Propositions or Assertions concerning Witches and Witchcraft. The Cha∣racter of a Witch. Same Considera∣tions of the Original of their power.
THE last Chapter having designed that Idol Worship (as the Devil is therein proposed Objectively to be Adored) Is not only a great Counte∣nancer, but Tends vastly to the pro∣motion of Diabolical Confederacies. Before we proceed to a particular and Historical Account of Ancient and Mo∣dern Witches, it may be necessary a little farther to explain what we mean by a Witch; and how far the power of such a one may be understood And this being a nice and difficult de∣termination; Page 78 The Candid Reader shall find very little new Asserted Notions either in Relation to their persons or practices; but we shall chuse to lay down what the most Unprejudiced, Learned, and Sober Writers of things relating to Matters of this Nature have upon their best search and Enquiry determined.
And first it is agreed that it is very difficult to prove such, or such a one to be a Witch, and it ought to be done with the greatest Caution and Tenderness Imaginable: The loss being greater on the part of a false Testimony, than on that of a Supposed Criminal; Infernal Contracts are not supposed to be made in the pre∣sence of Witnesses; being as hath been said, against the Law of God and Man; So that the Devil out of a seeming regard to the safety and Immunity of his Prostitute may omit the Ceremony of Testes; the black pupil acting with greater security when she apprehends none knows of, or is privy to the Confederation.
Yet is there no doubt but the Devil is as secure of his prey as if the whole world had subscribed a Teste to the In∣denture; for by the consent of the party, he hath Seisin of her as his Pro∣perty; which he will be sure never to part with, unless Ejected by a stronger Page 79 than He. Those Hellish Compacts there∣fore, are Managed like the filthy Intri∣gues betwixt a Fornicator and his Strum∣pet, where it may be no Eye sees them that may Expose them to the penalties of Humane Laws; and it is difficult to prove matter of fact between them; but at last a Spurious off-spring, or a more Nauseous Rotteness unveils them to the world, and they linger out to a more In∣famous Death, than if the Law had Chastised them; The Rotteness of their bones giving them more severe pains and Twinges than the Rod of Justice could have done: Not unlike this do some of these Infernal Prostitutes Escape the hand of the publick Justice until at last their loath'd and miserable Lives are seized as forfeitures to the Devil; and they are found (like Faustus) with broken Necks, or with some other wrack upon their Nauseous Bodies, that Evidently discovers their souls to have been Extorted from them, and that they have been forcibly Ejected upon for∣feiture of their Lease.
Some too, may have been unjustly accused for Witches; either by an Igno∣rance of Causes meerly Natural, or misapplying Causes that in themselves are supernatural: So that the very same Page 80 operations which to Intelligent, and Enquiring Philosophers, are meerly the product of Natural Sympathies, or Antipa∣thies of Heat, or Cold, or the like, to the unskilful shall appear, as done by Art Magical, or Diabolical▪ So the Freezing a cup of snow-water to a Stool by the fireside, looks to some weak persons, with an Aspect very strange and unaccountable, whilst to those that consider and know the restringent Quality of the Salt, the others Admiration becomes almost Ridiculous.
It is acknowledged by all Naturalists that the power of Imagination hath had, and may have strange Effects, especially upon tender and Irrational Bodies, such as Children, Chickens, Lambs &c. according to that of Virgil,
And very strange performances may be effected by an Exalted and Fixed Imagi∣nation, the Intention of which vastly con∣tributes towards the Effecting things seemingly Impossible. The formation of the Child in the Mothers Womb▪ which if good Authority may be Credited) hath been Imputed to the force of an Ima∣gination strongly possessed with such, or such a belief. And to this purpose, it is very remarkable what is by a learned Page 81 pen related of a Lady, who being used to wear patches, and that during the time she was with child, a Gentleman told her that her child would have such a patch in its forehead; and accordingly at the birth of the Child, such a spot was discerned in the place described, and still remained in that same part of the Ladies Face, as a Testimony of the Impression a power∣ful Imagination may have on tender Bodies. Infinite more are the Experi∣ments that might be mentioned of this kind, but if I should Enumerate ne∣ver so many, it would nevertheless appear that the Feats, and performances of Infernal Confederacies vastly surpass whatsoever can be thought attainable in this kind; and this will be so Evi∣dent, by matters of Fact related in the following Collection that it would be needless to speak any thing more to it in this place.
Besides, if it be supposed that some have been suspected for Witches, bare∣ly for having deformed Bodies, Ill Aspects, or Melancholy Constitutions doth it any ways appear from hence, that there is really no such thing as a Witch? Or may it not with as much reason be alledged, that because some for having Arms found about them, Page 82 have been wrongfully accused for being Robbers; that therefore there is no such thing as a High-way man. Such allegations as these, do not at all dis∣prove the Existence of such Haggs.
Tho I must confess that there is no reason that any person (by reason of those deformities which may be only the Effects of old Age, or the product of some disease) should be presently In∣dicted and trust up for a Witch; nor can I Imagine that ever such a thing hath been in a Civilized Nation, without the concomitant circumstances of some other proofs: That would be a hard case indeed! But I think it will not be difficult to prove that there have been some whose Insides have been blackned with as foul and damnable Confederacies as others; who have notwithstanding appeared with Faces very Charming, and Angelical. For we have no account of any very Nauseous deformity that sate on the forehead of Jesabel, Joan of Arc, or Joan Queen of Naples. And perhaps the Attempts of these Hellish Agents may pass with less Suspicion, when un∣der the plausible disguise of a handsom Face: For from Objects Nasty and de∣formed, men Naturally turn away, with a kind of Innate Aversion and Con∣tempt; Page 83 whilst under the Charming Attra∣ction of a fair Face, the Magical Enchant∣ment Insensibly Steals upon men. Nor is the Devil at any time more dangerous, than when he appears as an Angel of Light.
Spotswood in his History of the Church of Scotland, book the 6th. page 383. Reports that there was one Agnes Sampson amongst the Witches and Sor∣cerers of that Kingdom, who was co∣monly called the Wise Wife of Keith, who was very remarkable; being (as he says) a Woman not of the sordid and base sort of Witches, in outward ap∣pearance, but of a Matron like, and grave Mein, settled, and seemingly Judicious in her answers; who upon her Examination declared, That she had a Familiar Spirit, which upon her Invo∣cation usually appeared to her in a Visi∣ble form, & resolved her of doubtful Matters, especially concerning Matters relating to the Life or Death of per∣sons lying sick, and that he had taught her, when she called him, to use the word Holla Master. Upon which he usually appeared to her. See Wanly's Wonders of the little World. lib. 5. chap. 20. So that Deformity alone is no more an Argument of a Witch, than Beauty may be said to be an Evidence of a Whore.
Page 84Somtimes, it is Objected, that some have come in and given Evidence against themselves; and being brought before Magistrates, have (it may be thought) causlesly accused themselves, by Con∣fessing themselves to be Witches, and relating divers things by them done (as they have supposed) by the help of the Devil. And all this may be the Effect of a Deep Melancholy, or some Terrour that they may have been under: or per∣haps an Argument that themselves have at the same time been under the Power of Witchcraft; or at least in some kind of Delirium of Phancy. So some Lunaticks have fancied themselves to be Kings, or Queens, and it hath been beyond the Power of the most Ratio∣nal Arguments, and Demonstrations to convince them of the contrary: But the Self-accusations of such is as little to be credited, as the Self-Compur∣gations, and Applauses of others; without some more substantial Testi∣mony.
It is Observable that Witches are commonly of the Female Sex, and some there are that confine that Term wholly to them: And ever since the prevalence of the First Temptation up∣on the first Woman; it is no wonder Page 85 if the subtil Adversary still offer his Baits to such palats as are most desirous to taste Fruits forbidden; and more negligent in Enquiring into the Na∣ture of what they Swallow. It was an Observation of Fulgentius, Nescio quid habet Muliebre Nomen semper cum Sa∣cris. And it has been a long time ob∣served of them, that if they incline to Virtue and Piety, few go beyond them; but if they take up with Su∣perstitious and evil courses, none surpass them in Heights of Wickedness and mischief.
Tho these wretched Artists are com∣monly distinguished into those of the Black, and White orders; they are cer∣tainly the same, and cannot be said to differ in deeds of darkness, which admit of no difference of Colour, They are certainly both alike guilty in Compounding with the Devil. The black are those which are looked upon to do the most Mischief, because they commonly Torment mens bodies, or Injure them in their Estates; and the White, are reckoned to be such as restore people to health, and to goods lost: So that accordingly they have acquired the Names of Good and Evil Women. But what Fellowship hath Light Page 86 with Darkness, or what Communion hath Christ with Belial. Both these deal in the same forbidden Arts, and Equally bring Clients to their Hellish Master. They may be said to be like the Glasiers boys about the Town, who Employ themselves to break the Neighbours windows, that their Masters may have the profit of mending them again.
Some Ancient Arts and Mysteries are said to be lost, but we have reason to believe that the Father of Mischeif will not let fall any of those Trades by which he brings Souls to perdition, as long as he can have Scholars, and Servants to carry on his purposes.
So that we need not doubt the Con∣tinuance of that Ancient Devil-Craft, and Infernal Combination, as long as a Sordid Ignorance, Revengeful Malice, or Blind Superstition remain in the World. The Ignorant resort to it as to a School of Instruction, where they proceed and graduate themselves in the Cursed Mathematicks, and Mysteries of the Lower World. The Malicious apply themselves for Revenge, to wreak their spleens upon those they have Ani∣mosity against: and they are all the better part of Mankind: For if once they become in League with the Devil, they must Page 87 be supposed to have espoused his Interest so far, as to stretch out their Malice answerable to his Enmity, which is against all Mankind in general, but particularly against those of the greatest Integrity: as is evident in the case of our First Parents, Job, our Blessed Saviour and his Holy Apostles. And in the Revelation of St. John, the Angel tells the Church of Smyrna, that the Devil should cast some of them into prison that they might be Tryed. And Luke 22. chap. 31. vers. He tells Peter that Satan had desired to winnow him, as they do wheat, but our Lord had prayed for him, &c. And this must be Imputed to that Enmity which was put between the seed of the Woman, and that of the Serpent; So that ever since the Apostate Angel hath by him∣self, and his wicked Agents, conti∣nually been Attempting to wreak his Revenge upon them.
The Superstitious are with as much ease, as any, drawn into the Fatal snare, for they often become Witches, by endeavouring to defend themselves against Witchcraft. These doubting that some Witch might have power to hurt them, arm themselves with the Devil's Shield against the Devil's Sword: Putting on the Armour of Charms, and Spells piecemeal Page 88 by degrees; until at length they come to be Devil-fenc'd cap-a-pie: and so at first they are drawn into a League Defensive; until at last it comes to be declared Offensive too. That Art is quickly learnt; which wants nothing but Credulity and practice to attain it; and where the Devil once finds an Invitation, he ever after Haunts.
Of these Proficients in the Black My∣steries, there are some who at first begin with Feats rather diverting, than Hurtful; for they are sometimes enter∣tained by Ludicrous and gamesom Spi∣rits, who (to appearance) do things seemingly pleasant: but this pastime costs them dear in the End; for they play so long on the brink of Hell, until at length they tumble in, and sport with the devouring Lyon, until they are seized by his griping Paw; from whence They never after have power to Extricate themselves.
Others there are that are prevail'd with by none of these considerations; but take up the use of Magical Forms, and Simples by Tradition: Those that were their Pre∣decessors deriving down to them the use of some Mystical words, or Ceremonies upon the recital of which, they acquire the knowledge of many strange, and Page 89 remote secrets; and are Assisted in the performance of things much above the reach of a power meerly Humane. We have no reason to think it Improbable that the Apostate Spirit may have Obli∣ged himself, upon the bare naming, or repeating such or such set forms of words (by himself, perhaps Appointed) to attend upon those that make use of them. And upon this account it is that Balaam and the Wisemen of Nebuchad∣nezar (mentioned in the book of Da∣niel) are acquitted by Learned men, from having a particular Covenant with the Devil, or acting by the Rules of the greater Sorcery.
And here I cannot omit relating a passage which was told me when I was a Shool-boy in the house of a Learned and Religious Divine in the Country, That there formerly Lived in the same house a Parson, who likewise taught the Latin tongue, and having several Lads under his care; they (one day when he was at Dinner at a Gentlemans house about a mile from the place) happened to go into his Study, and (whether out of Cu∣riosity, or by accident, is uncertain) were reading in a book of his, re∣lating to that forbidden Art; the Page 90 Lads continued reading, 'till divers Spirits came into the Room to them (as I remember) I was told in the Shape of boys, which seemed with a nimble motion to caper and play about them: Their Master, who was then at such a distance from them, and at dinner, had some Notice of what was doing at home, and immediatly rose from table, and repaired to them, where he found them very perplexed at their new company, but knew not how to be rid of them but upon the co∣ming in of their Master, they were soon discharged.
Not unlike to this may be the case of some, who having by them books of Conjuration, may perhaps ignorantly, and undesignedly peruse them, without any previous Compact; until at length their Inquisitive Inclinations are so wrought upon, as to make use of the more Interdicted means for their Information. Nor is it Improbable, but that some Stu∣dents in Astrology, may (in their first Addresses to that Science) aim no far∣ther than the satisfaction of their Cu∣riosity, in the Knowledge of Hidden and remote Questions; and Future Events; Whilst those Mischievous Spirits (who like Beasts of prey) watch∣ing Page 91 all Occasions to entrap and get them into their Envious reach: may work upon their overcurious and inquisitive Genius's to search after the more pro∣hibited means of satisfying their sin∣ful Curiosity. So that Judicial Astrology may well be lookt upon, as a fair Intro∣duction to the Diabolical Art. And it seems not Improbable, but it might at first be set on foot as a Lure to draw the Over-curious into those snares that lye beyond it.
And whosoever but seriously Con∣siders the Nature of those Questions, which the pretenders to that Art under∣take to resolve, will find reason to think that they step somwhat beyond those bounds which are set to their Enquiries.
And it is too much to be doubted, that those who take upon them to Pre∣dict and Calculate of such Occult Con∣tingencies, and Futurities; are not always free from Inticements and solicitations to the more dangerous Correspondencies.
Tho all this while it is not denyed but that there may be an Observation of Sydereal and Planetical Motions, which falls not under the black Cha∣racter of those Interdicted Arts; but if kept within the modest directions of Natural Speculation, may not only Page 92 be Lawful, but of Good use, to Excite in us an Admiration and Adoration of him that stretched out the Heavens like a Courtain, and bindeth up the sweet In∣fluences of the Pleiades, Causing the Stars in their Courses to fight against such as Op∣pugn his Righteous purposes. As we read in the Sacred pages.
Nor would we be thought to include all manner of Intimation of Future Events under the Notion of unlawful Divination; since it is very apparent, that as the practitioners of the For∣bidden Study do by the Indication of the Devil and his wicked Angels, arrive to a Dear-bought Knowlegde of things to come: So oftentimes it pleaseth God (by the blessed Guardians of his Saints, and) by the Ministry of Holy Spirits, to Impart to such as truly fear him, and call upon his Name, some certain Intimations of his Divine pleasure in relation to Mundane affairs, and the Changes that may happen either to his Church in general, or to parti∣cular Countries, Families, or Persons. Many Instances of this kind might be produced, of which, for proof some few shall be mentioned. Such was the Dream of Nebuchadnezar, Interpreted by the Prophet Daniel, and mentioned Page 93 in the 4. chap. of that Prophesie and such may that Voice which was heard in the Temple before the destru∣ction of Jerusalem, be well thought to be: When by a Migremus Hinc, an Alarm was given to the Jews to remove before the Storm of that dreadful War came upon them, which Occasioned the destruction of their City and Temple.
The late Reverend and Learned Bishop Ʋsher, as is written in his Life, predicted the Massacre in Ireland, many Years before the bloody Execution of it. And King James, strangely discovered the horrid Powder Treason, by that letter to the Lord Mont-Eagle; which can hardly be imputed to any thing less than the Courteous Intima∣tion, or Impulse of some good Genius. Nor is it at all unlikely that we are beholden to those Watchful Admo∣nishers of us, for the seasonable Hints of approaching Calamities, which of∣ten shew themselves to us Either in Aerial, or other Prodigies. For these by the most Considerate men of all Ages have been acknowledged to be the Prodroms of great Calamities, or Catastrophies.
So our Blessed Saviour tells us that there Page 94 shall be Signs in the Heavens, and Signs in the Earth, before that great and terrible day of the Lord. And who knows, but these Indexes may be through the Care of those good and tender Guardians; who out of tender∣ness of our Welfare may give us those Cautions, and Admonitions to provide our selves against a day of Tryal. The dreadful desolations that happened in Germany, and England, in the Late unnatural Warrs (which whether or no they were presaged by them, yet cer∣tainly had many Tremendous Appari∣tions in the Air, and on the Earth &c. before those Calamities broke forth amongst them;) I say these are dismal Testimonies of the consequence of such Presages.
But these Kind of Predictions, as they are the effects of the Benevolence of Heaven, to us sinful Mortals, so they generally startle and awaken a secure and sinful World to meet God in the way of his Judgments: or if they have not that good effect on the sensual and Disobedient; they are at least Messengers of Joy, and Har∣bingers of Grace to those who apply themselves to Study the Voice of God in his Providences.
Page 95Whilst we are foretold in the Holy Scripture that Wicked men and seducers shall wax worse & worse, deceiving, and being deceived. For the Spirit of Delusion to which they adhere, shall betray them into gross mistakes, and palpable devia∣tions; such are Generally Impenetrable by the Warning of Heaven, they are Judicially Blinded, and Infatuated, that they should not come to the knowledge of the Truth. Thus the Prophet Ezekiel tells us of a Spirit of Lying, which en∣tered into the False Prophets, and they cryed Peace, Peace; when a sudden de∣solation, and destruction from the Lord was coming upon them. And this will be the dreadful case of those miserable Wretches who have given themselves up to the Conduct of the Father of Lyes; Who either out of a belief that they have no souls, have given themselves over to work Wickedness; Or else despising the Glories of a Blessed Eternity, have Listed themselves under the Banner of Satan, to Fight against the Power of the Omnipotent. And that Atheism, Idolatry, Sensuality, and Debauchery, have a Natural Tendence to promote this Impious and Diabolical Confede∣racy, hath been hinted in the forgo∣ing Pages. Which being so Regulary, Page 96 Learnedly, and Largely Treated of by the Excellent pens of Dr. H. M. and Mr. J. G. before mentioned, in the second part of Saducismus Trium∣phatus; I shall presume to Wade no further in the Argumentative, and Philosophical part; but proceed now, to give an Account of the most Atest∣ed Relations of Ancient Witches; and thence descend to some very remarka∣ble, and Credible Modern Relations, most of which have happened in these Few years, and will be attested by persons of Unquestionable Worth and Reputation now alive amongst us.