The Return of several Ministers consulted by his Excellency, and the Honourable Council, upon the present Witchcrafts in Salem Village.
Boston, June 15. 1692.
I. THE afflicted State of our poor Neighbours, that are now suffer∣ing by Molestations from the Invisible World, we apprehend so deplorable, that we think their Condition calls for▪ the utmost help of all Persons in their several Capacities. II. We cannot but with all Thank∣fulness acknowledge, the Success which the merciful God has given unto the sedulous and assiduous Endeavors of our honourable Rulers, to detect the abominable Witchcrafts which have been committed in the Country; humbly praying that the discovery of these mysterious and mischievous Wickednesses, may be perfected. III. We judge that in the prosecution of these, and all such Witchcrafts, there is need of a very critical and exquisite Caution, lest by too much Credulity for things received only upon the Devil's Authority, there be a Door opened for a long Train of miserable Consequences, and Satan get an Advantage over us, for we should not be ignorant of his Devices. IV. As in Complaints upon Witchcrafts, there may be Matters of Enquiry, which do not amount unto Matters of Presumption, and there may be Matters of Presumpti∣on which yet may not be reckoned Matters of Conviction; so 'tis necessary that all Proceedings thereabout be managed with an exceeding Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered] tenderness towards those that may be complained of; especially if they have been Persons formerly of an unblemished Reputation. V. When the first Enquiry is made into the Circumstances of such as may lie under any just Suspicion of Witchcrafts, we could wish that there may be ad∣mitted as little as is possible, of such Noise, Company, and Openness, as may too bastily expose them that are examined: and that there may no∣thing be used as a Test, for the Trial of the suspected, the Lawfulness whereof may be doubted among the People of God; but that the Dire∣ctions given by such Judicious Writers as Perkins and Bernard, be consulted in such a Case. VI. Presumptions whereupon Persons may be committed, and much more Convictions, whereupon Persons may be condemned as guilty of Witchcrafts, ought certainly to be more conside∣rable, than barely the accused Persons being represented by a Spectre unto the Afflicted; inasmuch as 'tis an undoubted and a notorious thing, that a Daemon may, by God's Permission, appear even to ill purposes, in the Shape of an innocent, yea, and a vertuous Man: Nor can we esteem Alterations made in the Sufferers, by a Look or Touch of the Accused to be an infallible Evidence of Guilt; but frequently liable to be abused by the Devil's Legerdemains. VII. We know not, whether some remark∣able Affronts given to the Devils, by our disbelieving of those Testimo∣nies, whose whole force and strength is from them alone, may not put a Period, unto the Progress of the dreadful Calamity begun upon us, in the Accusation of so many Persons, whereof we hope, some are yet clear from the great Transgression laid unto their Charge. VIII. Nevertheless, We cannot but humbly-recommend unto the Government, the speedy and vigorous Prosecution of such as have rendred themselves obnoxious, ac∣cording to the Direction given in the Laws of God, and the wholesome Statutes of the English Nation, for the Detection of Witchcrafts▪