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she fell into a violent passion with her mistress, because she thought proper not to allow her to keep the key of the butter any longer?
Whim. O Sir, she has lost it for a while, but she is trying to recover it again.
Bri. May I ask again, Sir, how far you recollect the tricks which were played off, some years ago, by Dr, Demanaduke and others, when animal magnetism was in vogue? What strange and astonishing effects were produced thereby? and are not the efforts, now making, very similar, when people are so strongly urged to expect such unwarrantable impulses, which they are to conceive as being absolutely necessary to the salvation of the soul?
Slapd. Yes, and this sort of devotion seems to be offered up much in the same style of the ancient exorcists, as though the Devil actually possessed the minds of some, who needed deliverance by such efforts of extraordinary imprecations, as at times are very shocking and profane.
Whim. O Sir! I believe the Devil at times, and among some people, has great power over the human mind; and we always find the deliverance is granted, when the preachers are the most violent and earnest in prayer; for you know, "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence;" and just when I was most earnest, then it was, that Jennet Meagrim received perfection.
Bri. Surely, Sir, as a beneficed Clergyman, you were not one of the actors, on this stage of enthusiasm.
Whim. O no, Sir! My prayer of faith, was offered up quite privately, at one corner of the Chapel; and I know a good, faithful soul, who was a washerwoman, that said she was sure to have fine weather to dry her linen, if she could but pray in faith.*
*Much of this false confidence in prayer, seems to originate `from a conceited excellency in our devotions, arising from the mere strength of our imaginations. But where a spirit of warm
Slapd. I should hardly suppose, that the Lord would alter the course of the clouds, for the sake of gratifying an old woman, during her washing-week.
Whim. O Sir, if you don't believe it, I do. And I remember another good lady, who was a milliner at Bath; expecting that there might soon be a Court mourning, she, in faith, made up a great number of mourning caps; and while her husband thought that she was doing wrong, fearing, as fashions soon alter, that much might be lost, for want of customers; she went up stairs, and laid the caps before the Lord in prayer, and there was almost immediately a Court mourning; which as it turned out, turned in, most wonderfully to her profit; so that you see, Sir, the Lord led her right.
and wise devotion is given, for any particular blessing, may we not take it as a good indication, that it is the gracious design of God to answer such supplications? Certainly we may; for "the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much;" but then we should have a scriptural warrant for what we ask. For instance: There is a wide difference between that prayer of faith, which was given to some by a miraculous impulse before miracles were withheld; while there is still a prayer of faith, an answer to which every real Christian has yet a right to expect. While therefore we cannot with too much confidence, yet with reverence, pray for all those spiritual blessings which are promised in Christ Jesus, to all believers; yet diffidence equally becomes us, while we lawfully ask that which God may most righteously refuse to grant. We may and should pray fervently for our own daily preservation, and as we are sociable beings, for the preservation of useful and valuable lives, and for the salvation of our nearest and dearest friends and relatives: but we have no warrant to conclude our prayers must at all times be answered, and that according to the strength of our imaginations. In many instances like these, God may try our patience, by very painful denials, while some good people, not altogether freed from a degree of innocent enthusiasm, may be brought into considerable perplexities, when such blessings, which we lawfully and properly pray for, are still withheld.
Slapd. [Smiles.] Well, this is the first time in all my life, that ever I heard of caps being laid before the Lord.*
Bri. But I have heard from another quarter that somewhat in the art of cookery has been ascribed to the same source. Have not you, Mr. Whimsey, in your parish an honest old woman who is famed for making sausages?
Whim. O yes, Sir; and a deal she gets by them, and a very good woman she is.
Slapd. I neither dispute her goodness, nor the goodness of her sausages; but am I to believe that she makes sausages by inspiration? for she told a customer of hers that "it was a gift from the Lord." No wonder, if he liked her sausages, that he laughed at her enthusiasm, and he was one who was glad to catch hold of such things, as his constant aim was to turn all religion into ridicule whenever he could. I had this story from Mr. Lovegood, and a wiser and better man never lived.
Whim. Ah! Mr. Lovegood, though I believe he is a better man than is in general to be found among the
The reader has this story just as I had it from the lady herself, many years ago. She was a very innocent and well-intentioned enthusiast. Many may have weak heads, but upright hearts. The bad consequences of trusting on whimsical impressions, may not have the same effect on all, though it is not my wish to cause my weak brother or sister to offend; yet follies of this sort, are too abundant and notorious to be hid.
I am very happy to acknowledge at the same time, that many of the most judicious, belonging to the same body in which these enthusiastical scenes are exhibited, enter their most solemn protest against them; their honourable testimony in opposition to such evils, deserves the highest thanks from all, who better understand the Spirit's work, than to suppose such disorderly exhibitions can be the result of communications from a Being who is infinitely wise and good.
Calvinists, yet most of our preachers are of opinion that some of them should go to Brookfield, if we could contrive to take it into one of our rounds; for though there may be some seekers there, yet it is supposed there is not a justified person in the parish.
Slapd. Pray, Sir, do you think there is no sin in entering so wantonly into the labours of another man's line, and where such a man as Mr. Lovegood labours? Can any one be more diligent and devoted to the discharge of his pastoral office, or reach the standard of excellence that he possesses?
Whim. Our preachers would only go to pick up some stragglers, and to tell them a little more about instantaneous conversion, and to preach the doctrine of perfection; a doctrine Mr. Lovegood never preaches at his church.
Slapd. And so you think you do perfectly right in making inroads into peaceable congregations, for the sake of urging your whimsical notions about instantaneous justification and sinless perfection, while we remain in this present body of sin and death.
Bri. You know, Sir, when I was your Curate, we had frequent discussions on these subjects, and we never could agree; I fear all these strange impulses and impressions upon the fancy, which naturally lead to the grossest misconceptions of the power of divine grace, have an unhappy tendency, most sadly to mislead. I confess, I was at times inclined to suspect the reality of these things altogether, till better taught. And I greatly bless God for that kind Providence which has directed me into these parts, where, I trust, I have seen genuine Christianity, without any of these wild. extravagancies exemplified in all those wise and holy fruits of righteousness, which must abound in them, who are blessed with the purifying knowledge of the gospel upon the heart.
I am satisfied, with you, Sir, that a saving discovery of the evil of sin, can never be made known to us; but by the convincing influences of the Holy Spirit, and that this is the ground work of all genuine repentance, and conversion to God,-but I cannot believe, that this blessed grace is created in us, as by a momentary impulse; but that it becomes a living, and growing principle abiding in us, directing us to hate sin, as the worst of evils, and enabling us to watch and pray against it all the days of our lives.
I am therefore well persuaded, that while the work of divine grace, may have its imperceptible beginnings, it cannot be imperceptible in its progress, and its beneficial effects. That it is as impossible to have holy sorrow of mind, without feeling it, as it is to have agonizing pain of body, without being sensible of it. And with your leave, I equally bear my humble testimony against your idea of instantaneous pardon and forgiveness; for though we must be either pardoned or not pardoned, in the eternal mind of God, yet the evidence, or sense of that pardon, can only be made known to me, as I find I am blessed with that " faith, which is of the operation of God," and which, consequently, will enable me to bring forth fruit to his glory; and these are tlre only evidences that the Scriptures warrant, and on which the soul may safely rely.
Whim. Sir, I can't take in your doctrine at all; is it not said, "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come into his temple."
Bri. And so he did, when the infant Saviour, unexpectedly came into his Father's temple, to receive the dedicating ordinance of circumcision: but to found an argument on such mere allusions, is never the way to convince those who expect a reason for what they are to believe.
Slapd. In my opinion, this notion of instantaneous