WITCHCRAFT AND THE PROTESTANT CHURCH
One would think that the Protestant (or Protesting Christian) Church would have been more tolerant than the Catholic Faith. But no, if fact they seem to be even more zealous in their persecution of women.
What follows are three dissertations or commentaries by three well know Protestants; Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, and Cotton Mather of the Salem Witch trial fame.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546)
"I would burn all of them." ---Martin Luther
Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians
(Philadelphia, 1875), pp. 287-90, 590-91.
Of The Bodily And Spiritual Witchcraft
Paul calleth the Galatians foolish and bewitched, comparing them to children, to whom witchcraft doth much harm. As though he should say: It happeneth to you as it doth to children, whom witches, sorcerers, and enchanters are wont to charm by their enchantments, and by the illusions of the devil. Afterwards, in the fifth chapter, he rehearseth sorcery among the works of the flesh, which is a kind of witchcraft, whereby he plainly testifieth, that indeed such witchcraft and sorcery there is, and that it may be done. Moreover, it cannot be denied but that the devil liveth, yea, and reigneth throughout the whole world. Witchcraft and sorcery therefore are the works of the devil; whereby he doth not only hurt men, but also, by the permission of God, he sometimes destroyeth them. Furthermore, we are all subject to the devil, both in body and goods; and we be strangers in this world, whereof he is the prince and god. Therefore the bread which we eat, the drink which we drink, the garments which we wear, yea, the air, and whatsoever we live by in the flesh, is under his dominion.
But he doth not only bewitch men after this gross manner, but also after a more subtle sort, and much more dangerous; wherein he is a marvellous cunning workman. And hereof it cometh that Paul applieth the bewitching of the senses to the bewitching of the spirit. For by this spiritual witchcraft that old serpent bewitcheth not men's senses, but their minds with false and wicked opinions: which opinions, they that are so bewitched, do take to be true and godly. Briefly, so great is the malice of this sorcerer the devil, and his desire to hurt, that not only he deceiveth those secure and proud spirits with his enchantments, but even those also which are professors of true Christianity, and well affected in religion: yea, as touching myself, to say the truth, he sometimes assalleth me so mightily, and oppresseth me with such heavy cogitations, that he utterly shadoweth my Savior Christ from me, and in a manner taketh him clean out of my sight. To be brief, there is none of us all which is not oftentimes bewitched by false persuasions: that is to say, which doth not fear, trust, or rejoice where he ought not, or doth not sometimes think otherwise of God, of Christ, of faith, of his vocation, etc., than he should do.
Let us therefore learn to know the subtle sleights of this sorcerer, lest if he find us sleeping in security he deceive us by his enchantments. True it is, that by his sorcery he can do no hurt to our ministry: yet is he with us in spirit. Day and night he rangeth about, seeking how he may devour every one of us alone, and unless he find us sober, and armed with spiritual weapons, that is to say, with the word of God and faith, he will devour us.
This is the cause that he oftentimes stirreth up new battles against us. And indeed it is very profitable for us that he thus assaileth us, and by his subtle trains exerciseth us; for by this means he confirmeth our doctrine, he stirreth up and increaseth faith in us. Indeed, we have been many times cast down, and yet still are cast down in this conflict, but we perish not: for Christ hath always triumphed, and doth triumph through us. Wherefore we hope assuredly, that we shall also hereafter by Jesus Christ obtain the victory against the devil. And this hope bringeth unto us sure consolation, so that in the midst of our temptations we take courage and say: Behold, Satan bath heretofore tempted us, and by his false illusions bath provoked us to infidelity, to the contempt of God, despair, etc., yet bath he not prevailed, nor shall he prevail hereafter. "He is greater that is in us, than he that is in the world." 1 John iv. 4. Christ is stronger, who hath and doth overcome that strong one in us, and shall overcome him forever. Notwithstanding the devil sometimes overcometh us in the flesh, that we may have experience of the power of a stronger against that strong one, and may say, with Paul, "When I am weak, then am I strong."
Let no man think therefore that the Galatians only were bewitched of the devil: but let every man think that he himself might have been, and yet may be bewitched by him. There is none of us so strong that he is able to resist him, and especially if he attempt to do it by his own strength. "Job was an upright and a just man, fearing God, and there was none like unto him upon the earth." Job 1. 8. But what power had he against the devil, when God withdrew his hand? Did not this holy man horribly fall? Therefore this enchanter was not only mighty in the Galatians, but he goeth about continually to deceive, if not all men, yet as many as he can, with his illusions and false persuasions: "For he is a liar, and the father of lies." John viii. 44.
Verse 1 - Who Bath Bewitched You?
Here Paul excuseth the Galatians, and layeth the fault upon the false apostles. As though he should say, I see that ye are not fallen through willfulness or malice; but the devil bath sent the enchanting false apostles, his children, amongst you, and they do so bewitch you, in teaching you that ye are justified by the law, that now ye think otherwise of Christ than ye did afore, when ye heard the gospel preached by me. But we labor, by preaching and writing unto you, to uncharm that sorcery wherewith the false apostles have bewitched you, and to set at liberty those which are snared therewith.
So we also at this day labor by the word of God against those fantastical opinions of the Anabaptists, that we may set at liberty those that are entangled therewith, and reduce them to the pure doctrine of faith, and there hold them. And this our labor is not altogether in vain; for we have called back many whom they have bewitched, and have delivered them out of their snares. Notwithstanding such there are, as will not suffer themselves to be taught, especially the chief sorcerers and authors of this witchery. They will hear no reason, nor admit the Scripture: yea, they abuse and corrupt the Scripture, and avoid such places as are alleged against them, with their false glosses and devilish dreams, clean contrary to the Scripture; which is a manifest sign that they are bewitched of the devil. Wherefore they are nothing amended by our admonitions, but are much more hardened and more obstinate than they were before. And surely I could never have believed, but that I have good experience thereof at this day, that the power of the devil is so great, that he is able to make falsehood so like the truth. Moreover, (which is yet much more horrible,) when he goeth about to overwhelm sorrowful consciences with overmuch heaviness, he can so cunningly and so lively change himself into the likeness of Christ, that it is impossible for the poor tempted and afflicted soul to perceive it: whereby many simple and ignorant persons are deceived and driven down to desperation, and some also to destroy themselves; for they are so bewitched of the devil, that they believe this to be a most certain truth, that they are tempted and accused, not of the devil, but of Christ himself.
Such a thing of late happened to that miserable man Dr. Kraws of Halle, which said, "I have denied Christ, and therefore he standeth now before his Father and accuseth me." He being blinded with the illusion of the devil, hath so strongly conceived in his mind this imagination, that by no exhortation, no consolation, no promises of God he could be brought from it; whereupon he despaired, and so miserably destroyed himself. This was a mere lie, a bewitching of the devil, and a fantastical definition of a strange Christ, whom the Scripture knoweth not. For the Scripture setteth forth Christ, not as a judge, a tempter, an accuser; but a reconciler, a mediator, a comforter, and a throne of grace.
But the poor man, deluded by the devil, could not then see this; and therefore, against all Scripture, he thinketh this to be an undoubted truth: "Christ accuseth thee before his Father: he standeth not for thee, but against thee; therefore thou art damned." And this temptation is not of man, but of the devil, which that-enchanter most strongly imprinteth in the heart of the tempted. But unto us which are led and taught by another spirit, it is a cursed lie, and a bewitching of the devil. But unto those that are thus bewitched, it is so certain a truth, that none can be more certain.
Seeing then that the devil is able to print in our heart so manifest a lie, that we would swear a thousand times it were an undoubted truth, we must not be proud, but walk in fear and humility, calling upon the Lord Jesus, that we be not led into temptation. Worldly and secure men, which, having heard the gospel once or twice preached, do by-and-by imagine that they have received abundance of the Spirit, fall at length in like manner, because they fear not God, they are not thankful unto him, but persuade themselves that they are able, not only to hold and defend the doctrine of true religion, but also to stand against the devil in any assault or conflict, be it ever so great. Such arc meet instruments for the devil to bewitch and to throw down to desperation.
On the other side, say not then, I am perfect; I cannot fall, but humble thyself, and fear, lest, if thou stand to-day, tomorrow thou be overthrown. I myself, although I be a doctor of divinity, and have now preached Christ, and fought against the devil in his false teachers a great while, by mine own experience have found how hard a matter this is. For I cannot shake off Satan as I desire: neither can I so apprehend Christ as the Scripture setteth him forth: but oftentimes the devil setteth before mine eyes a false Christ. But, thanks be to God who keepeth us in the word, in faith, and in prayer, that we may walk before him in humility and fear, and not presume of our own wisdom, righteousness, and strength, but trust in the power of Christ, who is strong when we are weak, and by us weak and feeble creatures continually overcometh and triumphant; to whom be glory forever.
This bewitching then, and this sorcery, is nothing else but a plain illusion of the devil, printing in the heart a false opinion of Christ and against Christ, and he that is deluded with this opinion, is bewitched. They therefore that have this opinion, that they are justified by the works of the law, or by the traditions of men, are bewitched; for this opinion is against faith and against Christ. Paul useth this word [bewitching] in contempt of the false apostles, which so vehemently urged the doctrine of the law and works. As if he should say, What a devilish bewitching is this? For as the senses are perverted by bodily witchcraft, so are the minds of men also deluded by this spiritual witchcraft . . .
Of Witchcraft I have spoken before, in the third chapter. This vice was very common in these dour days, before the light and truth of the gospel was revealed. When I was a child, there were many witches and sorcerers, which bewitched both cattle and men, but specially children, and did great harm also otherwise; but now, in the light of the gospel, these things be not so commonly heard of, for the gospel thrusteth the devil out of his seat, with all his illusions. But now he bewitched men much more horribly, namely, with spiritual sorcery and witchcraft.
Paul reckoneth witchcraft among the works of the flesh, which notwithstanding, is all men know, is not a work of fleshly lust or lechery, but a kind of idolatry. For witchcraft covenanteth with the devil; superstition idolatry covenanteth with God: albeit, not with the true God, but with a counterfeit god. Wherefore idolatry is, indeed, a spiritual witchcraft. For as witches do enchant cattle and men, so idolaters, that is to say, all justiciaries of themselves, go about to bewitch God, an to make him such a one as they do imagine. Now they imagine him to be such a one as will justify them, not of his mere grace and mercy, and through faith in Christ, but in respect of their will-worshippings, and works of their own choosing, and in recompence thereof will give them righteousness and life everlasting. But whilst they go about to bewitch God, they bewitch themselves: for if they continue in this wicked opinion which they conceive of God, they shall die in their idolatry and be damned. The works of the flesh are well known for the most part, therefore they shall nor need any further declaration.
JEAN CALVIN (1509-64)
Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion ed.
John T. McNeill, tr. Ford Lewis Battles, Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XX (Philadelphia, 1960), Book 1, ch. XIV, 13-19, pp. 172-79; Book 11, ch. IV, 1-2, pp. 309-11.
The Realm Of Wickedness
Moreover, in order that we may be aroused and exhorted all the more to carry this out, Scripture makes known that there are not one, not two, nor a few foes, but great armies, which wage war against us. For Mary Magdalene is said to have been freed from seven demons by which she was possessed [Mark 16:9; Luke 8:21, and Christ bears witness that usually after a demon has once been cast out, if you make room for him again, he will take with him seven spirits more wicked than he and return to his empty possession [Matt. 12:43-451. Indeed, a whole legion is said to have assailed one man [Luke 8:30]. We are therefore taught by these examples that we have to wage war against an infinite number of enemies, lest, despising their fewness, we should be too remiss to give battle, or, thinking that we are sometimes afforded some respite, we should yield to idleness.
But the frequent mention of Satan or the devil in the singular denotes the empire of wickedness opposed to the Kingdom of Righteousness. For as the church and fellowship of the saints has Christ as Head, so the faction of the impious and impiety itself are depicted for us together with their prince who holds supreme sway over them. For this reason, it was said: "Depart. . . . you cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" [Matt. 25:41].
An Irreconcilable Struggle
The fact that the devil is everywhere called God's adversary and ours also ought to fire us to an unceasing struggle against him. For if we have God's glory at heart, as we should have, we ought with all our strength to contend against him who is trying to extinguish it. If we are minded to affirm Christ's Kingdom as we ought, we must wage irreconcilable war with him who is plotting its ruin. Again, if we care about our salvation at all, we ought to have neither peace nor truce with him who continually lays traps to destroy it. So, indeed, is he described in Gen., ch. 3, where he seduces man from the obedience owed to God, that he may simultaneously deprive God of his due honor and hurl man himself into ruin [vs. 1-51. So, also, in the Evangelists, where he is called "an enemy" [Matt. 13:28, 39], and is 'd to sow weeds in order to corrupt the seed of eternal life [Matt. 13:25]. In sum, we experience in all of Satan's deeds what Christ testifies concerning him, that "from the beginning he was a murderer ... and a liar" [John 8:44]. For he opposes the truth of God with falsehoods, he obscures the light with darkness, he entangles men's minds in errors, he stirs up hatred, he kindles contentions and combats, everything to the end that he may overturn God's Kingdom and plunge men with himself into eternal death. From this it appears that he is in nature depraved, evil, and malicious. For there must be consummate depravity in that disposition which devotes itself to assailing God's glory and man's salvation. This, also, is what ' John means in his letter, when he writes that "the devil has sinned from the beginning" [I John 3:8]. Indeed, he considers him as the author, leader, and architect of all malice and iniquity.
The Devil Is A Degenerate Creation Of God
Yet, since the devil was created by God, let us remember that this malice, which we attribute to his nature, came not from his creation but from his perversion. For, whatever he has that is to be condemned he has derived from his revolt and fall. For this reason, Scripture warns us lest, believing that he has come forth in his present condition from God, we should ascribe to God himself what is utterly alien to him. For this reason, Christ declares that "when Satan lies, he speaks according to his own nature" and states the reason, because "he abode not in the truth" [John 8:44]. Indeed, when Christ states that Satan "abode not in the truth," he hints that he was once in it, and when he makes him "the father of lies," he deprives him of imputing to God the fault which he brought upon himself.
But although these things are briefly and not very clearly stated, they are more than enough to clear God's majesty of all slander. And what concern is it to us to know anything more about devils or to know it for another purpose? Some persons grumble that Scripture does not in numerous passages set forth systematically and clearly that fall of the devils, its cause, manner, time, and character. But because this has nothing to do with us, it was better not to say anything, or at least to touch upon it lightly, because it did not befit the Holy Spirit to feed our curiosity with empty histories to no effect. And we see that the Lord's purpose was to teach nothing in his sacred oracles except what we should learn to our edification. Therefore, lest we ourselves linger over superfluous matters, let us be content with this brief summary of the nature of devils: they were when first created angels of God, but by degeneration they ruined themselves, and were made the instruments of ruin for others. Because this is profitable to know, it is plainly taught in Peter and Jude. God did not spare those angels who sinned [11 Peter 2:4] and kept not their original nature, but left their abode [Jude 6]. And Paul, in speaking of the "elect angels" [I Tim. 5:211, is no doubt tacitly contrasting them with the reprobate angels.
The Devil Stands Under God's Power
As for the discord and strife that we say exists between Satan and God, we ought to accept as a fixed certainty the fact that he can do nothing unless God wills and assents to it. For we read in the history of Job that he presented himself before God to receive his commands [job 1: 6; 2: 1], and did not dare undertake any evil act without first having obtained permission [chs. 1: 12; 2:6]. Thus, also, when Ahab was to be deceived, Satan took upon himself to become a spirit of falsehood in the mouth of all the prophets, and commissioned by God, he carried out his task [I Kings 22:20-22]. For this reason, too, the spirit of the Lord that troubled Saul is coined "evil" because the sins of the impious king were punished by it as by a lash [I Sam. 16:14; 18: 10]. And elsewhere it is written that the plagues were inflicted upon the Egyptians by God through evil angels" [Ps. 78:49] According to these particular examples Paul generally testifies that the binding of unbelievers is God's work [11 Thess. 2:11], although he had before called it the activity of Satan [11 Thess. 2:9; cf. II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2]. Therefore Satan is clearly under God's power, and is so ruled by his bidding as to be compelled to render him service. Indeed, when we say that Satan resists God, and that Satan's works disagree with God's works, we at the same time assert that this resistance and this opposition are dependent upon God's sufferance. I am not now speaking of Satan's will, nor even of his effort, but only of his effect. For inasmuch as the devil is by nature wicked, he is not at all inclined to obedience to the divine will, but utterly intent upon contumacy and rebellion. From himself and his own wickedness, therefore, arises his passionate and deliberate opposition to God. By this wickedness he is urged on to attempt courses of action which he believes to be most hostile to God. But because with the bridle of his power God holds him bound and restrained, he carries out only those things which have been divinely permitted to him; and so he obeys his Creator, whether he will or not, because he is compelled to yield him service wherever God impels him.
Assurance Of Victory!
Now, because God bends the unclean spirits hither and thither at will, he so governs their activity that they exercise believers in combat, ambush them, invade their peace, beset them in combat, and also often weary them, rout them, terrify them, and sometimes wound them; yet they never vanquish or crush them. But the wicked they subdue and drag away; they exercise Power over their minds and bodies, and misuse them as if they were slaves for every shameful act. As far as believers are concerned, because they are disquieted by enemies of this sort, they heed these exhortations: "Give no place to the devil" [Eph. 4:27]. "The devil your enemy goes about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour; resist him, be firm in your faith" [I Peter 5:8-91, and the like. Paul admits that lie was not free from this sort of strife when he writes that, as a remedy to tame his pride, he was given an angel of Satan to humble him [11 Cor. 12:7]. Therefore this exercise is common to all the children of God. But because that promise to crush Satan's head [Gen. 3:151 pertains to Christ and all his members in common, I deny that believers can ever be conquered or overwhelmed by him. Often, indeed, are they distressed, but not so deprived of life as not to recover; they fall under violent blows, but afterward they are raised up; they are wounded, but not fatally; in short, they so toll throughout life that at the last they obtain a victory.
Yet I do not confine this to individual acts. For we know that by God's just vengeance David was for a time given over to Satan, that at his prompting he should take a census of the people [11 Sam. 24: 1]. And Paul does not abandon hope of pardon as impossible, even if men are ensnared in the devil's net [II Tim. 2:25-26]. In another passage Paul shows that the promise mentioned above begins to have effect in this life, wherein we must struggle; and that after the struggle it is fulfilled. As he puts it, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." [Rom. 16:20.] In our Head, indeed, this victory always fully existed, for the prince of the world had nothing in him [John 14:30]. Moreover, it now appears in part in us, who are his members; it will be completed when we shall have put off our flesh, in respect to which we are as yet subject to infirmity, and will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
To the extent that Christ's Kingdom is up-built, Satan with his power falls; as the Lord himself says, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" [Luke 10: 18]. For, by this answer he confirms what the apostles had related concerning the power of their preaching. Likewise: "When a prince occupies his own palace, all his possessions are undisturbed. But when one stronger than he overcomes him, he is cast out," etc. [Luke 11:21-22 p.]. And Christ, by dying, conquered Satan, who had "the power of death" [Heb. 2:14], and triumphed over all his forces, to the end that they might not harm the church. Otherwise, at every moment they would do away with it a hundred times over. For, such is our weakness and such is the power of his fury, how could we stand even in the slightest against his manifold and continuous attacks, unless we relied upon the victory of our leader? Therefore God does not allow Satan to rule over the souls of believers, but gives over only the impious and unbelievers, whom he deigns not to regard as members of his own flock, to be governed by him. For the devil is said to occupy this world unchallenged until he is cast out by Christ [ cf . Luke I 1: 2 1 ]. Likewise, he is said to blind all those who do not believe in the gospel [11 Cor. 4:4].
Again, to carry out his "work in the sons of disobedience" [Eph. 2:2], and rightly, for all the impious are vessels of wrath. Hence, to whom would they be subjected but to the minister of divine vengeance? Finally, they are said to be of their father the devil [John 8:44]; for, as believers are recognized as the children of God because they bear his image, so are those rightly recognized to be the children of Satan from his image, into which they have degenerated [I John 3:8-10].
Devils Are Hot Thoughts, But Actualities
Inasmuch as we have before refuted that trifling philosophy about the holy angels which teaches that they are nothing but good inspirations or impulses which God arouses in men's minds, so also in this place ought those men to be refuted who babble of devils as nothing else than evil emotions or perturbations which come upon us from our flesh. We shall be able to do this briefly because there are not a few testimonies of Scripture clear enough on this matter. First, when those who have degenerated from their original state [Jude 6] are called unclean spirits and apostate angels [Matt. 12:43], the names themselves sufficiently express, not impulses or affections of minds, but rather what are called minds or spirits endowed with sense perception and understanding. Likewise, when the children of God are compared with the children of the devil both by Christ and by John [John 8:44; 1 John 3:101, would this comparison not be pointless if the name "devil" signified nothing but evil inspirations? And John adds something even clearer, that " the devil has sinned from the beginning" [I John 3:8]. So, also, when Jude introduces "the archangel Michael, as contending with the devil" [Jude 9], he surely sets against the good angel an evil and rebellious one. What we read in the history of Job agrees with this, that Satan appeared with the holy angels in God's presence [job 1: 6; 2: 1 ]. Moreover, clearest of all are those passages which make mention of the punishment, which the devils have begun to feel from God's judgment, and will especially feel at the resurrection. "O Son" of David, why "have you come to torment us before the time," [Matt. 8:29]. Likewise: "Depart, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." [Matt. 25:41.] Also: "If he spared not his own angels, but cast them bound with chains into darkness to be kept for eternal damnation," etc. [11 Peter 2:4.]
How meaningless would these expressions be, that the devils are destined for eternal judgment, that fire has been prepared for them, that they are now tormented and tortured by Christ's glory, if devils were nonexistent! But this matter does not require discussion among those who have faith in the Lord's Word, while among these empty speculators, indeed, to whom nothing is pleasing unless it be new, there is little profit in the testimonies of Scripture. It seems to me, therefore, that I have accomplished what I meant to do, namely, to equip godly minds against such delusions, with which uneasy men confound themselves and others more simple-minded than they. But it was worth-while to touch upon this point, also, lest any persons, entangled in that error, while thinking themselves without an enemy, become more slack and heedless about resisting.
How God Works in Men’s Hearts
Man under Satan's control: but Scripture shows God making use of Satan in hardening the heart of the reprobate. Man stands under the devil's power, and indeed willingly.
Unless I am mistaken, we have sufficiently proved that man is so held captive by the yoke of sin that he can of his own nature neither aspire to good through resolve nor struggle after it through effort. Besides, we posited a distinction between compulsion and necessity from which it appears that man, while he sins of necessity, yet sins no less voluntarily. But, while he is bound in servitude to the devil, he seems to be actuated more by the devil's will than by his own. It consequently remains for us to determine the part of the devil and the part of man in the action. Then we must answer the question whether we ought to ascribe to God any part of the evil works in which Scripture signifies that some action of his intervenes.
Somewhere Augustine compares man's will to a horse awaiting its rider's command, and God and the devil to its riders. "If God sits astride it," he says, "then as a moderate and skilled rider, he guides it properly, spurs it if it is too slow, checks it if it is too swift, restrains it if it is too rough or too 'Id, subdues it if it balks, and leads it into the right path. But if the devil saddles it, he violently drives it far from the trail like a foolish and wanton rider, forces it into ditches, tumbles it over cliffs, and goads it into obstinacy and fierceness." Since a better comparison does not come to mind, we shall be satisfied with this one for the present. It is said that the will of the natural man is subject to the devil's power and is stirred up by it. This does not mean that, I like unwilling slaves rightly compelled by their masters to obey, our will, although reluctant and resisting, is constrained to take orders from, the devil. It means rather that the will, captivated by Satan's wiles, of necessity obediently submits to all his leading. For those whom the Lord does not make worthy to be guided by his Spirit he abandons, with just judgment, to Satan's action. For this reason the apostle says that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers," who are destined to destruction, that they may not see the light of the gospel [11 Cor. 4:4]; and in another place that he "is . . . at work in the disobedient sons" [Eph. 2:2:]. The blinding of the impious and all iniquities following from it are coined "the works of Satan." Yet their cause is not to be sought outside man's will, from which the root of evil springs up, and on which rests the foundation of Satan's kingdom, that is, sin.
God, Satan, And Man Active In The Same Event
Far different is the manner of God's action is such matters. To make this clearer to us, we may take as an example the calamity inflicted by the Chaldeans upon the holy man Job, when they killed his shepherds and in enmity ravaged his flock [job 1:17]. Now their wicked act is-perfectly obvious; nor does Satan do nothing in that work, for the history states that the whole thing stems from him [job 1:12].
But Job himself recognizes the Lord's work in it, saying that He has taken away what had been seized through the Chaldeans [job 1:211. How may we attribute this same work to God, to Satan, and to man as author, without either excusing Satan as associated with God, or making God the author of evil? Easily, if we consider first the end, and then the manner, of acting. The Lord's purpose is to exercise the patience of His servant by calamity; Satan endeavors to drive him to desperation; the Chaldeans strive to acquire gain from another's property contrary to law and right. So great is the diversity of purpose that already strongly marks the deed. There is no less difference in the manner. The Lord permits Satan to afflict His servant; He hands the Chaldeans over to be impelled by Satan, having chosen them as His ministers for this task. Satan with his poison darts arouses the wicked minds of the Chaldeans to execute that evil deed. They dash madly into injustice, and they render all their members guilty and befoul them by the crime. Satan is properly said, therefore, to act in the reprobate over whom he exercises his reign, that is, the reign of wickedness. God is also said to act in His own manner, in that Satan himself, since he is the instrument of God's wrath, bends himself hither and thither at His beck and command to execute His just judgments. I pass over here the universal activity of God whereby all creatures, as they are sustained, thus derive the energy to do anything at all. I am speaking only of that special action which appears in every particular deed. Therefore we see no inconsistency in assigning the same deed to God, Satan, and man; but the distinction in purpose and manner causes God's righteousness to shine forth blameless there, while the wickedness of Satan and of man betrays itself by its own disgrace.
Witchcraft in North America 1689
In 1689, the Reverend Cotton Mather (1663-1728) preached a sermon entitled "A Discourse on Witchcraft," which was then printed and circulated in Massachusetts as a part of a larger collection, Mather's Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions (Boston, 1689). Three years later, the Salem Witch Trials began.
From Burr, The Witchcraft Persecutions, pp. 2-5.
WHAT Witchcraft is; My Hearers will not expect from me an accurate Definition of the vile Thing; since the Grace of God has given me the Happiness to speak without Experience of it. But from Accounts both by Reading and Hearing I have learned to describe it so.
WITCHCRAFT is the Doing of Strange (and for the most part ill) Things by the help of evil Spirits, Covenanting with (and usually Representing of) the woeful children of men.
This is the Diabolical Art that Witches are notorious for.
First. Witches are the Doers of Strange Things. They cannot indeed perform any proper Miracles; those are things to be done only by the Favorites and Ambassadors of the Lord. But Wonders are often produced by them, though chiefly such Wonders as the Apostle calls in 2nd Thes. 2, 9. Lying wonders. There are wonderful Storms in the great World, and wonderful Storms in the little World, often effected by these evil Causes. They do things which transcend the ordinary Course of Nature, and which puzzle the ordinary Sense of Mankind. Some strange things are done by them in a way of Real Production. They do really Torment, they do really Afflict those that their Spite shall extend unto. Other Strange Things are done by them in a way pf Crafty Illusion. They do craftily make of the Air, the Figures and Colors of things that never can be truly created by them. All men might see, but, I believe, no man could feel, some of the Things which the Magicians of Egypt exhibited of old.
Secondly. They are not only strange Things, but ill Things, that Witches are the Doers of. In this regard also they are not the Authors of Miracles: those are things commonly done for the Good of Man, alwaies done for the Praise of God. But of these Hell-hounds it may in a special manner be said, as in Psal. 52, 3. Thou lovest evil more than good. For the most part they labor to rob Man of his Ease or his Wealth; they labor to wrong God of His Glory. There is Mention of Creatures that they call White Witches, which do only Good-Turns for their Neighbors. I suspect that there are none of that sort; but rather think, There is none that doeth good, no, not one. If they do good, it is only that they may do hurt.
Thirdly. It is by virtue of evil Spirits that Witches do what they do. We read in Ephes. 2, 2. about the Prince of the power of the air. There is confined unto the Atmosphere of our Air a vast Power, or Army of Evil Spirits, under the Government of a Prince who employs them in a continual Opposition to the Designs of GOD: The Name of that Leviathan, who is the Grand-Seigniour of Hell, we find in the Scripture to be Belzebub. Under the Command of that mighty Tyrant, there are vast Legions & Myriads of Devils, whose Businesses & Accomplishments are not all the same. Every one has his Post, and his Work; and they are all glad of an opportunity to be mischievous in the World. These are they by whom Witches do exert their Devilish and malignant Rage upon their Neighbors: And especially Two Acts concur hereunto. The First is, Their Covenanting with the Switches. There is a most hellish League made between them, with various Rites and Ceremonies. The Witches promise to serve the Devils, and the
Devils promise to help the witches; How? It is not convenient to be related. The Second, their Representing of the Witches. And hereby indeed these are drawn into Snares and Cords of Death. The Devils, when they go upon the Errands of the Witches, do bear their Navies; and hence do Harms too come to be carried from the Devils to the Witches. We need not suppose such a wild thing as the Transforming of those Wretches into Bruits or Birds, as we too often do.
It should next be proved THAT Witchcraft is.
The Being of such a thing is denied by many that place a great part of their small wit in deriding the Stories that are told of it. Their chief Argument is, That they never saw any Witches, therefore there are none. Just as if you or I should say, We never met with any Robbers on the Road, therefore there never was any Padding there.
Indeed the Devils are loath to have true Notions of Witches entertained with us. I have beheld them to put out the eyes of an enchanted Child, when a Book that proves, There is Witchcraft, was laid before her. But there are especially Two Demonstrations that evince the Being of that Infernal mysterious thing.
First. We have the Testimony of Scripture for it. We find Witchcrafts often mentioned, sometimes by way of Assertion, sometimes by way of All Allusion in the Oracles of God. Besides that. We have there the History of diverse Witches in these infallible and inspired Writings. Particularly, the Instance of the Witch at Endor, in [1 Sam. 28. 7]. is so plain and full that Witchcraft it self is not a more amazing thing, than any Dispute about the Being of it, after this. The Advocates of Witches must use more Tricks to make Nonsense of the Bible, than ever the Witch of Endor used in her Magical Incantations, if they would evade the Force of that famous History. They that will believe no Witches, do imagine that Jugglers only are meant by them whom the Sacred Writ calleth so. But what do they think of that law in [Exod. 22. 18]. Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live? Methinks 'tis a little too hard to punish every silly juggler with so great Severity.
Secondly. We have the Testimony of Experience for it. What will those Incredulous, who must be the only Ingenious men, say to This? Many Witches have like those in [Act. 19. 18.] Confessed aid shewed their deeds. We see those things done, that is impossible any Disease or any Deceit should procure. We see some hideous Wretches in hideous Horrors confessing, That they did the Mischiefs. This Confession is often made by them that are owners of as much Reason as the people that laugh at all Conceit of Witchcraft; the exactest Scrutiny of skilful Physicians cannot find any Distraction in their minds. This Confession is often made by them that are apart One from another, and yet they agree in all the Circumstances of it. This Confession is often made by them that at the same time will produce the Engines and Ensignes of their Hellish Trade, and give the standers-by an Ocular Conviction of what they do, and how. There can be no Judgment left of any Humane Affairs, if such Confessions must be Ridiculed: all the Murders, yea, and all Bargains in the World must be meet Imaginations if such Confessions are of no Account.
WANT TO KNOW MORE:
Due to space / download time considerations, only selected materials are displayed. If you would like to obtain more information, feel free to contact the museum. All our material is available (at cost) on CD-Rom format.