« IndietroContinua »
Where dwells the awful Majesty divine:
O teach me, thou, who art the secret spring >
Of inward adoration, how to bring
An hallowed sacrifice—thy grace impart,
To sanctify the off'ring of the heart
In life, and death. And when the golden bowl*
That holdgjhe brain is broken, may the soul
To its great Father lift the humble eye,
And soar to brighter worlds beyond the sky;
Up to the mansions where the angels dwell—
Where the fair humble seraphs ceaseless tell,
How mortals, led by God's paternal hand,
Forever rest in Eden's happy land;
That hand, which ever condescends to give;
For those who live to die—will die to live.
From what has been advanced, it must be evident to the intelligent reader, that there can be no more than two religions, viz. the religion which under some form embraces the worship of the true God; and idolatry, which comprehends the worship of idols.
It must also appear, that there have been only four true churches of God, exclusively of the state in which the first people were placed. For a new church must of necessity include a new dispensation, which, we find from scripture, has taken place four times since the creation of man, viz. the first church, or the first dispensation given to Adam after the fall, and which may be properly called the Atlantic dispensation, or the Adamic church, which ended at the time of the flood.
The second church, or the dispensation given to Noah, which is properly called, the Noahotic dispensation, which ended at the time of Moses.
The third church, or the dispensation given to Moses, called, the Mosaic dispensation, which ended at the coming of Christ.
And lastly, the Christian church, or the dispensation given by Christ himself, which will endure forever.
Hence, we may charitably conclude, that though there may exist a difference of opinion, which has in all ages laid the foundation for different sects, yet under what form soever the true God is worshipped in sincerity, such worshippers constitute the true church of God; agreeably to those words of the apostle: "Of a truth I perceive, that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation, he that feareth him, and -worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
It was not my intention to say any thing concerning the religious enthusiasts of the day, because such cannot be acknowledged as belonging to any sect of the Christian religion, who assert things inconsistent with those plain truths held forth in the gospel; had not a modern writer introduced the misguided followers of an ignorant, presumptuous woman, to the notice of the public. It may, however, serve to caution the well meaning Christian to avoid the senseless clamor of fanatics: and this is the only apology I can offer to the intelligent reader for intruding on his time and patience.
In all ages, from the time of the prophets to the present day, in all ancient nations, and among the moderns, from Joan of Arc, to Joanna Southcott, some infatuated men and women, preferring their own silly dogmas to the plain scriptures, have pretended to receive divine communication. Not in the way which God appointed under the Mosaic dispensation, nor hy living faith, as under the gospel; but they have impiously asserted, that it is by a vocal and externally audible conversation with the awful Majesty of heaven. And although this is sufficient of itself to procure them a residence in bedlam, yet numbers of individuals have fallen, as it were, a sacrifice to the pride and vanity of these impostors.
If the intelligent reader will turn over the pages of ancient and modern history, he will find, that when nations were involved in war, witch-ridden enthusiasm, treading on reason and scripture, has always found advocates among the hordes of inferior society. These tinder brained mortals, fired with the expectation of an easy life, high posts, and golden plunder, have hurled their anathemas at churches and states, at all sects and parties who have opposed them; and have consigned them to destruction with the impious blasphemy of, thus taith the Lord. In the times of the prophets, when- people of this description made their appearance, so deeply was human nature sunk in the sink of its own vanity, that the prophet was commanded to say,' Prophesy against the prophets of Israel, that prophesy", and say unto them that prophesy out of their own spirit, Thus saith the Lord God, wo unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirits, and have seen nothing. They have seen lying divination, saying the Lord saith, and the Lord hath not sent them.'
In the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, during the abomination of the Delphian and Sybillian oracles; and among the Mahometans, numbers have pretended to be inspired by the oracular gods, and by the spirit of Mahomet. Even in the Pagan nations, there; are those famous above others, for their intimate acquaintance with the spirit of the wooden god they worship. More modern times have also furnished us with serious proofs of the weakness, folly and blasphemy of this description of men among the Christian nations: a short account of them may not be unsatisfactory to the reader.
THOMAS OF MUNSTER,
In 1522, boasted that he had immediate communication with God, that by his means the empires and principalities of this world were to be destroyed; that the sword of Gideon was put into his hands, to be employed against all tyrants, and for the restoration of the kingdom of Christ! he excited the people to rebellion, and fought the landgrave; five thousand were slain. The hypocrite was taken and put to death.
In the year 1532, a baker at Harlem, professed himself to be, "Enoch, the second high priest of God." He raised a rebellion, published edicts, and commanded every man to bring his gold and silver into the common stock. He was put to death by the besieging army.
JOHN OF LEYDEN,
In the year 1534, by these pretensions, raised a considerable army, and, being besieged in the city of Munster, caused himself to be made king; some thousands were killed. He was taken, and suffered a painful death. To these succeeded
HERMAN THE COBLER,
Who declared himself to be a true prophet; and at last, the Son of God.
Of Amsterdam, preached the doctrine of the Pre-Ad-' amites, and ran naked with his followers through the city.
In the year 1556, asserted, that be was the true Messiah, sent down from heaven, to be the horn, redeemer and builder of the tabernacle of Israel. The following particulars are taken from his writings: that the doctrines of Moses, the prophets and Christ, were not sufficient for salvation, but his doctrines only: that he was invested with authority to bind and loose, and that at the last day he should judge the tribes of Israel: that the scriptures of the Old Testament, that Christ and the apostles, referred to the coming of David George. I might introduce many more of these fanatics, who made their appearance in Germany, France, Holland, and different nations, but the blasphemies of David George, seem to have outdone every other continental pretender to divine communication. We have, however, an opportunity of producing one at this day, pretending to