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If it is thought, as we have said, and as the observation of every man proves, which leads to conviction of sin, and if this it is which produces a feeling of danger and wretchedness, and this which deliverance naturally changes into joy ; then certainly there is nothing irrational in kind, in these feelings of alarm and joyful peace; for they spring ultimately of thought, and, as we affirm, light imparted by the Spirit of God. They are not mere blind excitements, but consequences rather of illumination and a better judgment. So that if there be any thing fanatical in them, it must be in degree, or in salse combination, and not in kind.
Suppose, then, we observe tears or audible siglos, as we often do, is religion the only thing on earth that needs to be coldly done, and without emotion ? Consider how slight are the causes which draw tears from the human eye, or heave the breast with siglis !-a word of ingratitude, the frustration of a cherished plan, separation frorn friends, the remembrance of some past incident, neglect, bereavement. In these, a sigh, or in some cases a tear, is no extravagance. No one feels, that bere is a dangerous and dreadful excitement, which is likely to madden the brain and utterly destroy the reason. Is it then but a poor deluded madness, when the sinner, cut off from God, wretched, lost in all the greatness of his immortality, audibly siglis or sheds a tear over the guilt and foolish perversity of his life? We do not think so.
But what shall we say of great agitations of body, such as tremblings, outeries, faintings, transports, supposed visions, and the like? These were frequent in the days of Edwards, Whitefield, and Wesley, but uncommon now, unless in some of the less-cultivated portions of our country. The first thing to be said is, that they are suspicious; there is certainly such a thing as pbrenzy and infatuation in religion, and we are least of all concerned to conceal the fact. Al the same time, we desire to be as careful to guard against infatuation in the forms of ambition, learning, avarice, love, jealousy, and worldly-mindedness. The second thing to be said of the agitations in question, is, that when they are got up, as it were, voluntarily, as by jumping, clapping the hands, and shouts of vociferation, and come not of truth perceived and intelligent thought naturally overpowering the nerves, they are fanarical. The third thing is, that these agitations may be connected, though most unhappily, with true religion, and constitute no decisive mark of fanaticism. In an age somewhai infected with superstitious imagination, or in a temperament decidedly nervous, we are to expect and tolerate what in other cases might be even a proof of insanity. The uncharitableness of some, and the captiousness of others, on this point, are neither philosophical nor dignified. It is well known, that the mind often overpowers the body when it acts rationally. How often does history show
us great and dignified persons, stunned by some great reverse, or falling senseless under the stroke of some heavy calamity? The prisoner is bewildered for joy, when restored 10 light and liberty. The wife is transported with delight and surprise, when her exiled or lost husband suddenly returns to bis home. The grave patriot's heart breaks, and the cords of life dissolve, when his ungrateful country casts him forth to die in foreign lands, and abjures his name and family. In this there is nothing fanatical or unworthy of sound reason. Can it then be only bald fanaticism, when a sinner is overpowered by the discovery of an offended and just God; or when his faculties are transported for joy, in the hope of God's friendship and a blessed eternity! li were better that men should control their emotions more skillfully. There is nothing desirable in these agitations, but very much that is to be deplored; but surely, if any thing may lawfully agitate beyond control, and overpower the frame of man, it is the tremendous things of God and immortality. It is worthy of remark, too, that the very persons who are readiest to charge fanaticism upon every thing like bodily agitation in religion, are yet, by a singular fatuity, the ones who weep most plentifully at the convulsive starts and faintings of theatrical personages, and melt with most satisfaction at the swoonings of lovers, as they figure on every tenth page of their favorite novels. Hero or heroine of tragedy or novel, would be no true hero or heroine, is omitting to swoon or saint
proper number of times. In this there is nothing foolish or extravagant; it is even necessary to evince a due elevation of feeling and force of sensibility. Nor do they utterly inistake in this, for nothing is more consonant to nature, than to be overpowered by great emotions in given circumstances. But surely, if any such thing may properly come of worldly incidents, it should not surprise us if it come occasionally of the awful and amazing concerns of eternity.
Much bas of late been said, about losing the reason in revivals of religion. Cases are trumpeted in the political journals; they are promptly echoed by certain others called religious; and finally they are indorsed by the prosessors of phrenology, wbo seem to think it their peculiar office on all occasions, to see that the public brains receive no detriment;" and who, if they do not, like the Quierists of a former age, advise that we sit down and look at our stomach for light, are yet as much afraid of religious thought and profound study, as if the brain existed only to notice the felicity of the digestive functions. Now, it is safe to declare, that the coarseness and ill-temper manisest on the face of nore than half the reports alluded 10, are enough to convince any sober and careful man, that they are only distorted and rash effusions. At the same time it is not to be denied, that some of the cases reported do undoubtedly come of real and censurable extravagance; and when that is true, we are not only willing but desirous to have the truth exposed. But it should always be kept in mind, if we are to forin just views on this subject, that in most of the cases reported, there was probably a strong predisposition to insanity, and that in many of them, the mind bad actually been shaken before. We have even heard, and the fact is too curious to be omitted, that one patient (we believe of this description) has been consigned to a lunatic hospital, from reading the book noticed in this article. There is no cause, provided there be any thing in it to excite interest or to fix the thoughts, which is so slight that it may not overthrow the reason of some one in that unfortunate class we have named. What then? Are we to set down every cause which thus terminates, as an example of extravagance or crude fanaticism? It is agreed by the best medical authorities, that in time of war, cases of insanity are much more frequent than at any otber time. Do we then conclude, that the autbors, abettors, and prosecutors of war, are fanatics ? Not as often by any means as we ought. Does not ambition, does not anger, does not love, does not the pursuit of wealth, the pursuit of learning, often destroy the reason? Do we then conclude that all these are fanatical? Let any fair principles of judging be applied, and we pledye ourselves not to flinch froin the result. In ihe mean time we shall cherish the confidence, that hundreds are saved from this dreadful calamity, where one of the unfortunates we have alluded 10 is involved in it. They are snatched from ambition, from covetousness, or from some of the multiform corruptions of vice and sensuality; and so from the explosion or the final prostration of reason. We must be permitted also to believe, that some degree of excitation is necessary to vigorous bodily, mental, or spiritual action; and that without this, nothing truly great ever was or ever will be accomplished. Neither shall we lend ourselves to impose on the world a reign of silence, or fix it in sanitary stillness, lest some brain should turn; for that suppression of life would of itself suffocate the reason of thousands, who are now the best and healthiest spirits of the world, because of the glow and the celestial excitement they live in.
In reference to religious extravagances generally, and the ridicule so inconsiderately and indiscriminately aimed at them, we know of nothing which more commends itself to reason and candor, than the following remarks of Neander concerning the satire of Lucian :-"It is easy enough in any system which lays deep hold on man's nature, to find out some side open to ridicule, if a man brings forward only that which is external in the system, abstracted from all its inward power and meaning, and without understanding or attempting to understand this power. Can the richest wine escape receiving some taste from the impure vessels into which it is poured? How then shall the spiritual and godly influence, which strives to forin the heart of man, not mingle itself, before it has fully effected its work, with some earthly sailings, and thence exhibit some strange excrescences? He, therefore, who looks on christianity with cold indifference, and the profane, every-day feelings of worldly freedom, may easily find, bere and there, objects for his satire."
Frequent allusion, we observe, is beginning to be made in various quarters to animal magnetism, as connected with the subject of spiritual agency. By those who deny such agency, it is used to explain all the phenomena ascribed to that source. By others, it is resorted to as casting suspicion upon the genuineness of conversions and revivals of a certain type. Indeed, preachers of the gospel are beginning to preach against animal magnetisin ; imposing on their people the difficult task of distinguishing between those mysterious effects which no philosopher bas, as yet, been able to penetrate, and the presence, equally inysterious, of spiritual energy. A step so premature, not to say incautious and dangerous to souls, certainly was not to be expected of the friends of evangelical religion. We say it is premature. It is not yet even decided, how far ihe facts alledged by the magnetists to have been proved by experiment are true. Mesmer hiinself, who is owned as author of the supposed science, is known to have been an empiric and a knave. And since a certain disclosure at Paris in 1821, concerning a celebrated practitioner there, men of science have been especially disposed to discredit all the pretenses of the sect. Whatever it may be in an enemy, ii is stranye haste in a friend, to disturb the faith or even to guard the practices of religion, by application of discoveries so suspicious, so linked in with knavery and corruption. But suppose, (which is the most that can be done,) that the facts alledged are even true. What then? It is difficult to comprehend how we are authorized, on this ground, to suspect the sanity or proper intelligence of the supposed subjects of spiritual agency ; wben, of the six degrees of maynetic power, (vid. Ann. Encyclopedia, vol. viii.) the patient, in the first two, is not affected mentally; in the third, is unconscious ; in the fourth, has his sense of feeling charged into a sense of sight, so that his whole body bas the power of an eye; in the fifth, investigates inwardly his own body, by a perfect self-contemplation, detects his disease and knows his cure; and in the sixth, penetrates the darkness of universal nature, discerns the past and the future, and rises to the conscious purity and free intelligence of an angel. It would seem to be quite as hard to believe all this, as to believe in spiritual agency; but if it be true, it certainly is not for us, on this account, to impute to the subjects of spiritual agency a blind fanaticisin. We ought rather to sit at their feet and receive their word; and
that with such reverence, as we would the word of no philosopher or prophet ihalever lived. It is farther 10 be inquired,-if the facts alledyed as discoveries are true, what is their philosophy ? Are they due to a magnetic power in animal bodies, such that merely stroking with the hands, breathing on a person, or fixing the eyes upon bim for a length of time, does of itself produce the effects stated ? This is not determined. Are they due to the principle of sympathy? This is not determined ; neither is it deiermined how far sympathy wib living forms, (as for example with a public speaker.) is ordained to be an inlet of valid impressions, or what is the same, of truth. Are they due to the imagination ? This is not determined ; neither is it decided how far the imagination is ordained to beget, in the soul, by means of its images and expectations, truths of the loftiest and most practical nature. Is there is a susceptibility to such effects, as the magnetists alledge, in human nature, it must be one of its deep-founded and comprehensive elemenis; and one therefore, as true philosophy will at once conclude, that is wrought in 10 serve some of the most important and vecessary ends, and not to be a mere faculty of folly and infatuation. We go then a step farther. Whatever this facully, this susceptibiliiy, may be in its nature, no man can show, that as between man and man, it is the precondition of those effects alledged by the magnetists; so between man and God, it is not the precondition of spiritual agency; as much so as reason, conscience and pacities are preconditions of the same. We affirm nothing here, because we know nothing and believe nothing: we only expose the prematureness and rashness of such speculations as are beginning to be thrown upon the community. It is not yet time to preach agaiost animal magnetism, -it is premature, -and whoever does it, knows not whereof he affirms. We warn every friend of religion to desist; it cannot fail to excite suspicions against the Spirit of God, which are dangerous and fatal 10 souls. As to the enemies of religion, they are ever ready, in their upstart wisdom, to combat the gospel with new discoveries ; but it has ever been sound, that as soon as science is ripe, it is in the hands of religion ; and so we dare prophesy it ever will be.
We venture, in conclusion, 10 propose two rules, which ought to be observed in all judgments on ibis subject.
First: Let no man attempt to judge, or at least to make up a final and decisive judgment, till he has become fixed in such a course of life as he solemnly intends to prosecute as long as he is permitted to live; and then let him hold an even judgment, applying the same test to other matters or modes of action, which he does to religion. By this, we design to check improper haste, to secure candor, and if possible, experience of heart; for “the natural man,” it is declared by a voice of infallible truth, “receiveth not