Page images
PDF
EPUB

the room was somewhat hazy,) is more than can be ascertained. However, it was deemed most prudent to keep the matter whisht from Mrs. Tub, rather than to add the hysterics to her chapter of ailments. And, besides, the elder was not clear in his own mind (as before) whether the whole were not a freak of the fancy. So, having ministered to Dorothy the assistance, which every ailing spouse has a right to expect from her helpmate, he betook himself to his couch.

CHAPTER IV.

“ He, he, he! my old friend Tub-good evening to you!" Thus unceremoniously was the good elder accosted as he rode toward home one misty night, by that audacious goblin, Paddle, whom he suddenly found by his side, mounted on a horse which kept even pace with his own. “ Let me see,” continued the fiend, “I told you, in our former interviews, of the immense magnitude of the world below, and of the respectability of its society—on which important topics mortals are inclined to bestow but little reflection: there are also other matters pertaining to the place and its inhabitants, concerning which their notions are very crude and contradictory. They are apt to represent our prince, Beelzebub, as having a cloven foot, which it is not in his power to conceal! He, he, he! But Dutch christians, with better sense, generally agree in assigning him a horse's hvof! I say, with better sense, for they thus very properly place him amongst unclean beasts whereas, with a parted hoof, he is an eatable animal, according to the Mosaic code he, he !

" “ They represent, too, that the devil is chained down, and confined in the burning lake; and yet, at the same time, that he is perpetrating all sorts of mischief all over the world! Your divine. versifier, Watts, in describing hell, thus alludes to him:

• There Satan, the first sinner, lies,

And roars, and bites his iron bands;
In vain the rebel strives to rise,

Crush'd with the weight of both thy hands.' From which, it would seem, that he is kept down under the fire, by an express exertion of Omnipotence. Nevertheless, he is at

the same time perfectly at large, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it!' He is in Europe, and Asia, and Africa, and America, and Australasia, and in the islands of the South sea-assuming all sorts of forms and colors, and tempting a thousand different persons to a thousand different modes of sinning! He, he, he! A most puissant devil our mighty prince Beelzebub! It is gravely put forth by your notorious commentator, Clarke, that it was probably he who raised the tempest about the vessel in which Christ and his disciples were sailing, with the view of drowning them all together, and so quashing the gospel scheme in its beginning! A most shrewd design, it must be owned ; but surely, our prince could not have so far taken leave of his wits as to hope anything from a tempest which he knew Messiah had power to calm! He, he! The devil may properly enough be taken for a knave all over the world ; but nobody mistrusts him for a fool! No, no, not a fool, for he has outwitted Omniscience! he has foiled all the plans and purposes of heaven! When he had seduced from their purity the first human pair, he was told by Jehovah that his head should be bruised, He, he! So far from it, he has been receiving constant accessions to the number of his subjects ever since; and over these he is to have dominion to eternity! He would have gained infinitely less, had Jehovah damned the first couple, instead of permitting them to live, and propagate unnumbered millions of their race for hell! It was poor economy in God to sacrifice his Son for the world's redemption, when he knew that the devil would contrive to profit by the scheme much more largely than himself!

“ And pray, my good friend Tub, why enters it not into the sapient heads of you mortals, that, as Satan found it so easy to journey from hell to your world, other peopled spheres may be equally accessible to him? The station of your earth is scarcely midway between the sun and the Georgium Sidus, and is therefore no nearer a neighbor to hell than is other planets in the system. Now the truth is, that our prince is a free and priviledged commoner of creation, and he is anything but slack in improving his opportunities to the advancement of his own em, pire; hence he is to be found every where, and at the season most opportune for his interests : no place, nor presence, is sacred from his intrusions—he, he! he goes most regularly to church, with

VOL. I.–2 F2

God's people, as you may read in the book of Job, and even into the pulpit goeth he, in company with the preacher. When Whitfield was informied, at the foot of the pulpit stairs, that he had delivered himself of a most admirable sermon, he replied, that the devil had so told him before ; and there is undoubted matter of fact in the quaint couplet of the old divine, that

There's nowhere found a house of prayer,

But Satan hath an altar there.' “ I heard him relate, not long since, to the great amusement of his infernal subjects, that he had that day stept into a church just in time to prevent the conversion of a score of souls ! It was a time of excitement in the church—a score of persons had occupied the mourner's seats—some half a dozen preachers were present, besides about twice the number of subaltern ecclesiastics, who glided, like ghosts in kid slippers, up and down the aisles, peering about for such of the female auditors as were weeping or looking serious ; the fears of the congregation had been wrought upon to the utmost, a death-like silence prevailed, only occasionally broken by the loud and hollow whispers of the ecclesiastics, God—is here'!-which sent a thrill through the whole house. At this interesting crisis, the devil (who had been also peering about for some work in his line) found a large dog quietly snoozing under one of the benches; he forthwith pinched his tail—the dog set up a howl, and those near fell to kicking and caning him out of the church: in his flight he unfortunately tript up a deacon, who sprawled his full length in the aisle. He, he, he !—there were many in the congregation whose risible muscles were not proof against all this, and an obstreperous laugh ensued! Thus was that farce brought to a conclusion."

“ Hold! hold, there, Mr. Paddle!" interrupted the elder. “I won't allow your tongue to run gallop at such a rate ; for the salvation of the elect is not to be thwarted by such chances as you have related, since it has been fixed from eternity, in a compact between the persons of the adorable trinity—in a covenant, ordered in all things and sure ;' and therefore"

“ Pooh! pooh!" abruptly rejoined the goblin. “I will not waste breath in arguing election and reprobation with you, Mr. Tub. I speak from actual knowledge when I say, that the merest accidents in the world have determined the final and

eternal fates of thousands! There was Toby Tibbins, for example, an intimate acquaintance of mine and your father's, on earth; he was convicted of being a tory spy, and sentenced to be hung. While in confinement, Toby became a penitent, confessed all his sins, and with the aid of our company's chaplain, he obtained the favor of God. Thus Toby got all his scriptural concerns into a right trim for heaven; but, unfortunately for his soul, he was pardoned under the gallows: he relapsed into his former rogueries, and has been a companion with me in hell for the last ten years !

“ There was also Obadiah Snubbs, the undoubted cause of whose damnation was, that his nose was set too far on one side of his face. I knew Mr. Snubbs well, and can certify that he was soundly converted some half-dozen times; but that nose of his was a most serious stumbling-block to him-it involved him in constant broils, to the great detriment of his spiritual health. He at length found necessary, for the safety of his soul, to remove into this western region, (then a wilderness,) where he supposed his nose would escape the observation and ridicule which it had attracted on the other side of the mountains ; so he squatted in a cabin near the mouth of Grave creek, where there were but four or five widely scattered settlers. In this retirement, he managed to keep his soul's affairs in a safe condition for some time; but, unfortunately for him, having occasion to go to Fort Wheeling one day to buy stores, a fellow there took the liberty to remark upon the awry posture of his proboscis—which so enraged my friend Obadiah, that, (forgetting his conversion) he drew his knife on his tormentor, and was killed in the quarrel.He, he! Poor Snubbs would have now been in heaven but for his nose!

“Even I myself, Mr. Tub, he, he, hel came very near slipping in amongst the elect at one time! I should have made it out, I believe, had I not possessed an inordinate turn for whatever was comical ; and the devil finding this out, took care always to put funny thoughts into my head when I was saying my prayershe, he !

Another stumbling-block with me, when on earth, was, that our preachers, in their printed and pulpit descriptions, used so to confound God and the devil, that, for the life of me, I could scarcely tell which was which. Did you over, Mr. Tub, read old Jona

[ocr errors]

than Edwards? If so, you will understand what I mean. Divines in those days used to tell how much it would be to the glory of God to burn the sinner-how much he would mock, and tantalize him, and laugh at his miseries; and how the saints themselves would unite with the deity in this cruel business! I took up a volume of sermons one day, by Dr. Benson, (who published a commentary on the bible ;) among them was one from the text, • If I make my bed in hell, thou art there. On which the Doctor assumed, that God is personally present in the world of suffering. And for what purpose, think you? Why, saith the Doctor, that he may blow the flames thereof to their utmost intensity of heat, and thereby inflict a more poignant suffering on the unhappy spirits consigned thereto! Nor is that all; but God must be personally in hell, in order that he may quicken the insensibilities of the damned, and make them more susceptible to the influence of the flames! As thus portrayed, I found it impossible to discriminate between God and the devil; and, consequently, I found it impossible also to love the one more than the other. I know of millions who have stumbled into hell from the same cause; for it is not in the nature of thinking beings to love an object that is represented to them in an odious and detestable light. I therefore loathed both God and the devil in about an equal degree; but I have since learned to prefer the latter, since, though he lures men into sin, he can plead in excuse of his conduct, that it is from motives of opposition to their Maker rather than to them; and moreover, (as he pleads) they are not the offspring of his power, for if they were, he could find means to take care of them, and would certainly not permit them to be infinitely ruined by a foe of inferior power to his own, and then seek to excuse himself with the weak pretence, that he could not help it. From considerations like these, Satan is regarded with more respect by his subjects than they can entertain toward the infinite Being who created them, weak and ignorant, and then exposed them to be entrapt, and rained for eternity, by his wily enemy-and who, with all his professed love for them, and desire for their salvation, made their final and everlasting destiny to depend on their giving a blind faith to certain riddles respecting the trinity and the new birth.

“ Well, Mr. Tub,” continued the goblin, “ we have got to within a few yards of your gate, and this is the last visit I am

« PreviousContinue »