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they had since received from him, though it might be a topic they were, they could have in themselves compensated to the
against the violence of despair, could by no means be called immediate followers of Christ for the recent loss of their
a compensation. For, that is a compensation only which we Master. And it is certain that many are entitled, by the
receive in consequence of our loss; but that which I either words of Christ, to a share in the peculiar comfort of the
did or might enjoy without any loss whatever, can with no Holy Ghost, to whom these definite advantages have been at
propriety of language be said to come to me in consequence no time accorded.
of my misfortunes, nor (though the balance of good may, on The promise, as we have seen in the preceding Lecture,
the whole, preponderate in my favour) to repay me for what was not to the apostolic age alone, but to every succeeding
I have suffered. That many other old and valuable friends generation of Christians from the death of the Messiah to the
are left me, may soften indeed my grief for the loss of one moment of his triumphant return. But though there be more,
whom I love; but it cannot be said, that my not being alto- perhaps, than a single church in Christendom, which has
gether forsaken can make it expedient for me to lose a friend. not as yet explicitly abandoned her pretensions to supernatural

It follows, that the compensation promised to Christians endowment, yet by even those who still advance such claims, for the loss of their Master's visible presence, must be an the gifts of healing and of exorcism are acknowledged to be advantage peculiar to Christians alone, and one which the enjoyed by a very small number of individuals only; and the followers of Christ did not possess before the descent of the general avowal of the several Protestant sects, and the tacit rushing mighty wind at Pentecost. And, if I should seem admission of the best and wisest individuals in the Greek to have bestowed too tedious an argument on a point, appa- and Roman communions, evince at least that, whatever exceprently, so plain, let it be remembered, that on these first tions may be pretended to the general rule, and however we principles many truths may be found to depend, which have may fail to fix the period at which the miraculous aids of our been the subjects of more arduous contest, and which possesses religion were withdrawn, such miraculous aids have not been in themselves a more obvious and practical interest. for many ages vouchsafed to the preachers of any Christian

To return, however, from this seeming digression. It was community. observed in the preceding Lecture, that through all the Nor is that a sufficient answer by which this objection is scheme of man's salvation, as revealed to us in the sacred usually encountered ;-the answer, namely, that “the differWritings, so strongly is the character displayed of a general ence of situation and circumstance between the Christians of and harmonious analogy, that it was, a priori, reasonable to the present day and the original planters of our faith, has expect that in the operations of the Spirit, during the devel- justified the Almighty in withdrawing from the maturer opment and conduct of the new dispensation, we should find growth of the tree of life those props and standards which a connexion and similarity with his more conspicuous inter- were needful in her sapling condition: that we have, at prepositions for the furtherance and completion of the old. sent, no occasion for supernatural powers, and that therefore

And such a correspondence is, even on a hasty view, dis- we enjoy them no longer." cernible between the tokens of the divine favour and presence For, 1st, The fact itself on which this argument reposes, originally afforded in the tabernacle, and by those which that miracles are no longer required for the progress of the qualified the earliest teachers of Christianity for the arduous Christian faith, is one which, though it be a favourite topic service to which they were ordained; which enabled them with the great majority of apologists for the truth, is, neverto maintain their Master's quarrel against all the deeply root. theless, not easily to be defended. ed habits and inveterate ignorance of mankind, and supported There are many Christians at the present day, and there them with a supernatural wisdom, and a vigour not their own, have been many at every period since the cessation of superunder the many and bitter trials which assailed their faith and natural gifts, who have spent with little fruit, but with a sinpatience.

cerity which it would ill become us to impeach, their labours Thus, if the Schekinah descended in clould and fire to take and their lives in the instruction of Moliammedans and Papossession of the shrine appropriated to his service in the gans. ancient tabernacle, the Holy Ghost came down with similar But have not men like these occasionally experienced a circumstances of wonder and majesty, to signify in a visibie perplexing and a painful want of supernatural credentials, in manner his approbation and protection of those early teachers situations in which such credentials are most especially needof and converts to the faith of Christ, whose bodies were ful and appropriate ? Or to what other cause than the lack of thenceforth, in the expressive language of St. Paul, to be his such apostolic endowments can we ascribe the feeble advances nobler and living sanctuaries.

of our faith in later times, compared with that most rapid and Did the face of Moses shine with reflected glory, when he abundant growth of converts which in every corner of the returned from coversing with the God of Israel ?— The same world rewarded the labour of the primitive missionaries? angelic splendour adorned the Protomartyr's countenance; That miracles would now be useless, is a conclusion which when Stephen, in the presence of his murderers, bare wit- we have no right to draw from the fact that they are seen no ness to the resurrection and exultation of his Lord. As longer. The dispensations of our almighty Father are too Moses was permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies, to re-full of mystery for us to determine, whether he design the ceive, in that figurative heaven, the commands of God ;=-50 conversion of the remaining Gentiles by the credit of those was St. Paul, on a certain occasion, caught up into paradise recorded miracles which brought their first-fruits to his altar; itself, to that celestial temple and holy place not made by or whether he may defer a while, till the time of their inhands, of which the earthly edifice was but a shadow. The gathering be come, those fresh manifestations of his glory gift of prophecy, which was communicated, in Horeb, to the and power which are to enlighten their uttermost darkness. seventy elders of the Israelitish nation, was not only equalled For the rarity of miracles a better reason may, perhaps, be but greatly surpassed by that fiery stream of power, which found, in the consideration that, if they were common, they in the earliest days of the Messiah's kingdom was poured out would be miracles no longer. Those visible predges of God's on the sons and daughters of Jerusalem: and we may ad- interference which are calulated in an especial manner to vantageously contrast with the tremendous and destructive arouse the attention of mankind, would, if often repeated, exevidences of God's presence which were given under the an- cite no more attention than the dawn and sunset, or the recient Covenant, those miracles of blessing and of peace, ceding and returning tide. They are restricied, therefore, by whereby the Apostles of Christ could raise the dead, and cast almighty Wisdom to those solemn occurrences which are to out devils, and take up serpents in their hands, and open the be ever memorable among men; and not only may it be said eyes of the blind, and proclaim, in the proper tongues of that such displays of power are wonderful because they are every kindred and nation and people, the things which be- rare, but that they are therefore rare in order that they may longed unto their eternal peace.

be wonderful. And, instead of urging that miracles have So striking, indeed, are the instances recorded in the ceased because they are no longer needed, it may be said, apostolic writings, in which the miraculous and visible pa- perhaps, with more conformity to truth, and, certainly, with tronage of God's Spirit was afforded to the orphan Church as much humility, that God in these later days has left us to of Christ, that it cannot reasonably excite our wonder, that ourselves, that we may feel more perfectly our own weakness, some eminent commentators should seek no further than these and our want of his assistance. extraordinary and temporary aids for the accomplishment of But, 2dly, If we should concede that supernatural aids are our Saviour's promise; and should recognize, in the powers now no longer needed, as being snperseded by the diffusion accorded to the primitive teachers of the Gospel, the whole of knowledge and the protection of Christian Sovereigns ; of that comfort which it was the office of the Paraclete to though this, beyond a doubt, would admirably justify the Sestow.

ways of Providence in ceasing to concede such powers to But notwithstanding the acknowledged value of the advan- men, provided their continuance were a matter of free grace tages thus conferred, it may be doubted, whether, great as and favour; yet, if the grant of such powers to the Church be the whole or even any essential part of the promise made Had, then, our Saviour's words amounted to no more than by Christ, the reasoning will apply no longer.

a general assurance of help and comfort to be, on his behalf, For that which is once promised is no longer in the power afforded by the Spirit of God, any spiritual grace whatever of any one to give or to withhold at pleasure. However miglit be regarded as sufficient to discharge the debt of mercy, free the bounty may at first have been, the promise is a to which that promise made him liable. Or, if the terms of covenant not to be dissolved without the full concurrence the promise were sufficiently answered by those less brilliant of the recipient party : and though his circumstances may aids, which only are continued to these latter ages of Chrishave, since, so completely altered, as no longer to require tianity, it might be urged with reason, that we have no our bounty; yet, if such a change were not foreseen and pro- ground to complain, if, when we ourselves receive even a vided for, or tacitly, at least, implied in the original nature bare fulfilment of our Lord's assurance, we beheld a more of our agreement, the promise may itself be chargeable with abundant mercy exercised by God in the case of former genimprovidence, but we cannot, with honour, dispense our-erations. While we ourselves have all which was agreed selves from its full and fair fulfilment.

upon, our eye” must not " be evil," if the goodness of our Nor, further, can it be said with truth, that, in the present Master should, in other instances, “ do what he will with instance, the circumstances which were contemplated in the his own." original promise of a Comforter have at any time ceased to Had the promise, then, been general, we might, with the operate. It was the blessing of an infallible Guide, the learned Hammond, have readily acknowledged, that the guardianship of a visible and incarnate Deity, the presence comfort of the Paraclete is perpetual in the church, inasmuch of the Son of God himself, for which the coming of the as our external and internal exercises of devotion and piety Paraclete was to compensate. And, till the return of Christ owe their value to his unseen fellowship; nor should I hesito earth, and so long as we no less than the apostles are tate to reckon in the list of his benefits, ihat continued protecmourners for his absence, and for that unequal state of tion amid the changes and chances of the world, whereby all worldly things which his last great advent is to remedy, we things are made to work together for the benefit of those who are entitled, equally with the apostles, to look up with pious love the Son of God, and who hope for his second appearconfidence for the same comfort which, for the same reason, ance. Of this providential guardianship of the church, its was promised to us as to them.

duration through the various dangers of eighteen centuries is It is plain, therefore, that a temporary and partial benefit in itself a proof, if other and more definite instances were is by no means, in itself, an adequate fulfilment of a promise wanting, which might suflice most amply to confirm our faith made to every generation of the faithful, and to each individ- and justify our gratitude. It is a guardianship, too, which, ual believer; and it is necessary, if we desire to evince the from the testimonies collected in my last discourse, we may, accomplishment of our Saviour's gracious assurance, to un- without, I trust, a criminal presumption, ascribe to the espederstand it of some more general and pervading benefit, in cial and definite agency of him, to whose honour these lawhich not the apostolic age alone, but every succeeding bours are devoted; who is the ruling principle, by whom the Christian either has or might have partaken.

Almighty Father disposes of the fates and fortunes of manAccordingly, it has been supposed by the great majority of kind; in whose protection the devout and innocent of every commentators, that, though the promise of our Savionr was age and country are partakers; whose larger bounty clothes immediately and literally fulfilled to the apostles in the gift the lilies of the field, and extends the broad shield of omnipoof those miraculous powers which were necessary to their pe-tence above the sparrow's wing. culiar situation, yet did it, in its implied and secondary sense, But though, in all these instances of mercy and of power, extend to all believers, in the ordinary means of improve- we have sufficient reason afforded us in Scripture to adore the ment which the same good Spirit has never ceased to bestow. presence and the bounty of God's Spirit; it is impossible to And, when they are further asked, in what peculiar blessings conceal from ourselves that, so far as this particular promise we experience, in modern times, that present and abiding is concerned, these instances are all inapplicable.. While Paraclete whom our Saviour has promised to his Church? it the promise of a Comforter is made to all, its terms are too has been usual to refer us to those sacred institutions which definite to allow of such inequality in its distribution; and are the outward badges of our profession, as well as to that they are terms which, neither the institution of sacramental inward grace by which only the external sign is made availa- observances, nor the succession of an apostolical ministry, ble to our holiness here and our endless happiness hereafter. nor the providential disposal of worldly affairs in farour of

The presence of the Comforter has thus been sought in the church of Christ, can in themselves be said to fulfil. the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Baptism; in the The Paraclete, whose advent our Saviour foretold, (under succession of a ministry apostolically ordained and govern- which definite character only we are now considering the ed; and, above all, in those secret aids and blessed influences, Holy Ghost), the Paraclete was “to teach the disciples all which, from the greater frequency of their occurrence, and not things, and bring all things to their memory, whatever Christ from any supposed or real inferiority in their value, are dis- had spoken.” Ås the vicar of our Lord, and the advocate of tinguished from the gifts of supernatural power and know- the Christian cause, he was to refute the calumnies to which ledge as the ordinary graces of ihe Holy Ghost.

the Messiah's name had been exposed, and to convict the And, by thus supposing that our Saviour's promise has world of sin in the great controversy between God and his been fulfilled in different ways to different generations of creatures. As doctor and president of the church, he was his people, our Protestant divines have appeared to elude, " to guide” the faithful “ into all truth," and he was to "show with sufficient dexterity, the opposing and almost equal diffi-them things to come." culties of admitting, on the one hand, the arrogant and super- Now it is plain that, any otherwise than as significant and stitious claims of the Romish Hierarchy, and of confining, pious ceremonies, neither baptism nor the eucharist can be on the other, to certain persons and periods only, a comfort said to teach us any thing. And, though it be the office of which was announced without limitation, as the future pri- bishops and presbyters to instruct their weaker brethren, and vilege of all believers in the Messiah.

to guide them, so as far as their own lights extend, into the Nor, if the compensation which the church was to receive knowledge of religious truth, yet have not, in these latter had been described by our Lord under the general name of ages of the world, either presbyters or bishops any peculiar Grace or Comfort only, can it be denied, that this solution of source of knowledge, which is not accessible to whichever of the difficulty would have been recommended to our adoption their hearers shall bestow a similar time and labour in its by very strong apparent reasons.

acquirement. And some instance must be found, in which Both grace and comfort, if they are not necessarily inhe- the Spirit of God instructs the clergy themselves, as he inrent in the washing of regeneration and the Eucharist bread structed their apostolic predecessors, before they can be aland wine, may, at least, be attained by a proper use of these lowed to identify, as the Apostles did of old, their canons external means. Both grace and comfort are dispensed to with the canons of the Holy Ghost; or to maintain, that it is the church in the preaching of God's word by his appointed by their agency, that the protection and guidance of the Commessengers, and by the pardon which, on his behalf, they forter continue to be afforded to the Christian church. announce to the truly penitent. Both are in like manner per- But there is another and a yet more convincing reason, why ceived to flow from those secret aids to which the name itself neither the sacramental ordinances, nor the appointment and of grace is peculiarly and emphatically given; those aids succession of the Christian ministry, can have been intended which, as we believe, both prevent and follow our every en- in our Saviour's promise. They neither of them answer to deavour after holiness; which, as preliminaries to conversion, the character of peculiar privileges; and neither of them can, and as helps to perseverance, are absolutely necessary to un- in point of fact, be considered as emanating from the Holy lock the gate of heaven to our entrance, or to support us in Ghost in his peculiar character of Paraclete. 1. They are our upward journey.

not peculiar nor distinctive marks of Christianity. The rites

of baptism and the eucharist (I need hardly recall the circum- And we shall do well, in this inquiry, to employ no comstances to the memory of my present audience) were ceremo- mon share of attention and accuracy, on account both of the nies already not unknown to the Jews, and (excepting in their extreme importance of the practical results which it involves, application to the trinity and the Christian covenant) are ra- and of the opposite and fatal errors to which an inaccurate ther to be considered as points, in which the followers of conception of the benefits conferred by the Spirit of God, Jesus continue to resemble the house of Israel, than as points, have conducted the enthusiast and the unbeliever. wherein we are distinguished from them.

For with unbelievers the modern Socinian will, in this reIn like manner, the form of ordination, which our Lord spect, be, not unjustly reckoned ; inasmuch as (disdaining the employed, the powers conceded, and the duties imposed on timid dissent of his more cautious and more learned predecesthe elders of the new covenant, were precisely the same as, sors of the Rakovian and Batavian schools) he has denied not from the time of Moses downwards, had belonged to the only the personal existence of Him to whose peculiar agency Scribes and Rabbins of the old ; and it has been doubted, by we ascribe the gift of grace, but that gift itself, by whommen whose opinions are entitled to no common attention, soever dispensed, from which our strength proceeds, and on whether, where Rabbinical imposition of hands had been pre-which our hopes of triumph are founded. viously conferred in the synagogue, any second ordination Those illapses of blessedness, that hallowed intercourse was required or practised, in order to adınit a convert to the with God which unites our spirit to the eternal mind, and ministry to the apostolic church.

which renews the brilliance of our borrowed flame by apBut whatever degree of weight we may assign to this last proaching it to that source of living light whence first its hypothesis, (and the foundation on which it stands is, doubt- stream proceeded; that life of God in the human soul, which, less, too weak to support any very solid superstructure), it is in every age of Christianity, has cheered the labours of the certain, 2dly, that both the sacramental ordinances, and the saint, and revived the hopes of the penitent, are all alike disconsecration of the Apostles to their pastoral office, were in-carded by the modern reformers of our faith, as the dreams of stitutions of the Messiah himself before his final departure enthusiastic self-conceit, the hyperboles of Monks and Platofrom the world, and his triumphant return to the Father. But nists. It may, therefore, be advisable, before we consider this final departure, as is evident from the tenour of our Sa- the connexion of those aids with the particular promise now viour's promise, was to precede the Holy Ghost's great advent under consideration, to show, that such aids are really afforded; in his peculiar character of Paraclete. And it is universally and to extricate the definition, which is given of them by the acknowledged, that the completion of this promise did not, in church, from the confused and contradictory circumstances fact, take place till the day of Pentecost, nor till after the with which it has been encumbered by indiscreet religionists, Apostles had repeatedly partaken in the spiritual benefits, and which, more, perhaps, than any other cause, have led the whatever they are, which are necessarily inherent in the eu- Deist and Unitarian altogether to deny that such aids are given charistic banquet, and had, in the ordination of St. Matthias, to us. as one of their number, proceeded to the most solemn exercise The influence, therefore, of which we now are speaking, is possible, of their Rabbinical or Episcopal function. It will not supposed by rational believers to convey any fresh ideas be shown, indeed, hereafter, that these several institutions of intuitively to the mind, nor to encroach, even in the smallest Christ have all been made subservient to the diffusion or per- degree, on the bounds of miracle or prophecy. petuation of that distinguishing grace after which we inquire; Though distinct, in itself, from all external sources of that the peculiar blessing which the Paraclete has dispensed knowledge and improvement, it is from a reference to the has given an additional value to these previous customs and knowledge acquired by such means that its practical advangraces; and that the office of the Christian ministry and the tage is derived : it is a blessing whereby our learning, our dispensation of the Christian sacraments have derived from pains, and our prayers, are sanctified to our instruction and this source an efficacy and blessedness to which the corres- salvation, not, in itself, a substitute for prayer or pains or ponding institutions of the Jewish synagogue had, in com- learning. parison, a very slender claim. But, from that which I have But though such aids and such exertions are not hereby disalready urged, it follows that the source of this difference yet pensed with, yet, without this gracious influence, such outremains for us to seek after, and that the benefit, which the ward helps can, as we believe, avail us nothing. Without Spirit of God was to dispense to the church as its Paraclete, that holy energy, which it is in the bosom of God to grant or and as the Vicar of the Messiah, was something distinct from to withhold, we may vainly study the evidences of religion, the powers communicated to the Apostles of guiding and and vainly aspire to show forth in our practice the lessons of governing the flock of Christ, or from our mystical fellowship holiness which our outward ears have imbibed. Where grace with the same good Spirit in ordination or the sacraments. is wanting we have neither power nor effectual will to raise

To that circumstance of the hypothesis, indeed, which re- our affections beyond the narrow circle of mortality ; nor, cognizes the Holy Ghost as Patron and Comforter of the having once assented to the hopes and precepts of religion, Church, in his providential guidance and protection of its can we retain those hopes and precepts in our minds as a pertemporal interests, the above objections do not, with equal vading and triumphant principle. This power, then, of deforce, apply. This protection, which, while Christ was yet siring, and (so far as guilty but repentant creatures can dein the world, he himself afforded to his followers, has since, serve it) of deserving future glory, we ascribe to the immeapparently, been afforded by that Spirit of God, who, in elder diate agency of a celestial Spirit on the soul. times, made the mountains plain before the counsels of Ze- I say, his immediate agency; because, as the first and rubbabel; and such protection so perfectly answers to the universal principle of nature, and as, on a fixed and general general character implied by the word Magáxintos, that I should system, dispensing by his will all secondary causes, not only not, perhaps, have sought elsewhere for the accomplishment the Unitarian but the philosophic Theist will probably allow of our Saviour's promise, if it were not for the consideration, that our ideas, our motives, and our affections are regulated by 1st, That the departure of Christ was not compensated for by the will and permission of the Almighty. the mere continuance of that protection from the third person But, that effect which they ascribe to God through the inin the Trinity, which the apostles had already, in yet more strumentality of second causes, and the objects of bodily perample measure, received from the second in that awful union; ception, we are taught by Scripture to impute to a primary 2dly, That the terms of the promise under consideration have and purely intellectual intercourse, which differs only from no reference, direct or implied, to the temporal and providen- those aids which were afforded to the ancient Prophets in the tial guardianship of the Christian community. The provi- comparative frequency of its illapses, and the subject-matter dential government and protection of the church is not, then, of its communication. A grace it is, which, as distinguished that particular dispensation of mercy or power, whereby the from the inspiration of supernatural knowledge and power, assurance of our Lord is, in these latter days, accomplished. may be defined, perhaps, without impropriety, as the inspira

Let us proceed, then, to consider, how far its characters tion of religious feeling and recollection. correspond with those internal and ordinary influences of the That an intercourse of this kind may exist to an inconceivSpirit, by whose fertilizing dews our hearts are softened, and able extent between the Maker of the world and his creatures, by their mild and gentle beams ameliorated and subdued ; will be admitted, I apprehend, by all reasonable Theists, to

I which console us under the evils, and correct us amid the rank, at least, in the number of those moral possibilities, dangerous prosperity of the world; which direct our choice which may be received as facts, on the production of sufficient to happiness, and strengthen our resolution in the pursuit of evidence. that which we have chosen; which rouse us by their whole- The Theist will allow, that it is as possible that the Susome terrors from the swinish lethargy of sin, and rebuke in preme Being should direct our minds by an immediate act of our awakened soul the no less fatal whispers of despair. his will to the perception of certain important inferences from

VOL. II.-L

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those objects which are offered to our senses, as that the ob- lar and usual sense of rare and miraculous interference, they jects themselves should be so modified by his disposal, as to are no more applicable to that influence which we suppose produce the same concatenation of ideas as their natural and the Almighty ordinarily and usually to exert on the souls of inevitable result. And if the Theist be not a materialist; men, than to that which our adversaries are willing to conif we have sufficiently considered the circumstances of our fess he, in the visible world, and through the medium of maintellectual nature, and the probability that those powers terial agents, exercises on our nerves and senses. which have no imaginable connexion with the body, belong In the definition itself which is usually given of these spirto something distinct from it, he must admit, that we can itual interferences, we call them “the ordinary graces of the form, at least, a notion as clear of the manner in which one Holy Ghost;” and (if the Holy Ghost has been correctly intellectual being can make an impression on another, as of stated to be the directing and sustaining Providence of the the manner in which body and mind can exert a mutual in- world) these ordinary graces may, for all which yet appears, fluence. He must acknowledge that it is at least as possible extend as widely and act with no less conformity to the genithat God should, occasionally, communicate with the souls of eral rules of the Almighty's government, than the annual rehis creatures, as that he should, sometimes, affect their ma- turn of the seasons or the rising and setting sun. terial composition.

Nor, if mind can act on body as well as body on mind, is Nor will the materialism of our modern Unitarians prevent it possible for us to say to what extent, in the ordinary affairs their perceiving that, in the same manner as the Almighty in- of life, and in matters which are only incidentally connected fused into the organic intellect of the ancient Prophets a su- with religion, the government of the world itself may be carpernatural acquaintance with truths unknown before; he may, ried on by a similar influence, and the Spirit of the Most High whenever he sees fitting, and by whatever process, infuse into be, more or less, continually present, to direct our attention ourselves a clearer perception or a seasonable recollection of and determine our choice between the various motives which those truths which are revealed already. Against the possi- contend around us for our preference, and the various lines of bility, therefore, of our hypothesis, there is nothing which action to which those motives point the way. The grace, can be reasonably objected, while all which has yet been then, of which we speak, may be, in truth, a constituent part urged against its probability or certainty may be reduced to of the most extensive and important of all our Maker's disthe following assertions; that an interference of this nature pensations; of that inspecting and corrective care whence the is one of which we have no distinct experience; that it is un- moral world derives its power of controlling and conquering necessary, inasmuch as the phenomena ascribed to it may be the material creation, and by which and through which ali resolved from other causes, and that it is no where revealed in things work together for the welfare of those who love him. Scripture.

And this may show the weakness of an objection advanced To the first of these objections an answer is hardly neces- by the same person to whose works I have already frequently sary, inasmuch as we are justified, on every principle of rea- referred; that “the agency which is ascribed to God by the son and revelation, in inferring the reality of an operation from sacred writers extends to evil as well as to good;"—that it its perceptible effect, even where the act and its agent are, hardens the heart of Pharaoh as well as opens that of Lydia, by our present faculties, indistinguishable. But the existence and therefore it is a general and not a particular influence;": of those effects which we ascribe to grace, the conception, and that, “consequently, the popular language of the sacred namely, of holy thoughts, and the kindling of religious affec- writers by no means authorizes the conclusion, that God ever tions, is fortunately, in itself, no matter of controversy; and, interposes supernaturally to produce moral effects on the of the only conceivable operations by which this effect can be world.” produced, the one being as possible, at least, as the other, so If it be possible to distribute this elaborate argument acthe question which of the two is most probable, is one which cording to the usual rules of logical precision, it would form, remains to be decided from the evidence produced by their perhaps, the following syllogism. respective advocates.

Both good and evil are ascribed in Scripture to the influence We are told, however, in the second place, that the habits God. of Christain faith and virtue may be acquired like any other But we cannot impute evil to his particular influence. habits whatever; that it is by evidence and not by feeling Therefore, the influence which produces good is not par. that we have been originally converted to the faith; and that ticular, but general. the same conviction of the importance and truth of Christian- Now in this argument there are the following radical errors. ity which a due consideration of those evidences will en- First, the Unitarian notions of Scripture must, surely, be very gender, is sufficient to enforce its doctrines on our practice different from those which, with the orthodox, render that without any other or supernatural assistance. It is urged, sacred volume the guide of our lives, and our comfort in the that in worldly interests, we are enabled to postpone the less hour of dissolution, if they suppose that any action really and to the greater advantage without calling down the Holy Ghost intrinsically evil is therein ascribed to the influence of the from heaven to strengthen us in our resolution; and that there Almighty: Undoubtedly, the example which Mr. Belsham is no more necessity for his assistance to make the scale produces is by no means sufficient to give rise to an imputapreponderate in favour of virtue against vice, than on the side tion so horrible. The sentence of judicial blindness and of worldly ambition or avarice against the temptations of abandonment pronounced on the Egyptian tyrant, is not in sloth and sensuality.

itself more inconsistent with the goodness of our heavenly Whatever, it has been said, either from prejudice or con-Governor, than any other dispensation by which an incorrigiviction, is regarded as the chief earthly good of man, will be ble offender is doomed to shame and suffering for the adpursued, for the most part, with sufficient steadiness, notwith- vantage and instruction of the world; or by which the same standing all the seductive influence of other and interfering offender, after sentence has finally gone forth, is prevented objects. And if we are but as well convinced that the prom- from escaping his danger. By those who recollect the opinises and threatenings of Christianity are true as we are that ion of the ancient Jews as to the seat of the rational faculties, renown and wealth will, in this world, yield us happiness, to "harden the heart” is readily understood to be nothing we shall find our natural perceptions of good and evil, and else than to confuse the understanding. But surely, when a our natural recollection of principles before received, no less criminal is reserved for exemplary publishment, it matters sufficient motives to perseverance in our pursuit of endless little, so far as the individual is concerned, whether the setlife, than we find them now sufficient to support and stimulate ters be on his body or his mind; whether he be detained in our labours after transitory happiness.

the captivity of an earthly dungeon, or in the labyrinth of But, where supernatural influences are not required, we prejudice and foolish hope; whether repentance be rendered cannot reasonably expect to receive them; and it is therefore, vain and escape impossible by the pressure of external cirwe are told, improbable and unphilosophical to resort to a cumstances; or whether the yet more awful spectacle be disspecial interposition of the Almighty, where the same effect played, of rendering the sinner his own executioner, and of may be reasonably ascribed to natural and external causes. depriving (as God is said to do, not only by Jewish, but by

I have stated this objection with all the force of which it heathen moralists) those miserable persons of their natural is fairly susceptible, though it will be observed that much of prudence, whom for their crimes he purposes to destroy. The its apparent plausibility in the writings of our religious op-hardening, then, of Pharaoh's heart may be ascribed (as ponents arises from the dexterous use of two particular epithets, Moses, doubtless, does ascribe it) to an immediate and parthe epithets of "supernatural” and “especial.”

ticular interposition of Providence, without any even the In a certain sense these terms are, doubtless, applicable to smallest imputation on the goodness and wisdom of the whatever is not effected by our own bodily or mental powers, Most High. or by that chain of external causes which belong to the visible Secondly, I will not insist, (as, neverthess, it were easy and material world. It is plain, however, that in their popu- for me to do,) that the distinction supposed in the minor pro

position between general and particular providence, when virtues only, but our temporal endowments and prosperity; applied to a Being by whom not only the principles of his are we blamed for suspecting that the grace whích softens laws, but the detail of their consequences is known, is alto- our hearts to the impressions of goodness, and which pregether futile and unphilosophical. For,

serves those lessons once inscribed there from the dangers of Thirdly, Though we should admit, (which has not as yet neglect or temptation, that this grace (so far from being an been proved,) that the moral evil which exists in the world anomaly in our Maker's government) is, perhaps, the most takes its rise from God's appointment; and though we should conspicuous, and surely the most important instance in which also admit that its particular instances flow from some gene- that parental love is manifested, which, as it first created, ral law of his government, of which the consequences to indi- still continues to sustain the universal frame of nature ? viduals were, by the Lawgiver, overlooked or unknown; yet Should we concede, then, to the objection of our adversastill it would by no means follow, that the same analogy ries, that the habits of religion and virtue are acquired like will hold with all the particular instances of good which all other laudable and useful habits, (for every habit of mental occur in the world's administration.

exertion, unless when ill directed, is useful, doubtless, and If a machine be employed to answer a general purpose, are laudable,) it will by no means follow, that the agency of the we forbidden, with our own hands, to extricate any unfortu- Holy Ghost is not displayed in the particular instances of nate insect which may have become entangled in it wheels ? repentance and regeneration. The concession may teach us If not, then surely, though we were to seek the cause of rather to adore his presence in a yet wider range of influence Pharaoh's obstinacy in the general operation of external cir- than that which is generally ascribed to him, and to beseech cumstances, yet might the humble faith of the Roman centu- his blessing not only on our almsdeeds and our prayers, but rion in the Gospel, and the candid attention of Lydia as on every other useful and innocent pursuit in which we are recorded in the Acts, be regarded as especial interferences occupied. Thrice happy then when all our toils and objects of their eternal Guardian, to deliver them from the natural are such as he may favour! bat fatal effects of early prejudice, or national and official Unhappily, however, it will appear on farther inquiry, that pride.

the improvement of the heart is, indeed, attended with more But, Fourthly, I am loth to impute to our adversaries the and greater difficulties than any other pursuit or occupation; practical epicurism of those who would teach that, the ma- difficulties so peculiar as to demand at every step a stronger chine of events once set in motion, the agency of the Al-arm than human resolution can supply to support and rein mighty is at an end. They will not, I trust, maintain, that our progress. the sabbath of Providence has lasted since man was framed, Those worshippers of nature who, with so much eloquence, and that, without any sustaining or snperintending care of maintain that our innate tendency is, on the whole, to truth and that goodly system which he has contrived, our Father has goodness, forget that every act of real virtue implies a degree left his creatures to float at random down the current of cir- of self-control, and that every vice is, in itself, an act of ineumstances, and to draw out our blanks and prizes of vice or dulgence. But, is that condition natural which is accomvirtue, happiness or misery, as the wheel of events turns panied by labour and pain? or can that be considered as any round. With such an error the Socinians are not, I trust, in- thing else than an innate propensity to evil, to which our fected; since they admit, in words at least, that an influence bodily constitution inclines us? Do we paint our way to or energy of the Almighty “is exerted in every event of hell as any other than a smooth and downward passage? or, life, according to certain rules which God has prescribed to are we so constituted by nature as, like Milton's angels, to himself.”

ascend with greater facility than we fall ? But would they reduce this energy to a merely colourless

It is no solid objection to these fatal truths to observe, as fluid, which takes its tint of good or evil from ihe subjects has been observed by ancient as well as modern sophistry, on which it is successively or severally exerted? Or can that the childhood of man is playful and comparatively they conceal from themselves, that such an influence as is harmless;" that “no man has, at once, attained the summit here described is equivalent to no influence at all? Or what of wickedness;" that “there is, on the whole, less vice than definition can these philosophical inquirers produce of that virtue in the world;" that " we are what God created us.” which they call a general providence, if it be not a succession

The first of these is a privilege which we possess in comof particular interferences; an influence by certain means and mon with the wildest and most ferocious animals, and that in certain cases exerted, whereby the course of events is va- the progress of vice is, in maturer manhood, gradual, may be ried in our favour, or in order to our punishment, from that accounted for from very different causes than a natural prefernatural succession which, without such interference, would ence of virtue. have followed ?

It will be recollected, that from our earliest years, we have Were it otherwise, all prayer were vain, whether for tem- all been in a state of severe and unceasing discipline; that, poral deliverance in this world, or salvation in the world to even with those who have been most indulged in their youth come; and, if vain, superstitious, then, and abominable. For and infancy, the habit of obedience to form and the restraint prayer, in its very essence, implies that the object sought for of natural inclination has been induced to a degree which in is as yet uncertain; that it is something which we fear to the case of no other animal but man is practised or practicalose, unless it were asked for earnestly from God; something ble; that the control of his passions, to a greater or less exwhich God may continue to withhold notwithstanding all our tent, is taught, for their own ease and safety, to every child warmest devotions, but which without such devotions we by his pareuts, and is enforced in every youth by the strong cannot reasonably hope to obtain.

arm of public opinion and public authority. From these It were an impious flattery of our Maker to entreat at his restraints emancipation cannot be instantaneous; and so long hands those blessings which, whether we prayed for them or as any vestige of such chains continues, the recollection of no, would be given or withheld indifferently; and, if it be past or the fear of future punishment must necessarily emtrue indeed that « time and chance happeneth to all the sons bitter the guilty draught, and strew with thorns the bed of of men,” our Master has but laid on us a fruitless labour in en- sensual pleasure. The chained lion who has torn a passenjoining us to ask for daily bread, for peace, for deliverance ger may, tremble lest his keeper should return while he defrom evil.

vours his surreptitious booty; but will any doubt that the But if a special interferenee be in any case admissible, is taste of blood is sweet to him? Let them try the experiit not, at least, as probable that such divine interposition ment, and restore him to his savage freedom ! takes place by mental as by external influence? Is it not as Though it be true then, which I am not inclined to deny, easy to believe that our thoughts are turned to those objects, that the first indulgence in forbidden things is accompanied whích, properly employed, may conduce to our advantage, with doubt and alarm; and though it were proved, which I as to expect that the course of external events shall be on would to God it were possible to prove satisfactorily, that our account superseded, or that the properties of the material the balance of good in the present stage of our existence preworld are continually altered by our prayers? There have dominates over evil; yet would neither the one nor the other been those (we are taught by an authority which no Unita- of these admissions affect the general truth of our position, rian has, as yet, ventured to deny,) who 's were saved from that we are by nature prone to evil. Both the one and the their distress when they cried unto the Lord in tronble;” and other are sufficiently accounted for by that state of social it is a question which may teach us, at least, humility in our restraint, which, though it be universal, cannot be regarded speculative inquiries, whether they were thus delivered by as natural; and still more, perhaps, may both be referred to the gift of internal light to avoid their danger, or by the the ameliorating influence of that spirit, to whose blessing, abatement of the dangerous objects themselves.

if our faith be true, the Christian should attribute every vic, And if those assertions be correct, which in so many pas- tory which he gains over himself and his selfish passions. sages of Scripture impute to celestial inspiration, not our That we are as God created us, (though so far from being

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