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want to know what is the will of God;' would it not be better to say, 'I want to know what will be most for my improvement; and what will make me most useful.' This way of speaking is clear and unexceptionable: It is putting the matter on a plain, scriptural issue, and that without any danger of enthusiasm.
27. A Third very common sort of Enthusiasm,(if it does not coincide with the former,) is that of those who think to attain the End without using the Means, by the immediate power of God. If indeed those means were providentally withheld, they would not fall under this charge. God can, and sometimes does, in cases of this nature, exert his own immediate power. But they who expect this when they have those means, and will not use them, are proper enthusiasts. Such are they who expect to understand the Holy Scriptures, without reading them, and meditating thereon; yea, without using all such helps as are in their power, and may probably conduce to that end. Such are they who designedly speak in the public assembly, without any premeditation. I say designedly; because there may be such circumstances, as, at some times, make it unavoidable. But whoever despises that great means of speaking profitably, is so far an enthusiast.
28. It may be expected that I should mention what some have accounted a Fourth sort of Enthusiasm, namely, the imagining those things to be owing to the Providence of God, which are not owing thereto. But I doubt: I know not what things they are, which are not owing to the Providence of God; . in ordering, or, at least, in governing of which, this is not either directly or remotely concerned. I except nothing but sin: and even in the sins of others, I see the Providence of God to me. I do not say, his general Providence; for this I take to be a sounding word, which means just nothing. And if there be a particular Providence, it must extend to all persons and all things. So our Lord understood it, or he could never have said, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered ;” and, “Not a sparrow falleth to the ground, without the will of] your Father (which is in heaven.”] But if it be so, if God preside universis tanquam singulis, et singulis tanquam universis ; over the whole universe as over every single person, and over every single person as over the whole universe ; what is it (except only our own sins) which we are not to ascribe to the Providence of God? So that I cannot apprehend there is any room here for the charge of enthusiasm.
29. If it be said, the charge lies here: "When you impute this to providence, you imagine yourself the peculiar favourite of Heaven :'I answer, you have forgot some of the last words I spoke; Præsidet universis 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 bave 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 immcdiate offspring is pride; it continually increases this source from whence it flows; and hereby it alienates lis, more and more, from the favour and from the life of God. It dries up the very springs of faith and lore, of righteousness and truc holiness; seeing all these flow from grace: But “God resistcth the proud, and giveth grace (only) to the humble.”
31. Together with pride there will naturally arise an un. advisable 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 be is altogether fixed and immovcable.
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 effccts, of that many
headed 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 be 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, and 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 are 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 bave 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 either 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 are 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 followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not.” Mark ix. 38, 39.
1. In the preceding verses we read, that 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 he 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. Perbaps more nearly than is commonly imagined; the ease 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 the whole.