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for the sustenance of the animal shore to a drowning man, with a economy? Was it ever imagined to command to lay hold upon it, and be incompatible with any of the at- thereby tow himself to a place of tributes of the divinity, to cultivate safety. He eagerly obeys, seizes the ground, with a view to a future the rope, mounts the rock, and is harvest? Who would not be justly
thus rescued from a watery grave. pitied as insane, who should question But the rock remains unmoved. It the propriety of employing the aid has not suffered even the shadow of of our active fire companies
to extin- change. He alone, has been the subguish the fury of a desolating confla- ject of mutation. From being in the gration? Yet all these unquestion- most imminent jeopardy, he is now able duties, and all others that could
in possession of perfect safety. But be named, are no less affected by the the rock remains unmoved. Even objections mentioned, than the duty so it is with the Rock of ages. It is of prayer is. Now, I should wish to " the same yesterday, to-day and for know, whether there be any con- ever.” The poor sinner alone, exnexion between the causes and ef. periences the change. He is taken fects, or rather between the means from the fearful pit, and miry clay, and ends, in these duties of acknow- his feet established on the rock, and ledged obligation, which does not his way made perfect. Through the exist between prayer and the ob- medium of prayer, he receives the tainment of the blessings resulting? choicest blessings of the everlasting Is there such a connexion between covenant. His heart is disposed by the exertion of swimming and the the grace of God, to solicit such preservation of the life of the indi
blessings, as his heavenly Father is vidual, that it effects a change in the about to bestow on him. “ For these divine purposes, in his favour? This, things will I be inquired at of the none will dare to allege. Does it house of Israel, that I may do them give God any information respect- for them." ing the propriety of saving the life In the same manner we might of the drowning man? This would illustrate the reasonableness of the be equally inadmissible. Does it duty of prayer, by instituting a merit the life of the man at the hand comparison between it, and the other of God? Such a position would be acknowledged duties abovementionpreposterous. The plain matter of ed. We might easily show, that befact is this. There is no necessary tween the food we eat, and the susconnexion between means and ends. tenance of our bodily system, there The efficacy of means, therefore, is is no other ultimate connexion, than referrible to the sovereign will of the' will of God. The same is true, God, who has a right to establish with regard to the contact of water, whatever connexions he pleases. and the extinction of fire. Let us All the means, stampt with his au- take a slight glance at the connexion thority, whether in the kingdom of between the cultivation of the grace, or in the volume of nature, ground, and the expected harvest. are equally legitimate and equally Who is so foolish as to expect the reasonable.
harvest, and yet live in the habitual The intelligent Christian, in ad- neglect of that agricultural prodressing the throne of grace, is so cess, which is known to be subserfar from anticipating any change in vient thereunto? Equally vain to the will of God concerning him, expect the blessings of salvation, that his great object is a change on and yet live in the habitual neglect himself, and his own condition. Let of asking them. But these means us illustrate this idea by the follow-. affect not the determinations of the ing similitude. Suppose a rope to
Deity. The cultivation of the be thrown from a rock or froin the ground conveys to him no informa
tion, that the season of vegetation efficiency. It is nothing more than has arrived that the spring should the rule, according to which a comnow pour forth her genial influences,
petent agent is wont to act. God and enrich the fields with luxuriant himself is the great agent in the fecundity. Neither does our prayer volume of nature. In the language to God, give him any information of of the poet, he our wants. Yet both are means which divine wisdom has connected
“ Warms in the sun, refreshes in the
breeze, with, and rendered subservient to
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the ends most interesting and most important. The opening of the bosom Lives thro' all life, extends thro' all exof the soil, and its subjugation to the empire of the ploughshare, the
Spreads undivided, operates unspent." mattock and the hoe, have no merit How interesting to the believer, is in procuring a crop. No more have the idea of an ever present God ! our prayers and supplications, in " I will never leave thee nor forprocuring any thing at the hand of sake thee,” coming from the mouth our heavenly Father.
When we of his heavenly Father, and apprehave done all, we are only unprofit- ciated by a realizing faith, affords able servants. Yet in each of these him more joy than the wicked have duties, we are encouraged humbly when their corn and wine abound to expect the realization of the most plentifully. He can lie down aphorism, “The hand of the dili
in peace and sleep in safety. His gent maketh rich.” The duty of God sustains his life. Thus it is prayer, therefore, is as reasonable though the earth remove, he will as the cultivation of the ground, or not be afraid ; though the mountains any other duty whose indispensa- be carried into the midst of the sea ; bility of obligation is universally though the waters thereof roar and acknowledged. Between none of be troubled ; though the mountains those phenomena called causes and shake with the swelling thereof;" effects in the physical world, is there because “God is his refuge and any necessary connexion. For aught strength, a very present help in we know, or can know, the presence trouble.” of caloric might have congealed wa- Although God could accomplish ter, and its absence might have been all his purposes instantaneously by followed by fluidity. All depends a word of power, he chooses to on the will of the Author of the work by means, and has made it our universe. What are usually de- duty to be diligent in their observnominated the laws of nature, are
We are so prone to dwell on wholly destitute of efficiency. The the visible surface of the effect, that phenomena of the universe, are the
we are in danger of ascribing to the result of the energy of “ a present mere machinery in the hand of the Deity.” In him we live, move, and Deity, that agency which ought to have our being. His operations are be referred to the efficiency of an uniform and medial. The uni- omnipresent spirit. While, thereformity of operation, which it pleases fore, Christianity inculcates the diGod to observe in the production of ligent use of the means of grace the phenomena of nature, is termed generally, and of prayer particua law. Material substances, for ex- larly, it at the same time cautions ample, are attracted to a certain against resting in them. We must centre. Their uniform tendency to look through them and beyond them this point is called the law of gra
to their divine Author, who alone can vitation. The slightest examina- render them efficacious for the
purtion will show, that the law has no poses for which they were intended. agency. It is totally destitute of There is no feature more charac
teristic of the Christian than a dis. If this then be granted as an event position to pray, and a delight in which may naturally occur to a mind the duty. These are an immediate completely subjected to the influresult of the new birth, “Behold he ence of excited passion—it will at prayeth.” Where this disposition once be allowed also, that it is a does not exist, there is no evidence matter of the greatest importance of spiritual life. We do not deny, that those, wh are under the imthat in spiritual as well as natural petus of religious feeling, should life, there may be temporary swoons carefully examine the source whence and occasions of suspended anima- such excitement
sprung. tion : but we do aver, that a conti- If actions of a moral nature be nued habitual neglect of this me- tried by the motive of the agentdium of holy intercommunion with we think that which lays claim to God, is as decisive evidence of a the high appellation of religious state of spiritual death, as a conti- feeling, should be tried likewise by nued cessation of breathing would the nature of the exciting cause. be, of the soul's departure from its Should the exciting cause, thereclay tenement. The true Christian, fore, have nothing to do with relitherefore, will be diligent and care- gion, we do not think that the feelful in the performance of this duty. ing produced by it, however high the He will endeavour to be careful for excitement may be, has any claim to nothing, but in all things, by prayer
be inserted in the catalogue of those and supplication, make his requests feelings, which are denominated reknown unto God, who will abun- ligious. dantly supply all his wants, accord- This goes to show that, in reliing to his riches in glory which is gious matters, men's judgments by Christ Jesus.
S. B. W. ought to be addressed rather than
their passions. To excite the passions, by florid, unmeaning decla
mation, and to convince the judgReligious Feeling
ment, by sound, logical reasoning, 'That the doctrines of Biblical re- are two very different things. The ligion are addressed to the under- former mode of address may prostanding of men there can be no rea- duce
the weaker part of an sonable
doubt. “I speak as to wise auditory an abundance of temporamen; (saith Paul) judge ye what I ry feeling and noise; but the latter say." i Cor. x. 15. "Be ready al- alone can, under the blessing of
ways (saith Peter) to give an answer God, make men rational and conto every man who asketh you a rea- sistent believers. Can the florid son of the hope that is in you.” 1 orator say to his hearers, with any Peter ii. 15. Thus it
that degree of propriety," I speak to you those who were first employed in as to wise men; judge ye what I promulgating the evangelical sys- say." Ought he not rather to say, tem, conceived it to be a system
that I speak to you as to fools, therefore Jould bear the test of a rational in- I hope you will banish as far from vestigation.
you as possible all reason and judgIt must be clear, however, that no ment.” A religion, founded upon very accurate examination can be such a basis, must very strongly remade into any system of religious semble a house built
the sand: doctrine, while the mind is under it may stand well enough while the the violent impulse of agitated feel- excitement lasts; but, when the ing. A person, in such a state of trials, temptations, and storms of mind, may embrace doctrines, which life assail it, it will soon be swept are absolutely false or reject doc- away, and leave hardly a wreck betrines, which are really true.
FOR THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.
Preachers, who address the
tures have done the same; and it sions chiefly, may excite feelings in may lead them, while under the invarious ways. I'he most usual me- fluence of temporary feeling, to exthods resorted to, are descriptions claim, 6 What must we do to be of death and of a future place of
saved.” But, if the feeling goes no torment. These descriptions have
further than this, it cannot be confrequently, on weak minds, a very sidered as holy, because it must be powerful effect. The orator, per- regarded as of the same nature with haps, depicts all the distressing and that excited in a man's breast when agonizing circumstances which ac- his personal safety is in any way company the grim messenger, that endangered. Remove in both cases snaps the thread of life and breaks
the exciting cause and in both cases entirely man's connexion with all the emotion will cease. But the sublunary objects. Whilst he is so effects of true religious impression employed, many of the feeling part are lasting in their consequences. of his audience, who may have ex- It is not then by noisy declamaperienced, perhaps, in the loss of tion, not by enthusiastic vapouring, their relations or friends, the deso- that we may be expected, under the lating effects of death, are very na- blessing of God, to make genuine turally melted into tears. These converts to the religion of Jesus tears may, and I believe, often are Christ, but by sound irresistible mistaken, by preachers, for the ef- argument, which, even those who fects of that penitential sorrow,
themselves to the which, according to the doctrine of truth, cannot logically controvert. Christianity, does invariably, though It will be said, however, by some in different degrees in different in- perhaps, that logical, or in other dividuals, constitute a part of ge- words, rational preaching, is a mannuine conversion. This certainly ner of address by far too cold and shows the necessity of carefully ex- uninteresting to attract the attenamining the origin of feeling. For tion of the generality of hearers: the feeling, which is excited by de- that didactic reasoning may please scriptions of death, although per- and gratify the learned, but that it fectly natural, and frequently ser- can neither please nor edify minds viceable in arousing the stupid, untutored and unaccustomed to phiought not to be viewed as religious. losophical argumentation. It may lead ultimately, if properly This objection appears, at first directed by wise instruction, to re- sight, to carry along with it consiligious feeling: but, while it con- derable weight. But, when we caretinues merely an emotion of what fully examine it, and reduce it to may be called natural sympathy, it the test of experience, we shall find must be considered as a feeling that it loses at least a great part, if which may be easily excited in any not the whole, of its gravity. highly sympathetic mind, although Every candid observer will allow, totally destitute of the emotions that the religion, which is founded which accompany strong religious upon mere animal feeling, is exceed. impression.
ingly evanescent. We seldom see The other method, to which some any of those religious societies, preachers very frequently have re- which have been collected under course to rouse the dormant feel- the ministry of a mere declaimer, ings of their hearers, is to pre- maintain for any length of time, consent them with alarming pictures sistency of Christian conduct. As of the state of the damned in a they and their instructer are entirefuture world. It is indeed proper ly regulated by the predominant sometimes to employ this means to feeling of the moment, they frealarm the wicked, because the scrip- quently exhibit in their actions and
proceedings a strange and whimsi- | thy and noisy declamation, should cal appearance. They continue for show, by the interest which he hima time, perhaps, to display great and self takes in the subject, that he
the cause of Christ; and, while in the and the understanding of his hearcourse of their proceedings they ers—and to persuade them to quit meet with any thing like novelty, the service of Satan, and engage in to attract their notice and to keep the worship and service of God. alive the fire of their zeal, they will But it may be asked, have the afcompass sea and land to make pro- fections and feelings of the mind selytes to what they call Christiani- nothing to do with religion? We ty: but, when novelty ceases to at- allow that the affections and feelings tract-when no object beyond their have to do with religion; but we own society excites their attention maintain, that when these are ex-when they have no further oppor- cited, it is necessary that we should tunity, probably, of showing their know to what particular object or zeal in exhorting and proselyting- cause they owe their excitement. A then their religious feelings in a being, who loves he knows not what, great measure subside-or they keep and is agitated and excited about them alive, most likely, by blaming something he knows not what, caneach other and exciting quarrels not be said surely to possess any among themselves.
thing like a rational piety. If observation and experience at. Does not this then
that test the truth of the description here there can be no real religion withgiven, we think that little satisfac- out a proper knowledge of the obtory can be pleaded on the side of ject of religion? Can this knowthe mere declamatory mode of ad- ledge then be obtained by giving dressing mankind. The understand - feeling, in our religious exercises, ing must be addressed more than the the precedence of reason? By some, passions, if we would wish to be in
we are aware, this mode of strumental in making Christians ing is considered right; because who can "give an answer to those they regard it as a most powerful who ask a reason of the hope that is indication of the religious sincerity in them.”
of those who practise it. Those, But it may be imagined by some, however, who thus judge of religious probably, that when we argue for ra- sincerity, do not certainly adopt a tional preaching and rational Chris- safe criterion of judgment. The tianity, we are endeavouring to jus- enthusiastic visionary may be sintify that cold indifference and for- cere in his devotions yet as he does bidding apathy which some preach- not know why or wherefore he feels, ers have frequently exhibited in he cannot be said, in the Biblical their public addresses.
sense, "to worship God, who is a our readers that we have no such spirit, in spirit and in truth.” John intention. We highly disapprove iv. 24. The fears and feelings and of apathy and indifference in one emotions, which he frequently exwho professes to watch for the sal
periences from his belief of dreams vation of souls. But surely there is and other groundless causes of exa medium between the extremes of citement, are very often of a nature chilling, frigidity, and loud, fiery, not dissimilar to those experienced unmeaning declamation. It is, in by the madman in his cell, when he this middle region, we conceive, imagines that he is beset by a thouthat truth, sound sense, and genuine sand robbers, though no human bereligion will be found to exist. The ing be near him. We pity the lunapreacher, therefore, while he endea- tic who is continually tormented vours to avoid the extremes of apa- with the groundless alarms of his