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Concerning this I would observe, in the first place, That there are many things, with respect to cryings out, falling down, &c. charged on ministers, that they are not guilty of. Some would have it, that they speak of these things as certain evidences of a work of the Spirit of God on the hearts of their hearers, or that they esteem these bodily effects themselves to be the work of God, as though the Spirit of God took hold of and agitated the bodies of men; and some are charged with making these things essential, and supposing that persons cannot be converted without them ; whereas I never yet could see the person that held either of these things.
But for speaking of such effects as probable tokens of God's presence, and arguments of the success of preaching, it seems to me that they are not to be blamed; because I think they are so indeed. And therefore when I see them excited by preaching the important truths of God's word, urged and enforced by proper arguments and motives, or as consequent on other means that are good, I do not scruple to speak of them, and to rejoice in them, and bless God for them as such ; and for this reason, viz. That from time to time, upon proper inquiry and examination, and observation of the consequences and fruits, I have found that these are all evidences of the persons in whom these effects appear, being under the influ. ences of God's Spirit, in such cases. Crying out, in such a manner, and with such circumstances, as I have seen them from time to time, is as much an evidence to me, of the general cause it proceeds from, as language. I have learned the meaning of it the same way that persons learn the meaning of language, viz. by use and experience. I confess that when I see a great crying out in a congregation, in the manner that I have seen it when those things are held forth to them which are worthy of their being greatly affected by them, I rejoice in it, much more than merely in an appearance of solemn attention, and a shew of affection by weeping; and that because when there have been those outcries, I have found from time to time a much greater and more excellent effect. To rejoice that the work of God is carried on calmly, without much ado, is in effect to rejoice that it is carried on with less power, or that there is not so much of the influence of God's Spirit.-For though the degree of the influence of the Spirit of God, on particular persons, is by no means to be judged of by the degree of external appearances, because of the different constitutions, tempers and circumstances of men; yet, if there be a very powerful influence of the Spirit of God on a mixed multitude, it will cause some way or other a great visible commotion.
And as to ministers aiming at such effects, and striving by all means to bring a congregation to that pass, that there
should be such an uproar among them ; I suppose none aim at it any otherwise, than as they strive to raise the affections of their hearers to such a height as very often appears in these effects. And if those affections are commonly good, and it be found by experience that such a degree of them commonly has a good effect, I think they are to be justified in so doing.
V. Again, some ministers have been blamed for keeping persons together, that have been under great affections, which have appeared in such extraordinary outward manifestations.Many think this promotes confusion, that persons in such circumstances do'but discompose each other's minds, and disturb the minds of others; and that therefore it is best they should be dispersed ; and that when any in a congregation are strongly seized, that they cannot forbear outward manifestations of it, they should be removed, that others' minds may not be diverted.
I cannot but think that those who thus object, go upon quite wrong notions of things. For though persons ought to take heed that they do not make any ado without necessity; for this will be the way in time to have such appearances lose all their effect; yet the unavoidable manifestations of strong religious affections tend to a happy influence on the minds of by-standers, and are found by experience to have an excellent and durable effect. And so to contrive and order things, that others may have opportunity and advantage to observe them, bas been found to be blessed, as a great means to promote the work of God; and to prevent their being in the way of observation, is to prevent the effect of that which God makes use of as a principal means of carrying on his work at such an extraordinary time, viz. example : which is often spoken of in scripture, as one of the chief means by which God would carry on his work in the prosperity of religion in the latter days. I have mentioned some texts already to this purpose, in what I published before, of the Marks of a Work of the True Spirit ; but would here mention some others. In Zech. ix. 15, 16. those that in the latter days should be filled in an extraordinary manner with the Holy Spirit, so as to appear in outward manifestations, and making à noise, are spoken of as those that God, in these uncommon circumstances, will set up to the view of others as a prize or ensign, by their example and the excellency of their attainments, to animate and draw others, as men gather about an ensign, and run for a prize, a crown and precious jewels, set up in their view. The words are" And they shall drink andmakea noise as through wine, and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.
And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of
his people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.” (I shall have occasion to say something more of this scripture afterwards.) Those that make the objection I am upon, instead of suffering this ensign to be in public view, are for having it removed, and hid in
To the like purpose is that, Isa. Ixii. 3. “ Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." Here it is observable, that it is not said, theu shalt be a crown upon the head, but in the hand of the Lord; i. e, held forth, in thy beauty and excellency, as a prize, to be bestowed upon others that shall behold thee, and be animated by the brightness and lustre which God shall endow thee with. The great influence of the example of God's people, in their bright and excellent attainments, to propagate religion in those days, is further signified in Isa. 1x. 3. - And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” With ver. 22. “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation.” And Zech. x. 8.9. “And they shall increase, as they have increased ; and I will sow them among the people.” And Hos. i. 23. " And I will sow her unto me in the earth.” So Jer. xxxi. 27,
VI. Another thing, that gives great disgust to many, is the disposition that persons shew, under great affections, to speak so much; and, with such earnestness and vehemence, to be setting forth the greatness and wonderfulness and importance of divine and eternal things ; and to be so passionately warning, inviting and intreating others.
Concerning which I would say, That I am far from thinking that such a disposition should be wholly without any limits or regulation, (as I shall more particularly shew afterwards ;) and I believe some have erred, in setting no bounds, and indulging and encouraging this disposition without any kind of restraint or direction. But yet it seems to me, that such a disposition in general is what both reason and scripture will justify. Those who are offended at such things, as though they were unreasonable, are not just. Upon examination it will probably be found, that they have one rule of reasoning about temporal things, and another about spiritual things. They do not at all wonder, if a person on some very great and affecting occasion, an occasion of extraordinary danger or great joy, that eminently and immediately concerns him and others--is disposed to speak much, and with great earnestness, especially to those with whom he is united in the bonds of dear affection, and great concern for their good. And there. fore, if they were just, why would not they allow it in spiritual things? and much more in them, agreeably to the vastly greater importance and more affecting nature of spiritual
things, and the concern which true religion causes in men's spinds for the good of others, and the disposition it gives and excites to speak God's praises, to shew forth his infinite glory, and talk of all his glorious perfections and works?
That a very great and proper sense of the importance of religion, and the danger sinners are in, should sometimes cause an almost insuperable disposition to speak and warn others, is agreeable to Jer. vi. 10, 11. " To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised and they cannot hearken: Behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord ; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of the young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.” And that true Christians, when they come to be as it were waked out of sleep, and to be filled with a sweet and joyful sense of the excellent things of religion, by the preaching of the gospel, or by other means of grace, should be disposed to be much in speaking of divine things, though before they were dumb, is agreeable to what Christ says to his church, Cant, vii. 9. “And the roof of thy mouth is like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” The roof of the church's mouth is the officers in the church, that preach the gospel ; their word is to Christ's beloved like the best wine, that goes down sweetly; extraordinarily refreshing and enlivening the saints, causing them to speak, though before they were mute and asleep. It is said by some, That the subjects of this work, when they get together, talking loud and earnestly in their pretended great joys, several in a room talking at the same time, make a noise just like a company of drunken persons. On which I would observe, that it in foretold that God's people should do so, in that forementioned place, Zech. ix. 15--17, of which I shall now take more particular notice. The words are as follow : "The Lord of hosts shall defend them, and they shall devour and subdue with sling stones, and they shall drink and make a noise as through wine, and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. For how great is his goodness,
and how great is his beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.” The words are very remarkable : Here it is foretold, that at the time when Christ shall set up an universal kingdom upon earth, (ver. 20.) the children of Zion shall drink, till they are filled like the vessels of the sanctuary. And, if we would know with what they shall be thus filled, the prophecy docs in effect explain itself; they shall be filled as the vessels of the sanctuary that contained the drink-offering, which was wine. And yet the words imply, that it shall not literally be wine that they shall drink and be filled with, because it is said, They shall drink, and make a noise, “as through wine," as if they had drank wine : which implies that they had not literally done it. And therefore we must understand the words, that they shall drink into that, and be filled with that, which the wine of the drink offering typically represented, which is the Holy Spirit, as well as the blood of Christ, that new wine that is drank in our heavenly Father's kingdom. They shall be filled with the Spirit, which the apostle sets in opposition to a being drunk with wine, Eph. v. 18. This is the new wine spoken of, ver. 17. It is the same with that “ best wine" spoken of in Canticles, “ that goes down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” It is here foretold, that the children of Zion in the latter days, should be filled with that which should make them cheerful, and cause them to make a noise as through wine, and by which these joyful happy persons shall as stones of a crown lifted up as an ensign upon God's land, being made joyful in the extraordinary manifestations of the beauty and love of Christ : as it follows, “How great is his goodness! and how great is his beauty !” And it is further remarkable that, as is here foretold, it should be thus especially amongst young people: “ Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.” It would be ridiculous to understand this of literal bread and wine. Without doubt, the same spiritual blessings are signified by bread and wine here, which were represented by Melchizedek's' bread and wine, and are signified by the bread and wine in the Lord's supper. One of the marginal readings is, " shall make the young men to speak ;" which is agreeable to that in Canticles, of the “best wines causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak."
We ought not to be in any measure like the unbelieving Jews in Christ's time, who were disgusted both with crying out with distress, and with joy. When the poor blind man eried out before all the multitude, “ Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me !" and continued instantly thus doing, the multitude rebuked him, and charged him that he should hold his tongue, Mark x. 46–48. and Luke xviii. 38, 39. They looked upon it to be a very indecent noise that he made; a thing very ill becoming him, to cause his voice to be heard so much, and so loud, among the multitude. And when Christ made his solemn and triumphant entry into Jerusalem, (which I have before observed, was a type of the glory and triumph of the latter days,) the whole multitude of the disciples, especially young people, began to rejoice and praise God with a