Obrazy na stronie

views them, there would probably be no difference whatever amongst them. Some err in doctrine, and some in administration: there are children of God and of the devil in all and as it was hard to say whether the Sadducee, the Pharisee, the lawyer, the priest, or the scribe, was most opposed to our Lord when on earth, or had most widely departed from the life of God set forth in the temple service; so might it be difficult to adjust the respective demerits of the churches of Rome, Greece, England, and Scotland, and the thousand forms of Dissenterism, so as to say which, as a body, was most hostile to the Spirit of God, of which Spirit it ought to be the temple and the constant manifester. But let this be as it may, no difference whatever can be made amongst them in the Judgment, if they equally agree to refuse admittance to the Lord the Spirit into His own house, now that He is knocking at their several doors and those individuals alone can abide the fire of its jealousy who will receive Him into their hearts, and submit to be used by Him at all hazards. If this were a time for restoration, re-constitution, and construction of any thing, we should anticipate that the Lord was about to restore his gifts to his church, in order to re-establish churches upon the Apostolic model. But since this is a time of earthquakes and overthrowing of all things, we can only look upon the return of the gifts as a witness for God, as the last pleadings of His love, and as the last means of drawing the little flock to Himself, and of justifying before all men the destruction of the



This, however, is the time for the full development of Radicalism in every department of social, political, and religious life. Radicalism differs from rebellion in this; that whereas the latter is a struggle of one good principle against the abuse of another, the former has no principle in it at all: the latter is provoked by an unjust possession of a crown, or by a tyrannical abuse of power, without any ultimate object beyond the correction of a defined and specified evil; the former is a restless desire to pull down every thing higher than itself, while it domineers over all that is below it. The pastors of the churches are deeply infected with this spirit; which was much aggravated in a few who resided in the neighbourhood and who were acquainted with the late Mr. Vaughan, whose writings they misunderstood, and of whose perverted opinions they became the apes. He restored the office of pastor to its true dignity, out of the hands of the Evangelicals, who had lowered it: his imitators took to their own persons the glories, which he shewed did not belong to men but to ordinances, the very identical sin of the Popish priests, who claim for their own persons the whole power of the church. The manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit develops the principle of radicalism in these persons more strongly than in others; because,

while they enjoin popish servility to the office they fill, as they say-but in reality to their own persons-they themselves refuse to bend to the higher office of prophet in the church: they are willing to preach submission to the ordinance they themselves fulfil, while they set the example of rebellion against a higher ordinance than their own: they will keep all under themselves, but they will find all sorts of subterfuges to escape from submission to the prophets, who are above them. It is observed by Mr. Irving, in his Lectures on the Apocalypse, that the faults of each of the seven churches are charged upon its angel; that is, he is addressed as if he were responsible for the whole body: this proves, that, if the church is in a radical state of insubordi→ nation to its pastors, it is because the pastors are in the same state towards Christ: they are not serving him alone; they have some other master; they have some by-end: they are either courting the favour and applause of men, or using something as a substitute for Christ-it may be the ordinances themselves, as the Jews did the temple service to keep them from God-or they are using their pulpits and their gifts to feed their own vanity, and puff up their own pride.

There is no doubt that there has been a very great increase of religious profession of late years; and that all the forms and circumstantials of Christianity are become so many objects of idolatry, as the sacrifices, feasts, &c. of the Jews did to them. Amongst intellectual and benevolent persons, the moral beauty of the Gospel scheme is sincerely loved, and mistaken for God Himself: amongst vain, and eloquent, and moral men, to whom other spheres of celebrity are closed, the pulpit affords an opportunity of attracting the applause of thousands; and the Gospel is loved because of the excitement it occasions, not for the solace of loneliness and pain. Amongst philanthropists, the mild and beneficent expressions of our Lord are singled out and exclusively dwelt upon; and, while these are loved with enthusiasm, the Holy God, who consigns impenitent sinners to interminable flames, is hated with unspeakable hatred. The lover of order and of social duties, and of seeing God in the state and in the church, loves all he knows of God, that is seen in upholding establishments and ecclesiastical ordinances, rights and privileges; but God himself, when overthrowing such things, may be repudiated. Truth may be tolerated when mixed with human eloquence which is captivating: when naked, and without that eloquence, it would be heartily despised. It will sound strange to the ears of some to be told a deep, important, and alarming truth-namely, that Christianity may be loved more than Christ, the preaching of the Gospel more than the Gospel, church ordinances more than the thing signified. All, all must be cast down, that the Lord alone may be exalted. The

cry to come out of Babylon is much more extensive than almost any one supposes. Half the Protestant church think it means that Papists should turn Protestants: alas! they may do so, and be more deeply wedded to Babylon than ever. There is not one of us who is not living in Babylon; and he who thinks himself the farthest removed is the deepest in. There are some who are denying to the Spirit the right to speak in the church, alleging that it is against order so to do. Here they make use of that order, which ought to be for the louder utterance of the Spirit's voice, as the means to silence it: and their love of order is either idolatry, to keep them away from God; or hypocrisy, in shewing that they are thus serving him for some personal end. The forms of religious deception and idolatry might be multiplied to an unspeakable extent: we have often heard them laid bare with a master's hand by the Rev. J. H. Evans, in John Street, but have not space to enlarge upon them here. We entreat, in conclusion, every one to examine his own heart for himself, and pray to God to teach him to discover whether he is really willing to see every thing around him, which he most loves and prizes, trampled under foot, and he himself counted mad, and the offscouring of all things; and be content with the presence of the Lord alone. It is not without having had practical experience of some of the motives which operate unconsciously in the hearts of many who pass for the most eminent of the Lord's servants, respecting their apprehensions on the subject of the restoration of spiritual gifts in the church, that we thus speak: and we conjure every one who reads these pages to remember, that, while we see so large an extension of apparent religion, the Lord declares that at the time of his advent there is very little faith; and then to account for the discrepancy between the prediction and the fact on any other ground than that which we have here stated, if he can.

[ocr errors]


IN our observations upon the abuse of spiritual gifts, in the last Number of this journal, we were compelled to pass over much which it is highly important to bring before the church. It was maintained, that wherever there has been a work of Satan, such work is sufficient proof of there having been also a previous work of the Holy Spirit: this was argued for on the ground that Satan always left men in repose, unless the Spirit of God emancipated them from his snares, and then it was that he commenced a work of delusion for their destruction. We did not wish to burden our remarks with collateral and imperfect dis



cussions upon controverted points; and therefore we took facts as they are commonly current, although a little deeper examination would have justified our producing them in other views, which would have more strongly corroborated our arguments. Amongst these was the history of the Satanic possessions of Loudun. We took the report of their origin from the Popish Historians of France: we adopted without dispute that Grandier was the worthless person he is there represented: we denied nothing, but argued upon the case as we found it. A Protestant work, however, of great reputation, Histoire de l'Edit de Nantes, gives a very different account of the transaction, which we shall now proceed to lay before our readers.

It will be remembered, that we admitted the Satanic possessions of the Ursuline Nuns; but, being persuaded that no active work of the devil ever goes on unless some work of God has been going on also, we had a difficulty in discovering from the Popish accounts in what that work of God had consisted. By this Protestant report, however, it appears, that although the author makes no mention of any thing supernatural having taken place, yet he asserts that Grandier was an able and eloquent writer and preacher against the celibacy of the priests, and various mal-practices of the Church of Rome; which would fully account for the desire of the priests, at the instigation and by the aid of Satan, to destroy him.

"Il y eut bien des gens qui prirent pour une affaire de religion la comédie qui fut jouée durant plusieurs années aux Ursulines de Loudun; et dont quelques actes appartiennent à celle-cy. Ce couvent avoit été gouverné par un prêtre nommé Urbain Grandier. Il étoit savant, bon prédicateur, et d'agréable conversation. Il avoit écrit un livre contre le célibat des prêtres ; et parlé quelquefois un peu librement de quelques autres pra tiques de l'Eglise Romaine. On s'avisa de l'accuser de magie et de maléfices; et particulièrement d'avoir mis quelques-unes des religieuses de cette maison en la puissance de l'esprit malin. ....Les auteurs de cette comédie la jouoient si mal, et Grandier se défendoit si bien, qu'on fut long-tems avant que de trouver les juges qui eussent la complaisance de terminer cette affaire au gré des bigots.....Enfin, Grandier fut condamné à la mort, comme convaincu par son propre aveu d'avoir écrit et parlé desavantageusement de la doctrine Catholique; mais aussi comme convaincu de magie, par les dépositions des prétendues possedées. On prit aussi pour preuves de sa magie la constance qu'il témoigna dans les tourmens de la question, et à la mort; et les marques d'aversion qu'il donna, même sur l'échelle, contre les bigoteries que l'Eglise Romaine pratique en de semblables occasions. Mais les personnes sérieuses, qui ne lui virent faire que ce que faisoient les Réforméz, lorsqu'ils étoient condamnés au

même supplice, crurent que toute sa magie consistoit en ce qu'il étoit demi hérétique; et qu'il n'avoit point fait d'autre mal aux religieuses, que de leur enseigner une doctrine peu conforme à celle de l'Eglise Romaine, sur les vœux monastiques et le célibat." Vol. ii. p. 538.

The style of the writer shews him not to be under the power of religion, but a common worldly Protestant historian, taking up his own side, with the usual zeal of a partizan. It is very possible that the "firmness which he (Grandier) shewed in the midst of the torments of the rack," and which were so extraordinary as to oblige the priests to account for it by imputing it to something supernatural, was really occasioned by the miraculous support of the Holy Ghost, although they ascribed it to magic. This man was, according to the preceding account, a witness against the Papacy; and we have many instances of miraculous support being vouchsafed to martyrs in such circumstances. It is reported of Rawlins White by Fox, that a pile of faggots were set on fire," in the which flame this good and blessed man bathed his hands so long until such time as the sinews shrunk, and the fat dropped away, saving that once he did, as it were, wipe his face with one of them. All this while, which was somewhat long, he cried with a loud voice, O Lord, receive my soul! O Lord, receive my spirit! until he could not open his mouth. At the last, the extremity of the fire was so vehement against his legs that they were consumed almost before the rest of his body was burned, which made the whole body fall over the chain into the fire sooner than it would have done. During which time of his burning IT CANNOT BE SAID THAT HE FELT ANY GREAT PAIN, Considering that not without his perfect memory he abode both quietly and patiently even unto the departing of his life."-Another case is that of Thomas Tomkins, who had his hand held by Bishop Bonner over the flame of a candle: "in the which burning he never shrunk, till the veins shrunk, and the sinews burst, and the water did spirt in the face" of a by-stander. "In the time that his hand was burning, the same Tomkins afterward reported to one James Hinse that his spirit was so rapt THAT HE FELT NO PAIN."

Many similar instances might be quoted: they all rank in the same class with the recent cases of miraculous cures which have occurred: they are answers to the prayer of faith, which God gives to his believing people whenever they are enabled to trust him. The observations which have been made upon them by persons professing in these days to be more religious than the rest of the world, are so silly that they betray insincerity, and at the same time the contempt of God's ways, in those who make them.

The cases of miraculous cures are exclusively of importance to

« PoprzedniaDalej »