Cases of Conscience
Cases of Conscience concerning evil SPIRITS Personating Men, Witchcrafts, infallible Proofs of Guilt in such as are accused with that Crime.
All Considered according to the Scriptures, History, Experience, and the Judgment of may Learned men.
By Increase Mather, President of Harvard Colledge at Cambridge, and Teacher of a Church at Boston in New-England.
CASES of CONSCIENCE CONCERNING Witchcrafts.
THE First Case that I am desired to express my Judgment in, is this, Whether it is not Possible for the Devil to impose on the imaginations of Persons Bewitched, and to cause them to Believe that an Innocent, yea that a Pious person does torment them, when the Devil himself doth it; or whether Satan may not appear in the Shape of an Innocent and Pious, as well as of a Nocent and Wicked Person, to Afflict such as suffer by Diabolical Molestations? The Answer to the Question must be Affirmative; Let the following Arguments be duely weighed in the Ballance of the Sanctuary. Argu. 1. There are several Scriptures from which we may infer the Possibility of what is Affirmed. 1. We find that the Devil by the Instigation of the Witch at Endor appeared in the Likeness of the Prophet Samuel. I am not ignorant that some have asserted that, which, if it were proved, would evert this Argument, viz, that it was the true and not a delusive Samuel which the Witch brought to converse with Saul. Of this Opinion are some of the Jewish Rabbies ((a)) and some Christian Doctors ( (b)) and many late Popish Authors ( (c)) amongst whom Cornel. a Lapide is most elaborate.((d)) But that it was a Dæmon representing Samuel has been evinced by learned and Orthodox Writers: especially ( (e)) Peter Martyr, ( (f)) Balduinus ( ( ) Lavater, and our incomparable John Rainolde. I shall not here insist on the clearing of that, especially considering, that elsewhere I have done it: only let me add, that the Witch said to Saul, I see Elohim, i. e. A God; (for the whole Context shows, that a single Person is intended) Ascending out of the Earth. 1 Sam. 28. 13. The Devil would be Worshipped as a God, and Saul now, that he was become a Necromancer, must bow himself to him. Moreover, had it been the true Samuel from Heaven reprehending Saul, there is great Reason to believe, that he would not only have reproved him for his sin, in not executing Judgment on the Amalekites; as in Ver. 18. But for his Wickedness in consulting with Familiar Spirits: For which Sin it was in special that he died, 2 Chron. 10. 13. But in as much as there is not one word to testify against that Abominaon, we may conclude that it was not real Samuel that appeared to Saul: and if it were the Devil in his likeness, the Argument seems very strong, that if the Devil may appear in the form of a Saint in Glory, much more is it possible for him to put on the likeness of the most Pious and Innocent Saint on Earth. There are, who acknowledge that a Dæmon may appear in the shape of a Godly Person, But not as doing Evil. Whereas the Devil in Samuel's likeness told a pernicious Lye, when he said, Thou hast disquieted me. It was not in the Power of Saul, nor of all the Devils in Hell, to disquiet a Soul in Heaven, where Samuel had been for Two years before this Apparition. Nor did the Spectre speak true, when he said, Thou and thy Sons shall be with me: Tho' Saul himself at his Death went to be with the Devil, his Son Jonathan did not so. Besides, (which suits with the matter in hand) the Devil in Samuels shape confirmed Necromancy and Cursed Witchery. He that can in the likeness of Saints encourage Witches to Familiarity with Hell, may possibly in the likeness of a Saint afflict a Bewitched Person. But this we see from Scripture, Satan may be permitted to do. And whereas it is objected, that the Devil may appear indeed in the form of Dead Persons, but that he cannot represent such as are living; The contrary is manifest. No Question had Saul said to the Witch, bring me David who was then living, she could as easily have shown living David as dead Samuel, as easily as that great Conjurer, of whom * Wierus speaks, brought the appearance of Hector and Achilles, and after that of David before the Emperour Maximilian. And that evil Angels have sometimes appeared in the likeness of living absent persons, is a thing abundantly confirmed by History. Austin tells us of one that went for resolution in some intricate Questions to a Philosopher, of whom he could get no Answer; but in the Night the Philosopher comes to him, and resolves all his Doubts. Not long after, he demanded the reason why he could not answer him in the Day as well as in the Night; The Philosopher professed he was not with him in the Night, only acknowledged that he dreamed of his having such conversation of his Friend, but he was all the time at home, and asleep. Paulus and Palladius did both of them profess to Austin, that one in his shape, had divers times, and in divers places appeared to them : Thyreus mentions several Apparitions of absent living persons, which happened in his time, and which he had the certain knowledge of. A Man that is in one place cannot (Autoprosopos) at the same time be in another. It remains then that such Spectres are Prodigious and Supernatural, and not without Diabolical Operation. It has been Controverted among Learned Men, whether innocent Persons may not by the malice and deluding Power of the Devil be represented as present amongst Witches at their dark Assemblies. The mentioned Thyreus says, that the Devil may, and often does represent the forms of Innocent Persons out of those Conventions, and that there is no Question to be made of it, but as to his natural Power and Art he is able to make their shapes appear amongst his own Servants, but he supposeth the Providence of God will not suffer such an Injury to be done to an Innocent Person. With him (b) Delrio, and Spineus concur. But Cumanus in his Lucerna Inquisitorum (a Book which I have not yet seen) defends the Affirmative in this Question. Bins Fieldius in his Treatise, concerning the Confession of Witches, inclines to the Negative, only (c) he acknowledges Dei extraordinaria Permissione posse Innocentes sic represent ari. And he that shall assert, that Great and Holy God never did nor ever will permit the Devil thus far to abuse an Innocent Person, affirms more than he is able to prove. The story of Germanus his discovering a Diabolical illusion of this nature, concerning a great number of Persons that seemed to be at a Feast when they were really at home and asleep, is mentioned by many Authors. But the particulars insisted on, do sufficiently evince the Truth of what we assert, viz. That the Devil may by Divine Permission appear in the shape of Innocent and Pious Persons. Nevertheless, It is evident from another Scripture, viz. that in 2 Cor. 11. 14. For Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of Light. He seems to be what he is not, and makes others seem to be what they they are not. He represents evil men as good, and good men as evil. The Angels of Heaven (who are the Angels of Light) love Truth and Righteousness, the Devil will seem to do so to; and does therefore sometimes lay before men excellent good Principles and exhort them (as he did Theodore Maillit) to practise many things, which by the Law of Righteousness they are obliged unto, and hereby he does more effectually deceive. Is it not strange, that he has sometimes intimated to his most devoted servants, that if they would have familiar Conversation with him, they must be careful to keep themselves from enormous Sins, and pray constantly for Divine Protection? But so has he transformed himself into an Angel of Light, as (a) Boissardus sheweth. He has frequently appeared to Men pretending to be a good Angel, so to Anatolius of old; and the late instances of (b) Dr. Dee and Kellet are famously known. How many deluded Enthusiasts both in former and latter times have been imposed on by Satans appearing visibly to them, pretending to be a good Angel. And moreover, he may be said to transform himself into an Angel of Light, because of his appearing in the Form of Holy Men, who are the Children of Light, yea in the shape and habit of Eminent Ministers of God. So did he appear to Mr. Earl of Colchester in the likeness of Mr. Liddal an Holy Man of God, and to the Turkish Chaous Baptized at London, Anno 1658. pretending to be Mr. Dury an Excellent Minister of Christ. And how often has he pretended to be the Apostle Paul or Peter or some other celebrated Saint? Ecclesiastical Histories abound with Instances of this nature. Yea, sometimes he has transfigured himself into the Form of Christ. It is reported that he appeared to (c) St. Martin Gloriously arrayed, as if he had been Christ. So likewise to (d) Secundellus, and to another Saint, who suspecting it was Satan, transforming himself into an Angel of Light had this expression, If I may see Christ in Heaven it is enough, I desire not to see him in this World; whereupon the Spectre vanished. It has been related of Luther, that after he had been Fasting and Praying in his Study, the Devil come pretending to be Christ, but Luther saying, away thou confounded Devil, I acknowledge no Christ but what is in my Bible, nothing more was seen. Thus then the Devil is able (by Divine Permission) to Change himself into what form or figure he pleaseth, Omnia transformat sese in miracula rerum. A Third Scripture to our purpose is that, in Rev. 12. 10. where the Devil is called the Accuser of the Brethren. Such is the malice and impudence of the Devil, as that he does accuse good Men, and that before God, and that not only of such Faults as they really are guilty of, he accused Joshua with his filthy Garments, when through his Indulgence some of his Family had transgressed by unlawful Marriages, Zach. 3. 23. with Ezra 10. 18. but also with such Crimes, as they are altogether free from. He represented the Primitive Christians as the vilest of men, and as if at their Meetings they did commit the most nefandous Villanies that ever were known; and that not only Innocent, but Eminently Pious Persons should thro' the Malice of the Devil be accused with the Crime of Witchcraft, is no new thing. Such an Affliction did the Lord see meet to exercise the great Athanasius with (t) only the Divine Providence did wonderfully vindicate him from that as well as from some other foul Aspersions. The Waldenses (altho' the Scriptures call them Saints, Rev. 13. 7.) have been traduced by Satan and by the World as horrible Witches; so have others in other places, only because they have done extraordinary things by their Prayers: It is by many Authors related, that a City in France was molested with a Diabolical Spectre, which the People were wont to call Hugon; near that place a number of Protestants were wont to meet to serve God, whence the Professors of the true reformed Religion were nic-named Hugonots, by the Papists, who designed to render them before the World, as the Servants and Worshippers of that Dæmon, that went under the name of Hugon. And how often have I read in Books written by Jesuits, that Luther was a Wizard, and that he did himself confess that he had familiarity with Satan! Most impudent Untruths! nor are these things to be wondered at, since the Holy Son of God himself was reputed a Magician, and one that had Familiarity with the greatest of Devils. The Blaspheming Pharisees said, he casts out the Devils thro' the Prince of Devils, Matth. 9. 34. There is then not the best Saint on Earth (Man or Woman) that can assure themselves that the Devil shall not cast such an Imputation upon them. It is enough for the Disciple that he be as his Master, and the Servant as his Lord: If they have called the Master of the House Beelzebub, how much more them of his Houshold, Matth. 10. 25. It is not for men to determine how far the holy God may permit the wicked one to proceed in his Accusations. The sacred story of Job giveth us to understand, that the Lord whose ways art past finding out, does for wise and holy Ends suffer Satan by immediate Operation, (and consequently by Witchcraft) greatly to afflict innocent Persons, as in their Bodies and Estates, so in their Reputations. I shall mention but one Scripture more to confirm the Truth in hand: It is that in Eccles. 9. 2, 3. where it is said, All things come alike to all; there is one event to the Righteous and to the Wicked, as is the Good, so is the Sinner, this is an evil amongst all things under the Sun; that there is one Event happeneth to all. And in Eccles. 7. 15. 'tis Paid, There is a just man that perisheth in his Righteousness. From hence we infer, that there is no outward Affliction whatsoever but may befal a good Man; now to be represented by Satan as a Tormentor of Bewitched or Possessed Persons, is a sore Affliction to a good Man. To be tormented by Satan is a sore Affliction, yet nothing but what befel Job, and a Daughter of Abraham, whom we read of in the Gospel: To be represented by Satan as tormenting others, is an Affliction like the former; the Lord may bring such extraordinary Temptations on his own Children, to afflict and humble them, for some Sin they have been guilty of before him. A most wicked Person in St. Ives, got a Knife, and went with it to a Ministers House, designing to stab him, but was disappointed; afterwards Conscience being awakened, the Devil appears to this Person in the Shape of that Minister, with a Knife in his hand exhorting to Self murder: Was not here a Punishment suitable to the Sin which that Person had been guilty of? Perhaps some of those whom Satan has represented as committing Witch crafts, have been tampering with some foolish and wicked Sorceries, tho' not to that degree, which is Criminal and Capital by the Laws both of God and Men; for this Satan may be permitted so to scourge them; or it may be, they have misrepresented and abused others, for which cause the Holy God may justly give Satan leave falsely to represent them. Have we not known some that have bitterly censured all that have been complained of by bewitched Persons, saying it was impossible they should not be guilty; soon upon which themselves or some near Relations of theirs, have been to the lasting Infamy of their Families, been accused after the same manner, and Personated by the Devil! Such tremendous Rebukes on a few, should make all men to be careful how they joyn with Satan in Condemning the Innocent. Arg. 2. Because it is possible for the Devil in the Shape of an innocent Person to do other mischiefs. As for those who acknowledge that Satan may personate a pious Person, but not to do mischief, their Opinion has been confuted by more than a few unhappy Instances.
Mr. Clark (u) speaks of a Man that had been an A theist, or a Sadduce, not believing that there are any Devils or any (to us) invisible World; this Man was converted, but as a Punishment of his Infidelity, evil Angels did often appear to him in the Shape of his most intimate Friends, and would sometimes seduce him into great Inconveniences. It has been elsewhere, and but now noted, that a Dæmon in the shape of excellent Mr. Dury appeared to the Turkish Chaos, Anno. 1658. to disswade him from prosecuting his desires of Baptism into the Name of Christ: Also to Mr. Earle in the likeness of his Friends, to discourage him from doing things lawful and good. A multitude of Jews were once deluded by a Person pretending to be Moses from Heaven, and that if they would follow him they should pass safe through the Sea (as did their Fathers of old through the Red Sea) whereby great numbers of them were deceived and perished in the Waters. (w) Learned and judicious Men have concluded that this Moses Creensis was a Dæmon, transforming himself into Moses: And that the Devil has frequently appeared (x) in the shape of famous Persons to the end that he might seduce Men into Idolatry, a Sin equal to that of Witchcraft) no Man that has made it his Concern to enquire into things of this nature can be ignorant. Many Examples of this kind are collected by Mr. Bromhall in his Treatise of Spectres, and the cunning Devil, to strengthen Men in their worshipping of Saints departed: And by Mr. Bovet in his Pandemonium. It is credibly reported that the Devil in the likeness of a faithful Minister (as St. Ives before mentioned, near Boston in Lincolnshire) came to one that was in trouble of Mind; telling her the longer she lived, the worse it would be for her; and therefore advising her to Self-murder: An eminent Person still living had the account of this Matter from Mr. Cotton (the famous Teacher of both Bostons.) He was well acquainted with that Minister, who related to him the whole Story, with all the Circumstances of it: For Mr. Cotton was so affected with the Report, as to take a Journey on purpose to the Town where this happened, that so he might obtain a satisfactory account about it, which he did. Some Authors say, that a Dæmon appeared in the form of. Sylvanus (Hierom's Friend) attempting a dishonest thing, the Devil thereby designing to blast the Reputation of a famous Bishop. I have in another Book mentioned that celebrated Instance concerning an honest Citizen in Zurick (the Metropolis of Helvetis) in whose shape the Devil appeared, committing an abominable Fact (not fit to be named) very early in the Morning, seen by the Prefect of the City, and his Servant; they were amazed to behold a Man of good Esteem for his Conversation, perpetrating a thing so vile and abominable; but going from the Spectre in the Field, to the Citizen's House in the Town, they found him at home, and in his Bed, nor had he been abroad that Morning, which convinced them, that what they saw was an Illusion of the Devil: This Passage is mentioned as a thing known and certain by Lavater in his Treatise of Spectres, (z) who was a most learned and judicious Preacher in that City. Our Juel faith of him, that he must ingeniously confess, that he never understood Solomon's Proverbs, until Lavater expounded them to him: That Book of his De Spectris hath been published in Latin, High and Low Dutch, French, Italian. The learned Zanchy ( ) speaks highly of it, professing that he had read it both with Pleasure and Profit. Voetius (a) takes notice of that passage which we have quoted out of Levater as a thing memorable. Some Popish Authors argue, That that Devil cannot personate an innocent Man as doing an act of Witchcraft, because then he might as well represent them as committing Theft, Murder, and c. And if so, there would be no living in the World: But I turn the Argument against them, he may (as the mentioned Instances prove) personate honest Men as doing other Evils; and no solid Reason can be given why he may not as well personate them under the Notion of Witches, as under the Notion of Thieves, Murders, and Idolaters: As for the Objection, that then there would be no living in the World, we shall consider it under the next Argument. Arg. 3. If Satan may not represent one that is not a Covenant Servant of his, as afflicting those that are bewitched or possessed, then it is either because he wants Will, or Power to do this, or because God will never permit him thus to do. No Man but a Sadduce doubts of the ill will of Devils; nothing is more pleasing to the Malice of those wicked Spirits than to see Innocency wronged: And the Power of the Enemy is such, as that having once obtained a Divine Concession to use his Art, he can do this and much more than this amounts unto: We know by Scripture-Revelation, that the Sorcerers of Egypt caused many untrue and delusive ( ) Representations before Pharaoh and his Servants. Exod. 7. 11, 22. and 8. 7. And we read of the working of Satan in all Power and Signs, His Heart is beyond what the wisest of Men may pretend unto: He has perfect skill in Opticks, and can therefore cause that to be visible to one, which is not so to another, and things also to appear far otherwise then they are: He has likewise the Art of Limning in the Perfection of it, and knows what may be done by Colours. It is an odd passage (b) which I find in the Acta Eruditorum, printed at Lipsick, that about Thirty two Years ago an indigent Merchant in France was instructed by a Dæmon, that with Water of Borax he might colour Taffities, so as to cause them to glister and look very gay: He searcheth into the Nature, Causes, and Reasons of things, whereby he is able to produce wonderful effects: So that if he does not form the Shape of an innocent Person as afflicting others, it is not from want of either will or power. They that affirm, that God never did, nor ever will permit him thus to do, alledge that it is inconsistant with the Righteousness and Providence of God, in governing Humane Affairs thus to suffer Men to be imposed on: It must be acknowledged (c) that the Divine Providence has taken care, that the greatest part of Mankind shall not be left to unavoidable Deception, so as to be always abused by the mischievous Agents of Hell, in the Objects of plain Sence: But yet it is not for sinful and silly Mortals to prescribe Rules to the most High in his Government of the World, or to direct him how far he may permit Satan to use his power: I am apt to think that there are some amongst us, who if they had lived in Job's days, and seen the Devil tormenting of him, and heard him complaining of being scared with Dreams, and terrified with Night-visions, they would have joined with his uncharitable Friends in censuring him as a most guilty Person: But we should consider, that the most high God doth sometimes deal with Men in a way of absolute Sovereignty, performing the thing which is appointed for them, and many such things are with him: If he does destroy the perfect with the wicked, and laugh at the tryal of the innocent, (Job 9. 22, 23.) Who shall enter into his Councils! who has given him a Charge over the Earth! or who has disposed the whole World! Men are not able to give an account of his ordinary Works, much less of his secret Counsels, and the dark Dispensations of his Providence: They do but darken Counsel by Words without Knowledge when they undertake it: If we are not able to see how this or that can stand with the Righteousness of him that governs the World, shall we say that the Almighty will pervert Judgment? or that he that governs the Earth hateth Right? Shall we condemn him that is most just? But whereas 'tis objected, where is Providence? And how shall Men live on the Earth, if the Devil may be permitted to use such Power? I demand, where was Providence, when Satan had Power to cause Sons of Belial to lye and swear away the Life of innocent Naboth, laying such Crimes to his charge as he was never guilty of? And what an Hour of Darkness was it? How far was the Power of Hell permitted to prevail, when Christ the Son of God was accused, condemned, and hanged for a Crime that he never was guilty of? That was the strangest Providence that has happened since the World began, and yet in the Issue the most glorious: We must therefore distinguish between what does ordinarily come to pass by the Providence of God, and things which are extraordinary: It is not an usual thing for a Naboth to have his Life taken from him by false Accusations, or for an Athanasius or a Sufanna to be charged, and perhaps brought before Courts of Judicature for Crimes of which they were altogether innocent. But if we therefore conclude, that such a thing as this can never happen in the World, we shall offend against the Generation of the Just: It is not ordinary for: Devils to be permitted to reveal the secret Sins of Men; yet this has been done more than once or twice: Nor is it ordinary for Dæmons to steal Money out of Mens Pockets, and Purses, or Wine and Cyder out of their Cellars. Yet some such Instances have there been amongst our selves. It is not usual for Providence to permit the Devil to come from Hell and to throw Fire on the tops of Houses, and to cause a whole Town to be burnt to Ashes thereby; there would (it must be confessed) be no living in the World, if.evil Angels should be permitted to do thus when they had a mind to it; nevertheless, Authors worthy of Credit, tell us, that this has sometimes happened. (d) Both Erasmus and Cardanus write that the Town of Schiltach in Germany, was in the Month of April, 1533. set on fire by a Devil, and burnt to the ground in an Hour's space: 'Tis also reported by Sigibert, Aventinus and others, that some Cottages and Barns in a Town called Bingus were fired by a wicked Genius; that spiteful D(mon said it was for the Impieties of such a Man whom he named, that he was sent to molest them: The poor Man to satisfie his Neighbours, who were ready to Stone him, carried an hot Iron in his Hand, but receiving no hurt thereby, he was judged to be innocent. It is not ordinary for a Devil upon the dying Curse of a Servant, to have a Commission from Heaven to tear and torment a bloody cruel Master; yet such a thing may possibly come to pass. There is a fearful Story to this purpose, in the account of the Bucuneers of America, (e) wherein my Author relates that a Servant, who was Spirited or Kidnapt (as they call it) into America, falling into the Hands of a Tyrannical Master, he ran away from him, but being taken and brought back, the hardhearted Tyrant lashed him on his naked Back, until his Body ran in an entire stream of Blood; to make the Torment of this miserable Creature intolerable, he anointed his Wounds with Juice of Lemon mingled with Salt and Pepper, being ground sinall together, with which torture the miserable Wretch gave up the Ghost, with these dying Words, I beseech the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, that be permit a wicked Spirit, to make thee feel as many Torments before thy Death, as thou hast caused me to feel before mine: Scarce four days were past after this horrible Fact, when the Almighty Judge gave Permission to the Father of Wickedness to possess the Body of that cruel Master, and to make him lacerate his own Flesh until he died, belike surrendring his Ghost into the Hands of the infernal Spirit, who had tormented his Body: But of this Tragical Story enough. To proceed, Is it not usual for Persons after their Death to appear unto the Living: But it does not therefore follow, that the great God will not suffer this to be: For both in former and latter Ages, Examples thereof have not been wanting: No longer since than the last Winter, there was much discourse in London concerning a Gentlewoman, unto whom her dead Son (and another whom she knew not) had appeared: Being then in London, I was willing to satisfie myself, by enquiring into the Truth of what was reported; and on Febr. 23. 1691. my Brother (who is now a Pastor to a Congregation in that City) and I discoursed the Gentlewoman spoken of; she told us, that a Son of hers, who had been a very civil young Man, but more airy in his Temper than was pleasing to his serious Mother, being dead, she was much concerned in her Thoughts about his Condition in the other World; but a Fortnight after his Death he appeared to her, saying, Mother you are solicitous about my Spiritual Welfare; trouble yourself no more, for I am happy, and so vanished; should there be a continual Intercourse between the Visible and Invisible World, it would breed Confusion. But from thence to infer, that the great Ruler of the Universe will never permit any thing of this nature to be, is an inconsequent Conclusion; it is not usual for Devils to be permitted to come and violently carry away persons through the Air, several miles from their Habitations: Nevertheless, this was done in Sweedland about twenty Years ago, by means of a cursed Knot of Witches there. And a learned Physician now living, giveth an account of several Children, who by Diabolical Frauds were stollen from their Parents,and others left in their room: And of two, that in the night-time a Line was by invisible Hands put about their Necks, with which they had been strangled, but that some near them happily prevented it. V. Germ. Ephem. Anno 1689. pag. 51. 516. Let me further add here; It has very seldom been known, that Satan has Personated innocent Men doing an ill thing, but Providence has found out some way for their Vindication; either they have been able to prove that they were in another place when that Fact was done, or the like. So that perhaps there never was an Instance of any innocent Person Condemned in any Court of Judicature on Earth, only through Satans deluding and imposing on the Imaginations of Men, when nevertheless, the Witnesses, Juries, and Judges, were all to be excused from blame. Arg. 4. It is certain both from Scripture and History, that Magicians by their Inchantments and Hellish Conjurations, may cause a false Representation of Persons and Things. An inchanted eye shall see such things as others cannot discern; it is a thing too well known to be denied, that some by rubbing their eyes with a bewitched Water, have immediately thereupon seen that which others could not discern; and there are Persons in the World, who have a strange Spectral sight. Mr. Glanvil (f) speaks of a Dutch-man that could see Ghosts which others could perceive nothing of. There are in Spain a sort of men whom they call Zahurs, these can see into the Bowels of the Earth; they are able to discover Minerals and hidden Treasures; nevertheless, they have their extraordinary sight only on Tuesdays and Fridays, and not on the other days of the Week. Delrio saith, that when he was at Madrid, Anno Dom. 1575. he saw some of these strange sighted Creatures. Mr. George Sinclare, in his Book Entituled, Satans Invisible World discovered, (h) has these Words, `I am undoubtedly informed, that men and women in the High-lands can discern Fatality approaching others, by seeing them in the Waters or with Winding Sheets about them. And that others can lecture in a Sheeps shoulder-bone a Death within the Parish seven or eight Days before it come. It is not improbable but that such Preternatural Knowledge comes first by a Compact with the Devil, and is derived downward by Succession to their Posterity: Many such I suppose are Innocent, and have this sight against their Will and Inclination.' Thus Mr. Sinclare, I concur with his supposal, that such Knowledge is originally from Satan, and perhaps the Effect of some old Inchantment. There are some at this day in the World, that if they come into a House where one of the Family will die within a Fortnight, the smell of a dead Corpse offends them to such a degree, as that they cannot stay in that House. It is roported that near unto the Abby of St. Maurice in Burgundy (i) there is a Fishpond in which are Fishes put according to the number of the Monks of that place; if any one of them happen to be sick, there is a Fish seen to Float and Swim above Water half dead, and if the Monk shall die, the Fish a few days before dieth. In some parts in Wales Death-lights or Corps Candles (as they call them) are seen in the night time going from the House where somebody will shortly die, and passing in to the Church-yard. Of this, my Honoured and never to be forgotten Friend Mr. Richard Baocter, (k) has given an Account in his Book about Witchcrafts lately Published: what to make of such things, except they be the effects of some old Inchantment, I know not; nor what Natural Reason to assign for that which I find amongst the Observations of the Imperial Academy for the Year 1687, viz. That in an Orchard where are choice Damascen Plumbs, the Master of the Family being sick of a Quartan Ague, whilst he continued very ill, four of his Plumb-trees instead of Damascens brought forth a vile sort of yellow Plumbs: but recovering Health, the next Year the Tree did (as formerly) bear Damascens again; but when after that he sell into a fatal Dropsie, on those Trees were seen not Damascens, but another sort of Fruit. The same Author (l) gives Instances of which he had the certain knowledge, concerning Apple-trees and Pear-trees, that the Fruit of them would on a sudden wither as if they had been baked in an Oven, when the owners of them were mortally sick.It is no less strange that in the Illustrious Electoral (m) House of Brandenburg before the Death of some one of the Family Feminine Spectres appeared: (n) and often in the Houses of Great men, Voices and Visions from the Invisible World have been the Harbingers of Death. When any Heir in the Worshipful Family of the Breertons in Cheshire is near his Death, there are seen in a Pool adjoyning, Bodies of Trees swimming for certain days together, on which Learned Cambden (o) has this Note, These and such like things are done either by the Holy Tutelar Angels of Men, or else by the Devils, who by Gods Permission mightily shew their Power in this Inferiour World. As for Mr. Sinclare's Notion that some Persons may have a second Sight, (as 'tis termed) and yet be themselves Innocent, I am satisfied that he judgeth right; for this is common amongst the Laplanders, who are horribly addicted to Magical Incantations: They bequeath their Dæmons to their Children as a Legacy, by whom they are often assisted (like Bewitched Persons as they are) to see and do things beyond the Power of Nature. An Historian who deserves Credit, relates, (p) that a certain Laplander gave him a true and particular Account of what had happened to him in his Journey to Lapland; and further complained to him with Tears, that things at great distance were represented to him, and how much he desired to be Delivered from that Diabolical Sight, but could not; this doubtless was caused by some Inchantment. But to proceed to what I intend; the Eyes of Persons by reason of Inchanting Charms, may not only see what others do not, but be under such power of Fascination, as that things which are not, shall appear to them as real: The Apostle speaks of Bewitched Eyes, Gal. 3. 1. and we know from Scripture, that the Imaginations of men have by Inchantments been imposed upon; and Histories abound with very strange Instances of this Nature: The old Witch Circe by an Inchanted Cup caused Ulysses his Companions toimagine themselves to be turned into Swine;and how many Witches have been themselves so bewitched by the Devil,as really to believe that they were transformed into Wolves, or Dogs, or Cats. It is reported of Simon Magus, (q)that by his Sorceries he would so impose on the Imaginations of People, as that they thought he had really changed himself into another sort of Creature. Opollonius of Tyana could out do Simon with his Magick: The great Bohemian Conjurer Zyto (r) by his Inchantments, caused certain Persons whom he had a mind to try his Art upon, to imagine that their Hands were turned into the Feet of an Ox, or into the Hoofs of a Horse, so that they could not reach to the Dishes before them to take any thing thence; he sold Wisps of Straw to a Butcher who bought them for Swine, that many such prestigious Pranks were played; by the unhappy Faustus, is attested by Camerarius, Wyerus, Voetius, Lavater, and Lonicer.
There is newly Published a Book (mentioned in the Acta Eruditorum) wherein the Author (s) (Wiechard Valvassor) relates, that a Venetian Jew instructed him (only he would not attend his Instructions) how to make a Magical Glass which should represent any Person or thing according as he should desire. If a Magician by an Inchanted Glass can do this, he may as well by the help of a Dæmon cause false Idæas of Persons and Things to be impressed on the Imaginations of bewitched Persons; the Blood and Spirits of a Man, that is bitten with a Mad-Dog, are so envenomed, as that strange Impressions are thereby made on his Imagination: let him be brought into a Room where there is a Looking-Glass, and he will (if put upon it) not only say but swear that he sees a Dog, tho' in truth there is no Dog it may be within 20 Miles of him; and is it not then possible for the Dogs of Hell to poyson the Imaginations of miserable Creatures, so as that they shall believe and swear that such Persons hurt them as never did so? I have heard of an Inchanted Pin, that has caused the Condemnation and Death of many scores of innocent Persons. There was a notorious Witchfinder in Scotland, that undertook by a Pin, to make an infallible Discovery of suspected Persons, whether they were Witches or not, if when the Pin was run an Inch or two into the Body of the accused Party no Blood appeared, nor any sense of Pain, then he declared them to be Witches; by means hereof my Author tells me no less then 300 persons were Condemned for Witches in that Kingdom. This Bloody Jugler after he had done enough in Scotland, came to the Town of Berwick upon Tweed; an honest Man now living in New-England assureth me, that he saw the Man thrust a great Brass Pin two Inches into the Body of one, that some would in that way try whether there was Witchcraft in the Case or no: the accused Party was not in the least sensible of what was done, and therefore in danger of receiving the Punishment justly due for Witchcraft; only it so happened, that Collonel Fenwick (that worthy Gentleman, who many years since lived in New England) was then the Military Governour in that Town; he sent for the Mayor and Magistrates advising them to be careful and cautious in their proceedings; for he told them, it might be an Inchanted Pin, which the Witch-finder made use of: Whereupon the Magistrates of the place ordered that he should make his Experiment with some other Pin as they should appoint: But that he would by no means be induced unto, which was a sufficient Discovery of the Knavery and Witchery of the Witch-finder. There is a strange Diabolical Energy goeth along with Incantations. If Balak had not known, that he would not have sent for Balaam, to see whether he could inchant the Children of Israel. The Scripture intimates that Inchantments will keep a Serpent from biting, Eccles. 10. 11. A Witch in Sweedland confessed, that the Devil gave her a wooden Knife; and that if she did but touch any living thing with that Knife, it would die immediately: And that there is a wonderful Power of the Devil attending things inchanted, we have confirmed by a prodigious Instance in Majo Weir, a Scotch Man: That wretched Man was a perfect Prodigy; a Man of great Parts; esteemed a Saint, yet lived in secret Uncleanness with his own Sister for thirty four Years together: After his wickedness was discovered, he did not seem to be troubled at any of his Crimes, excepting that he had caused a poor Woman to be publickly whipped, because she reported that she had seen him committing Bestiality; which thing was true, only the Woman could not prove it. This horrid Creature, if he had his Inchanted Staff in his Hand could pray to admiration, and do extraordinary things, as is more amply related in the Postscript to Mr. Sinclares his Book before mentioned: But if he had not his Inchanted Rod to lean upon, he could not transform himself into an Angel of Light: But by all these things we may conclude, that it is not impossible, but that a guilty Conjurer, that so he may render himself the less suspected, may by his Magical Art and Inchantment, cause innocent Persons to be represented as afflicting those whom the Devil and himself are the Tormentors of. Arg 5. The Trath we affirm is so evident, as that many Learned and Judicious Men have freely subscribed unto it. The memorable Relation of the Devils assuming the shape of an innocent Citizen in Zurick, is in the Judgment of that great Divine Lud Levater, of weighty Consideration: And he declares, that he does therefore mention it, that so Judges might be cantelous in their Proceedings in Cases of this nature, inasmuch as the Devil does often in that way intangle innocent Persons, and bring them into great Troubles. His Words are, (s) Hanc Historiam ideo recito, ut Judices, in hujusmodi, Casibus cauti sint: Diabolus enim hac via sape innocentibus insidiatur. He confirms what he saith by reciting a Passage out of Alertus Granzius, who writes that the Devil was seen in the shape of a Nobleman to come out of the Empress's Chamber: But to clear her Innocency, she (according to the superstitious Ordeals then in fashion) walked blinfold over a great many of glowing hot Irons without touching any of them. Voetius in his (u) Disputation of Spectres proposeth that Question, whether the Devil may not untruly personate a Godly Man, and answers in the Affirmative: And withal adds, that it is a sufficient Argument (ad hominem) to answer the Papists with their own Histories, which give Instances of Satan's appearing in the Figure of Saints, nay of Christ himself. And in his Discourse concerning the Operations of Dæmons (w) he has the like Problem, whether the Devil may not possibly put on the shape of a true Believer, a real Saint, not only of such as are dead, but still living, and answers, Quidni? Why not? It is true Popish Casuists (x) do generally incline to the Negative in this Question: Nevertheless, the Instance of Germanus, who saw a Company of honest People represented by the Devil, as if they had been feasting together, when they were really asleep in their Beds, does a little puzzle them, so as that they are necessitated to take up with this Conclusion, (y) That by an extraordinary Permission of God, innocent Persons may be represented by Satan in the Noctural Conventicles of Witches: And if so, much more as afflicting bewitched Persons. Delrio giveth an account of an innocent Monk, whose Reputation was indangered by a Dæmon's appearing in his shape. He writes more like a Divine than Jesuits use to do, when he saith that, (z) It is not absolutely to be denied, but that the Devils may exhibite the Forms of innocent Persons, if God permit it, who when he does permit it, usually by some Providence discovers the Fraud of the Devils, that so the Innocent may be vindicated, or if not, it is to bring them to repentance for some Sin, or to try their Patience. It is rare to see such Words dropping from the Pen of a Jesuit: As for Protestant Writers, I cannot call to mind one of any Note, that does deny the Possibility of the Affirmative, in the Question before us. Dr. Henkelius has lately (a) published a learned and elaborate Discourse concerning the right Method of curing such as are obsessed with Cacodæmons, in which he asserts, that Satan may possibly assume the Form of innocent and pious Persons, that so he might thereby destroy their Reputations, and expose them to undue Punishments. As for our English Divines, there are not many greater Casuists than Mr. Perkins; nor do I know any one that has written on the Case of Witchcraft with more Judgment and Clearness of Understanding: He has these Words, (b) "If a Man being dangerously sick and "like to die upon suspicion, will take it on his death, that such an one has betwitched him, it is an allegation which may move the Judge to examine the Party, but it is of no moment for Conviction. The like is asserted by (c) Mr. Cooper, Mr. Bernard, (once a famous Minister at Batcomb in Somerset) his Book called, A Guide to Grand Jury-men in Cases of Witchcraft, is a solid and wise Treatise. What his Judgment was in the Case now under debate, we may see, pag, 209, 210. where his Words are these;"An Apparition of the Party suspected, whom the Afflicted in their Fits seem to see, is a great suspicion; yet this is but a Presumption, tho' a strong one, because these Apparitions are wrought by the Devil, who can represent to the Phansie such as the Parties use to fear, in which his Representation he may well lye as in his other Witness: For if the Devil can represent to the Witch seeming Samuel, saying, I see God's ascending out of the Earth, to beguile Saul, may we not think he can represent a common ordinary Person, Man or Woman unregenerate, [Illegible word] no Witch to the Phansie of vain Persons, to deceive them and others that will give Credit to the Devil." Thus Mr. Bernard. As for the Judgment of the Elders in New-England, so far as I can learn, they do generally concur with Mr. Perkins, and Mr. Bernard. This I know, that at a Meeting of Ministers at Cambridge, August 1. 1692. where were present seven Elders besides the President of the Colledge, the Question then discoursed on, was, Whether the Devil may not sometimes have a Permission to represent an innocent Person as tormenting such as are under Diabolical Molestations? The Answer which they all concurred in, was in these words, viz That the Devil may sometimes have a Permission to represent an innocent Person as tormenting such as are under Diabolical Molestations; but that such things are rare and extraordinary, especially when such Matters come before Civil Judicatures: And that some of the most eminent Ministers in the Land, who were not at that Meeting are of the same Judgment, I am assured: And I am also sure, that in Cases of this nature the Priest's Lips should keep Knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his Mouth, Mal. 2. 7. Arg. 6. Our own Experience has confirmed the Truth of what we affirm. I have in another Book given an account concerning Elizabeth Knap of Groton, who complained that a Woman as eminent for Piety as any in that Town, did appear to her, and afflict her: But afterwards she was satisfied that that Person never did her any harm, but that the Devil abused them both. About two Years ago, a bewitched Person in Chelmsford in her Fits, complained that a worthy good Man, a near Relation of hers did afflict her: So did she likewise complain of another Person in that Town of known Integrity and Piety. I have my self known several of whom I ought to think that they are now in Heaven, considering that they were of good Conversation, and reputed Pious by those that had the greatest Intimacy with them, of whom nevertheless, some complained that their Shapes appeared to them, and threatned them: Nor is this answered by saying, we do not know but those Persons might be Witches: We are bound by the Rule of Charity to think otherwise: And they that censure any, meerly because such a sad Affliction as their being falsly represented by Satan has befallen them, do not do as they would be done by. I bless the Lord, it was never the Portion allotted to me, nor to any Relation of mine to be thus abused: But no Man knoweth what may happen to him, since there be just Men unto whom it happeneth according to the Work of the Wicked, Eccles. 8. 14. But what needs more to be said, since there is one amongst our selves whom no Man that knows him, can think him to be a Wizzard, whom yet some bewitched Persons complained of, that they are in his Shape tormented: And the Devils have of late accused some eminent Persons. It is an awful thing which the Lord has done to convince some amongst us of their Error: This then I declare and testifie, that to take away the Life of any one, meerly because a Spectre or Devil, in a bewitched or possessed Person does accuse them, will bring the Guilt of innocent Blood on the Land, where such a thing shall be done: Mercy forbid that it should, (and I trust that as it has not it never will be so) in New-England. What does such an Evidence amount unto more than this: Either such an one did afflict such an one, or the Devil in his likeness, or his Eyes were bewitched. The things which have been mentioned make way for, and bring us unto the second Case, which is to come under our Consideration, viz.
If one bewitched is struck down at the Look or cast of the Eye of another, and after that recovered again by a Touch from the same Person, Is not this an infallible Proof, that the Person suspected and complained of is in League with the Devil? Answer; It must be owned that by such things as these Witchcrafts and Witches have been discovered more than once or twice: And that an all Eame, or other Circumstances attending the suspected Party, this may be a Ground for Examination; but this alone does not afford sufficient Matter for Conviction: As Spectres or Devils appearing in the Shapes of Men that have been murdered, declaring that they were murdered by such Persons and in such a place, may give just occasion to the Magistrate for Enquiry into the Matter: One great Witch-Advocate (d) confesseth, that by this means Murders have been brought to light; yet that alone, if other Circumstances did not concur, would not by the Law of God take away the Life of any Man. If my Reader pleaseth, he shall hear what old Mr. Bernard of Batcomb saith to a Case not unlike to this, and the former: His Words are these, (e) `The naming of the suspected in their Fits, and also where they have been, and what they have done here or there, as Mr. Throgmorton's Children could do, and that often and ever found true; this is a great Presumption: yet is this but a Presumption, because this is only the Devils Testimony, who can lie, and that more often than speak Truth Christ would not allow his Witness of him in a point most true; nor St. Paul in the due Praises of him and Sylas; his Witness then may not be received as sufficient in case of ones Life: He may accuse an Innocent, as I shewed before in Mr. Edmund's giving over his Practice to find Stollen Goods; and Satan we read would accuse Job to God himself to be an Hypocrite, and to be ready to be a Blasphemer, and he is called the Accuser of the Brethren. Albeit, I cannot deny but this has very often proved true, yet seeing the Devil is such an one as you heard, Christian Men should not take his Witness, to give in Verdict upon Oath, and so swear that the Devil has therein spoken the Truth; be it far from good men to confirm any Word of the Devil by Oath, if it be not an evident Truth without the Devil's Testimony, who in speaking the Truth, has a lying Intent, and speaks some Truths of things done, which may be found to be so, that he may wrap with them some pernicious Lye, which cannot be tried to be true, but must rest upon his own testimony to ensnare the Blood of the Innocent.' Thus Mr. Bernard resolved the Case above sixty Years ago; and truly in my Opinion like a Wise and Orthodox Divine, what he says, reacheth both this and the former Case. Dr. Cotta (a Learned Physician) in his Book, about The Tryal of Witchcraft, shewing the true and right Method of the Discovery, with a Confutation Erroneous ways (which Book he dedicates to the Right Honourable Sir Edward Cook, Lord Chief Justice of England (f) He discourses concerning Exploration of Witches by the touch of the Witch curing the touched bewitched, and sheweth the Fallibility and Vanity of that way of Tryal, tho' he had often seen Persons bewitched in that way immediately delivered from the present Fit or Agony which was upon them: But he taketh it to be a Diabolical Miracle. He argueth thus, (g) `No Man can doubt but that the Vertue wherewith this touch was indued, is supernatural: If it be so, How can Man to whom nothing is simply possible that is not natural be justly reputed an Agent therein? If he cannot be esteemed in himself any possible or true Agent, then it remaineth that he can only be interessed therein as an Accessary in Consent, or as a Servant unto a Superior Power: If that Superior Power be the Devil, the least reasonable doubt, whether the Devil alone, or with the Consent or Contract of the suspected Person has produced that wonderful effect; with what Religion or Reason can any Man incline rather to credit the Devil's mouth in the Bewitched, than to pity the Accused, and believe them against the subtilty of a deceitful Devil: If the Devil by Divine Permission may cause supernatural Concomitances and Consequences to attend the natural Actions of Men without their allowance, as is manifest in possessed Persons, how is it reasonable and just that the Impositions of the Devil should be imputed unto any Man: And (saith he) God forbid that the Devil's Signs and Wonders, nay his Truths should become any legal Allegations or Evidences in Law. We may therefore conclude it unjust, that the forenamed miraculous Effect by the Devil wrought and imputed by the Bewitched, should be esteemed an infallible mark against any Man, as therefore convinced for that the Devil and the Bewitched have so decyphered him?' Thus that Learned Man. But to the Case in hand, I have several things to offer. 1. It is possible that the Persons in Question may be possessed with Cacodæmons: That bewitched Persons are many times really possessed with evil Spirits, is most certain. And as Mr. Perkins observes, no Man can prove but that Witchcraft might be the Cause of many of those Possessions, which we read of in the Gospel: And that Devils have been immitted into the Bodies of miserable Creatures by Magicians and Witches, Histories and Experience do abundantly testifie. Hierom (h) relates concerning a certain Virgin, that a young Man, whose Amours she despised, prevailed with a Magician to send an evil Spirit into her, by means whereof she was strangely besotted. 'Tis reported (i) of Simon Magus, that after he had used an Hellish Sacrifice, to be revenged of some that had called him a great Witch, he caused infernal Spirits to enter into them. Many confessing Witches have acknowledged, that they were the Cause of such and such Persons being possessed by evil Angels, as (k) Thyaus and others have observed: Now no Credit ought to be given to what Dæmons in such as are by them obsessed shall say. Our Saviour by his own unerring Example has taught us not to receive the Devil's Testimony in any thing. The Papists are justly condemned for bringing Diabolical Testimony to confirm the Principles of their Religion. Peter Cotton the Jesuite (l) enquired of the Devil in a possessed Person, what was the clearest Scripture to prove Purgatory. At the time when Luther died, all the possessed People in the Netherlands were quiet: The Devils in them, said the Reason was, because Luther (m) had been a great Friend of theirs, and they owed him that respect as to go as far as Germany to attend his Funeral. Another time when there was a talk of some Ministers of the Reformed Religion, the Devils in the Obsessed laughed and said, they were not at all afraid of them, for the Calvinists and they were very good Friends. The Jesuits insult with these Testimonies as if they were Divine Oracles: But the Father of Lyes is never to be believed: He will utter twenty great truths to make way for one lye: He will accuse twenty Witches, if he can but thereby bring one innocent. Person into trouble: He mixeth Truths with Lyes, that so those truths giving credit unto lyes, Men may believe both, and so be deceived: And whereas some say, that the Persons in question are only bewitched and not possessed, let it be considered that possessed Persons are called Energumens from EPLOMAI Agitor: They whose Bodies are prenaturally agitated, so as to be in danger of being thrown into the Fire, or into the Water, though they may be bewitched, are undoubtedly possessed with Dæmons, Mark 9. 22, 25. Learned Men (a) give it as a most certain sign of Possession, when the afflicted Party can see and hear that which no one else can discern any thing of, and when they can discover ( ) secret things, Acts 6. 16. past, or future, (b) as a possessed Person in Germany foretold the War which broke out in the Year, 1546. And when the Limbs of miserable Creatures are bent and disjointed so as could not possible be without a Luxation of Joints, were it not done by a preternatural Hand, and yet no hurt raised thereby that argueth Possession. Also, when Persons are by the Devil cast into Fits, in the which they speak of things, that afterwards they have no remembrance of (c) or, if they are by cruel Devils tortured, so as to cause horrendous Clamours in the distressed Sufferers, that's another sign of Obsession by evil Spirits: If all these things concur in the Persons concerning where the Question is, we may conclude them to be Dæmoniacks: And if so, no Juror can with a safe Conscience look on the Testimony of such, as sufficient to take away the Life of any Man. 2. Falling down by the cast of an Eye proceeds not from a natural, but an arbitrary Cause; not from any Poyson in the Eye of the Witch, but from the Agency of some Dæmon: The opinion of Fascination by the Eye is an old Fable, and (saith Mr. Perkins) as fond as old.(d) Pliny (e) speaks of a People that killed folks by looking on them; and he adds, that they had two Apples in each Eye: and Tully writes of women who had two Apples in one Eye that always did mischief with their meer Looks; so Ovid, Popula duplex fulminat. And Plutarch (f) writes, that some persons have such a Poyson in their Eyes, as that their Friends and Familiars are Fascinated thereby; nay he speaks of one that Bewitched himself sick by looking on his own Face in a Glass: Others write of Fascination by a meer Prolation of Words; and for ought I know, there may be as much Witchery in the Tongue as there is in the Eye. Sennertus (g) has discovered the Superstition of these Fancies; Sight does not proceed from an Emission of Rays from the Eye, but by a reception of the visible Species; and if it be (as Philosophers conclude) an innocent Action and not an Emission optick Spirits, so that Sight as such, does receive something from the Object, and not act upon it, the Notion of Fascination by the Eye is unphilosophical: It is true, that sore Eyes will affect those that look upon them, Dum spectant Oculi Læsos, Leduntur and ipsi, for which a natural Reason is easily to be assigned; but if the Witches Eyes are thus infected with a natural Contagion, Whence is it, that only Bewitched Persons are hurt thereby? If the vulgar Error concerning the Basilisks killing with the Look of his Poysonful Eye were a Truth, whatever person that Serpent cast his Eye upon would be poysoned. So if Witches had a physical Venom in their Eyes, others as well as Fascinated Persons would be sensible thereof; there is as much Truth in this fancy of Physical Venom in the Eye of a Witch, as there is in what Pliny ( ) and others relate concerning the Thibians, viz. that they have two Apples in one Eye, and the Effigies of an Horse in the other Eye; and that they are a people that cannot be drowned. 3. As for that which concerns the Bewitched Persons being recovered out of their Agonies by the Touch of the suspected Party, it is various and fallible. For sometimes the afflicted Person is made sick, (instead of being made whole) by the Touch of the Accused; sometimes the Power of Imagination is such, as that the Touch of a Person innocent and not accused shall have the same effect. It is related in the Account of the Tryals of Witches at Bury in Suffolk 1664, during the time (r) of the Tryal, there were some Experiments made with the Persons afflicted, by bringing the accused to touch them, and it was observed that by the least Touch of one of the supposed Witches, they that were in their Fits, to all mens Apprehension wholly deprived of all Sense and Understandings, would suddenly shriek out and open their Hands. Mr. Serjeant Keeling did not think that sufficient to Convict the Prisoners, for admitting that the Children were in truth Bewitched, yet (saith he) it cannot be applyed to the Prisoners upon the Imagination only of the Parties afflicted; for if that might be allowed, no Person whatsoever can be in safety, for perhaps they might fancy another Person who might altogether be innocent in such matters: To avoid this Scruple it was privately desired by the Judge, that some Gentlemen there in Court would attend one of the distempered Persons in the farther part of the Hall, whilst she was in her Fits, and then to send for one of the Witches to try what would happen, which they did accordingly. One of them was conveyed from the Bar, and brought to the Afflicted Maid. They put an Apron before her Eyes, and then another person (not the Witch) touched her, which produced the same effect, as the Touch of the Witch did in the Court. Whereupon the Gentlemen returned much unsatisfied. Bodin (s) relates, that a Witch who was Tryed a; Nants, was commanded by the Judges to touch a Bewitched person, a thing often practised by the Judges of Germany in the Imperial Chamber. The Witch was extreamly unwilling, but being Compelled by the Judges, she cryed out, I am undone; and as soon as ever she touched the Afflicted person, the Witch fell down dead, and the other recovered. That horrid Witch of Salisbury, Ann Bodenham (t) who had been Servant to the Notorious Conjurer Dr. Lamb, could not bear the sight of one that was Bewitched by her. As soon as ever she saw the Afflicted Person, she ran about shrieking, and crying, and roaring after an hideous manner, that the Devil would tear her in pieces, if that person came near her. And whilst the Witch was in such Torment, the Bewitched was at ease. By these things we see, that the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of darkness, are not always and in all places the same. And it is good for men to concern themselves with them as little as may be. I think there is weight in Dr. Cotta's (u) Argument, viz. That the Gift of healing the Sick and Possessed, was a special Grace and Favour of God, for the Confirmation of the Truth of the Gospel, but that such a Gift should be annexed to the Touch of Wicked Witches, as an infallible sign of their guilt, is not easie to be believed. It is a thing well known, that if a person possessed by an Evil Spirit, is (as oft it so happens) never so outragious whilst a good man is Praying with and for the Afflicted, let him lay his hand on them, and the Evil Spirit is quiet. I hope this is no evidence of any Covenant, or voluntary Communion between the Good Man that is Praying and the Evil Spirit; no more does the Case before us evince any such thing. 4. There are that Question the Lawfulness of the Experiment. For if this healing power in the Witch is not a Divine but a Diabolical Gift, it may be dangerous to meddle too much with it. If the Witch may be ordered to touch afflicted Persons in order to their healing or recovery out of a sick Fit, why may not the Diseased Person be as well ordered to touch the Witch for the same cause? And if to touch him, why not to scratch him and fetch Blood out of him, which is but an harder kind of touch? But as for this Mr. Perkins doubts not to call it a Practice of Witchcraft. It is not safe to meddle with any of the Devils Sacraments or Institutions; For my own part, I should be loath to say to a Man, that I knew or thought it was a Witch, do you look on such a Person, and see if you can Witch them into a Fit, and there is such an afflicted Person do you take them by the Hand, and see if you can Witch them well again. If it is by vertue of some Contract with the Devil that Witches have Power to do such things, it is hard to conceive how they can be bid to do them, without being too much concerned in that Hellish Covenant. I take it to be (as elsewhere (w) I have expressed) a solid Principle, which the Learned Sennertus insists on, viz. That they who force another to do that which he cannot possibly do, but by vertue of a Compact with the Devil, have themselves implicitely Communion with the Diabolical Covenant. The Devil is pleased and honoured when any of his Institutions are made use of; this way of discovering Witches, is no better than that of putting the Urine of the afflicted Person into a Bottle, that so the Witch may be tormented and discovered: The Vanity and Superstition of which practice I have formerly shewed, and testified against. There was a Conjurer his name was Edward Drake (x) who taught a Man to use that Experiment for the Relief of his afflicted Daughter, who found benefit thereby; But we ought not to practice Witchcrafts to discover Witches, nor may we make use of a White healing Witch (as they call them) to find out a Black and Bloody one. And how did men first come to know that Witches would be discovered in such ways as these, which have been mentioned? If Satan himself were the first Discoverer (as there is reason to believe) the experiment must needs have deceit in it. See Dr. Willet on Exod. 7. Quest. 9. And such Experiments better become Pagans or Papists than Professors in New England; whereas 'tis pleaded, that such things are practised by the Judges of the Imperial Chamber, I reply, that those Judges (as Bodia relates, Lib. 3. Dæmon. Cap. 6.) have required suspected Witches to pronounce over the afflicted persons, these words, I bless thee in the Name of the Father, and c. upon which they have immediately recovered; but is the dark day come upon us, that such Superstitions as these shall be practised in New-England: The Lord Jesus forbid it. See Baldwin's Testimony against the Practice of the Camera Imperialis, Cas. Consc. L. 3. c. 3. p. 634. 5. If the Testimony of a bewitched or possessed Person, is of Validity as to what they see done to themselves, then it is so as to others, whom they see afflicted no less than themselves: But what they affirm concerning others, is not to be taken for Evidence. Whence had they this Supernatural Sight? It must needs be either from Heaven or from Hell: If from Heaven, (as Elisha's Servant, and Balaam's Ass could discern Angels) let their Testimony be received: But if they had this Knowledge from Hell, tho' there may possibly be truth in what they affirm, they are not legal Witnesses: For the Law of God allows of no Revelation from any other Spirit but himself, Isa. 8. 19. It is a Sin against God to make use of the Devil's help to know that which cannot be otherwise known: And I testifie against it, as a great Transgression, which may justly provoke the Holy One of Israel, to let loose Devils on the whole Land, Luke 4. 35. See Mr. Bernard's Guide to Juries in Cases of Witchcraft, p. 136, 137, 138. And Brochmand Theol. de Angelis, p. 227. Altho' the Devil's Accusations may be so far regarded as to cause an enquiry into the truth of things, Job 1. 11, 12, and 2. 5, 6. yet not so as to be an Evidence or Ground of Conviction: The Persons, concerning whom the Question is, see things through Diabolical Mediums; on which account their Evidence is not meer humane Testimony; and if it be in any part Diabolical, it is not to be owned as Authentick; for the Devil's Testimony ought not to be received neither in whole nor in part. I am told by credible Persons, who say it is certainly true, that a bewitched Person has complained that she was cast into Fits by the Look of a Dog; and that she was no more able to bear the sight of that Dog, than of the Person whom she accused as bewitching her: And that thereupon the Dog was shot to death: This Dog was no Devil; for then they could not have killed him. I suppose no one will say that Dogs are Witches: It remains then that the casting down with the Look is no infallible sign of a Witch.
8. It has always been said, that it is a difficult thing to find out Witches: But if the Representation of such a Person as afflicting, or the Look or Touch be an infallible proof of the guilt of Witchcraft in the Persons complained of, 'tis the easiest thing in the World to discover them; for it is done to our hand, and there needs no enquiry into the Matter. 9. Let them say this is an infallible Proof, produce any Word out of the Law of God which does in the least countenance that Assertion: The Word of God instructs Jurors and Judges to proceed upon clear humane Testimony, Deut. 35. 30. But the Word no where giveth us the least Intimation, that every one is a Witch, at whose look the bewitched Person shall fall into Fits; nor yet that any other means should be used for the discovery of Witches, than what may be used for the finding out of Murderers, Adulterers, and other Criminals. 10. Sometimes Antipathies in Nature have strange and unaccountable Effects. I have read of a Man that at the sight of his own Son, who was no Wizzard would fall into Fits. There are that find in their Natures an averseness to some Persons whom they never saw before, of which they can give no better an account than he in Martial, concerning Sabidius. Non Amo te Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare. That some Persons at the sight of Bruit-Creatures, Cats, Spiders, and c. Nay, at the sight of Cheeses, Milk, Apples, will fall into Fits, is too well known to be denied. Pensingius in his Learned Discourse De Pulvere Sympathatico, p. 128. saith, there was one in the City of Groning that could not bear the sight of a Swine's Head: And that he knew another who was not able to look on the Picture thereof. Amatus Lusitanus speaks of one that at the sight of a Rose would swoon away: This proveth that the falling into a Fit at the sight of another is not always a sign of Witchcraft. It may proceed from Nature, and the Power of Imagination.
To conclude; Judicious Casuists ( ) have determined, that to make use of those Media to come to the Knowledge of any Matter, which have no such power in them by Nature, nor by Divine Institution is an Implicit going to the Devil to make a discovery: Now there is no natural Power in the Look or Touch of a Person to bewitch another; nor is this by Divine Institution the means whereby Witchcraft is discovered: Therefore it is an unwarrantable Practice. We proceed now to the third Case proposed to Consideration; If the things which have been mentioned are not infallible Proofs of Guilt in the accused Party, it is then Queried, Whether there are any Discoveries of this Crime, which Jurors and Judges may with a safe Conscience proceed upon to the Conviction and Condemnation of the Persons under Suspicion? Let me here premise Two things, 1. The Evidence in this Crime ought to be as clear as in any other Crimes of a Capital nature. The Word of God does no where intimate, that a less clear Evidence, or that fewer or other Witnesses may be taken as sufficient to convict a Man of Sorcery, which would not be enough to convict him were he charged with another evil worthy of Death, Numb. 35. 30. if we may not take the Oath of a distracted Person, or of a possessed Person in a Case of Murder, Theft, Felony of any sort, then neither may we do it in the Case of Witchcraft. 2. Let me premise this also, that there have been ways of trying Witches long used in many Nations, especially in the dark times of Paganism and Popery, which the righteous God never approved of. But which as (judicious Mr. Perkins expresseth it in plain English) were invented by the Devil, that so innocent Persons might be condemned, and some notorious Witches escape: Yea, many Superstitious and Magical experiments have been used to try Witches by: Of this sort is that of scratching the Witch, or seething the Urine of the bewitched Person, or making a Witch-cake with that Urine: And that tryal of putting their Hands into scalding Water, to see if it will not hurt them: And that of sticking an Awl under the Seat of the suspected Party, yea, and that way of discovering Witches by tying their Hands and Feet, and casting them on the Water, to try whether they will sink or swim: I did publickly bear my Testimony against this Superstition in a Book printed at Boston eight Years past. I hear that of late some in a Neighbour Colony have been playing with this Diabolical invention: It is to be lamented, that in such a Land of Uprightness as New-England once was, a Practice which Protestant Writers generally condemn as sinful, and which the more sober and learned Men amongst Papists themselves have not only judged unlawful, but (to express it in their own terms) to be no less than a Mortal Sin, should ever be heard of. Were it not that the coming of Christ to judge the Earth draweth near, I should think that such Practices are an unhappy Omen that the Devil and Pagans will get these dark Territories into their. Possession again: But that I may not be thought to have no reason for my calling the impleaded Experiment into Question, I have these things further to alledge against it. 1. It has been rejected long agone, by Christian Nations as a thing Superstitious and Diabolical: In Italy and Spain it is wholly disused; and (a) in the Low-Countries, and in France, where the Judges are Men of Learning. In some parts of Germany old Paganism Customs are observed more than in other Countries, nevertheless all the (b) Academies throughout Germany have disapproved of this way of Purgation. 2. The Devil is in it, all Superstition is from him; and when Secret things, or latent Crimes, are discovered by superstitious Practices, some Compact and Communion with the Devil is the Cause of it, as Austin (c) has truly intimated; and so it is here; for if a Witch cannot be drowned, this must proceed either from some natural Cause, which it doth not, for it is against Nature for Humane Bodies, when Hands and Feet are tied, not to sink under the Water: Besides, they that plead for this Superstition, say that if Witches happen to be condemned for some other Crime and not for Witchcraft, they will not swim like a Cork above Water, which Cause sheweth that the Cause of this Natation is not Physical: And if not, then either it must proceed from a Divine Miracle to save a Witch from drowning; or lastly, it must be a diabolical Wonder: This superstitious Experiment is commonly known by the Name of, The Vulgar Probation, because it was never appointed by any lawful Authority, but from the Suggestion of the Devil taken up by the rude Rabble: And some (d) learned Men are of Opinion, that the first Explorator (being a white Witch) did explicitely covenant with the Devil, that he should discover latent Crimes in this way: And that it is by Virtue of that first Contract that the Devil goeth to work to keep his Servants from sinking, when this Ceremony of his ordaining is used. Moreover, we know that Diabolus est Dei Simia, the Devil seeks to imitate Divine Miracles. We read in Ecclesiastical Story, that some of the Martyrs when they were by Persecutors ordered to be drowned, prov'd to be immersible: This Miracle would the Devil imitate in causing Witches, who are his Martyrs not to sink when they are cast into the Waters. 3. This way of Purgation is of the same nature with the old Ordeals of the Pagans. If Men were accused with any Crime, to clear their innocency, they were to take an hot Iron into their Hands, or to suffer scalding Water to be poured down their Throats, and if they received no hurt thereby they were acquitted. This was the Devil's Invention, and many times (as the Devil would have it) they that submitted to these Tryals suffered no inconvenience. Nevertheless, it is astonishing to think what innocent Blood has been shed in the World by means of this Satanical device. Witches have often (as (e) Sprenger observes) desired that they might stand or fall by this Tryal by hot Iron, and sometimes come off well: Indeed, this Ordeal was used in other Cases, and not in Cases of Witchcraft only: And so was the the Vulgar Probation by casting into the Water practiced upon Persons accused (f) with other Crimes as well as that of Witchcraft: How it came to be restrained to that of Witchcraft I cannot tell; it is as supernatural for a Body whose Hands and Feet are tied to swim above the Water, as it is for their Hands not to feel a red hot Iron. If the one of these Ordeals is lawful to be used, than so is the other too: But as for the fiery Ordeal it is rejected and exploded out of the World; for the same Reason then the tryal by Water should be so. 4. It is a tempting of God when Men put the Innocency of their Fellow. Creatures upon such tryals; to desire the Almighty to shew a Miracle to clear the Innocent, or to convict the Guilty is a most presumptuous tempting of him. Was it not a Miracle when Peter was kept from sinking under the Water by the Omnipotency of Christ? As for Satan, we know that his Ambition is to make his Servants believe that his Power is equal to God's, and that therefore he can preserve whom he pleaseth. I have read (g) of certain Magicians, who were seen walking on the Water: If then guilty Persons shall float on the Waters, either it is the Devil that causeth them to do so, (as no doubt it is) and what have Men to do to set the Devil on work; or else it is a Divine Miracle, like that of Peter's not sinking, or that of the Iron that swam at the Word of Elisha. And shall Men try whether God will work a Miracle to make a discovery? If a Crime cannot be found out but by Miracle, it is not for any Judge on Earth to usurp that Judgment which is reserved for the Divine Throne. 5. This pretended Gift of Immersibility attending Witches, is a a most fallible deceitful thing; for many a Witch has sunk under the Water. Godelmannus (h) giveth an account of six notorious and clearly convicted Witches, that when they were brought to their vulgar Probation, sunk down under the Water like other Persons; Althusius affirms the like concerning others in the (i) Bohemian History it is related, that Uratslaus the King of Bohemia, extirpated Witches out of his Kingdom, some of which he delivered to the Ax, others of them to the Fire, and others of them he caused to be drowned: If Witches are immensible, how came they to die by drowning in Bohemia? Besides, it has sometimes been known that Persons who have floated on the Water when the Hangman has made the Experiment on them, have sunk down like a Stone, when others have made the tryal. 6. The Reasons commonly alledged for this Superstition are of no moment: It is said they hate the Water; whereas they have many times desired that they might be cast on the Water in order to their purgation: It is alledged, that Water is used in Baptism, therefore Witches swim: A weak Phansie; all the Water in the World is not consecrated Water. Cannot Witches eat Bread or drink Wine, notwithstanding those Elements are made use of in the Blessed Sacrament: But (say some) the Devils by sucking of them make them so light that the Water bears them; whereas some Witches are twice as heavy as many an innocent Person: Well, but then they are possessed with the Devil: Suppose so; Is the Devil afraid if they should sink, that he should be drowned with them? But why then were the Gadarens Hogs drowned when the Devil was in them? These things being premised, I answer the Question affirmatively; There are Proofs for the Conviction of Witches which Jurors may with a safe Conscience proceed upon, so as to bring them in guilty. The Scripture which saith, Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live, clearly implies, that some in the World may be known and proved to be Witches: For until they be so, they may and must be suffered to live. Moreover we find in Scripture, that some have been convicted and executed for Witches: For Saul cut off those that had familiar Spirits, and the Wizzards out of the Land, 1. Sam. 28. 9. It may be wondred that Saul who did like him that said, Flectere si nequeo Superos Acherenta Movebo, should cause the Wizzards in the Land to be put to death. The Jewish Rabbies say, the reason was, because those Wizzards foretold that David should be King. It is (as Mr. Gaul (k) observes) the Opinion of some learned Protestants, that Saul in his Zeal did over do: And that under the Pretext (l) of Witches he slew the Gibeonites, for which that Judgment followed, 2 Sam. 21. 1. Neither (saith Mr. Gaule) want we the storied Examples of God's Judgments upon those that defamed, prosecuted and executed them for Witches, that indeed were none. But we have in the Scripture the Example of a better Man than Saul to encourage us to make enquiry after Wizzards and Witches in order to their Conviction and Execution. This did the rarest King that ever lived cause to be done, viz. Josiah, 2 Kings 23. 24. The Workers with familiar Spirits and the Wizzards, that were spied in the Land of Judah, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the Words of the Law. It seems there were some that fought to hide those Workers of Iniquity, but that incomparable King spied them out, and rid the Land and the World of them.
Q. But then the Enquiry is, What is sufficient Proof? A. This Case has been with great Judgment answered by several Divines of our own, particularly by Mr. Perkins, and Mr. Bernard; also Mr. John Gaul a worthy Minister at Staughton, in the County of Huntington, has published a very Judicious Discourse, called, Select Cases of Conscience touching Witches and Witchcrafts, Printed at London A. D. 1646. wherein he does with great Prudence and Evidence of Scripture light handle this and other Cases: Such Jurors as can obtain those Books, I would advise them to read, and seriously as in the fear of God to consider them, and so far as they keep to the Law and to the Testimony, and speak according to that Word, receive the Light which is in them. But the Books being now rare to be had, let me express my Concurrence with them in these two particulars. 1. That a free and voluntary Confession of the Crime made by the Person suspected and accused after Examination, is a sufficient Ground of Conviction. Indeed, if Persons are Distracted, or under the Power of Phrenetick Melancholy, that alters the Case; but the Jurors that examine them, and their Neighbours that know them, may easily determine that Case; or if Confession be (m) extorted, the Evidence is not so clear and convictive; but if any Persons out of Remorse of Conscience, or from a Touch of God on their Spirits, confess and shew their Deeds, as the Converted Magicians in Ephesus did, Acts 19. 18, 19. nothing can be more clear. Suppose a Man to be suspected for Murder, or for committing a Rape, or the like nefandous Wickedness, if he does freely confess the Accusation, that's ground enough to Condemn him. The Scripture approveth of Judging the wicked Servant out of his own Mouth, Luke 19. 22. It is by some objected, that Persons in Discontent may falsly accuse themselves. I say, if they do so, and it cannot be proved that they are false Accusers of themselves, they ought to dye for their Wickedness, and their Blood will be upon their own Heads; the Jury, the Judges, and the Land is clear: I have read a very sad and amazing, and yet a true Story to this purpose.
There was in the Year 1649, in a Town called Lauder in Scotland, a certain woman accused and imprisoned on suspicion of Witchcraft, when others in the same Prison with her were Convicted, and their Exccution ordered to be on the Monday following, she desired to speak with a Minister, to whom she declared freely that she was guilty of Witchcraft, acknowledging also many other Crimes committed by her, desiring that she might die with the rest: She said particularly that she had Covenanted with the Devil, and was become his Servant about twenty years before, and that he kissed her and gave her a Name, but that since he had never owned her. Several Ministers who were jealous that she accused herself untruly, charged it on her Conscience, telling her that they doubted she was under a Temptation of the Devil to destroy her own Body and Soul, and adjuring her in the Name of God to declare the Truth: Notwithstanding all this, she stifly adhered to what she had said, and was on Monday morning Condemned, and ordered to be Executed that day. When she came to the place of Execution, she was silent until the Prayers were ended, then going to the Stake where she was to be Burnt, she thus expressed herself, All you that see me this day! Know ye that 1 am to die as a Witch, by my own Confession! and I free all Men, especially the Ministers and Magistrates, from the guilt of my Blood, I take it wholly on my self, and as I must make answer to the God of Heaven, I declare I am as free from Witchcraft as any Child, but being accused by a Malicious Woman, and Imprisoned under the Name of a Witch, my Husband and Friends disowned me, and seeing no hope of ever being in Credit again, through the Temptation of the Devil, I made that Confession to destroy my own Life, being weary of it, and chusing rather to Die than to Live. This her lamentable Speech did astonish all the Spectators, few of whom could refrain from Tears. The Truth of this Relation (saith my (n) Author) is certainly attested by a worthy Divine now living, who was an Eye and an Ear-Witness of the whole matter; but thus did that miserable Creature suffer Death, and this was a just Execution. When the Amalakite confessed that he killed Saul, whom he had no legal Authority to meddle with, although 'tis probable that he belyed himself, David gave order for hiis Execution, and said to him, Thy Blood be upon thy Head, for thy Mouth hath Testified against thee, 2 Sam. 1. 16. But as for the Testimony of Confessing Witches against others, the case is not so clear as against themselves, they are not such credible Witnesses, as in a Case of Life and Death is to be desired: It is beyond dispute, that the Devil makes his Witches to dream strange things of themselves and others which are not so. There was (as Authors beyond Exception relate) in appearance a sumptuous Feast prepared, the Wine and Meat set forth in Vessels of Gold; a certain Person whom an amorous young Man had fallen in Love with, was represented and supposed to be really there; but Apollonius Tyanæus (o) discovered the Witchery of the Business, and in an instance all vanished, and nothing but dirty Coals were to be seen: The like to this is mentioned in the Arausican Council. There were certain Women that imagined they road upon Beasts in the Night, and that they had Diana and Herodius in company with them, besides a Troop of other Persons; the Council giveth this Sentence on it; Satanas qui se transfigurat in Angelum Lucis, transformat se in diversarum personarum species, and mentem quam captivam tenet, in somnis deludit. Satan transforms himself into the likeness of divers Persons, and deludes the Souls that are his Captives with Dreams and Fancies; see Dr. Willet on 1 Sam. 28. p. 165. What Credit can be given to those that say they can turn Men into Horses? If so, they can as well turn Horses into Men; but all the Witches on Earth in Conjunction with all the Devils in Hell, can never make or unmake a rational Soul, and then they cannot transform a Bruit into a Man, nor a Man into a Bruit; so that this Transmutation is fantastical. The Devil may and often does impose on the Imaginations of his Witches and Vassals, that they believe themselves to be be Converted into Beasts, and reverted into Men again; as Nebuchadnezzar whilst under the Power of a Dæmon really imagined himself to be an Ox, and would lye out of Doors and eat Grass: The Devil has inflicted on many a Man the Disease called Lycanthropia, from whence they have made lamentable Complaints of their being Wolves: In a word, there is no more Reality in what many Witches confess of strange things seen or done by them, whilst Satan had them in his full Power, than there is in Lacian's ridiculous Fable of his being Bewitched into an Asse, and what strange Feats he then played; so that what such persons relate concerning Persons and Things at Witch-meetings, ought not to be received with too much Credulity.
I could mention dismal Instances of Innocent Blood which has been shed by means of the Lies of some Confessing Witches; there is a very sad Story mentioned in the Preface to the Relation of the Witchcrafts in Sweedland, how that in the Year 1676, at Stockholm, a young Woman accused her own Mother (who had indeed been a very bad Woman, but not guilty of Witchcraft,) and Swore that she had carried her to the Nocturnal Meetings of Witches, upon which the Mother was burnt to Death. Soon after the Daughter came crying and howling before the Judges in open Court, declaring, that to be revenged on her Mother for an Offence received, she had falsely accused her with a Crime which she was not guilty of; for which she also was justly Executed. A most wicked Man in France freely confessed himself to be a Magician, and accused many others, whose Lives were thereupon taken from them; and a whole Province had like to have been ruined thereby, but the Impostor was discovered: The Confessing pretended Wizzard was burnt at Paris in the year 1668. I shall only take notice further of an awful Example mentioned by A. B. Spotswood in his History of Scotland, p. 449. His words are these, `This Summer (viz. Anno 1597) there was a great business for the Tryal of Witches, amongst others, one Margaret Atkin being apprehended on suspicion, and threatned with Torture, did confess herself Guilty; being examined touching her Associates in that Trade, she named a few, and perceiving her Delations find Credit, made offer to detect all of that sort, and to purge the Country of them; so she might have her Life granted: For the reason of her Knowledge, she said, That they had a secret mark all of that sort in their Eyes, whereby she could surely tell, how soon she looked upon any, whether they were Witches or not; and in this she was so readily believed, that for the space of 3 or 4 Months she was carried from Town to Town to make Discoveries in that kind; many were brought in question by her Delations, especially at Glasgow, where divers Innocent Women, through the Credulity of the Minister Mr. John Cowper, were condemned and put to Death; in the end she was found to be a meer deceiver, and sent back to Fife, where she was first apprehended: At her Tryal she affirmed all to be false that she had confessed of herself or others, and persisted in this to her Death, which made many fore-think their too great forwardness that way, and moved the King to recal his Commission given out against such Persons, discharging all Proceedings against them, except in case of a voluntary Confession, till a solid Order should be taken by the Estates touching the form that should be kept in their Tryal.' Thus that famous Historian. 2. If two credible Persons shall affirm upon Oath that they have seen the party accused speaking such words, or doing things which none but such as have Familiarity with the Devil ever did or can do, that's a sufficient Ground for Conviction. Some are ready to say, that Wizzards are not so unwise as to do such things in the sight or hearing of others, but it is certain that they have very often been known to do so: How often have they been seen by others using Inchantments? Conjuring to raise Storms? And have been heard calling upon their Familiar Spirits? And have been known to use Spells and Charms? And to shew in a Glass or in a Shew-stone persons absent? And to reveal Secrets which could not be discovered but by the Devil? And have not men been seen to do things which are above humane Strength, that no man living could do without Diabolical Assistances? Claudia was seen by Witnesses enough, to draw a Ship which no humane Strength could move. Tuccia a Vestal Virgin was seen to carry Water in a a Sieve: The Devil never assists men to do supernatural things undesired. When therefore such like things shall be testified against the accused Party not by Spectres which are Devils in the Shape of Persons either living or dead, but by real men or women who may be credited; it is proof enough that such an one has that Conversation and Correspondence with the Devil, as that he or she, whoever they be, ought to be exterminated from amongst men. This notwithstanding I will add; It were better that ten suspected Witches should escape, than that one innocent Person should be Condemned; that is an old saying, and true, Prestat reum nocentem absclvi, quam ex probibitis Indiciis and illegitim a probatione condemnari. It is better that a Guilty Person should be Absolved, than that he should without sufficient ground of Conviction be condemned. I had rather judge a Witch to be an honest woman, than judge an honest woman as a Witch. The word of God directs men not to proceed to the execution of the most capital offenders, until such time as upon searching diligently, the matter is found to be a Truth, and the thing certain, Deut. 13. 14, 15. An Acquaintance (p) of mine at London, in his description of New-England declares, that as to their Religion, the people there are like Mr. Perkins; it is no dishonour to us, if that be found true: I am sorry that any amongst us begin to slight so great a Man, whom the most (q) Learned in Forreign Lands, speak of with Admiration, on the account of his polite and acute Judgment: It is a grave and good Advice which he giveth in his Discourse of Witchcrafts (Chap. 7. Sect. 2.) wherewith I conclude; `I would therefore wish and advise all Jurors who give their Verdict upon Life and Death in the Court of Assizes, to take good heed, that as they be diligent in zeal of God's glory, and the good of his Church, in detecting of Witches, by all sufficient and lawful means, so likewise they would be careful what they do, and not to condemn any party suspected upon bare Presumptions, without sound and sufficient Proofs that they be not guilty through their own Rashness of shedding Innocent Blood. Boston, New-England, Octob. 3. 1692. The Contents. The first Case proposed, whether not may Satan appear in the Shape of an Innocent and Pious, as well as of a Nocent and Wicked Person, to afflict such as suffer by Diabolical Molestation? The Affirmitive proved from six Arguments. 1. from several Scriptures. Pag. 1. 2. Because it is possible for the Devil in the Shape of Innocent Persons to do other Mischiefs, proved by many Instances. p. 6. 3. Because if Satan may not represent an Innocent Person as afflicting others, it must be either because he wants will or power to do this, or because God will never permit him so to do it; either of which may be affirmed. p. 8. 4. It is certain both from Scripture and History, that Magicians by their Inchantments and Hellish Conjurations may cause a false Representation of Persons and Things. p. 12. 5. From the concurring Judgment of many Learned and Judicous Men. p. 16. 6.Our own Experience has confirmed the Truth of what we affirm. p.18. The Second Case considered, viz. if one bewitched be cast down with the look or cast of the Eye of another Person, and after that recovered again by a Touch from the same Person, is not this an infallible Proof that the party accused and complained of is in Covenant with the Devil? p.23. Answ. This may be Ground of Suspicion and Examination, but not of Conviction. p. 24. The Judgment of Mr. Bernard and of Dr. Cotta produced. p. 25, 27. Several things offered against the Infallibility of this Proof. 1. 'Tis possible that the persons in question may be possessed with Evil Spirits. Signs of such. Pag. 22. 2. Falling down with the cast of the Eye proceeds not from a natural but an arbitrary Cause. p. 23. 3. That of the bewitched Persons being recovered with a Touch is various and fallible. p.24. 4. There are that question the Lawfulness of the Experiment. p. 25. 5. The Testimony of bewitched or possessed Persons is no Evidence as to what they see concerning others, and therefore not as to themselves. p.27. 6. Bewitched Persons have sometimes been struck down with the Look of Dogs, ibid. 7. If this were an infallible proof, there would be difficulty in discovering Witches. 8. Nothing can be produced out of the Word of God to shew, that this is any proof of Witchraft, p. 28. 9. Antipathies in nature have strange and unaccountable effects. The Third Case considered, whether there are any Discoveries of Witchcraft, which Jurors and Judges may with a safe Conscience proceed upon to the Conviction and Condemnation of the persons under Suspicion, p.51. Two things premised, 1. That the Evidence in the Crime of Witchraft ought to be as clear as in any other Crimes of a Capital nature, p. 29. 2. That there have been ways of Trying Witches long used, which God never approved of. More particularly that of casting the suspected Party into the Water, to try whether they will Sink or Swim. The Vanity and great Sin which is in that way of Purgation evinced by six Reasons,p. 29, to 30. That there are proofs for the Conviction of Witches, which Jurors may with a safe Conscience proceed upon, proved from Scripture, p. 33. That a free and voluntary Confession is a sufficient ground of Conviction, p. 34. That the Testimony of confessing Witches against others, is not so clear an Evidence as against themselves, p. 35. That if two Credible Persons shall affirm upon Oath that they have seen the Person accused doing things, which none but such as have familiarity with the Devil, ever did or can do, that's a sufficient ground of Conviction: And that this has often happened, p. 38. Mr. Perkins his Solemn Caution to Jurors, p. 39.
POSTSCRIPT. The Design of the preceding Dissertation, is not to plead for Witchcrafts, or to appear as an Advocate for Witches: I have therefore written another Discourse, proving that there are such horrid Creatures as Witches in the World; and that they are to be extirpated and cut off from amongst the People of God, which I have Thoughts and Inclinations in due time to publish; and I am abundantly satisfied that there have been, and are still most cursed Witches in the Land. More then one or two of those now in Prison, have freely and credibly acknowledged their Communion and Familiarity with the Spirits of Darkness; and have also declared unto me the Time and Occasion, with the particular Circumstances of their Hellish Obligations and Abominations. Nor is there designed any Reflection on those worthy Persons who have been concerned in the late Proceedings at Salam: They are wise and good Men, and have acted with all Fidelity according to their Light, and have out of tenderness declined the doing of some things, which in our own Judgments they were satisfied about: Having therefore so arduous a Case before them, Pitty and Prayers rather than Censures are their due; on which account I am glad that there is published to the World(by my Son)a Breviate of the Tryals of some who were lately executed, whereby I hope the thinking part of Mankind will be satisfied, that there was more than that which is called Spectre Evidence for the Conviction of the Persons condemned. I was not myself present at any of the Tryals, excepting one, viz. that of George Burroughs; had I been one of his Judges, I could not have acquitted him: For several Persons did upon Oath testifie, that they saw him do such things as no Man that has not a Devil to be his Familiar could perform: And the Judges affirm, that they have not convicted any one meerly on the account of what Spectres have said, or of what has been represented to the Eyes or Imaginations of the sick bewitched Persons. If what is here exposed to publick view, may be a means to prevent it for the future, I shall not repent of my Labour in this Undertaking. I have been prevailed with so far as I am able to discern the Truth in these dark Cases, to declare my Sentiments, with the Arguments which are of weight with me, hoping that what is written may be of some use to discover the Depths of Satan; and to prevent innocent ones having their Lives endangered, or their Reputations ruined, by being through the Subtilty and Power of the Devils, in consideration with the Ignorance and Weakness of Men, involved amongst the Guilty. It becomes those of my Profession to be very tender in Cases of Blood, and to imitate our Lord and Master, Who came not to destroy the Lives of Men, but to save them. I likewise design in what I have written, to give my testimony against these unjustifiable ways of discovering Witchcrafts, which some among us have practiced. I hear that of late there was a Witch-cake made with the Urine of bewitched Creatures, as one Ingredient by several Persons in a place, which has suffered much by the Attack of Hell upon it: This I take to be not only wicked Superstition, but great Folly: For tho' the Devil does sometimes operate with the Experiments, yet not always, especially if a Magical Faith be wanting. I shall here take occasion to recite some Passages in a Letter, which I received from that Eminent pious and learned Man, Mr. Samuel Cradock; during my abode in London; the Letter bears date Febr. 26. 1690. Then take it in his own Words, which are these; `We have at this present one in our next Town, who has a Son who has strange Fits, and: such as they impute to Witchcraft: He come to consult with me about it, but before he came, he had used a means which I should never have directed him unto, viz. He took the Nails of his Son's Hands and Feet, and some of his Hair, and mixed them in Rye-paste with his Water, and so set it all by the Fire till it was consumed, and his Son (as he says) was well after, and free from his Fits for a whole Month, but then they came again, and He tried that means a second time, and then it would not do; He removed his Son into Cambridgeshire the next County, and then he was well, but as soon as he brought him home he was afflicted as before. The Boy says, He saw a thing like a Mole following of him, which once spoke to him, and told him he came to do the Office he was to do: I advised his Father to make use of the Medicine prescribed by our Saviour, viz. Fasting and Prayer. Here have been others in this Town, that though they were under Ill-handling as they call it: One Family had their Milk so affected, that they could not possibly make any Cheese, but it hov'd and swelled, and was good for nothing: They are now rid of that trouble, but how they got rid of it I do not know:' Thus my Letter. By which it is evident that Towns in England as well as New England are molested with Dæmons, only I wish that the Superstitions practiced in other places to get rid of such troublesome Guests had never been known, much less used amongst us or them. Some I hear have taken up a Notion, that the Book newly published by my Son, is contradictory to this of mine: 'Tis strange that such Imaginations should enter into the Minds of Men: I perused and approved of that Book before it was printed; and nothing but my Relation to him hindred me from recommending it to the World: But myself and Son agreed unto the humble Advice which twelve Ministers concurringly presented before his Excellency and Council, respecting the present Difficulties, which let the World judge, whether there be any thing in its dissentany from what is attested by either of us. It was in the Words following: The Return of several Ministers consulted by his Excellency, and the Honourable Council, upon the present Witchcrafts in Salem Village. Boston, June 15. 1692. I. The afflicted State of our poor Neighbours, that are now suffering by Molestations from the Invisible World, we apprehend so deplorable, that we think their Condition calls for the utmost help of all Persons in their several Capacities. II. We cannot but with all Thankfulness acknowledge, the Success which the merciful God has given unto the sedulous and assiduous Endeavors of our honourable Ralers, to detect the abominable Witchcrafts which have been committed in the Country; humbly praying that the discovery of these mysterious and mischievous Wickednesses, may be perfected. III. We judge that in the prosecution of these, and all such Witchcrafts, there is need of a very critical and exquisite Caution, lest by too much Credulity for things received only upon the Devil's Authority, there be a Door opened for a long Train of miserable Consequences, and Satan get an Advantage over us, for we should not be ignorant of his Devices. IV. As in Complaints upon Witchcrafts, there may be Matters of Enquiry, which do not amount unto Matters of Presumption, and there may be Matters of Presumption which yet may not be reckoned Matters of Conviction; so 'tis necessary that all Proceedings thereabout be managed with an exceeding tenderness towards those that may be complained of; especially if they have been Persons formerly of an unblemished Reputation. V. When the first Enquiry is made into the Circumstances of such as may lie under any just Suspicion of Witchcrafts, we could wish that there may be admitted as little as is possible, of such Noise, Company, and Openness, as may too hastily expose them that are examined: and that there may nothing be used as a Test, for the Trial of the suspected, the Lawfulness whereof may be doubted among the People of God; but that the Directions given by such Judicious Writers as Perkins and Bernard, be consulted in such a Case. VI. Presumptions whereupon Persons may be committed, and much more Convictions, whereupon Persons may be condemned as guilty of Witchcrafts, ought certainly to be more considerable, than barely the accused Persons being represented by a Spectre unto the Afflicted; inasmuch as 'tis an undoubted and a notorious thing, that a Dæmon may, by God's Permission, appear even to ill purposes, in the Shape of an innocent, yea, and a vertuous Man: Nor can we esteem Alterations made in the Sufferers, by a Look or Touch of the Accused to be an infallible Evidence of Guilt; but frequently liable to be abused by the Devil's Legerdemains. VII. We know not, whether some remarkable Affronts given to the Devils, by our disbelieving of those Testimonies, whose whole force and strength is from them alone, may not put a Period, unto the Progress of the dreadful Calamity begun upon us, in the Accusation of so many Persons, whereof we hope, some are yet clear from the great Transgression laid unto their Charge. VIII. Nevertheless, We cannot but bumbly recommend unto the Government, the speedy and vigorous Prosecution of such as have rendred themselves obnoxious, according to the Direction given in the Laws of God, and the wholesome Statutes of the English Nation, for the Detection of Witchcrafts. FINIS.