In the form of the innocent

There’s a point of time, says Norton in In the Devil’s Snare, where the tide of fear and accusations began to turn during the Salem witch trials.

Interestingly one of the points in contention had to do with a subtlety regarding the powers of the Devil. Would he, asked pastors and magistrates and the common folk, take on the shape of those who were truly innocent? Were the accusers deceived by the Devil in more ways than one?

Now this is interesting because they also asked themselves whether God would allow such a thing to happen. Surely God would prevent the Devil from bringing misfortune upon His own, innocent children?

A visitor to the county had some even more pointed words about the speed with which the magistrates believed the accused, most of whom were young women who, in normal circumstances, would barely be worth the time of the magistrates. “It goes against the Rule of God’s word, that a person can broker a contract with the Devil… so that they bring about at will the deaths of other innocent people… and overthrow the whole rule of God’s divine providence.”

The witch trials — though they had occurred in spates in previous years — were far more turbulent than we’ll ever know, because they shook the very foundations of faith that this community depended on.

Whom could they trust, if God and the Devil seemed to fight over the souls of innocents?

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