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But then, let us more generally agree to maintain a kind Opinion one of another. That Charity without which, even our giving our Bodies to be burned would profit nothing, uses to proceed by this Rule; It is kind, it is not easily provok'd, it thinks no Evil, it believes all things, hopes all things.

But if we disregard this Rule of Charity, we shall indeed give our Body Politick to be burned. I have heard it affirmed, That in the late great Flood upon Connecticut , those Creatures which could not but have quarrelled at another time, yet now being driven together very agreeably stood by one another. I am sure we shall be worse than Brutes if we fly upon one another at a time when the Floods of Belial make us afraid.

On the one side; [Alas, my Pen, must thou write the word, Side in the Business? And I pray, which of us all that should live under the continual Impressions of the Tortures, Outcries, and Havocks which Devils confessedly Commissioned by Witches make among their distressed Neighbours, would not have a Biass that way beyond other Men?

Persons this way [Pg 24] disposed have been Men eminent for Wisdom and Vertue, and Men acted by a noble Principle of Conscience: Had not Conscience of Duty to God prevailed above other Considerations with them, they would not for all they are worth in the World have medled in this Thorny business.

Have there been any disputed Methods used in discovering the Works of Darkness? It may be none but what have had great Presedents in other parts of the World; which may, though not altogether justifie, yet much alleviate a Mistake in us if there should happen to be found any such mistake in so dark a Matter. They have done what they have done, with multiplied Addresses to God for his Guidance, and have not been insensible how much they have exposed themselves in what they have done.

Yea, they would gladly contrive and receive an expedient, how the shedding of Blood, might be spared, by the Recovery of Witches, not gone beyond the Reach of Pardon. And after all, they invite all good Men, in Terms to this purpose, 'Being amazed at the Number and Quality of those accused of late, we do not know but Satan by his Wiles may have enwrapped some innocent Persons; and therefore should earnestly and humbly desire the most Critical Enquiry upon the place, to find out the Falacy; that there may be none of the Servants of the Lord, with the Worshippers of Baal.

On the other side [if I must again use the word Side , which yet I hope to live to blot out] there are very worthy Men, who are not a little dissatisfied at the Proceedings in the Prosecution of this Witchcraft. And why? Not because they would have any such abominable thing, defended from the Strokes of Impartial Justice.

No, those Reverend Persons who gave in this Advice unto the Honourable Council; 'That Presumptions, whereupon Persons may be Committed, and much more Convictions, whereupon Persons may be Condemned, as guilty of Witchcrafts, ought certainly to be more considerable, than barely the Accused Persons being represented by a Spectre unto the Afflicted; Nor are Alterations made in the Sufferers, by a Look or Touch of the Accused, to be esteemed an infallible Evidence of Guilt; but frequently liable to be abused by the Devils Legerdemains': I say, those very Men of God most conscientiously Subjoined this Article to that Advice,—'Nevertheless we cannot but humbly recommend unto the Government, the speedy and vigorous Prosecution of such as have rendred themselves Obnoxious; according to the best Directions given in the Laws of God, and the wholsome Statutes of the English Nation for the Detection of Witchcraft.


Analysis of The Wonders of the Invisible World

They would have all due steps taken for the Extinction of Witches; but they would fain have them to be sure ones; nor is it from any thing, but the real and hearty goodness of such Men, that they are loth to surmise ill of other Men, till there be the fullest Evidence for the surmises. As for the Honourable Judges that have been hitherto in the Commission, they are above my Consideration: wherefore I will only say thus much of them, That such of them as I have the Honour of a Personal Acquaintance with, are Men of an excellent Spirit; and as at first they went about the work for which they were Commission'd, with a very great aversion, so they have still been under Heart-breaking Sollicitudes, how they might therein best serve both God and Man?

In fine, Have there been faults on any side fallen into? Surely, they have at worst been but the faults of a well-meaning Ignorance. On every side then, why should not we endeavour with amicable Correspondencies, to help one another out of the Snares wherein the Devil would involve us?

We are to unite in our Endeavours to deliver our distressed Neighbours, from the horrible Annoyances and Molestations with which a dreadful Witchcraft is now persecuting of them. To have an hand in any thing, that may stifle or obstruct a Regular Detection of that Witchcraft, is what we may well with an holy fear avoid.

Their Majesties good Subjects must not every day be torn to pieces by horrid Witches, and those bloody Felons, be left wholly unprosecuted.

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The Witchcraft is a business that will not be sham'd, without plunging us into sore Plagues, and of long continuance. But then we are to unite in such Methods for this deliverance, as may be unquestionably safe, lest the latter end be worse than the beginning.

And here, what shall I say? I will venture to say thus much, That we are safe, when we make just as much use of all Advice from the invisible World, as God sends it for. It is a safe Principle, That when God [Pg 28] Almighty permits any Spirits from the unseen Regions, to visit us with surprizing Informations, there is then something to be enquired after; we are then to enquire of one another, What Cause there is for such things?

The peculiar Government of God, over the unbodied Intelligences, is a sufficient Foundation for this Principle. When there has been a Murder committed, an Apparition of the slain Party accusing of any Man, altho' such Apparitions have oftner spoke true than false, is not enough to Convict the Man as guilty of that Murder; but yet it is a sufficient occasion for Magistrates to make a particular Enquiry, whether such a Man have afforded any ground for such an Accusation.

Even so a Spectre exactly resembling such or such a Person, when the Neighbourhood are tormented by such Spectres, may reasonably make Magistrates inquisitive whether the Person so represented have done or said any thing that may argue their confederacy with Evil Spirits, altho' it may be defective enough in point of Conviction; especially at a time, when 'tis possible, some over-powerful Conjurer may have got the skill of thus exhibiting the Shapes of all sorts of Persons, on purpose to stop the Prosecution of the Wretches, whom due Enquiries thus provoked, might have made obnoxious unto Justice.

But I will venture to say this further, that it will be safe to account [Pg 29] the Names as well as the Lives of our Neighbors; two considerable things to be brought under a Judicial Process, until it be found by Humane Observations that the Peace of Mankind is thereby disturbed. We are Humane Creatures, and we are safe while we say, they must be Humane Witnesses, who also have in the particular Act of Seeing, or Hearing, which enables them to be Witnesses, had no more than Humane Assistances, that are to turn the Scale when Laws are to be executed.

And upon this Head I will further add: A wise and a just Magistrate, may so far give way to a common Stream of Dissatisfaction, as to forbear acting up to the heighth of his own Perswasion, about what may be judged convictive of a Crime, whose Nature shall be so abstruse and obscure, as to raise much Disputation. Tho' he may not do what he should leave undone, yet he may leave undone something that else he could do, when the Publick Safety makes an Exigency.

I was going to make one Venture more; that is, to offer some safe Rules, for the finding out of the Witches, which are at this day our accursed Troublers: but this were a Venture too Presumptuous and Icarian for me to make; I leave that unto those Excellent and Judicious Persons, with whom I am not worthy to be numbred: All that I shall do, shall be to lay before my Readers, a brief Synopsis of what has been written on that Subject, by a Triumvirate of as Eminent Persons as have ever handled it.

I will begin with,. There are Presumptions , which do at least probably and conjecturally note one to be a Witch. These give occasion to Examine, yet they are no sufficient Causes of Conviction. If any Man or Woman be notoriously defamed for a Witch , this yields a strong Suspition. If a Fellow-Witch , or Magician , give Testimony of any Person to be a Witch ; this indeed is not sufficient for Condemnation; but it is a fit Presumption to cause a strait Examination.

If after Cursing there follow Death, or at least some mischief: for Witches are wont to practise their mischievous Facts, by Cursing and Banning: This also is a sufficient matter of Examination, tho' not of Conviction. If after Enmity, Quarrelling, or Threatning, a present mischief does follow; that also is a great Presumption. If the Party suspected be the Son or Daughter, the man-servant or maid-servant, the Familiar Friend, near Neighbor, or old Companion, of a known and convicted Witch; this may be likewise a Presumption; for Witchcraft is an Art that may be learned, and conveyed from man to man.

Some add this for a Presumption: If the Party suspected be found to have the Devil's mark; for it is commonly thought, when the Devil makes his Covenant with them, he alwaies leaves his mark behind them, whereby he knows them for his own:—a mark whereof no evident Reason in Nature can be given. Lastly, If the party examined be Unconstant, or contrary to himself, in his deliberate Answers, it argueth a Guilty Conscience, which stops the freedom of Utterance.

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And yet there are causes of Astonishment, which may befal the Good, as well as the Bad. But then there is a Conviction , discovering the Witch , which must proceed from just and sufficient proofs, and not from bare presumptions. Scratching of the suspected party, and Recovery thereupon, with several other such weak Proofs; as also, the fleeting of the suspected Party, thrown upon the Water; these Proofs are so far from being sufficient, that some of them are, after a sort, practices of Witchcraft. The Testimony of some Wizzard, tho' offering to shew the Witches Face in a Glass: This, I grant, may be a good Presumption, to cause a strait Examination; but a sufficient Proof of Conviction it cannot be.

If the Devil tell the Grand Jury, that the person in question is a Witch, and offers withal to confirm the same by Oath, should the Inquest receive his Oath or Accusation to condemn the man? Assuredly no. And yet, that is as much as the Testimony of another Wizzard, who only by the Devil's help reveals the Witch. If a man, being dangerously sick, and like to dye, [Pg 32] upon Suspicion, will take it on his Death, that such a one hath bewitched him, it is an Allegation of the same nature, which may move the Judge to examine the Party, but it is of no moment for Conviction.

Among the sufficient means of Conviction, the first is, the free and voluntary Confession of the Crime, made by the party suspected and accused, after Examination.

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I say not, that a bare confession is sufficient, but a Confession after due Examination, taken upon pregnant presumptions. What needs now more witness or further Enquiry?

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There is a second sufficient Conviction, by the Testimony of two Witnesses, of good and honest Report, avouching before the Magistrate, upon their own Knowledge, these two things: either that the party accused hath made a League with the Devil, or hath done some known practice of witchcraft. And, all Arguments that do necessarily prove either of these , being brought by two sufficient Witnesses, are of force fully to convince the party suspected. If it can be proved, that the party suspected hath called upon the Devil , or desired his Help, this is a pregnant proof of a League formerly made between them.

If it can be proved, that the party hath entertained a Familiar Spirit, and had Conference with it, in the likeness of some visible Creatures; here is Evidence of witchcraft. If the witnesses affirm upon Oath, that the suspected person hath done any action or work which necessarily infers a Covenant made, as, that he hath used Enchantments, divined things before they come to pass, and [Pg 33] that peremptorily, raised Tempests, caused the Form of a dead man to appear; it proveth sufficiently, that he or she is a Witch.

This is the Substance of Mr. Take next the Sum of Mr. Gaules Judgment about the Detection of Witches. Some Tokens for the Trial of Witches, are altogether unwarrantable. And many more such Marks, which if they are to know a Witch by, certainly 'tis no other Witch, but the User of them. There are some Tokens for the Trial of Witches, more probable, and yet not so certain as to afford Conviction.

Such are strong and long Suspicion: Suspected Ancestors, some appearance of Fact, the Corps bleeding upon the Witches touch, the Testimony of the Party bewitched, the supposed Witches unusual Bodily marks, the Witches usual Cursing and Banning, the Witches lewd and naughty kind of Life. Some Signs there are of a Witch, more certain and infallible.