An essay for the recording of illustrious providences wherein an account is given of many remarkable and very memorable events which have hapned this last age, especially in New-England
Mather, Increase, 1639-1723.
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THE Preface.

ABout six and twenty years ago, Design for the Recording of illustri∣ous Providences, was under serious consi∣deration among some eminent Ministers in England and in Ireland. That mo∣tion was principally set on foot by the Learned Mr. Matthew Pool, whose Synop∣sis Criticorum, and other Books by him e∣mitted, have made him famous in the World. But before any thing was brought to effect, the Persons to have been imployed, had their thoughts di∣verted another way. Nevertheless, there was a M. SS. (the Composer whereof is to me unknown) then written, wherein Page  [unnumbered] the Subjects proper for this Record, and some Rules for the better managing a design of this nature, are described. In that M. SS. I find notable Stories related and attested, which elsewhere I never met with. Particularly, the Sory of Mr. Earl of Colchester, and another mention∣ed in our subseqnent Essay. And besides those, there are some very memorable Passages written, which have not as yet been published, so far as I understand. There are in that M. SS. several Remarka∣bles about Apparitions, e. g. It is there said, that Dr. Frith, (who was one of the Prebends belonging to Windsor) lying on his Bed, the Chamber Doors were thrown open, and a Corps with attend∣ing Torches brought to his Bed-side upon a Bier; The Corps representing one of his own Family: After some pause, there was such another shew, till he, the said Dr. his Wife and all his Fa∣mily were brought in on the Bier in such order as they all soon after died. The Dr. was not then sick, but quickly Page  [unnumbered] Melancholly, and would rising at Mid∣night repair to the Graves and monu∣ments at Eaton Colledge; saying, that he and his must shortly take up their habi∣tation among the Dead. The Relater of this Story (a Person of great inte∣grity) had it from Dr. Frith's Son, who also added, My Fathers Vision is already Executed upon all the Family but my self, my time is next, and near at hand.

In the mentioned M. SS. there is also a marvelous Relation concerning a young Scholar in France: For, it is there affirmed, that this prophane Student, having by extravagant courses outrun his means; in his discontent walking soli∣tarily, a Man came to him, and enquired the cause of his sadness. Which he own∣ing to be want of Money, had presently a supply given him by the other. That being quickly consumed upon his Lusts; as soon as his Money was gone his Dis∣content returned; and in his former Walk, he met with his former Reliever, who again offered to supply him; but Page  [unnumbered] askt him to contract with him to be his, and to sign the contract with his Blood. The woful wretch consented: but not long after, considering that this contract was made with the Devil; the terrors of his Conscience became insup∣portable; so as that he endeavoured to kill himself to get out of them. Some Ministers, and other Christians being in∣formed how matters were circumstanced, kept dayes of Prayer for him and with him: and he was carefully watched that so he might be kept from self-Murder. Still he continued under Terror, and said he should do so, as long as the Covenant which he had signed, remained in the hands of the Devil. Hereupon, the Mi∣nisters resolve to keep a day of Fasting and Prayer in that very place of the Field where the distressed creature had made the woful Bargain, setting him in the midst of them. Thus they did, and being with special actings of Faith much enlarged to pray earnestly to the Lord to make known his power over Satan, Page  [unnumbered] in constraining him to give up that con∣tract, after some hours continuance in Prayer, a Cloud was seen to spread it self over them, and out of it the very con∣tract signed with the poor crearures Blood was dropped down amongst them; which being taken up and viewed, the party concerned took it, and tore it in pieces. The Relator had this from the mouth of Mr. Beaumond, a Minister of Note at Caon in Normandy, who assured him that he had it from one of the Mi∣nisters that did assist in carrying on the Day of prayer when this memorable providence hapned. Nor is the Rela∣tion impossible to be true, for Luther speaks of a providence not unlike unto this, which hapned in his Congregation.

This M. SS. doth also mention some most Remarkable Iudgments of God upon Sinners, as worthy to be Recorded for Posterity to take notice of. It is there said, that when Mr. Richard Iuxon was a Fellow of Kings Colledge in Cambridge, he led a most vicious life: and whereas▪ Page  [unnumbered] such of the Students as were serious in matters of Religion, did endeavour by solemn Fasting and Prayer to prepare themselves for the Communion which was then (this was about the year 1636) on Easter-Day. This Iuxon spent all the time of preparation in Drunken wild Meetings, and was up late and Drunk on the Saturday night. Nevertheless, on the Lords day, he came with others to the Communion, and sat next to the Relator, who knowing his Disorder the night before, was much troubled: but had no remedy; Church-Discipline not being then so practised as ought to have been. The Communion being ended, such of the Scholars as had the fear of God in their hearts, repaired to their Closets. But this Iuxon went immedi∣ately to a Drunken-meeting, and there to a Cockfight, where he fell to his ac∣customed madness, and pouring out a volley of Oaths and Curses; while these were between his Lips, God smote him dead in the twinkle of an eye. And though Page  [unnumbered]Iuxon were but young, and of a comely person, his Carcase was immediately so corrupted as that the stench of it was in∣sufferable, insomuch that no house would receive it; and his Friends were forced to hire some base Fellows to watch the Carcase till night; and then with Pitch and such like Gums covered him in a Coffin, and so made a shift to endure his Interment. There stood by a Scholar, whose name was George Hall, and who acted his part with Iuxon in his prophane∣ness: but he was so astonished with this amazing Providence of God, as that he fell down upon his knees, begging par∣doning mercy from Heaven, and vowing a Reformation; which vow the Lord en∣abled him to keep, so as that afterwards he became an able and famous Minister of the Gospel.

One strange passage more I shall here relate out of the M. SS. which we have thus far made mention of. Therein I find part of a Letter transcribed; which is as followeth:

Page  [unnumbered]Lismore, Octob. 2. 1658. In ano∣ther part of this Countrey, a poor man being suspected to have stollen a Sheep was questioned for it; he forswore the thing, and wished that if he had stollen it, God would cause the Horns of the Sheep to grow upon him. This man was seen within these few dayes by a Minister of great repute for Piety, who saith, that the Man has an Horn growing out of one corner of his Mouth, just like that of a sheep: from which he hath cut seventeen In∣ches, and is forced to keep it tyed by a string to his Ear, to prevent its grow∣ing up to his eye: This Minister not only saw but felt this Horn, and re∣ported it in this Family this week, as also a Gentleman formerly did, who was himself an eye-witness thereof. Surely such passages are a Demonstra∣tive evidence that there is a God, who judgeth in the Earth, and who though he stay long, will not be mocked al∣wayes.

Page  [unnumbered] I shall say no more concerning the M. SS. only that it was sent over to Re∣verend Mr. Davenport, by (as I suppose) Mr. Hartlib. How it came to lie dor∣mient in his hands I know not: though I had the happiness of special Intimacy with that worthy Man, I do not remem∣ber that ever I heard him speak any thing of it. But since his Death, looking o∣ver his M. SS's I met with this, and com∣municated it to other Ministers, who highly approved of the noble design aimed at therein. Soon after which, some Proposals in order to the reviving of this work were drawn up, and presented at a general Meeting of the Ministers in this Colony, May 12. 1681. which it may not be unsuitable here to recite.

    Some PROPOSALS concerning the RE∣CORDING of Illustrious PROVIDENCES.
  • I. IN Order to the promoving of a design of this Nature, so as shall be indeed for Gods Glory, and the good of Posterity, Page  [unnumbered] it is necessary that utmost care shall be ta∣ken that All, and Only Remarkable Pro∣vidences be Recorded and Published.
  • II. Such Divine Iudgements, Tempests, Floods, Earth-quakes, Thunders as are unusu∣al, strange Apparitions or what ever else shall happen that is Prodigious, Witchcrafts, Diabolical Possessions, Remarkable Iudge∣ments upon noted Sinners: eminent Deli∣verances, and Answers of Prayer, are to be reckoned among Illustrious Providences.
  • III. Inasmuch as we find in Scripture, as well as in Ecclesiastical History, that the Ministers of God have been improved in the Recording and Declaring the works of the Lord; and since they are in divers respects under peculiar Advantages there un∣to: It is proposed, that each one in that ca∣pacity may diligently enquire into, and Re∣cord such Illustrious Providences as have hapned, or from time to time shall happen, in the places whereunto they do belong: and that the Witnesses of such notable Occur∣rents Page  [unnumbered] be likewise set down in Writing.
  • IV. Although it be true, that this De∣sign cannot be brought unto Perfection in one or two years, yet it is much to be de∣sired that something may be done therein out of hand, as a Specimen of a more large Volumn, that so this work may be set on foot, and Posterity may be encouraged to go on therewith.
  • V. It is therefore Proposed that the Elders may concurre in desiring some one that hath Leisure and Ability for the ma∣nagement of such an undertaking, with all convenient speed to begin therewith.
  • VI. And that therefore other Elders do without delay make Enquiry concerning the Remarkable Occurrents that have formerly Page  [unnumbered] fallen out, or may fall out hereafter, where they are concerned, and transmit them unto the aforesaid person, according to the Di∣rections above specified, in order to a spee∣dy Publication.
  • VII. That Notice be given of these Pro∣posals unto our Brethren, the Elders of the Neighbour Colonies, that so we may enjoy their Concurrence, and Assistance herein.
  • VIII. When any thing of this Nature shall be ready for the Presse, it appears on sundry Grounds very expedient, that it should be read, and approved of at some Meeting of the Elders, before Publication.

These things being Read and Conside∣red; the Author of this Essay, was de∣sired to begin the work which is here done; and I am Engaged to many for the Materials, and Informations which the following Collections do consist of. It is not easie to give an Account of things, and yet no circumstantial mi∣stakes Page  [unnumbered] attend what shall be related. Nor dare I averr, that there are none such in what follows. Only I have been care∣ful to prevent them; and as to the sub∣stance of each passage, I am well assured it is according to Truth. That rare ac∣cident about the Lightning which cau∣sed a wonderful change in the Compas∣ses of a Vessel then at Sea, was as is in the Book expressed Page 91. 92. Only it is uncertain whether they were then exactly in the Latitude of 38. For they had not taken an Observation for seve∣ral dayes, but the Master of the Vessel affirms that to be the Latitude so near as they could conjecture. Since the Needle was changed by the Lightning, if a lesser Compass be set over it, the Needle therein (or any other touched with the Load-stone) will alter its pola∣rity, turn about to the South, as I have di∣vers times to my great admiration expe∣rimented. There is near the North-point a dark spot, like as if it were burnt with a drop of Brimstone, supposed to Page  [unnumbered] be caused by the Lightning. Whether the Magnetic impressions on that part of the Needle being dissipated by the heat of the Lightning, and the effluvia on the South end of the Needle only remaining untouched thereby, be the true natural reason of the marvelous alteration; or whither it ought to be ascribed to some other cause, the Ingenious may consider.

There is another Remarkable Passage about Lightning which hapned at Dux∣borough in New-England, concerning which I have lately received this follow∣ing Account.

September 11. 1653. (being the Lords Day) There were small drizling Showers, attended with some seldome and scarce per∣ceivable rumbling Thunders until towards the Evening; at what time Mr. Constant South∣worth of Duxbury returning home after e∣vening Exercise, in company with some Neighbours, Discoursing of some extraordi∣nary Thunder-claps with Lightning, and the awful effects and consequents thereof,) be∣ing come into his own House (there were present in one room, himself, his Wife, two Page  [unnumbered] Children, viz. Thomas (he was afterwards drowned) and Benjamin, (he was long after this killed by the Indians) with Philip Delano a Servant,) there broke perpendicularly o∣ver the said House and Room a most awful and amazing clap of Thunder, attended with a violent flash, or rather flame of Lightning; which brake and shivered one of the Nee∣dles of the Katted or Wooden Chimney, car∣rying divers Splinters seven or eight Rods di∣stance from the House: it filled the Room with Smoke and Flame. Set fire in the Thatch of a Leanto which was on the back∣side of a Room adjoyning to the former, in which the five persons abovementioned were. It melted some Pewter, so that it ran into drops on the out-side, as is often seen on Tin ware; melted round holes in the top of a Fire∣shovel proportionable in quantity to a small Goose-shot; struck Mrs. Southworths Arm so that it was for a time benummed; smote the young Child Benjamin in his Mothers' Arms, deprived it of Breath for a space, and to the Mothers apprehension squeased it as flat as a Planck; smote a Dog stone-dead which lay within two foot of Philip Delano, the Dog never moved out of his place or po∣tsture, in which he was when smitten, but giving a small yelp, and quivering with his Page  [unnumbered] toes, lay still, blood issuing from his Nose or Mouth. It smote the said Philip, made his right Arm senseless for a time, together with the middle finger in special (of his right hand) which was benummed, and turned as white as Chalk or Lime, yet attended with little pain. After some few hours that finger began to recover its proper colour at the Knuckle, and so did gradually whiten unto its extremity; And although the said Delano felt a most vioilent heat upon his Body, as if he had been scorched in the midst of a vio∣lent burning fire, yet his Clothes were not singed, neither had the smell of fire passed thereon.

I could not insert this Story in its proper place, because I received it after that Cha∣pter about Thunder and Lightning was Prin∣ted. Some credible persons who have been Eye-witnesses of it, inform me, that the Lightning in that House at Duxborough, did with the vehemency of its flame, cause the Bricks in the Chimney to melt like molten lead: which particular was as Remarkable as any of the other mentioned in the Narra∣tive, and therefore I thought good here to add it.

Page  [unnumbered] In this ESSAY, I design no more than a Specimen; And having (by the good hand of God upon me) set this Wheel a going, I shall leave it unto o∣thers, whom God has fitted, and shall incline thereto, to go on with the under∣taking.

Some Digressions I have made in di∣stinct Chapters, handling several consi∣derable Cases of Conscience, supposing it not unprofitable, or improper so to do; since the things related gave the occasi∣on: both Leisure and Exercise of Judge∣ment are required in the due perfor∣mance of a Service of this Nature: There are some that have more leisure, and many that have greater Abilities than I have: I expect not that they should make my Method their Standard; but they may follow a better of their own, as they shall see cause. The Addi∣tion of Parallel Stories is both pleasing and edifying: Had my reading and re∣membrance of things been greater, I might have done more that way, as I Page  [unnumbered] hope others will in the next Essay.

I could have mentioned some very me∣morable Passages of Divine Providence, wherein the Countrey in general hath been concerned. Some Remarkables of that kind are to be seen in my former Relations of the Troubles occasioned by the Indians in New-England. There are other particulars no less worthy to be Recorded, but in my judgement, this is not so proper a season for us to divulge them. It has been in my thoughts to publish a Discourse of Miscellaneous obser∣vations, concerning things rare and wonder∣ful; both as to the works of Creation and Providence; which in my small Readings I have met with in many Authors: But this must suffice for the present. I have often wished, that the Natural History of New-England, might be written and pub∣lished to the World; the Rules and me∣thod described by that Learned and ex∣cellent person Robert Boyle Esq. being duely observed therein. It would best become some Scholar that has been born Page  [unnumbered] in this Land, to do such a service for his Countrey. Nor would I my self decline to put my hand (so far as my small ca∣pacity will reach) to so noble an under∣taking, did not manifold diversions and employments prevent me from atten∣ding that which I should account a pro∣fitable Recreation. I have other work up∣on me, which I would gladly finish be∣fore I leave the World, and but a very little time to do it in: Moreover, not ma∣ny years ago, I lost (and that's an affli∣ctive loss indeed!) several Moneths from study by sickness. Let every God-fearing Reader, joyn with me in Prayer, that I may be enabled to redeem the time, and (in all wayes wherein I am capable) to serve my Generation.

INCREASE MATHER,

Boston in New-England,Ianuary 1, 1683/4.