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dertake to give good reasons to prove, that this distinguished Angel, is the real prototype, from whence the Imposter Mahomet took the idea of his “ Azrael” the Angel of Death ;" who in the Koran is certainly represented as being as much the faithful servant of God, as any of the Angelick Hosts.
In fine, the Dootrine of the Old Testament upon this matter may be thus expressed – These be spirits created for vengeance, which in their fury lay on sore strokes ; in the time of Destruction they pour out their force, and appease the wrath of him that made them.They shall rejoice in his (God's] commandment, and they shall be ready upon earth, when need is; and when their time is come, they shall not transgress his Word.” Ecclesiasticus, xxxix. 28.
Paul, in his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, speaks to them as possessing several spiritual gifts, conferred on them by his ministration ; such as the gift of Prophecy, discerning of spirits, and of speaking in unknown tongues. He gives them directions about the proper use of their gifts, and speaks to them as absolutely possessing those gifts, with the utmost confidence. Dr. Paley, in his Defence of Christianity, lays great stress upon the manner in which Paul addresses the Corinthians upon these miraculous powers : and he considers it as an absolute proof of the Truth of Christianity. Because, he says, it is not conceivable, that Paul could have had the boldness, and presumption to speak to these men concerning the use, and abuse of these gifts, if they really had them not.
I am ready to confess, that this argument of Dr. Paley's puzzled me. For though I was satisfied, that Paul had imposed upon their credulity many irrelevant passages from the Scriptures as proofs of Christianity; yet I could not imagine, that he could presume so much upon their stupidity, as to give them directions about the management of their miruculous powers; which being matters of fact known to themselves, therefore if false, I conceived must place Paul in their minds in the light of a banterer, when he told them of gifts, which their own consciousness, I thought, must make them sensible they had not. I say I was puzzled with this argument, until I happened to meet with some extraets from Brown's 6 History of the Shakers,” which convinced me at once, from the obvious likeness between these Shakers and the primitive Christians, that Paul might have written to the Corinthians 6 concerning their spiritual gifts," with perfect impunity.
This Brown had been a Shaker himself, and while with them, he was as great a believer in his own, and their gifts, as the Corinthians could be; and since it must be obvious, that the gifts of these Shakers are mere self-delusions, there is then in our own times an example of the gifts of the primitive Christians, which enables us to comprehend their nature, and character perfectly well.
Many of them," (the Shakers,) says Mr. Brown, “ professed to have visions, and to see numbers of spirits, as plain as they saw their brethren and sisters; and to look into the invisible world, and to converse with many of the departed spirits, who had lived in the different ages of the world : and to learn, and to see their different states in the world of spirits. Some they saw, they said, were happy, and others miserable. Several de clared, that they often were in dark nights surrounded with a light, sometimes in their rooms, but more often, when walking the road, so strong, that they could see to pick up a pin; which light would continue a considerable time, and enlighten them on their way. Many had gifts to speak languages, and many miracles were said to be wrought, and strange signs, and great wonders shown by the believers.”
And these poor creatures believed, and at this day do believe all this. They are not, you will observe, artful impostors, for the Shakers are certainly a harmless, and a moral people; and yet they confidently asserted, (and continue to assert,) that they had these miraculous powers of " discerning spirits, speaking with tongues, and doing great signs and wonders.” Nevertheless, it must be evident, that these powers were conferred upon
them, only by their enthusiasın, and heated imaginations,
I have heard of the Shakers before, and have been informed, that those in New England are so convinced of their miraculous capabilities, that they have been known, in order to save their neighbours the trouble of applying to the tinman, charitably to offer to join the gaping seams of their worn out tin coffee-pots, and other vessels, “ without the carnal aid of solder,” merely by a touch of their wonder-working fingers.
Mr. Brown, in describing their mode of conduct, in their religious assemblies, unwittingly gives a striking exposition of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. He describes “ the brethren and sisters,” praying, singing, daneing, and preaching in known, and unknown tongues; and sticking out their arms, and extatically following their noses round the church.
He says, respecting such as speak in unknown tongues, 66 they have a strong faith in this gift; and think a person greatly favoured who has the gift of tongues. And at certain times, when the mind is overloaded with a fiery, strong zeal, it must have vent some way or other; their faith, or belief at the time being in this gift, and a will strikes the mind according to their faith, and then such break out in a fiery, energetick manner, and spealc they know not what, as I have done several times. Part of what I spake at one time, was “ Liero devo jerankemango, ad sileambano, durem subramo, deviranto diacerimango, jasse vah pe cri evanigalio ; de vom grom seb crinom, os vare cremo domo.”
66 When a person runs on in this manner for any length of time, I now thought it probable that he would strike into different languages, and give some words in each their right pronunciation; as I have heard some men of learning who were present, say, a few words were He. brew, three or four of Greek, and a few Latin.”
In another place he gives an account of his maiden speech in an unknown tongue; and it is easy to conjeeture how he came by his gift, by attending to what passed before he broke out. Here it is : “ We danced for near an hour, several turned round like tops, and to erown all, I had a gift to speak in some other language ;
but the greatest misfortune was, that neither I, nor any other, understood what I said.”
My reader will not be surprised after this, at hearing him say, that the spectators of " these signs and wonders," instead of being properly affected, copsidered the performers as “ out of their wits.”
Let us now compare this account with what Paul says upon similar subjects, in the 14th ch. of the 1 Ep. to the Corinthians. He advises them in exercising their gifts, to a discreet use of them, as follows: “ He who speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not to men, but to God, for no man understandeth him ; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” Again, “ For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle ? So likewise unless ye utter by the tongue words to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye will speak to the air.” And as others did not understand the Corinthians speaking in unknown tongues, so it seems too that the Corinthians themselves were in the same unfortunate predicament with the Shakers, in not knowing the meaning of what they themselves said on these occasions. This is clear from this argument of Paul's, “ Wherefore, let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret." Why pray that he may interpret, if he understood himself? Does a man who speaks with under. standing, a foreign language, need to pray that he may be enabled to interpret what he says, in his mother. tongue? Surely every man who understands himself, can naturally do this ? After more to the same purpose, Paul wisely concludes his argument by declaring 6 that he would rather speak in the church five words with his understanding, (i. e. knowing what he said.) that he might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” And he fortifies his reasoning by this sensible remark, “ If therefore the whole church come together into one place, and all speak in unknown tongues, and those that are unlearned, or unbelievers come in, will they not say, that ye are mad ?" (as the spectators said of the Shakers)
He advises them therefore, to conduct their assemblies with less uproar than formerly, and exhorts them
as follows : 66 How is it then brethren, when you come together, hath each of you a psalm, hath he a doc. trine, hath he an unknown tongue, hath he a revelation ? Let all things be done to edifying. Now if any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at most by three, and that in succession, and let one interpret; but if there be no interpreter, let such keep silence in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God. And let two or three Prophets speak, and let the others discern. But if any thing be revealed to another who sitteth by, let the first keep silence. For ye may all prophecy, one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted.”
I presume it will be needless to point out more par-' ticularly, the perfect correspondence between “ the spiritual gifts” of the Corinthians, and those of the Shakers. And I would ask the venerable Paley, if it were now possible, whether an apostolical epistle of Ann Lee, William Lee, or Whitaker, (the spiritual mother, and fathers of the Shakers,) addressed to them, and seriously giving directions about the use of 6 their gifts of working miracles, and speaking with tongues," would be sufficient to prove that they really had those gifts. And moreover, (to make the cases more analogous,) suppose that the Shakers from this time become the dominant sect throughout the religious world, and kept the upper hand during a series of a thousand or two thousand years; taking especial care to collect and burn up every writing of their enemies, and opposers. How should we, (supposing ourselves all the while invisible spectators of the thing,) how should we pity our posterity, who at the end of that period, should be gravely told by the learned, and mitred advocates of Shakerism, that the miracles of the founders, and first followers of their religion were certainly true, for that they were honest and good men, with no inotive to deceive, and had addressed letters to their first converts, wherein they make express mention of their possessing these gifts; and give in the simplest, and most unassuming mapner, directions for using them. Suppose then that our posterity, having been deprived by the prudential care of the old fathers of the then established church, of the means of detecting