§ 46. And, after all, what may we rightly understand by enthusiasm in matters of religion ? Perhaps, the following statement may nearly approach the truth. Enthusiasm may be considered as the inflated imagination of wild and conceited minds, authorized neither by reason nor revelation. Not by reason ; because such enthusiasm is entirely ideal or speculative, and rests upon no real knowledge of natural objects, or sensible facts, or credible testimonies, which are the common topics of reason. Not by revelation; because it leaves or abuses the written word and the analogy of faith contained therein, which is the only basis and criterion of God's will towards man, and, instead of this, launches forth into the broad sea of human reveries, without chart or compass from that word, and commonly against it. In the former respect, are included the idle visionaries of all sorts, who


sport themselves with their own deceivings, regarding only the follies and nonsense of this present world. · In the latter, all those are comprehended, who dabble in religion without the Bible in their hands, or the God of the Bible in their hearts; who fancy that, by their own wisdom, they can discover those truths, which, God says, cannot be discovered without his effectual aid ; and who therefore boldly proceed by their own fallen reason, which, being spiritually blind, is incompetent, and by itself fallacious, in these matters ; or by that false philosophy, the result of this carnal unassisted reason, which begins with doubt of God's truth from the presumption of an erring heart, and usually ends with irreligion, indifference, or shameless infidelity. Both these sorts are in fact mere speculatists and visionaries in divine things : Both either doubt or mis-state, what


they do not understand and cannot know without an assistance which they sliglit; and they differ from each other chiefly in this - The one kind are florid and fantastical enthusiasts, in things natural as well as spiritual, without the shadow of reason; and the other, bringing spiritual things upon the same ground with the natural, do therefore proceed insañire cum ratione, and become rationally wild or sophistical enthusiasts, embracing a deluded imagination for life and truth. Alas! how often, in matters of grace and salvation, have these deceits of the human mind, like ignes fatui, bewildered and led astray men, in other respects learned and wise, into all the variety of errors ! That man, however, cannot properly be named an enthusiast, who walks with God, who follows, and desires to follow, no rule but his revealed word, and who aims to renounce everything which may


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hinder his enjoyment of the one, or

contradict the other.-Enthusiasts may be fools, and even knaves, but atheists and infidels are spiritual thieves by profession : They neither fear God nor regard man. They rob the one of his glory, and the other of his hope. Self is their all in all; and, thus isolated, their expectations are poor and perishing in this life, while a disinal dark void is always before them respecting an hereafter. What a mad and daring game is this, thus to stake all possibility of eternal happiness for notions which cannot be proved ; and which, if they could be proved, could yield no true satisfaction, but must only leave men in the condition of beasts, who die in stupidity, and then rot away into dust and eternal forgetfulness! We should be more surprized at all this idiotcy, if we did not know, that, as it originates generally from the indulgence


or the wish to indulge the most brutal passions, so it frequently ends in the debasement of the understanding, or the perversion of the most necessary truths into the grossest and most dangerous errors.

§ 47. It may also be remarked, that sometimes it appears to happen, that, in order to avoid the odious reproach of enthusiasın, serious persons run into a kind of fallacy, common enough among poets and rhetoricians, by personifying abstract ideas and imputing effects to effects, rather than their primary and actuating agent or

But it would be the truth, and nothing but the truth, to maintain at once, that the Spirit of God


and the other essential attributes, of the Holy Ghost, work all and in every thing truly good, in order to make and to keep a man truly a Christian. Why should good men avoid to mention that HOLY



or the

grace, the

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