Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 888 pages of information about Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II.
country and all countries at the time, and will make it memorable throughout all time.  Those engaged in it, with this sentiment absorbing their very souls, passed, for the time, out of the realm of all other sentiments, and were insensible to all other considerations.  The nearer and dearer the relatives, the higher and more conspicuous the persons, who, in their belief, were in league with the Devil, the more profound the abhorrence of their crime, and the determination to cut off and destroy them utterly.  They believed that Satan had, once before, “against the throne and monarchy of God, raised impious war and battle proud;” and that for this he had been cast out from “heaven, with all his host of rebel angels;” that he, with his army of subordinate wicked spirits, was making a desperate effort to retrieve his lost estate, by a renewed rebellion against God; and they were determined to drive him, and all his confederates, for ever from the confines of the earth.  The humble hamlet of Salem Village was felt to be the great and final battle-ground.  However wild and absurd this idea is now regarded, it was then sincerely and thoroughly entertained, and must be taken into the account, in coming to a just estimate of the character of the transaction, and of those engaged in it.

One other thought is to be borne in mind, as we pass through the scenes that are to be spread before us.  The theology of Christendom, at that time, so far as it relates to the power and agency of Satan and demonology in general,—­and this is the only point of view on which I ever refer to theology in this discussion,—­and the whole fabric of popular superstitions founded upon it, had reached their culmination.  The beginning, middle, and close of the seventeenth century, witnessed the greatest display of those superstitions, and prepared the way for their final explosion.  As the hour of their dissolution was at hand, and they were doomed to vanish before the light of science and education, to pass from the realm of supposed reality into that of acknowledged fiction, it seems to have been ordered that they should leave monuments behind them, from which their character, elements, and features, and their terrible influence, might be read and studied in all subsequent ages.

The ideas in reference to the agency and designs of the great enemy of God and man, and all his subordinate hosts, witches, fairies, ghosts, “gorgons and hydras, and chimeras dire,” “apparitions, signs, and prodigies,” by which the minds of men had so long been filled, and their fearful imaginations exercised, as they took their flight, imprinted themselves, for perpetual remembrance, in productions which, more than any works of mere human genius, are sure to live for ever.  They left their forms crystallized, with imperishable lineaments, in the greatest of dramas and the greatest of epics.  The plays of Shakespeare, as the century opened, and the verse of Milton in its central period, are their record and their picture.

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Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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