« PoprzedniaDalej »
before ; nor did Christians avoid going every day to hear, for fear of any such bad effect; Acts ii. 42, 46.
There are some things in scripture that seem to signify that there should be preaching in an extraordinary frequency, at the time when God should introduce the flourishing state of religion in the latter days; as Isa. Ixii. 1, 2.“ For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory.” And, ver. 5, 6. “For
" as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. I have set watchman upon thy walls, 0 Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night.” The destruction of the city of Jericho is evidently, in all its circumstances, intended by God as a great type of the overthrow of Satan's kingdom. The priests blowing with trumpets, represents ministers preaching the gospel. The people compassed the city seven days, the priests blowing the trumpets. But, when the day was come that the walls of the city were to fall, the priests were more frequent and abundant in blowing their trumpets; there was as much done in one day
: then, as had been done in seven days before; they compassed the city seven times that day, blowing their trumpets, till at length it came to one long and perpetual blast, and then the walls of the city fell down flat. The extraordinary preaching that shall be at the beginning of that glorious jubilee of the church, is represented by the extraordinary sounding of trumpets, throughout the land of Canaan, at the beginning of the year of jubilee. And the reading of the law before al Israel, in the year of release, at the feast of tabernacles; and the crowing of the cock at break of day, which brought Peter to repentance; seem to me to be intended to signify the awakening of God's church out of their lethargy, wherein they had denied their Lord, by the extraordinary preaching of the gospel that shall be at the dawning of the day of the church's light and glory. And there seems at this day to be an uncommon hand of Divine Providence, in animating, enabling, and upholding some ministers in such abundant labours.
IV. Another thing, wherein I think some ministers have been injured, is in being very much blamed for making so much of outcries, faintings, and other bodily effects: speaking of them as tokens of the presence of God, and arguments of the success of preaching; seeming to strive to their utmost to bring a congregation to that pass, and seeming to rejoice in it, yea, even blessing God for it when they see these effects.
Concerning this I would observe, in the first place, That there are many things, with respect to cryings out, falling down, &c. charged on ministers, that they are not guilty of. Some would have it, that they speak of these things as certain evidences of a work of the Spirit of God on the hearts of their hearers, or that they esteem these bodily effects themselves to be the work of God, as though the Spirit of God took hold of and agitated the bodies of men; and some are charged with making these things essential, and supposing that persons cannot be converted without them; whereas I never yet could see the person that held either of these things.
But for speaking of such effects as probable tokens of God's presence, and arguments of the success of preaching, it seems to me that they are not to be blamed; because I think they are so indeed. And therefore when I sec them excited by preaching the important truths of God's word, urged and enforced by proper arguments and motives, or as consequent on other means that are good, I do not scruple to speak of them, and to rejoice in them, and bless God for them as such ; and for this reason, viz. That from time to time, upon proper inquiry and examination, and observation of the consequences and fruits, I have found that these are all evidences of the persons in whom these effects appear, being under the influences of God's Spirit, in such cases. Crying out, in such a manner, and with such circumstances, as I have seen them from time to time, is as much an evidence to me, of the general cause it proceeds from, as language. I have learned the meaning of it the same way that persons learn the meaning of language, viz. by use and experience. I confess that when
I see a great crying out in a congregation, in the manner that I have seen it when those things are held forth to them which are worthy of their being greatly affeeted by thein, I rejoice in it, much more than merely in an appearance of solemn attention, and a shew of affection by weeping; and that because when there have been those outcries, I have found from time to time a much greater and more excellent effect, To rejoice that the work of God is carried on calmly, without much ado, is in effect to rejoice that it is carried on with less power, or that there is not so much of the influence of God's Spirit. For though the degree of the influence of the Spirit of God, en particular persons, is by no means to be judged of by the degree of external appearances, because of the different constitutions, tempers and circumstances of men ; yet, if there be a very powerful influence of the Spirit of God on a mixed multitude, it will cause some way or other a great visible com
And as to ministers aiming at such effects, and striving by all means to bring a congregatiðn to that pass, that there
should be such an uproar among them ; I suppose none aim at it any otherwise, than as they strive to raise the affections of their hearers to such a height as very often appears in these effects. And if those affections are commonly good, and it be found by experience that such a degree of them commonly has a good effect, I think they are to be justified in so doing.
V. Again, some ministers have been blamed for keeping persons together, that have been under great affections, which have appeared in such extraordinary outward manifestations.Many think this promotes confusion, that persons in such circumstances do but discompose each other's minds, and disturb the minds of others; and that therefore it is best they should be dispersed ; and that when any in a congregation are strongly seized, that they cannot forbear outward manifestations of it, they should be removed, that others' minds may not be diverted.
I cannot but think that those who thus object, go upon quite wrong notions of things. For though persons ought to take heed that they do not make any ado without necessity; for this will be the way in time to have such appearances lose all their effect; yet the unavoidable manifestations of strong religious affections tend to a happy influence on the minds of by-standers, and are found by experience to have an excellent and durable effect. And so to contrive and order things, that others may have opportunity and advantage to observe them, has been found to be blessed, as a great means to promote the work of God; and to prevent their being in the way of observation, is to prevent the effect of that which God makes use of as a principal means of carrying on his work at such an extraordinary time, viz. example: which is often spoken of in scripture, as one of the chief means by which God would carry on his work in the prosperity of religion in the latter days.I have mentioned some texts already to this purpose, in what I published before, of the Marks of a Work of the True Spirit ; but would here mention some others. In Zech. ix. 15, 16. those that in the latter days should be filled in an extraordinary manner with the Holy Spirit, so as to appear in outward mani. festations, and making à noise, are spoken of as those that God, in these uncommon circumstances, will set up to the view of others as
a prize or ensign, by their example and the excellency of their attainments, to animate and draw others, as men gather about an ensign, and run for a prize, a crown and precious jewels, set up in their view. The words are" And they shall drink and make a noise as through wine, and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of
his people; for they shall be as the stones of a crowd, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.” (I shall have occasion to say something more of this scripture afterwards.) Those that make the objection I am upon, instead of suffering this ensign to be in public view, are for having it removed, and hid in some corner. To the like purpose is that, Isa. Ixii. 3. “ Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." Here it is observable, that it is not said, thou shalt be a crown upon the head, but in the hand of the Lord; i.e. held forth, in thy beauty and excellency, as a prize, to be bestowed upon others that shall behold thee, and be animated by the brightness and lustre which God shall endow thee with. The great influence of the example of God's people, in their bright and excellent attainments, to propagate religion in those days, is further signified in Isa. 1x. 3. " And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” With ver. 22. “ A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation.” And Zech. x. 8.9. “ And they shall increase, as they have increased; and I will sow them among the people.” And Hos. ii. 23. " And I will sow her unto me in the earth.” So Jer. xxxi. 27.
Vl. Another thing, that gives great disgust to many, is the disposition that persons shew, under great affections, to speak so much; and, with such earnestness and vehemence, to be setting forth the greatness and wonderfulness and importance of divine and eternal things, and to be so passionately warning, inviting and intreating others.
Concerning which I would say, That I am far from thinking that such a disposition should be wholly without any limits or regulation, (as I shall more particularly shew afterwards ;) and I believe some have erred, in setting no bounds, and indulging and encouraging this disposition without any kind of restraint or direction. But yet it seems to me, that such a disposition in general is what both reason and scripture will justify. Those who are offended at such things, as though they were unreasonable, are not just. Upon examination it will probably be found, that they have one rule of reasoning about temporal things, and another about spiritual things. Phey do not at all wonder, if a person on some very great and affecting occasion, an occasion of extraordinary danger or great joy, that eminently and immediately concerns him and others-is disposed to speak much, and with great earnestness, especially to those with whom he is united in the bonds of dear affection, and great concern for their good. And therefore, if they were just, why would not they allow it in spiritual things? and much more in them, agreeably to the vastly greater importance and more affecting nature of spiritual
things, and the concern which true religion causes in men's minds for the good of others, and the disposition it gives and excites to speak God's praises, to shew forth his infinite glory, and talk of all his glorious perfections and works?
That a very great and proper sense of the importance of religion, and the danger sinners are in, should sometimes cause an almost insuperable disposition to speak and warn others, is agreeable to Jer. vi. 10, 11. "To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised and they cannot hearken: Behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of the young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days." And that true Christians, when they come to be as it were waked out of sleep, and to be filled with a sweet and joyful sense of the excellent things of religion, by the preaching of the gospel, or by other means of grace, should be disposed to be much in speaking of divine things, though before they were dumb, is agreeable to what Christ says to his church, Cant. vii. 9. “And the roof of thy mouth is like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” The roof of the church's mouth is the officers in the church, that preach the gospel; their word is to Christ's beloved like the best wine, that goes down sweetly ; extraordinarily refreshing and enlivening the saints, causing them to speak, though before they were mute and asleep. It is said by some, That the subjects of this work, when they get together, talking loud and earnestly in their pretended great joys, several in a room talking at the same time, make a noise just like a company of drunken persons. On which I would observe, that it is foretold that God's people should do so, in that forementioned place, Zech. ix. 15-17, of which I shall now take more particular notice. The words are as follow: “The Lord of hosts shall defend them, and they shall devour and subdue with sling stones, and they shall drink and make a noise as through wine, and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids." The words are very remarkable : Here it is foretold, that at the time when Christ shall set up an universal kingdom upon earth, (ver. 20.) the children of Zion shall dripk, till they are filled like the vessels of the sanctuary. And, if we would know with what they shall be