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the thing; and accordingly, I observe, that impressions may be stronger, or weaker, or they may minister more, or less immediate pleasure to the mind; the subject matter impressed, when considered abstractedly from the impression, may also be considered as certain, or probable, or neither ; and it may be of greater or less importance, or of no importance at all ; it may be of concern to some one, or more, of our species, or of general concern to the whole ; it may relate to things spiritual, or temporal; to things past, present, or to come ; these are some of the most material circumstances, which may be supposed to attend the case, and in which one impression may be distinguished from another. But then, as to the second enquiry, viz. what circumstances are peculiar to divine imprespons, by which they may be distinguished, and certainly known, from all other impressions, which may be made upon the mind, this I am utterly at a loss to discover. Whether divine impressions are stronger, or weaker, than other impressions ; or whether they give more, or less, immediate pleasure to the mind; and so on : this I cannot possibly come at the knowledge of, as I have no rule to judge by, nor can I have

any

any light or information from the case itself; so that after all my care I may be under a delusion, if I admit the supposition, that the impression was divine ; because I have no way by which I can distinguish, with certainty, divine impressions from all other impressions, which may be made upon my mind. And, if this is of necessity the case with me, then, I think, it must be the same with all other men. And, if I am disqualified for distinguishing divine impressions from any other impressions, which may be made upon my own mind; then, surely, I must be rather more fo with respect to the impressions that are made upon the minds of other men. And this, I hope, will be admitted as a sufficient excuse for my not blindly submitting to what may be dictated to me as a divine oracle, by those who may consider themselves to have been favoured with divine impreffions, and extraordinary divine illuminations. To say, that divine impressions can no other ways be distinguished, and certainly known, than by an experimental feeling of the thing itself, which feeling cannot be described, or expressed, and therefore, cannot be explained to others ; this, I think, is taking fanctuary in darkness, and seems to favour strongly of

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delusion,

delufon, or imposition. If, when ideas are impressed upon the mind, there is something felt, which cannot be expressed; then, the question is, how do we certainly know that what is thus felt is of God? And, if we have no rule to judge by, in the present case, but are guided by mere imagination ; we think it is divine, therefore it is fo; then, this inexpressible feeling leaves the case in the fame perplexity and uncertainty as before there is something felt, which cannot be defcribed, and what is thus felt is presumed to be by, or from the immediate operation of God, without any thing to ground the presumption upon ; this, I think, is the sum of the evidence, which arises from those inexpressible feelings abovementioned. Whether God does immediately interpose, and impress ideas upon the minds of men, or not, is what I cannot certainly determine, with respect to either side of the question, because I have not wherewith to ground such a determination upon; and, therefore, I shall only observe, that if God does interpose, as aforesaid, then, whether this be considered as a part of the original scheme of God's general providence, by which he proposed to govern the world, by constantly impressing

on

on men's minds such images as each one's respective case might render useful to him, or whether it be considered as an act of God's special providence, for the removing such errors and evils, as, thro' the weakness or vileness of men, may have been introduced, and become greatly injurious to mankind; I say, whether a divine interpofition, as aforesaid, be considered as one, or the other, of these, it seems to be suitable to, and altogether worthy of the divine wisdom and goodness, fui the Deity to interpose, in such a way, as that every man may distinguish, with certainty, divine impressions from all other impressions, that may be made upon his mind; because, without this, mankind are in a most unguarded and unsafe ftate, as without it they lie greatly exposed to delusion and imposition, and consequently, to those very errors and evils, which divine impressions are supposed to relieve them from ; but then, as this does not appear to have been done, therefore it becomes the more doubtful, whether there be any such thing as divine impreffions on men's minds. If it should be said, that the nature of the thing does not admit of any rule, or way, by which divine impressions may be distinguished, with cer

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tainty,

tainty, from all other impressions that may be made upon the mind; and as this is out of the reach of divine wisdom and power to effect, so it is what we are not to seek after nor expect ; if this be the case, it will follow, not only that it must always be a matter of uncertainty, whether there be any such thing as divine impresions on mens minds, but also there will be a strong presumption of the contrary ; because divine impressions, without a certain rule, whereby to distinguish them from all other impressions, cannot inftruet and guile, but only perplex and diftress mankind; which, surely, the supreme Deity is not disposed to do. Suppose it should be strongly impressed upon a man's mind, that it is his duty, and what God requires and expects from him, at the close of every day, to plunge his whole body under water, as a token of his penitence for the sins he had been guilty of the day past, and of God's mercy in the forgiveness of them ; or suppose, it should be impressed upon his mind, that it is his duty to cut and wound his body, in some particular part, at some certain times, as a token of his abhorrence of himself for his transgressions, and of what he might justly expect, were God severe in punishing him

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