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great a degree, the frame of the body has been overpowered of late, that persons' lives have notwithstanding been preserved. Thé instances of those who have been deprived of reason, have been very few, and those, perhaps all of them, persons under the peculiar disadvantage of a weak, vaporous habit of body. A merciful and careful divine hand is very manifest in it, that the ship, though in so many instances it has begun to sink, yet has been upheld, and has not totally sunk. The instances of such as have been deprived of reason are so few, that certainly they are not enough to cause alarm, as though this work was like to be of baneful influence ; unless we are disposed to gather up all that we can to darken it, and set it forth in frightful colours.
There is one particular kind of exercise by which many bave been overpowered, that has been especially stumbling to some; and that is, their deep distress for the souls of others. I am sorry that any put us to the trouble of defending such a thing as this. It seems like mere trifling in so plain a case, to enter into a particular debate, in order to determine whether there be any thing in the greatness and importance in the case that will bear a proportion to the greatness of the concern manifested. Men may be allowed, from no higher a principle
. than common humanity, to be very deeply concerned, and greatly exercised in mind, at seeing others in great danger of, or being burnt up in a house on fire. And it will be allowed to be equally reasonable, if they saw them in danger of a calamity ten times greater, to be still much more concerned ; and so much more still, if the calamity was still vastly greater. Why then should it be thought unreasonable, and looked on with a suspicious eye, as if it must come from some bad cause, when persons are extremely concerned at seeing others in a very great danger of suffering the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God to all eternity? Besides, it will doubtless be allowed that those who have great degrees of the Spirit of God, which is a spirit of love, may well be supposed to have vastly more love and compassion to their fellow-creatures, than those who are influenced only by common humanity. Why should it be thought strange that those who are full of the Spirit of Christ, should be proportionably, in their love to souls, like to Christ? He had so strong a love and concern for them, as to be willing to drink the dregs of the cup of God's fury; and, at the same time that he offered up his blood for souls, he offered up also, as their high priest, strong crying and tears, with an extreme agony, wherein the soul of Christ was as it were in travail for the souls of the elect; and therefore, in saving them, he is said to see of the travail of his soul. As such a spirit of love and concern for souls was the Spirit of Christ, so it is that of the church. Therefore the churcb, in desiring and seeking that Christ might be brought forth in the souls of men, is represented, Rev. xii. as a woman crying, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. The spirit of those who have been in distress for the souls of others, so far as I can discern, seems not to be different from that of the apostle, who travailed for souls, and was ready to wish himself accursed from Christ, for others; and that of the Psalmist, Psal. cxix.53. Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law. And ver. 136. Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. And that of the prophet Jeremiah. Jer. iv. 19. My bowels ! my bowels! I am pained at
I my very
heart maketh a noise in me! I cannot hold my peace! because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war! And so chap. ix. I. and xiii. 17. xiv. 17. and Isa. xvii. 4. We read of Mordecai, when he saw his people in danger of being destroyed with a temporal destruction, Esth. iv. 1. that he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out in the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry. And why then should persons be thought to be distracted, when they cannot forbear crying out, at the consideration of the misery of those who are going to eternal destruction.
III. Another thing that some make their rule to judge of this work by, instead of the holy scriptures, is history, or former observation. Herein they err two ways:
First, If there be any thing extraordinary in the circumstances of this work, which was not observed in former times, their's is a rule to reject this work which God has not given them, and they limit God, where he has not limited himself. And this is especially unreasonable in this case : For whosoever has well weighed the wonderful and mysterious methods of divine wisdom in carrying on the work of the new creation-or in the progress of the work of redemption, from the first promise of the seed of the woman to this time—may easily observe that it has all along been God's manner to open new scenes, and to bring forth to view things new and wonderful such as eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man or angels—to the astonishment of heaven and earth, not only in the revelations he makes of his mind and will, but also into the works of his hands. As the old creation was carried on through six days, and appeared all complete, settled in a state of rest on the seventh; so the new creation, which is immensely the greatest and most glorious work, is carried on in a gradual progress, from the fall of man to the consummation of all things. And as in the progress of the old creation, there were still new things accomplished; new wonders every day in the sight of the angels, the spectators of that
work—while those morning-stars sang together; new scenes were opened, till the whole was finished-so it is in the progress of the new creation. So that that promise, Isa, Ixiv. 4. For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neilher hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him thai waiteth for him; though it bad a glorious fulfilment in the days of Christ and his apostles, as the words are applied, 1 Cor. įi. 9. yet it always remains to be fulfilled, in things that are yet behind, till the new creation is finished, as Christ's delivering up the kingdom to the Father. And we live in those latter days, wherein we may be especially warranted to expect that things will be accomplished, concerning which it will be said, Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things?
Besides, those things in this work, which have been chiefly complained of as new, are not' so new as has been generally imagined. Though they have been much more frequent lately, in proportion to the uncommon degree, extent, and swiftness, and other extraordinary circumstances of the work, yet they are not new in their kind; but are of the same nature as have been found, and well approved of, in the church of God before, from time to time. We have a remarkable instance in Mr. Bolton, that noted minister of the church of England, who after being awakened by the preaching of the famous Mr. Perkins, minister of Christ in the university of Cambridge, was the subject of such terrors as threw him to the ground, and caused him to roar with anguish. The pangs of the new birth in him were such, that be lay pale and without sense, like one dead; as we have an account in the Fulfilment of the Scripture, the 5th edition, p. 103, 104. We have an account in the same page of another, whose comforts under the sun-shine of God's presence were so great, that he could not forbear crying out in a transport, and expressing in exclamations the great sense he had of forgiving mercy and his assurance of God's love. And we have a remarkable instance, in the life of Mr. George Trosse written by himself, (who, of a notoriously vicious profligate liver, became an eminent saint and minister of the gospel) of terrors occasioned by awakenings of conscience, so overpowering the body, as to deprive him, for some time, of the use of reason.
Yea, such extraordinary external effects of inward impressions have not been found merely in here and there a single person, but there have been times wherein many have been thus affected, in some particular parts of the church of God; and such effects have appeared in congregations, in many at once. So it was in the year 1625, in the west of Scotland, on a time of great out-pouring of the Spirit of God. It
was then a frequent thing for many to be so extraordinarily seized with terror in hearing the word, by the Spirit of God convincing them of sin, that they fell down and were carried out of the church, and they afterwards proved most solid and lively Christians; as the author of the Fulfilling of the Scripture informs us, p. 185. The same author, in the preceding page, informs us of many in France that were so wonderfully affected with the preaching of the gospel, in the time of those famous divines Farel and Viret, that for a time they could not follow their secular business : And, p. 186, of many in Ireland, in a time of great out-pouring of the Spirit there, in the year 1628, that were so filled with divine comforts, and a sense of God, that they made but little use of either meat, drink or sleep; and professed that they did not feel the need thereof. The same author gives a similar account of Mrs. Katharine Brettergh, of Lancashire, in England : (p. 391, 392.) After great distress, which very much affected her body, God did so break in upon her mind with light and discoveries of himself, that she was forced to burst out, crying, “ O the joys, the joys, the joys that I feel in my soul! Othey be wonderful, they be wonderful! The place where I now am is sweet and pleasant! How comfortable is the sweetness I feel, that delights my soul! The taste is precious; do you not feel it? Oh so sweet as it is !” And at other times, “ ( my sweet Saviour, shall I be one with thee, as thou art one with the Father? And dost thou so love me that am but dust, to make me partaker of glory with Christ? O how wonderful is thy love? And oh that
my tongue and heart were able to sound forth thy praises as I ought.” At another time she burst forth thus : Yea, Lord, I feel thy mercy, and I am assured of thy love! And so certain am I thereof, as thou art that God of truth ; even so certainly do I know myself to be thine, O Lord my God; and this my soul knoweth right well!" Which last words she again doubled. To a grave minister, one Mr. Harrison, then with her, she said, “ My soul hath been compassed with the terrors of death, the sorrows of hell were upon me, and a wilderness of woe was in me; but blessed, blessed, blessed be the Lord my God! he hath brought me to a place of rest, even to the sweet running waters of life. The way I now go in is a sweet and easy way, strewed with flowers ; he hath brought me into a place more sweet than the garden of Eden; 0 the joy, the joy, the delights and joy that I feel ! O how wonderful !"
Great outcries under awakenings were more frequently beard of in former times in the country than they have been of late, as some aged persons now living do testify : par. ticularly I think fit here to insert a testimony of my honoured father, of what he remembers formerly to have heard. -
“ I well remember that one Mr. Alexander Allen, a Scots gentleman of good credit, that dwelt formerly in this town, shewed me a letter that came from Scotland, that gave an account of a sermon preached in the city of Edinburgh (as I remember) in the time of the sitting of the general assembly of divines in that kingdom, that so affected the people, that there was a great and loud cry made throughout the assembly. I have also been credibly informed, and how often I cannot now say, that it was a common thing, when the famous Mr. John Rogers of Dedham, in England, was preaching, for some of his hearers to cry out; and, by what I have heard, I conclude that it was usual for many that heard that very awakening and rousing preacher of God's word, to make a great cry in the congregation. (Signed)
“ Timothy EDWARDS. “ Windsor, May 5, 1742."
Mr. Flavel gives a remarkable instance of a man whom he knew, that was wonderfully overcome with divine comforts; which it is supposed he knew, as the apostle Paul knew the man that was caught up to the third beaven. He relates, that “ As the person was travelling alone, with his thoughts closely fixed on the great and astonishing things of another world, bis thoughts began to swell higher and higher, like the water in Ezekiel's vision, till at last they became an overflowing flood. Such was the intenseness of his mind, such the ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, and such his full assurance of his interest therein, that he utterly lost all sight and sense of this world, and the concernments thereof; and for some hours knew not where he was, nor what be was about; but having lost a great quantity of blood at the nose, he found himself so faint, that it brought him a little more to himself.' And after he had washed himself at a spring, and drank of the water for his refreshment, he continued to the end of his journey, which was thirty miles; and all this while was scarce sensible; and says, he had several trances of considerable continuance. The same blessed frame was preserved all that night, and, in a lower degree, great part of the next day. The night passed without one wink of sleep; and yet he declares lie never had a sweeter night's rest in all his life. Still, adds the story, the joy of the Lord overflowed 'him, and he seemed to be an inhabitant of another world. And he used for many years after to call that day one of the days of heaven; and professed that he understood more of the life of beaven by.it, than by all the books he ever read, or discourses he ever entertained about it."
There have been instances before now, of persons crying out in transports of divine joy in New England. We have an