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vired from that source; and the constant contemplation of the massacres of Canaan, and of the provisions of the Levitical code, produced its natural effect upon their minds."
It is scarcely possible to write a history of the decline of witchcraft in Scotland, for the change of opinions was almost entirely unmarked by incidents on which we can dwell. At one period we find every one predisposed to believe in witches. At a later period we find that this predisposition has silently passed away. Two things only can, I think, be asserted on the subject with confidence—that the sceptical movement advanced much more slowly in Scotland than in England, and that the ministers were among the latest to yield to it. Until the close of the seventeenth century, the trials were sufficiently common, but after this time they became rare. It is generally said that the last execution was in 1722; but Captain Burt, who visited the country in 1730, speaks of a woman who was burnt as late as 1:27.' The same very keen observer was greatly struck by the extent to which the belief still continued in Scotland, at a time when it was quite abandoned by the educated classes in England; and he found its most ardent supporters among the Presbyterian ministers. As late as 1773, 'the divines of the Associated Presbytery' passed a resolution declaring their belief in witchcraft, and deploring the scepticism that was general.
It is rather remarkable that Bodin had also formed his theology almost exclusively from the Old Testament, his reverence for which was so great that some (Grotius and Hallam among others) have questioned whether he believed the New.
2 The silent unreasoning character of the decline of Scotch witchcraft has been noticed by Dugald Stewart, Dissert. p. 508.
3 Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland, vol. i. pp. 227–234, and 271– 277. I suspect Burt has misdated the execution that took place in 1722, placing it in 1727. · Macaulay, Hist., vol. iii. p. 706.
I have now completed my review of the history of witchcraft, in its relation to the theologies of Rome, of England, and of Geneva. I have shown that its causes are to be sought, not within the narrow circle of doctrines and phenomena that are comprised under the name, but in the general intellectual and religious condition of the ages in which it flourished. I have shown, in other words, that witchcraft resulted, not from isolated circumstances, but from modes of thought; that it grew out of a certain intellectual temperature acting on certain theological tenets, and reflected with almost startling vividness each great intellectual change. Arising amid the ignorance of an early civilisation, it was quickened into an intenser life by a theological struggle which allied terrorism with credulity, and it declined under the influence of that great rationalistic movement which, since the seventeenth century, has been on all sides encroaching on theology. I have dwelt upon the decadence of the superstition at considerable length; for it was at once one of the earliest and one of the most important conquests of the spirit of rationalism. There are very few examples of a change of belief that was so strictly normal, so little accelerated by sectarian passions or individual genius, and therefore so well suited to illustrate the laws of intellectual development. Besides this, the fact that the belief when realised was always followed by persecution, enables us to trace its successive stages with more than common accuracy, while the period that has elapsed since its destruction has, in a great measure, removed the subject from the turbid atmosphere of controversy.
It is impossible to leave the history of witchcraft without reflecting how vast an amount of suffering has, in at least this respect, been removed by the progress of a ration
alistic civilisation. I know that when we remember the frightful calamities that have from time to time flowed from theological divisions; when we consider the countless martyrs who have perished in the dungeon or at the stake, the millions who have fallen in the religious wars, the elements of almost undying dissension that have been planted in so many noble nations, and have paralysed so many glorious enterprises, the fate of a few thousand innocent persons who were burnt alive seems to sink into comparative insignificance. Yet it is probable that no class of victims endured sufferings so unalloyed and so intense. Not for them the wild fanaticism that nerves the soul against danger, and almost steels the body against torments. Not for them the assurance of a glorious eternity, that has made the martyr look with exultation on the rising flame as on the Elijah's chariot that is to bear his soul to heaven. Not for them the solace of lamenting friends, or the consciousness that their memories would be cherished and honoured by posterity. They died alone, hated and unpitied. They were deemed by all mankind the worst of criminals. Their very kinsmen shrank froin them as tainted and accursed. The superstitions they had imbibed in childhood, blending with the illusions of age, and with the horrors of their position, persuaded them in many cases that they were indeed the bond-slaves of Satan, and were about to exchange their torments upon earth for an agony that was as excruciating, and was eternal. And, besides all this, we have to consider the terrors which the belief must have spread through the people at large; we have to picture the anguish of the mother, as she imagined that it was in the power of one whom she had offended to blast in a moment every object of her affection ; we have to conceive, above all, the awful shadow that the
dread of accusation must have thrown on the enfeebled faculties of age, and the bitterness it must have added to desertion and to solitude. All these sufferings were the result of a single superstition, which the spirit of rationalism has destroyed.
ON THE DECLINING SENSE OF THE MIRACULOUS.
THE MIRACLES OF THE CHURCH.
The same habits of mind which induced men at first to recoil from the belief in witchcraft with an instinctive and involuntary repugnance as intrinsically incredible, and afterwards openly to repudiate it, have operated in a very similar manner, and with very similar effects, upon the belief in modern miracles. The triumph, however, has not been in this case so complete, for the Church of Rome still maintains the continuance of miraculous powers; nor has the decay been so strictly normal, for the fact that most of the Roman Catholic miracles are associated with distinctively Roman Catholic doctrines has introduced much miscellaneous controversy into the question. But, notwithstanding these considerations, the general outlines of the movement are clearly visible, and they are well deserving of a brief notice.
If we would realise the modes of thought on this subject prior to the Reformation, we must quite dismiss from our minds the ordinary Protestant notion that miracles were very rare and exceptional phenomena, the primary object of which was always to accredit the teacher of some divine truth that