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Daniel Defo - A System of Magic (19.6 MB)

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A System of Magick or, a History of the Black Art. Being an Historical Account of Mankind's most early Dealing with the Devil and how the Acquaintance on both Sides first began. London, 1727 [i.e., 1726].Defoe again begins with a humorous preface, in which he explains that if anyone was expecting, based on the title, to find a work of science, "a Book of Rules for Instruction in the Practice, or a Magical Grammar for Introduction to young Beginners, all I can say to such is, that they will be mistaken."The work is in... More >>>
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Category 1:  Mystic and Occultism
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Author:      Daniel Defo
Format:      eBook
A System of Magick or, a History of the Black Art. Being an Historical Account of Mankind's most early Dealing with the Devil and how the Acquaintance on both Sides first began. London, 1727 [i.e., 1726].

Defoe again begins with a humorous preface, in which he explains that if anyone was expecting, based on the title, to find a work of science, "a Book of Rules for Instruction in the Practice, or a Magical Grammar for Introduction to young Beginners, all I can say to such is, that they will be mistaken."

The work is instead a history of the practice of magic, beginning in ancient times and traced down to the present day. He explains how the Magi first came to deal with the Devil, and how the Devil has continued to insinuate himself throughout history, appearing to and deceiving men with false signs and wonders.

"If by a system of this terrible thing called magic, my readers should expect a body of the black art as a science, a book of rules for instruction in the practice, or a magical grammar for introduction to young beginners, all I can say to such is, that they will be mistaken." (Daniel Defo)

One of the many subjects Defoe discussed in his writings is the existence of spirits or ghosts. He said that the Bible itself speaks of them, so there's no reason to disbelieve in their existence. At the same time, in an age when belief in superstitions, folklore and the occult were common, Defoe cautions those who are inclined to see ghosts where none exist.

In addition to Defoe's natural interest in the topic, Novak suggests another reason for Defoe's writing three large works on the subject within two years. The early eighteenth century saw the rise of controversies over the deist writings of John Toland and other heresies that diminished or denied the role of the mysterious and the spiritual in Christianity. In arguing for a devil who dwells among humans, who is present wherever someone is engaging in evil acts, Defoe is refuting the heresies that would reduce the Old Testament to an allegory or set up reason as a substitute for faith.

Defoe argues against these heresies in many other works, including various periodicals and his New Family instructor , but it is in these works on the supernatural that he focuses on the mystical side of Christianity.