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disgust and horror. Surely, then, it is our duty to guard the weak, the ignorant, and the credulous, from that fundamental error in which these indignities appear to have their origin, viz. the false notion entertained by the Methodists of the new birth.
“Mr. Whitfield," says Bishop Lavington, “explodes the scriptural doctrine adopted by our church of regeneration by baptism, and calls it the Diana of the present age. Mr. Wesley declares, “Though I have used all the means for twenty years, I am not a Christian. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I must be born again." 3d Journal, 23. And he calls those "Blind, leaders of the blind," who speak of the new birth as if it were no more than baptism." 3d Journal, 82. Therefore, another greater and better new birth must be added to supply the defect. And yet one would think the former sufficient for all the purposes of a Christian, supposing only that St. Paul speaks truth. "Christ sanctified and cleansed the church with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle on any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."*
Mr. Wesley's assurance of his new birth was given him May 24, 1738. "Till that time, I sought saving faith," he says, "with great indifference; but then assurance was given me that
* Ephes. v. 26, 27.
he had taken away my sins, even mine."* 2d Journal, 29, 30. Nevertheless, many relapses, it appears, take place after this assurance; whence it seems to be nothing more than ordinary Christian's experience, if at any time they repent and turn to God. And yet it must be more; for in order to attain this new birth, they are to undergo "the torments of a woman in travail."-" I thought the pains of hell were upon me," says Mr. Wesley, 3d Journal, 18" was in this violent agony for about four hours, then began to feel I was born of God." Nothing less than feeling, as it were, the pains of hell will serve." Devils are dragging them to hell: they are seized with the spirit of fear, horror,
* In Nightingale's "Portraiture of Methodism," we find similar account of this marvellous event, and of the strange uncertainty which preceded and followed it.
"After all the virtuous toil of the two Wesleys, during a period of nearly ten years, they were both well convinced that as yet they had not the faith of the gospel! p. 78.-The time, however, was happily drawing near, when they should emerge from Egyptian darkness: at length the time arrived, p. 81.— About a quarter before nine, (while hearing Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, and one was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ) I felt," says Mr. Wesley, "I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
Yet it was very often a matter of great doubt with him, whether he even yet possessed the right faith; whether even yet God had pardoned his sins, p. 88.
and despair; one in the pains of hell is justified; another sinking down, even as dead, hath her sins taken away." Id. 19. 46. In general, as Mr. Wesley speaks," the being in orco is thought an indispensable preparative for being a Christian." 1st Journal, 66.
Hence cryings, yellings, convulsions, &c. &c. are symptoms of the new birth.
"A woman was seized with little less than the agonies of death; five days she travailed and groaned, then in a moment was full of love and joy: her friends have accounted her mad for these three years." Whitfield's 3d Journal, 43. "One having dropped down as if shot with a gun, upon his rising I had half an hour's conversation with him on the subject of the new birth." 7th Journal, 12.
This kind of regeneration, we must acknowledge with Mr. Wesley, "to be something more than that of baptism."* But the torments inflicted on the Methodists are the means of bringing them to a state of perfection: witness Mr. Wesley's "certain experiences of some of his followers being as free from inward corruption, as Christ himself was; thoroughly renewed after the image of Christ; an entire change from the image of the devil to the image of God." 4th Journal, 51.
According to Mr. Whitfield likewise, "All experience, pangs, and troubles ere Christ is
* Lavington, v. ii. p. 217, 218, 219, 220, 221.
formed in them, and brought forth in the measure of his fulness who filleth all in all." 3d Journal, 82. Such is their perfection equal to God's fulness, and so to be brought forth in us.'*
After citing many passages to the same purpose, Bishop Lavington indignantly exclaims, “Would not this amaze any person who has any reverence or regard to certain inspired writings, called the Bible-with what face or by what authority do these bold miscreants† make these hellish horrors and tortures a fundamental part of the Christian religion? Where is it required that such infernal seizures are the appointed preparations for a Christian's regeneration?‡
This learned writer has so fully exposed their enthusiasm, by comparing it with the superstition of the Papists, and shewing that their gross delusions exceeded even the impostures of the Romish church, that it might seem superfluous to add another word upon the subject.
But there is an example of the resemblance that exists, in one particular at least, between these two Christian communities, however they may differ in many others, recorded by the Bishop of Meaux, which may form an apposite conclusion of this particular.
* Lavington, v. ii. p. 221.
+ Miscreant-One that holds a false faith.-Johnson. This definition will save Bishop Lavington from the charge of using language, in this instance, unjustifiably severe.
↑ Lavington, v. ii. p. 237.
In his Oraisons funebres, the conversion of Anne de Gonzaque de Cleves et Princesse Palatine, is described in terms to this effect:.
"The Princess had become an infidel, insomuch that she thought the mysteries of Christianity mere errors and chimeras; and when they were mentioned, could scarcely refrain from laughter, considering them as things ridiculous and impossible. From this darkness she was roused by a dream or vision, and by an impulse of the spirit was suddenly reclaimed from her infidelity and dissipated course of life." During that period her eulogist remarks, "the hour of the Princess Palatine was not yet come." At length the hour of grace arrived; "God, who has no need of time, nor of a long course of reasoning to make himself known, opened her eyes at once: then by a sudden illumination she felt herself so enlightened and so transported with joy! These are her own expressions, &c.—Thus God changed her by an instantaneous light and an ecstatic dream; thus she passed at once from a deep darkness into manifest light. The clouds of her mind were dispersed; a miracle no less astonishing than that wherein Jesus Christ caused the sort of scales to fall off, which covered the eyes of Saul. Who then would not exclaim upon this sudden change, The finger of God is here! the consequence does not permit us to doubt of it, and the work of grace is acknowledged in its