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therein; and because it is attended with outcryings, trembling, falling down and fainting, in many of these who are awakened; which (they say) are not symptoms of a work of the Spirit.
Concerning which we shall observe these few things;
1mo, Our brethren had certainly acted much more the part of wise and unbiassed judges, if in obedience to Christ's commands to try the Spirit, and prove all things, they had used all proper means of enquiry, such as going themselves to the places conversing with the ministers, and with the subjects wrought upon, before they had pronounced a judicial sentence in such a weighty case, and intimated it from their pulpits; and not have proceeded to a decision so hastily upon hearsays, or the malicious reports of profane spirits, and these who were enemies of the work. They also had done wisely, to have waited some time to see the issue of the work before they had past such a terrible sentence upon it: for they might have remembered that it is not an easy thing for clergymen, after doing a bad thing, to own their mistake.
2do, It cannot he denied but there have been many eminent godly ministers employed in promoting this work; and, though there had been some not so remarkable that way, we must not find fault with a holy sovereign God for making use of what instruments he pleases. Our brethren cannot but know that it is a most provoking sin to limit the Holy one of Israel, who frequently thinks fit to employ mean and despised instruments to do his work, that so he may stain the pride of our glory, and shew that he is not beholden to any.
3to, We are grieved in our very hearts that our brethren adventured upon such a
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daring step, as by a judicial sentence to ascribe to the devil such a gracious Godlike work, as that before described; when they cannot bring an instance from Scripture, or any other history, of the Devil's being permitted to work in the like manner before. Surely it may make us tremble to think what kind of sin it must be to make the devil the reprover of sin, and minister of righteousness, and so to assign the office and work of the Holy Ghost to that wicked one! Doth it not Iook like a fearful limiting of God, for a few men to act as if they would confine the holy Spirit's workings to themselves, and give up the ministry of all their brethren through the Island to the devil? As Jesus Christ himself, so his ministers, Moses, John Baptist, the apostles Peter and Paul, were of quite different tempers and dispositions; they rejoiced to see the Spirit poured down upon others, and to see Christ preached, sinners brought in to him, and his kingdom enlarged, whoever were the instruments of it.
4to, As for the effects of this work upon the bodies of some of the awakened, such as outcrying, trembling, falling down, or fainting; these are not at all new in this land; for many instances of such like symptoms in persons under piercing convictions of sin, or under ravishing views of Christ, can be given, even since our happy Revolution, as well as in former times; as is evident from Messieurs Robe, Currie and Webster's writings on this subject. And yet we hear not of any heretofore ascribing the work in these people to the devil, nor condemning it as contrary to Scripture, upon account of these symptoms: No; for the Scripture gives frequent instances of such impressions made on the body, by the great inward exercise
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and concern of the mind.—The sharp convictions of the three thousand, Acts ii. brought them great agonies, being pricked as with a sword in their hearts, and forced to cry out, and say to the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? The auditory being great, they must have cried in such a manner that the apostles heard them; for Peter was forced to cry aloud, that they might hear him, Acts ii. 14.—So Paul, when he was thoroughly convinced of his sin of persecuting Christ, and the wrath due to him for it, he was seized with trembling and astonishment, and fell to the ground, Acts ix.4,6.—Also the jailor, when awakened to see his sinful and lost state under wrath trembled and fell down, saying, What must I do to be saved? Acts xvi. 29, 30. And it appears to have been usual in the apostles' days for sinners to fall down before God, when they were first convinced, and got the secret wickedness of their heart laid open to them by the Word, I Cor. xiv. 24, 25. Even that great man, Felix, was made to tremble under his conviction of sin and apprehension of wrath, while Paul preached to him, Acts xxiv. 25. And that mighty king, Belshazzar, was strangly affected when he saw the hand-writing on the wall, which he took to be a presage of wrath against him, Dan. v.6. His countenance was changed, his joints loosed, and his knees smote one against another. A view of the wrath of a sin‑revenging God, is enough to throw the stoutest sinner into the most terrible disorder, and to overwhelm all his senses and faculties. We see Baruch, when in danger of the wrath of man, was so overwhelmed with grief, that he fainted under it, and cries out, Jer. xiv. 3. Wo is me now, for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow: I
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fainted in my sighing, and had no rest. And how much more would he have been distressed with the immediate views and approaches of the wrath of God; for, Who knoweth the power of his anger ? Job, when under the apprehension of God being his enemy, and his terrors pursuing him, he was so little master of himself, that he stood up, and cried in the congregation, Job xxx. 15—28. King David says, he roared by reason of the disquiteness of his heart, Psal. xxxviii. 8. Nay he had such impressions of the wrath of God upon his soul, that they made all his flesh to tremble, Psal. cxix. 120. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of they judgments. Heman saith, While I suffer they terrors, I am distracted, Psal. lxxxviii. 15. We see also how the prophet Habakkuk, was seized with the greatest bodily distress, with quivering of lips, and trembling over all his body, at the view of approaching wrath, Hab. iii. 16.—Again, it ought to be remembered, that God hath told us, that in the New Testament days he would pour out his Spirit upon people in such a manner, that they should look upon him they pierced by their sins, and mourn, and be in bitterness, as parents for an only son or first born. Now, it is well known that some parents will not only cry out bitterly, but also faint, upon such occasions; nay, some will be brought to such agonies and faintings by the mere apprehension and prospect of man’s wrath and of temporal difficulties: and have they not much greater cause for them, who get a clear and manifest discovery of the heinous guilt of their sins, and of the wrath of an angry God hanging over them? Who can paint forth the distress of these poor creatures, whose spirits are wounded by the amazing apprehensions of God’s wrath for sin, and
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the fearful expectations of judgments and fiery indignation, without having view of relief?—Such a wise man as Solomon would not have been surprised to see such persons tremble, cry out, or faint; for, saith he, A wounded spirit who can bear! Prov. xviii. 14.
We read also in Scripture of persons fainting upon other occasions. Jacob fainted for joy, when he heard that his son was alive and highly exalted; so Daniel, after singular manifestations from God, fainted and was sick certain days, Dan. viii. 27. and x. 8, 9. And the apostle John, when he saw the Lord in his glory, fell at his feet as a dead man. So it is no wonder that a poor soul that was like to sink in despair under a sense of sin and wrath, when coming out of this plunge to a surprising view of Christ's mercy, loveliness and fulness, should in like manner be overwhelmed and faint for love and joy.—Wherefore it is our duty to put favourable constructions upon the various cases of awakened and exercised souls, when thereby, they are thrown into extasies, faintings, or bodily distresses. The holy Spirit is a free sovereign agent; and, in times of large effusions, he may, for his own wise ends, take an uncommon latitude in his way of dealing with sinners, for bringing them in to Christ. And as their discoveries of sin and wrath, and the commotion in their affections, prove very different; so the impressions upon their bodies in must be either less or more, and exceeding various, according to the measure and degree of inward exercise and concern of their minds; for as their sorrow for piercing Christ by their sins is compared to that of parents for an only son, which admits of many different degrees, and produceth very different effects in different persons; so it must be
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reasonable in any to require instances in Scripture for every minute circumstance of the innumerable various cases of persons brought in to Christ; for then the Spirit of God must have enlarged the Scriptures into very many different volumes, which had not been convenient for us. If we read the accounts given us of the conversions of Augustine, Luther, Junius, Beza, Latimer, Bolton, Professor Halyburton and many other eminent saints, we will find particular circumstances in them for which no Scripture precedent can be shewn; but no wise man will say upon that account, that the work in them was delusive or diabolical. But let some object what they will against the conversions in the West, because of the outward impressions attending them in severals (for in many the changes are wrought without any noise at all;) It is our judgment, if these bitter throes and agonies of some, have a merciful issue in landing them in Jesus Christ and true holiness, as it is visible they do in the most part; then there is great matter of praise whatever way the Lord take for awakening and humbling them before-hand.—But seeing worthy Mr. Edwards of Northhampton hath written two treaties concerning this extraordinary work of the Spirit of God, and hath taken notice of all the prejudices and objections of adversaries, we judge it unnecessary to add any more to what he hath written so fully and to such excellent purpose.—May the Lord, by new showers from above, continue, revive, increase, and spread this blessed work through the land and all corners of the earth! Amen and Amen.
That we may draw to a conclusion, we shall briefly sum up the principal sins, errors, evils and defections in the church and land, which we think
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ourselves bound to lament and mourn over, declare, warn, and bear testimony against, in order to promote reformation, and healing in the land: for although God, in his boundless sovereignty and rich grace, be pleased in a backsliding time to grant some remarkable reviving to his work in paticular corners, to shew his willingness to return to his ancient dwelling place; yet we despair of any general reviving or national reformation, until we are made sensible of public sins, errors and defections, as well as these of a more private nature. Wherefore we desire to be humbled for, declare and testify against, all doctrines and practices which are opposite to the Bible, and to our Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directories for Worship and Church government, which we judge drawn out of, and founded upon the Scriptures of truth.
And particularly, against all Deistical and Socinian errors, and doctrines, which tend to decry the necessity of supernatural revelation, and cry up the sufficiency of reason or the light of nature to guide men to eternal happiness.
And against all Arian errors, and these doctrines which any ways disparage the Christian revelation, or derogate from the scheme of salvation through the mediation and righteousness of Jesus Christ our only Saviour;—Or from the doctrine of the glorious Trinity, and the oneness of the Godhead; Or from Christ's true supreme Deity, his self existence, necessary existence, independence, and equality with the Father;—Or from the true Deity of the Holy Ghost, and his equality with the Father and the Son;—Or from the truth of Christ's manhood, and of his Priestly office, and the necessity of his death as a real and proper sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice for our sins.
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All Popish errors, idolatry and superstition, maintained either by professed Papists, or by Protestants who are making advances towards Popery, by pleading for middle state for souls departed; prayers for the dead; the Eucharist’s being a proper sacrifice for sin; the necessity of confessing sin to the priest, and of the priest’s absolution in order to the forgiveness of sin; of mixing the sacramental wine with water;—Of bowing to the altar, to the East, and at the name of Jesus; of kneeling at the sacrament, observing saints’ days and uninstituted festivals, and putting them on a level with the Lord’s day; the cross in baptism, the organ in praise, the reading of prayers, and other human inventions in God’s worship and service.
All Pelagian and Arminian doctrines, which derogate from God’s efficacious free grace in saving sinners, or put in the power of man’s own free will or natural abilities to repent, believe, or convert himself; and make a necessary connection betwixt a man’s moral seriousness and his obtaining of saving grace.—Also all these doctrines which tend to exalt self, or any ways place it in God’s room; and these which make self love, and the desire of our own happiness, the proper spring and principle of all virtuous and religious actions.
The magistrate’s assuming the power of the keys, and all Erastian incroachments upon the intrinsic power of the church, or upon Christ’s headship and supremacy over her.—The granting an almost boundless toleration to all sects, errors, heresies and innovations.—The imposing the sacramental test upon others civil and military when out of Scotland, as a necessary qualification for there offices; whereby the holy sacrament is much
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debased and profaned.—The multiplying of oaths without necessity; introducing the new form of swearing by kissing the gospels, the Yule‑vacance, the repealing of the laws against witchcraft, &c.
The imposing the yoke of patronage upon the church, and spoiling Christian congregations of their right to chuse their own pastors, and obtruding pastors upon them.—As also the practice of these ministers or preachers, who contribute to encourage, strengthen or bind the yoke of patronage upon the church, by allowing their friends to apply to patrons and procure presentations for them; or by accepting these presentations, and cleaving to them when obtained.—And the practice of these ministers or judicatories, who encourage or support these Accepters in this pernicious course, or who obtrude them or any other persons upon parishes against their consent. The denying the lawfulness or obligation of our national covenant engagements, the warrantableness of national churches, Confession of Faith, subordination of church judicatories one to another; the maintaining the independency of single congregations upon any superior church‑judicatory; the lodging the power of the keys, not in the hands of church‑officers, but in the community of the faithful.
The prosecuting or censuring of ministers for preaching or protesting against any of the evils or defections of the time, such as the despising of Christ's flock, making intrusions upon them, incroaching upon the rights and liberties of the church, or Christ's Headship over her, &c. The neglect and unfrequent administration of the Lord's supper, and the abuse and profanation of it by admitting ignorant or ungodly persons to it.
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As also the neglect of appointing national fasts, and days for humiliation and extraordinary prayer, in a time of national defections, and of abounding sins and provocations, when many spiritual judgments are inflicted, and other great judgments are impending over us. And, when such fasts come to be appointed, alas! what an aversion is there to a particular condescendence of the sins and defections which are the true cause of the Lord's controversy with the land!
Likewise we judge ourselves bound to bewail, lament, and witness against, all these God‑dishonouring sins and evils which universally abound and prevail among all ranks and sorts of men; such as ignorance and forgetfulness of God their Creator and Preserver; Atheism, infidelity, and enmity to God; ingratitude to God for mercies; putting the creatures, the world and self in the room of God; consulting with necromancers, wizards and charmers; ascribing our mercies to fortune or second causes, rather than to God. Self love, self-seeking, unbelief, distrust of God, hatred of him and of his image in others. Pride, presumption, carnal security, loving pleasures more than God. Restraining of prayer before God in secret; neglect of family worship; tempting God by neglecting means, using unlawful means, and trusting in lawful means. Superstition and false worship; giddiness and unsettledness in religion, and drinking in error. Mean and low thoughts of Christ, and of the infinite love of God in providing Christ to be a Surety and Sacrifice for us. Contempt of the glorious gospel, and the glad tidings it brings and men's unfruitfulness under it. Not receiving and loving of Jesus Christ; not relying on Christ as all our hope; not making use of Christ in all his
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offices; not rejoicing in Christ and him crucified. Men’s resting upon their duties and frames for acceptance with God: their joining something of their own with Christ's righteousness for their justification before God, and not accounting all things loss and dung for Christ, that they may be found in him, not having their own righteousness, which is nothing but filthy rags.—Grieving of the holy Spirit, sinning him away from ordinances; not lamenting the withdrawing of the Spirit, nor wrestling for his return. Opposing and reproaching the work of the Spirit in awakening and convincing sinners; calling it Enthusiasm, delusion, or ascribing it to Satan. Blind and intemperate zeal; discontent and impatience under the dispensations of Divine Providence. Backslidings from God, and the decay of the life and power of godliness. Setting our affections upon earthly enjoyments and sensual satisfactions; and neglecting these things wherein our chief happiness doth consist, namely, the enjoying of God, and communion with him.—Our unthankful forgetting of the many signal deliverances which God hath wrought for his church and land; and our unthankfulness for and abuse of the valuable mercies we still enjoy, such as health, peace, plenty; freedom from pestilence, sword and famine; and the continuance of the gospel and pure ordinances with us.—Our minding our own things, more than the things of Jesus Christ. Our little praying for the coming of Christ’s kingdom, and for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem.
Our neglecting the ordinances of God’s appointment, careless attending upon them, and not regarding them as trysting-places [meeting-places] for meeting with God, and as means of communion with him. Our being wise above what is written, and advancing men’s
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devices before Divine appointments. Our resting upon outward attending of ordinances, and a name to live, without the new birth, and a work of grace in our souls.—Our contenting ourselves with man's teaching, without the teachings and influences of the Spirit with the Word. Our being little affected or afflicted with the blasting of ordinances, and the suspending of the Spirit's influences.—Our unworthy communicating, and formal approaches to God, at his holy table; neglecting due preparation, by self examination, secret humiliation, renewing covenant with God, and wrestling with him for his presence. Our loosing soon the impressions of Christ's sufferings, his precious blood, and matchless love, set forth in that ordinance; and not living answerably thereto. Our putting our hearing, praying, communicating, charitable acts, just dealing or moral honesty in the room of glorious Christ, who alone is the Lord our righteousness.
We also lament and witness against the abounding profanation of God's holy name, by the irreverend use of it in common discourse, by formal and hypocritical addresses to him, by customary and rash swearing, cursing, blaspheming, perjury, swearing falsely in matters of trade or taxes, bribing, and tempting others to do so. By perfidious dealing with God, in breaking both national and personal covenants, sacramental vows, and sickbed resolutions.—Decay of zeal for maintaining of truth, purity and piety, in opposition to abounding error, superstition and profanity. The profaning and abusing of God's titles, attributes, ordinances, Scriptures, servants and providences; by many scoffing at sacred things, jesting upon the Scriptures, mocking the professors of religion,
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misconstructing God's providences, wresting and misapplying his word to favour their corrupt sentiments and practices; vain jangling and disputing about smaller points, and taking up their thoughts and time therewith, to the neglecting and eating out the life of religion. Slighting, aspersing and reviling many of God's faithful servants, thereby marring the success of their ministry, and scattering their flocks, to the prejudice and ruin of many precious souls.—Many taking up a profession of greater strictness in religion than others, while strangers to humiliation for sin, regeneration, heart‑holiness, tenderness of walk, humbleness of mind, meekness, and the true spirit of Christianity. Alas! many are so puffed up with pride, vanity, self conceit, and contempt of others, that they cast out of their charity and communion every one that agrees not to their sentiments and practices in all respects, though some of these have more evident marks of the image of God upon them than they themselves! And many are hereby tempted to infidelity, even to mock, hate, and cast off all religion, because of the divisions among the professors of it.—Ah! many professed Christians shew a great propension to exalt natural reason, and decry supernatural revelation; to magnify the religion of nature, and disparage the religion of Jesus! to ascribe such to man’s freewill and natural powers, and overlook the free grace of God, and preventing work of his Spirit.—Many speak more of their own moral performances, than of Christ's imputed righteousness; and seem to regard Christ more as a pattern than as a propitiation; exalt their natural powers and self righteousness, through ignorance of the righteousness of God; cry up the preaching of morality, while they themselves
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remain immoral, and ignorant of their own corrupt natural estate, and of the nature and necessity of regeneration. Alas! There is ground to fear that many outwardly assent to our Confession of Faith, who scarcely read it, consider it, or believe it; and it is to be feared that severals, even preachers, may come to subscribe it, as these of the church of England do their 39 articles, rather as vinculum pacis, than as vinculum veritatis.
We also bewail and testify against the profanation of the Lord’s day which sadly abounds, as being a nursery of, and an inlet to, all manner of sin and corruption: by many speaking their own words on this day, and discoursing of worldly affairs and business;—By many doing their own works, such as unnecessary pieces of servile labour, or travelling about worldly business;—By many finding their own pleasures, by idle walking, needless visits, and other worldly diversions and recreations:—While in the mean time few make conscience of setting apart and spending this day as a day of sacred rest, according to its institution, for entertaining serious thoughts of the works of God and redeeming love, for attending religious worship without distractions, for promoting spirituality and heavenly mindedness, for holding communion with God through Jesus Christ, and for loosing their hearts from the world, and preparing for death and heaven. Alas! many, instead of such exercises, do dedicate this holy day to profanity; and, in place of serving God the Author of it, they serve the devil and their lusts upon it, by gaming, drinking, swearing, uncleanness, filthy speeches, jesting upon sacred things, and reproaching the devout worshippers of God! And so they go faster to hell upon the Lord’s day, than upon any other day of the week.