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well and his Puritans ; tbe blafphemous im. pieties of many of the Biskops of Rome; and even the audacious impofture, the eruclty, and the sensuality, of the pretended Prophet of Arabia. Mahomet arrogated to himself a more abundant portion of the Spirit, than he allowed to Him, to whom alone it bad been * given 4 without measure ;" while 6s in the cave of ^ Hera,” as the sarcastic historian has remarked, with more than his customary justice,
confulted the spirit of fraud or enthusiasm, $ whose abode was not in the heavens, but in " the mind of the prophet b."
If now in these and in numberlefs parallel pafes, (for falsehood ever delights to reil her deformity vader the garb of truth,) unfounded pretenlions have been advanced to celestial in. fpiration ; if the artful have afferted that ples for the purpose of deceiving others, and if the weak have admitted it as the inftrument of their own delusion: surely we have ample reason to withhold our affent from every un. fupported claim ; nay, we have caufe to fummon suspicion to the aid of wisdom, whenever such a claim is alleged ; left our unguarded fimplicity be deceived by enthusiasm or bypocrisy; enthufiafm, whofe very fincerity will inspire her with zeal, at the same time that it
• Gibbon, abap.d. vol. ix. p. 860. Svo.ed.
will act as an instrument, to increase the number of her converts ; and hypocrisy, that fpecious fiend, Which neither man nor angel can difcert,
the only evil, that walks Invisible, except to God alone In cases indeed of infinitely inferior importance, and much more then in matters of this high import, the testimony borne by any one to his own character has a reafopable tendency to excite fufpicion in the minds af others. That self-love, which is a prime ingredient in our composition, and which prompts us to the exercise of the first law of nature, felf-preservation, sometimes disclofes itself in a less creditable form; and testifies its do, minion by ftimulating us to approve and com. mend ourselves, too often without the warrant of reason. This infirmity, which we feel in ourselves, both Scripture and experience justify us in attributing to others : in suspecting the poffibility at least of felf-deception, even where fincerity may be allowed, and in admitting felf-commendation with caution..
To the propriety of caution in fuch a case our Saviour expressed his assent; If I bear " witness to my felf,” said be, my
witness is $not true.”. At the fame time he laid down
c Paradise Lost.
d. John v. 31.. "
the principle, on which his own claim to the eharacter he asserted, was to be tried and determined ; when he added; “ The works that “ the Father hath given me to finish, the same 66 works that I do, bear witness of me that the * Father hath sent mé." And the fame criterion he proposed for judging of the operations of the Spirit, by referring to his fruits and his effects. When the Holy Ghost descended
the A postles at the day of Pentecost, his coming was with the found of a rufhing mighty wind, which filled all the houfe, where they were fitting: and he sat upon each of them in the shape of cloven fiery tongues. The effect was in proportion to the greatness of the inspiration: for from that time the Apostles were indued with a power of speaking languages, with which they had been till then unacquainted, and of performing the most wonderful miracles, which before that time they might have, which indeed they had, attempted in rain.
But even in those early seasons of more abundant inspiration, “ such a coming" (as one of our old Prelates hath observed) “ was rare “ and nothing usual with the Holy Ghost; *« which is an invisible Spirit, and cometh for “ the most part invisibly. So faith Job, He " cometh to me, and I see him not; he pal
66 seth hard by me, and I perceive him not. It
was thus here for this once: but after, “ he came upon Cornelius and his company, “ and after that upon the twelve at Ephesus; “ but on neither that aught could be seen or “ heard, only discerned by some effect he “ wrought in them. He that best knew the
Spirit, fets us down the manner of his com
ing: Spiritus fpirat, sed nescis unde aut quo: “ He doth come and inspire ; but how or which
way, that know
The influence of the Spirit in these latter days is less powerful: it is less sensibly felt by those who enjoy it, and it is less strikingly obvious to others. For after the previous remarks, I presume to question the correctness of our modern Enthusiasts in their narrations both of those violent and extraordinary infpirations, which have been vouchsafed to individuals, and of those public testimonies, by which God bas been said to confirm the ministry of the preachers: when, as they have described it, “ most remarkable outpourings of “ the Spirit have been seen in their assemblies ;" when “ the power of the Lord has come
mightily upon the congregation, and the Holy Ghost has overshadowed them;" when
Bishop Andrews; Firft Sermon of the Holy Ghost, Works, p. 600.
“ the Spirit has come down like a mighty
ruthing wind, and carried all before it;" when “ibe ftately steps of their glorious Em“ manuel have been seen in his fanctuary, and “ his glory has fhone with exceeding bright“ nefs;" when “ God has, as it were, bowed “ the heavens, and come down;" when “ the “ flame of love has gone before him, the rocks “ have been broken in pieces, and the moun“ tains have flowed down at his presence;" when “ their prayers have been accompanied
by an abiding universal fhock; and a violent
impetuous power has suddenly come on the “ great congregation, overrunning all oppofi" tion; and the place has been almost rent by " the power and presence of God.”
I trust, that we may reasonably withhold. our affent from narratives, which lay claim to fuch distinguished visitations of the Deity; and doubt whether the operations of the Spirit have ever produced fo violent and sensible an effect, or have been attended by such overpowering fymptoms, fince the apostolical age; even if descriptions fo highly wrought can be properly applied to the visitations, vouchfafed to the Apostles themfelves. But whilft we he
f See Whitefield's Works, vol. i. p. 184, 201, 224, 202, 222, 337, 409, 312, &c. &c. Wesley's Journals, N•. III. p. 29. No. IX. p. 18. Sermons, vol. iv. p. 155.