Not only had Parris inherited an explosive position as the village minister, he had also encouraged the witch hysteria. When the trials were finally over, twenty people had been executed and many others had lost their property and reputations. Faced with a divided and bitter town, Parris was slow to address the central role he had played in the affair. Instead he chose to hide behind the excuse that the devil had been at work during that turbulent (unrestful) period. His behavior only intensified the deep hatred and tension in the village. Many people felt that as a leader he should not have allowed the trials to take place. The Nurse family was especially resentful of him, as he had done nothing to defend an innocent and beloved old woman. Two years later, in 1694, Parris finally offered an apology in a sermon, "Meditations For Peace," but it was not a heartfelt admission of error. He blamed the devil for being able to enter possibly innocent people and make them appear to carry out evil on his behalf:
The matter being so dark and perplexed as that there is no present . . . appearance that all God's servants should be altogether of one mind in all circumstances touching the same, I do most heartily, fervently, and humbly . . . beseech pardon of the merciful God, through the blood of Christ, of all my . . . mistakes and trespasses in so weighty a matter, and also all your forgiveness of . . . every offense in this and other affairs wherein you see or conceive I have erred or . . . offended, professing in the presence of the Almighty God that what I have done . . . has been, as for substance, as I apprehended was duty. However, through . . . weakness, ignorance, etc., I may have been mistaken. (From Chadwick Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem.)
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