University of Virginia Library


Reverend Sir,

Having expected some Weeks, your meeting me at Mr. Wilkins according to what you intimated to Mr. J. M. — [210] and the time draw


ing near for our meeting elsewhere, I thought it not amiss to give you a Summary of my thoughts in the great concern, which as you say has been agitated with so much heat. That there are Witches is not the doubt, the Scriptures else were in vain, which assign their Punishment to be by Death; But what this Witchcraft is, or wherein it does consist, seems to be the whole difficulty: And as it may be easily demonstrated, that all that bear that Name cannot be justly so accounted, so that some things and Actions not so esteemed by the most, yet upon due examination will be found to merit no better Character.

In your late Book you lay down a brief Synopsis of what has been written on that Subject, by a Triumvirate of as Eminent Men as ever handled it (as you are pleas'd to call them) Viz. Mr. Perkins,[211] Gaule,[212] and Bernard[213] consisting of about 30 Tokens to know them by, many of them distinct from, if not thwarting each other: Among all of which I can find but one decisive, Viz. That of Mr. Gaule, Head IV. and runs thus; Among the most unhappy Circumstances to convict a Witch, one is a maligning and oppugning the Word, Work, or Worship of God, and by any extraordinary Sign seeking to seduce any from it, see Deu. 13. 1, 2. Mat. 24. 24. Acts. 13. 8, 10. 2 Tim. 3. 8. Do but mark well the places, and for this very property of thus opposing and perverting, they are all there concluded and absolute Witches.[214]

This Head as here laid down and inserted by you, either is a Truth or not; if not, why is it here inserted from one of the Triumvirate, if it be a Truth, as the Scriptures quoted will abundantly testifie, whence is it that it is so little regarded, tho it be the only Head well proved by Scripture, or that the rest of the Triumvirate should so far forget their Work as not to mention it. It were to be unjust to the Memory of those otherwise Wise Men, to suppose them to have any Sinister design; But perhaps the force of a prevailing opinion, together with an Education thereto Suited, might over


shadow their Judgments, as being wont to be but too prevalent in many other cases. But if the above be Truth, then the Scripture is full and plain, What is Witchcraft? And if so, what need of his next Head of Hanging of People without as full and clear Evidence as in other Cases? Or what need of the rest of the Receipts of the Triumvirate? what need of Praying that the Afflicted may be able to discover who tis that Afflicts them? or what need of Searching for Tet's for the Devil to Suck in his Old Age, or the Experiment of saying the Lords Prayer, etc. Which[215] a multitude more practised in some places Superstitiously inclin'd. Other Actions have been practised for easing the Afflicted, less justifiable, if not strongly savouring of Witchcraft it self, viz. Fondly Imagining by the Hand, etc., to drive off Spectres, or to knock off Invisible Chains, or by striking in the Air to Wound either the Afflicted or others, etc. I write not this to accuse any, but that all may beware believing, That the Devil's bounds are set, which he cannot pass, That the Devils are so full of Malice, That it cant be added to by Mankind, That where he hath Power, he neither can nor will omit Executing it, That 'tis only the Almighty that sets bounds to his rage, and that only can Commissionate him to hurt or destroy any.

These last, Sir, are such Foundations of Truth, in my esteem, that I cannot but own it to be my duty to ascert them, when call'd tho' with the hazard of my All: And consequently to detect such as these, That a Witch can Commissionate Devils to Afflict Mortals, That he can at his or the Witches pleasure Assume any Shape, That Hanging or Chaining of Witches can lessen his Power of Afflicting, or restore those that were at a distance Tormented, with many others depending on these; all tending, in my esteem, highly to the Dishonour of God, and the Indangering the well-being of a People, and do further add, that as the Scriptures are full that there is Witchcraft, (ui sup.) so 'tis as plain that there are Possessions, and that the Bodies of the Possest have hence been not only Afflicted, but strangely agitated, if not their Tongues improved to foretell futurities, etc. and why not to accuse the Innocent, as bewitching them; having pretence to Divination to gain credence. This being reasonable to be expected, from him who is the Father of Lies, to the end he may thereby involve a Countrey in Blood, Mallice, and Evil, surmising which he greedily seeks after, and so finally lead them from their fear and dependence upon God to fear him, and a supposed Witch thereby attaining his end upon Mankind; and not only so, but Natural Distemper, as has been frequently observed by the Judicious, have so operated as to deceive, more than the Vulgar, as


is testified by many Famous Physicians, and others. And as for that proof of Multitudes of Confessions, this Countrey may be by this time thought Competent Judges, what credence we ought to give them, having had such numerous Instances, as also how obtain'd.

And now Sir, if herein be any thing in your esteem valuable, let me intreat you, not to account it the worse for coming from so mean a hand; which however you may have receiv'd Prejudices, etc., Am ready to serve you to my Power; but if you Judge otherwise hereof, you may take your own Methods for my better Information. Who am, Sir, yours to command, in what I may,

R. C.[216]