A supernatural power which persons were formerly supposed to obtain the possession of, by entering into a compact with the Devil. Witchcraft was universally believed in Europe till the 16th century, and even maintained its ground with tolerable firmness till the middle of the 17th. The latest witchcraft phrensy was in New England in 1692, when the execution of witches became a calamity more dreadful than the sword or the pestilence. Some have denied the existence of witchcraft altogether. That such persons have been found among men seems, however, evident from the Scriptures, Deut. 18:10. Exod. 22:18. Gal. 5:20. Lev. 19:13. Lev. 20:6. The inconsistency of holding such persons in estimation, or having recourse to fortune-tellers, diviners, charmers, and such like, appear in this, 1. It is imitating the heathens, and giving countenance to the foolish superstition and absurd practices of pagans.–2. Such characters are held in abhorrence by the Lord, and their very existence forbidden, Lev. 20:6. Exod. 20:18.–3. He threatens to punish those who consult them, Lev. 20:6.—4. It is wrong to have any thing to do with them, as it is setting an awful example to others.–5. It is often productive of the greatest evils, deception, discord, disappointment, and incredible mischief.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.