Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,075 pages of information about Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II.

3.  And sometimes persons or things themselves do really appear, but how it is possible for any one to give a true testimony, which possibly did see neither shape nor person, but were deluded; and if they did see any thing, they know not whether it was the person or but his shape.  All that can be rationally or truly said in such a case is this,—­that I did see the shape or likeness of such a person, if my senses or eyesight were not deluded:  and they can honestly say no more, because they know no more (except the Devil tells them more); and if he do, they can but say he told them so.  But the matter is still incredible:  first, because it is but their saying the Devil told them so; if he did so tell them, yet the verity of the thing remains still unproved, because the Devil was a liar and a murtherer (John viii. 44), and may tell these lies to murder an innocent person.

But this case seems to be solved by an assertion of some, that affirm that the Devil do not or cannot appear in the shape of a godly person, to do hurt:  others affirm the contrary, and say that he can and often have so done, of which they give many instances for proof of what they say; which if granted, the case remains yet unsolved, and yet the very hinge upon which that weighty case depends.  To which I humbly say:  First, That I do lament that such a point should be so needful to be determined, which seems not probable, if possible, to be determined to infallible satisfaction for want of clear Scripture to decide it by, though very rational to be believed according to rules; as, for instance, if divers examples are alleged of the shape of persons that have been seen, of whom there is ample testimony that they lived and died in the faith, yet, saith the objecter, ’tis possible they may be hypocrites, therefore the proof not infallible:  and as it may admit of such an objection against the reasons given on the affirmative, much more may the same objection be made against the negative, for which they can or do give no reason at all, nor can a negative be proved (therefore difficult to be determined to satisfy infallibly); but, seeing it must be discussed, I humbly offer these few words:  First, I humbly conceive that the saints on earth are not more privileged in that case than the saints in heaven; but the Devil may appear in the shape of a saint in heaven, namely, in the shape of Samuel (1 Sam. xxviii. 13, 14); therefore he can or may represent the shape of a saint that is upon the earth.  Besides, there may be innocent persons that are not saints, and their innocency ought to be their security, as well as godly men’s; and I hear nobody question but the Devil may take their shape.

Secondly, It doth not hurt any man or woman to present the shape or likeness of an innocent person, more than for a limner or carver to draw his picture, and show it, if he do not in that form do some evil (nor then neither), if the laws of man do not oblige him to suffer for what the Devil doth in his shape, the laws of God do not.

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