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  • I. Lawson's Prefatory Address.

  • II. Lawson's Brief Account.

  • III. Letter to Jonathan Corwin.

  • IV. Extracts from Mr. Parris's Church Records.

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[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 Figure Uphv2539
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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.

I thought meet thus to give you the best assistance I could, to help you out of your distresses. And since the ways of the Lord, in his permissive as well as effective providence, are unsearchable, and his doings past finding out, and pious souls are at a loss what will be the issue of these things, I therefore bow my knees unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would cause all grace to abound to you and in you, that your poor place may be delivered from those breaking and ruining calamities which are threatened as the pernicious consequences of Satan's malicious operations; and that you may not be left to bite and devour one another in your sacred or civil society, in your relations or families, to the destroying much good and promoting much evil among you, so as in any kind to weaken the hands or discourage the heart of your reverend and pious pastor, whose family also being so much under the influence of these troubles, spiritual sympathy cannot but stir you up to assist him as at all times, so especially at such a time as this; he, as well as his neighbors, being under such awful circumstances. As to this discourse, my humble desire and endeavor is, that it may appear to be according to the form of sound words, and in expressions every way intelligible to the meanest capacities. It pleased God, of his free grace, to give it some acceptation with those that heard it, and some that heard of it desired me to transcribe it, and afterwards to give way to the printing of it. I present it therefore to your acceptance, and commend it to the divine benediction; and that it may please the Almighty God to manifest his power in putting an end to your sorrows of this nature, by bruising Satan under your feet shortly, causing these and all other your and our troubles to work together for our good now, and salvation in the day of the Lord, is the unfeigned desire, and shall be the uncessant prayer, of— Less than the least, of all those that serve, In the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, DEODAT LAWSON.


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[Appended to his Sermon, London edition, 1704.]

At the request of several worthy ministers and Christian friends, I do here annex, by way of appendix to the preceding sermon, some brief account of those amazing things which occasioned that discourse to be delivered. Let the reader please therefore to take it in the brief remarks following, and judge as God shall incline him.

It pleased God, in the year of our Lord 1692, to visit the people at a place called Salem Village, in New England, with a very sore and grievous affliction, in which they had reason to believe that the sovereign and holy God was pleased to permit Satan and his instruments to affright and afflict those poor mortals in such an astonishing and unusual manner.

Now, I having for some time before attended the work of the ministry in that village, the report of those great afflictions came quickly to my notice, and the more readily because the first person afflicted was in the minister's family who succeeded me after I was removed from them. In pity, therefore, to my Christian friends and former acquaintance there, I was much concerned about them, frequently consulted with them, and fervently, by divine assistance, prayed for them; but especially my concern was augmented when it was reported, at an examination of a person suspected for witchcraft, that my wife and daughter, who died three years before, were sent out of the world under the malicious operations of the infernal powers, as is more fully represented in the following remarks. I did then desire, and was also desired by some concerned in the Court, to be there present, that I might hear what was alleged in that respect; observing, therefore, when I was amongst them, that the case of the afflicted was very amazing and deplorable, and the charges brought against the accused such as were ground of suspicions, yet very intricate, and difficult to draw up right conclusions about them; I thought good, for the satisfaction of myself and such of my friends as might be curious to inquire into those mysteries of God's providence and Satan's malice, to draw up and keep by me a brief account of the most remarkable things that came to my knowledge in those affairs, which remarks were afterwards (at my request) revised and corrected by some who sat judges on the bench in those matters, and were now transcribed from the same paper on which they were then written. After this, I being by the providence of God Figure Uphv2541
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called over into England in the year 1696, I then brought that paper of remarks on the witchcraft with me; upon the sight thereof some worthy ministers and Christian friends here desired me to reprint the sermon, and subjoin the remarks thereunto in way of appendix; but for some particular reasons I did then decline it. But now, forasmuch as I myself had been an eye and ear witness of most of those amazing things, so far as they came within the notice of human senses, and the requests of my friends were renewed since I came to dwell in London, I have given way to the publishing of them, that I may satisfy such as are not resolved to the contrary, that there may be (and are) such operations of the powers of darkness on the bodies and minds of mankind by divine permission and that those who sat judges on those cases may, by the serious consideration of the formidable aspect and perplexed circumstances of that afflictive providence, be in some measure excused, or at least be less censured, for passing sentence on several persons as being the instruments of Satan in those diabolical operations, when they were involved in such a dark and dismal scene of providence, in which Satan did seem to spin a finer thread of spiritual wickedness than in the ordinary methods of witchcraft: hence the judges, desiring to bear due testimony against such diabolical practices, were inclined to admit the validity of such a sort of evidence as was not so clearly and directly demonstrable to human senses as in other cases is required, or else they could not discover the mysteries of witchcraft. I presume not to impose upon my Christian or learned reader any opinion of mine how far Satan was an instrument in God's hand in these amazing afflictions which were on many persons there about that time; but I am certainly convinced, that the great God was pleased to lengthen his chain to a very great degree for the hurting of some and reproaching of others, as far as he was permitted so to do. Now, that I may not grieve any whose relations were either accused or afflicted in those times of trouble and distress, I choose to lay down every particular at large, without mentioning any names or persons concerned (they being wholly unknown here); resolving to confine myself to such a proportion of paper as is assigned to these remarks in this impression of the book, yet, that I may be distinct, shall speak briefly to the matter under three heads; viz.: —

  1. Relating to the afflicted.

  2. Relating to the accused. And,

  3. Relating to the confessing witches.

To begin with the afflicted. —

  1. One or two of the first that were afflicted complaining of unusual illness, their relations used physic for their cure; but it was altogether in vain.

  2. They were oftentimes very stupid in their fits, and could neither hear nor understand, in the apprehension of the standers-by; so that, when prayer hath been made with some of them in such a manner as might be audible in a great congregation, yet, when their fit was off, they declared they did not hear so much as one word thereof.

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  1. It was several times observed, that, when they were discoursed with about God or Christ, or the things of salvation, they were presently afflicted at a dreadful rate; and hence were oftentimes outrageous, if they were permitted to be in the congregation in the time of the public worship.

  2. They sometimes told at a considerable distance, yea, several miles off, that such and such persons were afflicted, which hath been found to be done according to the time and manner they related it; and they said the spectres of the suspected persons told them of it.

  3. They affirmed that they saw the ghosts of several departed persons, who, at their appearing, did instigate them to discover such as (they said) were instruments to hasten their deaths, threatening sorely to afflict them if they did not make it known to the magistrates. They did affirm at the examination, and again at the trial of an accused person, that they saw the ghosts of his two wives (to whom he had carried very ill in their lives, as was proved by several testimonies), and also that they saw the ghosts of my wife and daughter (who died above three years before); and they did affirm, that, when the very ghosts looked on the prisoner at the bar, they looked red, as if the blood would fly out of their faces with indignation at him. The manner of it was thus: several afflicted being before the prisoner at the bar, on a sudden they fixed all their eyes together on a certain place of the floor before the prisoner, neither moving their eyes nor bodies for some few minutes, nor answering to any question which was asked them: so soon as that trance was over, some being removed out of sight and hearing, they were all, one after another, asked what they saw; and they did all agree that they saw those ghosts above mentioned. I was present, and heard and saw the whole of what passed upon that account, during the trial of that person who was accused to be the instrument of Satan's malice therein.

  4. In this (worse than Gallick) persecution by the dragoons of hell, the persons afflicted were harassed at such a dreadful rate to write their names in a Devil-book presented by a spectre unto them: and one, in my hearing, said, “I will not, I will not write! It is none of God's book, it is none of God's book: it is the Devil's book, for aught I know;” and, when they steadfastly refused to sign, they were told, if they would but touch, or take hold of, the book, it should do; and, lastly, the diabolical propositions were so low and easy, that, if they would but let their clothes, or any thing about them, touch the book, they should be at ease from their torments, it being consent that is aimed at by the Devil in those representations and operations.

  5. One who had been long afflicted at a stupendous rate by two or three spectres, when they were (to speak after the manner of men) tired out with tormenting of her to force or fright her to sign a covenant with the Prince of Darkness, they said to her, as in a diabolical and accursed passion, “Go your ways, and the Devil go with you; for we will be no more pestered and plagued about you.” And, ever after that, she was well, and no more afflicted, that ever I heard of.

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  1. Sundry pins have been taken out of the wrists and arms of the afflicted; and one, in time of examination of a suspected person, had a pin run through both her upper and her lower lip when she was called to speak, yet no apparent festering followed thereupon, after it was taken out.

  2. Some of the afflicted, as they were striving in their fits in open court, have (by invisible means) had their wrists bound fast together with a real cord, so as it could hardly be taken off without cutting. Some afflicted have been found with their arms tied, and hanged upon an hook, from whence others have been forced to take them down, that they might not expire in that posture.

  3. Some afflicted have been drawn under tables and beds by undiscerned force, so as they could hardly be pulled out; and one was drawn half-way over the side of a well, and was, with much difficulty, recovered back again.

  4. When they were most grievously afflicted, if they were brought to the accused, and the suspected person's hand but laid upon them, they were immediately relieved out of their tortures; but, if the accused did but look on them, they were instantly struck down again. Wherefore they used to cover the face of the accused, while they laid their hands on the afflicted, and then it obtained the desired issue: for it hath been experienced (both in examinations and trials), that, so soon as the afflicted came in sight of the accused, they were immediately cast into their fits; yea, though the accused were among the crowd of people unknown to the sufferers, yet, on the first view, were they struck down, which was observed in a child of four or five years of age, when it was apprehended, that so many as she could look upon, either directly or by turning her head, were immediately struck into their fits.

  5. An iron spindle of a woollen wheel, being taken very strangely out of an house at Salem Village, was used by a spectre as an instrument of torture to a sufferer, not being discernible to the standers-by, until it was, by the said sufferer, snatched out of the spectre's hand, and then it did immediately appear to the persons present to be really the same iron spindle.

  6. Sometimes, in their fits, they have had their tongues drawn out of their mouths to a fearful length, their heads turned very much over their shoulders; and while they have been so strained in their fits, and had their arms and legs, &c., wrested as if they were quite dislocated, the blood hath gushed plentifully out of their mouths for a considerable time together, which some, that they might be satisfied that it was real blood, took upon their finger, and rubbed on their other hand. I saw several together thus violently strained and bleeding in their fits, to my very great astonishment that my fellow-mortals should be so grievously distressed by the invisible powers of darkness. For certainly all considerate persons who beheld these things must needs be convinced, that their motions in their fits were preternatural and involuntary, both as to the manner, which was so strange as a well person could not (at least without great pain) screw their bodies into, Figure Uphv2544
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    and as to the violence also, they were preternatural motions, being much beyond the ordinary force of the same persons when they were in their right minds; so that, being such grievous sufferers, it would seem very hard and unjust to censure them of consenting to, or holding any voluntary converse or familiarity with, the Devil.

  7. Their eyes were, for the most part, fast closed in their trance-fits, and when they were asked a question they could give no answer; and I do verily believe, they did not hear at that time; yet did they discourse with the spectres as with real persons, asserting things and receiving answers affirmative or negative, as the matter was. For instance, one, in my hearing, thus argued with, and railed at, a spectre: “Goodw—, begone, begone, begone! Are you not ashamed, a woman of your profession, to afflict a poor creature so? What hurt did I ever do you in my life? You have but two years to live, and then the Devil will torment your soul for this. Your name is blotted out of God's book, and it shall never be put into God's book again. Begone! For shame! Are you not afraid of what is coming upon you? I know, I know what will make you afraid, — the wrath of an angry God: I am sure that will make you afraid. Begone! Do not torment me. I know what you would have” (we judged she meant her soul): “but it is out of your reach; it is clothed with the white robes of Christ's righteousness.” This sufferer I was well acquainted with, and knew her to be a very sober and pious woman, so far as I could judge; and it appears that she had not, in that fit, voluntary converse with the Devil, for then she might have been helped to a better guess about that woman abovesaid, as to her living but two years, for she lived not many months after that time. Further, this woman, in the same fit, seemed to dispute with a spectre about a text of Scripture: the apparition seemed to deny it; she said she was sure there was such a text, and she would tell it; and then said she to the apparition, “I am sure you will be gone, for you cannot stand before that text.” Then was she sorely afflicted, — her mouth drawn on one side, and her body strained violently for about a minute; and then said, “It is, it is, it is,” three or four times, and then was afflicted to hinder her from telling; at last, she broke forth, and said, “It is the third chapter of the Revelations.” I did manifest some scruple about reading it, lest Satan should draw any thereby superstitiously to improve the word of the eternal God; yet judging I might do it once, for an experiment, I began to read; and, before I had read through the first verse, she opened her eyes, and was well. Her husband and the spectators told me she had often been relieved by reading texts pertinent to her case, — as Isa. 40, 1, ch. 49, 1, ch. 50, 1, and several others. These things I saw and heard from her.

  8. They were vehemently afflicted, to hinder any persons praying with them, or holding them in any religious discourse. The woman mentioned in the former section was told by the spectre I should not go to prayer; but she said I should, and, after I had done, reasoned with the apparition, “Did not I say he should go to prayer?” I went also to visit a person afflicted in Figure Uphv2545
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    Boston; and, after I was gone into the house to which she belonged, she being abroad, and pretty well, when she was told I was there, she said, “I am loath to go in; for I know he will fall into some good discourse, and then I am sure I shall go into a fit.” Accordingly, when she came in, I advised her to improve all the respite she had to make her peace with God, and sue out her pardon through Jesus Christ, and beg supplies of faith and every grace to deliver her from the powers of darkness; and, before I had uttered all this, she fell into a fearful fit of diabolical torture.

  9. Some of them were asked how it came to pass that they were not affrighted when they saw the black-man: they said they were at first, but not so much afterwards.

  10. Some of them affirmed they saw the black-man sit on the gallows, and that he whispered in the ears of some of the condemned persons when they were just ready to be turned off, even while they were making their last speech.

  11. They declared several things to be done by witchcraft, which happened before some of them were born, — as strange deaths of persons, casting away of ships, &c.; and they said the spectres told them of it.

  12. Some of them have sundry times seen a white-man appearing amongst the spectres, and, as soon as he appeared, the black-witches vanished: they said this white-man had often foretold them what respite they should have from their fits, as sometimes a day or two or more, which fell out accordingly. One of the afflicted said she saw him, in her fit, and was with him in a glorious place which had no candle nor sun, yet was full of light and brightness, where there was a multitude in white, glittering robes, and they sang the song in Rev. 5, 9; Psal. 110, 149. She was loath to leave that place, and said, “How long shall I stay here? Let me be along with you.” She was grieved she could stay no longer in that place and company.

  13. A young woman that was afflicted at a fearful rate had a spectre appeared to her with a white sheet wrapped about it, not visible to the standers until this sufferer (violently striving in her fit) snatched at, took hold, and tore off a corner of that sheet. Her father, being by her, endeavored to lay hold upon it with her, that she might retain what she had gotten; but, at the passing-away of the spectre, he had such a violent twitch of his hand as if it would have been torn off: immediately thereupon appeared in the sufferer hand the corner of a sheet, — a real cloth, visible to the spectators, which (as it is said) remains still to be seen.


  1. A woman, being brought upon public examination, desired to go to prayer. The magistrates told her they came not there to hear her pray, but to examine her in what was alleged against her relating to suspicions of witchcraft.

  2. It was observed, both in times of examination and trial, that the Figure Uphv2546
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    accused seemed little affected with what the sufferers underwent, or what was charged against them as being the instruments of Satan therein, so that the spectators were grieved at their unconcernedness.

  3. They were sometimes their own image, and not always practising upon poppets made of clouts, wax, or other materials, (according to the old methods of witchcraft); for natural actions in them seemed to produce preternatural impressions on the afflicted, as biting their lips in time of examination and trial caused the sufferers to be bitten so as they produced the marks before the magistrates and spectators: the accused pinching their hands together seemed to cause the sufferers to be pinched; those again stamping with their feet, these were tormented in their legs and feet, so as they stamped fearfully. After all this, if the accused did but lean against the bar at which they stood, some very sober women of the afflicted complained of their breasts, as if their bowels were torn out; thus, some have since confessed, they were wont to afflict such as were the objects of their malice.

  4. Several were accused of having familiarity with the black-man in time of examination and trial; and that he whispered in their ears, and therefore they could not hear the magistrates; and that one woman accused rid (in her shape and spectre) by the place of judicature, behind the black man, in the very time when she was upon examination.

  5. When the suspected were standing at the bar, the afflicted have affirmed that they saw their shapes in other places suckling a yellow bird; sometimes in one place and posture, and sometimes in another. They also foretold that the spectre of the prisoner was going to afflict such or such a sufferer, which presently fell out accordingly.

  6. They were accused by the sufferers to keep days of hellish fasts and thanksgivings; and, upon one of their fast-days, they told a sufferer she must not eat, it was fast-day. She said she would: they told her they would choke her then, which, when she did eat, was endeavored.

  7. They were also accused to hold and administer diabolical sacraments; viz., a mock-baptism and a Devil-supper, at which cursed imitations of the sacred institutions of our blessed Lord they used forms of words to be trembled at in the very rehearsing: concerning baptism I shall speak elsewhere. At their cursed supper, they were said to have red bread and red drink; and, when they pressed an afflicted person to eat and drink thereof, she turned away her head, and spit at it, and said, “I will not eat, I will not drink: it is blood. That is not the bread of life, that is not the water of life; and I will have none of yours.” Thus horribly doth Satan endeavor to have his kingdom and administrations to resemble those of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. Some of the most sober afflicted persons, when they were well, did affirm the spectres of such and such as they did complain of in their fits did appear to them, and could relate what passed betwixt them and the apparitions, after their fits were over, and give account after what manner they were hurt by them.

  9. Several of the accused would neither in time of examination nor trial Figure Uphv2547
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    confess any thing of what was laid to their charge: some would not admit of any minister to pray with them, others refused to pray for themselves. It was said by some of the confessing witches, that such as have received the Devil-sacrament can never confess: only one woman condemned, after the death-warrant was signed, freely confessed, which occasioned her reprieval for some time; and it was observable this woman had one lock of hair of a very great length, viz., four foot and seven inches long by measure. This lock was of a different color from all the rest, which was short and gray. It grew on the hinder part of her head, and was matted together like an elf-lock. The Court ordered it to be cut off, to which she was very unwilling, and said she was told if it were cut off she should die or be sick; yet the Court ordered it so to be.

  10. A person who had been frequently transported to and fro by the devils for the space of near two years, was struck dumb for about nine months of that time; yet he, after that, had his speech restored to him, and did depose upon oath, that, in the time while he was dumb, he was many times bodily transported to places where the witches were gathered together, and that he there saw feasting and dancing; and, being struck on the back or shoulder, was thereby made fast to the place, and could only see and hear at a distance. He did take his oath that he did, with his bodily eyes, see some of the accused at those witch-meetings several times. I was present in court when he gave his testimony. He also proved by sundry persons, that, at those times of transport, he was bodily absent from his abode, and could nowhere be found, but being met with by some on the road, at a distance from his home, was suddenly conveyed away from them.

  11. The afflicted persons related that the spectres of several eminent persons had been brought in amongst the rest; but, as the sufferers said the Devil could not hurt them in their shapes, but two witches seemed to take them by each hand, and lead them or force them to come in.

  12. Whiles a godly man was at prayer with a woman afflicted, the daughter of that woman (being a sufferer in the like kind) affirmed that she saw two of the persons accused at prayer to the Devil.

  13. It was proved by substantial evidences against one person accused, that he had such an unusual strength (though a very little man), that he could hold out a gun with one hand behind the lock, which was near seven foot in the barrel, being as much as a lusty man could command with both hands after the usual manner of shooting. It was also proved, that he lifted barrels of meat and barrels of molasses out of a canoe alone, and that putting his fingers into a barrel of molasses (full within a finger's length according to custom) he carried it several paces; and that he put his finger into the muzzle of a gun which was more than five foot in the barrel, and lifted up the butt-end thereof, lock, stock, and all, without any visible help to raise it. It was also testified, that, being abroad with his wife and his wife's brother, he occasionally staid behind, letting his wife and her brother walk forward; but, suddenly coming up with them, he was angry with his wife for what Figure Uphv2548
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    discourse had passed betwixt her and her brother: they wondering how he should know it, he said, “I know your thoughts;” at which expression, they, being amazed, asked him how he could do that; he said, “My God, whom I serve, makes known your thoughts to me.”

I was present when these things were testified against him, and observed that he could not make any plea for himself (in these things) that had any weight: he had the liberty of challenging his jurors before empanelling, according to the statute in that case, and used his liberty in challenging many; yet the jury that were sworn brought him in guilty.

  1. The magistrates privately examined a child of four or five years of age, mentioned in the remarks of the afflicted, sect. 11: [p. 530] and the child told them it had a little snake which used to suck on the lowest joint of its forefinger; and, when they (inquiring where) pointed to other places, it told them not there but here, pointing on the lowest joint of the forefinger, where they observed a deep red spot about the bigness of a flea-bite. They asked it who gave it that snake, whether the black man gave it: the child said no, its mother gave it. I heard this child examined by the magistrates.

  2. It was proved by sundry testimonies against some of the accused, that, upon their malicious imprecations, wishes, or threatenings, many observable deaths and diseases, with many other odd inconveniences, have happened to cattle and other estate of such as were so threatened by them, and some to the persons of men and women.


  1. It pleased God, for the clearer discovery of those mysteries of the kingdom of darkness, so to dispose, that several persons, men, women, and children, did confess their hellish deeds, as followeth: —

  2. They confessed against themselves that they were witches, told how long they had been so, and how it came about that the Devil appeared to them; viz., sometimes upon discontent at their mean condition in the world, sometimes about fine clothes, sometimes for the gratifying other carnal and sensual lusts. Satan then, upon his appearing to them, made them fair (though false) promises, that, if they would yield to him, and sign his book, their desires should be answered to the uttermost, whereupon they signed it; and thus the accursed confederacy was confirmed betwixt them and the Prince of Darkness.

  3. Some did affirm that there were some hundreds of the society of witches, considerable companies of whom were affirmed to muster in arms by beat of drum. In time of examinations and trials, they declared that such a man was wont to call them together from all quarters to witch-meetings with the sound of a diabolical trumpet.

  4. Being brought to see the prisoners at the bar upon their trials, they did affirm in open court (I was then present), that they had oftentimes seen Figure Uphv2549
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    them at witch-meetings, where was feasting, dancing, and jollity, as also at Devil-sacraments; and particularly that they saw such a man — amongst the rest of the cursed crew, and affirmed that he did administer the sacrament of Satan to them, encouraging them to go on in their way, and they should certainly prevail. They said also that such a woman — was a deacon, and served in distributing the diabolical elements: they affirmed that there were great numbers of the witches.

  5. They affirmed that many of those wretched souls had been baptized at Newbury Falls, and at several other rivers and ponds; and, as to the manner of administration, the great Officer of Hell took them up by the body, and, putting their heads into the water, said over them, “Thou art mine, I have full power over thee: and thereupon they engaged and covenanted to renounce God, Christ, their sacred baptism, and the whole way of Gospel salvation, and to use their utmost endeavors to oppose the kingdom of Christ, and to set up and advance the kingdom of Satan.

  6. Some, after they had confessed, were very penitent, and did wring their hands, and manifest a distressing sense of what they had done, and were by the mercies of God recovered out of those snares of the kingdom of darkness.

  7. Several have confessed against their own mothers, that they were instruments to bring them into the Devil's covenant, to the undoing of them, body and soul; and some girls of eight or nine years of age did declare, that, after they were so betrayed by their mothers to the power of Satan, they saw the Devil go in their own shapes to afflict others.

  8. Some of those that confessed were immediately afflicted at a dreadful rate, after the same manner with the other sufferers.

  9. Some of them confessed, that they did afflict the sufferers according to the time and manner they were accused thereof; and, being asked what they did to afflict them, some said that they pricked pins into poppets made with rags, wax, and other materials: one that confessed after the signing the death said she used to afflict them by clutching and pinching her hands together, and wishing in what part and after what manner she would have them afflicted, and it was done.

  10. They confessed the design was laid by this witchcraft to root out the interest of Christ in New England, and that they began at the Village in order to settling the kingdom of darkness and the powers thereof; declaring that such a man — was to be head conjurer, and for his activity in that affair was to be crowned king of hell, and that such a woman — was to be queen of hell.

Thus I have given my reader a brief and true account of those fearful and amazing operations and intrigues of the Prince of Darkness: and I must call them so; for, let some persons be as incredulous as they please about the powerful and malicious influence of evil angels upon the minds and bodies of mankind, sure I am none that observed those things above mentioned could refer them to any other head than the sovereign permission of the holy God, Figure Uphv2550
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and the malicious operations of his and our implacable enemy. I have here related nothing more than what was acknowledged to be true by the judges that sat on the bench, and other credible persons there, which I have without prejudice or partiality represented.

I therefore close all with my uncessant prayers, that the great and everlasting Jehovah would, for the sake of his blessed Son, our most glorious intercessor, rebuke Satan, and so vanquish him, from time to time, that his power may be more and more every day suppressed, his kingdom destroyed; and that all his malicious and accursed instruments in those spiritual wickednesses may gnash their teeth, melt away, and be ashamed in their secret places, till they come to be judged and condemned unto the place of everlasting burnings prepared for the Devil and his angels, that they may there be tormented with him for ever and ever.


Figure Uphv2551
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Salisbury, Aug. 9, 1692. Honored Sir, — According as in my former to you I hinted that I held myself obliged to give you some farther account of my rude though solemn thoughts of that great case now before you, the happy management whereof do so much conduce to the glory of God, the safety and tranquillity of the country, besides what I have said in my former and the enclosed, I further humbly present to consideration the doubtfulness and unsafety of admitting spectre testimony against the life of any that are of blameless conversation, and plead innocent, from the uncertainty of them and the incredulity of them; for as for diabolical visions, apparitions, or representations, they are more commonly false and delusive than real, and cannot be known when they are real and when feigned, but by the Devil's report; and then not to be believed, because he is the father of lies.

  1. Either the organ of the eye is abused and the senses deluded, so as to think they do see or hear some thing or person, when indeed they do not, and this is frequent with common jugglers.

  2. The Devil himself appears in the shape and likeness of a person or thing, when it is not the person or thing itself; so he did in the shape of Samuel.

  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 Figure Uphv2552
Page 539.
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.

Thirdly, The Devil had power, by God's permission, to take the very person of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the day or time of his humiliation, and carry him from place to place, and tempted him with temptations of horrid blasphemy, and yet left him innocent. Why may we not suppose the like may be done to a good man? And why not much more appear in his shape (or make folk think it is his shape, when indeed it is not), and yet the person be innocent, being far enough off, and not knowing of it, nor would consent if he had known it, his profession and conversation being otherwise?

Fourthly, I suppose 'tis granted by all, that the person of one that is dead cannot appear, because the soul and body are separated, and so the person is dissolved, and so ceaseth to be: and it is as certain that the person of the living cannot be in two places at one time, but he that is at Boston cannot be at Salem or Cambridge at the same time; but as the malice and envy in the Devil makes it his business to seek whom he may devour, so no question but he doth infuse the same quality into those that leave Jesus Christ to embrace him, that they do envy those that are innocent, and upon that account be as ready to say and swear that they did see them as the Devil is to present their shape to them. Add but this also, that, when they are once under his power, he puts them on headlong (they must needs go whom the Devil drives, saith Figure Uphv2553
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the proverb), and the reason is clear, — because they are taken captive by him, to do his will. And we see, by woful and undeniable experience, both in the afflicted persons and the confessors, some of them, that he torments them at his pleasure, to force them to accuse others. Some are apt to doubt they do but counterfeit; but, poor souls! I am utterly of another mind, and I lament them with all my heart; but, take which you please, the case is the same as to the main issue. For, if they counterfeit, the wickedness is the greater in them, and the less in the Devil: but if they be compelled to it by the Devil, against their wills, then the sin is the Devil's, and the sufferings theirs; but if their testimonies be allowed of, to make persons guilty by, the lives of innocent persons are alike in danger by them, which is the solemn consideration that do disquiet the country.

Now, that the only wise God may so direct you in all, that he may have glory, the country peace and safety, and your hands strengthened in that great work, is the desire and constant prayer of your humble servant, R. P., who shall no further trouble you at present.

Position. — That to put a witch to death is the command of God, and therefore the indispensable duty of man, — namely, the magistrate (Ex. xxii. 18); which, granted, resolves two questions that I have heard made by some: —

First, Whether there are any such creatures as witches in the world. Secondly, If there be, whether they can be known to be such by men: both which must be determined on the affirmative, or else that commandment were in vain.

Position Second. — That it must be witches that are put to death, and not innocent persons: “Thou shalt not condemn the innocent nor the righteous” (Ex. xxiii. 7).

Query. — Which premised, it brings to this query, — namely, how a witch may be known to be a witch.

Answer. — First, By the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deut. xix. 15; Matt. xviii. 16; Deut. xvii. 6). Secondly, They may be known by their own confession, being compos mentis, and not under horrid temptation to selfmurther (2 Sam. xvi.; Josh. vii. 16).

Query Second. — What is it that those two or three witnesses must swear? Must they swear that such a person is a witch? Will that do the thing, as is vulgarly supposed?

Answer. — I think that is too unsafe to go by, as well as hard to be done by the advised: First, because it would expose the lives of all alike to the pleasure or passion of those that are minded to take them away; secondly, because that, in such a testimony, the witnesses are not only informers in matter of fact, but sole judges of the crime, — which is the proper work of the judges, and not of witnesses.

Query Third. — What is it that the witnesses must testify in the case, to prove one to be a witch?

Figure Uphv2554
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Answer. — They must witness the person did put forth some act which, if true, was an act of witchcraft, or familiarity with the Devil, the witness attest the fact to be upon his certain knowledge, and the judges to judge. that fact to be such a crime.

Query Fourth. — What acts are they which must be proved to be committed by a person, that shall be counted legal proof of witchcraft, or familiarity with the Devil?

Answer. — This I do profess to be so hard a question, for want of light from the Word of God and laws of men, that I do not know what to say to it; and therefore humbly conceive, that, in such a difficulty, it may be more safe, for the present, to let a guilty person live till further discovery, than to put an innocent person to death.

First, Because a guilty person may afterward be discovered, and so put to death; but an innocent person to be put to death cannot be brought again to life when once dead.

Secondly, Because secret things belong to God only, but revealed things to us and to our children. And though it be so difficult sometimes, yet witches there are, and may be known by some acts or other put forth by them, that may render them such; for Scripture examples, I can remember but few in the Old Testament, besides Balaam (Num. xxii. 6, xxxi. 16).

First, The sorcerers of Egypt could not tell the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream, though he told them his dream (Gen. xli 8): his successors afterwards had sorcerers, that by enchantments did, first, turn their rods into serpents (Exod. vii. 11, 12); second, turned water into blood; thirdly, brought frogs upon the land of Egypt (Exod. viii. 7).

Thirdly, Nebuchadnezzar's magicians said that they would tell him the interpretation, if he would tell them his dream (Dan. iv. 7); but the king did not believe them (ver. 8, 9).

Fourthly, The Witch of Endor raised the Devil, in the likeness of Samuel, to tell Saul his fortune; and Saul made use of him accordingly (1 Sam. xxviii. 8, 11-15); and, as for New Testament, I see very little of that nature. Our Lord Jesus Christ did cast out many devils, and so did his disciples, both while he was upon earth and afterward, of which some were dreadfully circumstanced (Mark ix. 18; Mark v. 2-5); but of witches, we only read of four mentioned in the apostles' time: first, Simon Magus (Acts viii. 9, 11); secondly, Elymas the sorcerer (Acts xiii. 6, 8); thirdly, the seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, that were vagabond Jews, — exorcists (Acts xix. 18-16); fourthly, the girl which, by a spirit of divination, brought her master much gain (Acts xvi. 16), whether it were by telling fortuns or finding out lost things, as our cunning men do, is not said; but something it was that was done by that spirit which was in her, which, being cast out, she could not do. Now, whatever was done by any of these, by the help of the Devil, or by virtue of familiarity with him, or that the Devil did do by their consent or instigation, it is that which, the like being now proved to be done by others, is legal conviction of witchcraft, or familiarity with the Devil.

Figure Uphv2555
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As I remember, Mr. Perkins apprehends witchcraft may be sometimes committed by virtue of an implicit covenant with the Devil, though there be not explicit covenant visibly between them; namely, by using such words and gestures whereby they do intimate to the Devil what they would have him do, and he doth it.

  1. To tell events contingent, or to bring any thing to pass by supernatural means, or by no means.

I have heard of some that make a circle, and mumble over some uncouth words; and some that have been spiteful and suspicious persons, that have sent for a handful of thatch from the house or barn of him that they have owed a spite to, and the house have been burnt as they had burnt the thatch that they fetched.

When Captain Smith was cast away in the ship built by Mr. Stevens at Gloucester, many years ago, it was said that the woman that was accused for doing it did put a dish in a pail of water, and sent her girl several times to see the motion of the dish, till at last it was turned over, and then the woman said, “Now Smith is gone,” or “is cast away.”

A neighbor of mine, who was a Hampshire man, told me that a suspected woman desired something of some of the family, which being denied, she either muttered or threatened, and some evil suddenly followed, and they put her into a cart to carry her to Winchester; and, when they had gone a little way, the team could not move the cart, though in plain ground. The master commanded to carry a knitch of straw, and burn her in the cart; which to avoid, she said they should go along, and they did. This they did several times before they came to Winchester, of which passages the men that went with her gave their oaths, and she was executed.

Some have been transformed into dogs, cats, hares, hogs, and other creatures; and in those shapes have sometimes received wounds which have made them undeniably guilty, and so confessed. Sometimes having their imps sucking them, or infallible tokens that they are sucked, in the search of which great caution to be given, because of some superfluities of nature, and diseases that people are incident unto, as the piles, &c., of which the judges are, upon the testimony of the witnesses, to determine what of crime is proved by any of these circumstances, with many other, in which God is pleased many times, by some overt acts, to bring to light that secret wickedness to apparent conviction, sometimes by their own necessitated confession, whereby those that he hath commanded to be put to death may be known to be such, which, when known, then it is a duty to put them to death, and not before, though they were as guilty before as then.

There are two queries more with respect to what is proper to us in this juncture of time, of which we have no account of the like being common at other times, or in other places; namely, these, —

Query Fifth. — The fifth query is, what we are to think of those persons at Salem, or the Village, before whom people are brought for detection, or otherwise to be concerned with them, in order to their being apprehended or acquitted.

Figure Uphv2556
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Answer. — That I am, of all men, the least able to give any conjecture about it, because I do not know it, having myself never seen it, nor know nothing of it but by report, in which there must be supposed a possibility of some mistake, in part or in whole; but that which I have here heard is this: First, That they do tell who are witches, of which some they know, and some they do not. Secondly, They tell who did torment such and such a person, though they know not the person. Thirdly, They are tormented themselves by the looks of persons that are present, and recovered again by the touching of them. Fourthly, That, if they look to them, they fall down tormented; but, if the persons accused look from them, they recover, or do not fall into that torment. Fifthly, They can tell when a person is coming before they see them, and what clothes they have, and some what they have done for several years past, which nobody else ever accused them with, nor do not yet think them guilty of. Sixthly, That the dead out of their graves do appear unto them, and tell them that they have been murdered, and require them to see them to be revenged on the murtherers, which they name to them; some of which persons are well known to die their natural deaths, and publicly buried in the sight of all men. Now, if these things be so, I thus affirm, —

First, That whatsoever is done by them that is supernatural, is either divine or diabolical.

Secondly, That nothing is, or can be, divine, but what have God's stamp upon it, to which he refers for trial (Isa. viii. 19, 20): “If they speak not according to these, there is no light in them.”

Thirdly, And by that rule none of these actions of theirs have any warrant in God's word, but condemned wholly.

First, It is utterly unlawful to inquire of the dead, or to be informed by them (Isa. viii. 19). It was an act of the Witch of Endor to raise the dead, and of a reprobate Saul to inquire of him (1 Sam. xxviii. 8, 11-14; Deut. xviii. 11).

Secondly, It is a like evil to seek to them that have familiar spirits (Lev. xix. 31). It was the sin of Saul in the forementioned place (1 Sam. xxviii. 8); and of wicked Manasses (2 Kings, xxi. 6).

Thirdly, No more is it likely that their racking and tormenting should be done by God or good angels, but by the Devil, whose manner have ever been to be so employed. Witness his dealing with the poor child (Mark ix. 17, 19, 20-22); and with the man that was possessed by him (Mark v. 2-5); besides what he did to Job (Job ii. 7); and all the lies that he told against him to the very face of God.

Fourthly, The same may be rationally said of all the rest. Who should tell them things that they do not see, but the Devil; especially when some things that they tell are false and mistaken?

Query Sixth. — These things premised, it now comes to the last and greatest question or query; namely, How shall it be known when the Devil do any of these acts of his own proper motion, without human concurrence, Figure Uphv2557
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consent, or instigation, and when he doth it by the suggestion or consent of any person? This question, well resolved, would do our business.

First, That the Devil can do acts supernatural without the furtherance of him by human consent or concurrence; but men or women cannot do them without the help of the Devil (must be granted). That granted, it follows, that the Devil is always the doer, but whether abetted in it by anybody is uncertain.

Secondly, Will it be sufficient for the Devil himself to say such a man or woman set him a work to torment such a person by looking upon him? Is the Devil a competent witness in such a case?

Thirdly, Or are those that are tormented by him legal witnesses to say that the Devil doth it by the procurement of such a person, whenas they know nothing about it but what comes to them from the Devil (that torments them)?

Fourthly, May we believe the witches that do accuse any one because they say so (can the fruit be better than the tree)? If the root of all their knowledge be the Devil, what must their testimony be?

Fifthly, Their testimony may be legal against themselves, because they know what themselves do, but cannot know what another doth but by information from the Devil: I mean in such cases when the person accused do deny it, and his conversation is blameless (Prov. xviii. 5; Prov. xix. 5).

First, It is directly contrary to the use of reason, the law of nature, and principles of humanity, to deny it, and plead innocent, when accused of witchcraft, and yet, at the same time, to be acting witchcraft in the sight of all men, when they know their lives lie at stake by doing it. Self-interest teaches every one better.

Secondly, It is contrary to the Devil's nature, or common practice, to accuse witches. They are a considerable part of his kingdom, which would fall, if divided against itself (Matt. xii. 26); except we think he that spake the words understood not what he said (which were blasphemy to think); or that those common principles or maxims are now changed; or that the Devil have changed his nature, and is now become a reformer to purge out witches out of the world, out of the country, and out of the churches; and is to be believed, though a liar and a murtherer from the beginning, and also though his business is going about continually, seeking whom he may destroy (1 Pet. v. 8); and his peculiar subject of his accusation are the brethren: called the accuser of the brethren.

Objection. — God do sometimes bring things to light by his providence in a way extraordinary.

Answer. — It is granted God have so done, and brought hidden things to light, which, upon examination, have been proved or confessed, and so the way is clear for their execution; but what is that to this case, where the Devil is accuser and witness?


Figure Uphv2558
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[The following passages are taken from the records of the Salem Village Church, as specimens of Mr. Parris's style of narrative in that interesting document, and as shedding some light upon the subject of these volumes: —]

Sab: 4 Nov. [1694]. — After sermon in the afternoon, it was propounded to the brethren, whether the church ought not to inquire again of our dissenting brethren after the reason of their dissent. Nothing appearing from any against it, it was put to vote, and carried in the affirmative (by all, as far as I know, except one brother, Josh: Rea), that Brother Jno. Tarbell should, the next Lord's Day, appear and give in his reasons in public; the contrary being propounded, if any had aught to object against it. But no dissent was manifested; and so Brother Nathaniel Putnam and Deacon Ingersoll were desired to give this message from the church to the said Brother Tarbell.

Sab: 11 Nov. — Before the evening blessing was pronounced, Brother Tarbell was openly called again and again; but, he not appearing, application was made to the abovesaid church's messengers for his answer: whereupon said Brother Putnam reported that the said Brother Tarbell told him he did not know how to come to us on a Lord's Day, but desired rather that he might make his appearance some week-day. Whereupon the congregation was dismissed with the blessing: and the church stayed, and, by a full vote, renewed their call of said Brother Tarbell to appear the next Lord's Day for the ends abovesaid; and Deacon Putnam and Brother Jonathan Putnam were desired to be its messengers to the said dissenting brother.

Sab: 18 Nov. — The said brother came in the afternoon; and, after sermon, he was asked the reasons for his withdrawing: whereupon he produced a paper, which he was urged to deliver to the pastor to communicate to the church; but he refused it, asking who was the church's mouth. To which, when he was answered, “The pastor,” he replied, Not in this case, because his offence was with him. The pastor demanded whether he had offence against any of the church besides the pastor. He answered, “No.” So at length we suffered a non-member, Mr. Jos: Hutchinson, to read it. After Figure Uphv2559
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which the pastor read openly before the whole congregation his overtures for peace and reconciliation. After which said Tarbell, seemingly (at least) much affected, said, that, if half so much had been said formerly, it had never come to this. But he added that others also were dissatisfied besides himself: and therefore he desired opportunity that they might come also, which was immediately granted; viz., the 26 instant, at two o'clock.

26 Nov. — At the public meeting above appointed at the meeting-house, after the pastor had first sought the grace of God with us in prayer, he then summed up to the church and congregation (among which were several strangers) the occasion of our present assembling, as is hinted the last meeting. Then seeing, together with Brother Tarbell, two more of our dissenting brethren, viz., Sam: Nurse, and Thomas Wilkins (who had, to suit their designs, placed themselves in a seat conveniently together), the church immediately, to save further sending for them, voted that said Brother Wilkins and Brother Nurse should now, together with Brother Tarbell, give in their reasons of withdrawing from the church. Then the pastor applied himself to all these three dissenters, pressing the church's desire upon them. So they produced a paper, which they much opposed the coming into the pastor's hands, and his reading of it; but at length they yielded to it. Whilst the paper was reading, Brother Nurse looked upon another (which he said was the original): and, after it was read throughout, he said it was the same with what he had. Their paper was as followeth: —

“The reasons why we withdraw from communion with the church of Salem Village, both as to hearing the word preached, and from partaking with them at the Lord's Table, are as followeth: —

“1. Why we attend not on public prayer and preaching the word, these are, (1.) The distracting and disturbing tumults and noises made by the persons under diabolical power and delusions, preventing sometimes our hearing and understanding and profiting of the word preached; we having, after many trials and experiences, found no redress in this case, accounted ourselves under a necessity to go where we might hear the word in quiet. (2.) The apprehensions of danger of ourselves being accused as the Devil's instruments to molest and afflict the persons complaining, we seeing those whom we had reason to esteem better than ourselves thus accused, blemished, and of their lives bereaved, foreseeing this evil, thought it our prudence to withdraw. (3.) We found so frequent and positive preaching up some principles and practices by Mr. Parris, referring to the dark and dismal mysteries of iniquity working amongst us, as was not profitable, but offensive. (4.) Neither could we, in conscience, join with Mr. Parris in many of the requests which he made in prayer, referring to the trouble then among us and upon us; therefore thought it our most safe and peaceable way to withdraw.

“2. The reasons why we hold not communion with them at the Lord's Figure Uphv2560
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Table are, first, we esteem ourselves justly aggrieved and offended with the officer who doth administer, for the reasons following: (1.) From his declared and published principles, referring to our molestation from the invisible world, differing from the opinion of the generality of the Orthodox ministers of the whole country. (2.) His easy and strong faith and belief of the affirmations and accusations made by those they call the afflicted. (3.) His laying aside that grace which, above all, we are required to put on; namely, charity toward his neighbors, and especially towards those of his church, when there is no apparent reason for the contrary. (4.) His approving and practising unwarrantable and ungrounded methods for discovering what he was desirous to know referring to the bewitched or possessed persons, as in bringing some to others, and by and from them pretending to inform himself and others who were the Devil's instruments to afflict the sick and pained. (5.) His unsafe and unaccountable oath, given by him against sundry of the accused. (6.) His not rendering to the world so fair, if true, an account of what he wrote on examination of the afflicted. (7.) Sundry unsafe, if sound, points of doctrine delivered in his preaching, which we esteem not warrantable, if Christian. (8.) His persisting in these principles, and justifying his practices, not rendering any satisfaction to us when regularly desired, but rather further offending and dissatisfying ourselves.

“John Tarbell.

Tho: Wilkins.

Sam: Nurse.”

When the pastor had read these charges, he asked the dissenters above mentioned whether they were offended with none in the church besides himself. They replied, that they articled against none else. Then the officer asked them if they withdrew from communion upon account of none in the church besides himself. They answered, that they withdrew only upon my account. Then I read them my “Meditations for Peace,” mentioned 18 instant; viz.: —

“Forasmuch as it is the undoubted duty of all Christians to pursue peace (Ps. xxxiv. 14), even unto a reaching of it, if it be possible (Rom. xii. 18, 19); and whereas, through the righteous, sovereign, and awful Providence of God, the Grand Enemy to all Christian peace has, of late, been most tremendously let loose in divers places hereabouts, and more especially amongst our sinful selves, not only to interrupt that partial peace which we did sometimes enjoy, but also, through his wiles and temptations and our weaknesses and corruptions, to make wider breaches, and raise more bitter animosities between too many of us, in which dark and difficult dispensation we have been all, or most of us, of one mind for a time, and afterwards of differing apprehensions, and, at last, are but in the dark, — upon serious thoughts of all, and after many prayers, I have been moved to present to you (my beloved flock) the following particulars, in way of contribution Figure Uphv2561
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towards a regaining of Christian concord (if so be we are not altogether unappeasable, irreconcilable, and so destitute of the good spirit which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, James iii. 17); viz., (1.) In that the Lord ordered the late horrid calamity (which afterwards, plague-like, spread in many other places) to break out first in my family, I cannot but look upon as a very sore rebuke, and humbling providence, both to myself and mine, and desire so we may improve it. (2.) In that also in my family were some of both parties, viz., accusers and accused, I look also upon as an aggravation of the rebuke, as an addition of wormwood to the gall. (3.) In that means were used in my family (though totally unknown to me or mine, except servants, till afterwards) to raise spirits and create apparitions in no better than a diabolical way, I do look upon as a further rebuke of Divine Providence. And by all, I do humbly own this day, before the Lord and his people, that God has been righteously spitting in my face (Num. xii. 14). And I desire to lie low under all this reproach, and to lay my hand upon my mouth. (4.) As to the management of those mysteries, as far as concerns myself, I am very desirous (upon farther light) to own any errors I have therein fallen into, and can come to a discerning of. In the mean while, I do acknowledge, upon after-considerations, that, were the same troubles again, (which the Lord, of his rich mercy, for ever prevent), I should not agree with my former apprehensions in all points; as, for instance, (1.) I question not but God sometimes suffers the Devil (as of late) to afflict in the shape of not only innocent but pious persons, or so delude the senses of the afflicted that they strongly conceit their hurt is from such persons, when, indeed, it is not. (2.) The improving of one afflicted to inquire by, who afflicts the others, I fear may be, and has been, unlawfully used, to Satan's great advantage. (3.) As to my writing, it was put upon me by authority; and therein I have been very careful to avoid the wronging of any (a). (4). As to my oath, I never meant it, nor do I know how it can be otherwise construed, than as vulgarly and every one understood; yea, and upon inquiry, it may be found so worded also. (5.) As to any passage in preaching or prayer, in that sore hour of distress and darkness, I always intended but due justice on each hand, and that not according to man, but God (who knows all things most perfectly), however, through weakness or sore exercise, I might sometimes, yea, and possibly sundry times, unadvisedly expressed myself. (6.) As to several that have confessed against themselves, they being wholly strangers to me, but yet of good account with better men than myself, to whom also they are well known, I do not pass so much as a secret condemnation upon them; but rather, seeing God has so amazingly lengthened out Satan's chain in this most formidable outrage, I much more incline to side with the opinion of those that have grounds to hope better of them. (7.) As to all that have unduly suffered in these matters (either in their persons or relations), through the clouds of human weakness, and Satan's wiles and sophistry, I do truly sympathize with them; taking it for granted that such as drew themselves clear of this great transgression, Figure Uphv2562
Page 549.
or that have sufficient grounds so to look upon their dear friends, have hereby been under those sore trials and temptations, that not an ordinary measure of true grace would be sufficient to prevent a bewraying of remaining corruption. (8.) I am very much in the mind, and abundantly persuaded, that God (for holy ends, though for what in particular is best known to himself) has suffered the evil angels to delude us on both hands, but how far on the one side or the other is much above me to say. And, if we cannot reconcile till we come to a full discerning of these things, I fear we shall never come to agreement, or, at soonest, not in this world. Therefore (9), in fine, The matter being so dark and perplexed as that there is no present appearance that all God's servants should be altogether of one mind, in all circumstances touching the same, I do most heartily, fervently, and humbly beseech pardon of the merciful God, through the blood of Christ, of all my mistakes and trespasses in so weighty a matter; and also all your forgiveness of every offence in this and other affairs, wherein you see or conceive I have erred and offended; professing, in the presence of the Almighty God, that what I have done has been, as for substance, as I apprehended was duty, — however through weakness, ignorance, &c., I may have been mistaken; I also, through grace, promising each of you the like of me. And so again, I beg, entreat, and beseech you, that Satan, the devil, the roaring lion, the old dragon, the enemy of all righteousness, may no longer be served by us, by our envy and strifes, where every evil work prevails whilst these bear sway (Isa. iii. 14-16); but that all, from this day forward, may be covered with the mantle of love, and we may on all hands forgive each other heartily, sincerely, and thoroughly, as we do hope and pray that God, for Christ's sake, would forgive each of ourselves (Matt. xviii. 21 ad finem; Col. iii. 12, 13). Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another. If any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Eph. iv. 31, 32). Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. Amen, amen.

Sam: Parris.

“26 Nov., 1694.”

[In the record, off against (a) as above, the following is in Mr. Parris's writing:]

(a) Added, by the desire of the council, this following paragraph; viz., Nevertheless, I fear, that, in and through the throng of the many things written by me, in the late confusions, there has not been a due exactness always used; and, as I now see the inconveniency of my writing so much on those difficult occasions, so I would lament every error of such writings. — Apr. 3, 1695. Idem. S. P.

[The above passage (a) is inserted in a marginal space left for it on a page containing the record of a meeting, Nov. 26, 1694, while it is dated April 3, 1695, and Figure Uphv2563
Page 550.
purports to be added “by the desire of the council,” which met at the last-named date. There are other indications, that the record of Mr. Parris's controversy with the dissatisfied brethren, consequent upon the proceedings in 1692, was made originally on separate sheets of paper, and then compiled, and inscribed in the church, as it there appears. There are several other entries, which refer to dates ahead. He probably made out his record near the close of the struggle which resulted in his dismission, and left it, on the pages of the book, as his history of the case. After giving his “Meditations for Peace,” the record goes on: —]

After I had read these overtures abovesaid, I desired the brethren to declare themselves whether they remained still dissatisfied. Brother Tarbell answered, that they desired to consider of it, and to have a copy of what I had read. I replied, that then they must subscribe their reasons (above mentioned), for as yet they were anonymous: so at length, with no little difficulty, I purchased the subscription of their charges by my abovesaid overtures, which I gave, subscribed with my name, to them, to consider of; and so this meeting broke up. Notes that, during this agitation with our dissenting brethren, they entertained frequent whisperings with comers and goers to them and from them; particularly Dan: Andrews, and Tho: Preston from Mr. Israel Porter, and Jos: Hutchinson, &c.

Nov. 30, 1694. — Brother Nurse and Brother Tarbell (bringing with them Joseph Putnam and Tho: Preston) towards night came to my house, where they found the two deacons and several other brethren; viz., Tho: Putnam, Jno. Putnam, Jr., Benj. Wilkins, and Ezek: Cheever, besides Lieutenant Jno. Walcot. And Brother Tarbell said they came to answer my paper, which they had now considered of, and their answer was this; viz., that they remained dissatisfied, and desired that the church would call a council, according to the advice we had lately from ministers.

[An account has been given, p. 493, of the attempts of the “dissatisfied brethren” to procure a mutual council to decide the controversy between them and Mr. Parris. On the 14th of June, 1694, a letter was addressed to him, advising him to agree to the call of such a council, signed by John Higginson, of the First Church in Salem; James Allen, of the First Church in Boston; John Hale, of the church in Beverly; Samuel Willard, of the Old South Church in Boston; Samuel Cheever, of the church in Marblehead; and Joseph Gerrish, of the church in Wenham. Nicholas Noyes joined in the advice, “with this proviso, that he be not chosen one of the council.” Mr. Parris contrived to avoid following the advice. On the 10th of September, Messrs. Higginson, Allen, Willard, Cheever, and Gerrish again, in earnest and quite peremptory terms, renewed their advice in another letter to Mr. Parris. No longer venturing to resist their authority, he yielded, and consented to a mutual council, upon certain terms, one of which was, that neither of the churches whose ministers had thus forced him to the measure should be of the council. The following passages give the conclusion of the matter, as related by Mr. Parris in his record-book: —]

Feb. 12 [1695]. — The church met again, as last agreed upon; and, after a while, our dissenting brethren, Tho: Wilkins, Sam: Nurse, and Jno. Tarbell, came also. After our constant way of begging the presence of God with us, Figure Uphv2564
Page 551.
we desired our dissenting brethren to acquaint us whether they would accept of our last proposals, which they desired to this day to consider of. They answered, that they were willing to drop the six churches from whose elders we had had the advice abovesaid, dated 14 June last; but they were not free to exclude Ipswich. This they stuck unto long, and then desired that they might withdraw a little to confer among themselves about it, which was granted. But they quickly returned, as resolved for Ipswich as before. We desired them to nominate the three churches they would have sent to: and, after much debate, they did; viz., Rowley, Salisbury, and Ipswich. Whereupon we voted, by a full consent, Rowley and Salisbury churches for a part of the council, and desired them to nominate a third church. But still they insisted on Ipswich, which we told them they were openly informed, the last meeting, that we had excepted against. Then they were told that we would immediately choose three other churches to join with the two before nominated and voted, if they saw not good to nominate any more; or else we would choose two other churches to join with the aforesaid two, if they pleased. They answered, they would be willing to that, if Ipswich might be one of them. Then it was asked them, if a dismission to some other Orthodox church, where they might better please themselves, would content them. Brother Tarbell answered, “Ay, if we could find a way to remove our livings too.” Then it was propounded, whether we could not unite amongst ourselves. The particular answer hereunto I remember not; but (I think) such hints were given by them as if it were impossible. Thus much time being gone, it being well towards sunset, and we concluding that it was necessary that we should do something ourselves, if they would not (as the elders had heretofore desired) accept of our joining with them, we dismissed them; and, by a general agreement amongst ourselves, read and voted letters to the churches at North Boston, Weymouth, Malden, and Rowley, for their help in a council.

[Mr. Parris's plan of finding refuge in an ex-parte council was utterly frustrated. On the 1st of March, the “reverend elders in the Bay accounted it advisable,” as he expresses it in his records, that the First Church and the Old South Church in Boston should be added to the council. They wrote to him to that effect, and he had to comply. This brought James Allen and Samuel Willard into the council, and determined the character of the result, which, coming from a tribunal called by him to adjudicate the case, and hearing only such evidence as he laid before it, so far as it bore against him, was decisive and fatal. It was as follows: —]

The elders and messengers of the churches — met in council at Salem Village, April 3, 1695, to consider and determine what is to be done for the composure of the present unhappy differences in that place, — after solemn invocation of God in Christ for his direction, do unanimously declare and advise as followeth: —

I. We judge that, albeit in the late and the dark time of the confusions, wherein Satan had obtained a more than ordinary liberty to be sifting of this plantation, there were sundry unwarrantable and uncomfortable steps taken Figure Uphv2565
Page 552.
by Mr. Samuel Parris, the pastor of the church in Salem Village, then under the hurrying distractions of amazing afflictions; yet the said Mr. Parris, by the good hand of God brought unto a better sense of things, hath so fully expressed it, that a Christian charity may and should receive satisfaction therewith.

II. Inasmuch as divers Christian brethren in the church of Salem Village have been offended at Mr. Parris for his conduct in the time of the difficulties and calamities which have distressed them, we now advise them charitably to accept the satisfaction which he hath tendered in his Christian acknowledgments of the errors therein committed; yea, to endeavor, as far as 'tis possible, the fullest reconciliation of their minds unto communion with him, in the whole exercise of his ministry, and with the rest of the church (Matt. vi. 12-14; Luke xvii. 8; James v. 16).

III. Considering the extreme trials and troubles which the dissatisfied brethren in the church of Salem Village have undergone in the day of sore temptation which hath been upon them, we cannot but advise the church to treat them with bowels of much compassion, instead of all more critical or rigorous proceedings against them, for the infirmities discovered by them in such an heart-breaking day. And if, after a patient waiting for it, the said brethren cannot so far overcome the uneasiness of their spirits, in the remembrance of the disasters that have happened, as to sit under his ministry, we advise the church, with all tenderness, to grant them a dismission unto any other society of the faithful whereunto they may desire to be dismissed (Gal. vi. 1, 2; Ps. ciii. 13, 14; Job xix. 21).

IV. Mr. Parris having, as we understand, with much fidelity and integrity acquitted himself in the main course of his ministry since he hath been pastor to the church in Salem Village, about his first call whereunto, we look upon all contestations now to be both unreasonable and unseasonable; and our Lord having made him a blessing unto the souls of not a few, both old and young, in this place, we advise that he be accordingly respected, honored, and supported, with all the regards that are due to a painful minister of the gospel (1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 1 Tim. v. 17).

V. Having observed that there is in Salem Village a spirit full of contentions and animosities, too sadly verifying the blemish which hath heretofore lain upon them, and that some complaints brought against Mr. Parris have been either causeless and groundless, or unduly aggravated, we do, in the name and fear of the Lord, solemnly warn them to consider, whether, if they continue to devour one another, it will not be bitterness in the latter end; and beware lest the Lord be provoked thereby utterly to deprive them of those which they should account their precious and pleasant things, and abandon them to all the desolations of a people that sin away the mercies of the gospel (James iii. 16; Gal. v. 15; 2 Sam. ii. 26; Isa. v. 4, 5, 6; Matt. xxi. 43).

VI. If the distempers in Salem Village should be (which God forbid!) so incurable, that Mr. Parris, after all, find that he cannot, with any comfort Figure Uphv2566
Page 553.
and service, continue in his present station, his removal from thence will not expose him unto any hard character with us, nor, we hope, with the rest of the people of God among whom we live (Matt. x. 14; Acts xxii. 18).

All which advice we follow with our prayers that the God of peace would bruise Satan under our feet. Now, the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.

Increase Mather, Moderator.

  • Joseph Bridgham.

  • Samuel Checkley.

  • William Torrey.

  • Joseph Boynton.

  • Richard Middlecot.

  • John Walley.

  • Jer: Dummer.

  • Nehemiaii Jewet.

  • Ephraim Hunt.

  • Nathll. Williams.

Samuel Phillips.

James Allen.

Samuel Torrey.

Samuel Willard.

Edward Payson.

Cotton Mather.

[The names of the lay members of the Council are marked thus, . They were persons of high standing in civil life. Samuel Checkley was not (as stated [Supplement, p. 494], through an inadvertence, of which, I crust, not many such instances can be found in these volumes) the Rev. Mr. Checkley, but his father, Col. Samuel Checkley, a citizen of Boston, of much prominence at the time.

The foregoing document is skilfully drawn. While kindly in its tone towards Mr. Parris, it is, in reality, a strong condemnation of his course, especially in Article I., as also in the paragraph marked (a), (p. 549), “added by the desire of the Council” to his “Meditations for Peace.” Article III. discountenances the proceedings of his church in its censure of “the dissatisfied brethren,” and requires that they should be recognized and treated as members in good standing. The fifth article administers rebuke with an equal hand to both sides, while the sixth and last recommends the removal of Mr. Parris, if the alienation of his opponents should prove “incurable.”

As an authoritative condemnation of the proceedings related in this work, pronounced at the time, it is a fitting final close of the presentation of this subject.] THE END.

Upham: Salem Witchcraft