« EdellinenJatka »
which must be distinguished by the skill of the observer. Some are much more solid than others. There are many exercises of the affections that are very flashy, and little to be depended on; and oftentimes a great deal appertains to them, or rather is the effect of them, that has its seat in animal nature, and is very much owing to the constitution and frame of the body; and that which sometimes more especially obtains the name of passion, is nothing solid or substantial. But it is false philosophy to suppose this to be the case with all exercises of affection in the soul, or with all great and high affections; and false divinity to suppose that religious affections do not appertain to the substance and essence of Christianity. On the contrary, it seems to me that the very life and soul of all true religion consists in them.
I humbly conceive that the affections of the soul are not properly distinguished from the will, as though there were two faculties. All acts of the affections are in some sense acts of the will, and all the acts of the will are acts of the affections. All exercises of the will are, in some degree or other, exercises of the soul's appetition or aversion; or, which is the same thing, of its love or hatred. The soul wills one thing rather than another, or chooses one thing rather than another, no otherwise than as it loves one thing more than another ; but love and hatred are affections of the soul. Therefore all acts of the will are truly acts of the affections; though the exercises of the will do not obtain the name of passions, unless the will, either in its aversion or opposition, be exercised in a high degree, or in a vigorous and lively manner. All will allow that true virtuc or holiness has its seat chiefly in the heart, rather than in the head. It therefore follows from what has been said already, that it consists chiefly in holy affections. The things of religion take place in men's hearts, no further than they are affected with them. The informing of the understanding is all vain, any farther than it affects the heart, or, which is the same thing, has influence on the affections.
Those gentlemen who make light of these raised affections in religion, will doubtless allow that true religion and holiness, as it has its seat in the heart, is capable of very high degrees, and high exercises in the soul. For instance; they will probably allow that the holiness of the heart or will is capable of being raised to a hundred times as great a degree of strength as it is in the most eminent saint on earth, or to be exerted in a hundred times so vigorous exercises of the heart; and yet be true religion or holiness still. Now therefore I will ask them, by what name they will call these high and vigorous exercises of the will or heart? Are they not high affections ? What can they consist in, but in high acts of love; strong and vigorous exercises of benevolence and complacence,
high, exalting, and admiring thoughts of God and his perfections ; strong desires after God, &c. ? And now, what are we come to but high and raised affections ? yea, those very affections that before they objected against, as worthy of little regard ?
All will allow that there is nothing but solid religion in heaven; but there, holiness is raised to an exceeding great height, to strong, high, exalted exercises of heart. Now, what other strong and high exercises of the heart, or of holiness as it has its seat in their hearts, can we devise for them, but holy affections, high degrees of actings of love to God, rejoicing in God, admiration of God, &c.? Therefore these things in the saints and angels in heaven are not to be despised and cashiered by the name of great heats and transports of the passions. And it will doubtless be yet further allowed, that the more eminent the saints are on earth, the stronger their grace, and the higher its exercises are, the more they are like the saints in heaven, i. e. (by what has been just now observed) the more they have of high or raised affections in religion.
Though there are false affections in religion, and in some respects raised high; yet undoubtedly there are also true, holy and solid affections; and the higher these are raised the better. And when they are raised to an exceeding great height, they are not to be suspected merely because of their degree, but on the contrary to be esteemed. Charity, or divine love, is in scripture represented as the sum of all the religion of the heart; but this is only a holy affection. And therefore, in proportion as this is firmly fixed in the soul, and raised to a great height, the more eminent a person is in holiness. Divine love or charity is represented as the sum of all the religion of heaven, and that wherein mainly the religion of the church in its more perfect state on earth shall consist, when knowledge, and tongues, and prophesyings shall cease; and therefore the higher this holy affection is raised in the church of God, or in a gracious soul, the more excellent and perfect is the state of the church, or a particular soul.
If we take the scriptures for our rule, then the greater and higher our exercises of love to God, delight and complacency in him, desires and longings after him, delight in his children, love to mankind, brokenness of heart, abhorrence of sin, and self-abhorrence for it; the more we have of the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost, unspeakable and full of glory : the higher our admiring thoughts of God, exulting and glorying in him ; so much the higher is Christ's religion, or that virtue which he and his apostles taught, raised in the soul.
It is a stumbling to some, that religious affections should seem to be so powerful, or that they should be so violent (as they express it) in some persons. They are therefore ready to doubt, whether it can be the Spirit of God; or whether this
vehemence be not rather a sign of the operation of an evil spirit. But why should such a doubt arise? What is represented in scripture as more powerful in its effects than the Spirit of God? which is therefore called “the power of the Highest,” Luke i. 35, and its saving effect in the soul is called "the power of godliness.” So we read of the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” I Cor. ii. 4. And it is said to operate in the minds of men with the "exceeding greatness of divine
power," and "according to the working of God's mighty power,” Eph. i. 19. So we read of "the effectual working of his power,” Eph. iii. 7. “ the power that worketh in Christians, v. 20. the “glorious power” of God in the operations of the Spirit, Col. i. 11. and “the work of faith,” wrought“ with power, 2 Thess. i. 11. In 2 Tim. i. 7. the Spirit of God is called "the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” So the Spirit is represented by a mighty wind, and by fire, things most powerful in their operation.
II. Many are guilty of not taking the holy scriptures as a sufficient and whole rule, whereby to judge of this work. They judge by those things which the scripture does not give as any signs or marks whereby to judge one way or the other, viz. the effects that religious exercises and affections of mind have upon the body. Scripture rules respect the state of the mind, moral conduct, and voluntary behaviour; and not the physical state of the body. The design of the scripture is to teach us divinity, and not physic and anatomy. Ministers are made the watchmen of men's souls, and not their bodies ; and therefore the great rule which God has committed into their hands, is to make them divines, and not physicians.Christ knew what instructions and rules his church would stand in need of, better than we do: and, if he had seen it needful in order to the church's safety, he doubtless would have given to ministers rules for judging of bodily effects. He would have told them how the pulse should beat under such and such religious exercises of mind ; when men should look pale, and when they should shed tears; when they should tremble, and whether or no they should ever be faint or cry out; or whether the body should ever be put into convul. sions. He probably would have put some book into their hands, that should have tended to make them excellent anatomists and physicians. But he has not done it, because he did not see it to be needful.—He judged, that if ministers thoroughly did their duty as watchmen and overseers of the state and frame of men's souls, and of their voluntary conduct, according to the rules he had given, his church would be well provided for as to its safety in these matters. And therefore those ministers of Christ, and overseers of souls, who are full of concern about the involuntary motions of the fluids and solids of men's bodies, and who from thence are full of doubts and suspicions of the cause--when nothing appears but that the state and frame of their minds and their voluntary behaviour is good, and agreeable to God's word-go out of the place that Christ has set them in, and leave their proper business, as much as if they should undertake to tell who are under the influence of the Spirit by their looks or their gait. I cannot see which way we are in danger, or how the devil is like to get any notable advantage against us, if we do but thoroughly do our duty with respect to those two things, viz.-the state of persons' minds, and their nioral conduct ; seeing to it that they be maintained in an agreeableness to the rules that Christ has given us. If things are but kept right in these respects, our fears and suspicions arising from extraordinary bodily effects seem wholly groundless.
The most specious thing alleged against these extraordinary effects on the body, is, That the body is impaired, and that it is hard to think that God, in the merciful influences of his Spirit on men, would wound their bodies and impair their health. But if it were in multiplied instances (which I do not suppose it is) that persons received a lasting wound to their health by extraordinary religious impressions made upon their minds, yet it is too much for us to determine that God shall never bring an outward calamity, in bestowing a vastly greater spiritual and eternal good. Jacob in doing his duty in wrestling with God for the blessing, and even at the same time that he received the blessing from God, suffered a great outward calamity from his hand. God gave him the blessing, but sent him away halting on his thigh, and he went lame all his life after. And yet this is not mentioned as if it were any diminution of the great mercy of God to him, when God blessed him and he received his name Israel, because as a prince he had power with God, and had prevailed.
But, say some, The operations of the Spirit of God are of a benign nature ; nothing is of a more kind influence on human nature than the merciful breathings of God's own Spirit. But it has been generally supposed and allowed in the church of God, till now, that there is such a thing as being sick of love to Christ, or having the bodily strength weakened by strong and vigorous exercises of love to him. And however kind to human nature the influences of the Spirit of God are, yet nobody doubts but that divine and eternal things, as they may be discovered, would overpower the nature of man in its present weak state ; and that therefore the body, in its present weakness, is not fitted
for the views and pleasures, and employments of heaven. Were God to discover but a little of that which is seen by saints and angels in heaven, our frail natures would sink under it. Let us rationally consider what we profess to believe of the infinite greatness of divine wrath, divine glory, the divine infinite love and grace in Jesus Christ, and the infinite importance of eternal things; and then how reasonable it is to suppose, that if God a little withdraw the veil, to let light into the soul-and give a view of the great things of another world in their transcendent and infinite greatness—that human nature, which is as the grass, a shaking leaf, a weak withering flower, should totter under such a discovery ? Such a bubble is too weak to bear a weight so vast. Alas! what is man that he should support himself under a view of the awful wrath or infinite glory and love of JEHOVAH! No wonder therefore that it is said, “No man can see me and live;" and, " Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." That external glory and majesty of Christ which Daniel saw, when - there remained no strength in him, and his comeliness" was turned in him into corruption,” Dan. x. 6-8, and which the apostle John saw, when he fell at his feet as dead; was but a shadow of that spiritual majesty of Christ which will be manifested in the souls of the saints in another world, and which is sometimes, in a degree, manifested to the soul in this world. And if beholding the image of this glory did so overpower human nature, is it unreasonable to suppose that a sight of the spiritual glory itself should have as powerful an effect ? The prophet Habakkuk, speaking of the awful manifestations God made of his majesty and wrath, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, and ai mount Sinai, where he gave the law; and of the merciful influence, and strong impression God caused it to have upon him, to the end that he might be saved from that wrath, and rest in the day of trouble; says, Hab. iii. 16. 66 When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered at the voice, rottenness entered into my bones, I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble." This is an effect similar to what the discovery of the same majesty and wrath has had upon many in these days; and to the same purposes, viz. to give them rest in the day of trouble, and save them from that wrath. The Psalmist also speaks of such an effect as I have often seen on persons under religious affections of late, Psal. cxix. 131.
God is pleased sometimes, in dealing forth spiritual blessings to his people, in some respects to exceed the capacity of the vessel in its present scantiness ; so that he not only fills it, but makes their cup to run over; (Psal. xxiii. 5.) and pours out a blessing, sometimes in such a manner and measure that there is not room enough to reccive it. (Mal. iij. 10.) He