The elements of the witchcraft delusion of 1692 are slumbering still in the bosom of society. We hear occasionally of haunted houses, cases of second-sight, and communications from the spiritual world. It always will be so. The human mind feels instinctively its connection with a higher sphere. Some will ever be impatient of the restraints of our present mode of being, and prone to break away from them; eager to pry into the secrets of the invisible world, willing to venture beyond the bounds of ascertainable knowledge, and, in the pursuit of truth, to aspire where the laws of evidence cannot follow them. A love of the marvellous is inherent to the sense of limitation while in these terrestrial bodies; and many will always be found not content to wait until this tabernacle is dissolved and we shall be clothed upon with a body which is from Heaven.
I. LAWSON’S PREFATORY ADDRESS.
II. LAWSON’S BRIEF ACCOUNT.
III. LETTER TO JONATHAN CORWIN.
IV. EXTRACTS FROM MR. PARRIS’S CHURCH RECORDS.
[From the edition of Deodat Lawson’s Sermon printed in London, 1704.]
To all my Christian Friends and Acquaintance, the Inhabitants of Salem Village.
CHRISTIAN FRIENDS,—The sermon here presented unto you was delivered in your audience by that unworthy instrument who did formerly spend some years among you in the work of the ministry, though attended with manifold sinful failings and infirmities, for which I do implore the pardoning mercy of God in Jesus Christ, and entreat from you the covering of love. As this was prepared for that particular occasion when it was delivered amongst you, so the publication of it is to be particularly recommended to your service.
My heart’s desire and continual prayer to God for you all is, that you may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, accordingly, that all means he is using with you, by mercies and afflictions, ordinances and providences, may be sanctified to the building you up in grace and holiness, and preparing you for the kingdom of glory. We are told by the apostle (Acts xiv. 22), that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. Now, since (besides your share in the common calamities, under the burden whereof this poor people are groaning at this time) the righteous and holy God hath been pleased to permit a sore and grievous affliction to befall you, such as can hardly be said to be common to men; viz., by giving liberty to Satan to range and rage amongst you, to the torturing the bodies and distracting the minds of some of the visible sheep and lambs of the Lord Jesus Christ. And (which is yet more astonishing) he who is the accuser of the brethren endeavors to introduce as criminal some of the visible subjects of Christ’s kingdom, by whose sober and godly conversation in times past we could draw no other conclusions than that they were real members of his mystical body, representing them as the instruments of his malice against their friends and neighbors.