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In these excerpts from Cotton Mather's The Wonders of the Invisible World, 1693, he presents his understanding and explanation of the events of Salem's witchcraft episode:

That the Devil is come down to us with great wrath, we find, we feel, we now deplore. The things confessed by witches, and the things endured by others, laid together, amount unto this account of our affliction. The Devil, exhibiting himself ordinarily as a small black man, has decoyed a fearful knot of proud, forward, ignorant, envious, and malicious creatures to lift themselves in his horrid service by entering their names in a book by him tendered unto them. These witches have met in hellish randezvouzes, wherein the confessors do say they have had their diabolical sacraments, imitating the baptism and supper of our Lord. In these hellish meetings, these monsters have associated themselves to do no less a thing than to destroy the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ in these parts of the world. First they each of them have their specters, or devils, commissioned by them and representing of them, to be the engines of their malice. By thee wicked specters they seize poor people about the country, with various and bloody torments; and of these evidently preternatural torments, some have died. It is the general concession of all men that the invitation of witchcraft is the thing that has now introduced the Devil into the midst of us. The children of New England have secretly done many things that have been pleasing to the Devil. They say that in some towns it has been a usual thing for people to cure hurts with spells, or to use detestable conjurations with sieves, keys, peas, and nails, to learn the things for which they have an impious curiosity. 'Tis in the Devil's name that such things are done. By these courses 'tis that people play upon the hole of the asp, till that cruelly venemous asp has pulled many of them into the deep hole of witchcraft itself.

The New Englanders are a people of God now settled in those parts which were once the Devil's territories, and it may be supposed that the Devil was exceedingly disturbed when he perceived such a people here. The Devil thus irritated immediately tried all sorts of methods to overturn this poor plantation. But all those attempts of Hell have hitherto been abortive, wherefore the Devil is now making one attempt more upon us; an attempt more difficult, more surprising, more snarled with unintelligible circumstances than any we have encountered.




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