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The Truth about Trances

 Saturday, November 17 (London).--I spent an hour agreeably and profitably with Lady G-- H--, and Sir C-- H--. It is well a few of the rich and noble are called. Oh, that God would increase their number! But I should rejoice (were it the will of God), if it were done by the ministry of others. If I might choose, I should still (as I have done hitherto) preach the gospel to the poor.

Friday, 23.--The roads were so extremely slippery that it was with much difficulty we reached Bedford. We had a pretty large congregation; but the stench from the swine under the room was scarcely supportable. Was ever a preaching place over a hogsty before? Surely they love the gospel who come to hear it in such a place.

Sunday, 25--In the afternoon God was eminently present with us, though rather to comfort than convince. But I observed a remarkable difference, since I was here (Everton) before, as to the manner of the work. None now were in trances, none cried out, none fell down or were convulsed; only some trembled exceedingly, a low murmur was heard, and many were refreshed with the multitude of peace.

The danger was to regard extraordinary circumstances too much, such as outcries, convulsions, visions, trances; as if these were essential to the inward work, so that it could not go on without them. Perhaps the danger is, to regard them too little; to condemn them altogether; to imagine they had nothing of God in them, and were a hindrance to his work. Whereas the truth is 1) God suddenly and strongly convinced many that they were lost sinners; the natural consequence whereof were sudden outcries and strong bodily convulsions; 2) to strengthen and encourage them that believed, and to make His work more apparent, He favored several of them with divine dreams, others with trances and visions; 3) in some of these instances, after a time, nature mixed with grace; 4) Satan likewise mimicked this work of God in order to discredit the whole work; and yet it is not wise to give up this part any more than to give up the whole. At first, it was, doubtless, wholly from God. It is partly so at this day; and He will enable us to discern how far, in every case, the work is pure and where it mixes or degenerates.

Wednesday, 28.--I returned to London; on Thursday, 29, the day appointed for the general thanksgiving, I preached again in the chapel near the Seven Dials, both morning and afternoon. I believed the oldest man in England has not seen a thanksgiving day so observed before. It had the solemnity of the general fast. All the shops were shut up; the people in the streets appeared, one and all, with an air of seriousness; the prayers, lessons, and whole public service were admirably suited to the occasion. The prayer for our enemies, in particular, was extremely striking; perhaps it is the first instance of the kind in Europe. There was no noise, hurry, bonfires, fireworks in the evening, and no public diversions. This is indeed a Christian holiday, a "rejoicing unto the Lord." The next day came the news that Sir Edward Hawke had dispersed the French fleet.

Sunday, December 9.--I had, for the first time, a love-feast for the whole society. Wednesday, 12. I began reading over the Greek Testament and the notes, with my brother and several others; carefully comparing the translation with the original and correcting or enlarging the notes as we saw occasion.

The same day I spent part of the afternoon in the British Museum. There is a large library, a great number of curious manuscripts, many uncommon monuments of antiquity, and the whole collection of shells, butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and so forth, which the indefatigable Sir Hans Sloane, with such vast expense and labor, procured in a life of fourscore years.


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