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while the means are neglected the end may be obtained, presuining that God will illuminate him in a miraculous manner without the help of prayer, study, meditation, sermons, or sacraments; the laiter unpre. sumingly expecis the succours of grace, in a constant use of the appointed means; and conscious, that “thic Holy Scriptures are able to make him wise ulito sa!vation," he takes them for the subject of his frequent meditation, the ground of his prayers, and the gele. ral rule of his conduct. The fanatic imagines himself independent of superior powers both in church and state : the real christian, a constant friend to truth and order, looking upon himself as the servant of all, not only acknowledges the respect due to his superiors, but is ready to give them an account either of his faith or his conduct, with meekness and submission ; anxious to have his principles supported by appeals to the reason and conscience of his adversaries, as well as by the testimony of revelation. The fanatic pays but little regard to the inestimable grace of charity : like Simon the sorcerer, he aspires after the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, and seduced by a vain iingination, forsakes the substance that he may pursue the shadow :....the true christian without despising the most inconsiderable spiritual gifts, implores only those, which may assist him in the discharge of his several duties, and peculiarly that of charity, which is to be ranked as high above the performance of miracles, as miracles are to be esteemed above the tricks of jugglers. The fanatic conceives himself to be ani. mated by the Spirit of God, when his body is agitated by a rapiil motion of the animal spirits, excited by the sallies of an over heated imagination, and augmented by hysterical or hypochondriacal vapours :.... The judicious christian detests this enthusiam, which, covering religion with a vail of delusion and frenzy, renders it contemptible in the eyes of those, who are ever ready to treat devotion as enthusiasın.
When the true minister unhappily falls among persons who evidence a disposition to enthusiasm, carrying mortification to an unwarrantable excess, pubJicly uttering loud and passionate prayers, produced with the most violent efforts ; he calls their attention to that beautiful passage in the history of Elijah, where God is represented as manifesting himself, neither in the wind, the earthquake, nor the fire ; but in a still small voice. To inspire them with a just horror for this kind of fanaticism, he points them to those contemptible characters whose conduct they are unwittingly copying, and exhorts them to leave the horrible cusiom of crying with a loud voice, together with every other species of religious extravagance, to the superstitious priests of Baal. If it be necessary, he even applies those sarcastic expressions of Elijah, cry aloud, &c. In performing this part of his duty, he is anxious, however, to act with the utmost discretion ; not ridiculing the fanatical with an irreverent lightness, but exhorting them with all possible affection and solemnity. It appears from the writings of St. Paul, that enthusiasm had once risen to so great a height in the Corinthian church, that the communion was polluted by the members of that church, and its public ordinances thrown into the utmost disorder. Now, if the Apostle had himself been an enthusiast, he would have seen these disorders without regret ; or had he been like the ministers of the present day, he would have rejoiced at the pretext afforded him by the fanatical Corinthians, for turning into ridicule devotion and zeal, the power of prayer and the gift of exhortation. But, equally attached both to order and zeal, he wrote to them in the following terms: “I would, that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied : for he that prophesieth edifieth the church. Forasmuch," then, 6 as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Brethren, be not children in under
standing, but men. Ye may all prophecy, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” And observe this, that: “ the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets : for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. If any man think himself to be a Prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge, that the things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. Let all thing's be done decently and in order.” It is by adopting the method of this Apostle, that the good pastor endeavours to root up the tares of enthusiasm, without injuring the invaluable grain of devotion.
Here it may, perhaps, be enquired, if particular manifestations of the Spirit are admitted, how is it possible to shut the door against dangerous illusions? Would it not be wiser entirely to reject the dispensation of the Spirit, while it is confessedly attended with so many difficulties? And would it not make for the happiness of the church, was every member of it to rest contented with having the holy scriptures explained according to the best rules of reason and criticism? We answer; by no means. Bad money, indeed, is frequently put into our hands; but is it necessary, on this account, to obstruct the free course of that which is intrinsically good ? And would it be reasonable to refuse a sovereign prince the right of coining for the state, lest that coin should be counterfeited or defaced ? As, in 80ciety, after warning the public of their danger, we content ourselves with apprehending the man, who attempts to impose on us in this way ; so we may rest fully satisfied with adopting the same mode of conduct, in regard to the church of God. 1 Let it be here observed, that the operations of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of believers, are to be distinguished from the effects of enthusiasm in the imagination of visionaries, just as readily as we distinguish health from sickness, wisdom from folly, and truth from falsehood. The believers of Rome could say, “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. By one spirit are we all baptized," say the Corinthians, 6 and have been made to drink into one Spirit." And St. Paul could testify, that many of the Ephesians were " sealed, by the Holy Spirit of God, un. to the day of redemption." They were all enthusiasts, says a modern Doctor, unless they could restore sight to the blind, raise the dead froin their graves, and fluently converse in a variety of languages, which they had never taken the trouble to study. No; insinuates the Apostle ; you forget the essential” for the accessory," and found your systems upon false suppositions. “Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues?”. There must, then, be some more indubitable method of distinguishing those whose bodies are become temples of the Holy Ghost ; and "I shew unto you this more excellent way." What was meant by this " excellent way," may be satisfactorily discovered by an atten. tive perusal of the following chapter ; in which the Apostle would have the examination to turn, not upon the gift of prophecy and much less that of languages, but essentially upon all the characters of charity. This was the reasoning of Augustine, as well as of St. Paul, when he made use of the following expression ; “ You then speak from the Spirit of “God, when you speak from a heart glowing with “ love." This also was the method, in which Christ himself was accustomed to argue on this point. 66 Beware," said he, " of false prophets. Every good tres bringeth forth good fruit. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” And," the fruit of the Spirit,"continues St. Paul, “ is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Now fanaticism was ne., ver kuown to bear such fruits as these. On the contrary, it produces divisions, foolish joy, or stupid
melancholy, trouble, impatience, fury, vain confi. dence, arrogance, and excess of different kinds. Nay, it is frequently observed to produce assertions diametrically opposite both to scripture and reason, together with absurd pretensions to new revelations,
It may be asked, in this place, with a shew of reason, If Christ still continues to reveal himself, by his Spirit, to every true believer, are not such manifestations to be considered as so many new revelations ? To this we reply that when the Apostle of the Gentiles petitioned for his Ephesian converts, " the spirit of wisdom and revelation," he was not to be understood as requesting that God would communicate to them a new Gospel ; but rather that He would assist them to discover all the glory, and experience all the power, of that inestimable Gospel, which had been already published among them. “ Open mine eyes,” said David, “ that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law.” And when God was graciously pleased to answer this prayer of the royal Prophet, He undoubtedly visited him with the illumination of his Holy Spirit. But that Spirit was imparted, not for the purpose of revealing to him a new Law, but merely that he might be enabled to fathom the depths of that holy Law, which had been given long before. Thus also christian believers are constantly offering up their joint supplications, that God would strengthen them “by his Spirit in the inner man," not for the experience of new revelations, but “that they may been abled to comprehend, with all saints, the unsearchable love of Christ; and be filled with all the fulness of God."
After having defended internal christianity sgainst carnal christians, and deluded fanatics the faithful pastor is obliged, on another part, to resist the attacks of gain-saying philosophers. And this he endeavours to do, by reasoning with them upon this important subject in the following manner: