University of Virginia Library

The First Curiositie.

I. Tis very Remarkable to see what an Impious and Impudent Imitation of Divine Things is Apishly affected by the Devil, in several of those matters, whereof the Confessions of our Witches and the Afflictions of our Sufferers have informed us.

That Reverend and Excellent Person, Mr. John Higginson,[137] in My Conversation with him, Once invited me to this Reflection; That the Indians which came from far to settle about Mexico, were in their Progress to that Settlement, under a Conduct of the Devil, very strangely Emulating what the Blessed God gave to Israel in the Wilderness.

Acosta[138] is our Author for it, that the Devil in their Idol Vitzlipultzli governed that mighty Nation. He commanded them to leave their Country, promising to make them Lords over all the Provinces possessed by Six other Nations of Indians, and give them a Land abounding with all precious things. They went forth, carrying their Idol with them, in a Coffer of Reeds, supported by Four of their Principal Priests; with whom he still Discoursed, in secret, Revealing to them the Successes, and Accidents of their way. He advised them, when to March, and where to Stay, and without his Commandment they moved not. The first thing they did, wherever they came, was to Erect a Tabernacle, for their False God; which they set always in the midst of their Camp, and there placed the Ark upon an Altar. When they, Tired with pains, talked of proceeding no further in their Journey, than a certain pleasant Stage, whereto they were arrived, this Devil in one night horribly kill'd them that had started this Talk, by pulling out their Hearts. And so they passed on, till they came to Mexico.

The Devil which then thus imitated what was in the Church of the Old Testament, now among Us would Imitate the Affayrs


of the Church in the New. The Witches do say, that they form themselves much after the manner of Congregational Churches; and that they have a Baptism and a Supper, and Officers among them, abominably Resembling those of our Lord.

But there are many more of these Bloody Imitations, if the Confessions of the Witches are to be Received; which I confess, ought to be but with very much of Caution.

What is their striking down with a fierce Look? What is their making of the Afflicted Rise, with a touch of their Hand? What is their Transportation thro' the Air? What is their Travelling in Spirit, while their Body is cast into a Trance? What is their causing of Cattle to run mad and perish? What is their Entring their Names in a Book? What is their coming together from all parts, at the Sound of a Trumpet? What is their Appearing sometimes Cloathed with Light or Fire upon them? What is their Covering of themselves and their Instruments with Invisibility? But a Blasphemous Imitation of certain Things recorded about our Saviour, or His Prophets, or the Saints in the Kingdom of God.



Senior minister at Salem Town. See also p. 248, note 2, and pp. 398, 399-402.


It is the Spanish Jesuit, Joseph Acosta, who in his Natural and Moral History of the Indies (bk. VII., ch. 4) relates this. Mather seems to have used the English version of Grimston (London, 1604), paraphrasing and abridging after a free fashion and inserting from the following chapter what is in his last two sentences.