Certaine yeares now past, right Worshipfull, I published a small Treatise concerning Witches, to lay open some of Sathans sleightes, and subtill practices, least the ignoranter sort should be carried awry and seduced more and more by them. The errors be farre more grosse, and the finnes much greater, into which by meanes of Witches he seduceth multitudes, then in common opinion they be esteemed. It falleth out in many places even of a suddaine, as it seemeth to me, and no doubt by the heavy judgement of God, that the Diuels as it were let loose, doe more prevail, then ever I have heard of. For when as men have set so light by the hearing [A2v] of Gods voice to be instructed by him, they are justly given over to be taught by the Diuels, and to learn their waies. Sathan is now hearde speake, and beleeved. He speaketh by conjurors, by sorcerers, and by witches, and his word is taken. He deviseth a number of things to be done, and they are put in practice and followed. The high providence of God Almighty and soveraigne rule over all, is set forth so unto us in the Scriptures, as that without Him a Sparrow can not fall upon the ground. All the haires of our head are numbred. The devils would hurt and destroy with bodily harmes, both men and beastes and other creatures: but all the Devils in Hell are so chained up and brideled by this high providence that they can not plucke the wing from one poore little Wrenne, without special leave given them from the ruler of the whole earth. And yet the Witches are made beleeve that at their request, and to pleasure them by fulfilling their wrath, their spirits do lame and kill both men and beastes. And then to spread this opinion among the people, these subtill spirites bewray them, and will have them openly confesse that they have done such great things, which all the Devils at any mans request could never doe. For if they could, they would not stay to be intreated. God giveth him power sometimes to afflict both men and beastes with bodily harmes: If he can, he will [A3r] doe it, as intreated and sent by Witches, but for us to imagin either that their sending doth give him power, or that he would not doe that which God hath given him leave to do, unless they should request and send him, is more absurd. There may be diseases in the bodies of men and beastes which he seeth will breake forth unto lameness or unto death, he beareth the witches in hand he doth them: He worketh by his other sort of Witches, whom the people call cunning men and wise women to confirme all his matters, and by them teacheth many remedies, that so he may be sought unto and honored as God. These things take root in the hearts of the people, and so making them afraide of the Witches, and raising up suspitions and rumors of sundry innocent persons, many giltles [guiltless] are upponmens othes [oaths] condemned to death, and much innocent blood is shed. How subtilly he continueth these matters, I have to my smal skill laide open in this slender Treatise. I have done it in a way of a Dialogue, to make the fitter for the capacity of the simpler sort. I am bolde to offer it unto your Worship, not unto one as needeth to be taught in these thinges, being zealously affected to the Gospell, & so grounded in the faith of the high providence, that I have been delighted to heare and see the wise and godly course used uppon the seat of Justice by your Worship, when such have been arraigned. I offer [A3v] it therefore as a testimony of a thankeful mind for favours and kindnesse shewed towardes me: and so intreat your Worshippe to accept of it. If it may doe good unto any of the weaker sort in knowledge I shall be glad. If I erre in any thing being shewed it, I will be ready to correct it.
Your Worships in all dueties to commaund. George Giffard.
[A4r] The Speakers.
Samuell. Daniell. The wife of Samuell. M.B. Schoolmaister. The good wife R.
Sam. You are well mette olde acquaintance, I am glad to see you looke so well, howe doe all our good friendes in your Countrey.
Dan. I trust they be all in good health, they were when I came from home, I am sorry to see you looke so pale, what have you beene sick lately?
Sam. Truly no, I thanke God I have had my health pretily well, but yet me thinke my meate doth me no good of late.
Dan. What is the matter man, doe you take thought and care for the world; take heede of that, for the Scripture faith, worldly sorrow marketh death. 2. Cor. 7. 10. It is a great sinne rising from unbeleefe, and distrust in God's providence, when men be over pensive for the world.
Sam. In deede my minde is troubled, but not for that which you say, for I hope in God I shall not want [lack] so long as I live.
Dan. Is it any trouble of conscience for sinne: If it be, that may turn to good.
Sam. O, no, no. I know no cause why.
Dan. Why, what is it then, if I may be so bold, I pray [A4v] you tell me. I think you take me for your friend.
Sam. In deede I have always found you my very good friend, and I am sure you will give me the best counsell you can, truly we dwell here in a bad countrey, I think even one of the worst in England.
Dan. Is it so? I think you dwell in a fine countrey, in a sweete wholesome aire and fruitfull grounds.
Sam. Aire man? I finde no fault with the aire, there be naughty people.
Dan. Naughty people? where shall a man dwell, and not find them? swearers, liars, raylers, slaunderers, drunckards, adulterers, riotous, unthriftes, dicers, and proude high minded persons, are every where to be founde in great plenty.
Sam. Nay, I do not meane them, I care not for them. These witches, these evill favoured old witches doe trouble me.
Dan. What doe you take your selfe to be bewitched?
Sam. No, no. I trust no evill spirite can hurt me, but I heare of much harme done by them: they lame men and kill their cattle, yea they destroy both men and children. They say there is scarce any towne or village in all this shire, but there is one or two witches at the least in it. In good sooth, I may tell it to you as to my friend, when I goe but into my closes [enclosed space], I am afraide, for I see nowe and then a hare; which in conscience giveth me is a witch, or some witches spirite, shee stareth so so uppon me. And sometime I see an ugly weasell runne through my yard, and there is a foule great catte sometimes in my Barne, which I have no liking unto.
Dan. You never had to hurt done yet, had you by any witch?
Sam. Trust me I cannot tell, but I feare me I have, [B1r] for there be two or three in our towne which I like not, but especially an old woman, I have beene as careful to please her as ever I was to please mine own mother, and to give her ever anon one thing or another, and yet me thinkes shee frownes at me now and then. And I had a hogge which eate his meate with his fellowes and was very well to our thinking over night, and in the morning he was starke dead. My wife hath had five or sixe hennes even of late dead. Some of my neighbours wishe me to burne some thing alive, as a henne or a hogge. Others will me in time to seek helpe at the handes of some cunning man, before I have any further harme. I would be glad to do for the best.
Dan. Have you any cunning man hereabout, that doth helpe?
Sam. There is one, they say, here s twenty miles of at T.B. which hath holpe [helped] many. And thus much I know, there was one of mine acquaintance but two miles hence, which had great losses, he lost two or three kine (cows); six hogs, he would have tooke fifteene shillings a hog for them, and a mare. He went to that same man, and told him he suspected an old woman in the parish. And I think he told me, that he shewed him her in a Glasse, and told him shee had three or four imps [familiars], some call them puckrels, one like a gray catte, an other like a weasell, an other like a mouse, a vengeance take them, it is real pity the countrey is not ridde of them, and told him also what he should doe. It is halfe a yeare ago, and he never had any hurt since. There is also a woman at R.H. five and twenty miles hence, that hath a great name, and great resort there is daily unto her. A neighbour of mine had his child taken lame, a girle of ten yeares olde, and such a paine in her backe, that she could not sit upright. He went to that woman, she told him he had some badde neighbour, the child was forespoken, as he suspected; marry if he would goe home, and bring her some of the clothes which the child [B1v] lay in all night, shee would tell him certainely. He went home, and put a table Napkin about her necke all night, and in the morning tooke it with him, and shee told him the girle was bewitched in deede, and so told him what hee should doe, and he had remedy, and the girle is as wel at this day, and a pretty quicke girle. There was another of my neighbours had his wife much troubled, and he went to her, and shee tolde him his wife was haunted with a fairy. I cannot tell what shee had him doe, but the woman is mery at this howre. I have heard, I dare not say it is so, that shee weareth about her Saint Johns Gospel, or some part of it.
Dan. If you have such cunning men and women, what neede you be so much afraide?
Sam. Alas man, I could teeme it to goe, and some counsell me to goe to the man at T.B. and some to the woman at R.H. And betweene them both I have lingred the time, and feare I may be spoiled before I get remedy. Some wishe me to beate and claw the witch untill I fetch bloud [blood] on her, and to threaten her that I will have her hanged, if I knew which were the best I would doe it.
Dan. I perceive your danger is betweene two stooles.
Sam. It is very true, if I had heard but of one, I should have gone ere this time, and I am glad that I met with you. I pray you let me have your best counsell, I trust that you heare me good will.
Dan. Truly I will give you the best counsell I can, which I am sure shall doe you good, if you followe it, for in deede I pity your case, it is most certaine you are bewitched.
Sam. Bewitched, doe you think I am bewitched? I feele no harme in my body, you make me more afraide.
Dan. Nay I doe not think that the olde woman hath bewitched you, or that your body is betwitched, but the divell hath bewitched your minde, with blindnes and unbeleefe, [B2r] to draw you from God, even to worship himselfe, by seeking help at the hands of devils. It is a lamentable case to see how the devill hath bewitched thousands at this day to run after him: and even to offer sacrifice unto him.
Sam. I defie the devill, worship him? fie upon him, I hate him with all my hart. Do you thinke any seeke help at his hands? We seek help against him. I think he never doth good, he hurteth, but he never helpeth any.
Dan. It is not in these matters to be taken as wee imagine, but as the word of God teacheth. What though a man think he worshippeth not devils, nor seeketh not help at their handes, as he is persuaded, nor hath any such intent, is he ever the neere, when as yet it shall be found by Gods word, that he doth worship them, and seek unto them for help?
Sam. Doe you thinke then that there be no witches? Doth not God suffer wicked people to do harme? Or doe you thinke that the cunning men doe helpe by the devill? I would be glad to reason with you, but I have smal knowledge in the Scriptures. We have a Schoolemaister that is a good pretie scholler, they say, in the Latine tongue, one M.B. he is gone to my house even now, I pray you let me intreat you to go thither, you two may reason the matter, for you are learned.
Dan. I could be content, but it will take some time, and I am going to such a place upon speciall busines.
Sam. I pray you let me intreat you: foure or five houres is not so much.
Dan. Well, I will goe with you.
Sam. Wife, I have brought an olde friend of mine, I pray thee bid him welcome.
The wife. He is verie welcome. But trulie man, I am angrie with you, and halfe out of patience, that you go not to seeke helpe against yonder same olde beast. I have another hen dead this night. Other men can seeke remedy. [B2v] Here is M.B. tels me, that the good wife R. all the laste weeke could not make her butter come. She never rested until she had got her husbande out to the woman at R.H. and when he came home, they did but heat a spit red hotte, and thrust into the creame, being certaine wordes, as shee willed him, and it came as kindly as anie butter that ever she made. I met the olde filth this morning Lord, how sowerlie she looked upon me, and mumbled as she went, I hearde part of her wordes. Ah (quod [quote] she) you have an honest man to your husbande, I heare how he doth use me. In trueth, husband, my stomacke did rise against her, that I coulde have found in my heart to have flowen upon her, and scratched her, but that I feared she would be too strong for me. It is a lustie olde queane. I wished that the good wife R. had bene with me. I pray you, good husbande, let me intreate you to go to that same olde woman, you may ride thither in halfe a day.
Sam. Wife, I pray thee be content. I have intreated this mine olde friend to reason with M.B. for he tels mee that we be in a verie foule errour.
M.B. I suppose, so farre as my learning and capacitie doe extend, that small reasoning may serue. The worde of God doeth shew plainlie that there be witches, and commandeth they should be put to death. Experience hath taught too too manie, what harmes they doe. And if anie have the gift to minister helpe against them, shall we refuse it? Shall we not drinke when we are a thirst? Shall we not warme as when wee are a colde? It is pitie that anie man should open his mouth anie way to defend them, their impietie is so great.
Dan. For my part, I go not about to defend witches. I denie not but that the devill worketh by them. And that they ought to be put to death. We ought also to seeke remedie against them: but as I told me friend, the devil doth bewitch men by means of these witches, and to lead them from [B3r] God, even to follow himself to offer sacrifice unto him to worship him, to obey his wil, to commit manie grievous sinnes, and to be drowned in manifold errours.
M.B. If you have this meaning, that witches and sorcerers ar bewitched by the devil, that they forsake God, and follow him, that they worship and obey him, and doe sacrifice unto him, and commit many heinous sinnes, I agree with you, for I take it, they even vow themselves to the devill, or else he would not be readie to doe them service. But if you mean, that such as seeke remedie against them, and would have them rooted out, be so seduced and mis-led by the devill, as you speake, I say your speech is rash and foolish, for they that be earnest against witches, be earnest against the devil, they seek to resist him, and to roote out his instruments. Now, if you were a man that had any learning, you should see, that contraries cannot be in the same subject, at one instant, in the same part, and in the same respect : how then can a man hate the devill, defie the devill and his workes, and yet follow him at one time?
Dan. I know that witches and conjurers are seduced and become the vassals of Satan: they be his servants, and not he theirs, as you speake. But I mean indeede that multitudes are seduced and led from God, to follow the devil, by means of witches and conjurers : Yea, I speake it of those, not which are caried of a godlie zeale, but of a blinde rage and mad furie against them. If I speake this rashlie and foolishlie, as you say, and your self learned as you boast, and I unlearned, I shall be the more easilie overthrowne. But I speake so truly, and can so well justifie all that I have said by the word of God, that your learning and best skill, shall not be able to disprove the same. Your logicke at the first doth faile you. Not that contrairies can be in the same subject at the same instant, in the same part, and in the same respect. But herein you are utterlie blinde and deceived, that you name contraries, and take it that the first of them, [B3v] as namelie, to hate the devill, to defie him and his workes, are in them, when as indeed they are in them but in imagination. For if men lay and think they defie the devill and his workes, and through blindnes and infidelitie, are even bewitched, and seduced to followe the devill, and to do his will, doth their speech and blinde imagination make the things indeed to be in them? What if a poore beggar woman say and thinke that she is a Queene? Is she therefore no begger, begging still for bread? or is she rid of her lice?
M.B. Nay, if you judge, I have done. If men be earnest against the devill, and defie him and all his workes, are you to judge of their conscience, and to say they defie him but in imagination, and follow him, and worship him in deede? Is not God alone the judge over mens hearts? Againe, do you compare those that are in their right mind, with such as be mad, or out of their wits?
Dan. I knowe that God alone is the searcher of the heart, touching the thinges which lie hid in secrete: But where things are open and manifest, the tree is known by the fruits, so far as we may goe. As if a man professe the faith of Jesus Christ soundlie, in all pointes according to the word of God, and doth frame his life thereafter in doing good workes : it is verie wicked for anie man to judge of him, that he is an hypocrite, and that he doth all of vaine glorie. And yet it may be that the Lord, who discerneth the secrete intents of the heart, seeth indeed that he is but an hypocrite. On the contrarie parte, where a man professeth in wordes that he doeth defie the devill and all his workes, and yet when it commeth to the triall of Gods word, hee is found to be seduced, and wrapped in blinde errours of the devill, in infidelitie, and evill works, in which he fulfilleth the will of Satan, and honoureth him in the place of God : Shal we say that this is a good man because of his words and imagination, that he defieth the devill and his works? [B4r] Wo be to them that cal good evil, and evil good. Esa. 5. We may say they are in bad case, except they repent, and turne from following Satan. But yet I say, that a faithful man may erre in some of these thinges through weaknesse of faith, and through ignorance. And therefore, here men may not be too rash in judgement. And now whereas you find fault, that I make comparison between such as be mad and those that be in their right mind, the one for matters of this worlde, the other for thinges spirituall and heavenlie. There bee which are in their wittes for this worlde, which touching spirituall things are as farre awrie in their imaginations, as the poore begger, which thinketh she is a goodlie queene. Doth not the holie Apostle say, that because men receive not the love of the truth, God wil send them strong delusion to believe lies. 2. Thess. 2. And what is that, but that Satan shall seduce, illude and bewitch their minds, to make them beleeve that they worshippe and follow God, when they worship and follow him?
M.B. Doe you take that to be S.Paules meaning? Doth Satan bewitch mens mindes, and leade them into falsehoode and errour, making them beleeve they worshipp God, when they worship devils?
Dan. S.Paul speaketh there indeed of the coming of the great Antichrist in the power of the Devill. Nowe, those which are seduced and worship Antichrist, think they worship God: but marke what S.John sayth, All the world wondred, and followed the beast, and worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: & they worshipped the beast. Revelat.13. And looke in the 12. Chapter of the revelation, and you shall find that the Dragon, which the Popery doth worship instead of God is the Devill.
M.B. Trulie I like your wordes well, I am persuaded [B4v] the devill doth seduce and bewitch mens mindes: But touching these that seek help at the hands of cunning men and women against witches, I cannot thinke to hardlie of them. I may be awry, I see well: I will not be obstinate, if the word of God shew me mine errour. Let us even friendship conferre of the matter. Be not offended with me, and for my part, I will speake all that I knowe or thinke.
Dan. I must intreate you likewise to beare with my plaine speaches. And let us in the matters proceede from one point to another, standing only upon that, wherein we shall be found to differ in judgement. And let Gods word be the judge between us.
Sam. I like this wel, though I can say but little, I wil sit and heare you.
Dan. What is the first question that we shal handle?
M.B. I heard you say, if I did not mistake your speech that there be witches that worke by the devill. But yet I pray you tell me, doe you think there be such? I know some are of opinion there be none.
Dan. It is so evident by the Scriptures, and in all experience, that there be witches which worke by the devill, or rather I may say, the devill worketh by them, that such as go about to prove the contrarie, doe shewe themselves but cavillers.
M.B. I am glad we agree in that point, I hope we shall in the rest. What say you to this: that the witches have their spirits, some hath one, some hath more, as two, three, foure, or five, some in one likeness, and some in another, as like cattes, weasiles, toads, or mice, whome they nourish with milke, or with chicken, or by letting them sucke now and then a drop of blood: whome they call when they be offended with anie, and lend them to hurt them in their bodies, yea, to kill them, and to kill their cattle?
Dan. Here is great deceit, great illusion, here the devill leadeth the ignorant people into foule errours, [C1r] by which hee draweth them hedlong into manie grievous sinnes.
M.B. Nay then I see that you are awrie, if you denie these things, and say they be but illusions. They have bene proved, and proved againe, even by the manifold confessions of the witches themselves. I am out of all doubt in these, and could in manie particulars lay open what hath fallen out. I did dwell in a village within these yeares, where there was a man of good wealth, and sudainlie within ten daies space, he had three kine died, his gelding (male horse) worth ten pounds fell lame, he was himself taken with a great pain in his back, & a child of seuen years old died. He sent to the woman at R.H. and she said he was plagued by a witch, adding moreover, that there were three women witches in that towne, and one man witch ; willing him to look whom be most suspected : he suspected one olde woman, and caused her to be caried before a Justice of Peace and examined: with much a doe at the last shee confessed all : Which was this in effect : that she had three spirits: one like a cat, which she called Lightfoot, another like a Toad, which she called Lunch, the third like a Weasill, which she called Makeshift. This Lightfoot, she said, one mother Barlie of W. solde her above fifteene yeares agoe, for an oven cake and told her that the Cat would doe her good service, if she woulde, she might send her of her errand : this cat was with her but awhile, but the Weasil and the Toad came and offered their service : the cat would kill kine, the Weasil would kill horses, the Toad would plague men in their bodies. She sent them all three (as she confessed) against this man: She was committed to the prison, and there shee died before the Assizes. I could tell you of many such : I had no minde to dwell in that place any longer.
Dan. You mistake me, I do not mean that the things are not, but my meaning is, that the devill by such things doth beguyle and seduce ignorant men, and lead them into errours [C1v] and grievous sinnes: And let us examine everie parcell of that which you set down in your speech, and you shall see no lesse.
M.B. That is it which I would faine see: You confesse they have spirits, some one, some more, and in such likenesses: what errour be the people led into by that?
Dan. First, consider this that ther be multitudes & armies of devils, as we see in the gospel, that manie devils were entred into one man, & Christ saying, What is thy name? Answer is made, Legion, for we are manie. Mark.5. Now, although the devils be manie, yet they be all caried with such hatred against God, with such desire to have him dishonored and blasphemed, and burne with such bloudy malice and crueltie against men, that they bend their studie all together, one helping and furthering another what they can in their worke: in so much that the Scripture doeth speake of them, as if they were bbut one devill: for S.Peter sayth, Your adversarie the devil goeth about like a roring lion seeking whom he may evour. I.Pet.5. And in the Revelation chapter 12. All the devils make that great red dragon: And our Savior doth shewe how close they joyne in one, when he saith, If Satan be devided against Satan, or if Satan cast foorth Satan, how shall his kingdom endure. Matt.12. Now then, whether the witch deale, as shee supposeth, with one spirit, or with manie, it commeth all to one effect, thus farre, that one dealeth not alone, but with the helpe of others. So that he or she that hath familiaritie with one devill, it is as much as if it were with any hundreth. Moreover, the devils be spirits, they have no bodily shape or likeness but yet can make an apparance of a shape, as appeareth by the enchanters before Pharao, when their rods were turned into serpents in shew. Exod.7. And then one devill can seem to be foure or five, and foure or five can seeme to be one: It is therefore but the craft of Satan, to make them more or lesse.
[C2r] M.B. Do you not thinke then, that where the more devills be, there is greater power of Satan?
Dan. Yes, but it can not be discerned by his appearing to the witch in shew of more or lesse: For one can seeme ten unto her, and ten can seeme one.
M.B. Well, I doe not mislike all this, I pray you proceed torware.
Dan. Then further marke well howe the holie Scriptures doe paint out the devils to bee mightie terrible spirits, full of power, rage, and crueltie, compared to a great fierie red dragon, Revel 12. To a greedie or hungry lion, that roreth after the pray, I.Pet.5. And called by S.Paul Principalities, and powers, the Rulers of the darknesse of this world: now, when they take upon them the shapes of such paltrie vermine. As Cats, Mice, Toads, and Weasills, it is even of subtiltie to cover and hide his mightie tyrannie, and power which he exerciceth over the heartes of the wicked. It is most necessarie for us to all know, what strong adversaries we have to encounter withall, that we may fly unto the Lord God, and seek to bee armed with his power against them.
M.B. Well, what will you inferre upon this? I cannot deny but that the Scriptures doe paint out the devils to be mightie terrible spirits, and so they may be, although they appeare but like Cats of Weasils.
Dan. I doe not say they be not mightie and terrible because they appeare in such shapes, but I affirme that their appearing so, is to cover and hide their mightienesse and effectuall working, which they exercise in the darke harts of men. And marke well I pray you, the power of devils is in the harts of men, as to harden the hart, to blind the eyes of the mind, and from the lustes and concupiscences which are in them, to inflame them unto wrath, malice, envy, and cruell murthers: to puffe them up in pride, arrogancy and vaine glory : to entice them unto wantonnesse, [C2v] and whordomes, and all uncleannesse]. And about these things they worke continually, and with such efficacy, that without the power of the glorious passion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we have by faith, they cannot be withstood, and they will seeme to be but meane fellowes, busied about making drink that it shall not work in the fat, in keeping cheese from running, and butter from cumming, in killing hennes or hogges, or making men lame.
M.B. Nay they not doe both the one and the other?
Dan. Yea, but this is my meaning, that while they be occupied about the greatest things, as in stirring up tyrrants and wicked men to persecute, to reproch and blaspheme the Gospell, which pulleth them downe, to set division and warres between kingdoms and kings, hatred and discord between man and wife, and contention betweene brethren: yea, to set all in a broyle and confusion: they would seeme to be busied about trifles, and about these they busie mens mindes, that they may not observe and take heed of them in those other.
M.B. I perceive your meaning, but yet I doe not conceive whereunto you chiefly tend: for do not they which looks down upon these harmes done by witches, confesse that the devill doth all these things which you mention?
Dan. The ignorant sort, which are so terrified by witches, do in words after a sort, confesse so much as you say, but when it commeth to the matter, they deny it in effect. For mark this, the devils continuallie compasse the soule of man about, to shoot it full of their fierie dartes. Ephes.6. even to wound it to death with all wicked sinnes. The devill goeth about liking a roring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I.Pet.5. And they by thiis craft which they use by means of the witches, make the blind people imagin that they never come nigh of them, but when the witches are angrie and doe send them, and that they are easilie driven away [C3r] when they do come, as by burning some quick thing, as henne or hogge, or by beating and drawing blood upon the witch. Such people as thus can drive him away, or by thrusting a spitte red hotte into their creame, are farre from knowing the spirituall battel, in which we are to warre under the banner of Christ against the devill, much lesse doe they knowe how to put on (as S.Paule willeth) the whole armour of God, to resist and overcome him. Ephes.6. He may deale with their soules even as he lifteth, when they take him not present but upon such sending, and where such hurt doth follow in their bodies or goods.
M.B. I doe not denie, but that the devils seeke chiefly for to destroy the soules of men: But (as I tak it) you confesse, that they being sent by the witches, doe also those bodilie harmes: and as yet I see no reason why they may not seeke remedie against such harmes, and drive him away by anie good meanes: doth the worde of God forbid us to use meanes: If I be sick, shall I not take physicke? If I bee thirstie, shall I not drinke? Indeed I am of your minde, though I did never marke so much before, that the devill dealeth subtillie in this, that by dealing in such smal matters, he covereth himselfe in the greater, as though he came not neere, nor did not medle but in such maner: But here standeth the case, I resist him in those greater, may I not also use those helpes which drive him away in the lesser? I will if I can drive him away in all things.
Dan. Now the devils are sent by the witches, and how they doe those bodily harmes, wee are not yet come unto, and there lie two of the chiefe subtilties of the devill in them, by which he deceiveth the multitude. But by occasion we are fallen into the mention of remedie to drive them away. Because (I say) such as thus drive him away, know not the spiritual battell, much lesse how to put on the whol armour of God to overcome the devil: Order doth require that we speak first of his sending, and then of those bodilie harmes [C3v] which he doth, & afterward of these meanes which are bled to repell him. Let us therefore step one step backe againe, if you agree to the rest which I have spoken.
M.B. With a good will: for so we shall omit no part. But I thought we had fullie agreed in this, that the witches do send their spirits, and do manie harmes both unto men and beasts: because we have it confirmed by daylie experience: and unlesse you will denie that which is manifest, I doubt not but we shall accorde in these.
Dan. Yes though we agree that they send them, yet we may dissent in divers thinges about this sending. As first, tell me, whether doe you thinke that the witch or the Devill is the servant, which of them commandeth, and which obeyeth.
M.B. How can I tell that: It is thought hee becometh her servant, and where she is displeased, and would be revenged, she hyreth him to doe it. The witches themselves have confessed thus much; and for my part, I think no man can disprove it.
Dan. They that doe the will of God are the children and servants of God. And they which fulfill the lustes of the devill, and obey him, are his children & his servantes, Joh.8.vers.44.Act.13.vers.10. Are they not?
M.B. I graunt all this?
Dan. The devills are the rulers of the darkness of this world. Ephes.6.ver.12.
M.B. The text is plaine
Dan. The darkness of this world, is not meant of the darkness of the night, which is but the shadow of the eath, but it is the spiritual darkness, which consisteth in the ignorance of God, in infidelitie, and in sinne.
M.B. I am of your mind in this also. [C4r] Dan. And doe you not thinke then that the devill hath his throne, his dominion and kingdom in the hearts of ignorant blind infidels.
M.B. I must needs thinke he hath, the word of God doth force me thereunto: seeing he is the Prince of darknesse.
Dan. And is there anie greater infidelitie and darknesse in anie, than in witches, conjurers, and such as have familiaritie with devils?
M.B. I tak it they be the depest overwhelmed in darknesse and infidelitie of all other.
Dan. Lay all these thinges together which you confesse, and see whether it doth not follow upon the same, that the witch is the vassall of the devill, and not he her servant; he is Lord and commaundeth, and she is his drudge and obeyeth.
M.B. Yea, although he be Lord, yet he is content to serve her turne, and the witches confesse, they call them forth and send them: and that they hire them to hurt such in their bodies, and in their cattel, as they bee displeased withall.
Dan. I am sorie you are so farre awrie, it is pitie any man should be in such errour, especiallie a man that hath learning, and should teach others knowledge.
M.B. Nay, I may returne this upon you, for you will denie this, it is but a follie to reason any further: I will never be driven from that which I knowe: There was one olde mother W. of great T. which had a spirite like a Weasill: she was offended highlie with one H.M. home she went, and called forth her spirite, which lay in a pot of woll [wool] under her bed, she willed him to goe plague the man: he required what she would give him, and he would kill H.M. She said she would give him a cocke, which shee did, and he went, and the man fell sicke with a great paine in his bellie, languished and died: the witch was arraigned, [C4v] condemned, and hanged, and did confesse all this.
Dan. I told you before that I do not deny these things, but you are deceived about the doing: you marke not the cunning sleights of the devill: Tel me, is not this the truth which S.Peter speaketh, that the devil goeth about like a roring lion, seeking whom he may devoure. I.Pet.5.
M.B. What, then?
Dan. What then? Can you be so simple as to imagine that the devill lieth in a pot of wool, softe and warme, and stirreth not, but when he is hired and sent? The devils conspire together in their worke, they bestirre them, and never take rest night nor day : they are never wearie, they be not a colde, they care not for lying soft: These be fooleries by which hee deceiveth the witches, and bewitcheth the mindes of many ignorant people : And whereas you say he is hired, it is but deceit: for, let me aske you two or three questions or more if need be.
M.B. What be your questions?
Dan. You say the witch commeth home angrie, who hath kindled this wrath in her heart but the devill? Who inflameth her mind with malice, to be revenged, and to doe mischief but the devill? Doth not he rule in her heart? Tell me what you thinke of this?
M.B. I muste needes confesse hee stirreth her up to wrath and malice.
Dan. Then he lieth not at home in his pot of wool: nor he is not hyred to this: hitherto she is his drudge, and obeyeth him, and not he her, being led by his suggestion.. Then tell me, is not the devill like a red or fierie dragon, Revel.12. burning in malice against God, and with all bloodie and cruell hatred that may be against men? And is he not farre readier unto all mischiefe, than anie man or woman?
M.B. The devill is more fierce than any man or woman; none can deny this. [D1r] Dan. If none can deny this, and he be the worker of the wrath and malice in the heart of the witch, then what needeth he to be hyred? He stirreth her up, and if he would, he could turn her mind from sending him, and must he be hyred? Doth he care for a cock or a chicken? Is he hungry or needeth he somewhat to eat?
M.B. Nay, but it is thought he taketh those thinges to witnesse against the witch that she is his.
Dan. Let it bee, there were somewhat in that which you speake, yet he hath a farre deeper reach, for the trueth is, hee woulde, and doeth perswade the blind people, that he medleth litle, but when he is even hyred and sent, and that then his medling is but in such matters : And here upon all is on a broyle against olde women, which can any wayes be suspected to be witches, as if they were the very plagues of the world, and as if all would be well, and safe from such harmes, if they were rooted out, and thus they fall rooting out without all care: for it is thought that the witch which hath her spirits, is even lyke a man which hath curst dogges, which he may set upon other mens cattell, which yet in the nature of dogs, would never stryke but when they are bidden: and so the harmes do come from the man which oweth those dogs. They think that the country might be ryd of such spirits, if there were none to hoister them or to set them worke. They imagine that they and their cattell should then goe safe. Alas poore creatures, how they be deluded: how litle do they understand the high providence of almighty God which is over all.
M.B. Doe you thinke then that witches ought not to be rooted out? Or doe you thinke it were not much safety to the country from harmes, if it could be rid of them?
Dan. For the rooting out of witches, the Scripture is plaine. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live: but we are not yet come to that poynt. But whether they be to be rooted out that men may be safe from harmes, as the people [D1v] in fury and blindnesse imagine, that is next.
M.B. Men feele the smart and the harmes which they doe, and it is no marvell, though they be earnest to have them rooted out, and a good riddance it were if the whole land could be set free from them.
Sam. Trulie M.B. I am of your mind, I wold they wer all hanged up one against another: we should not (I hope) stand in such fear of their spirits. But I interrupt you too.
The wife. They that would not have them hanged or burnt I would they might even witch them unto hell. If I had but one fagot in the world, I would carry it a myle upon my shoulders to burne a witch.
Dan. Well good woman, spare your fagot a while, and ease your shoulders, and let us reason the matter a little further: I pray you let me aske you this question, doth the witch or the devill the harme unto men and cattell?
M.B. Why, the devill doth it at their sending though I confesse it must needs be as you said, that the devil worketh al in the mind of the witch, & mooveth her to send him.
Dan. The devill hath a kingdome, but it is in darkenesse and corruption in sinne. He hath no right nor power over Gods creatures, no not so much as to kill flye, or to take one eare of corne out of anie mans barne, unlesse power be given him. You know when Christ cast the devils out of the man possessed, they aske leave for to goe into the heard of swine. Then tell me, who giveth the devill this power then, when the witch sendeth him, to kill or to lame man or beast? Doth the witch give it to him? Do you think he had power to doe harm, but no mind till she mooved him? Or doe you take it that her sending giveth him power, which he had not?
M.B. It is a question indeed worth the asking: For doubtlesse, the devill hath not power untill it be given him, to touch any creature, to hurt, or to destroy the body, but onely to tempt and to lead into sin : I am also sure that the [D2r] witch cannot give him power, but onlie God above.
Dan. Lay these two together then, that the devill only hurteth, and that none can give him power, neither man nor woman, but only God, and tell me whether the people be not wonderfully carried awry in a rage. For, when as they should consider, that the devill is the Lordes executioner: And then finding that he hath any power given him to molest, to hurt, and vexe them in theyr bodies or goods, to know certainly it commeth from the Lord, and then gather from thence (as the trueth is) that the Lord is displeased with them for their offences. And so seeeke unto him, humbly craving pardon and deliverance from this enemy, seeeking to be armed with the mighty power of faith, to cast him foorth, and to resist him, as the Lord willeth, 1.Pet.5 Here is no such matter, no looking so high among the people, but running deeper into errour, and into sinne, as if the witches did it, and that it commeth from their anger and not from their owne sinnes and infidelity, here is no repentance, no humbling themselves by fasting and prayer, but running for helpe unto devilles, using meanes which those devils by the cunning men & women appoint, scratching and clawing, thirsting often after guiltles blood as raging against those whome they imagine to be witches, which many times are not, because they imagine, that if there were no witches, ther should be no such plagues. As if they had no foule sinnes nor unbeleefe, or that there remayned not a just revenging God to punish, or as if he had not the devils still the executioners of his wrath