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as there is still in the world, it is not credible but
-Blessed Jesus! How can the man who calls upon thy name, but learn of thee to be meek and lowly
in heart !-How can he but profit when such a lesson was seconded by such an example !
If humility shines so bright in the character of Christ, so does it in that of his religion; the true spirit of which tends all the same way.--Christianity, when rightly explained and practised, is all meekness and candour, and love and courtesy: and there is no one passion our Saviour rebukes so often, or with so much sharpness, as that one, which is subversive of these kind effects, and that is pride; which, in proportion as it governs us, necessarily leads us on to a discourteous opinion and treatment of others.--I say necessarily, because 'tis a natural consequence; and the progress from the one to the other is unavoidable.
This our Saviour often remarks in the character of the pharisees :-they trusted in themselves ;'twas no wonder then they despised others.
This, I believe, might principally relate to spiritual pride ; which, by the way, is the worst of all pride : and as it is a very bad passion, I cannot do better than conclude the discourse with some re. marks upon it.
In most conceits of a religious superiority, there has usually gone hand in hand with it another fancy, which, I suppose, has fed it;-and that is, a persuasion of some more than ordinary aids and illumi. nations from above.
Let us examine this matter. That the influence and assistance of God's spirit, -in a way imperceptible to us, do enable us to render him an acceptable service, we learn from scripture.-In what particular manner this is effected, so that the act shall still be imputed ours, the scripture says not :-we know only the account is
so; but as for any sensible demonstrations of its workings to be felt as such within us,—the word of God is utterly silent; nor can that silence be supplied by any experience. We have none; unless you call the false pretences to it such,-suggested by an enthusiastick or distempered fancy. As expressly as we are told and pray for the inspiration of God's Spirit, there are no boundaries fixed, nor can any be ever marked, to distinguish them from the efforts and determinations of our own reason; and, as firmly as most Christians believe the effects of them upon their hearts, I may venture to affirm, that since the promises were made, there never was a Christian of a cool head and sound judgment, that, in any instance of a change of life, would presume which
of his reformation was owing to divine help ;-nor which to the operations of his own mind ;-nor who, upon looking back, would pretend to strike the line, and say, here it was that my own reflections ended;'>and, at this point the suggestions of the Spirit of God began to take place.'
However backward the world has been in former ages in the discovery of such points as God never meant us to know, we have been more successful in our own days :-thousands can trace out now the impressions of this divine intercourse in themselves, from the first moment they received it, and with such distinct intelligence of its progress and workings, as to require no evidence of its truth.
It must be owned, that the present age has not altogether the honour of this discovery ;--there were too many grounds given to improve on the religious cant of the last century ;when the in-coming88
in-dwellings, and out-lettings of the Spirit were the subjects of so much edification; and when, as they do now, the most illiterate mechanicks, who, as a witty divine said of them, were much fitter to make a pulpit than to get into one, were yet able so to frame their nonsense to the nonsense of the times, as to beget an opinion in their followers, not only that they pray'd and preach'd by inspiration, but that the most common actions of their lives were set about in the Spirit of the Lord.
The tenets of the Quakers (a harmless, quiet people) are collateral descendants from the same enthusiastick original; and their accounts and way of reasoning upon their inward light and spiritual worship, are much the same; which last they carry, thus much further, as to believe the Holy Ghost comes down upon their assemblies, and moves them, without regard to condition or sex, to make intercessions with unutterable groans.
So that, in fact, the opinions of Methodists, upon which I was first entering, is but a republication, with some alterations, of the same extravagant conceits; and as enthusiasm generally speaks the same language in all ages, 'tis but too sadly verified in this; for though we have not yet got to the old terms of the in-comings and in-dwellings of the Spirit, yet we have arrived at the first feelings of its entrance, recorded with as particular an exactness as
an act of filiation ;-0 that numbers will tell you * the identical place,—the day of the month, and
the hour of the night, when the Spirit came in upon them, and took possession of their hearts.
Now there is this inconvenience on our side, That there is no arguing with a frenzy of this kind : for
unless a representation of the case be a confutation of its folly to them, they must forever be led captive by a delusion, from which no reasoner can redeem them: for if you should inquire upon what evidence so strange a persuasion is grounded ?they will tell you,' They feel it is so.'--If you reply, That this is no conviction to you, who do not feel it like them, and, therefore, would wish to be satis. fied by what tokens they are able to distinguish such emotions from those of fancy and complexion, they will answer, that the manner of it is incommunicable by human language, but 'tis a matter of fact ;they feel its operation as plain and distinct as the natural sensations of pleasure, or the pains of a disorder'd body :-and since I have mentioned a disorder'd body, I cannot help suggesting, that amongst the more serious and deluded of this scct, 'tis much to be doubted, whether a disorder'd body has not oft-times as great a share in letting in these conceits as a disorder'd mind.
When a poor disconsolated drooping creature is terrified from all enjoyment,-prays without ceasing, till his imagination is heated-fasts, and mortifies, and mopes, till his body is in as bad a plight as liis mind, is it a wonder that the mechanical disturbances and conflicts of an empty belly, interpreted by an empty head, should be mistook for workings of a different kind from what they are ! or, that in such a situation, where the mind sits upon the watch for extraordinary occurrences, and the imagination is pre-engaged on its side, is it strange if every commotion should help to fix him in this malady, and make him a fitter subject for the treatment of a physician than a divine ?