Saducismus triumphatus, or, Full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions in two parts : the first treating of their possibility, the second of their real existence
Glanvill, Joseph, 1636-1680., More, Henry, 1614-1687., Horneck, Anthony, 1641-1697.
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That Tho. Goddard saw this Apparition, sesms to be a thing indubitable; but whether it was his Father in Law's Ghost, that is more que∣stionable. The former is confirmed from an hand at least impartial, if not disfavourable to the story. The party in his Letter to Mr. G—writes briefly to this effect. 1. That he does verily think that this Tho. Goddard does be∣lieve the story most strongly himself. 2. That he cannot imagine what interest he should have in raising such a story, he bringing Infamy on his Wives Father, and obliging himself to pay twenty shillings debt, which his poverty could very ill spare. 3. That his Father in Law Ed∣ward Avon, was a resolute sturdy fellow in his young years, and many years a Bailiff to Arrest people. 4. That Tho. Goddard had the re∣pute of an honest Man, knew as much in Reli∣gion as most of his rank and breeding, and was a constant frequenter of the Church, till about a year before this happened to him, he fell off wholly to the Non-Conformists.

All this hitherto, save this laft of all, tends to the Confirmation of the story. There∣fore this last shall be the first Allegation against the credibility thereof. 2. It is further alledg∣ed, that possibly the design of the story may be to Page  217 make him to be accounted an extraordinary some-body amongst the dissenting party. 3. That he is sometimes troubled with Epileptical fits. 4. That the Major sent the next Morning to digg the place where the Spectre said the Murdered Man was Buried, and there was neither bones found nor any difference of the Earth in that place from the rest.

But we answer briefly to the first, That his falling off to the Non-Conformists though it may argue a vacillancy of his judgment, yet it does not any defect of his external senses, as if he were less able to discern when he saw or heard any thing than before: To the second, That it is a perfect contradiction to his strong belief of the truth of his own story, which plainly implies that he did not feign it to make himself an ex∣traordinary some-body: To the third, That an Epileptical Person when he is out of his fits, hath his external senses as true and entire, as a Drunken Man has when his Drunken fit is over, or a Man awake after a night of sleep and dreams. So that this argument has not the least shew of force with it, unless you will take away the au∣thority of all Mens senses, because at sometimes they have not a competent use of them, namely in sleep, drunkenness or the like. But now lastly for the fourth which is most considerable, it is yet of no greater force than to make it questionable whether this Spectre was the Ghost of his Father, or some ludicrous Goblin that would put a trick Page  218 upon Thomas Goddard, by personating his Father-in-Law, and by a false pointing at the pretended grave of the Murdered make him ridiculous. For what Porphyrius has noted, 1. doubt not but is true, That Daemons some∣times personate the Souls of the deceased. But if an uncossined body being laid in a ground ex∣posed to wet and dry, the Earth may in 30 years space consume the very bones and assimilate all to to the rest of the mold, when some Earths will do it in less than the fifteenth part of that space: Or if the Ghost of Edward Avon might have forgot the certain place (it being no grateful object of his memory) where he buried the murdered Man, and only guessed that to be it because it was something sunk, as if the Earth yielded upon the wasting of the Buried body, the rest of the story will still naturally import that it was the very Ghost of Edward Avon. Besides, himself ex∣presly declares, as that the body was Buried there, so that by this time it was all turn'd into dust.

But whether it was a ludicrous Daemon or Edward Avons Ghost, concerns not our scope. It is sufficient that it is a certain instance of a real Apparition, and I thought sit as in the former story, so here to be so faithful as to conceal nothing that any might pretend to lessen the credibility thereof. Stories of the appearing of Souls depar∣ted are not for the tooth of the Non-conformists, who, as it is said, if they generally believe this, it must be from the undeniable evidence thereof Page  219 nor could Thomas Goddard gratifie them by in∣venting of it. And that it was not a phansy the knowledge of the 20 Shillings debt imparted to Thomas Goddard ignorant thereof before, and his Brother Avon's hearing a voice distinct from his in his discourse with the Apparition, does plainly enough imply. Nor was it Goddard's own phansy, but that real Spectre that opened his shop-window. Nor his imagination, but something in the shape of an Hare that made his Horse start and cast him into the dirt; The Apparition of Avon being then accompanied with that Hare, as after with the Mastiff-Dog. And lastly the whole frame of the story, provided the Relator does verily think it true himself (as Mr. S. testifies for him in his Letter to Mr. Glanvil, and himself profest he was ready at any time to swear to it) is such, that it being not a voluntary invention, cannot be an imposing phansy.