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present in what is called his providence, as really, and as necessarily, as in miracle.
There is a strange disposition in men to undervalue that which is unseen, silent, and progressive; and to admire whatever is striking, visible, sudden, and marvellous. Yet most, if not all, the blessings which we receive from God, are through means which are secret, silent, and slow in their operation. Visitations which are sudden, visible, and uncommon, are, for the mosi part, desolating judgments. It is the regular and constant action of unnumbered celestial and terTestrial intlnences of nightly dews, and daily suns; of refreshing showers and gentle breezes, which perfects for man ihe golden harvest to which he owes his very lite. It is, on the other hand, the swift tornadn, or the sudden earthquake, which lays waste the once fertile fields, and spreads ruin and dismay throughout the abodes of men.Divinity is displayed just as much in the production of an ear of corn, as in the creation of a tempest, and is as necessary to the one, as to the other. It is no part of my religion to invest Chance with the attributes of Deity; neither is it any part of my philosophy to suppose that any ibing occurs without the agency of the Creator, who ordereth all things after the counsel of his own will; who sustains the existence and the powers of all the beings in the universe, and directs and controls all agencies whatever to the promotion of bis glory and the ultimate happiness of his prople. "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice,” said the Great Teacher to his disciples. "But," added he, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
If a man, by a providential train of circumstances, be led to think seriously of his condition and destiny-if by such means, all, the onstacles to his conversion be removed, and the light of the gospel shines into his heart, it is as essentially the work of God, who has set on foot and given direction to these agencies, as though a miracne lous or supernatural operation had accomplished his conversion. For my part, I can see no difl'erence 'as it regards the efficient agency in either case supposed. Both would be equally of God, so far as relates either to means or ends. Neither could take place without him. Nor is the case, altered if we suppose him to act in the one case by instrue" ments, and in the other by an immediate and direct impression with
An original and efficient agent is equally necessary upon either hypothesis; for without such a one, conversion were just as impossible with means unemployed, as by supernatural power unexerted. Nor does the time occupied, in effecting the change derogate aught from the agent or ihe effect. The elephants which by slow degrees have grown to full strength and stature in the forests of Asia, are the creatores of God just as much as the pair that Adam named; and are as worthy of admiration, as though like the latter they had sprung at once into being and maturity. But men are so infatuated by a love for prodigies, that they place upon them the most extravagant estimate, and like Jonah are disposed to think more of a gourd, the creation of a night, than of an immense city with all its multitudes of men and herds of cattle.
However long may be the golden chain of providences by which the sinner has been finally bound to the Author of redeeming love, it is God who has welded every link, and who retains it in his hands. Such must be the conviction of every one who is conversant with the scriptures, where God is every where shown to be the efficient agent in conversion and salvation. All things are of God. As to the saints, he worketh in them both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. As to sinners, 'he gives them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.' It is, or, at least it ought to be, sufficient
believe this upon the testimony of the scriptures, without seeking to fathom the depths, of the divine wisdom in the means which are employed, or to trace the connexion between these intermediate agencies and the agent himself. The connexion between matter and spirit is of a character the most intricate and incomprehensible. Who can know aright the workings of his own mind, or comprehend the powers by which it moves the animal frame? Who can mark out the limits within which its actions are circumscribed? Take, for instance, the eye-à material organ fitted to give entrance to light, and so constructed as to paint or impress upon the retina the images of objects. Here its power and use would appear to terminate. But who can explain how the mind can take cognizance of these images? And further, these images are known to be inverted. Who can comprehend that action of the spirit by which they are made to appear to it in their natural position and order, when inverted images only are presented by the organ of vision? It is here that spirit comes into action displaying its mysterious powers.-Ah! there are mysteries every where; in life and and in death; in nature and in religion. There are connexions which cannot be analysed; principles too subtile to be examined. The whole material universe is sustained and moved by the Divine Crea•
But how? At what point does he grasp it? By what means does he move it? It will be said, perhaps, «By his will By his word.' Be it so; and what follows? That the matter is better understoodmor understood at all?' I think not. Even so I would say with respect to conversion-and with him who could not err. He has concealed these things from the wise and prudent, and has reveal. ed them onto babes'—and why? Because it seemed good in his sight'-because it was his will—a will which is just as effectually accomplished by secret impressions setting on foot providential agengies, as by direct and miraculous interpositions.
But you may ask, How will you distinguish such special impulses and impressions from miraculous and supernatural agency? I answer, that although it requires an immediate divine, or, at least, spiritual agency, to give rise to such impressions, we have no reason to suppose them contrary to any laws of our spiritual nature, but in perfect harmony with them; and it is essential to miracle that some establish. ed law shall he contravened. It is perfectly possible to him who is SPIRIT, and who knows all the secrets of our spiritual constitution, to make such impressions and give rise to such associations of thought as shall change the whole aspect of a man's mind and feelings, prepare him for the reception of the truth, and lead him to a new course of action and all this without acting in opposition to any law of that spiritual nature, but in perfect harmony with it. The preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue are of the Lord.”
Shall the devil suggest thoughts to the mind of man, and shall not God? Shall Satan be more present and more powerful, than he who is omnipresent and omnipotent? Or, shall such presence and power be more incredible and miraculous in the one case than in the other! I grant, indeed, that Satan has the advantage of prepossession, and that the Divine Being cannot, from the very nature of his attributes, take up his abode in the sinful heart. Christ can have no fellowship with Belial, nor is the Holy Spirit given until the heart is separated from its pollutions. But how many agencies may be brought to bear upon the mind, to lead to such a result, without the special gift of the Spirit of God to the individual himself? Can the Spirit of God in the saints do nothing-suggest nothing-bring nothing to remembrance, to lead to action on behalf of the sinner? May not Divine Providence knock at the door of the heart that it may be opened to the gospel? “I stand at the door and knock," says Jesus. “If any man will open unto me, I will come in and sup with him, and he shall sup with me." Or, finally, may not the Divine Being, without taking up a permanent abode in the heart by his Spirit, make such impressions upon the mind as shall lead to the desired result-and that too in as perfect harmony with the laws and nature of the human mind, as are the influences or impulses which all admit to be within the power of Satan? But I must close for the present.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD-No. I. NOTWITHSTANDING all that has been said and written in relation to the Spirit, it appears to the writer that there is yet wanting to the religious community, a full, rational, and scriptural view of his immediate agency in the salvation of men. The following desultory thoughts upon this most important subject are not offered with a prospect of supplying this deficiency, but as suggestions merely, or materials for such a purpose. The writer will endeavor to express his thoughts with plainness and freedom; and while he will on the one hand avoid the pointless and inconclusive method of those who delight to string together, like pearls upon a necklace, a multitude of disconnected scriptures; he hopes to be free, on the other, from the indefiniteness of those, who dissolve and dilute the sacred truths of revelation in the copiousness of philosophical and fanciful speculations.
It is a matter of deep concern to the truly pious, that there is so little real devotion to God; so little true and heart-felt union to him, on the part of many who profess the Christian religion. An immense number of proselytes may be made; multitudes may be added to the churches; periods of much animation and excitement may be enjoyed; but when we come to look for that for which alone all this preparation is made an actual and spiritual union to Christ; spirituality of mind; devotion to God; creation anew in righteousness and true holiness-here it is that a lamentable disappointment occursa sad deficiency, felt and acknowledged by all without respect to party.True religion can never consist in any thing more or less than union to God. Satan never did since the days of Eve attempt the ruin of man except by seeking to separate him from God. The flesh; the world; the pleasures of sinful indulgence;—these are the seductions by which he has ever triumphed. It is against these that the godly have always had to combat, and all who are truly spiritual feel themselves thus. engaged in a common cause against the common adversary of. God: and man.
I am aware that we may expect the falling away of many who at their conversion are full of zeal and animation. It is in the laborious and toilsome march, or in the harassing alarms and painful trials and privations of the warfare, or in the actual conflict, that zeal, courage, and patience may be expected to falter; rather than at the moment when the young recruit, animated by hope and fired with the love of glory, enlists under the bright banner which is as yet unstained by blood, It is not until the danger arrives that a man': princi.. ples are tested, and we might, therefore, naturally expect some then
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to shun the spiritual foe, rather than resist him; to desert the ranks, or yield ingloriously to the power of the enemy. But we have a right to expect on the part of the majority, courage for the conflict and an actual and forceful resistance to an acknowledged enemy, ever present and unchangeably maligoant. Instead of this, however, we have to deplore a general and quiet yielding to the seductions, if not to the assaults of the enemy; -a conformity to the world and its usages; a dull insensibility in respect to spiritual things, which seems to arise from an ignorance of here being any such thing as a true and spiritual anion with God and Christ in the great controversy with the powers of darkness. For a stupid insensibility in respect to the danger from spiritual foes, and a failure to strive against them, can arise only from a want of a realizing sense or consciousness of union with spiritual friends. The eye of faith can perceive no neutral ground. The faithful soldier is never lulled into a fatal security, and there can be no surer indication. that a man is without true religion, than to find him indifferent to its preservation; insensible to the dangers which threaten him, or to the presence of those aids by which he is to be sustained To know that we are allied with Christ, is to know that we are engaged in actual and active warfare with the spiritual principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world; with wicked spirits (en tois epouraniois) in the heavenly regions.
That there is a lamentable want of spiritual union to Christ is clearly evinced by this prevailing insensibility in respect to the things that belong to the kingdom of God. The spiritual man is as fully alive to the things of the spiritual world, as is the natural man to the things of the natural world. When a man can no longer hear the voice of afft ction; when his eyes no longer behold the light of heaven; when he has becoine wholly insensible to the kind offices of love, and ceases to breathe ihe vital air, we perceive at once that the relations which previously subsisted between him and the natural world are broken up, and we say of him, He is dead. So are we authorized to conclude that a man is spiritually dead, when he hears not the voice of Christ, when he perceives not the things of the spiritual world, when he is manifestly insensible to the affectionate approaches of spiritual being, and derives ny inspiration from the unseen ethereal realms. We pause not here to inquire into the case of the man who possesses a partial degree of spiritual sensibility; in whom the pulse of spiritual life vet faintly throbs; who is at times half awakened to a conscious. ness of spiritual existence. Such a one, if not really, is virtually dead to religious society. In the natural world such a one would be an incumbrance, not merely useless, but cccupying the time and attention