Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"The Good Witch Must Also Die", by William Perkins (1558-1602)

William Perkins died in 1602 at the age of 44. He was an influential Calvinist theologian and a leader of the Puritan movement inside the Church of England. Perkins was a prolific writer, and his books sold extremely well not only in England, but throughout the Western world.

The text of the following sermon was included in several editions of Perkins' Collected Works that appeared after his death. It is part of a longer (55 pages) piece that was published under the full title:
"A DISCOURSE OF THE DAMNED ART OF WITCHCRAFT; SO FARRE forth as it is revealed in the Scriptures, and manifest by true experience. FRAMED AND DELIVERED BY M. WILLIAM PERKINS, IN HIS ORDINARIE COURSE of Preaching, and published by THOMAS PICKERING Batchelour of Divinitie, and Minister of Finchingfield in Essex. Printed by CANTRELL LEGGE, Printer to the Universitie of Cambridge. 1618."
The earliest edition of this title (apparently) was in 1608, also published by Cantrell Legge of Cambridge. The year 1608 is often given as the date of the work itself, although this is six years after the death of the author. Here is a link to the full text at the Cornell University Witchcraft Collection.

Be warned. It is unspeakably evil.

The good Witch is he or shee that by consent in a league with the deuill, doth vse his helpe, for the doing of good onely. This cannot hurt, torment, curse, or kill, but onely heal and cure the hurts inflicted upon men or cattell, by badde Witches. For as they can doe no good, but onely hurt; so this can doe no hurt, but good onely. And this is that order which the deuill hath set in his kingdom, appointing to seuerall persons their seuerall offices and charges. And the good Witch is commonly tearmed the vnbinding Witch.

Now howsoeuer these both be euil, yet of the two, the more horrible & detestable Monster is the good Witch, for look in what place soeuer ther be any bad Witches that hurt onely, there also the deuill hath his good ones, who are better known than the bad, beeing commonly called Wisemen, or Wise-women. These will appear by experience in most places in these countries. For let a mans childe, friend, or cattell be taken with some sore sickness, or strangely tormented with some rare and vnknown disease, the first thing he doth, is to bethink himselfe and inquire after some Wiseman or Wise-woman, & thither he sends and goes for helpe. When he comes, he first tells him the state of the sicke man; the Witch then beeing certified of the disease, prescribeth either Charmes of words to be vsed ouer him, or other such counterfeit meanes, wherein there is no cure, if it come by Witchcraft. Well, the meanes are receiued, applied, and vsed, the sicke partie accordingly recouereth, and the conclusion of all is, the vsual acclamation; Oh happie is the day, that euer I met with such a man or woman to helpe me!
[Taken from Chapter Five, on page 638 of the 1618 Cambridge edition of the Collected Works of William Perkins.]

"The Good Witch Must Also Die"

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