Considerations, and Arguments Pro∣ving the being of Witchcraft, and Witches, with a Refutation of the Incredulity of some who deny the being of such.
IN an Age Productive of Prodigies and Wonders, it doth not seem to be the least to men of sound Judg∣ment, and accurate Scrutiny; That a sort of Witty and (otherwise) Ingenious, Persons should openly, and with great zeal profess a disbeleif of the Exi∣stence of Daemons, and Witches: As if thereby they intended to declare, that the best and most Authentick Hi∣storians of former times, the most Learned and strict Divines; yea, the unerring Wisdom of God himself, had all conspired to impose upon them a belief of things purely fabulous, and mere Chimerical Fantoms. Thus whilst Page 60 they assume to themselves an arro∣gant Confidence to deny the Divine Ve∣rity, and the Power of the Omnipotent; Arraigning the Equity of the Prece∣ding Ages, the Justice of the most Solemn Judicatories, and that of all Times, and Nations; and deride the wisdom of the most learned Councils, which hath still run counter to their fancies. Themselves seem to be a proof of what they deny; and are perfect de∣monstrations of the power of Fascina∣tion, and a prevailing Daemon.
For 'tis hardly to be supposed, that any thing less should render men Im∣penetrable to the most convincing rea∣sons, and repeated proofs of that which they contend against: Notwithstanding all which, they oppose their simple Ipse dixit, against the most unquestio∣nable Testimonies, of persons of the greatest Integrity and Generosity, amongst whom they converse, per∣sons of that caution and candour, that any disinterested and ingenuous man could not possibly imagin to have any design to impose upon others, what themselves had not with the greatest investi∣gation of circumstances, been convinced to be beyond a possibility of Doubt∣ing.
Page 61Yet such was the bold confidence of some of these Witch Advocates that they durst Effront that Relation of the Daemon of Tedworth, published by the Ingenious Mr. Glanvil, and At∣tested by Mr. Mompesson, a Gentleman, and a Divine, who (to all that knew them) were never over fond of cre∣diting stories of that kind; Yet (I say) had some of this sort of men the im∣pudence to declare to the World that that whole Relation was but a Figment, or Forgery, and that Mr. Mompesson, and Mr. Glanvill had retracted, what∣ever they had published touching that Transaction. This notorious falsi∣ty they had the misfortune to disperse, when Mr. Glanvils sheets were scarce dry from the Press, and the noise of the drum hardly out of the Ears of the Neigbourhood at Todworth.
So that we see in the second Edi∣tion of Saduceismus triumphatus, both Mr. Glanvil, and Mr. Mompesson, again renew, and confirm the Truth of their former Testimony, thereby giving the world a just Occasion to detest the base Artifices of such bold Impostors,
Besides a peremptory and staring confidence, which must Huff and swag∣ger Page 62 down all the most undeniable proofs; I have not met with any Ar∣gument of theirs which hath not been sufficiently refuted and baffled, by those Learned and Ingenious Pens who have still made it their business to Vindicate and Rescue substantial Truth, from the Attacques of Atheists, and Scepticks.
All that seems to remain unconquered of these Incredulous, is a fleering sort of sham-stories, and Mock-Relations; in the recital of which, it is pleasant to observe with what Elevation they make their foolish Triumphs over those Truths, one of which is enough to vanquish a thousand of their little Fig∣ments. These small Pickierers deserve commiseration; haveing deluded them∣selves & endeavouring to delude others into an opinion, that because there is such a thing in the World as a Lye; therefore it is impossible there should be any Truth. They might with as much reason af∣firm, that because there is a Night, therefore there can be no Day; or because there is such a Quality as heat, therefore there can be no cold.
Another sort there are, who ha∣ving had their Education in a Christian Kingdom, are loth to seem Incredu∣lous Page 63 of the Holy Scriptures, which the Church in which they have been bapt•zed Commands them Religious∣ly to submit unto, and not to dispute the Truth therein delivered; These will acknowledg that they ought to believe whatsoever is therein contained, and therefore will not question that there has been such a thing in the world as a Witch, because in the sacred pages mention is made of the Witch of Endor; whom they are bold to affirm to be the only Pythoness that ever was in being, & presuming to declare, that she was raised up, or permitted, for that very end, to delude the credulity of Saul; and that besides her there hath been no other.
Which opinion (if they will not allow it to proceed from incredulity) appears to be the effect of rank igno∣rance; For who that hath read the Holy Bible discerns not, that Saul be∣fore this time, had cut off those that had Familiar Spirits, and the Wizzards out of the Land, 1 Sam. 28. ch. ver. the 9. So that it appears there were many, before the Witch of Endor, even in the days of Saul, besides what hath been ment•oned before of the King of Moab, who sent his servants to Ba∣laam,Page 64 with the Reward of Divination▪ neither can any one that considereth the story of Saul at Endor, imagine that the woman there, was permitted but in the Case of Saul only. For the ser∣vants of Saul knew her to have a Fami∣liar Spirit, before the Kings intention of Enquiring of her was supposed, verse 7th. Besides, it seems evident that the Samuel there raised up, was not by the power of the Witch? for she was affrighted when she saw Samuel, and cryed out, like one in a surprise, and under a Disappointment of what she Ex∣pected: This was none of her Fami∣liars that appeared, for then we may conclude she had not been transported with such a fear; Her Confederates were tyed up, and could not answer her: but it is most probable to be the Prophet Samuel raised by the power of God to pronounce the Sentence of death upon Saul and his Sons, for his Disobedience, which the Holy man had told him was as the sin of Witchcraft; and for Violating the Righteous Com∣mand, in applying himself to the Witch of Endor contrary to the declared will of God. Not unlike to this was that dreadful Judgment of Fire from Hea∣ven, which (at the prayer of Eliiah) Page 65 fell upon the two Captains and their Fifty's, when Ahaziah King of Samaria had sent his servants to Enquire of Baal∣zebub, the Idol, or Daemon of Ekron. in 1. chap. 2 Book of Kings.
But how many more of this kind are mentioned in Scripture, besides the Witch of Endor, will appear, if we read what is recorded of Manasseh, Jesebell, Simon Magus, and Elimas the Sorcerer, with many other Instan∣ces of the same kind, whereof the New Testament, as well as the Old, hath divers extraordinary Relations, but of that the passage in the Prophesie of Isaiah chap. 2. ver. 6. they are southsayers, like the Philistines. And it is evident by the 19. verse of the 18. chap. of the same Prophesie; that the Jewish Nation were in a great measure given up to the Sata∣nicall delusion of enquiring after Wit∣ches, and Sorcerers, and such as divined to them by Pythons; so that they for∣sook the holy Oracles of the Divine Law; and in their difficulties they coun∣selled one another to apply themselves to those forbidden abominations. There∣fore it must proceed from a Neglect, or careless Perusal of the Sacred Books, that any one should be ignorant of other instances of Witches, besides that Page 66 of the Pythoness of Endor. Suidas has a most considerable proof of the Dae∣mons answering the Heathens by Ora∣cles; where speaking of Augustus Cae∣sar's enquiring at an Oracle who should be his Successor, the Oracle returned him this answer.
The Emperour at his return, com∣manded an Altar to be Erected in the Capital, having this Inscription: Haec est Ara Primogeniti Dei. This is the Al∣tar of the first-born of God. Now it is plain that our Saviour was born dure∣ing the Reign of this Augustus, for in the second chap. of St. Luke we find, that Joseph and Mary, went up to Judea to be taxed, at that time when Augustus had imposed a General Tax upon the World and that during their abode at Page 67Bethlehem, the blessed Nativity happe∣ned: of which the Eastern Sages had no∣tice by his Star; and that the Roman Cesar had some such apprehension (or Im∣pression at least) the words upon the Altar do plainly manifest. And if this relation of Suidas obtain credit, it may easily be Evinced that they were Dae∣mons, or Crafty Spirits which answe∣red at the Oracles of the Heathens: for if we admit that many answers were given by the Cunning, and Jugling of their Priests; Yet it could not make for their interest to discredit their Ora∣cle, nor for the Credit of their Deity. But the almighty power of the Son of God forced those Infatuating Spirits to acknowledge his Soveraign Divinity as the unclean Spirit in the 8. chap. of Luke, verse 28. What have I to do with thee Je∣sus, thou Son of the most High God. Thus at the arising of the Son of Righteous∣ness, did the Dark Oracles vanish, as the shadows of the night are chased away, by the Appearing of the Sun beames. To which may be added what Plutarch relates in his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. He tells yee, that a certain company sailing from Greece towards Italy, happened of a sudden to be be∣calmed, and one Thamus, an Egyptian,Page 68 who was of the Ships Crew, was called three times, at the third call he made answer Here am I; whereupon the voice bad him, when he came to the Palodes (certain Shelves in the Ionian Sea) that then he should publish that the great Pan was dead. And then the Ship was dis∣charged of her restraint and went for∣ward, so that wh•n they came to the place appointed, Thamus from the Poop of the Ship, published what he had been commanded; whereupon followed a great noise of shrieking and lamenting together, so that the Sea resounded with the lamentation. The Emperour Tiberius having been made acquainted with this passage, demanded of his wise men; who this great God Pan might be? But the best answer they could give him, was, that he was the Son of Mercury and Penelope.
But this circumstance happening just at the time when our Saviour was cru∣cified, it was concluded by more in∣telligent and considerate men, that by the Great God Pan was meant the Bles∣sed Redeemer of Mankind; who by his Death on the cross, Overthrew the Kingdom, and power of Satan; so that the Devils were now to Quit those Oracles by which they had so long de∣ceived Page 69 the World: and on this account those Spirits might be thought to make that great and dismall lamentation. For from that time they soon ran into decay, and the Delphi Oracula cessant, which Juvenal records, makes it plain that they were but of short continuance, af∣ter the fatal blow given them on the Cross, when our blessed Saviour gave up the Ghost with an It is Finished.
Now had these Oracles been managed only by the subtilty and artifice of the Priest, it is very improbable but they might have been of longer continuance, for the Priests continue to be as Crafty and Covetous as ever, and as dexte∣rous at all the feats of Juggling and Le∣gerdemain. But it is plain the time of their delusions was expired, and it is no small Argument of the power of the Gospel of Truth, that those van∣quished Spirits flye before it; they re∣tire, with the molten, and Carved Images to the Owls and to the Batts, not being able to endure the splendour of the Tidings of Salvation.
Hence it is that in those Countries where there is least Idolatry, and where the sincere preaching of the Word of Power is countenanced, there it is very rare, comparatively to meet with Page 70 instances of the Satanical craft and power; his strong holds are beaten down; tho some small forts he still retains amongst the ignorant, and superstitious: but in countries where Idolatry, and Paganism prevail, he Governs, as among the Children of disobedience; Here he hath his Groves, his Cells, and Hermitages, and Altars; He passes for a God, receiveth publick adoration; whilst every Priest hath his Familiar, and the Doctrine of Devils passes for saving Truth. In Countries more Barbarous, he is Worshiped for Fear, (as amongst the Indians) and there he often shews himself to them in mon∣strous shapes, Dreadful to behold, to affright them into their damnable sacri∣fices, and idolatries. In Countries where Humane Learning hath obtained, a pretended Antiquity, and Doctrine of the Ancients is that by which they Justi∣fy their superstitions; whilst a blind Obedience, and misguided Zeal, tum∣bles whole Nations down the dreadful precipices of Blasphemy and Devil-worship. And to these the Grand Im∣postor appears in shapes, and figures Divine and Angelical (for the most part) sweetning them in their Heathe∣nish Apostacy and Idolatry, by glorious Page 71 Apparitions and Revelations, sometimes to one Saint sometimes to another; and this in order to the promulgation of some Doctrine that may advance his dark Empire, and Designs; which must be confirmed by seeming Miracles and Lying Wonders, the more to Infatuate the minds of their deluded Bigots, and confirm in them a belief of their dia∣bolical Impostures.
And tho some perhaps may Imagin that what hath been said, signifies little to the proof of the existence of Witches; they may by weighing, and comparing the Argument, find an evident demon∣stration thereof: For what less than the Sorceries of their Priests, and the pre∣vailing influence of evil Angels, could possibly shut up so many Nations, and that from the first Ages, under such gross, and stupendious Blasphemy, Idola∣try, and Atheism? So that if the Question were put, which the Apostle Paul demands of the Galatians, chap. 3 vers. 1. O Foolish Galatians, who hath Bewitched you, that you should not obey the Truth? It might truly be answered, that the Devil with the assistance and confederacy of their Idol Priests hath done it. This Indeed, is the most deplorable kind of Fascination, Page 72 whereby mens Souls and Faculties are Captivated to their spiritual Enemy, and their minds and consciences are de∣filed. It is impossible almost to relieve men in this kind of delusion, because the whole Current of their misguided De∣votion, runs Diametrically opposite to the means of their Cure. But of this more will be said in a following Chap∣ter, where the Witchcraft of Idolatrous, and Popish Priests, will be particularly Treated of.
Others there are amongst the Devils Advocates, that would fain insinuate, that because some particular Men have Endeavoured to attain this Hellish Art, and could not arrive to it; others have gone a little way in Magical perfor∣mances, but could never do any great Exploits, or shew any Extraordinary feats in that profound Science, that there∣fore such acquirements are not at all Attainable, but above the reach of the Black Mysteries; such was Nero, who because his pursuit of that Infernal stu∣dy was not attended with any Fatal proficiency, he is said to have contem∣ned the Magicall Art, as pretending to such performances, as it could ne∣ver attain to and therefore he sate down a Despiser of such as boasted their Page 73 knowledg in those Mysteries: But it is no wonder that the Devil complyed not with his studies in that School, Since Nero of his own Nature was so much a Devil, that had he been furthe∣red with any of those more subtil Assi∣stances, it is probable he might have Attempted such things as should have Exceeded all that went before him, and have put his drudging Spirits upon such performances as (tho they might not Exceed the fierceness of their disposi∣tions, yet) might surmount their Power. But, from hence to argue that there are no Witches, seems as incongruous, as if I should say there is no such thing as a Lyon, or a Wolf, which kill and devour the Herds, and Flocks, because I have a little Dog at home that cannot do it.
Nor ought it to be attributed to a Mi∣raculous power, that Daemons and Wit∣ches present themselves in various shapes, somtimes Humane, somtimes Bestial, at other times Monstrous, and now and then in their proper forms: for as we cannot understand the pro∣found knowledge that subtil and spiri∣tual beings have of Natural Causes above the stretch of our Enquiry; so can we much less Limit their free and unconfined agencies, to Qualities and Page 74 reasons within our comprehensions for as they have the advantage of a Lar∣ger Intelligence, they can from time to time Impart things strange and fo∣reign to us: And their Airy substances are capable of putting on diversities of figures, and they can assume such a Vehi∣cle as may represent any resemblance they please; that it is much easier for us to conceive they may borrow the re∣semblance of Lower shapes, than the Garb and Mien of the Angels of Light.
And if at any time they Cloath their Daemoniac Confederates in representa∣tions different from their proper Exi∣stencies, it is to be attributed to that knowledge they have of Occult Quali∣ties, which is above the Investigation of our Scrutinies. By the following Rela∣tions, it will appear that at the same time a Cat or other Creature hath been cut, or wounded; the Hurt hath manifestly appeared upon the body of the Witch, in that very part where the other Assu∣med Resemblance hath to apearance re∣ceived the blow given. Nor would we have the reader Imagin that the Autho∣rity of the bare following Relations is all that we insist upon as a proof of what is here Asserted; but these are publi∣shed as a farther Confirmation of Mat∣ter Page 75 of Fact which to the Judgment of all Ingenious and Unprejudiced Persons, are already sufficiently proved, not on∣ly by the Histories of all former Ages, and that not barely of the Rude and Bar∣barous, but even of the most Civilized and Polite Times; besides the Exquisite pens of the most Learned and sober Writers of our Age, which have given ample and undeniable Attestation of the Existence of Witches, and Diabolical Contracts.
To those that Object the Improbabi∣lity of such Transactions, and that the stories of Witches Transmuting of shapes, Flying in the Air, and such like, are impossible to Natural reason: So much hath already been said in their Re∣futation, that it would be preposterous to add any thing more. Onely this may be added, that the more unaccountable these things seem to be in themselves (The real matter of Fact being proved) it ought the more to prevail towards a belief of those extraordinary Agencies; for such as endeavour to impose strange Fictions upon the Credulous, use to adapt them as near as they can to a sup∣posal of Truth in the management; tho attended with very strange, and see∣mingly Prodigious circumstances: And Page 76 if they would have them to appear to be Imaginary Fictions; yet it is strange that People of all sorts, in all Ages, should agree to publish to the World the same Exploded conceits.
And for those that say they cannot conceive how such things can be done; That is no small Argument of the weak∣ness of the Conceptions, Apprehensions, and Knowledg of such, who are apt to dispute the certainty of any thing that is above their Sphere; and it will not be found at all available against the Possibility of such performances, no more than a Mans doubting how it is possible that the Sea doth Ebb and Flow, should be an Argument that there were no such thing in Nature. We cannot conceive how from such small, and various Seeds, such different species of Plants and Trees receive their Formation; or how the Extream distant Natures and Com∣positions of Soul and Body are United: but Yet notwithstanding our Ignorance, these things are very Obvious to our sense; tho beyond the Comprehension of our Reasons: and therefore it is no wonder if we are strangers to the Con∣stitutions, and Powers of Creatures that do not appear to us.
Therefore the best Judgment we can Page 77 make of such extraordinary things is by the Evidence, and not the Measure of our Fancies. For by this we are cer∣tainly convinced that such things are really so, tho by reason of our confined Circumstances we are not able to penetrate into the Rationality of their Contingencies.