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torian, and throw him into an ecstasy? And is there nothing in the infinite wisdom, the uncontrollable power, the disinterested love, and the astonishing compassion of the Son of God, manifested towards the children of men, in his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death, that is calculated to arrest the attention, employ the thoughts and engross the affections of ministers of the Gospel, and genuine lovers of Jesus Christ? He who is ignorant enough to think so, or daring enough to say so, must be a total stranger to these matters. tlemen, it should seem, who are such enemies to zeal and animation in religion, appear to think, that these are incompatible with knowledge and learning; and that he who discovers a considerable degree of either, in the discharge of his ministerial duties, must be an ignoramus.
If this be admitted, it may easily be proved, that the angels and seràphims are the most ignorant beings in the universe; for it is certain they are the warmest in the praise of Jehovah. I should moreover, be glad to know what more wisdom or excellence there can be in a sentence, uttered in a languid manner and low tone, than when it is expressed with a degree of animation, and a proper elevation of the voice. To what purpose is it for such ministers to complain, that their hearers forsake them, while the only remedy they apply to prevent it, is setting up a hue and cry, enthusiasm? If they wish to stop the progress of what they account a growing and alarming evil, I will put them in possession of a secret which will do it effectually. Many who make the complaint, are men of knowledge, learning, and grace. Let them lay aside the practice of reading their discourses,
VOL. III. * 13
be less afraid of their lungs, address the consciences of their audience, as well as their understandings; and, by the blessing of God upon their labors, it is to be hoped, they will soon have their places of worship decently filled, at least they ought to try the remedy proposed.
But what is this said terrific thing called enthusiasm? In its best acceptation it signifies a Divine afflatus, or inspiration; in its worst and most common sense, it means a religion which has no foundation in revelation, l'eason, or experience, and which proceeds merely from a sanguine constitution, an uninformed judgment, and a heated imagination. An enthusiast is one who thinks he is moved or inspired by God himself, and delivers the reveries of his distempered brain as infallible truths, or revelations from above; or who pretends to an acquaintance with the arcana of heaven, and to a converse with God, in a way which neither the Scriptures of truth, nor the experience of the best men warrant. Such a person is an enthusiast, in the proper sense of the word. That there is such a thing as enthusiasm, and that there are enthusiasts, every one acquainted with real religion, and the various denominations of its professors, will readily admit. But though this be acceded to, are we, like some, to infer, that there is no real religion in the world, and that every person who lays claim to it is an enthusiast? This would be just as fair and as sound reasoning, as to infer that because there are many deranged persons in Bedlam, and similar places in town and country, therefore all the inhabitants of England are lunatics. When the doctrine of Divine influence, as real and necessary to change the depraved dispositions of the heart, to sanctify and comfort the soul, is insisted
on, many cry out, enthusiasın! When the reason of thisconduct is required, they reply, that they have no idea nor experience of any such thing; and seem to think that this answer is sufficient to confute what you assert. Strange reasoning indeed! If this be not petitio principii, I know not what is. Be it so, that they have no knowledge nor experience of such influence, does that prove that there is no such thing? No, verily. Are there not ten thousand things in the natural and moral world, with which they have not the smallest acquaintance? Is their ignorance of those things a proof of their non-existence? I think not. Beside, do not they indirectly assume infallibility, and make their understanding and experience the standard of truth? Is not the plain meaning of such language-"We are the men; and wisdom shall die with us! Whatever we do not understand, do not experience in matters of religion, has no foundation, is delusion, is enthusiasm; and he is either an impostor or enthusiast who pretends to them?" Hence it comes to pass, that those who manifest a zeal for the spread of the Gospel, the revival of pure and undefiled religion, and are animated in the discharge of its duties, are branded with the opprobrious name of enthusiast, and their zeal and fervor are considered by such gentlemen as downright enthusiasm. Those, therefore who deny the doctrine of Divine influence, and the communication of it, in the way that Christians are warranted to ask and expect it, ought to prove one or all of the following things: Either that there is no such thing; that it is not necessary in religion; that men cannot be the recipients of it; or that God cannot, or will not, grant it. Whoev.. er duly considers the difficulty, not to say the impossia
bility, of proving any of these, will, it is supposed, have wisdom enough to decline the arduous task.
With respect to those who believe the doctrine of the necessity of Divine influence, but are nevertheless, for ever calumniating persons of other denominations with the character of enthusiasts; I confess I am not qualified to define what they mean by enthusiasm, but am afraid they use it to keep themselves in countenance, to justify their own torpid frame and languid manner, and to hinder their people from frequenting places of worship where there is a lively and animated ministry. Lest any
should suspect that the writer of this article is of opinion that the excellency of preaching consists in vociferation, and that no man is animated but he who is noisy, he wishes it to be understood, that he entertains no such idea; he means only to say, that there should be a connexion between the means and the end, and that it has been found that the labors of affectionate and zealous ministers have been attended with the most visible success.
1. How may we ascertain, Whether our thoughts are the result of a gracious influence, the suggestions of Satan, or of our corrupt depraved nature?
2. When we receive comfortable impressions under the hearing of God's word, how may we know whether they are true or false? or, in other words, Whether they come from God, or are only the joys of the stony ground hearer?
ANSWERS TO THE QUERIES.
RESPECTING the first query, I think it will be sufficient to observe (unless more was intended by the query than the letter of it expresses) that all those thoughts, undoubtedly originate in the suggestions of Satan, or in the corruption of depraved nature, which may be denominated vain, rebellious, defiling, antiscriptural, atheistical, &c.; all which are contrary to the honor, and obnoxious to the mind of God; and therefore, of course, cannot result from his influence: whilst, on the other hand, those originate with him, and exist in our mind from his gracious agency, which are consistent with the word of revelation, which dispose us to revere its truths, to embrace its benefits, and to close in with its designs. If they be evil, they cannot come from God; they must proceed from Satan, or from fallen nature. If good, they cannot originate with either of these; they must be Divine; unless we suppose that they are excited, cherished, and acted upon from base motives, and to base purposes: the existence of which, precludes at once all inquiry, and directs infallibly to the proper
The second query is of the utmost importance, as it includes the fears, the hopes, and the perplexities of many pious characters. It respects the hearers of the word; those who do not forget the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is. It supposes, that those hearers are sometimes the subjects of comfortable impressions; and that these impressions are sometimes true, and sometimes false; and asks, When