Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Jauguis, * or enlightened saints of India, see all their visions by help of an acquired straining and pressure of the eyes. Secondly, the art of fee-saw on a beam, and swinging by session upon a cord, in order to raise artificial ecstasies, hath been derived to us from our Scythian ancestors, # where it is practised at this day among the women. Lastly, the whole proceeding, as I have here related it, is performed by the natives of Ireland, with a considerable improvement; and it is granted, that this noble nation hath of all others admitted fewer corruptions, and degenerated least from the purity of the old Tartars. Now, it is usual for a knot of Irish, men and women, to abstract themselves from matter, bind up all their senses, grow visionary and spiritual, by influence of a short pipe of tobacco banded round the company ; each preserving the smoke in his mouth, till it comes again to his turn to take in fresh. At the same time, there is a concert of a continued gentle hum, repeated and renewed by instinct, as occasion requires ; and they move their bodies up and down to a degree, that sometimes their heads and points lie parallel to the horizon. Mean while, you may observe their eyes turned up in the posture of one who endeavours to keep himself awake; by which, and many other symptoms among them, it manifestly appears, that the reasoning faculties are all

suspended * Bernier mem. de Mogol.

Guagnini hist. Sarmat.

fufpended and superseded; that imagination hath usurped the feat, scattering a thousand deliriums over the brain. Returning from this digression, I shall describe the methods by which the spirit approaches. The eyes being 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. Mean while 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 methods of the preacher, to which I now proceed, 1 shall be more large and particular.

SECT. II.

Y

OU will read it very gravely remarked in the

penmen, the modern travellers, that the fundamental difference, in point of religion, between

the

B 2

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 fome invifible 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 hath 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 curfing. What I applaud them for, is their discretion, in limiting their devotions and their deities to their feveral 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

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

their Divinity to the cælum empyreum, 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-kell of the town, accoutred him with tail, and horns, and huge claws, and faucer eyes; I laugh aloud to see these reasoners at the fame time engaged in wise dispute about certain walks and purlieus, whether they are in the verge of God or the devil; seriously debating, whether fuch and such influences come into mens 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
cloveil

tongues and chven feet. Of the like nature is the disquisition before us. It hath continued these hundred years an even debate, whether the deportment and the cant of our English enthusias-. tic preachers were poffesion or inspiration ; and a world of argument has been drained on either fide, perhaps 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 affiftance of preternatural power, without an absolute and laft neceflity. However, it is a sketch of human vanity, for every indivi

dual

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

B 3

dual to imagine the whole universe is interested in his meanest concern. If he hath got cleanly over a kennel, fome angel unseen descended on purpose to help him by the hand; if he hath knocked his head against a poft, it was the devil, for his fins, let loose from hell on purpose 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 refolved 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 deducing the whole process of the operation, as variously as it hath fallen under my knowledge or experience.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »