Page:Antidote to superstition, or, A cure for those weak minds which are troubled with the fear of, ghosts and witches (NLS104184264).pdf/11

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impoſſible: extol and magnify the devil's powers as much as you pleaſe, they are incommunicable. I believe that in former ages of ruſtic barbarity, and overwhelming fanaticiſm, envy and malice, oppreſſion and tyranny, were the real and only cauſes of witch-craft. Whenever a poor woman was maligned by her neighbours, or was poſſeſſed of any thing they coveted, ſhe was charged with this crime; without knowing her accuſer, the magiſtrate under whoſe juriſdiction ſhe lived, cauſed her to be tried by proper ſymptoms; theſe were, an immerfion in water, if ſhe funk ſhe was acquitted, but periſhed by the experiment; if ſhe ſwam, ſhe was taken out and burnt without any more proof. The woman of Endor was no ſuch witch; her trade, indeed, was to foretell future events, and for this purpoſe, She had hired a familiar ſpirit, who was none elſe than a ſhrewd, cunning, artful man, who being well acquainted with men and things, after uſing certain charms by way of machinery, gave ſuch reſponſes as were moſt agreeable and likely to fall out to his conſultors. The ſame may be ſaid of the Delphic oracle, that great old ſorcereſs. It was no more than a confederacy of prieſts, who being verſant in public and private ſtate matters, gave anſwers ſo ambiguous and doubtful, that which way ſoever the event happened, they might be interpreted ſo as