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tions which have things invisible for this argument, that is, in the exercise their object, and of obtaining all the of devout supplication, the thought blessed effects of religious principle should occur to the mind, that its or the divine life. The power of effects in no sense directly proceed prayer is often felt to be great bevond from the spirit or influence of God, our anticipations, iu soothing the rest- but solely arise from the usual opera. less solicitude of the soul, in calming tions of our own bearts, the fervour its perturbed passions, in strengthen- of prayer is checkell, its efficacy iming its holy purposes and desires, in peded, and we no longer feel ourclearing away the obscurities pro- selvcs engaged in the supplicatio: that duced by earthly fears and earinly God would grant the desired blessing, hopes, in comforting the afilirled, sor. but in devout desire that we may ob. rowing hcarl, in elevating the affec- tain it. The supposition appears to tions above the world, and raising me inconsistent with the nature of them to the innseen object of devotion prayer, in its more limited but pecu-in realizing his presence and afford- liar and appropriate seuse; and I am ing cheering hope of his gracious ap- sure, that for prayer, iu that more probation ;-in fine, in preparing the limited sense, we have abundant warpious servant of God, to know, to do, rant in the Scriptures as well as enand to bear the will of his father in couragement, and even direct comheaven. The degree in wbich these mand. effects are produced, and, above all, But if any devout person, under the impressiveness and vividness of the influence of those pbilosopbical them, will much depend upon the views on the subject, which have natural constitution, and upon the been held by men of undoubted piety views enteri ained of divine truth and aud sound understanding, believes that divine agevey: and still more upon the influences of prayer are not thus the degree in which the heart and immediate, I have only to urge him, life are submitted to the will of God; as he desires the growth of grace in but it is probable that no one whó his heart, not to be less assiduous and has sat at the feet of Jesus, and, en- earnest in his applications to the Fa. couraged by his precepts and exam- ther of lights; and let them be made ple, has come, with stedfast faith and in the firm assurance, that he is ad. filial coufilence, to the throne of dressing a Being who heareth and grace, would be unable to testify, by who answereth prayer; and in the bis owy frequent experience, that exercise of faith, that He will answer such are the blessed iufluences of it in that way and by those means prayer.
which he knoweth to be wisest and If to account for these effects, it is best. And this firm assurance, and said that the great Father of our this pious faith, we should all exercise, spirits has so formed the human soul, when we draw near unto God; and that prayer operales merely as a means we may then indulge a cheering beof producing such effects in it, with- lief that our prayers will be accepout his immediate agency, I have ouly table in his sight, and obtain his bles. to replı, that even then they would sing. be in the strictent sense dirine infir- But it should never be forgotten ences, for they would equally have that our heavenly Father affords his their origin in our heavenly Father's gracious aids, (whatever be the prewisdom and goodness and paterwal cise nature of them,) duly to those care. But I cannot believe ihat this who diligently employ tho e means is all: I believe that thor humble, faith- of spiritual kriow ledge and holy obe. ful servant of God, toas solid reason dience which he has placed in our to conclude, that in answer 10 prayer, power. As well might'we expect his persevering Trustful praver, directed miraculous assistance to enable us to to those olijecis for which we cannot cultivate the ground, or to acquire be too sulicitous or ask amiss, God science and literature, if we will not does by his immediate inittneuce or use our hands and feet, or our senses agency, not supernatural, not mira. and our intellectual powers, as expect culous, yet immediate agency', ; afford that he will implant in us the princi supplies of strengil, of consolation, ple of piety, without our employing and of direction; and I rest most upon the means of piety—or deliver us in
Dr. Carpenter on Divine Influences.
619 the hour of temptation, if we exercise profitable to direct in the duties and mo watchfulness to preserve ourselves difficulties of the divine life. But that froin it, no resolution under it-or God in any way directly communicates guide us to the knowledge of his will, doctrinal truths, I see no where taught jf we will not use our eyes and under- in the Scriptures; and I perceive no standings. The earthly parent who room to doubt that it is contrary to does nothing, with the expectation fact and experience.
Pious inen of that the heavenly Parent will do every all denominations (and I rejoice in thing, must have forgotten that it is the belief that such there are; have said, “ Parents, bring up your chil. prayed, I doubt not with equal sindren in the murture and admonition of cerity, with equal perseverance, with the Lord." Whatever spiritual aid equal faith in the divine power and or holy influence is granted, it is disposition to guide them, and yet granted only to those who seek it, have walked, nay, have thought them. and use faithfully whatever measure selves led, in different roads of specuof it they obtain.
lative faith. But they have walked I see no reason from Scripture, or in the same principle of Christian from the experience of wise and good duty and filial obedience; and if the men, to believe that God does now darkoess of their intelect has not beer. communicate by his direct and im- renioved, that of their affections has mediate agency on the human heart, been ; and they bave beeu guided by any supplies of knowledge as to Chris- that light which shiveth more and tian truth and duty. Inspiration, in more unto the perfect day of uuclouded the strict sense of the term, referring truth and holiness and happiness. to the supernatural communication of The strong and suddeu impressions knowledge, without the intellectual of tbe mind, and impulses of the feelefforts of the individual, is not to be ings, the flash of conviction, of which expected. God hath given us un. we sometimes hear, as the basis of derstanding; he hath given us con- belief in certain religious opinions, science; he hath given us means of are always suspicious. They shew knowing him and bis will, in his that ibe mind is not in that calm works, in his ways, and in his woril. state which is peculiarly important in These are the sources of religious the search after truth: they shew that knowledge; and in his great wisdom the imagination and feelings are at he hath made pious, humble, honest, work, rather than the understanding: teachable hearts, the best preparation and as they have been frequently exfor the illumination of divine truth; perienced, where afterwards persons and as far as his holy influence aids in have seen reason to believe that they cherishing those qualities of the heart, were the mere play of the fancy or and in strengthening the disposition the heart,-as they have often been to seek for that guidance, which in brought to prove or support opinions various ways he graciously affords to which are contradictory one of anobis pious servants, so far may that ther,-and as no promise of the Scripinfluence or spirit be itself said to il- tures, extending beyond the age of luminate the mind. I think that the apostles, (if beyond the apostles prayer, and the divine aids which it themselves,) authorizes to expect that obtains, bring the mind into the best God will, by his divine influence or state for discerning the way to heaven. holy spirit, communicate 10 men the I do not doubt that they co-operate knowledge of the truth,—it is wise not to dispel those mists by which pride to expect it by any such means; and, and worldly passions continually ob- at any rate, not to regard opivions as scure the radiance of divine truth: indisputably true, contrary to the and further, that where the darkness evidence of the external word, conof the understauding is that of igno- trary to the plain dictates of the unrance or unavoidable prejudice, bav- derstanding, because, in a way for ing no' sinful character, they intro- which we cannot account, conviction duce such beamings from the Sun of bas suddenly entered into the heart, Righteousness, as either gradually and impressed views before uokdown remove error, or make it harmless to or rejected. I have no doubt that the individuals : in short, that they God now gives a holy spirit, or divine communicate that wisdom which is influence, to those who seek for it;
but the operation of this divine influ. promise of divine mercy through ence, in the present day, is not to Jesus Christ. But he who not only give truth of doctrine, but wisdom of points ont to the repentant sinner the duty, and holiness in heart and life. hopes of the gospel, but also encouAnd even admitting that divine truth rages in his mind ihe convictions which is thus communicated into the heart eminent saints have expressed, after a of man in the present day, yet since it long course of Christian obedience, is certain that ihe feelings and convic- (and which in the Scriptures node tions which accompany this working else do express, and leads those who of the mind are ofieri experienced from have long been running a course of other causes, it is the part of Christian abandoned wickedness, or at least caution to observe closely that we do living in the utter neglect of God and not labour under any delusion, and Christ, to entertain, at once, an astoespecially that we try tlie spirits by rance of having obtained divine fur the written word, that thus we may giveness through the blool of Christ, see whether they are of God.
(because they have a strong and ago And to the same test must those nizing conviction of the guilt and folly strong emotions and convictions be of their past lives, and are alarmed at subjected which are called conversion. the awful judgments which are hang. The passions and affections of the ing over them, and with these impres. heart are the great engives by which sions of terror and anguish, cling to religion operates in it to produce those hopes of salvation which the Christian obedience; and neither phi. gospel proposes,) and under the influlosophy nor experience justify the ence of such assurance to judulge in Christian preacher in declining to ap- ecstacy and trausport, when there is peal to them. But he that calls the no evidence but that of strong emostrong emotions which are excited by tion that the great change has really the hopes and fears, the promises and taken place within them, on which threatenings of the gospel, religion alone they can rest their peace itself; — or who even considers the joy,-he has no warrant from Scripfervours of feeling and an overlieated ture for his presumption. It carnet imagination as the proofs of repentance be that the gospel promises etenua and consequent remission of sin,-is life to terror and anguish and vivid alike ignorant of the pature of the assurances. human mind, and of the tenor and That repentance to which the gos. spirit of Christianity,
pel promises pardon, I feel myseki The conrersion, the regeneration, the authorized by ibe Scriptures in pronew creation, &c., which the Scriptures nouncing to be a godly sorrow, ar represent to us, as in fact all in all for sing from the conviction of having salvation, consist in something more broken the laws of God, either by the than strong agitation of mind ; they transgression or the neglect of the the consist in a change of lieart and life. accompanied with sincere and earbest “ If any man be in Christ," (if he resoluiions and endeavours after vier have that genuine, vital principle of and better obedience. He wbo sifaith in Christ, which alone deserves cerely repents of his past sins, mil the name, and which alone can entitle pray to God to deliver him from evil him to the all-important blessings, of and will add to prayer, that wille? which it is made the condition,)“ if which prayer is a mockery, watchfa. any man be in Christ, be is a new ness and caution, lest he be led into creature: old things are passed away, temptation, and holy resolutions, les behold all things are become new," he tall when exposed to it. Repert; His desires, his purposes, his dispo. ance (or, if you please, the work of sitions, his conduct, and with them his conversion) may be begun in a mer final prospects are all changed. Be. ment. Often has the couscience en o fore he was the servant of sin unto sudden been awakened, the conviction death; now he is alive unto God, unto of sin deeply impressed on the heart
, righteousness and true holiness. And the sense of danger been aroused, and where the evidence of this is given by the careless, the profane, and the a holy life and conversation, there the worldly-minded, who have too much Christian minister may justly raise lived without God in the world, Irave the still trembling heart, with the been led to cry out, " What shall be
Dr. Carpenter on Divine Influences.
621 Jo to be saved?" But this is only the nounce the judgments of another. To beginning of repentance. Thousands pronounce their perdition might be a Have gone thus far and no further. cruel error; but it is a much more Thousands have gone thus far, and fatal one to suppose that in a few returned to plunge themselves yet short days, or even a few short hours, deeper in perdition. And yet, on aye, and even a few moments, the such uncertain, and often deceitful Divine forgiveness can be secured for appearances, ministers of the gospel a life of carelessness and sio, have frequently implanted a hope, The mind naturally adverts, in this nay even a confidence in the Divine connexion, to those numerous cases forgiveness : and he who one hour which have of late years occurred, in was the slave of sin, in the next assures which the execution of the criminal himself of peace and pardon through has resembled the triumphant marthe blood of Christ, and from the tyrdom of the Christian professor; depth of agonizing sorrow, rises to and I must relate to you one among the ecstacy of transport, in the belief the various instances in which the that he is now a child of God.
strong appearance of repentances, inBut how, I would ask, does it be- ducing the religious friend to raise come fallible mortals, unaided by the mind of the unhappy sufferer to divine power, to pronounce as to the the feeling of assurance in the Divine spiritual condition of others, where forgiveness, have afterwards proved he fruits are wanting by which alone to be fallacious. The one I refer to he tree can be distinguished? We occurred many years ago at Northnay charitably hope that where there ampton. A man, whose life had been
re the marks of sincere and deep one continued scene of desperate vilcontrition, and earnest 'purposes of lainy, after having often escaped the mendment, the work of repentance hand of justice, was at last apprevill go on and lead to works meet hended, convicted, and left for exeor repentance. We may encourage cution. A minister of the gospel, he contrite soul with the promises of prompted by a zeal which was no he gospel, if the heart and life are doubt in part under the influence of eally amended, if God and religion Christian love, but in no degree under e henceforth sought in earnest, if the guidance of Christian knowledge, ast sins are forsaken, and those duties frequently visited him; and, as he e henceforth in some good measure believed, was made the instrument of ischarged which have been left un. his conversion. His own delusive views oue. If such are the blessed fruits of the terms and exercise of divine
penitence, then, we cannot doubt mercy, were doubtless communicated , will be receive forgiveness of sins, to the prisoner; and he went joyfully nd an inheritance among them which to the scaffold, and died, as it is termed, ce sanctified through faith in Christ. triumphantly. So strongly impressed
It is not, indeed, for mortals to set was the minister, with the conviction mits to the exercise of divine mercy: that his repentance was real, and his le who knoweth the heart, sees all conversion complete, and that he had s secret emotions, and can correctly obtained the pardoning mercy of God, dge their value and efficacy,--He that in a book which he published on one can tell whether that repent. the occasion, he expressed his wish ice which is beguu in the soul, is that his own soul was in his soul's pentance unto salvation; whether, place; and declared that he would time were allowed to complete the stake his own salvation on the sinceork, it would be completed. And rity of his convert. It was afterwards
his mercy must welcave those ascertained, that the wretched man hose last days are their only good had confessed bis guilt to his legal ys; who, in the immediate prospect adviser; and in the midst of this fereternity, have been awakened from vour of feeling and fever of imaginaeir dreams of worldly pleasures and tion, he had been contriving and exe. terests, and their beedlessness of the cuting means to secure to his friends eat purposes of life;-and those the money of which he had unjustly ho, by the execution of human Jaws, deprived others. e cut off from this life, for crimes Surely we may say that such transainst which the laws of God de- ports are like the vivid gleams of
lightning, which for a moment dazzle the sense in which an Unitarian mo the eye of the spectator, and then nister recommends the use of such leave him in deeper darkness. And addresses, and the result which he such circumstances surely should make supposes to be connected with them. us careful, lest we build hay and stub- “The text assures you, my young, ble on the foundation which is alone friends, that if you acknowledge Ged a secure one: lest we confound reli- in all your ways, he will direct your gious principle with frames and feel- steps.' Possibly the journey of life ings: Iest we mistake the anguish of which lies before you may be long and an overheated imagination and over. intricate; but it will not be less happy excited sensibility, for repentance uuto on that account, if you conduct yoursalvation; or their fervours of trans- selves wisely and virtuously amidst port, for that love to God and love the various scenes and events of it; if to man in which religion chiefly con- you are favoured with the direction sists.
and blessing of that Being, without Perhaps the views of Christian whom our strength is weakness, our truth, entertained by the Unitarian prescience the most presumptuous Christian, may give less transport to folly, and our animated and confident the sinner; but they give him that expectation, the most absurd and hope which maketh not ashamed; mortifying delusion.
But if your that hope which, cherished by faith- thoughts and desires be directed to ful obedience, will communicate what God; if your prayers be offered to is infinitely more valuable than reli- bim; if you seek that wisdomwhich gious ecstacy, religious peace and cometh from above,' and do not wholly comfort, founded on the testimony of rely upon your own sagacity and cirheart, that God and Christian duty comspection, then will you be able to are now sincerely sought, and that he perceive the leadings of Divine Provi. is now earnestly and steadily endea- dence, then will you hear, as it were, vouring to comply with the terms of 'a voice behind you, saying, This is love and mercy:
the way, walk ye in it.' I presume, As a conclusion of the whole, let it my young friends, that you will not be deeply impressed on our hearts, any of you imagine that I am leading that if we hope for divine aid in the you to expect any supernatural im'work and trials of the Christian life, pression, any impulse or bias upon we must earnestly work out our own your minds, or any suggestion to your salvation with watchfulness and holy understanding which is not consistent fear; that if any man have not the with the usual and ordinary operation spirit of Christ, he is none of his; and of causes and their effects. You will that the fruit of the spirit, by which not expect that, without any effort on alone we can be secure we have re- your part, you will retire from the ceived the influences of our heavenly throue of grace, where you have Father, are piety and purity, uprights been seeking that direction or consoness and benevolence, meekness and lation which you need, with greater patience, and, in a word, a holy life wisdom, or with greater composure and conversation. In such fruits may and tranquillity than when you preye abound, and may ye be finally sented yourselves there, if you have owned as the disciples of Jesus Christ. not been accustomed, . in every thing
by prayer and supplication, with Mansfield, thanksgiving, to make known your Sir, September 28, 1819. requests unto God;' for all your suTHE various replies which have perior discernment, all your increased
been given to the queries pro- acquiescence and confidence and joy, posed by my friend L. J. J., may must result from the more lively perbe thought to furnish a sufficient ception of the Divine agency, and the answer to his inquiries; but if the fol- deeper conviction of the Divine prelowing extract from a sermon, ad. sence and care, which will thus be dressed to young persons, from Prov. impressed upon your minds, and proii. 6, appear to you to be apposite, portionably influence your conduct. you will, perhaps, admit the passage You will feel nothing of that inspirainto a corner of your valuable Reposi. tion, or of that supernatural guidance, tory. It will, at Icast, serve to explain of which some have presumptuously