« PrécédentContinuer »
late a few verses, you shall have it In the course of conversation, Mr. for nothing." The poor boy, Brown inquired if he remembered highly pleased with the proposal, the circumstance above detailed. complied with the conditions, and “I remember it well,” replied the carried off the Testament in tri- bookseller,” and would give a good umph,
deal to know what became of that Many years afterwards, the late boy; for I am sure that he has Rev. John Brown, of Haddington, risen to eminence in some way or then in the midst of his fame as an other. Sir," said Mr. Brown, author, entered into conversation you see him before you.” It is with the bookseller. The latter, needless to add that the recollecwho was well acquainted both with tion was highly gratifying to both his person and his character, re- partics, ceived him with marked respect.
Agreeably to an intimation in The second lecture is introour Review of these lectures in duced with a restatement of the our last number, we are now to method proposed in the first, for give an abstract of the second; the illustration of the text (Jas, i. in which, as heretofore intimated, 5, 6, 7.). Professor R. remarks, is found the chief object of the au that of the four inquiries, which thor in the discussion contained he had proposed to answer, the in the pamphlet before us. The first three had already been consisubject indeed is here treated in a dered. He then adds, “ We now manner so lucid and satisfactory, proceed to the fourth, and ask, and is so important in itself, that we First—what is to be understood wish, in place of an abstract, or an by the prayer of faith? analysis, we could give the whole “This expression,"continues the author, lecture, just as it stands. But “seems obviously capable of two senses,
we cannot do this, we shall and must be understood differently acabridge the first part, in which the cording to the different kinds of faith em
ployed in prayer. In the primitive church author prepares the way
there is reason to believe that two kinds result at which he arrives; and of faith were thus employed: one extrathe result itself, with the two im- ordinary, being peculiar to certain indiportant inferences with which he viduals, who had the gift of working mi.
racles; the other common, belonging to concludes, we propose to quote at all Christians who truly embraced the large~ To this extent, we do not gospel. Both were the result of divine think we could fill our pages bet- teaching, though perhaps in a different ter. The benefit of our readers is way; and both were founded upon the
testimony of God; still they were in va. the object at which we desire to
rious respects different from each other. aim, in all-we either write our The first, which we denominate extraorselves or extract from the wri- dinary, and which was connected with tings of others; and a just appre
miraculous operations, was not necessarihension of what should be under- ly, it would seem, a gracious exercise.
Certain it is that many wrought miracles, stood 'by the prayer of faith, is what and miracles in Christ's name, who will be is peculiarly needed at the pre- disowned by him at last. Whether they sent time, and in the present cir- wrought them with or without faith, is not cumstances of the Presbyterian expressly, said; but as they wrought them church. Our own remarks will
in Christ's name, there is a fair presump
tion that it was through faith in that not be numerous or extensive.
And this presumption is the
stronger when we consider the language the genuineness and strength of which the apostle holds on the subject of his faith by working a miracle, miraculous gifts in general. (1 Cor. 13.) Though I speak with the tongues of
as he describes it in his “ Grace men and of angels, and have not charity, I abounding to the Chief of Sinam become as sounding brass, or a tink- ners,” is no very uncommon case. ling cymbal; and though I have the giftBunyan was, and many others are, and all knowledge ; and though I have all happily delivered from this tempfaith, so as to remove mountains, and have tation and error. But the whole not charity, I am nothing." Here it is host of fanatical miracle workers, supposed, not only that men might work and confident predicters of indivimiracles without being Christians, but dual conversions, in modern times, that they might work them in the exercise of faith in the divine power and ve,
appear to act under the unhappy racity: nay, that they might possess all mistake and delusion we here confaith, so as to remove mountains, or the template. They misapply pas"highest degree of faith connected with sages of Scripture which exclusiveor love. Not so the faith common to a'i ly relate to the faith of miracles, true believers. This in all cases is a gra
to the faith which is essential to cious or holy exercise. Love is essential salvation; and think that it is only to its very being. It not only gives cre the want of a stronger faith of dence to the divine testimony, in what the latter kind, which disqualifies ever manner exhibited, but cordially approves of that testimony. It is not mere
them and their friends for doing ly an intellectual but a moral exercise ; all the wonderful works which and hence it is described as purifying the were done by the apostles and heart and overcoming the world. The other primitive Christians. In the faith of miracles might exist without a renovated heart; but this never exists ex
Roman Catholick church this ercept in those who are born of God and ror seems to be reduced to syslove God, and therefore it is placed among tem; as we find that it is a part of the fruits of the Spirit, and regarded as the creed of that church, that their the grand condition of salvation. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision distinguished saints may, and still is nothing,' saith the apostle, but faith often do, work miracles of the which worketh by love.
most astonishing kind. It is not to our present purpose mi But even when all these exnutely to distinguish between these two kinds of faith, nor to inquire how often it tremes are avoided, some person's is probable they were blended together in
of real, and in general, rational the same persons. It will be enough to piety, appear to cherish a portion have it distinctly understood that they of the same error. They conclude were, in some important particulars, di. verse from each other; and therefore that
from the enlargement and fervour we cannot reason from one to the other as
which they find in praying for a if they were radically and essentially the specifick favour or blessing, that same.”
such favour or blessing will cer
tainly be granted them. Now that Here our author is at the very genuine and fervent prayer will fountain of the error which he always be followed with a blessing seeks to correct. It originates in to those who offer it, we firmly beconfounding the faith of miracles lieve; but not that the blessing with evangelical or saving faith, and will consist in granting the speciin applying to the latter, what in fick object prayed for. It should the Holy Scriptures is spoken only always be kept in mind that the of the former.
specifick object may be denied, This error is sometimes wit- and yet that something better may nessed in its extreine, when be granted in its place-somethose who have had but little thing more for the glory of God, knowledge of the Bible first be- and more for the real and permacome deeply engaged for the sal- nent good of the petitioner himvation of their souls. The case of self—something which, if he were Bunyan, in his temptation to try fully enlightened and sanctified, he
would himself prefer before that vering persuasion, that in every which he so earnestly and exclu- given čase a miracle would be sively seeks. The truth is, we wrought, he adds as followsnever pray aright, in regard to
“But it may be asked, how it could be any specifick thing that God has known that it was the pleasure and purnot absolutely promised to bestow pose of God that a miracle should be in answer to prayer, unless we do wrought in any given case ? Whether it with a portion of the temper be remembered that this fact of the divine
this question can be answered or not, let it and spirit of our blessed Lord, purpose must have been known, or no when thrice he prayed in agony, sure ground for the certainty of the event that if it were possible the cup of could have existed. Our reply, however, anguish might pass from him, and is, that the purpose of God in the case
might have been known by the immediate yet as often added, "nevertheless,
suggestions of the Holy Spirit. Nor is not as I will, but as thou wilt-not there any inherent improbability in the my will but thine be done.” Here supposition that those who wrought miis our example, in all cases of pray- should receive intimations from him when
racles by the power of the Holy Ghost er for specifick blessings in re
and where these mighty works were to be gard to which God has made no performed. Did he preside over their absolute promise; and thus asking, thoughts, and over their words, whenever our prayers will certainly return they opened their lips on the subject of with abundant blessings into our
their heavenly message, and can it be
unreasonable or incredible that he should own bosoms, whether the particu- point out to them the fit occasions for lar thing asked for be granted or those works by which their message was not. This conclusion professor to be confirmed? Without some superRichards has fairly reasoned out- natural intimation of this kind, it does not scripturally reasoned out in this
seém possible that any firm persuasion of
the miraculous event could exist. For excellent lecture. He has proved can men believe without evidence? or beyond reasonable
controversy, could evidence be derived from any other that such is the teaching of the quarter, as to the future occurrence of a infallible oracles of God, in regard miracle? But allow the intimation we
have supposed, from that ever-present to this important subject.
Spirit who was given to the primitive disHe proceeds immediately after ciples, in his miraculous teaching and the quotation we have given, to guidance, and all difficulty vanishes. show what the faith of 'miracles What would otherwise appear a weakness was, and occupies nearly three duty. And thus the faith of miracles will
or absurdity, becomes a plain and obvious pages of this closely printed pam- have something to rest upon, as it is nophlet in showing what was its thing else but giving credit to the divine nature, and in exhibiting examples miracle will be performed in a given case,
it from the Holy Scriptures. how strangesoever the miracle may be As to its nature, he says,
agreeably to the suggestions of that Dihas been denominated the faith of vine Spirit by whose agency it is to be miracles, because peculiar to those accomplished.” who wrought miracles, and neces After thus disposing of the insary to such extraordinary dis- quiry in regard to the faith of plays of the divine power, seems miracles, the author saysto have been, not only a firm per 6 But there is another kind of faith emsuasion of the divine power, by ployed in prayer, common to Christians of which all things possible are alike all ages-a faith which takes hold of the dieasy to God, but that the contem-, without any miraculous intimation concern
vine attributes and the divine promises, plated miracle, in any given case, ing the result--a faith which rests distinctwould certainly be performed.”. ly and primarily upon God's word, making
After proving clearly, from the that the rule and limit of its expectations. sacred volume, that it was essen
Whatever is declared in the sacred votial in the faith of miracles, that lume, it stands ready to receive, and
employ as an argument in prayer. Bethere should be a firm and unwa- yond this it never goes. At the same
time, it may be remarked that this faith referred to in holy writ. In closing is the fruit and effect of divine teaching. what he says on indefinite promises, It is wrought in the soul by that Almighty Agent who enlightens the understand professor R. approaches and ining and sanctifies the heart; and it com troduces his main point in the folprehends in it such a vivid belief of what lowing manner God is, and of what he is ready to do for those who truly seek him as no unrenew " When Christ says in his sermon on ed man ever possessed. Nor is this all- the mount, (Matt. viii. 7, 8.) - Ask, and it it implies a cordial approbation of the di- shall be given you; seek, and ye shall vine character and will. For, as we have find; knock, and it shall be opened unto already heard, it is a faith which works by you: for every one that asketh receiveth ; love.
and he that seeketh findeth; and to him How this faith is put forth in the duty that knocketh it shall be opened'—it can of prayer, may require some elucidation. "hardly be made a question that this lan'I cannot better express my own views, guage authorizes every man, and espethan by saying that faith in this case is cially every true Christian, to ask what directed chiefly to two things—the attri. he will for himself or for others, pertainbutes of God, and the promises which God ing to this life or the next, and to ask has made in and through his dear Son. with the hope that he shall receive, pro
1. Faith in the first place is directed to vided the object be lawful, and that he ask the attributes of God, and has much to do for it in a right manner. And to give the with these in the article of prayer. This greater encouragement to prayer, Christ is clearly implied in the declaration of the adds, “What man is there of you, who, if apostle, “ He that cometh to God must his son ask bread, will he give him a believe that He is, and that he is the re stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give warder of them thai diligently seek him," him a serpent ? If ye, then, being evil, as if there could be no acceptable worship know how to give good gifts unto your without such belief."
children, how much more shall your Fa
ther which is in heaven, give good things The author here goes on'to show to them that ask him ?. 'Here, then, is a that the faith of which he speaks promise, that if we ask, we shall receive; is “in most of the prayers record- shall be opened unto us; and it restricts us
if we seek, we shall find, if we knock, it ed in the Bible, seen to fix upon to no particular kind of blessings-but its some one or more of the divine language is broad enough to cover all our attributes—and that often, if not wants, and all our desires, which at any always, it takes hold of the divine the throne of divine mercy.
time we may have occasion to present to power.” After a very satisfactory
A serious question now arises : how are illustration of this particular, he we to interpret this promise, and other proceeds to show
kindred promises, alike comprehensive in “ 2. How faith regards the pro- opinions which are entertained upon this
their character? I know of but two general mises of God, all of which are subject. One is that which I have already made in and through his dear suggested, that promises of this kind are to Son. Shall I say, it regards them be regarded as indefinite, so far, at least, as they are, or according to their
as they stand related to the things where true intent and design. In other holding true in a sufficient number of
the will or purpose of God is not known: words, that it makes them speak a cases to encourage hope, and excite to language which the Holy Spirit prayer—but in no degree pledging the diintended they should speak, with
vine veracity that whatsoever we ask
with the faith .common to true believers, out narrowing them on the one or if you please, in a right and acceptable hand, or giving them an improper manner, we shall certainly receive. The latitude on the other. These pro other opinion is, that God has bound him. mises are different in their cha
self in these promises to give to his chilracter, and faith knows how to dis- dren whatsoever things they ask believing,
making no exceptions—but construing the tinguish them.”
It is then shown promises as being strictly and universally that the promises are either abso: true, applying to every case where the lute or conditional, definite or inde- blessing is sought in the manner required. finite; and the nature of each of Thus, if a man were to ask for his daily
bread, and to ask it with that faith which these classes of promises is ex
he is bound to exercise, the truth of God plained, and examples of each are stands pledged in the promise to grant it;
* * * * *
or if he ask for any other favour, temporal sovereign pleasure as well as his percepor spiritual, for himself or for others, he tive will-what he wisely purposes as to may ask with an unwavering assurance the event, no less than what he commands that he shall receive, and receive the very as a matter of duty, (and we can see no thing he asks. Which of these opinions reason why an interpretation thus comis true? To aid in determining this ques- prehensive should not be given,) then it is tion, let me solicit your attention to the obvious that we do not ask according to following remarks:"
his will, in the full meaning of the apostle,
unless three things can be affirmed of our We regret that our space for- petitions ; first, that they are authorized, bids us to give more than the state- embracing proper subjects of prayer; sement of the several particulars, condly, that they are offered in the spirit and a few detached remarks, under they coincide with his purpose or 'his one or two of them.
sovereign pleasure, being such requests
as in his wisdom he will deem it proper to “ 1. First, it is more desirable in itself, grant. When all these circumstances con. and a far greater privilege to the believer, to have the promise understood with the will hear our prayers, and answer us in
cur, no doubt can be entertained that God limitation we have suggested, than to suppose that God is pledged to give the very ing the principle advocated in the preced
the very thing we ask. But this is adoptthing which is asked, be it wise or un
ing remarks, that God is no farther bound wise, for his own glory on the contrary. by his general promise to hear the prayers “2. Besides: who that is any measure
of his people, than lo give such things as
in his wisdom he shall judge most suitable sensible of his own weakness and fallibi.
in the case." lity, but must be compelled to acknowledge that, in a thousand cases, when he prays, be knows not what, all things con
The professor here continues to sidered, would be for the best. His de- illustrate his “ adopted principle," sires may be ardent, and directed to an at considerable length, and with object lawful in itself, and apparently of an overwhelming force of scripgreat moment, when yet he cannot tell tural evidence. But we have alwhether, in the whole view of the case, it would be better for God to give or with ready trespassed on the bounds hold. * * * * *
we had allotted to ourselves, as “3. But farther: it has commonly been preliminary to the result of the supposed that our prayers, for many things whole, and the inferences deduced at least, should be offered with submission from it, which we have promised But it is difficult to conceive of any case where this ought to be done, if we inter to give at large. We hope our pret the general promises made to prayer readers will give this quotation, without any restriction. *'* * * *
long as it is, a very attentive “But if all the promises made to prayer perusal, for it is highly instrucare to be understood without tion or restriction, pledging God in every tive, and cannot, we think, fail to case to give the very thing which is asked, prove edifying, if it be duly conhow could it ever be our duty to ask with sidered. submission? Our requests, it would seem, ought to be as unqualified and as absolute “From this extended view of the subject, as the promise; and the only point to be what other conclusion can be drawn, than aimed at would be firmly to believe that that the promises made to prayer must be our requests would be granted. * * * * * understood with limitation in all cases “4. Again: it is not unimportant to re
wbere the will of God is not known. mark that the apostle John appears to
If the question then return, how does have interpreted the promises made to faith regard the promises of God? our anprayer with the same limitations which swer must be as before-it regards them we have done; in all cases, I mean, where as they are, and embraces them according the will or purpose of God is not known. to their true intent and design. Absolute (1 John v. 14, 15.) This,' says he, is promises it regards as absolute, conditionthe confidence which we have in him, al as conditional; those which are definite that if we ask any thing according to his as holding true in every case, subject to no will he heareth us. That is, as I under- restriction or limitation; and those which stand the passage, he lends a gracious are general or indefinite it regards as indeear, and grants our requests: if we ask finite, and interprets them accordingly.any thing according to his will.' But Some of the promises it considers as spewhen can this be said of us? If the will cifically made to the apostles, and others of God here be understood to mean his in the primitive church, and not applicable