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him. Now he mourns, and expostulates with him- . self, “ Why art thou so heavy, O my soul? and “ why art thou so disquieted within me?” Then he exults, and says, “ I will bless the Lord at all times." All is life, and feeling, and earnestness.--Now, as far as our experiences, in the objects, nature, and effects of them, accord to those “ of the man after “ God's own heart;" they are genuine, and demonstrate the spiritual mind, which is life and peace :" where discordant, they are to be suspected.We never read, that David, or any other saint, mentioned in scripture, drew conclusions, concerning his state and character before God, even from real revelations made to him: yet the sacred writers often do it from their experience.“ But I have “ trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy « salvation." “ We know, that we have passed " from death unto life; because we love the brethren.' " If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and « his love is perfected in us."3
Indeed, in every thing, experience must be had recourse to. Natural philosophy, except confirmed by experiment, is only vague hypothesis. The efficacy of medicines cannot be ascertained by theory, but by experience. Where no effect is produced, there is no experience : but either salutary or pernicious effects are experienced. Whatever means are employed, to inform the mind, or influence the conduct; if any effect be produced, it is by the pers sons themselves experiencing an alteration in their
views, judgment, purposes, and choice of heart. Scriptural truth produces holy practice, only as erperienced ; as giving new sentiments, desires, and purposes to the soul.
Without this, right notions, and a holy life, have no connexion. A bunch of grapes may be tied on a vine-branch; but the branch did not produce it. A form of knowledge, a form of godliness, and a moral conduct, may coexist in the same person : but the one does not spring from the other ; except as “the word of truth," through the power of the Holy Spirit, causes a man to experience a revolution in his sentiments, judgment, choice, and affections; except as his understanding is enlightened, his conscience convinced, and his purposes, and choice as to his future conduct, are entirely changed.
Let enthusiastical experiences, then, be carefully distinguished, from such as are scriptural and warranted; and decidedly protested against: let all be tried by the touchstone of the sacred oracles : let “ the precious be taken forth from the vile:"? but let not experiences in general be exposed to censure, or contempt, by one indiscriminate censure: for without experience, nothing can remain, but a dead carcase of religion. How can men“ taste " that the Lord is gracious ?" How can they “re« member his love more than wine? How can their 6 souls be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness; and “ their mouths praise God with joyful lips ?” How can they “rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the
• Jer: xy. 19.
* God of their salvation,"--without experience? Or, how can they mourn after God, thirst for him, s hunger and thirst after righteousness," or trem“.ble at the word of God," without experience ? I am disposed to believe, however, that his Lordship did not mean to condemn all experience, or discourse about it: though his words imply a strong charge against modern Calvinists, as if all, which they especially advanced concerning experience, was enthusiastical; of which charge a large majority are · certainly undeserving. And as multitudes, who speak eyil of “those things, which they understand
deduce conclusions from the passage, which the writer did not intend; I have digressed in a measure, to make some observations on the general subject.
We disclaim suggestions and new revelations, and the confidence of those, who conclude themselves in the way to heaven, because of some extraordinary feelings, which leave no abiding sanctifying effects on their hearts and lives. But we suppose it impossible for any one “ to pass from death unto life;" to “ sow in tears," and then “ reap in joy;" “ to tremble with the jailor," and then in a very short time to " rejoice in God;" to be “ crucified “ to the world and the world to him ;" to become « a new creature, old things having passed away, " and all things having become new;" without sensible experience. That enmity against God, selfishness, malevolence, and idolatrous love of the world, should be exchanged for heavenly mindedness, love of God, of the brethren, and of all men;
without experience, we consider as impossible. And when this is the effect, (as it always is, if genuine,) of attending to “ the word of the truth of the "gospel ;" we call it experiencing the power of divine truth in the mind, heart, and conscience. We desire to distinguish this from the transient experience of Herod, Felix, and Agrippa ; and from that of all hypocrites and temporary believers. When we are enabled to conclude, on scriptural grounds, that “our sins are forgiven us;" and " by the Spirit “ witnessing with our spirits that we are the chil“ dren of God,” to call on him, in the spirit of adoption, saying “ Abba, Father, we rejoice.” When, through negligence, or temptation, or sin; we lose our confidence; we experience shame, fear, disquietude, and remorse; till, by renewed repentance, faith, and prayer, “ the joy of God's salvation is restored to “ us,” and we experience “ a peace of God, which cs
passeth all understanding, keeping our hearts and “minds through Jesus Christ.” These are the views of modern Calvinists on experiences, at least of a great part of them, and especially of the evangelical clergy: and it remains with those, who disapprove them, to shew that they are unscriptural and enthusiastical, or irrational.
P. Ixxiv. 1. 10. "To extol, &c.". It does not appear, that we are, in scripture, exhorted, or even allowed, to rely on our natural powers at all. “Trust in the “ Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine
1 It is not to extol our natural powers beyond their just limit;
or to rely upon them solely in working out our salvation: but it • is to guard against
“ own understanding:"1 " He that trusteth in his “ own heart is a fool.”2 My soul, wait thou only
P. Ixxiv. I. 13. “The delusions, &c.'4 No doubt, all, who make religion, in any form, a chief concern ; and therefore cannot but suppose, that in doing so, they act more wisely, than those do who wholly neglect it ; or than those who differ from them, in things which they consider as indisputable, are in danger of spiritual pride: but whether the self-wise rationalist, the selfrighteous Pharisee, or the deluded enthusiast, be most in danger, may admit of some doubt. In respect of the charge, on this ground, as brought against Calvinists in particular ; the last day will determine whether it be deserved or not: and probably, it will not before be decided. No doubt
of discordant opinions, on doctrinal subjects; as well as of different parties, in externals, have entertained • unwarranted conceit of familiar intercourse with
God :" and it would not be dfficult to illustrate this subject, even from the histories or writings, of men, decidedly hostile to Calvinism, and even to our common christianity. Familiar, is likewise an epithet, which ought not to be used, or should be used with very great caution, in respect of the intercourse
* Proy. iii. 5. 2 Prov. xxviii. 26. 3 Ps. lxii 5. 4 * The delusions of spiritual pride, and against unscriptural potions of the manner in which the Holy Ghost operates upon
the minds of men; it is to prevent the rapturous flights of a . heated imagination, and to call the attention to the plain and • practical duties of rational devotion ; it is to invite men to con' fide in the promised support of divine grace, without fostering
an unwarranted conceit of familiar intercourse with God.'