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of certain articles, in their schemes of worship, on purpose to establish it.
The last fanatics of note were those which started up in Germany a little after the reformation of Luther, springing as mushrooms do at the end of a harvest ; such were John of Leyden, David George, Adam Neuster, and many others, whose visions and revelations always terminated in leading about half a dozen sisters a-piece, and making that practice a fundamental part of their system.* For human life is a continual navigation, and if we expect our vessels to pass with safety through the waves and tempests of this fluctuating world, it is necessary to make a good provision of the flesh, as seamen lay in store of beef for a long voyage.
Now, from this brief survey of some principal sects among the fanatics in all ages, (having omitted the Mahometans and others, who might also help to confirm the argument I am about,) to which I might add several among ourselves, such as the family of
* When the Reformation had opened to all men the perusal of the Holy Scripture, it was a natural consequence, that among the ignorant and enthusiastic, were found many disposed to hurry from Christianity into heresies of their own device. John of Leyden is well known as the leader of those enthusiastic Anabaptists who seized the city of Munster, in 1533, and made it for many months a scene of cruelty, blasphemy, and extravagance. Neuster, or Nestorius, was head of a sect who also baptized adults, and expected a reign of the saints upon earth. David George was founder of the heretics called Familists, for whom he laid down a number of blasphemous tenets, maintaining particularly, that all the previous doctrines of Moses, of the prophets, and of the gospel itself, were only provisions ad interim, for the regulation of religion, until the coming of him the said David George, who assumed the title and prerogatives of the true Messias. Most of these heretics added gross debauchery to their enthusiasm, and some of them would not allow their female disciples to be clothed, because they said they were the Naked Truth.-See JESSOP'S Discovery of the Errors of the Anabaptists.
love, sweet singers of Israel, and the like: and, from reflecting upon that fundamental point in their doctrines about women, wherein they have so unanimously agreed, I am apt to imagine, that the seed or principle which has ever put men upon visions in things invisible, is of a corporeal nature: for the profounder chemists inform us, that the strongest spirits may be extracted from human flesh. Besides, the spinal marrow being nothing else but a continuation of the brain, must needs create a very free communication between the superior faculties and those below; and thus the thorn in the flesh serves for a spur to the spirit. I think it is agreed among physicians, that nothing affects the head so much as a tentiginous humour, repelled and elated to the upper region, found, by daily practice, to run frequently up into madness. A very eminent member of the faculty assured me, that, when the Quakers first appeared, he seldom was without some female patients among them for the furor Persons of a visionary devotion, either men or women, are, in their complexion, of all others the most amorous; for zeal is frequently kindled from the same spark with other fires, and, from inflaming brotherly love, will proceed to raise that of a gallant. If we inspect into the usual process of modern courtship, we shall find it to consist in a devout turn of the eyes, called ogling; an artificial form of canting and whining by rote, every interval, for want of other matter, made up with a shrug or a hum, a sigh or a groan; the style compact of insignificant words, incoherences, and repetition. These I take to be the most accomplished rules of address to a mistress; and where are these performed with more dexterity than by the saints? Nay, to bring this argument yet closer, I have been informed by certain sanguine brethren of the first class, that, in the height and orgasmus of
their spiritual exercise, it has been frequent with them ******; immediately after which, they found the spirit to relax and flag of a sudden with the nerves, and they were forced to hasten to a conclusion. This may be farther strengthened by observing, with wonder, how unaccountably all females are attracted by visionary or enthusiastic preachers, though ever so contemptible in their outward mien; which is usually supposed to be done upon considerations purely spiritual, without any carnal regards at all. But I have reason to think the sex hath certain characteristics, by which they form a truer judgment of human abilities and performings than we ourselves can possibly do of each other. Let that be as it will, thus much is certain, that, however spiritual intrigues begin, they generally conclude like all others; they may branch upward toward heaven, but the root is in the earth. Too intense a contemplation is not the business of flesh and blood; it must, by the necessary course of things, in a little time let go its hold, and fall into matter. Lovers for the sake of celestial converse are but another sort of Platonics, who pretend to see stars and heaven in ladies' eyes, and to look or think no lower; but the same pit is provided for both; and they seem a perfect moral to the story of that philosopher, who, while his thoughts and eyes were fixed upon the constellations, found himself seduced by his lower parts into a ditch.
I had somewhat more to say upon this part of the subject; but the post is just going, which forces me in great haste to conclude,
Pray burn this letter as soon