other; in which he supposes the
numbers and strength to be pretty near equal? but at length brings in
the Devil's Army, upon doubling their rage and bringing new engines of
war into the field, putting Michael and all the faithful Army to the
worst; and, in a word, defeats them? For tho' they were not put to a
plain flight, in which case he must, at least, have given an account of
two or three thousand millions of Angels cut in pieces and wounded, yet
he allows them to give over the fight, and make a kind of retreat; so
making way for the compleat victory of the Son of GOD: Now this is all
invention, or at least, a borrow'd thought from the old Poets, and the
Fight of the Giants against Jupiter, so nobly design'd by Ovid,
almost two thousand years ago; and there 'twas well enough; but whether
Poetic Fancy should be allow'd to fable upon Heaven, or no, and upon
the King of Heaven too, that I leave to the Sages.
By this expulsion of the Devils, it is allow'd by most Authors, they
are, ipso facto, stript of the Rectitude and Holiness of their Nature,
which was their Beauty and Perfection; and being ingulph'd in the abyss
of irrecoverable ruin, 'tis no matter where, from that very time they
lost their Angelic beautiful Form, commenc'd ugly frightful Monsters and
Devils, and became evil doers, as well as evil Spirits; fill'd with a
horrid malignity and enmity against their Maker, and arm'd with a
hellish resolution to shew and exert it on all occasions; retaining
however their exalted spirituous Nature, and having a vast extensive
power of Action, all which they can exert in nothing else but doing
evil, for they are entirely divested of either Power or will to do good;
and even in doing evil, they are under restraints and limitations of a
superior Power, which it is their Torment, and, perhaps, a great part of
their Hell that they cannot break thro'.