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tions of the Holy Ghost on the mind are in no instance or degree to be distinguished from its own operations. These assertions approach nearly to an entire denial of the doctrine; a very dangerous and impious blasphemy.'
Nam si tota Dei actio consistit in clara evangelii propositione, opportune facta, cur omnipotentia, ad id requiritur ? Quorsum adhibentur a Paulo magnificæ illæ voces, ad descri. bendam, quam exerit Deus in nobis, omnipotentiam, Eph. i. 18, 19. quum dicit esse vnepßallov jeyedos èuvanews et kata TNV Evepyetav Tov kpatovs iOS loxvoç.-“ For if the whole of the interposition of God consists in the clear proposal of the gospel, opportunely made, why is omnipotence required for it? Why are those magnificent expressions applied by St. Paul to describe the omnipotence which God exerts in us? "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward, who believe according to the working of his mighty power”".
To assert that the power of God working in us, differs not perceptibly from the ordinary power of man,--annon hoc est actionem omnipotentem Dei obscurare et in nihilum ferme redigere! Turretin.—“ Is not this to extenuate the almighty energy of God, and almost to reduce it to nothing ?”.
It may here be asked, What man can judge infallibly of that which passes in the mind of another? Yet many rational di. vines dogmatically declare to their disciples, that it is impossible, in any circumstances, to distinguish the energy of God's grace on their hearts, from the common and natural workings of the passions and imagination. This is to assume a power of discern. ment which belongs to him only, to whom all hearts are open, and from whom no secrets are hidden.'
Of Devotional Feelings or Sentiments.
The pious devotee has exposed himself to the derision of the scorner, by talking of spiritual feelings which he could not accurately describe; and the reality of which can never be proved by external testimony.
But I know not why the word feeling, which, in this age, is applied to all occasions, should not be applied to religion. The lover, the artist, the connoisseur, enlarge upon the acuteness of their feelings in the contemplation of the excellence they admire. The man of delicacy is for ever boasting of his fine feelings, and the beautiful embarrassment which they create. The spectator in a theatre, the hearer at a concert, expatiates on the effect which the spectacle and the music have produced on his feelings; and shall not he who contemplates the universe, and adores the Maker of it, and of those powers by which he both adores and contemplates, shall not he be allowed to feel; and when his bosom glows with love, gratitude, and devotion, shall his pretensions to feeling be stigmatized as the delirious language of a wild enthusiasm ?
The frigid temper of scholastic theology would deny the reality of everything which, from its own defect of sensibility, it never yet experienced.
That the divine Spirit, operating on the mind, should cause in it a serenity, a tranquillity, a comfort which no words can express, is highly credible; when a thousand inferior agents, or causes, are able to produce emotions of various kinds; gentle or violent, painful or pleasing. But well-meaning divines, endeavouring to explode those extravagant pretensions to feeling, which have deluded the vulgar, disturbed society, and driven many to madness, have denied the possibility of such sentiments, and attributed them entirely to the force of fancy, to folly, and to hypocrisy. They deserved praise for their endeavour to prevent evil; but by exceeding the bounds of truth in their censure, they prevented good at the same time. For their doctrines unintentionally taught men to neglect the benign seasons of grace, and to confound the holy assistance of heaven with the mere operations of the human mind. They allow that the Scripture plainly speaks of heavenly influence; but they boldly assert, that it can never be distinguished from the ordinary actings of natural sentiment, intellect, passion, and imagination.
The word feelings, in religion, has been treated with such contempt and ridicule, that the truth is in danger of suffering, without a fair examination. Such is the force of words and prepossession. But let the word be changed to the synonymous term, sentiment, and then let any one object, with solid argument, to giving the name of religious sentiment to that pious, virtuous, pure state of mind, which is caused by the influence of the Holy Ghost, in the happy hour when God, in his mercy, showers it down, more abundantly than usual, on the human bosom.
But, on this topic, great caution is required; for men, especially the ignorant and passionate, are prone to attribute their own dreams and emotions to demoniacal or celestial impressions. Such a persuasion leads to spiritual pride,' to a perseverance in error and vice, to cruelty, and to persecution. He who is acquainted with ecclesiastical history, will recollect many dreadful examples of false feelings, and pretended inspiration. The deluded and deluding persons have represented themselves as prophets, new Messiahs, and even as God; and what is more extraordinary, they have persuaded many to believe them, and have conducted a willing multitude to whatever mischief their zealous hearts erroneously conceived.
While, therefore, a conviction that there is indeed a religious sentiment, or a divine and holy feeling, which impresses the heart more forcibly than any argument, induces me to maintain so important a truth; I must, in the most anxious and importunate terms, express my desire that none may teach, and none submit to be taught, a belief, at this period, in extraordinary inspiration.
All spiritual pride, all cruelty, all persecution, are, in their nature, repugnant to the Spirit of grace; and though they probably proceed from strong feelings, they are feelings arising from passion, fancy, and actual insanity. Whoever is under their influence, must have recourse to the Spirit of grace, that his feelings or sentiments may become all gentle, benevolent, peaceable, and humble. If his extravagancies still continue to carry him to injurious actions and disorderly behaviour, application must be made to the physician, or, in cases of extremity, the civil magistrate.
False religion is always ostentatious, Its object is to be noticed, admired, revered. When men talk of their feelings, there is reason to suspect vanity, hypocrisy, or knavery. It is justly said, “non est religio, ubi omnia patent.”
There can be nothing in the genuine sentiment, or feelings, occasioned by the Spirit of God, which is not friendly to man, improving to his nature, and co-operating with all that sound philosophy and benignant laws have ever done to advance the happiness of the human race.
ENTHUSIASM is commonly used and understood in a bad sense; but if its real meaning: be attended to, it may certainly admit of a very fine one. It means a consciousness or persuasion that the Deity is actually present, by an immediate emanation or impulse on the mind of the enthusiast; the reality of which, in certain cases, is the doctrine of the church and of the gospel; a doctrine sufficiently consonant to reason, and not necessarily connected with self-delusion, folly, madness, or fanaticism.
But because many have made pretensions to the privilege of God's immediate presence in their hearts, whose lives and conduct gave reason to suspect that they were not thus favoured, the word enthusiasm, which, in common language,