A Discourse of the Power of Devils


Women and fools fear in the dark to be,
Lest they2 the Devil in some shape should see.
As if, like silly owls, he takes3 delight
To sleep all day, and go4 abroad at Night,
To beat the pots and pans, candles5 blow out,                      5
And all the night to6 keep a revel-rout,
To7 make the sow to grunt, the pigs to squeak,
The dogs to bark, cats mew as if they speak.
Alas, poor Devil, whose power is8 small,
Only to make a cat or dog to bawl,                                          10
To make with pewter, tin, and brass9 a noise,
To stew with fearful sweat poor girls and boys.
Why should we fear him, since he doth no harm?
For we may bind him fast within a charm.
Then what a devil ails a woman old,                                      15
To play such tricks whereby her soul is sold?10
Can he destroy mankind, or new worlds make,
Or alter states for an old woman’s sake?
Or put daylight out,11 or stop the sun,
Or make12 the planets from their course to run?                 20
And yet methinks ’tis odd, and very strange,
That since the Devil13 cannot bodies change
He should have14 power over souls, to draw
Them from their God, and from his holy law,
Persuading conscience to do more ill,                                    25
Than the sweet grace of God to rule the will,
To cut off faith, by which our souls should climb
To make us leave our folly and our15 crime,
Destroying honesty, disgracing truth,
When he can16 neither make old age, nor youth.                30
He cannot add nor make17 a minute short,
Yet many souls he keeps18 from Heaven’s court.
It seems his power shall for ever last,
Because ’tis over souls19 which never waste.
And thus hath God the Devil power lent                               35
To punish man, unless he doth repent.

  1. Power of Devils] Devils Power. 1664; Devil’s Power. 1668
  2. Lest they] They think 1653
  3. takes] took 1664, 1668
  4. and go] then goes 1653
  5. To beat the pots and pans, candles] Beat Pots and Pans, and Candles do 1664, 1668
  6. to] do 1664, 1668
  7. To] Do 1664, 1668
  8. Devil, whose power is] Devil, his Power is but 1664; Devil! his Pow’r is but 1668
  9. To make with pewter, tin, and brass] And with the Peuter, Brasse to make 1653
  10. whereby her soul is sold?] to give away her Soule? 1653
  11. Or put daylight out,] Can he the Day benight, 1664; Can he the Day be-night, 1668
  12. make] change 1653
  13. Devil] Devils 1653
  14. He should have] Should have such 1653
  15. To make us leave our folly and our] On high, and leave all Folly and all 1664; On High, and leave all Folly, and all 1668
  16. When he can] Yet can He 1653
  17. He cannot add nor make] Nor can he add, or take 1653
  18. Yet many souls he keeps] And yet keep many Souls 1664; And yet, keep many Souls 1668
  19. over souls] on the Soule, 1653