Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

wards, as you will hear under the next head.--I proceed now to speak of the means by which the whole affair was brought to light. After Mrs. Dy's death, (though the witchcraft ceased) the children persisted in it, that they uttered nothing but the truth, throughout the long day of their supposed trials and afflictions, with relation to any particular. But, alas ! their consciences (especially Eh’s) contradicted them: That inward monitor being awakened, severely lashed, and wrecked, and tortured them. For some years afterwards, Eh wore a gloominess upon her mind. She did not care to talk of this business; and when questions were put to her by her parents and others, she would artfully turn the discourse to other subjects. She was very much grieved for her folly, but not enough to denominate her a true penitent. She was convicted, but not converted. However, in a short time after this, she sought the ordinance of baptism from her pastor, who examined her about this very affair, telling her that some of the good neighbours suspected her of falsehood. But to him she asserted her innocency, and so came with a lie in her right hand; (a sure symptom of unregeneracy,) and was baptized. After this, she informs me, she lived not without many serious thoughts upon what she had been, and said, and done. In her conversation with her sister

a, she would say to her sometimes, very gravely, This whole matter of our deceit and wickedness will be brought to light, and we shall be ashamed. And so it was, very remarkably, as follows: These two young women removed from Littleton to Medford, where the providence and ordinances of God further awakened E-h; insomuch that she sought the ordinance of the Lord's supper, (by asking an admission into full communion with the church of Christ here.) She came to me on the 14th of September, 1728, for this end. I discoursed with her and examined her about her belief and practice, and endeavoured to learn the state of her soul, and her past temper and conversation, as far as was proper. She gave me a very good account of herself ; she discoursed very sensibly and religiously upon the ques

4

VOL. X.

tions and heads I proposed to her. I therefore encouraged her to come to the sacrament, giving such instruction and advices as were needful, and so propounded her the next Lord's day. I knew but little of the dark story I have now told the world, and was entirely ignorant of her being an actor in it. It was therefore to my great surprise, that on the Saturday, P. M., the day before she was to be received into the church, she came to visit me under the deepest concern and trouble of mind imaginable; inquiring of me what dreadful things I had heard of her, that made me preach so terribly against lying and liars, on the last Sabbath, from the 19 Proverbs, 5-He that telleth lies shall not escape. I asked her what made her think I had heard any thing of her ? Nobody had been with me to object any thing against her. She then frankly told me that she had been greatly awakened and convinced by the word preached, insomuch that she is resolved no longer to cover her sin, as she had done, to the disturbance of her peace, and the hazard of her salvation ; but to confess it both to God and man, that she might hope to find mercy. She told me that she had long endeavoured to flatter herself that God would be gracious to her and forgive her, though she should omit the making an open and publick declaration of the matters she was guilty in to man; but that now she was quite of another mind, having received new light from the gospel. She proceeded then to tell me the substance of what has been related, bewailing and lamenting her egregious folly, and weeping bitterly for it, desiring to be truly humble before God and man, so long as she had a day to live. She blessed God that he did not snatch her out of the world in the time of her presumptuous pride and folly, and cast her into the lake of fire and brimstone, in which all liars have a part. She desired all might be warned by her folly to avoid the like. She further desired me to draw up something agreeable to the discourse I then had with her, and to read it (in form of a confession) to the congregation of God's people ; and she promised she would be present publickly to own and acknowledge the same. I complied with her request, and after sermon read her confession, while she stood in view of the people, and signified her consent unto it. Her humble acknowledgment and penitent confession being thus free and voluntary, and her heart, which was shut up and hardened, being thus opened and tender, I looked upon this change wrought on her as a work of God's holy spirit, which I hoped would prove saving; and lest she should be swallowed up with over much sorrow, admitted her to our holy fellowship and communion; and, so far as I know, she has ever since behaved as a good Christian. May she prove an eminent one, and answer the just expectations of God and his people concerning her!

Nothing further remains, but (7thly) to make some inferences and reflections. And whoso is wise will observe these things, and be made wiser and better by them. We see by this example what a world of sin and sorrow the indulging of pride and a foolish curiosity will lead people unto. Who could have thought that telling of idle stories would have come to such a story as this ! A little spark will kindle a great fire, and it is difficult to stop after we have begun a sinful course. 'Tis the safest way, therefore, to leave off every sin, as the wise man bids us do anger, (Prov. 17. 14.) before it be meddled with. Would you enjoy a quiet mind and conscience, maintain your innocence, avoid the appearance of evil,

, abstain even from those things that are capable of misconstruction. Young people would do wisely now to lay aside all their foolish books, their trifling ballads, and all romantick accounts of dreams and trances, senseless palmistry and groundless astrology. Don't so much as look into these things. Read those that are useful to increase you in knowledge, human and divine, and which are more entertaining to an ingenious mind. Truth is the food of an immortal soul. Feed not any longer on the fabulous husks of falsehood. Never use any of the devil's playthings; there are much better recreations than legerdemain tricks. Turn not the sieve, &c. to know futurities; 'tis one of the greatest mercies of heaven that we are ignorant of them. You only gratify Satan, and invite

[ocr errors]

him into your company to deceive you. Nothing that appears by this means is to be depended on.

The horse shoe is a vain thing, and has no natural tendency to keep off witches or evil spirits from the houses or vessels they are nailed too. If Satan should by such means defend you from lesser dangers, 'tis to make way for greater ones, and get fuller possession of your hearts. 'Tis an evil thing to hang witch papers on the neck for the cure of the agues, to bind up the weapon instead of the wound, and many things of the like nature, which some in the world are fond of. Be warned against thus trading with the devil, lest you barter away your soul for some worldly advantage. Those who allow themselves in such practices, are the most likely persons to covenant with the devil. Again, we learn from this relation what a state of gross ignorance many of the world are in at this day. The follies of children are deemed witchcraft, and their enterprises supernatural! What a cloud has the fall brought upon the human understanding! Alas! how ignorant must we needs be of Satan's devices, if those of children cannot be seen through by us! If we can't dive to the bottom of their shallow designs and actions, we are certainly in great danger of falling into the snares and depths of Satan. Let this humble our pride, and overcome our self conceit ; teach us lowliness of mind, and make us think soberly.

Again, we learn from this relation what method to use with our children, if ever they should appear in the like circumstances with these children. To shew this was one great end of my telling the story, that ignorant persons and masters may be instructed, and that such as have knowledge might be excited unto their duty. You must not indulge your children, you must not encourage them, you must not suffer sin upon them. .

The rod of correction may sometimes be properly and seasonably applied to drive this folly far from them. The various tempers of children must be consulted, for these will call for a different management; but be sure to hold on suspecting them. Take this for a rule-Be

[ocr errors]

as watchful and careful to find them out, as if you knew they had a design to deceive you.

It was unguarded tenderness and affection that encouraged the children you have been reading of in their course of folly and wickedness. If parents and near relations will stand by and comfort such, they wo'n't care for all the world of strangers that come to see and help them. Again we learn, from this story, that Divine Providence seldom suffers such flagrant wickedness to pass wholly undiscovered and unpunished. Whatever arts or stratagems they may use to conceal their sins or put them out of remembrance, it is impossible so to stifle and hide them, but that conscience, and the word of God may, some time or other, bring them to mind, and give them a bitter remorse. The judgments of Providence have often brought sinners to confess and discover their sins, as well as pụnished them for them. God's providences fulfil those threatenings of his word 140 Psalm, 11-Evil will haunt the wicked to overthrow him : 64 Psalm 8- Their own tongues shall be made to fall upon themselves. If we look back upon this story, we may see the holy, and wise, and good providence of God at work to discover the truth, to clear the innocent and bring the guilty to repentance, to instruct the world. Who would have thought of such a discovery eight or nine years after these things were acted? His judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out; but our ways and doings are ever before him. The unquiet consciences of sinners have sometimes been such flaming evidences against them, as to force a confession of their sins from them, and oblige them to make full discoveries. So Joseph's brethren (in the 42d chapter Genesis, 21 v.) said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear. We are verily guilty, is the cry of conscience in every sinner's breast. There's no appeasing or quieting of it. Expellas furca licet usque recurrat. It will regain its power and recover its force, and fall upon him with greater violence and fury. So these sis

« AnteriorContinuar »