Cotton Mather and the Salem Witch Trials

Cotton Mather was born on February 12, 1663, in Boston, USA, to Increase Mather. He was grandson to Richard Mather and John Cotton, thus his first name, Cotton.

He was to become a leading Congregational minister of Boston’s Old North church, the most celebrated New England writer of his day, and one of the founders of Yale University. Altogether he wrote about 450 books!

His scientific papers won him “a coveted election to the Royal Society of London in 1713” – indeed his studies in inoculation “may be said to mark the beginning of preventive medicine in the Western world” (Who’s Who in Christian History, page 461). He persuaded Zabdiel Boylston to inoculate against smallpox and supported the unpopular inoculation even when his life was threatened.

These days, however, he is remembered mainly for the role he played in the infamous Salem witch trials when teenage girls began accusing various folk in the community of being witches. As a result 20 people were hung and about 200 imprisoned. And Cotton Mather wrote in defence of these proceedings.

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The whole process began when four daughters of a Boston mason, John Goodwin, complained of sudden pains. Mather suspected that witchcraft may be the cause, particularly suspecting an Irish washerwoman named Mary Glover. His book “Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions” (1689) outlined his beliefs on the matter.

When a court was set up to investigate the situation, three of the five judges were from Mather’s congregation and were influenced by Mather to respect what was called ‘spectral’ evidence and the confessions of the witches.

The number of those who confessed increased, prompting Mather to conclude that a veritable army of devils had been sent against them. He preached on August 4, 1692, that the Last Judgement was imminent. On August 19 ex-minister George Burroughs was executed by hanging, on Gallows Hill. However, Burroughs successfully quoted the Lord’s Prayer, which was thought impossible by a witch. Mather insisted on the execution, because Burroughs had been found guilty at trial.

Mather’s involvement in these proceedings mired his reputation and takes focus from his many worthy achievements as a man of God impacting the culture of his day.

An interesting comment in his diary reveals something of the Puritan zeal in those days. He tells us how the Lord helped him preach for three hours at a young people’s meeting – despite the fact he only had one hour for preparation. “And a good day it was!” he adds (Prophets of the Soul, by J. Gray, page 25).

His religious leadership and political influence continued in the spirit of his forefathers, to advance learning and education and to make New England a cultural centre. He hoped to become president of Harvard, which did not happen, but was one of the moving spirits in the founding of Yale.

Cotton Mather died on 13 February – the day after his 65th birthday – in 1728.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at:

Darwin’s Case for Evolution Dissolves

Charles Darwin’s case for evolution involved a great deal of fascinating information to hide the poverty of his scientific evidence. Whether that was intentional or whether he was deluded I cannot tell. His father had already introduced him to the idea of evolutionary process, so he was inclined to see it even when it did not exist. Influenced by Lyell’s Uniformitarian concept of geography and Alfred Wallace’s theory of evolution (which was supported by Wallace’s sailings to exotic places including the Amazon River) Darwin was ready to capitalise on his own marvellous adventures.

The exotic creatures of the Galapagos Islands off South America created the perfect setting for the ‘discovery’ of new and mysterious truth. Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” drew heavily from his venture to the Galapagos Islands aboard the HMS Beagle between 1831 and 1836.

Nothing New

In reality, however, Darwin brought the world nothing that it did not already know. Darwin observed some unique examples of selective breeding, which he called “natural selection”. This was the process by which kings already had their own breeds of dog and gardeners already created their own special flower. It was and is nothing new at all. Dog breeding dates back to the Middle Ages – long before Darwin.

Darwin observed that finches and tortoises on the various Galapagos Islands were distinct from each other. He pointed out some intriguing distinctions. It was all fascinating stuff in a day when sea voyages and “discoveries” were the pioneering frontiers of the world.

“The islands of the Galapagos Archipelago are tenanted in a quite marvellous manner, by very closely related species” Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

New Evidence to Dissolve Darwin

Now there is further scientific proof that Darwin’s amazing observations were simply different examples of the same old thing. All Darwin saw on his adventures were just more examples of what breeders of all kinds took for granted. There is no evolution in it at all, just exploitation of the existing genetic material. There is nothing new under the sun, even if it is the Galapagos sun.

To give authority to my claim Yale University’s Gisella Caccone now claims she can recreate extinct Galapagos tortoises. How will she do this? She will simply draw from the existing gene pool of the surviving varieties.

“We might need three or four generations to do this,” Caccone told BBC News. “But in theory it could be done, and I think it’s pretty exciting to bring back from the dead a genome that we thought was gone.”

Did You Get That?

What Caccone is telling us is that there is nothing mysterious or magical in Galapagos. The exotic creatures of those remote islands can be bred and cross-bred from their existing gene pool, just like pigeons and pussy-cats. These huge and ancient tortoise creatures have not evolved into anything at all, but simply been selectively bred from an existing gene pool. Even the extinct tortoises can be re-bred with the existing genetic material, just as breeders have done for centuries before Darwin.

There You Have It

That’s Darwin’s case for evolution. Natural Selection – where the fittest survive. It’s just what they taught us at school. But at school they made it sound like something wonderful and new. They made it sound like the death of God and the overthrow of the Bible. They made it sound as if science had sealed the coffin on morality and eternity.

The thousands of hours of television documentaries celebrating the grand reality of evolution are built on ancient and simple breeding processes which anyone on the planet could try at hand at.

I Feel The Shame

I am amazed how easily duped and confused I was. All the evidence was there before me, even in the term “survival of the fittest” (which was made to sound so scientific and profound). The healthy cat outlives the sick one! That’s the theory of evolution in a capsule. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. It is postulation and the bluff of an impresario. It is all show and confidence-trickster gimmickry.

How did I allow them to intimidate me so much with so little in their bag? They never fully opened that bag, but drew out selected examples to tempt the buyer of ideologies. If one morsel did not work they fished around for another one and produced it with flourish. They filled pages of text-books with fluffy stuff that lacked hard substance and real evidence. Illusions, carefully crafted illustrations, suggestions, hypotheses and bold assertions were the substance of this charade.

And yet I allowed it to take on the shape and form of substance. I feel the shame of my intellectual suicide, listening to such fakery with any level of interest or credibility.

Finches Too

What is proposed for the tortoise is equally true for Darwin’s Finches. The existing genetic information, given to us all at creation, allowed for specialised expressions of these birds. Galapagos provided the setting, but it did not produce a new process.

Darwinian Evolution is Dead

Darwin’s grand illusion of evolution is a farce. He did not present us with anything new nor anything of scientific value except more examples of the same old thing.

Sadly Darwin’s delusion lives on, even though his proposed process of evolution has long been set aside by scientists. It just does not work and there is no evidence for it. So the believers press on for new imaginations that will allow them to cling to something other than divine creation.

Darwin’s book is still hailed by some as “one of the most revolutionary ever published”. It was revolutionary, not because it was true, but because it provided the delusion that the deluded wanted to believe. It provided the basis for shooting aboriginals in Australia and for exterminating the Jews in Hitler’s camps. It provided legitimisation for Marxist murders and the violence of despotic leaders in many places. It undergirded the sexual abandon of the Sexual Revolution.

It is Time

It is time for Darwin’s delusion to be broken from the minds of men. It is time for nations to be delivered from the rule of sin and shame. It is time for science to be restored to a place of respect and value, and rescued from the abductors who mandate madness and intellectual suicide.

I don’t know what you and I can do, but at least we can pray that the world will know the truth and the truth will set them free.

For a link to the BBC report on the Galapagos tortoise proposal go to:

For more information about the failure of evolution and for evidence for special creation go to:

Timothy Dwight

This is the day that … Timothy Dwight was born in Massachusetts, in 1752.

He is remembered for his hymn …
I love Thy Kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blest Redeemer saved
with His own precious blood.

I love Thy Church, O God!
Her walls before Thee stand
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
and graven on Thy hand.

But Timothy Dwight was more than a hymn writer. He was one of the theological giants of the 18th century. His grandfather was Jonathan Edwards, whose ministry sparked off America’s first Great Awakening.

Young Timothy entered Yale University at the age of 13 and studied so much by candlelight that he permanently injured his eyesight. In later life he could not read more than 15 minutes a day without “intense pain”.

Despite this he became pastor of a Congregational church in Connecticut (1783), and was eventually elected President of Yale University in 1795. Here he inspired the godless students by his piety and chaplaincy work. A revival ensued in 1802 resulting in a third of the student body being converted.

He lectured on “ethics, metaphysics, logic, theology, literature and oratory,” revised the Psalmody of Isaac Watts, and added 33 of his own hymns.

He was a personal friend of George Washington, and he wrote four volumes of travels in New England and New York.

“He was,” writes Albert Bailey, “one of the outstanding men of colonial America … and without question the best known and most influential in his day on education, theology and literature!” (The Gospel in Hymns, pages 478-9).

Timothy Dwight died in Connecticut on 11 January, 1817.

Note: Much has been said of the special grace seen on the descendents of Jonathan Edwards. Timothy Dwight, as a grandson to that great evangelist, is a clear example of the quality found in that family line.