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Now sceptic, answer, tell the consequence.
How happy is the man whom that inspires,
Line 45, &c. St. Paul says,
“ Our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” There are some excellent observations upon this subject, in that admirable book, “ An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: Being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers: by Robert Barclay." I will not call the Author infallible, but it
may safely be said, that he is learned, cool, sagacious. Some have recommended his book to young people, to obtain a method of reasoning. It would become every Christian to give the Apology of Barclay a serious attention.
The true method for a Christian Church, that is, a Christian assembly of people, to possess unity, is for them to possess the spirit of God, which is unity, and peace, and truth. This is the proper way to obtain unity, and not by the sword, as has been wished by the Church of Rome. Our Saviour says, “ If a man love me he will keep my words: and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him." John xiv. 23. And St. Paul says, “ No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 1. Corinth. xii. 3. And again he says,
" The manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”
1. Corinth. xii. 7.
With its blest movements, and its sacred fires!
Calvin says, that those who deny Christians may be aided by the spirit of God, “ fail in the first principles of religion. Verily I could not believe it if their own writings did not testify so much.” Paul counts those the “- sons of God, who are actuated by the spirit of God;" but these will have the children of God actuated by their own spirits, without the spirit of God.” See Calvin's Instit. cap. 2.
It is natural to think that this doctrine would be opposed and ridiculed by mercenary priests. It is unfavourable to their interests. It is sound in some sense, though it has suffered great abuses. Some who have called themselves Christians, under a vain idea of being influenced by the spirit, have been led to actions of the greatest indecency, mischief and wildness. A celebrated character of late, Emanuel Swedenborg, mistaking the suggestions of his fancy for inspiration, became actually mad, and has led multitudes of weak people to believe in his pretensions; some of whom have founded a new sect under the name of the New Jerusalein Church. He supposed that the Almighty (it is affecting to men. tion it) spoke to him out of a hody of light; that he was initiated into a society of angels, (which was a greater gitt than that of working miracles,) who for more than twenty years continually attended him, and brought Peter, and Paul, and Luther, and whomsoever he pleased, to dispute before him. He
says that an angel brought iwo men from the To whom the glory and the bliss is giv'n,
moon to him; that they were little men, Homunciones, that they spoke from the lower part of the belly, ex abdomine, and not from the lungs, ex pulmone, as we speak. When he asked the angel the reason of their hoarse gruff voices, he was told they were useful in driving away the foul spirits in the moon, which would otherwise molest them. No woman was suffered to come near him without witnesses to prove that nothing improper passed. These are clear decisive proofs of a continued insanity; yet he was in some points amiable, learned, disinterested. His Latin is simply elegant, and correct. His writings have led others to suppose they have seen angels, and will be of disservice. We should guard against spiritual pride.
When we walk humbly and soberly, we act wisely.
Line 47 &c. « On the contrary, let the religious man be called to witness, and he speaks the language of his heart, when he declares that there is nothing which sits so easy upon his mind, as a true reverence for the Deity; that in the whole circle of known being, or the yet greater which his imagination can frame, there is no object which yields so much pleasure to his thoughts; it is the very central point of his soul's rest, which no where else can find equal satisfaction at all. It diffuses in his thoughts a pleasing harmony over the whole universe, and sets every thing in a fair and amiable
To be the friend of God, the heir of Heav'n.
Though to the sea the mountains should be cast,
light, as being directed by the most perfect reason and goodness. The affections it raises in him have these plain characters of natural and rational, that they preserve to him the freest exercise of his intellectual powers, they sooth and calm all his disturbing passions (so far is the fear of Gud from being a disturbing passion itself) and they yield him the truest and most solid self-enjoyment, indeed the enjoyment of the whole world with delight." Abernethy's Sermon on “ Religion distinguished from Superstition, and shewn to be true Wisdom,” vol. 2. p. 296. I would very particularly recommend Abernethy's Sermons to the reader. They are highly valuable. They admirably describe the perfections of that great and good Being who claims all our affection and esteem.