Imágenes de páginas

eyes being

among them, it manifestly appears that the reasoning faculties are all suspended and superseded, that imagination has usurped the seat, scattering a thousand deliriums over the brain. Returning from this digression, I shall describe the methods by which the spirit approaches. The disposed according to art, at first you can see nothing; but, after a short pause, a small glimmering light begins to appear and dance before you: then, by frequently moving your body up and down, you perceive the vapours to ascend very fast, till you are perfectly dosed and flustered, like one who drinks too much in a morning. Meanwhile the preacher is also at work; he begins a loud hum, which pierces you quite through; this is immediately returned by the audience, and you find yourself prompted to imitate them by a mere spontaneous impulse, without knowing what you do. The interstitia are duly filled up by the preacher, to prevent too long a pause, under which the spirit would soon faint and grow languid.

This is all I am allowed to discover about the progress of the spirit, with relation to that part which is borne by the assembly; but in the me. thods of the preacher, to which I now proceed, I shall be more large and particular,


You will read it very gravely remarked, in the books of those illustrious and right eloquent penmen, the modern travellers, that the fundamental

[merged small][ocr errors]

difference, in point of religion, between the wild Indians and us, lies in this, That we worship God, and they worship the devil. But there are certain critics who will by no means admit of this distinction, rather believing, that all nations whatsoever adore the true God, because they seem to intend their devotions to some invisible power, of greatest goodness and ability to help them ; which, perhaps, will take in the brightest attributes ascribed to the divinity: Others again inform us, that those idolaters adore two principles, the principle of good, and that of evil; which, indeed, I am apt to look upon as the most universal notion that mankind, by the mere light of nature, ever entertained of things invisible. How this idea has been managed by the Indians and us, and with what advantage to the understandings of either, may well deserve to be examined. To me the difference appears little more than this, that they are put oftener upon their knees by their fears, and we by our desires ; that the former set them a praying, and us a cursing. What I applaud them for is, their discretion in limiting their devotions and their deities to their several districts, nor ever suffering the liturgy of the white God to cross, or to interfere with that of the black. Not so with us, who, pretending, by the lines and measures of our reason, to extend the dominion of one invisible power, and contract that of the other, have discovered a gross ignorance in the natures of good and evil, and most horribly confounded the frontiers of both. After men have lifted up the throne of their divinity to the cælum empyraum, adorned with all such qualities and accomplishments as themselves seem most to value and possess; after they have sunk their principle of evil to the lowest centre, bound him with chains,

loaded him with curses, furnished him with viler dispositions than any rake-hell of the town, accoutred him with tail, and horns, and huge claws, and saucer eyes; I laugh aloud to see these reasoners, at the same time, engaged in wise dispute about' certain walks and purlieus, whether they are in the verge of God or the devil; seriously debating, whether such and such influences come into men's minds from above, or below; whether certain passions and affections are guided by the evil spirit or the good :

Dum fas atque nefas exiguo fine libidinum
Discernunt avidi.

Thus do men establish a fellowship of Christ with Belial, and such is the analogy they make between cloven tongues and cloven feet. Of the like nature is the disquisition before us : it has continued these hundred years an even debate, whether the deportment and the cant of our English enthusiastic preachers were possession or inspiration: and a world of argument has been drained on either side, peinaps to little purpose. For, I think, it is in life as in tragedy, where it is held a conviction of great defect, both in order and invention, to interpose the assistance of preternatural power, without an absolute and last necessity. However, it is a sketch of human vanity, for every individual to imagine the whole universe is interested in his meanest concern. If he has got cleanly over a kennel, some angel unseen descended on purpose to help him by the hand; if he has knocked his head against a post, it was the devil, for his sins, let loose from hell on pura pose to buffet him. Who, that sees a little paltry mortal, droning, and dreaming, and drivelling to a multitude, can think it agreeable to common good sense, that either Heaven or Hell should be put to the trouble of influence or inspection, upon what he is about? therefore I am resolved immediately to weed this error out of mankind, by making it clear, that this mystery of vending spiritual gifts is nothing but a trade, acquired by as much instruction, and mastered by equal practice and application as others are.

This will best appear, by describing and deducting the whole process of the operation, as variously as it hath fallen under my knowledge or experience.



Here the whole scheme of spiritual mechanism was deduced and explained, with an appearance of great reading and observation; but it was thought neither safe nor convenient to print it.



Here it may not be amiss“to add a few words upon the laudable practice of wearing quilted caps; which is not a matter of mere custom, humour, or fashion, as some would pretend, but an institution of great sagacity and use : these, when moistened with sweat, stop all perspiration; and, by reverberating the heat, prevent the spirit from evaporating any way, but at the mouth; even as a skilful house-wife, that covers her still with a wet clout, for the same reason, and finds the same effect. For it is the opinion of choice virtuosi, that the brain is only a crowd of little animals, but with teeth and claws extremely sharp, and therefore cling together in the contexture we be

hold, like the picture of Hobbes's Leviathan, or like bees in perpendicular swarm upon a tree, or like a carrion corrupted into vermin, still preserving the shape and figure of the mother animal : that all invention is formed by the morsure of two or more of these animals, upon certain capillary nerves, which proceed from thence, whereof three branches spread into the tongue, and two into the right hand. They hold also, that these animals are of a constitution extremely cold; that their food is the air we attract, their excrement phlegm; and that what we vulgarly call rheums, and colds, and distillations, is nothing else but an epidemical looseness, to which that little commonwealth is very subject, from the climate it lies under. Farther, that nothing less than a violent heat can disentangle these creatures from their hamated station of life, or give them vigour and humour to imprint the marks of their little teeth. That, if the morsure be hexagonal, it produces poetry; the circular, gives eloquence: if the bite hath been conical, the person, whose nerve is so affected, shall be disposed to write upon politics; and so of the rest.

I shall now discourse briefly, by what kind of practices the voice is best governed, toward the composition and improvement of the spirit; for, without a competent skill in tuning and toning each word, and syllable, and letter, to their du cadence, the whole operation is incomplete, misses entirely of its effect on the hearers, and puts the workman himself to continual pains for new supplies, without success. For it is to be understood, that, in the language of the spirit, cant and droning supply the place of sense and reason, in the language of men : because, in spiritual harangues, the disposition of the words according to

« AnteriorContinuar »