A Puritan View of Witchcraft

What follows is a section from a paper I wrote on the Salem Witch Trials. In the paper, I explore the theological context of the trials. Since this is a historical piece and not a writing in systematic theology, I will attempt to capture their understanding without evaluating the truthfulness of their understanding. The question I was wrestling with was this: In 1692, what would have been a general Puritan view of witchcraft in and around Salem Village?

To answer this question, I will survey the works of William Perkins (1558-1602), Nathaniel Holmes (1599-1678), Richard Baxter (1615-1691), Samuel Parris (1653-1720), and Cotton Mather (1663-1728) to form a general Puritan view of witchcraft during this time.[1] This section will, first, consider the nature of a witch, second, the affliction and power of the witch, third, ways the Puritans taught to fight against witchcraft, and, finally, how to detect and punish a witch.

The Nature of a Witch

“Witchcraft is a wicked art,” writes Perkins, “serving for the works of wonders, by the assistance of the Devil, so farre forth as God shall in justice permit.”[2] Or as Mather taught: “Witchcraft seems to be the Skill of Applying the Plastic Spirit of the World, unto some unlawful purpose, by means of a Confederacy with Evil Spirits.”[3] The witch, more specifically, is a “Magician, who either by open or secret league, wittingly, and willingly, consenteth to use the aide and assistance of the Devil, in the working of Wonders.”[4] The witch can be a man or a woman, though “the woman beeing the weaker sexe, is sooner intangled by the devils illusions with this damnable art, then the man.”[5]

Fundamental to the Puritan understanding of a witch is the covenant made between the witch and the devil. “THe Ground of all the practices of Witchcraft,” writes Perkins, “is a league or covenant betweene the Witch and the Devil: wherein they doe mutually bind themselves each to other.”[6] After Satan deceived humanities first parents in the Garden, he soon realized that man’s estate in the covenant of grace was better than before, and thus he covenants with men and women so that he “may testify both his hatred of God, and his malice against man.”[7]

Perkins taught that the covenant with Satan can be either expressed and open or secret and closed. If it is expressed and open, the witch binds himself by a solemn vow to Satan, promising to “renounce the true God, his holy word, the covenant he made in Baptism, and his redemption by Christ.”[8] The witch will also give the devil his signature or blood. In return, Satan

promiseth to be ready at his vassals command, to appeare at any time in the likeness of any creature, to consult with him, to aide and helpe him in any thing he shall take in hand, for the procurement of pleasures, honour, wealth, or prefer ment, to goe for him, to carry him whether he will; in a word, to doe for him, whatsoever hee shall command.[9]

The secret covenant is made between the witch and Satan when superstition is used: either superstitious forms of prayer or the use of superstitious means to bring about a desired result. This could be in the forms of charms or even the use of unknown or barbaric means of curing diseases. Such a person consents to Satan “in his heart.”[10] What is troubling about this latter sort of covenant is that one may not know he or she is evoking Satan’s help. Perkins maintains, regarding the ignorant, that “such persons have made as yet no league with Satan, but they are in the high way thereunto. And this course is a fit preparatiό to cause them to joyne with him in covenant.”[11] What is more, the superstitions and charms could be saturated in Scripture and yet be witchcraft nonetheless. Using Scripture or prayer in a superstitious manner, conducting elaborate, ritual exorcisms like the Church of Rome, or merely using the name of Jesus to drive out Satan are all unlawful forms of superstition.[12]

It is with regard to the covenant with Satan that the Colony diverges from Europe. On the Continent a league with Satan had an exotic twist. Baxter records:

 I think it most likely, that when Witches, Men and Women, confess their filthy Lying with Devils, that it is done more to exercise the Lust of the Witch than of the Devil: And that sometimes he doth it by a Body of gross Air, and sometimes may gratifie the Lust of one Witch on another, or on a tempted ignorant Wretch. He can bring a Witch in without opening the Door, can bring such an one (Male or Female) into another’s Bed.[13]

In another testimony, Baxter records that a twelve-year-old girl began sleeping with the devil and did so for thirty years. In fact, given the plethora of testimonies it is maintained that the “Concubitus of the Devils with Witches (Male and Female) hath so full Testimonies, as is not to be denied.”[14]

In the Colony, however, such testimonies were silenced. Increase Mather, the father of Cotton Mather, dismissed such testimonies as false memories and hallucinations planted by Satan.[15] “Continental witches had more fun,” commented Stacey Schiff, “The Massachusetts witch’s familiars—which she suckled, in a maternal relationship—were unexotic by comparison.” Schiff continues: “Even in her transgressions she was puritanical. She rarely enjoyed sexual congress with the devil.”[16] Thus, for the witches in Salem, eroticism was not part of the covenant bond with the devil.

The covenant bond with Satan was also enacted by ceremony and ritual. Just as God has his sacraments and seals of His covenant, so “the devil hath his words and certaine out ward signs to ratified the same to his instruments.”[17] Mather records that “Witches do say, that they form themselves much after the manner of Congregational Churches; and that they have a Baptism and a Supper, and Officers among them, abominably Resembling those of our Lord.”[18]

The devil is said to exhibit “himself ordinarily as a small Black man” and bids people to sign his book.[19] Mather records that over twenty people admitted to signing the book and entering Satan’s “horrid service” filled with “Hellish Randezvouzes,” and “Diabolical Sacraments” for the purpose of destroying the kingdom of Jesus Christ.[20] Normally, it is Satan who is said to initiate the temptation to sign his book, but sometimes Satan can be conjured. In one testimony from London, for example, the son of a minister read a book entitled Conjuration, which caused Satan to appear.[21]

As a corollary of entering into league with the devil, the witch was given a mark. The devil’s mark, Schiff describes, could be “blue or red, raised or inverted. They might resemble a nipple or a fleabite. They came and went. Essentially any dark blemish qualified, though a mark in the genital area was particular incriminating.”[22] It is unclear if the devil’s mark and the witch’s teat are the same mark, or if there are some differences. Regarding the latter, “anything raised or discolored could qualify as a teat.”[23] The purpose of the teat is not because Satan needs blood, but rather it allow the devil to enter the witch’s body and thus control it more efficiently.[24] Mather, recounting the evidence against Bridget Bishop, one of the women executed in Salem for witchcraft, recorded that a teat was found upon her body but disappeared within three to four hours.[25] What is more, many witches have imps, which are supernatural, demonic creatures used for the purpose of spying and carrying out diabolical acts. These imps would suckle a witch’s teat for nourishment. In one testimony, a woman came to take care of her sick mother only to discover her mother suckled an imp in the likeness of a mole (though she swore she was not in covenant with Satan).[26] Other reports in New England recount witches suckling yellow birds between their fingers.[27]

One might wonder, however, if this is the only sort of witch: diabolical and bent on doing evil. What about those “white” witches who claim to despise evil and want to do good? According to Perkins the good witch is the “more horrible and detestable Monster,” for the good witch will appear as a wise man or wise woman.[28] He or she is still in league with Satan, for this is how he orders his kingdom, “appointing to severall persons their severall offices and charges.”[29]  Suppose a man is afflicted by a bad witch only to be healed by a good one; while he was hurt by the bad witch, the good witch “hath done him a thousand times more harme, for

the one did only hurt the body, but the devil by means of the other, though he have left the body in good plight, yet he hath laid fast hold on the soule, and by curing the body, hath killed that. And the part thus cured, cannot say with David, The Lord is my helper; but the devil is my helper; for by him he is cured…. The good immediately accomplished his desire, by intangling the soule in the bands of errour, ignorance, and false faith.[30]

According to Perkins, there is still yet another distinction to be made with regard to witches. Not only are there good and bad witches—both being in covenant with Satan—but there are divining witches and working witches. The former are those witches who “reveal strange things either past, present, or to come, by the assistance of the Devil.”; the latter are those witches who are active and operative.[31]

The Afflictions Imposed by Witches

Having inquired into the nature of a witch, the afflicting power and capabilities of a witch will be discussed henceforth. Part and parcel with a discussion regarding a witch’s power, is an explanation of the devil, for it is believed that the witch can only work wonders by the power of Satan—and this only by the permission of God. According to Mather, the devil is a fallen angel, a spiritually wicked monster who works tirelessly to fight against the kingdom of God. And while he is more powerful and educated than any man on earth, God has him on a leash.[32]

Perkins highlights four reasons why God allows evil and witchcraft to occur: First, to punish the wicked for their sins, second, to avenge Himself of the ingratitude of those who have His word but do not obey it, third, to arise the godly who are slothful and living in sin, and, fourth, to test His people in order to see if they will cling to Him or follow Satan.[33]

According to Perkins, witchcraft is the chief ordinance in Satan’s kingdom. Through witches, the devil is able to work wonders toward the destruction of God’s kingdom. Satan’s power of illusion, his superior knowledge, the great number of his demonic army, and spiritual powers are the backdrop of the witch’s ministry.

Regarding Satan’s power of illusion, Holmes explains, “Then again, by his exceeding power and agility, he can either change the seeing power of the eye, or the condition of the air; or he can trouble the inward fancy, making it to take notice of phantoms present.”[34] By this power of illusion, witches have been seen to appear as wolves, lions, dogs, birds, toads, or other creatures, “but only in appearance, and phantasie corrupted,” for Satan, while powerful, cannot change the substance of a man into an animal.[35] It is by these illusions that Satan could appear in the likeness of Samuel when conjured by the witch at Endor.[36] The witch, by extension, has the power of juggling; that is, deceiving people by making them think they see things they do not.[37]

Moreover, it is by the devil’s superior knowledge that witches, of the divining sort, can come to know the future.[38] Satan knows the prophetic Scriptures and what is happening all over the world through the presence of his demonic informants; therefore, through the means of astrology, dreams, and other instruments the witch comes to know fantastical things. Satan is able to “frame dreams in the braine of a man,” and perform other such supernatural feats.[39] However, while Satan is skillful toward this end, “yet it is above his reach to determine of such things as these are, or to foretell them without helpe from God.”[40] In other words, while Satan is big and powerful, God is infinitely bigger and more powerful.

The great number of Satan’s demonic army, which is all over the world, allows a witch’s spells and charms to be made effective toward diabolical ends. The words she speaks have no power in and of themselves, but they are the Satan’s “watch words.” The charm or inchantment works by the power of Satan “who then is stirred up, when the charme is repeated.”[41]

Divining, charms, and juggling are the chief tools of the witch. By the spiritual powers of the devil, the witch can perform mighty deeds, to include creating storms or even sending her specter to do her evil bidding.[42] The witchs’ specter is commissioned by them and represents them in order to be “the Engine of their Malice.”[43] The specter has the power to haunt, bite, hit, or even kill, if permitted.[44] Mather records that the “learned Scribonius” was praying for someone afflicted by evil spirits when he himself received “an horrible Blow over the face” by an evil spirit.[45] “The people thus afflicted,” continues Mather,

are miserably scratched and bitten, so that the Marks are most visible to all the World, but the cause utterly invisible; and the same Invisible Furies do most visibly stick Pins into the bodies of the afflicted, and scale them, and hideously distort, and disjoint all their members, besides a thousand other sorts of Plagues beyond these of any natural diseases which they give unto them, Yea, they sometimes drag the poor people out of their chambers, and carry them over Trees and Hills, or divers miles together.[46]

Baxter warns, however, that it is hard to know when the specter is the devil, a witch’s specter, or a human spirit. He reasons that since “Angels can be here, and do their Office for us, without such Descent as shall abate their Joy and Glory; and why not blessed Souls too, if they shall be equal with Angels?” [See note].[47] Later, Baxter records of an event when a specter came to a woman in the likeness of her husband with appeals to enter her bed. She refused, but as the week progressed the specter became violent and afflicted those present by striking their faces with black smoke and their bodies with bruises.[48] Indeed, discerning whether the specter is Satan in disguise, a witch’s specter, or just that of a loved one has proven difficult.[49]

Before leaving the power and means by which the witch afflicts, the most prominent, albeit extremely odd, means must be discussed. In many cases, the bewitched are brought to vomit various objects: Stones, iron, nails, brass, crooked pins, blood, glass, white mercury, head-bodkins, nitre, dog’s hair, bone, veins, chestnuts, flesh, hen’s bone, horse’s teeth, cockleshells, horse dung, feathers, thread, knives, and straw have all been reported to have been vomited by the bewitched.[50] Baxter recorded an account of a woman who vomited over two-hundred crooked pins in one sitting, and then continued to vomit objects for nearly six months. Men inspected her mouth before and after the vomiting to insure there was no foul play.[51] In some cases, despite vomiting pins and sharp knives, there was surprisingly no blood [See note].[52] Some of the items vomited or voided were items that were previously seen in a witch’s basket.[53] As to how the items were placed into the victims, Mather records testimony of a bee flying into a boy’s mouth and placing penny nails into his throat.[54]

Fighting Against Witchcraft

Weapons against witchcraft range from the bizarre to the more conventional. Baxter records a remedy from Bartholomew Carrichters, who recommended mixing various greases and herbs together as a cure for the bewitched [See note].[55] This kind of “counter-magic” was condemned, however, by Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem Village. When Mary Sibley, a member of Parris’s church, attempted her own concoction to combat the present afflictions, Parris claimed she was “going to the devil for the help against the devil,” and setting up a satanic lightning rod.[56]

Perkins, taking a more conventional approach, taught that there are preventative and restorative means of combating witchcraft. If one wants to prevent from being bewitched, things such as becoming a member of the covenant of grace, partaking of Christ by faith, repenting of sin, living unto God in obedience and a newness of life, and sitting under the preached word are the prescribed means.[57] Restorative means of combating the effects of witchcraft are a bit more complicated. Perkins maintains that the apostolic gifts of casting out devils and curing witchcraft have ceased after about two hundred years subsequent Christ’s ascension.[58] Nevertheless, Perkins subscribes three restorative remedies to the afflicted: First, examine yourself and try to discover why God has allowed Satan to bewitch you, second, show forth your faith through prayer and fasting, and, finally, endure the affliction as discipline from God.[59] To this list, Mather adds that joining a church and consecrating your children are good means to prevent witchcraft, and when tormented by Satan, Mather suggests saying the following:

Satan, thy time with me is but short, Nay thy time with me shall be no more; I am unutterably sorry that it has been so much; Depart from me thou Evil-Doer, that thou would’st have me to be an Evil Doer like thy self; I will now for ever keep the Commandments of that God, in whom I Live and Move, and have my Being![60]

The Puritans repudiated the methods of Rome in the distinguishing of devils. The elaborate rituals, procedures, relics, and formulas were seen as itself an act of sorcery. “One great cause of the hardening of those Infidels, is, the frequent Impostures which the Romanists obtrude on the World in their Exorcisms and pretended Miracles,” records Baxter.[61] Since the casting out of demons has ceased with the apostles, “for any ordinary man now to command the Devil in such sort,” writes Perkins, “is meere presumption, and a practise of Sorcerie.”[62] The Papists, Perkins maintains, are heirs of Simon the Magician, have adopted satanic doctrines, and even some of their popes have been witches in league with the devil.[63] As was seen with Satan commissioning both good and bad witches to counteract each other, so the logic holds that some methods of witchcraft (e.g., Roman exorcisms) are able to combat the effects of witchcraft—as Parris stated: “going to the devil for the help against the devil” [See note].[64]

The Discovering and Punishing of Witches

In his book, On Witchcraft, Mather includes a chapter giving an abstract of Perkins’s way for discovering a witch, of which there are eight: (1) If there is presumption that warrants an occasion for examination; (2) If a man or woman is defamed for a witch; (3) If a fellow-witch has named the man or woman; (4) if after cursing a person, death or mischief follows; (5) if after quarrelling or threatening a person, death of mischief follows; (6) if the person is the child, servant, or friend of a convicted witch; (7) if the person has the devil’s mark; (8) if the suspect is inconsistent or argues from a guilty conscious.[65] It has also been testified that a witch cannot recite the Lord’s prayer, for Satan prevents those in covenant with him from doing so.[66]

During the interrogations, the Puritan’s sought to exercise care that innocent persons were not wrongfully charged with witchcraft. Perkins warns: “They [the jurors] would be carefull what they do, and not to condemne any party suspected upon bare presumption, without sound and sufficient proofes, that they be not guilty through their owne rashness of shedding innocent blood.”[67] Similarly, Mather explained, “[H]ow unhappy are we!” if innocent blood were to be shed.[68] Mather also warns that Satan, masquerading as an angel of light, can deceive people into thinking justice is being served when in truth it be only mischief. On the other hand, if only guilty witches are brought to justice then “How Happy!”[69]

Mather writes that the witch could confess and repent, at which time the authorities would rejoice “in a Soul sav’d from Death.”[70] Perkins shares the same sympathy: “All Witches judicially and lawfully convicted, ought to have space of repentance granted unto them.”[71] Though, Perkins maintained a stricter course: “wherein they may be instructed and exhorted, and then afterwards executed…. [T]he magistrate must execute justice upon malefactors lawfully convicted, whether they repent or not.”[72]

The Puritans held to theonomic principles wherein some of the laws of Moses were seen as being at work even in the new covenant church. Perkins taught that the law of Moses, which stated that witches were to be put to death (Exo. 22:18), was perpetual, for it seeks to maintain a perpetual moral precept and “hath in it the equitie of the Law of nature.”[73] In fact, Perkins ends his book, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, with this line: “Death therefore is the just and deserved portion of the good witch.”[74] Mather agrees with Perkins; he praises Constantine, believing all lands and nations are to be Christ’s, and that the magistrates promote holiness through the law.[75] Regarding New England, some Puritans referred to it as a “New England Israel,” and, as one historian noted, “Sin and crime were close cousins in seventeenth-century Massachusetts, which drew its list of capital offenses from the Bible.”[76]

© copyright J. Brandon Burks, 2017


[1]In these works, Perkins functions as the paragon, someone the rest appeal to. Baxter and Mather also show mutual appreciation, and Parris appeals to Baxter at points.

[2]William Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft (1608; reprint Middletown, DE: Theophania, 2016), 15. The older works are filled with archaic spelling, capitalizations, and emphases. Unless otherwise stated, all oddities are to be assumed original.

[3]Cotton Mather, On Witchcraft (1962; reprint Mineola, NY: Dover, 2005), 131. The older works are filled with archaic spelling, capitalizations, and emphases. Unless otherwise stated, all oddities are to be assumed original.

[4]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 92.


[6]Ibid., 33. [Capitalization original].

[7]Ibid., 34-35.

[8]Ibid., 36.


[10]Ibid., 37-38.

[11]Ibid., 38.

[12]Ibid., 81-84.

[13]Richard Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits (1691; reprint Middletown, DE: Theophania, 2016), 14. In this volume, Baxter collects letters and testimonies of those who have seen, experienced, or heard about strange, supernatural occurrences. It can be difficult to locate where Baxter’s comments end and a collected letter begins. Thus, when using this volume, I will introduce a citation with “Baxter records” or “Baxter recounts,” as it is, after all, Baxter who is including these testimonies and letters into his book.

[14]Ibid., 71-72.

[15]Schiff, The Witches, 63.  Increase Mather (1639-1723) was raised in accordance to the strict puritanism of his father, Richard Mather. Attending Harvard at the age of twelve, Increase Mather would pastor Second Church in Boston for almost sixty-years. What is more, he had a leading role in various synods, to include the Boston Synod where he wrote the preface for their Confession of Faith, which was after the Savoy Declaration. He, further, vigorously upheld the older Puritan theocracy and establishment order in church and state. In 1691 when citizenship was defined in terms of property and not in terms of church membership, Mather became “deeply distressed.” Less mystical than his son, Cotton Mather, Increase Mather would write Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits, arguing against spectral evidence. The book played a role in ending the witch trials. Joel R. Beeke and Randall J, Pederson, Meet the Puritans (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2006), 421, 431-434.

[16]Ibid., 62-63.

[17]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 35.

[18]Mather, On Witchcraft, 130; c.f., 167.

[19]Ibid., 67; c.f., 103, 163, 165-166. The “Black Man” image of Satan is rich in Puritan literature, though sometimes Satan is said to appear as an “Indian”—the very people many in the colony feared. Although, Baxter record him as a “Big, Black Man.” Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 32.

[20]Mather, On Witchcraft, 16, 68.

[21]Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 46-47.

[22]Schiff, The Witches, 61.

[23]Ibid., 193.

[24]Ibid., 194.

[25]Mather, On Witchcraft, 112.

[26]Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 41.

[27]Mather, On Witchcraft, 161.

[28]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 95.


[30]Ibid., 96.

[31]Ibid., 40, 73.

[32]Mather, On Witchcraft, 37-42.

[33]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 7; c.f., 30-31, 42, 117-118.

[34]Nathaniel Holmes, Demonology and Theology, ed. by Therese B. McMahon (1650; reprint Crossville, TN: Puritan Publications, 2014), 38.

[35]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 24-25; c.f., Mather, On Witchcraft, 92-93.

[36]Ibid., 64-66.

[37]Holmes, Demonology and Theology, 56-58.

[38]Mather elaborates, “Some of them that have been cry’d out upon a imploying Evil Spirits to hurt our Land, have been known to be most bloody Fortune-Tellers; and some of them have confessed, That when they told Fortunes, they would pretend the Rules of Chiromancy and the like Ignorant Science, but indeed they had no Rule (they said) but this, The things were then Darted into their minds. Darted! Ye Wretches; By whom, I pray? Surely by none but the Devils.” Mather, On Witchcraft, 19. [Emphasis original].

[39]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 59.

[40]Ibid., 61; c.f., 40-72.

[41]Ibid., 38, 80.

[42]Baxter records: “The raising of Storms by Witches is attested by so many, that I think it needless to recite them.” Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 73. Mather teaches that witches are made owners of specters by virtue of their covenant with Satan. Mather, On Witchcraft, 68-69.

[43]Mather, On Witchcraft, 68.

[44]Baxter records an account of an apparition bending down a boy’s neck until he died. Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 48.

[45]Mather, On Witchcraft, 5.

[46]Ibid., 68.

[47]Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 13, 15. Mather and other clergy surrounding the witch trials will believe similarly that the ghost of a murdered person can appear and name his or her murderer. Later Reformed theologians, however, shy away from the belief in ghosts. While the reality of angels and demons are affirmed, it is believed that the souls of the departed no longer have contact with the living. Herman Bavinck, for example, taught, “[N]owhere does it [the Holy Scriptures] teach the possibility or reality of the dead appearing…. Further, the whole of Scripture proceeds from the idea that death is a total break with life on this side of the grave…. Scripture consistently tells us that at death all fellowship with this earth ends. The dead no longer have a share in anything that happens under the sun (Eccles. 9:5-6, 10). Nowhere is there any sign that the dead are in contact with the living: they belong to another realm, one that is totally separate from the earth…. Those who have died in the Lord are with Jesus (Phil. 1:23), stand before the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 7:9, 15), cry out and pray, praise and serve him (6:10; 7:10, 15; 22:17). Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume, ed. by John Bolt (Grand Rapids, Baker Academics, 2011), 711, 718. [Brackets mine].

[48]Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 25-26.

[49]Elsewhere Baxter records an account when the devil appeared in the likeness of someone’s dead husband. Ibid., 75.

[50]Ibid., 35-36, 45, 54-57, 66-68, 70, 76, 78.

[51]Ibid., 54-55.

[52]Ibid., 78. In still stranger tails, wood was found in a man’s rectum, and a woman voided a living eel in her stool. Ibid., 45, 66.

[53]Ibid., 78.

[54]Mather, On Witchcraft, 95.

[55]Baxter records the following recipe: mix 4 oz. of dogs grease (well dissolved and cleaned), 8 oz. of bears grease, 24 oz. of capons grease, three trunks of mistletoe of the hasle while green (cut into pieces and pound small, and bruised together with the wood, leaves, and berries) in a vial. Leave exposed to the sun for nine weeks. After such a time, anoint bodies of the afflicted with green balsam. Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 80-81.

[56]Schiff, The Witches, 26-27. Sibley mixed the girls urine into a rye-flour cake and baked it amid the embers on the hearth. She then fed the “cake” to the family dog. The counter-magic was supposed to, perhaps, draw the witch into the animal, transfer the spell to the animal, or maybe even scald the witch.

[57]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 9, 116, 118.

[58]Ibid., 121-125.

[59]Ibid., 121-122.

[60]Mather, On Witchcraft, 88.

[61]Baxter, The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits, 59.

[62]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 129.

[63]Ibid., 7, 18, 24.

[64]Frederick Leahy taught something similar: “Pagan exorcisms are simply a trick by which Satan brings people increasingly under his power. The stronger demon in the sorcerer will most certainly expel the demon in a possessed person. But the person is not healed. He has not been delivered from the power of the enemy. The expelled demon can and probably will return.” Joel R. Beeke, Fighting Satan: Knowing His Weaknesses, Strategies, and Defeat (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015), 27. It is interesting, however, that Jesus seems to suggest this is unlikely (Matt. 12:22-30). Commenting on Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20, Herman Ridderbos stated, “He [Jesus] shows the absurdity of the accusation by comparing the power of the devil with that of a kingdom or a town or a house, i.e., with an organically coherent unity. If one devil should cast out another, the kingdom of the devil would not stand but would fall asunder. But this does not happen. That is why there is only one explanation for Jesus’ power over the demons, viz., that by the Spirit (or the finger of God) he was able to cast them out.” Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom (Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1962), 61 [Brackets mine]. Admittedly, however, the matter gets complicated as those devoid of the Holy Spirit are still able to cast out demons (Matt. 7:21-23).

[65]Mather, On Witchcraft, 27-28.

[66]Ibid., 150.

[67]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 116. [Brackets mine].

[68]Mather, On Witchcraft, 132. [Brackets mine].

[69]Ibid., 133.

[70]Ibid., 23.

[71]Perkins, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 132.

[72]Ibid. [Brackets mine].

[73]Ibid., 129-130.

[74]Ibid., 134.

[75]Mather, On Witchcraft, 36, 64, 78.

[76]Schiff, The Witches, 6, 45-46.


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