16 Cotton Mather

Introduction: Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

by Sonya Parrish

Born in Boston in 1663, Cotton Mather was the son of Increase Mather and the grandson of Richard Mather and John Cotton. This legacy of famous Puritan ministers and community leaders shaped Mather’s life and was the driving force behind many of his achievements. Encouraged in his early education and dedication to Puritanism by his father, he entered Harvard at age 12 and graduated with a BA and MA in 1678 at the age of 15. Ordained in 1685, he became the pastor of Second Church of Boston where he remained until his death. Often viewed as an aggressive, vain genius by his contemporaries, he had a stutter from childhood to early adulthood and suffered from various nervous conditions in his life. He lost three wives to death or insanity in his lifetime, and of the fifteen children he fathered only two survived to his death. Despite tragedies and controversy, he published over 400 works in his lifetime and is today seen as one of the most influential religious and historical writers from the seventeenth-century Puritan community.

Mather’s prolific writing career was matched by his willingness to explore all issues he felt impacted his Puritan community. He was a minister, historian, natural scientist, and prolific writer. He openly criticized the slave trade and encouraged the new science of smallpox inoculation while simultaneously endorsing the use of spectral evidence in trials of witchcraft and encouraging the mass destruction of the Native American population in New England. He was vilified later in his life for his endorsement of the Salem Witch Trials, although he did not personally participate in the proceedings. His writing, both historical and religious, hearkened back to the Puritan underpinnings of New England and worked to preserve Puritan theocracy in a community he viewed as becoming more concerned with secular political and social issues. More stylistically ornate than many of his contemporaries, Mather’s writing was also consistently thoughtful and effective in its use of rhetoric. No matter the subject, Mather showed a vast knowledge and deft use of language in all his work. Like previous authors in this anthology, such as William Bradford and John Winthrop, his Puritanism dominates his writing, and his admiration and reverence for such early colonial leaders is echoed throughout his life and writing.

The first excerpt below comes from Wonders of the Invisible World. Wonders of the Invisible World, first published in 1693, is Mather’s infamous defense of the Salem Witch Trials. During these trials, which lasted from February 1692 to May 1693 in the towns of Salem Town, Salem Village, Ipswich, and Andover in the Massachusetts colony, one hundred forty-four people were brought before the court, fifty-four confessed to witchcraft, nineteen were hanged, one man was pressed to death by heavy stones, and two dogs were executed — the community lived in fear. In his recounting and justification of the trials, trials he never attended, Mather gathered material from the court records available to systematically prove both the deeds of the Devil and God’s triumph in a court of law in New England while also asserting his right to speak on such matters and defending his position during the trials. The work examines the supernatural as reality, and it reveals anxieties over continued Puritan identification as God’s chosen people and a holy community to emulate. Mather, like many third generation New England residents, looked to such events to show God’s simultaneous displeasure and favor, and he relied on rhetorical argument structures, logical assertions based on contemporary belief, and the use of Biblical tropes and allusions to establish a narrative of affliction and triumph for his community. However, for Mather this triumph was short-lived. Community backlash condemning the trials began at the turn of the century, and much of Mather’s loss in popularity is attributed to the writing of this text in particular.

The Wonders of the Invisible World

Being an Account of the Tryals of Several Witches, Lately Executed in NEW-ENGLAND: And of several remarkable Curiosities therein Occurring. (1693)

Title page to Wonders of the Invisible World
Frontespiece to the 1693 edition of The Wonders of the Invisible World. Wikimedia Commons, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonders_of_the_Invisible_World#/media/File:WondersoftheInvisibleWorld-1693.jpg

The Author’s Defence

Tis, as I remember, the Learned Scribonius, who reports, That one of his Acquaintance, devoutly making his Prayers on the behalf of a Person molested by Evil Spirits, received from those Evil Spirits an horrible Blow over the Face: And I may my self expect not few or small Buffetings from Evil Spirits, for the Endeavours wherewith I am now going to encounter them. I am far from insensible, that at this extraordinary Time of the Devils coming down in great Wrath upon us, there are too many Tongues and Hearts thereby set on fire of Hell; that the various Opinions about the Witchcrafts which of later time have troubled us, are maintained by some with so much cloudy Fury, as if they could never be sufficiently stated, unless written in the Liquor wherewith Witches use to write their Covenants; and that he who becomes an Author at such a time, had need be fenced with Iron, and the Staff of a Spear. The unaccountable Frowardness, Asperity, Untreatableness, and Inconsistency of many Persons, every Day gives a visible Exposition of that passage, An evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul; and Illustration of that Story, There met him two possessed with Devils, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. To send abroad a Book, among such Readers, were a very unadvised thing, if a Man had not such Reasons to give, as I can bring, for such an Undertaking. Briefly, I hope it cannot be said, They are all so: No, I hope the Body of this People, are yet in such a Temper, as to be capable of applying their Thoughts, to make a Right Use of the stupendous and prodigious Things that are happening among us: And because I was concern’d, when I saw that no abler Hand emitted any Essays to engage the Minds of this People, in such holy, pious, fruitful Improvements, as God would have to be made of his amazing Dispensations now upon us. Therefore it is, that One of the Least among the Children of New-England, has here done, what is done. None, but the Father, who sees in secret, knows the Heart-breaking Exercises, wherewith I have composed what is now going to be exposed, lest I should in any one thing miss of doing my designed Service for his Glory, and for his People; but I am now somewhat comfortably assured of his favourable acceptance; and, I will not fear; what can a Satan do unto me!

Having performed something of what God required, in labouring to suit his Words unto his Works, at this Day among us, and therewithal handled a Theme that has been sometimes counted not unworthy the Pen, even of a King, it will easily be perceived, that some subordinate Ends have been considered in these Endeavours.

I have indeed set myself to countermine the whole PLOT of the Devil, against New-England, in every Branch of it  as far as one of my darkness, can comprehend such a Work of Darkness. I may add, that I have herein also aimed at the Information and Satisfaction of Good Men in another Country, a thousand Leagues off, where I have, it may be, more, or however, more considerable Friends, than in my own: And I do what I can to have that Country, now, as well as always, in the best Terms with my own. But while I am doing these things, I have been driven a little to do something likewise for myself; I mean, by taking off the false Reports, and hard Censures about my Opinion in these Matters, the Parter’s Portions which my pursuit of Peace has procured me among the Keen. My hitherto unvaried Thoughts are here published; and I believe, they will be owned by most of the Ministers of God in these Colonies; nor can amends be well made me, for the wrong done me, by other sorts of Representations.

In fine: For the Dogmatical part of my Discourse, I want no Defence; for the Historical part of it, I have a Very Great One; the Lieutenant-Governour of New-England having perused it, has done me the Honour of giving me a Shield, under the Umbrage whereof I now dare to walk abroad.

Enchantments Encountered

Section I

It was as long ago as the Year 1637, that a Faithful Minister of the Church of England, whose Name was Mr. Edward Symons, did in a Sermon afterwards Printed, thus express himself; ‘At New-England now the Sun of Comfort begins to appear, and the glorious Day-Star to show it self;—Sed Venient Annis Sæculæ Seris, there will come Times in after Ages, when the Clouds will over-shadow and darken the Sky there. Many now promise to themselves nothing but successive Happiness there, which for a time through God’s Mercy they may enjoy; and I pray God, they may a long time; but in this World there is no Happiness perpetual.’ An Observation, or I had almost said, an Inspiration, very dismally now verify’d upon us! It has been affirm’d by some who best knew New-England, That the World will do New-England a great piece of Injustice, if it acknowledge not a measure of Religion, Loyalty, Honesty, and Industry, in the People there, beyond what is to be found with any other People for the Number of them. When I did a few years ago, publish a Book, which mentioned a few memorable Witchcrafts, committed in this country; the excellent Baxter, graced the Second Edition of that Book, with a kind Preface, wherein he sees cause to say, If any are Scandalized, that New-England, a place of as serious Piety, as any I can hear of, under Heaven, should be troubled so much with Witches; I think, ’tis no wonder: Where will the Devil show most Malice, but where he is hated, and hateth most: And I hope, the Country will still deserve and answer the Charity so expressed by that Reverend Man of God. Whosoever travels over this Wilderness, will see it richly bespangled with Evangelical Churches, whose Pastors are holy, able, and painful Overseers of their Flocks, lively Preachers, and vertuous Livers; and such as in their several Neighbourly Associations, have had their Meetings whereat Ecclesiastical Matters of common Concernment are considered: Churches, whose Communicants have been seriously examined about their Experiences of Regeneration, as well as about their Knowledge, and Belief, and blameless Conversation, before their admission to the Sacred Communion; although others of less but hopeful Attainments in Christianity are not ordinarily deny’d Baptism for themselves and theirs; Churches, which are shye of using any thing in the Worship of God, for which they cannot see a Warrant of God; but with whom yet the Names of CongregationalPresbyterianEpiscopalian, or Antipædobaptist, are swallowed up in that of Christian; Persons of all those Perswasions being taken into our Fellowship, when visible Goodliness has recommended them: Churches, which usually do within themselves manage their own Discipline, under the Conduct of their Elders; but yet call in the help of Synods upon Emergencies, or Aggrievances: Churches, Lastly, wherein Multitudes are growing ripe for Heaven every day; and as fast as these are taken off, others are daily rising up. And by the Presence and Power of the Divine Institutions thus maintained in the Country, We are still so happy, that I suppose there is no Land in the Universe more free from the debauching, and the debasing Vices of Ungodliness. The Body of the People are hitherto so disposed, that SwearingSabbath-breakingWhoringDrunkenness, and the like, do not make a Gentleman, but a Monster, or a Goblin, in the vulgar Estimation. All this notwithstanding, we must humbly confess to our God, that we are miserably degenerated from the first Love of our Predecessors; however we boast our selves a little, when Men would go to trample upon us, and we venture to say, Wherein soever any is bold (we speak foolishly) we are bold also. The first Planters of these Colonies were a chosen Generation of Men, who were first so pure, as to disrelish many things which they thought wanted Reformation elsewhere; and yet withal so peaceable, that they embraced a voluntary Exile in a squalid, horrid, American Desart, rather than to live in Contentions with their Brethren. Those good Men imagined that they should leave their Posterity in a place, where they should never see the Inroads of Profanity, or Superstition: And a famous Person returning hence, could in a Sermon before the Parliament, profess, I have now been seven Years in a Country, where I never Saw one Man drunk, or heard one Oath sworn, or beheld one Beggar in the Streets all the while. Such great Persons as Budæus, and others, who mistook Sir Thomas Moor’s Utopia, for a Country really existent, and stirr’d up some Divines charitably to undertake a Voyage thither, might now have certainly found a Truth in their Mistake; New-England was a true Utopia. But, alas, the Children and Servants of those old Planters must needs afford many, degenerate Plants, and there is now risen up a Number of People, otherwise inclined than our Joshua’s, and the Elders that out-liv’d them. Those two things our holy Progenitors, and our happy Advantages make Omissions of Duty, and such Spiritual Disorders as the whole World abroad is overwhelmed with, to be as provoking in us, as the most flagitious Wickednesses committed in other places; and the Ministers of God are accordingly severe in their Testimonies: But in short, those Interests of the Gospel, which were the Errand of our Fathers into these Ends of the Earth, have been too much neglected and postponed, and the Attainments of an handsome Education, have been too much undervalued, by Multitudes that have not fallen into Exorbitances of Wickedness; and some, especially of our young Ones, when they have got abroad from under the Restraints here laid upon them, have become extravagantly and abominably Vicious. Hence ’tis, that the Happiness of New-England has been but for a time, as it was foretold, and not for a long time, as has been desir’d for us. A Variety of Calamity has long follow’d this Plantation; and we have all the Reason imaginable to ascribe it unto the Rebuke of Heaven upon us for our manifold Apostasies; we make no right use of our Disasters: If we do not, Remember whence we are fallen, and repent, and do the first Works. But yet our Afflictions may come under a further Consideration with us: There is a further Cause of our Afflictions, whose due must be given him.

Section II

The New-Englanders are a People of God settled in those, which were once the Devil’s Territories; and it may easily be supposed that the Devil was exceedingly disturbed, when he perceived such a People here accomplishing the Promise of old made unto our Blessed Jesus, That He should have the Utmost parts of the Earth for his Possession. There was not a greater Uproar among the Ephesians, when the Gospel was first brought among them, than there was among, The Powers of the Air (after whom those Ephesians walked) when first the Silver Trumpets of the Gospel here made the Joyful Sound. The Devil thus Irritated, immediately try’d all sorts of Methods to overturn this poor Plantation: and so much of the Church, as was Fled into this Wilderness, immediately found, The Serpent cast out of his Mouth a Flood for the carrying of it away. I believe, that never were more Satanical Devices used for the Unsetling of any People under the Sun, than what have been Employ’d for the Extirpation of the Vine which God has here PlantedCasting out the Heathen, and preparing a Room before it, and causing it to take deep Root, and fill the Land, so that it sent its Boughs unto the Atlantic Sea Eastward, and its Branches unto the Connecticut River Westward, and the Hills were covered with the shadow thereof. But, All those Attempts of Hell, have hitherto been Abortive, many an Ebenezer has been Erected unto the Praise of God, by his Poor People here; and, Having obtained Help from God, we continue to this Day. Wherefore the Devil is now making one Attempt more upon us; an Attempt more Difficult, more Surprizing, more snarl’d with unintelligible Circumstances than any that we have hitherto Encountred; an Attempt so Critical, that if we get well through, we shall soon Enjoy Halcyon Days with all the Vultures of Hell Trodden under our Feet. He has wanted his Incarnate Legions to Persecute us, as the People of God have in the other Hemisphere been Persecuted: he has therefore drawn forth his more Spiritual ones to make an Attacque upon us. We have been advised by some Credible Christians yet alive, that a Malefactor, accused of Witchcraft as well as Murder, and Executed in this place more than Forty Years ago, did then give Notice of, An Horrible Plot against the Country by Witchcraft, and a Foundation of Witchcraft then laid, which if it were not seasonally discovered, would probably Blow up, and pull down all the Churches in the Country. And we have now with Horror seen the Discovery of such a Witchcraft! An Army of Devils is horribly broke in upon the place which is the Center, and after a sort, the First-born of our English Settlements: and the Houses of the Good People there are fill’d with the doleful Shrieks of their Children and Servants, Tormented by Invisible Hands, with Tortures altogether preternatural. After the Mischiefs there Endeavoured, and since in part Conquered, the terrible Plague, of Evil Angels, hath made its Progress into some other places, where other Persons have been in like manner Diabolically handled. These our poor Afflicted Neighbours, quickly after they become Infected and Infested with these Dæmons, arrive to a Capacity of Discerning those which they conceive the Shapes of their Troublers; and notwithstanding the Great and Just Suspicion, that the Dæmons might Impose the Shapes of Innocent Persons in their Spectral Exhibitions upon the Sufferers, (which may perhaps prove no small part of the Witch-Plot in the issue) yet many of the Persons thus Represented, being Examined, several of them have been Convicted of a very Damnable Witchcraft: yea, more than One Twenty have Confessed, that they have Signed unto a Book, which the Devil show’d them, and Engaged in his Hellish Design of Bewitching, and Ruining our Land. We know not, at least I know not, how far the Delusions of Satan may be Interwoven into some Circumstances of the Confessions; but one would think, all the Rules of Understanding Humane Affairs are at an end, if after so many most Voluntary Harmonious Confessions, made by Intelligent Persons of all Ages, in sundry Towns, at several Times, we must not Believe the main strokes wherein those Confessions all agree: especially when we have a thousand preternatural Things every day before our eyes, wherein the Confessors do acknowledge their Concernment, and give Demonstration of their being so Concerned. If the Devils now can strike the minds of men with any Poisons of so fine a Composition and Operation, that Scores of Innocent People shall Unite, in Confessions of a Crime, which we see actually committed, it is a thing prodigious, beyond the Wonders of the former Ages, and it threatens no less than a sort of a Dissolution upon the World. Now, by these Confessions ’tis Agreed, That the Devil has made a dreadful Knot of Witches in the Country, and by the help of Witches has dreadfully increased that Knot: That these Witches have driven a Trade of Commissioning their Confederate Spirits, to do all sorts of Mischiefs to the Neighbours, whereupon there have ensued such Mischievous consequences upon the Bodies and Estates of the Neighbourhood, as could not otherwise be accounted for: yea, That at prodigious Witch-Meetings, the Wretches have proceeded so far, as to Concert and Consult the Methods of Rooting out the Christian Religion from this Country, and setting up instead of it, perhaps a more gross Diabolesm, than ever the World saw before. And yet it will be a thing little short of Miracle, if in so spread a Business as this, the Devil should not get in some of his Juggles, to confound the Discovery of all the rest.

A Discourse On The Wonders Of The Invisible World.

The First Conjecture.

The Devils Eldest Son seems to be towards the End of his last Half-time; and if it be so, the Devils Whole-time, cannot but be very near its End. It is a very scandalous thing that any Protestant, should be at a loss where to find the Anti-Christ. But, we have a sufficient assurance, that the Duration of Anti-Christ, is to be but for a Time, and for Times, and for Half a time; that is for Twelve hundred and Sixty Years. And indeed, those Twelve Hundred and Sixty Years, were the very Spott of Time left for the Devil, and meant when ’tis here said, He has but a short time. Now, I should have an easie time of it, if I were never put upon an Harder Task, than to produce what might render it extreamly probable, that Antichrist entred his last Half-time, or the last Hundred and Fourscore years of his Reign, at or soon after the celebrated Reformation which began at the year 1517 in the former century. Indeed, it is very agreeable to see how Antichrist then lost Half of his Empire; and how that half which then became Reformed, have been upon many accounts little more than Half-reformed. But by this computation, we must needs be within a very few years of such a Mortification to befal the See of Rome, as that Antichrist, who has lately been planting (what proves no more lasting than) a Tabernacle in the Glorious Holy Mountain between the Seas, must quickly, Come to his End and none shall help him. So then, within a very little while, we shall see the Devil stript of the grand, yea, the last, Vehicle, wherein he will be capable to abuse our World. The Fires, with which, That Beast is to be consumed, will so singe the Wings of the Devil too, that he shall no more set the Affairs of this world on Fire. Yea, they shall both go into the same Fire, to be tormented for ever and ever.

The Third Conjecture.

There is a little room for hope, that the great wrath of the Devil, will not prove the present ruine of our poor New-England in particular. I believe, there never was a poor Plantation, more pursued by the wrath of the Devil, than our poor New-England; and that which makes our condition very much the more deplorable is, that the wrath of the great God Himself, at the same time also presses hard upon us. It was a rousing alarm to the Devil, when a great Company of English Protestants and Puritans, came to erect Evangelical Churches, in a corner of the World, where he had reign’d without any controul for many Ages; and it is a vexing Eye-sore to the Devil, that our Lord Christ should be known, and own’d, and preached in this howling Wilderness. Wherefor he has left no Stone unturned, that so he might undermine his Plantation, and force us out of our Country.

First, The Indian Powawes, used all their Sorceries to molest the first Planters here; but God said unto them, Touch them not! Then, Seducing Spirits came to root in this Vineyard, but God so rated them off, that they have not prevail’d much farther than the Edges of our Land. After this, we have had a continual blast upon some of our principal Grain, annually diminishing a vast part of our ordinary Food. Herewithal, wasting Sicknesses, especially Burning and Mortal Agues, have Shot the Arrows of Death in at our Windows. Next, we have had many Adversaries of our own Language, who have been perpetually assaying to deprive us of those English Liberties, in the encouragement whereof these Territories have been settled. As if this had not been enough; The Tawnies among whom we came, have watered our Soil with the Blood of many Hundreds of our Inhabitants. Desolating Fires also have many times laid the chief Treasure of the whole Province in Ashes. As for Losses by Sea, they have been multiply’d upon us: and particularly in the present French War, the whole English Nation have observ’d that no part of the Nation has proportionably had so many Vessels taken, as our poor New-England. Besides all which, now at last the Devils are (if I may so speak) in Person come down upon us with such a Wrath, as is justly much, and will quickly be more, the Astonishment of the World. Alas, I may sigh over this Wilderness, as Moses did over his, in Psal. 90.7, 9. We are consumed by thine Anger, and by thy Wrath we are troubled: All our days are passed away in thy Wrath. And I may add this unto it, The Wrath of the Devil too has been troubling and spending of us, all our days.

A Modern Instance of Witches, Discovered and Condemned In a Tyral, Before that Celebrated Judge, Sir Matthew Hale.

III. The Tryal of Susanna Martin, At the Court of Oyer and Terminer, Held by Adjournment at Salem, June 29, 1692.

Susanna Martin, pleading Not Guilty to the Indictment of Witchcraft, brought in against her, there were produced the Evidences of many Persons very sensibly and grievously Bewitched; who all complained of the Prisoner at the Bar, as the Person whom they believed the cause of their Miseries. And now, as well as in the other Trials, there was an extraordinary Endeavour by Witchcrafts, with Cruel and frequent Fits, to hinder the poor Sufferers from giving in their Complaints, which the Court was forced with much Patience to obtain, by much waiting and watching for it.

II. There was now also an account given of what passed at her first Examination before the Magistrates. The Cast of her Eye, then striking the afflicted People to the Ground, whether they saw that Cast or no; there were these among other Passages between the Magistrates and the Examinate.

Magistrate. Pray, what ails these People?

Martin. I don’t know.

Magistrate. But what do you think ails them?

Martin. I don’t desire to spend my Judgment upon it.

Magistrate. Don’t you think they are bewitch’d?

Martin. No, I do not think they are.

Magistrate. Tell us your Thoughts about them then.

Martin. No, my thoughts are my own, when they are in, but when they are out they are anothers. Their Master.——

Magistrate. Their Master? who do you think is their Master?

Martin. If they be dealing in the Black Art, you may know as well as I.

Magistrate. Well, what have you done towards this?

Martin. Nothing at all.

Magistrate. Why, ’tis you or your Appearance.

Martin. I cannot help it.

Magistrate. Is it not your Master? How comes your Appearance to hurt these?

Martin. How do I know? He that appeared in the Shape of Samuel, a glorified Saint, may appear in any ones Shape.

It was then also noted in her, as in others like her, that if the Afflicted went to approach her, they were flung down to the Ground. And, when she was asked the reason of it, she said, I cannot tell; it may be, the Devil bears me more Malice than another.

III. The Court accounted themselves, alarum’d by these Things, to enquire further into the Conversation of the Prisoner; and see what there might occur, to render these Accusations further credible. Whereupon, John Allen of Salisbury, testify’d, That he refusing, because of the weakness of his Oxen, to Cart some Staves at the request of this Martin, she was displeased at it; and said, It had been as good that he had; for his Oxen should never do him much more Service. Whereupon, this Deponent said, Dost thou threaten me, thou old Witch? I’l throw thee into the Brook: Which to avoid, she flew over the Bridge, and escaped. But, as he was going home, one of his Oxen tired, so that he was forced to Unyoke him, that he might get him home. He then put his Oxen, with many more, upon Salisbury Beach, where Cattle did use to get Flesh. In a few days, all the Oxen upon the Beach were found by their Tracks, to have run unto the Mouth of Merrimack-River, and not returned; but the next day they were found come ashore upon Plum-Island. They that sought them, used all imaginable gentleness, but they would still run away with a violence, that seemed wholly Diabolical, till they came near the mouth of Merrimack-River; when they ran right into the Sea, swimming as far as they could be seen. One of them then swam back again, with a swiftness, amazing to the Beholders, who stood ready to receive him, and help up his tired Carcass: But the Beast ran furiously up into the Island, and from thence, thorough the Marshes, up into Newbury Town, and so up into the Woods; and there after a while found near Amesbury. So that, of fourteen good Oxen, there was only this saved: The rest were all cast up, some in one place, and some in another, Drowned.

IV. John Atkinson testifi’d, That he exchanged a Cow with a Son of Susanna Martin’s, whereat she muttered, and was unwilling he should have it. Going to receive this Cow, tho he Hamstring’d her, and Halter’d her, she, of a Tame Creature, grew so mad, that they could scarce get her along. She broke all the Ropes that were fastned unto her, and though she were ty’d fast unto a Tree, yet she made her escape, and gave them such further trouble, as they could ascribe to no cause but Witchcraft.

V. Bernard Peache testifi’d, That being in Bed, on the Lord’s-day Night, he heard a scrabbling at the Window, whereat he then saw Susanna Martin come in, and jump down upon the Floor. She took hold of this Deponent’s Feet, and drawing his Body up into an Heap, she lay upon him near Two Hours; in all which time he could neither speak nor stir. At length, when he could begin to move, he laid hold on her Hand, and pulling it up to his Mouth, he bit three of her Fingers, as he judged, unto the Bone. Whereupon she went from the Chamber, down the Stairs, out at the Door. This Deponent thereupon called unto the People of the House, to advise them of what passed; and he himself did follow her. The People saw her not; but there being a Bucket at the Left-hand of the Door, there was a drop of Blood found upon it; and several more drops of Blood upon the Snow newly fallen abroad: There was likewise the print of her 2 Feet just without the Threshold; but no more sign of any Footing further off.

At another time this Deponent was desired by the Prisoner, to come unto an Husking of Corn, at her House; and she said, If he did not come, it were better that he did! He went not; but the Night following, Susanna Martin, as he judged, and another came towards him. One of them said, Here he is! but he having a Quarter-staff, made a Blow at them. The Roof of the Barn, broke his Blow; but following them to the Window, he made another Blow at them, and struck them down; yet they got up, and got out, and he saw no more of them.

About this time, there was a Rumour about the Town, that Martin had a Broken Head; but the Deponent could say nothing to that.

The said Peache also testifi’d the Bewitching the Cattle to Death, upon Martin’s Discontents.

VI. Robert Downer testified, That this Prisoner being some Years ago prosecuted at Court for a Witch, he then said unto her, He believed she was a Witch. Whereat she being dissatisfied, said, That some She-Devil would shortly fetch him away! Which words were heard by others, as well as himself. The Night following, as he lay in his Bed, there came in at the Window, the likeness of a Cat, which flew upon him, took fast hold of his Throat, lay on him a considerable while, and almost killed him. At length he remembred what Susanna Martin had threatned the Day before; and with much striving he cried out, Avoid, thou She-Devil! In the Name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Avoid! Whereupon it left him, leap’d on the Floor, and flew out at the Window.

And there also came in several Testimonies, that before ever Downer spoke a word of this Accident, Susanna Martin and her Family had related, How this Downer had been handled!

VII. John Kembal testified, that Susanna Martin, upon a Causeless Disgust, had threatned him, about a certain Cow of his, That she should never do him any more Good: and it came to pass accordingly. For soon after the Cow was found stark dead on the dry Ground, without any Distemper to be discerned upon her. Upon which he was followed with a strange Death upon more of his Cattle, whereof he lost in one Spring to the Value of Thirty Pounds. But the said John Kembal had a further Testimony to give in against the Prisoner which was truly admirable.

Being desirous to furnish himself with a Dog, he applied himself to buy one of this Martin, who had a Bitch with Whelps in her House. But she not letting him have his choice, he said, he would supply himself then at one Blezdels. Having mark’d a Puppy, which he lik’d at Blezdels, he met George Martin, the Husband of the Prisoner, going by, who asked him, Whether he would not have one of his Wife’s Puppies? and he answered, No. The same Day, one Edmond Eliot, being at Martin’s House, heard George Martin relate, where this Kembal had been, and what he had said. Whereupon Susanna Martin replied, If I live, I’ll give him Puppies enough! Within a few days after, this Kembal, coming out of the Woods, there arose a little Black Cloud in the N. W. and Kembal immediately felt a force upon him, which made him not able to avoid running upon the stumps of Trees, that were before him, albeit he had a broad, plain Cart-way, before him; but tho’ he had his Ax also on his Shoulder to endanger him in his Falls, he could not forbear going out of his way to tumble over them. When he came below the Meeting House, there appeared unto him, a little thing like a Puppy, of a Darkish Colour; and it shot backwards and forwards between his Legs. He had the Courage to use all possible Endeavours of Cutting it with his Ax; but he could not Hit it: the Puppy gave a jump from him, and went, as to him it seem’d into the Ground. Going a little further, there appeared unto him a Black Puppy, somewhat bigger than the first, but as Black as a Cole. Its Motions were quicker than those of his Ax; it flew at his Belly, and away; then at his Throat; so, over his Shoulder one way, and then over his Shoulder another way. His Heart now began to fail him, and he thought the Dog would have tore his Throat out. But he recovered himself, and called upon God in his Distress; and naming the Name of Jesus Christ, it vanished away at once. The Deponent spoke not one Word of these Accidents, for fear of affrighting his Wife. But the next Morning, Edmond Eliot, going into Martin’s House, this Woman asked him where Kembal was? He replied, At home, a Bed, for ought he knew. She returned, They say, he was frighted last Night. Eliot asked, With what? She answered, With Puppies. Eliot asked, Where she heard of it, for he had heard nothing of it? She rejoined, About the Town. Altho’ Kembal had mentioned the Matter to no Creature living.

VIII. William Brown testifi’d, That Heaven having blessed him with a most Pious and Prudent Wife, this Wife of his, one day met with Susanna Martin; but when she approach’d just unto her, Martin vanished out of sight, and left her extreamly affrighted. After which time, the said Martin often appear’d unto her, giving her no little trouble; and when she did come, she was visited with Birds, that sorely peck’d and prick’d her; and sometimes, a Bunch, like a Pullet’s Egg, would rise in her Throat, ready to choak her, till she cry’d out, Witch, you shan’t choak me! While this good Woman was in this extremity, the Church appointed a Day of Prayer, on her behalf; whereupon her Trouble ceas’d; she saw not Martin as formerly; and the Church, instead of their Fast, gave Thanks for her Deliverance. But a considerable while after, she being Summoned to give in some Evidence at the Court, against this Martin, quickly thereupon, this Martin came behind her, while she was milking her Cow, and said unto her, For thy defaming her at Court, I’ll make thee the miserablest Creature in the World. Soon after which, she fell into a strange kind of distemper, and became horribly frantick, and uncapable of any reasonable Action; the Physicians declaring, that her Distemper was preternatural, and that some Devil had certainly bewitched her; and in that condition she now remained.

IX. Sarah Atkinson testify’d, That Susanna Martin came from Amesbury to their House at Newbury, in an extraordinary Season, when it was not fit for any to Travel. She came (as she said, unto Atkinson) all that long way on Foot. She brag’d and shew’d how dry she was; nor could it be perceived that so much as the Soles of her Shoes were wet. Atkinson was amazed at it; and professed, that she should her self have been wet up to the knees, if she had then came so far; but Martin reply’d, She scorn’d to be Drabbled! It was noted, that this Testimony upon her Trial, cast her in a very singular Confusion.

X. John Pressy testify’d, That being one Evening very unaccountably Bewildred, near a Field of Martins, and several times, as one under an Enchantment, returning to the place he had left, at length he saw a marvellous Light, about the bigness of an Half-bushel, near two Rod, out of the way. He went, and struck at it with a Stick, and laid it on with all his might. He gave it near forty blows; and felt it a palpable substance. But going from it, his Heels were struck up, and he was laid with his Back on the Ground, sliding, as he thought, into a Pit; from whence he recover’d by taking hold on the Bush; altho’ afterwards he could find no such Pit in the place. Having, after his Recovery, gone five or six Rod, he saw Susanna Martin standing on his Left-hand, as the Light had done before; but they changed no words with one another. He could scarce find his House in his Return; but at length he got home extreamly affrighted. The next day, it was upon Enquiry understood, that Martin was in a miserable condition by pains and hurts that were upon her.

It was further testify’d by this Deponent, That after he had given in some Evidence against Susanna Martin, many years ago, she gave him foul words about it; and said, He should never prosper more; particularly, That he should never have more than two Cows; that tho’ he was never so likely to have more, yet he should never have them. And that from that very day to this, namely for twenty years together, he could never exceed that number; but some strange thing or other still prevented his having any more.

XI. Jervis Ring testify’d, That about seven years ago, he was oftentimes and grievously oppressed in the Night, but saw not who troubled him; until at last he Lying perfectly Awake, plainly saw Susanna Martin approach him. She came to him, and forceably bit him by the Finger; so that the Print of the bite is now, so long after, to be seen upon him.

XII. But besides all of these Evidences, there was a most wonderful Account of one Joseph Ring, produced on this occasion.

This Man has been strangely carried about by Dæmons, from one Witch-meeting to another, for near two years together; and for one quarter of this time, they have made him, and keep him Dumb, tho’ he is now again able to speak. There was one T. H. who having, as ’tis judged, a design of engaging this Joseph Ring in a snare of Devillism, contrived a while, to bring this Ring two Shillings in Debt unto him.

Afterwards, this poor Man would be visited with unknown shapes, and this T. H. sometimes among them; which would force him away with them, unto unknown Places, where he saw Meetings, Feastings, Dancings; and after his return, wherein they hurried him along through the Air, he gave Demonstrations to the Neighbours, that he had indeed been so transported. When he was brought unto these hellish Meetings, one of the first Things they still did unto him, was to give him a knock on the Back, whereupon he was ever as if bound with Chains, uncapable of stirring out of the place, till they should release him. He related, that there often came to him a Man, who presented him a Book, whereto he would have him set his Hand; promising to him, that he should then have even what he would; and presenting him with all the delectable Things, Persons, and Places, that he could imagin. But he refusing to subscribe, the business would end with dreadful Shapes, Noises and Screeches, which almost scared him out of his Wits. Once with the Book, there was a Pen offered him, and an Ink-horn with Liquor in it, that seemed like Blood: But he never toucht it.

This Man did now affirm, That he saw the Prisoner at several of those hellish Randezvouzes.

Note, this Woman was one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked Creatures in the World; and she did now throughout her whole Tryal, discover her self to be such an one. Yet when she was asked, what she had to say for her self? Her chief Plea was, That she had lead a most virtuous and holy Life.

V. The Tryal of Martha Carrier at The Court of Oyer and Terminer, Held by Adjournment at Salem, August 2, 1692.

I. Martha Carrier was indicted for the bewitching of certain persons, according to the form usual in such cases. Pleading not guilty to her indictment; there were first brought in a considerable number of the bewitched persons who not only made the court sensible of an horrid witchcraft committed upon them, but also deposed that it was Martha Carrier, or her shape, that grievously tormented them, by biting, pricking, pinching and choking of them. It was further deposed that while this Carrier was on her examination before the magistrates, the poor people were so tortured that every one expected their death upon the very spot, but that upon the binding of Carrier they were eased. Moreover the look of Carrier then laid the afflicted people for dead; and her touch, if her eye at the same time were off them, raised them again. Which things were also now seen upon her trial. And it was testified that upon the mention of some having their necks twisted almost round, by the shape of this Carrier, she replied, “It’s no matter though their necks had been twisted quite off.”

II. Before the trial of this prisoner, several of her own children had frankly and fully confessed not only that they were witches themselves, but that this their mother had made them so. This confession they made with great shows of repentance, and with much demonstration of truth. They related place, time, occasion; they gave an account of journeys, meetings and mischiefs by them performed, and were very credible in what they said. Nevertheless, this evidence was not produced against the prisoner at the bar, inasmuch as there was other evidence enough to proceed upon.

III. Benjamin Abbot gave in his testimony that last March was a twelvemonth, this Carrier was very angry with him, upon laying out some land near her husband’s: her expressions in this anger were that she would stick as close to Abbot as the bark stuck to the tree; and that he should repent of it afore seven years came to an end, so as Doctor Prescot should never cure him. These words were heard by others besides Abbot himself; who also heard her say, she would hold his nose as close to the grindstone as ever it was held since his name was Abbot. Presently after this, he was taken with a swelling in his foot, and then with a pain in his side, and exceedingly tormented. It bred into a sore, which was lanced by Doctor Prescot, and several gallons of corruption ran out of it. For six weeks it continued very bad, and then another sore bred in his groin, which was also lanced by Doctor Prescot. Another sore than bred in his groin, which was likewise cut, and put him to very great misery: he was brought unto death’s door, and so remained until Carrier was taken, and carried away by the constable, from which very day he began to mend, and so grew better every day, and is well ever since.

Sarah Abbot also, his wife, testified that her husband was not only all this while afflicted in his body, but also that strange, extraordinary and unaccountable calamities befell his cattle; their death being such as they could guess at no natural reason for.

IV. Allin Toothaker testified that Richard, the son of Martha Carrier, having some difference with him, pulled him down by the hair of the head. When he rose again he was going to strike at Richard Carrier but fell down flat on his back to the ground, and had not power to stir hand or foot, until he told Carrier he yielded; and then he saw the shape of Martha Carrier go off his breast.

This Toothaker had received a wound in the wars; and he now testified that Martha Carrier told him he should never be cured. Just afore the apprehending of Carrier, he could thrust a knitting needle into his wound four inches deep; but presently after her being seized, he was thoroughly healed.

He further testified that when Carrier and he some times were at variance, she would clap her hands at him, and say he should get nothing by it; whereupon he several times lost his cattle, by strange deaths, whereof no natural causes could be given.

V. John Rogger also testified that upon the threatening words of this malicious Carrier, his cattle would be strangely bewitched; as was more particularly then described.

VI. Samuel Preston testified that about two years ago, having some difference with Martha Carrier, he lost a cow in a strange, preternatural, unusual manner; and about a month after this, the said Carrier, having again some difference with him, she told him he had lately lost a cow, and it should not be long before he lost another; which accordingly came to pass; for he had a thriving and well-kept cow, which without any known cause quickly fell down and died.

VII. Phebe Chandler testified that about a fortnight before the apprehension of Martha Carrier, on a Lordsday, while the Psalm was singing in the Church, this Carrier then took her by the shoulder and shaking her, asked her, where she lived: she made her no answer, although as Carrier, who lived next door to her father’s house, could not in reason but know who she was. Quickly after this, as she was at several times crossing the fields, she heard a voice, that she took to be Martha Carrier’s, and it seemed as if it was over her head. The voice told her she should within two or three days be poisoned. Accordingly, within such a little time, one half of her right hand became greatly swollen and very painful; as also part of her face: whereof she can give no account how it came. It continued very bad for some days; and several times since she has had a great pain in her breast; and been so seized on her legs that she has hardly been able to go. She added that lately, going well to the house of God, Richard, the son of Martha Carrier, looked very earnestly upon her, and immediately her hand, which had formerly been poisoned, as is abovesaid, began to pain her greatly, and she had a strange burning at her stomach; but was then struck deaf, so that she could not hear any of the prayer, or singing, till the two or three last words of the Psalm.

VIII. One Foster, who confessed her own share in the witchcraft for which the prisoner stood indicted, affirmed that she had seen the prisoner at some of their witch-meetings, and that it was this Carrier, who perusaded her to be a witch. She confessed that the Devil carried them on a pole to a witch-meeting; but the pole broke, and she hanging about Carrier’s neck, they both fell down, and she then received an hurt by the fall, whereof she was not at this very time recovered.

IX. One Lacy, who likewise confessed her share in this witchcraft, now testified, that she and the prisoner were once bodily present at a witch-meeting in Salem Village; and that she knew the prisoner to be a witch, and to have been at a diabolical sacrament, and that the prisoner was the undoing of her and her children by enticing them into the snare of the devil.

X. Another Lacy, who also confessed her share in this witchcraft, now testified, that the prisoner was at the witch-meeting, in Salem Village, where they had bread and wine administered unto them.

XI. In the time of this prisoner’s trial, one Susanna Sheldon in open court had her hands unaccountably tied together with a wheel-band so fast that without cutting it, it could not be loosed: it was done by a specter; and the sufferer affirmed it was the prisoner’s.

Memorandum. This rampant hag, Martha Carrier, was a person of whom the confessions of the witches, and of her own children among the rest, agreed that the devil had promised her she should be Queen of Hell.

Having thus far done the Service imposed upon me; I will further pursue it, by relating a few of those Matchless Curiosities, with which the Witchcraft now upon us, has entertained us. And I shall Report nothing but with Good Authority, and what I would invite all my Readers to examine, while ’tis yet Fresh and New, that if there be found any mistake, it may be as willingly Retracted, as it was unwillingly Committed.

The First Curiositie.

I. ‘Tis very Remarkable to see what an Impious and Impudent imitation of Divine Things, is Apishly affected by the Devil, in several of those matters, whereof the Confessions of our Witches, and the Afflictions of our Sufferers have informed us.

That Reverend and Excellent Person, Mr. John Higginson, in my Conversation with him, Once invited me to this Reflection; that the Indians which came from far to settle about Mexico, were in their Progress to that Settlement, under a Conduct of the Devil, very strangely Emulating what the Blessed God gave to Israel in the Wilderness.

Acosta, is our Author for it, that the Devil in their Idol Vitzlipultzli, governed that mighty Nation. ‘He commanded them to leave their Country, promising to make them Lords over all the Provinces possessed by Six other Nations of Indians, and give them a Land abounding with all precious things. They went forth, carrying their Idol with them, in a Coffer of Reeds, supported by Four of their Principal Priests; with whom he still Discoursed in secret, Revealing to them the Successes, and Accidents of their way. He advised them, when to March, and where to Stay, and without his Commandment they moved not. The first thing they did, where-ever they came, was to Erect a Tabernacle, for their false god; which they set always in the midst of their Camp, and they placed the Ark upon an Alter. When they, Tired with pains, talked of, proceeding no further in their Journey, than a certain pleasant Stage, whereto they were arrived, this Devil in one Night, horribly kill’d them that had started this Talk, by pulling out their Hearts. And so they passed on till they came to Mexico.’

The Devil which then thus imitated what was in the Church of the Old Testament, now among Us would Imitate the Affairs of the Church in the New. The 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.

But there are many more of these Bloody Imitations, if the Confessions of the Witches are to be Received; which I confess, ought to be but with very much Caution.

What is their stricking down with a fierce Look? What is their making of the Afflicted Rise, with a touch of their Hand? What is their Transportation thro’ the Air? What is their Travelling in Spirit, while their Body is cast into a Trance? What is their causing of Cattle to run mad and perish? What is their Entring their Names in a Book? What is their coming together from all parts, at the Sound of a Trumpet? What is their Appearing sometimes Cloathed with Light or Fire upon them? What is their Covering of themselves and their Instruments with Invisibility? But a Blasphemous Imitation of certain Things recorded about our Saviour or His Prophets, or the Saints in the Kingdom of God.

 

The text above is from Cotton Mather’s The Wonders of the Invisible World. Being an Account of the Tryals of Several Witches Lately Executed in New-England, London, 1862, produced by The Project Gutenberg, released 6 April 2009, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28513/28513-h/28513-h.htm#Page_38.

 

Magnalia Christi Americana: Or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England

THE FIRST BOOK.

ANTIQUITIES; OR, A FIELD PREPARED FOR CONSIDERABLE THINGS TO BE ACTED THEREUPON.

 

THE INTRODUCTION

It was not long ago, as about the middle of the former century, that under the influences of that admirable hero and martyr, of the Protestant religion, Gasper Coligni, the great Admiral of France, a noble and learned knight called Villagagnon, began to attempt the Settlement of some Colonies in America, (as it was declared) for the propagation of that religion. He sailed with several ships of no small burthen, till he arrived at Brasile; where he thought there were now shown him quiet seats, for the retreat of a people harrassed already with deadly persecutions, and threatned with yet more calamities. Thence he wrote home letters unto that glorious patron of the reformed churches, to inform him, that he had now a fair prospect of seeing those churches erected, multiplied, and sheltered in the southern regions of the New World; and requested him, that Geneva might supply them with Pastors for the planting of such churches in these New Plantations. The blessed Calvin, with his colleagues, thereupon sent of their number two worthy persons, namely Richerius and Quadrigarius, to assist this undertaking; and unto these were joined several more, especially Leirus, and who became a leader to the rest, Corquillerius, an eminent man, for the cause of Christianity, then residing at Geneva. Embarked in three ships, well fitted, they came to the American country, whither they had been invited; and they soon set up an evangelical church order, in those corners of the earth where God if it please God our Lord Jesus Christ had never before been called upon. But it was not long before some unhappy controversies arose among them, which drove their principal ministers into Europe again, besides those three that were murthered by their apostate Governour, whose martyrdom Lerius procured Crispin to commemorate in his history, but I now omit in this of ours, Ne me Crispini scrinia lecti, compilasse putes, and as for the people that staid behind, no other can be learned, but that they are entirely lost, either in paganism or disaster: in this, more unhappy sure, than that hundred thousand of their brethren who were soon after butchered at home, in that horrible massacre, which then had not, but since hath, known a parallel. So has there been utterly lost in a little time, a country intended for a receptacle of Protestant Churches on the American Strand. It is the most incomparable De Thou, the honourable President of the Parliament at Paris, an Historian whom Casaubon pronounces, “A singular gift of Heaven, to the last age, for an example of piety and probity,” that is our author, (besides others) for this History.

‘Tis now time for me to tell my reader, that in our age there has been another essay made not by French, but by English Protestants, to fill a certain country in America with Reformed Churches; nothing in doctrine, little in discipline, different from that of Geneva. Mankind will pardon me, a native of that country, if smitten with a just fear of encroaching and ill-bodied degeneracies, I shall use my modest endeavours to prevent the loss of a country so signalized for the profession of the purest Religion, and for the protection of God upon it, in that holy profession. I shall count my country lost, in the loss of the primitive principles, and the primitive practices, upon which it was at first established: but certainly one good way to save that loss, would be to do something that the memory of the great things done for us by our God, may not be lost, and that the story of the circumstances attending the foundation and formation of this country, and of its preservation hitherto, may be impartially handed unto posterity. This is the undertaking whereto I now address myself; and now, Grant me thy gracious assistances, 0 my God! that in this my undertaking I may be kept from every false way: but that sincerely aiming at thy glory in my undertaking, I may find my labours made acceptable and profitable unto thy Churches, and serviceable unto the interests of thy gospel; so let my God think upon me for good; and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy in the blessed Jesus. AMEN.

Chapter I.

Venisti tandem?[1] or discoveries of America, tending to, and ending in, discovers of NEW-ENGLAND

 

§ 1. It is the opinion of some, though ’tis but an opinion, and but of some learned men, that when the sacred oracles of Heaven assure us, the things under the earth are some of those, whose knees are to bow in the name of Jesus, by those things are meant the inhabitants of America, who are Antipodes to those of the other hemisphere. I would not quote any words of Lactantius, though there are some to countenance this interpretation, because of their being so ungeographical: nor would I go to strengthen the interpretation by reciting the words of the Indians to the first white invaders of their territories, we hear you are come from under the world to take our world from us. But granting the uncertainty of such an exposition, I shall yet give the Church of God a certain account of those things, which in America have been believing and adoring the glorious name of Jesus; and of that country in America, where those things have been attended with circumstances most remarkable. I can contentedly allow that America (which, as the learned Nicholas Fuller observes, might more justly be called Columbina) was altogether unknown to the penmen of the Holy Scriptures, and in the ages when the Scriptures were penned. I can allow, that those parts of the earth, which do not include America, are, in the inspired writings of Luke and of Paul, stiled all the world. I can allow, that the opinion of Torniellus and of Pagius, about the apostles preaching the gospel in America, has been sufficiently refuted by Basnagius. But I am out of the reach of Pope Zachary’s excommunication. I can assert the existence of the American Antipodes: and I can report unto the European churches great occurrences among these Americans. Yet I will report every one of them with such a Christian and exact veracity, that no man shall have cause to use about any one of them the words which the great Austin (as great as he was) used about the existence of Antipodes; it is a fable, and nulla rations credendum [Utterly incredible].

§ 2. If the wicked one in whom the whole world lyeth, were he, who like a dragon, keeping a guard upon the spacious and mighty orchards of America, could have such a fascination upon the thoughts of mankind, that neither this balancing half of the globe should be considered in Europe, till a little more than two hundred years ago, nor the clue that might lead unto it, namely, the Loadstone, should be known, till a Neapolitian [Columbus] stumbled upon it, about an hundred years before; yet the overruling Providence of the great God is to be acknowledged, as well in the concealing of America for so long a time, as in the discovering of it, when the fulness of time was come for the discovery: for we may count America to have been concealed, while mankind in the other hemisphere had lost all acquaintance with it, if we may conclude it had any from the words of Diodorus Siculus, that Phoenecians were, by great storms, driven on the coast of Africa, far westward … for many days together, and at last fell in with an Island of prodigious magnitude; or from the words of Plato, that beyond the pillars of Hercules there was an Island in the Atlantic Ocean … larger than Africa and Asia put together: nor should it pass without remark, that three most memorable things, which have born a very great aspect upon humane affairs, did, near the same time, namely, at the conclusion of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, arise unto the world: the first was the resurrection of literature; the second was the opening of America; the third was the Reformation of Religion. But, as probably, the devil seducing the first inhabitants of America into it, therein aimed at the having of them and their posterity out of the sound of the silver trumpets of the Gospel, then to be heard through the Roman Empire; if the devil had any expectation, that by the peopling of America, he should utterly deprive any Europeans of the two benefits, Literature and Religion, which dawned upon the miserable world, one just before, the other just after, the first famed navigation hither, ’tis to be hoped he will be disappointed of that expectation. The Church of God must no longer be wrapped up in Strabo’s cloak; Geography must now find work for a Christiano-graphy in regions far enough beyond the bounds wherein the Church of God had, through all former ages, been circumscribed. Renowned Churches of Christ must be gathered where the Ancients once derided them that looked for any inhabitants. The mystery of our Lord’s garments, made four parts, by the soldiers that cast lots for them, is to be accomplished in the good sense put upon it by Austin, who, if he had known America, could not have given a better: Quadripartita vestis Domini Jesu, quadripartitam figuravit ejus Ecclesiam, toto scilicet, qui quatuor partibus constat, terrarum orbe diffusam [The parting of the garment of our Lord Jesus into four pieces was a type of a like division of His Church, which is distributed through the four quarters of the globe].

 

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Volume II

Chapter VI

ARM A VIRO SO HE CANO

Or, The Troubles which the Churches of New-England Have Undergone in Tribal Wars Which the People of that Country had with the Indian Slaves

§ 1. Two colonies of churches being brought forth, and a third conceived within the bounds of New-England, by the year 1636, it was time for the devil to take the alarum, and make some attempt in opposition to the possession which the Lord Jesus Christ was going to have of these “utmost parts of the earth.” These parts were then covered with nations of barbarous Indians and infidels, in whom the “prince of the power of the air” did “work in a spirit;” nor could it be expected that nations of wretches, whose whole religion was the most explicit sort of devil-worship, should not be acted by the devil to engage in some early and bloody action, for the extinction of a plantation so contrary to his interests, as that of New-England was. Of these nations there was none more fierce, more warlike, more potent, or of a greater terror unto their neighbours, than that of the Pequots; but their being so much a terror to their neighbours, and especially to the Narragansets on the east-side of them,and the Monhegins on the west, upon whom they had committed many barbarous outrages, produced such a “division in the kingdom of Satan” against itself, as was very serviceable to that of our Lord. In the year 1634 these terrible salvages killed one Captain Stone, and Captain Norton, with six men more, in a bark sailing up Connecticut river, and then sunk her. In the year 1635, a bark, sailing from the Massachuset-bay to Virginia, being by a tempest cast away at Long-Island, the same terrible savages killed several of the shipwreck’d Englishmen. In the year 1636, at Block-Island, coming aboard a vessel to trade, they murdered the master. And another coming that way, found that they had made themselves masters of it bark, which occasioned sending of an hundred and twenty soldiers thither, under Captain Endicot, Captain Underhil, Captain Turner, by the governour and council at Boston, upon whom, at their landing, the Indians violently shot, and so ran away where no English could come at them. Travelling further up to the Pequot country, the Pequots refused, upon a conference, to surrender the murderers harboured among them, which were then demanded; whereupon a skirmish ensued, in which, after the death of one of their men, the Indians fled, but the English destroyed their corn and their Hulls, and so returned.

Moreover, a fort, with a garrison of twenty men, being by some agents that were sent over by the lord Say and the lord Brook, formed at the river’s mouth, (a place called Say-Brook,) the Pequots after this lay sculking about that fort almost continually; by which means divers of the English lost their lives, and some that were seized by the Indians going up the river, were most horribly tortured by them, and roasted alive; and afterwards the Tawnies would with derision in the English hearing imitate the doleful ejaculations and invocations of the poor creatures that had perished under their cruel tortures, and add infinite blasphemies thereunto. Unto all which there was annexed the slaughter of nine men, with the taking of two maids, by this horrid enemy lying in ambush for them as’ they went into the fields at Weathersfield. So that the infant colonies of New-England, finding themselves necessitated unto the crushing of serpents, while they were but yet in the cradle, unanimously resolved, that with the assistance of Heaven they would root this “nest of serpents” out of the world.

Reader, it is remarked concerning one Anah, in very early times, (Gen. xxxvi. 24,) that he “found mules in the wilderness.” But these mules were, if I been’t mistakin, as very men as the Pequots, whom the first planters of New-England “found in the wilderness.” We are convinced by such incomparable writers as Bochart, that the mountainous parts of Seir, where our Anah dwelt, was a country no ways famous for mules; but we may then incline rather to the opinion of Sanbert, who maintains that the [hebrew word] here by us translated mules, are the same that elsewhere are called [hebrew word] of which variety in writing the same name the Scriptures have many instances. Now, these Emim were the well-known giants which, inhabiting the Horroean regions in the neighbourhood, struck terror (as their name signifies) unto all the neighbours, till the posterity of Esau vanquished them; a matter which many passages in the Bible intimate. Our Anah is here distinguished from another so called, by a notable exploit which he performed for the service of his country, lie found, that is, he surprized and assaulted the Emim, those terrible giants with which the neighbourhood was infested. By this heroick act he signalized himself, while the prince his father employed him in managing and ordering his estate “in the wilderness,” which, according to the use of those times, lay more in cattel than in any other substance. But this digression serves only to excite my reader’s expectation of Pequot giants to be “found in our wilderness.” 

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  1. "Hast the come at last?" The phrase is originally from Virgil's Aeneid, Book VI, 687.

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Cotton Mather by Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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