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law of love. Therefore, in speaking thus, we are not undervaluing it, or robbing it of its due praise: but on the contrary, showing its real worth, exalting it in its just proportion, and giving it that very place which the wisdom of God assigned it from the beginning. It is the grand mean of restoring that holy love, wherein man was originally created. It follows, that although faith is of no value in itself (as neither is any other means whatsoever,) yet as it leads to that end, the establishing anew the law of love in our hearts, and as, in the present state of things, it is the only mean under heaven for effecting it; it is on that account an unspeakable blessing to man, and of unspeakable value before God.
III. 1. And this naturally brings us to observe, Thirdly, The most important way of establishing the law: namely, The establishing it in our own hearts and lives. Indeed without this, what would all the rest avail? We might establish it by our doctrine; we might preach it in its whole extent, might explain and enforce every part of it. We might open it in its most spiritual meaning, and declare the mysteries of the kingdom: we might preach Christ in all his offices, and faith in Christ, as opening all the treasures of his love. And yet all this time, if the law we preached, were not established in our hearts, we should be of no more account before God, than “sounding brass, or tinkling cymbals." All our preaching would be so far from profiting ourselves, that it would only increase our damnation.
2. This is, therefore, the main point to be considered, How may we establish the law in our own hearts, so that it may have its full influence on our lives? And this can only be done by faith.
Faith alone it is, which effectually answers this end, as we learn from daily experience. For so long as we walk by faith, not by sight, we go swiftly on in the way of holiness. While we steadily look, not at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen, we are more and more crucified to the world, and the world crucified to us. Let but the eye of the soul be constantly fixed, not on the things which are temporal, but on those which are eternal, and our affections are more and more loosened from earth, and fixed on things above. So that faith, in general, is the most direct and effectual mean of promoting all righteousness and true holiness: of establishing the holy and spiritual law, in the hearts of them that believe.
3. And by faith, taken in its more particular meaning, for a confidence in a pardoning God, we establish his law in our own hearts, in a still more effectual manner. For there are no motives which so powerfully incline us to love God, as the sense of the love of God in Christ. Nothing enables us like a piercing conviction of this, to give our hearts to him who was given for us. And from this prin ple of grateful love to God, arises love to our brother also. Neither can we avoid loving our neighbour, if we truly believe the love wherewith God hath loved us. Now this love to man, grounded on faith and love to God, worketh no ill to our neighbour. Consequently, it is, (as the Apostle observes,) the fulfilling of the whole negative law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill:
Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" Neither is love content with barely working no evil to our neighbour. It continually incites us to do good: as we have time, and opportunity, to do good in every possible kind, and in every possible degree, to all men. It is, therefore, the fulfilling of the positive likewise, as well as of the negative law of God.
4. Nor does faith fulfil either the negative or positive law, as to the external part only: but it works inwardly by love, to the purifying of the heart, the cleansing it from all vile affections. Every one that hath this faith in himself, "purifieth himself even as he is pure :" purifieth himself from every earthly, sensual desire, from all vile and inordinate affections: yea, from the whole of that carnal mind, which is enmity against God. At the same time, if it have its perfect work, it fills him with all goodness, righteousness, and truth. It brings all heaven into his soul, and causes him to walk in the light, even as God is in the light.
5. Let us thus endeavour to establish the law in ourselves: not sinning because we are under grace, but rather using all the power we receive thereby, to fulfil all righteousness. Calling to mind, what light we received from God, while his Spirit was convincing us of sin, let us beware we do not put out that light: what we then attained let us hold fast. Let nothing induce us to build again what we have destroyed; to resume any thing, small or great, which we then clearly saw was not for the glory of God, or the profit of our own soul: or to neglect any thing, small or great, which we could not then neglect, without a check from our own conscience. To increase and perfect the light which we had before, let us now add the light of faith. Confirm we the former gift of God, by a deeper sense of whatever he had then shown us: by a greater tenderness of conscience, and a more exquisite sensibility of sin Walking now with joy and not with fear, in a clear, steady sight of things eternal, we shall look on pleasure, wealth, praise, all the things of earth, as on bubbles upon the water counting nothing important, nothing desirable, nothing worth a deliberate thought, but only what is "within the vail, where Jesus sitteth at the right-hand of God."
6. Can you say, "Thou art merciful to my unrighteousness: my sins thou rememberest no more ?" Then, for the time to come, see that you flee from sin, as from the face of a serpent. For how exceedingly sinful does it appear to you now! How heinous above all expression! On the other hand, in how amiable a light do you now see the holy and perfect will of God? Now, therefore, labour that it be fulfilled, both in you, by you, and upon you. Now watch and pray that you may sin no more, that you may see and shun the least transgression of his law. You see the motes which you could not see before, as when the sun shines into a dark place. In like manner, you see the sins which you could not see before, now the Sun of righteousness shines in your heart. Now then give all diligence to
walk in every respect, according to the light you have received. Now be zealous to receive more light daily, more of the knowledge and love of God, more of the Spirit of Christ, more of his life, and of the power of his resurrection. Now use all the knowledge, and love, and life, and power you have already attained. So shall you continually go on from faith to faith. So shall you daily increase in holy love, till faith be swallowed up in sight, and the law of love be established to all eternity.
THE NATURE OF ENTHUSIASM,
“And Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself."— ACTS xxvi. 24.
1. AND so say all the world, the men who know not God, of all that are of Paul's religion; of every one who is so a follower of him, as he was of Christ. It is true, there is a sort of religion, nay, and it is called Christianity too, which may be practised without any such imputation, which is generally allowed to be consistent with common sense. That is, a religion of form, a round of outward duties performed in a decent, regular manner. You may add orthodoxy thereto, a system of right opinions, yea, and some qualities of heathen morality. And yet not many will pronounce, that "much religion hath made you mad." But if you aim at the religion of the heart, if you talk of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, then it will not be long before your sentence be passed, "thou art beside thyself."
2. And it is no compliment which the men of the world pay you herein. They, for once, mean what they say. They not only affirm, but cordially believe, that every man is "beside himself," who says, the love of God is shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Ghost given unto him, and that God has enabled him to rejoice in Christ, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. If a man be indeed alive to God, and dead to all things here below; if he continually see him that is invisible, and accordingly walk by faith and not by sight then they account it a clear case; beyond all dispute, "much religion hath made him mad."
3. It is easy to observe, that the determinate thing which the world accounts madness, is that utter contempt of all temporal things, and steady pursuit of things eternal; that divine conviction of things not seen; that rejoicing in the favour of God; that happy, holy
love of God; and that testimony of his Spirit with our spirit, that we are the children of God. That is, in truth, the whole spirit, and life, and power of the religion of Jesus Christ.
4. They will, however, allow, in other respects, the man acts and talks like one in his senses. In other things, he is a reasonable man: it is in these instances only his head is touched. It is, therefore, acknowledged, that the madness under which he labours, is of a particular kind. And accordingly they are accustomed to distinguish it by a particular name, Enthusiasm.
5. A term this, which is exceeding frequently used, which is scarcely ever out of some men's mouths. And yet it is exceeding rarely understood, even by those who use it most. It may be, therefore, not unacceptable to serious men, to all who desire to understand what they speak or hear, if I endeavour to explain the meaning of this term, to show what enthusiasm is. It may be an encouragement to those who are unjustly charged therewith: and may possibly be of use, to some who are unjustly charged with it, at least to others, who might be so, were they not cautioned against it.
6. As to the word itself, it is generally allowed to be of Greek extraction. But whence the Greek word virus. is derived, none has yet been able to show. Some have endeavoured to derive it from Ev Ow, in God, because all enthusiasm has reference to Him. But this is quite forced: there being small resemblance between the word derived, and those they strive to derive it from. Others would derive it from Ev Dvora, in sacrifice, because many of the enthusiasts of old, were affected in the most violent manner, during the time of sacrifice. Perhaps it is a fictitious word, invented from the noise, which some of those made who were so affected.
7. It is not improbable, that one reason why this uncouth word has been retained in so many languages, was because men were not better agreed, concerning the meaning than concerning the derivation of it. They, therefore, adopted the Greek word, because they did not understand it: they did not translate it into their own tongues, because they knew not how to translate it: it having been always a word of a loose uncertain sense, to which no determinate meaning was affixed.
8. It is not, therefore, at all surprising, that it is so variously taken at this day different persons understanding it in different senses, quite inconsistent with each other. Some take it in a good sense, for a divine impulse or impression, superior to all the natural faculties, and suspending for the time, either in whole or in part, both the reason and the outward senses. In this meaning of the word, both the Prophets of old, and the Apostles were proper enthusiasts: being, at divers times, so filled with the Spirit, and so influenced by him who dwelt in their hearts, that the exercise of their own reason, their senses, and all their natural faculties being suspended, they were wholly actuated by the power of God, and spake only as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
9. Others take the word in an indifferent sense, such as is neither morally good nor evil: thus they speak of the enthusiasm of the
Poets; of Homer and Virgil in particular. And this a late eminent writer, extends so far as to assert, there is no man excellent in his profession, whatsoever it be, who has not in his temper, a strong tincture of enthusiasm. By enthusiasm these appear to understand, an uncommon vigour of thought, a peculiar fervour of spirit, a vivacity and strength not to be found among common men: elevating the soul to greater and higher things, than cool reason could have attained.
10. But neither of these is the sense wherein the word enthusiasm is most usually understood. The generality of men, if no farther agreed, at least agree thus far concerning it, that it is something evil and this is plainly the sentiment of all those, who call the religion of the heart, enthusiasm. Accordingly I shall take it in the following pages, as an evil; a misfortune, if not a fault.
11. As to the nature of enthusiasm, it is undoubtedly, a disorder of the mind; and such a disorder, as greatly hinders the exercise of reason. Nay, sometimes, it wholly sets it aside: it not only dims, but shuts the eye of the understanding. It may, therefore, well be accounted a species of madness; of madness rather than of folly : seeing a fool is properly one who draws wrong conclusions from right premises: whereas, a madman draws right conclusions, but from wrong premises. And so does an enthusiast. Suppose his premises true, and his conclusions would necessarily follow. But here lies his mistake, his premises are false. He imagines himself to be what he is not. And therefore, setting out wrong, the farther he goes, the more he wanders out of the way.
12. Every enthusiast, then, is properly a madman. Yet his is not an ordinary, but a religious madness. By religious, I do not mean, that it is any part of religion: quite the reverse. Religion is the spirit of a sound mind: and consequently stands in direct opposition to madness of every kind. But I mean, it has religion for its object; it is conversant about religion. And so the enthusiast is generally talking of religion, of God, or of the things of God: but talking in such a manner that every reasonable Christian may discern the disorder of his mind. Enthusiasm, in general, may, then, be described in some such manner as this: a religious madness arising from some falsely imagined influence or inspiration of God: at least, from imputing something to God, which ought not to be imputed to him, or expecting something from God, which ought not to be expected from him.
13. There are innumerable sorts of enthusiasm. Those which are most common, and for that reason most dangerous, I shall endeavour to reduce under a few general heads, that they may more easily be understood and avoided.
The first sort of enthusiasm which I shall mention, is that of those who imagine they have the grace which they have not. Thus some imagine, when it is not so, that they have redemption through Christ,
even the forgiveness of sins." These are usually such as "have no root in themselves :" no deep repentance, or thorough convic