Images de page
PDF
ePub

adds the story; the joy of the Lord overflowed him, and he seemed to be an inhabitant of another world. And he used for many years after to call that day one of the days of heaven; and professed that he understood more of the life of heaven by it, than by all the books he ever read, or discourses he ever entertained about it."

There have been instances before now, of persons' crying out in transports of divine joy in New England. We have an instance in Capt. Clap's memoirs, published by the Rev. Mr. Prince, not of a silly woman or child, but a man of solid understanding, that in a high traisport of spiritual joy, was made to cry out aloud on his bed. His words p. 9, are: 6 God's holy spirit did witness, (I do believe together with my spirit; that I was a child of God, and did fill my heart and soul with such full assurance that Christ was mine, that it did so transport me, as to make me cry out upon my bed, with a loud voice, He is come, He is come!

There has, before now, been both crying out and salling down, in this town under awakenings of conscience, and in the pangs of the new birth, and also in some of the neighboring towns. In one of them, more than seven y«ars ago, was a great number together that cried out and fell down, under convictions; in most of which, by good information, was a hopeful and abiding good issue. And the Rev. Mr. Williams of Deerfield, gave me an account of an aged man in that town, many years before that, that being awakened by his preaching, cried out aloud in the congregation. There have been many instances in this and some neighboring towns, before now, of persons' fainting with joylul discoveries made to their souls. Once several together in this town. And there also formerly have been several instances here, of persons' flesh waxing cold and benumbed, and their hands clinched, yea their bodies being set into convulsions, being overpowered with a strong sense of the astonishingly great and excellent things of God and the et@nal world.

Secondly. Another way that some err in making history and former observation their rule to judge of this

[ocr errors]

work, instead of the holy scripture, is in comparing some external, accidental circumstances of this work, with what has appeared sometimes in enthusiasts; and as they find an agreement in some such things, so they reject the whole work, or at least the substance of it, concluding it to be enthusiasm. So, great use has been made to this purpose of many things that are found amongst the Quakers; however totally and essentially different in its nature this work is, and the principles it is built upon, from the whole religion of the Quakers. So, to the same purpose, some external appearances that were found amongst the French Propbets, and some other enthusiasts in former times, have been of late 'trumped up with great assurance and triumph.

4. : I would propose it to be considered, whether or no, some, instead of making the scriptures their only rule to judge of this work, do not make their own experience the rule, and reject such and such things as are now professed and experienced, because they never felt them themselves. Are there not many, that chiefly on this ground, have entertained and vented suspicions, if not peremptory condemnations of those 'extreme terrors, and those great, sudden and extraordinary discoveries of the glorious perfections of God, and of the beauty and love of Christ; and such vehement affections, such high transports of love and joy, such pity and distress for the souls of others, and exercises of mind that have such great effects on persons' bodies, merely, or chiefly, because they knew nothing about them by experience? Persons are very ready to be suspicious of what they have not felt themselves. It is to be feared many good men have been guilty of this error; which yet does not make it the less unreasonable. And perhaps there are soine that upon this ground do not only reject these extraordinary things, but all such conviction of sin, and such discoveries of the glory of God, and excellency of Christ, and inward conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the inmediate influence of the Spirit of God, that are now supposed to be necessary to salvation." These persons

that thus make their own experiences

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

their rule of judgment, instead of bowing to the wisdom of God, and yielding to his word as an infallible rule, are guilty of casting a great reflection upon the understanding of the most High.

Thirdly. Another foundation error of those that reject this work, is their not duly distinguishing the good from the bad, and very unjustly judging of the whole by a part; and so rejecting the work in general, or in the main substance of it, for the sake of some things that are accidental to it, that are evil. They look for more in men that are divinely influenced, because, subject to the operations of a good spirit, than is justly to be expected from them for that reason, in this imperfect state, and dark world, where so much blindness and corruption remain in the best, When

any profess to have received light, and influence, and comforts from heaven, and to have had sensible communion with God, many are ready to expect that now they appear like angels, and not still like poor, feeble, blind and sinful worms of the dust. There being so much corruption left in the hearts of God's own children, and its prevailing as it sometimes does, is indeed a mysterious thing, and always was a stumbling block to the world; but will not be so much wondered at by those that are well versed in, and duly mindful of, two things, viz: First, the word of God, which teaches us the state of true christians in this world, affd Secondly, their own hearts, at least if they liave any grace, and have experience of its conflicts with corruption. They that are true saints are most inexcusable in making a great difficulty of a great deal of blindness, and many sinful errors in those that profess (iodliness. If all our conduct, both open and secret, s!rould be known, and our hearts laid open to the world, how should we be even ready to fly from the light of the siin, and hide ourselves from the view of mankind! And what great allowances would it be found that we should need, that others should make for us? Perhaps much greater than we are willing to make for others.

The great weakness of the greater part of mankind, in any affair that is new and uncommon, appears in not

distinguishing, but either approving or condemning all in the lump. They that highly approve of the affair in general, cannot bear to have any thing at all found fault with; and on the other hand, those that fasten their eyes upon somċ things in the affair that are amiss, and appear very disagreeable to them, at once reject the whole. Both which errors oftentimes arise from want of persons' due acquaintance with themselves. It is rash and unjust when we proceed thus in judging either of a particular person, or a people, or of such an affair as the present sonderful influence on the minds of the people of this land. Many, if they see any thing very ill in a particular person, a minister or private professor, will at once brand him as an hypocrite. And if there be two or three of a people or society that behave themselves very irregularly, the whole must : bear the blame of it. And if there be a few, though it may be not above one in an hundred, that professed, and had a shew of being the happy partakers of what are called the saving benefits of this work, that prove naught, and give the world just grounds to suspect them, the whole work must be rejected on their account; and those in general, that make the like profession must be condemned for their sakes.

So careful are some persons lest this work should be defended, that now they will hardly allow that the influences of the Spirit of God on the heart, caff so much as indirectly, and accidentally be the occasion of the exercise of corruption, and commission of sin. Thus far is true, that the influence of the Spirit of God in his saving operations, will not be an occasion of the increase of the corruption of the heart in general, but on the contrary, of the weakening of it. But yet there is nothing unreasonable in supposing, that at the same time that it weakens corruption ir, general, it may be an occasion of the turning what is left into a new channel, and so of there being more of some certain kinds of the exercise of corruption than there was before; as that which tends to hinder and stop the course of a stream, if it does not do it whollyg may give a new course to so much of the

water as gets by the obstacle. The influences of the spirit, for instance, may be an occasion of new ways of the exercise of Pride, as has been acknowledged by orthodox divines in general. That spiritual discoveries and comforts may, through the corruption of the heart, be an occasion of the exercises of spiritual pride, did not use to be doubted of, until now it is found to be needful to maintain the war against this work.

They that will hardly allow that a work of the Spirit of God can be a remote occasion of any sinful behaviour or unchristian conduct, I suppose will allow that the truly gracious influences of the Spirit of God, yea, and an high degree of love to God, is consistent with these two things, viz: A considerable degree of remaining corruption, and also many errors in judgment in matters of religion, and in matters of practice. And this is all that need to be allowed, in order to its being most demonstratively evident, that a high degree of love to God may accidentally ·move a person to that which is very wrong, and contrary to the mind and will of God. For a high degree of love to God will strongly move a person to do that which he believes to be agreeable to God's will, and therefore, if he be mistaken, and be persuaded that that is agreeable to the will of God wbich indeed is very contrary to it, then his love will accidentally, but strongly, incline him to that which is indeed very contrary to the will of God.

They that are studied in logic have learned that the nature of the cause is not to be judged of by the nature of the effect, nor the nature of the effect from the nature of the cause, when the cause is only causa sine qua non, or an occasional cause; yea, that in such a case, oftentimes the nature of the effect is quite contrary to the nature of the cause.

True disciples of Christ may have a great deal of false zeal, such as the disciples had of old, when they would have fire called for from heaven to come down on the Sarnaritans, because they did not receive them. And even so eminently holy, and great, and divine a saint as Moses, who conversed with God from time to time, as a

« PrécédentContinuer »