Page:Groton In The Witchcraft Times.djvu/10

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GROTON


IN


THE WITCHCRAFT TIMES.




In the early days of our history a belief in witchcraft, so far from being peculiar to Massachusetts, was held throughout Christendom. By no means confined to the ignorant or superstitious classes, it was entertained by educated and thoughtful men everywhere. It was a delusion for which the age was responsible, rather than any particular land or country. To us of to-day, with our light and experience, this state of affairs seems incredible; but perhaps a time may come when even some of our actions will need apologies and explanations.

In the autumn of 1671 a case of so-called witchcraft occurred at Groton, and the Reverend Samuel Willard, at that time the minister of the town, gave much attention and study to it. He wrote a long letter to Cotton Mather, giving the minutest details of the case, and Dr. Mather refers to it in his "Magnalia Christi Americana" (book vi. chapter vii. page 67). Two years later Mr. Willard published a volume of sermons entitled "Useful Instructions for a professing People in Times of great Security and Degeneracy: delivered in several Sermons on Solemn Occasions." It consists