The description of Sorcerie and Witchcraft in speciall.
Proved by the Scripture, that such a thing can be: And the reasones refuted of all such as would call it but an imagination and Melancholicque humor.
PHILOMATHES. Now since yee have satisfied me nowe so fullie, concerning Magie or Necromancie I will pray you to do the like in Sorcerie or Witchcraft.
EPI. That fielde is likewise verie large: and althought in the mouthes and pennes of manie, yet fewe knowes the trueth thereof, so wel as they beleeve themselves, as I shall so shortely as Ip.028 can, make you (God willing) as easelie to perceive.
PHI. But I pray you before ye goe further, let mee interrupt you here with a shorte digression: which is, that manie can scarcely beleeve that there is such a thing as Witch-craft. Whose reasons I wil shortely alleage unto you, that ye may satisfie me as well in that, as ye have done in the rest. For first, whereas the Scripture seemes to proove Witchcraft to be, by diverse examples, and speciallie by sundrie of the same, which ye have alleaged, it is thought by some, that these places speakes of Magicians and Necromancers onlie, & not of Witches. As in special, these wise men of Pharaohs, that counterfeited Moyses miracles, were Magicians say they, & not Witches: as likewise that Pythonisse that Saul consulted with: and so was Simon Magus in the new Testament, as that very stile importes. Secondlie, where ye would oppone the dailie practicque, & confession of so manie, that is thought likewise to be but verie melancholicque imaginations of simple raving creatures. Thirdly, if Witches had such power of Witching of folkes to death, (as they say they have) there had bene none left alive long sence in the world, but they: at the least, no good or godlie person of whatsoever estate, coulde have escaped their devilrie.
EPI. Your three reasons as I take, ar grounded the first of them negative upon the Scripture: the second affirmative upon Physicke: and the thirde upon the certaine proofe of experience.p.029 As to your first, it is most true indeede, that all these wise men of Pharaoh were Magicians of art: as likewise it appeares wel that the Pythonisse, with whom Saul consulted, was of that same profession: & so was Simon Magus. But yee omitted to speake of the Lawe of God, wherein are all Magicians, Divines, Enchanters, Sorcerers, Witches, & whatsover of that kinde that consultes with the Devill, plainelie prohibited, and alike threatned against. And besides that, she who had the Spirite of Python, in the Actes, Act. 16. whose Spirite was put to silence by the Apostle, coulde be no other thing but a verie Sorcerer or Witch, if ye admit the vulgare distinction, to be in a maner true, whereof I spake in the beginning of our conference. For that spirit whereby she conquested such gaine to her Master, was not at her raising or commanding, as she pleased to appoynt, but spake by her toung, aswel publicklie, as privatelie: whereby she seemed to draw nearer to the sort of Demoniakes or possessed, if that conjunction betwixt them, had not bene of her owne consent: as it appeared by her, not being tormented therewith: and by her conquesting of such gaine to her masters (as I have alreadie said.) As to your second reason grounded upon Physick, in attributing their confessiones or apprehensiones, to a naturall melancholicque humour: anie that pleases Physicallie to consider upon the naturall humour of melancholie, according to all the Physicians, that ever writ thereupon, they shall finde that that will be over short a cloak to coverp.030 their knavery with: for as the humor of Melancholie in the selfe is blacke, heavie and terrene, so are the symptomes thereof, in any persones that are subject thereunto, leannes, palenes, desire of solitude: and if they come to the highest degree therof, mere folie and Manie: where as by the contrarie, a great nomber of them that ever have bene convict or confessors of Witchcraft, as may be presently seene by manie that have at this time confessed: they are by the contrarie, I say, some of them rich and worldly-wise, some of them fatte or corpulent in their bodies, and most part of them altogether given over to the pleasures of the flesh, continual haunting of companie, and all kind of merrines, both lawfull and unlawfull, which are thinges directly contrary to the symptomes of Melancholie, whereof I spake, and further experience daylie proves how loath they are to confesse without torture, which witnesseth their guiltines, where by the contrary, the Melancholicques never spares to bewray themselves, by their continuall discourses, feeding therby their humor in that which they thinke no crime. As to your third reason, it scarselie merites an answere. For if the devill their master were not bridled, as the scriptures teacheth us, suppose there were no men nor women to be his instrumentes, he could finde waies inough without anie helpe of others to wrack al mankinde: whereunto he employes his whole study, and goeth about like a roaring Lyon (as PETER saith)1. Pet. 5 to that effect, but the limites of his power were set down before the foundations of the world were laid,p.031 which he hath not power in the least jote to transgresse. But beside all this, there is over greate a certainty to prove that they are, by the daily experience of the harmes that they do, both to men, and whatsoever thing men possesses, whome God will permit them to be the instrumentes, so to trouble or visite, as in my discourse of that arte, yee shall heare clearelie proved.