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Discord, to send her among the Pagans, and finds her in a Convent of Friars where Peace should Reign, which indeed is fine Satyr ; and Satan in Tajo, excites Solyman to an Attempt by Night on the Christian Camp, and brings an Holt of Devils to his Aflistance; yet the Arch-Angel, in the former Example, when Discord was restive, and would not be drawn from her belov'd Monastery with fair Words, has the whip-hand of her, drags her out with many. Stripes, fets her, on God's name, about her Business ; and makes her know the difference of Strength betwixt a Nuncio of Heaven, and a Minister of Hell: The same Angel, in the latter Instance from Talo (as if God had never another Messenger belonging to the Court, but was confin'd like Jupiter to Mercury, and Juno to Iris,) when he sees his time, that is, when half of the Christians are already kill'd, and all the rest are in a fair way of being routed, stickles betwixt the Remainders of God's Host, and the Race of Fiends ; pulls the Devils backwards by the Tails, and drives them from their Quarry; or otherwise the whole Business had miscarry'd, and Yerusalem remain'd untaken. This, says Boileau, is a very unequal Match for the poor Devils, who are sure to come by the worst of it in the Combat ; for no. thing is more easy, than for an Almighty Power to bring his old Rebels to Reason, when he pleases. Consequently, what Pleasure, what Entertainment can be rais'd from fo pitiful a Machine, where we see the Success of the Battle from the very beginning of it; unless that, as we are Christians, we are glad that we have gotten God on our side, to maul our Enemies, when we cannot do the work our felves? For if the Poet had given the Faithful more Courage, which had cost him nothing, or at
least have made him exceed the Turks in Number; that he might have gain'd the Victory for us Chriftians, without interesting Heaven in the Quarrel ; and that with as much ease, and as little Credit to the Conqueror, as when a Party of 100 Soldiers defeats another which consists only of so.
This, my Lord, I confess, is such an Argument against our Modern Poetry, as cannot be answer.. ed by those Mediums which have been us'd.
We û cannot hitherto boalt, that our Religion has fur
nish'd us with any such Machines, as have made
the Strength and Beauty of the Ancient Build- ings.
But what if I venture to advance an Invention of my own, to supply the manifest Defect of our
new Writers : I am sufficiently sensible of my | Weakness; and 'tis not very probable that I shou'd
succeed in such a Project, whereof I have not had
the least hint from any of my Predecessors, the | Poets, or any of their Seconds, and Coadjutors,
the Critiques. Yet we see the Art of War is improv'd in Sieges, and new Instruments of Death are invented daily : Something new in Philosophy and the Mechanicks is discover'd almost every Year: And the Science of former Ages is improv'd by the succeeding. I will not detain you with a long Preamble to that, which better Judges will, perhaps, conclude to be little worth.
''is this, in short, That Christian Poets have not hitherto been acquainted with their own Strength. If they had search'd the Old Testament as they ought, they might there have found the Machines which are proper for their work; and those more certain in their effe&t, than it may be the New Testament is, in the Rules sufficient for Salvation. The perusing of one Chapter in the Prophecy of Daniel, and
accommodating what there they find, with the Principles of Platonique Philosophy, as it is now Christianiz'd, wou'd have the Ministry of Angels as strong an Engine, for the working up Heroique Poetry, in our Religion, as that of the Ancients has been to raise theirs by all the Fables of their Gods, which were only receiv'd for Truths by the most ignorant and weakest of the People.
'Tis a Do&trine almost universally receiv'd by Christians, as well Protestants as Catholicks, That there are Guardian Angels appointed by God Almighty,as his Vicegerents, for the Protection and Government of Cities, Provinces, Kingdoms, and Monarchies; and those as well of Heathens, as of true Believers. All this is so plainly prov'd from those Texts of Daniel, that it admits of no farther Controversie. The Prince of the Persians, and that other of the Grecians, are granted to be the Guardians and Protecting Ministers of those Empires. It cannot be deny'd, that they were opposite, and relisted one another. St. Michael is mention'd by his Name, as the Patron of the Jews, and is now taken by the Christians, as the Protector General of our Religion. These Tutelar Genii, who prefided over the several People and Regions como mitted to their Charge, were watchful over them for good, as far as their Commissions cou'd pofGibly extend. The general Purpose, and Design of all, was certainly the Service of their Great CREATOR. But 'tis an undoubted Truth, that for Ends best known to the Almighty Majesty of Heaven, his Providential Designs for the Benefit of his Creatures, for the Debaling and Punishing of some Nations, and the Exaltation and Temporal Reward of others, were not wholly known to thefe his Ministers; else why those factious Quar
rels, Controversies, and Battels, amongst themselves, when they were all united in the same Design, the Service and Honour of their Common Malter? But being instru&ed only in the general, and zealous of the main Design; and as Fiņite Beings, not admitted into the. Secrets of Government, the last Resorts of Providence, or capable of discovering the final Purposes of GOD, who can work Good out of Evil, as he pleases; and irresistably sways all manner of Events on Earth, directing them finally for the best, to his Creation in general, and to the ultimate end of his own Glory in particular : 'They must of neceility.be sometimes ignorant of the Means conducing to those Ends, in which alone they can jar and oppose each other. One Angel, as we may suppose the Prince of Persia, as he is call’d, judging, that it would be more for God's Honour and the Benefit of his People, that the Median and Persian Monarchy, which deliver'd them from the Babylonijh Captivity, fhou'd still be uppermost: And the Patron of the Grecians, to whom the Will of God might be more particularly reveal'd, contending on the other side, for the Rise of Alexander and his Successors, who were appointed to punish the Backsliding Fews, and thereby to put them in mind of their Offences, that they might repent, and become more Virtuous, and more observant of the Law reveal'd. But how far thefe Controverfies and appearing Enmities of thote glorious Creatures may be carry'd; how these Oppositions may best be manag'd, and by what Means conducted, is not my Buliness to new or determine: These things must be left to the Invention and Judgment of the Poet: If any of so happy a Genius be now living, or any future Age can produce a Man who being conversant in the Philosophy
of Plato, as it is now accommodated to Christian Use; for (as Virgil gives us to understand by his Example) he is the only proper Person, of all others for an Epique Poem, who to his Natural Endowments, of a large Invention, a ripe Judgment, and a strong Memory, has join'd the Knowledge of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and particularly Moral Philofophy, the Mathematicks, Geography and History, and with all these Qualifications is born a Poet; knows, and can pra&tise the variety of Numbers, and is Master of the Language in which he writes; if such a Man, I say, be now arisen, or fhali arise, I am vain enough to think, that I have propos'd a Model to him, by which he may build a Nobler, a more Beautiful, and more Perfea Poem, than any yet extant since the Ancients.
There is another part of these Machines yet wanting; but by what I have said, it wou'd have been easily supply'd by a Judicious Writer.
He aou'd not have fail'd to add the opposition of ill Spirits to the good; they have also their Defign, ever opposite to that of Heaven; and this alone has hitherto been the practice of the Moderns: But this imperfect System, if I may call it fuch, which I have given, will infinitely
advance and carry farther that Hypothesis of the Evil Spirits contending with the Good. For being so much weaker since their Fall, than those Blefied Beings, they are yet suppos'd to have a permitted Power of God, of acting ill, as from their own deprav'd Nature they have always the Will of designing it. A great Testimony of which we find in Holy Writ, when God Almighty suffer'd Satan to appear in the Holy Synod of the Angels, (a thing not hitherto drawn into Example by any of the Poets,) and also gave him Power over all things belonging to his Ser• ant Job, excepting only Life.