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a profligate in morals, and a scoffer at religion, he became a sincere and truly exemplary christian. That he really be. lieved in this case he had received a supernatural warning from heaven, and a miraculous display of divine power, there can be little doubt, as he always continued through life to express himself to that effect; but that he was entirely mistaken in his conceptions about the matter, ought scarcely to be made a doubt among those who are in the slightest degree acquainted with the operations and laws of nature. If Col. Gardiner had the body of the Saviour really exhibited to him surrounded by a blaze of glory, and heard a voice addressing him, it was a miracle of a piece with that which was wrought in the conversion of St. Paul, when on his way to Damascus, he saw a light from heaven, shining round about him, above the brightness of the sun, and at the same time, heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Now, upon those principles of science which we have before established, before we should give credit to the testimony of Col. Gardiner, when he alleges that a miraculous interference of heaven was operated in his behalf, we should require of him to prove it by the same evidence which was exhibited by the Apostle, the evidence of miracles, the only evidence upon which such allegations can ever be well substantiated. That Col. Gardiner had a most happy reformation produced in his conduct by this transaction, is not to be denied, and a subject of congratulation and rejoicing, we trust to Angels as well as men; but his change of habits did not prove that any thing extraordinary took place, since the same alteration in his views and deportment would have been produced by his belief that he was supernaturally warned. Far be it from us, to attempt to limit the means which may be employed by divine grace, to effect the everlasting salvation of men. It may accomplish this beneficial purpose as well by their delusions as just apprehensions of things. In general, however, it is worthy of remark, that we have ne sufficient reason to believe that the Creator, in accomplish. ing his purposes of mercy and grace, ever departs from the ordinary course of his providence, except for the attainment of extraordinary ends, and in all such cases he never fails to deal with us as rational and intelligent beings, and furnishes our understandings with satisfactory proofs of his immediate interference. It is much to be regretted, when the sentiments of religion among mankind are allowed to be tinctured and debased by superstition. Religion never yet derived any ad. vantage, but the most serious mischief, from her connection with superstition, and never will derive any. One half the infidelity which has prevailed in France for some centuries past, may be ascribed to the errors in doctrine, the mummeries and superstitious observances in practice of the church of Rome. By these means a prejudice is excited in the minds of intelligent and reflecting men against christianity itself, in as much as they have not learnt to separate in their imagination, the pure and holy religion of the Saviour, from that monstrous mass of absurdities and follies, under which, as a disguise, it invariably presents itself to their view. In our happy country, let us endeavour to obtain the pure and heavenly religion of the Saviour, undefiled by the errors and misconceptions of fanaticism and superstition.
With these preliminary observations to guard against a misconstruction of our motives and object, we proceed to show in what manner Col. Gardiner might have been mistaken; in his conceptions about the facts that led to his reformation. He appears, from the account which is given of him by Dr. Doddridge, to have been a man of strong natural parts and ardent sensibilities; and however at an early period of life, he outraged by his conduct the precepts of christianity, to have been by no means able to stifle the impressions of religion, which he had received in early life from a pious mother and aunt. The seeds which they had sown in his heart, he could never entirely eradicate amidst his
greatest irregularities, for they found a happy soil in which to shoot forth in his natural temperament and dispositions. He is repeatedly overtaken by remorse and terror, amidst his career of guilt and folly. The apprehensions of religion for a time take possession of his mind, but are soon again allayed by the charms of sensual pleasure, or the ridicule of his licentious companions. With a mind thus subject to occasional paroxysms of apprehension and disquietude about the interests of his immortal part, dissatisfied with the career in which he was engaged, but so enchained by sin as to be unable to extricate himself, we find him, on this occasion, engaged in profane revelry with his associates, and having entered into a criminal assignation, and that too in violation of the most sacred rights of his neighbour, waiting with the full purpose of adding to all the other sins that weighed upon his conscience, the foul crime of adultery. Passing from the scene of banqueting and merriment, heated with wine and surfeited with food, he determines to spend the hour which was left him for reflection, in reading some author whose sentiments should accord with his present feelings, who should encourage him in his criminal pursuits by fortifying his mind with the doubts of sophistry, or stimulating his passions by unholy pictures. He opens his portmanteau to obtain an author suited to his purpose. Instead of meeting with such a production as he desired, he finds a religious treatise. The view of it gives him a sudden shock, and a new train of reflection passes rapidly through his mind, his former and half-extinguished fires of remorse are excited. He resists them, as much as possible, and in order to stifle the painful emotions which were springing up, he determines to make a sport even of sacred things. He commences reading with this profane view. His ideas, however, in spite of himself begin now to run in a new channel. He thinks of the interests of his immortal spirit, of the redemption of the Saviour, of his own guilt and miserable prospects in future. The contrast between his emotions, while engaged in banqueting and merriment a few moments before, and his present train of reflections, only brings more pungently home to his bosom tnose serious and solemn truths he is now contemplating. Overcome, however, with heaviness from his previous feast, if he does not fall into a complete sleep, he sinks into that unconscious state of being, in which the senses are partially closed against the impressions of outward objects, and in which, if the soul be not infested with dreams, it reposes for a moment from its unceasing toil of thinking. In this unconscious state he remains a short space, but suddenly awakes; and in that state of alarm and trepidation which we all experience when suddenly roused from a state of slumber. In this alarmed state of the mind, when its fears alone possess it, and reason has not power to come in to its aid, and support him by its sceptical doubts and difficulties, the train of reflections upon the subjects of religion, into which, in spite of his endeavours, he had been thrown by his book, rush suddenly upon the mind. His half opened
eyes, makes the light of the candle assume the appearance of an unusual blaze, as all of us have experienced at times when suddenly awaking. The wholesome fears of religion are soon converted into superstitious terrors. Heimagines he perceives a supernatural light, and is chilled with indefinable horrors. His mind is now confused, and in its agitation occasions an unusual excitement and irregular action of the nervous system. The same effect is produced upon the optick nerves and the ear, as if the image of Christ upon the cross was before his eye, and sounds assailed
This is the account which philosophy can give of this matter, and I am inclined to think the true one. There is no thing more difficult in conceiving Col. Gardiner thus to have been deceived in the agitation of his mind, than in conceiving the manner in which the lady at Trenton could suppose
her friend whom she had lost to be immediately before her, and that she traced the very pits of the small-pox in her face. The claims of lord Lyttleton to having seen his mother, who foretold the time of his death, are as good as those of Col. Gardiner, to having seen the image of his Saviour, and having heard a supernatural voice, and surely no philosopher can doubt that the first is to be ascribed to nervous delusion.
The solution which we have furnished above of the facts relative to the conversion of Col. Gardiner, is substantiated by all the circumstances connected with them, when rightly understood. He was in a state of repletion and heaviness, from the enjoyment of his previous entertainment, and on this account would be inclined to sleep. Passing from a scene of noise and conviviality, he went into solitude and silence, and began the perusal of a serious book, which to a mind uninterested in the great truths of religion, although constitutionally alive, at intervals, to a sense of its importance, would have a tendency also to induce drowsiness. These considerations should lead us to the conclusion, that although he was not in a deep sleep, the idea of which he strongly repelled, declaring that he was as broad awake during the whole time, as he ever was in his life, yet that he was in that state of existence denominated dosing, of which we are insensible at the time, and when awakened out of it cannot be convinced that we were even partially asleep. That he was in this partial slumber, seems to be still more strongly confirmed, by the account which he himself gave of the voice that he supposed he heard, for he was not very confident, whether it was an audible voice, or only a strong impression made upon his mind equally striking. This confusion in his statement shows, that he was not in the sound and full enjoyment of his faculties.
Again, all the circumstances of the case favoured a delusion of the senses in this instance. Colonel Gardiner was excited