In these last dayes, and perillous times, among the rest of those dreadfulleuills, which are fore-told should abounda in them, a close & disguised contempt of religion may be iustly accounted as chiefe, which causeth and bringeth vpon men all disastrous effects, when although it beshadowed with a beautifull Maske of holines, faire tongued: yet false-harted, professing they know God, but in works deny him. And among these there be two especiall sorts; the one, who entertaining a stubborne, and curious rash boldnes, striue by the iudgemẽt of reason, to search ouer-deeply into the knowledge of those things which are farre aboue the reach of any humane capacitie. And so making shipwracke in this deep and vnfoundable Sea, ouerwhelme themselues in the gulfe thereof. The other kind is more sottish, dull, and of aslow wit, and therefore ouer-credulous, beleeuing euerie thing, especially when they be carried by the violent tempest of their desires, and other vngouerned affections; and among these the diuell vsually spreadeth his netts, as assured of a prey, wayting closely if hee can espie any, who either grow discontented and desperate, through want and pouerty, or be exasperated with a wrathfull and vnruly passion of reuenge, or transported by vnsatiable loue to obtaine some thing they desire; and these hee taking aduantage, assaulteth with golden and glorious promises, to performe vnto them the wishes of their owne hearts; the drift whereof is (hee being as at the first incased in a subtile Serpents skinne) onely to enthrall and invassall themslaues to himselfe. The first of these mentioned, are slie and masked Atheists, who ouer-shadow their secret impiety, loose and dissolute behauiour with some outward conformitie and shew of religion, snatching (asthey thinke) a sufficient warrantize thereof from those disorders they obserue among men, and therfore passevncensured, hauing a ciuill, but dissembled carriage. The second be Sorcerers, Wisards, Witches, and the rest of that ranke and kindred: no small multitude swarming now in the world, yet supposed of many, rather worthy pitty then punishment, as deluded by fantasies, and mis-led, not effecting those harmes where with they bee charged, or themselues acknowledge.

 

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A Treatise of Witchcraft - Alexander Roberts 1616

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