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29. If it he said, the charge lies here: 'When you impute this to Providence, you imagine yourself the peculiar favourite of Heaven : ' 1 answer, you have forgot some of the last words I spoke; Prcesidet uiiiversis tanquam singulis: His Providence is over all men in the universe, as much as over any single person. Do not you see, that he who, believing this, imputes any thing which befalls him to Providence, does not therein make himself any more the favourite of Heaven, than he supposes every man under heaven to be? Therefore you have no pretence, upon this ground, to charge him with enthusiasm.
30. Against every sort of this it behoves us to guard with the utmost diligence; considering the dreadful effects it has so often produced, and which indeed naturally result from it. Its immediate offspring is pride; it continually increases this source from whence it flows; and hereby it alienates us, more and more, from the favour and from the life of God. It dries up the very springs of faith and love, of righteousness and true holiness; seeing all these flow from grace: But "God rcsistctli the proud, and giveth grace [only] to the humble."
31. Together with pride there will naturally arise an unadvisablc and unconvincible spirit. So that into whatever error or fault the enthusiast falls, there is small hope of his recovery. For reason will have little weight with him, (as has been frequently and justly observed,) who imagines he is led by an higher guide, by the immediate wisdom of God. And as he grows in pride, so he must grow in unadvisableness and in stubbornness also. He must be less and less capable of being convinced, less susceptible of persuasion; more and more attached to his own judgment and his own will, till he is altogether fixed and immoveable.
32. Being thus fortified both against the grace of God, and against all advice and help from man, he is wholly left to the guidance of his own heart, and of the king of the children of pride. No marvel then, that he is daily more rooted and grounded in contempt of all mankind, in furious anger, in every unkind disposition, in every earthly and devilish temper. Neither can we wonder at the terrible outward effects, which have flowed from such dispositions in all ages; even all manner of wickedness, all the works of darkness, committed by those who call themselves Christians, while they wrought with greediness such things as were hardly named even among the Heathens.
Such is the nature, such the dreadful effects, of that manyheaded monster, Enthusiasm! From the consideration of which, we may now draw some plain Inferences, with regard to our own practice.
33. And, first, If Enthusiasm bo a term, though so frequently used, yet so rarely understood, take you care not to talk of you know not what; not to use the word till you understand it. As in all other points, so likewise in this, learn to think before you speak. First know the meaning of this hard word, and then use it if need require.
34. But if so few, even among men of education and learning, much more among the common sort of men, understand this dark, ambiguous word, or have any fixed notion of what it means; then, secondly, beware of judging or calling any man an Enthusiast upon common report. This is by no means a sufficient ground for giving any name of reproach to any man; least of all is it a sufficient ground for so black a term of reproach as this. The more evil it contains, the more cautious you should be how you apply it to any one; to bring so heavy an accusation without full proof, being neither consistent with justice nor mercy.
35. But if Enthusiasm be so great an evil, beware you are not entangled therewith yourself. Watch and pray, that you fall not into the temptation. It easily besets those who fear or love God. O beware you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Do not imagine you have attained that grace of God, which you have not attained. You may have much joy; you may have a measure of love; and yet not have living faith. Cry unto God that he would not suffer you, blind as you are, to go out of the way; that you may never fancy yourself a believer in Christ, till Christ is revealed in you, aud till his Spirit witnesses with your spirit, that you are a child of God.
36. Beware you are not a fiery, persecuting Enthusiast. Do not imagine that God has called you, (just contrary to the spirit of Him you style your Master,) to destroy men's lives, and not to save them. Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself, and let think. Use no constraint in matters of religion. Even those who arc farthest out of the way, never compel to come in by any other means than reason, truth, and love.
37. Beware you do not run with the common herd of enthusiasts, fancying you are a Christian when you are not. Presume not to assume that venerable name, unless you have a clear, scriptural title thereto; unless you have the mind which was in Christ, and walk as he also walked.
38. Beware you do not fall into the second sort of enthusiasm, fancying you have those Gifts from God which you have not. Trust not in visions or dreams; in sudden impressions, or strong impulses of any kind. Remember it is not by these you are to know what is the will of God on any particular occasion; but by applying the plain scripture-rule, with the help of experience and reason, and the ordinary assistance of the Spirit of God. Do not lightly take the name of God in your mouth; do not talk of the Will of God on every trifling occasion; but let your words, as well as your actions, be all tempered with reverence and godly fear.
39. Beware, lastly, of imagining you shall obtain the end, without using the means conducive to it. God can give the end, without any means at all; but you have no reason to think he will. Therefore constantly and carefully use all those means which he has appointed to be the ordinary channels of his grace. Use every means which cither reason or Scripture recommends, as conducive (through the free love of God in Christ) either to the obtaining or increasing any of the gifts of God. Thus expect a daily growth in that pure and holy Religion, which the world always did and always will call Enthusiasm;—but which, to all who arc saved from real enthusiasm, from merely nominal Christianity, is "the wisdom of God and the power of God;" the glorious image of the Most High; "righteousness and peace ;" a "fountain of living water, springing up into everlasting life!"
A CAUTION AGAINST BIGOTRY.
"And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him because he follotoeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not." Mark ix. 38, 39.
1. In the preceding verses we read, tbat after the Twelve had been disputing "which of them should be the greatest, Jesus took a little child, and set him in the midst of them,and taking him in his arms, said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of these little children in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth not me, [only,] but him that sent me." Then "John answered," [that is, said with reference to what our Lord had spoken just before,] "Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followeth not us." As if ne had said, 'Ought we to have received him? In receiving him, should we have received thee? Ought we not rather to have forbidden him? Did not we do well therein?' "But Jesus said, Forbid him not."
2. The same passage is recited by St. Luke, and almost in the same words. But it may be asked, What is this to us, seeing no man now casts out devils? Has not the power of doing this been withdrawn from the Church, for twelve or fourteen hundred years?. How then are we concerned in the case here proposed, or in our Lord's decision of it?
3. Perhaps more nearly than is commonly imagined j the case proposed being no uncommon case. That we may reap our full advantage from it, I design to show, First, In what sense men may, and do, now Cast out Devils: Secondly, What we may understand by, "He Followeth not Us." I shall, Thirdly, Explain our Lord's Direction, "Forbid him not;" and conclude with an Inference from thq whole.
1. 1. 1 am, in the First place, to show, In what sense men may, and do, now Cast out Devils.
In order to have the clearest view of this, we should remember, that (according to the scriptural account) as God dwells and works in the children of light, so the Devil dwells and works in the children of darkness. As the Holy Spirit possesses the souls of good men, so the Evil Spirit possesses the souls of the wicked. Hence it is that the Apostle terms him "the god of this world ; " from the uncontrolled power he lias over worldly men. Hence our blessed Lord styles him "the prince of this world ;" so absolute is his dominion over it. And hence St. John, "We know that we are of God, and " all who are not of God, "the whole world," c> To> Ttovt^u X;it*i,— not tieth in wickedness, but "lieth in the wicked one;" lives and moves in him, as they who are not of the world do in God.
2. For the Devil is not to be considered only as "a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour;" nor barely as a subtle enemy, who cometh unawares upon poor souls, and "leads them captive at his will;" but as he who dwelleth in them and walketh in them; who rulcth the darkness or wickedness of this world, (of worldly men and all their dark designs and actions,) by keeping possession of their hearts, setting up his throne there, and bringing every thought into obedience to himself. Thus the "strong one armed kecpeth his house;" and if this " unclean spirit" sometimes "go out of a man," yet he often returns with "seven spirits worse than himself, and they enter in and dwell there." Nor can he be idle in his dwelling. He is continually "working in [these] children of disobedience." He works in them with power, with mighty energy, transforming them into his own likeness, effacing all the remains of the image of God, and preparing them for every evil word and work.
1*. It is therefore an unquestionable truth, that the god and prince of this world still possesses all who know not God. Only the manner wherein he possesses them now, differs from that wherein he did it of old time. Then he frequently tormented their bodies, as well as souls, and that openly, without any disguise; twiv he torments their souls only, (unless in some rare cases,) and that as covertly as possible. The reason of this difference is plain: It was then his aim to drive mankind into superstition; therefore he wrought as openly as he could. But it is his aim to drive us into infidelity; therefore he works as privately as he can: For the more secret he is, the more he prevails,