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not for tlic glory of God, or the profit of our own soul; or to neglect any thing, small or great, which we could not then neglect, without n check from our own conscience. To increase and perfect the light whic'.i we had before, let us now add the light of faith. Confirm wc the former gift of God, by n deeper sense of whatever he had then shown us; by n greater tenderness of conscience, and a more exquisite sensibility of sin. Walking now with joy, and not with fear, in a clear, steady sight of tilings eternal, we shall look on pleasure, wealth, praise, all the things of earth, as an bubbles upon the water; counting nothing important, nothing desirable, nothing worth a deliberate thought, but only what is "within the veil," where Jesus "sittethat the right hand of God."
(5. Can you say, "Thou art merciful to my unrighteousness; my sins thou rcmembcrest no more':'" Then, for the time to come, see that you fly from sin, as from the lace of a serpent! For how exceeding sinful does it appear to you now! How heinous above all expression! On the other hand, in how amiable a light do you now see the holy and perfect will of God! Now, therefore, labour that it may be fulfilled, both in you, by you, and upon you! Now watch and pray that you may sin no more, that yon may see and shun the least transgression of his law! You sec the motes which you could not see before, when the sun shines into a dark place. In like manner, you see the sins w hich you could not see before, now the Sun of Righteousness shines in your heart. Now then do all diligence to walk, in every respect, according to the light you have received! Now be zealous to receive more light daily, more of the knowledge and love of God, more of the Spirit of Christ, more of his lift;, and of, the power of his resurrection! Now use all the knowledge, and love, and life, and power you have already attained: so shall you continually go on from faith to faith; so shall you daily increase in holy love, till faith is swallowed up in sight, and the law of love is established to all eternity!
THE NATURE OF ENTHUSIASM.
"And Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, TJiou art beside thyself." Acts xxvi. 24.
1. And So say all the world, the men who know not God, of all that are of Paul's Religion; of every one who is so a follower of him, as he was of Christ. It is true, there is a sort of religion, nay, and it is called Christianity too, which may be practised without any such imputation, which is generally allowed to be consistent with common sense;—that is, a religion of form, a round of outward duties, performed in a decent, regular manner. You may add orthodoxy thereto, a system of right opinions, yea, and some quantity of heathen morality; and yet not many will pronounce, that "much religion hath made you mad." But if you aim at the Religion of the Heart, if you talk of "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;" then it will not be long before your sentence is passed, "Thou art beside thyself."
2. And it is no compliment which the men of the world pay you herein. They, for once, mean what they say. They not only affirm, but cordially believe, that every man is beside himself, who says, "the love of God is shed abroad in " his "heart, by the Holy Ghost given unto him;" and that God has enabled him to rejoice in Christ, " with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." If a man is indeed alive to God, and dead to all things here below ; if he continually sees Him that is invisible, and accordingly walks by faith and not by sight; then they account it a clear case: beyond all dispute, "much religion hath made him mad."
3. It is easy to observe, that the determinate thing which the world accounts madness, is that utter contempt of all temporal things, and steady pursuit of things eternal; that divine conviction of things not seen; that rejoicing in the favour of God; that happy, holy love of God; and that testimony of his Spirit with our spirit, that we are the children of
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God;—that. Is, in truth, the whole spirit, and life, and power of the religion of Jesus Christ.
4. They will, however, allow, in other respects the man acts and talks like one in his senses. In other things, he is a reasonable man : it is in these instances only his head is touched. It is therefore acknow ledged, that the madness, under which he labours, is of a particular kind; and accordingly they are accustomed to distinguish it by a particular name, Enthusiasm.
5. A term this, which is exceeding frequently used, which is scarce ever out of some men's mouths; and yet it is exceeding rarely understood, even by those who use it most. It may be, therefore, not unacceptable to serious men, to all who desire to understand what they speak or hear, if I endeavour to explain the meaning of this term,—to show what Enthusiasm is. It may be an encouragement to those who are unjustly charged therewith; and may possibly be of use to some who are justly charged with it; at least to others who might be so, were they not cautioned against it.
G. As to the word itself, it is generally allowed to be of Greek extraction. But whence the Greek word itbtxjia.afj.or, is derived, none has yet been able to show. Some have endeavoured to derive it from sv ®eu, in God, because all enthusiasm has reference to Him. But this is quite forced; there being? small resemblance between the word derived, and those they strive to derive it from. Others would derive it from fv Sumx,— in sacrifice; because many of the enthusiasts of old were affected in the most violent manner, during the time of sacrifice. Perhaps it is a fictitious word, invented from the noise which some of those made who were so affected.
/. It is not improbable, that one reason why this uncouth word has been retained in so many languages was, because men were not better agreed concerning the meaning than concerning the derivation of it. They therefore adopted the Greek word, because they did not understand it: they did not translate it into their own tongues, because they knew not how to translate it; it having been always a word of a loose uncertain sense, to which no determinate meaning was affixed.
8. It is not, therefore, at all surprising, that it is so variously taken at this day; different persons understanding it in different senses, quite inconsistent with each other. Some take it, in a good sense, for a divine impulse or impression, superior to all the natmal faculties, and suspending for the time, either in whole or in part, both the reason and the outward senses. In this meaning of the word, both the Prophets of old, arid the Apostles, were proper Enthusiasts; being, at divers times, so filled with the Spirit, and so influenced by Him who dwelt in their hearts, that the exercise of their own reason, their senses, and all their natural faculties, being suspended, they were wholly actuated by the power of God; and "spake [only] as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
9. Others take the word in an indifferent sense, such as is neither morally good nor evil: Thus they speak of the enthusiasm of the Poets; of Homer and Virgil in particular. And this a late eminent writer extends so far as to assert, there is no man excellent in his profession, whatsoever it be, who has not in his temper a strong tincture of enthusiasm. By enthusiasm these appear to understand, an uncommon vigour of thought, a peculiar fervour of spirit, a vivacity and strength not to be found in common men; elevating the soul to greater and higher things, than cool reason could have attained.
10. But neither of these is the sense wherein the word enthusiasm is most usually understood. The generality of men, if no farther agreed, at least agree thus far concerning it, that it is something evil: and this is plainly the sentiment of all those, who call the religion of the heart, Enthusiasm. Accordingly I shall take it in the following pages, as an evil; a misfortune, if not a fault.
J1. As to the nature of enthusiasm, it is undoubtedly a disorder of the mind; and such a disorder as greatly hinders the exercise of reason. Nay, sometimes it wholly sets it aside: it not only dims but shuts the eyes of the understanding. It may, therefore, well be accounted a species of madness; of madness rather than of folly: seeing a fool is properly one who draws wrong conclusions from right premises; whereas a madman draws right conclusions, but from wrong premises. And so does an enthusiast. Suppose his premises true, and his conclusions would necessarily follow. But here lies his mistake: His premises are false. He imagines himself to be what he is not: And therefore, setting out wrong, the farther he goes, the more he wanders out of the way
12. Every enthusiast, then, is properly a madman. Yet his is not an ordinary, but a religious madness. By religious, I do not mean, that it is any part of religion: quite the reverse. Religion is the spirit of a sound mind; and, consequently, stands in direct opposition to madness of every kiiul. But I mean, it has religion for its object; it is conversant about religion. And so the enthusiast is generally talking of religion, of God, or of the things of God; but talking in such a manner that every reasonable Christian may discern the disorder of his mind. Enthusiasm, in general, may, then, be described in some such manner as this: A religious madness arising from some falsely imagined influence or inspiration of God; at least, from imputing something to God, which ought not to be imputed to him, or expecting something from God, which ought not to be expected from him.
13. There arc innumerable sorts of enthusiasm. Those which are most common, and for that reason most dangerous, I shall endeavour to reduce under a few general heads, that they may be more easily understood and avoided.
The First sort of Enthusiasm which I shall mention, is that of those who imagine they have the Grace which they have not. Thus some imagine, when it is not so, that they have redemption through Christ, " even the forgiveness of sins." These are usually such as " have no root in themselves ; " no deep repentance, or thorough conviction. "Therefore they receive the word with joy.-' And "because they have no deepness of earth," no deep work in their heart, therefore the seed "immediately springs up:" There is immediately a superficial change, which, together with that light joy, striking in with the pride of their unbroken heart, and with their inordinate self-love, easily persuades them they have already "tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come."
14. This is properly an instance of the first sort of enthusiasm: it is a kind of madness, arising from the imagination that they have that grace which, in truth, they have not: so that they only deceive their own souls. Madness it may be justly termed: for the reasonings of these poor men are right, were their premises good; but as those are a mere creature of their own imagination, so all that is built on them falls to the ground. The foundation of all their reveries is this: They imagine themselves to have faith in Christ. If they had this, they would be " kings and priests to God ;" possessed of "a kingdom which cannot be moved :" But they have it not: consequently, all their following behaviour is as wide of truth and soberness, as that of the ordinary madman; who, fancying himself an earthly king, speaks and acts in that character.