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universally and specifically answer prayer, he would cease to manage the world by his own discretion and infinite benevolence, and would surrender his power into the hands of blind and imperfaci men.
2. All prayer which is in accordance with the christian spirit, is stered under the condition, express or implied, that God is to do s seems good in his sight. “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” is the spirit of every true suppliant ; otherwise, prayer ceases to be umble petition, and becomes absolute dictation.
3. A sufficient answer is suggested by the analogy which Christ makes use of, and which the scriptures often introduce, for the Vustration of this subject. There is no parent who is not moved * the requests of his children. But what parent, let him be ever so itsectionate, unless he is very weak, grants his children every hing for which they ask, consulting only their wishes ? And yet what child is ever hindered by this, or ought to be hindered by it, from going to his father for whatever he needs ?
4. It may be answered to this objection, again, that the testifoony of experience in the cases referred to, does not, and cannot, contradict the doctrine of the efficacy of prayer, even of all true prayer, with God. Experience testifies, that in those instances you did not receive exactly that for which you prayed; but it does not, and cannot, testify that your prayer had no efficacy. When Paul besought the Lord thrice, that the affliction which he terms " a thorn in bis flesh," might be removed; and when instead of what he asked, he received the blessed promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” was his prayer ineffectual ? When the Son of God prayed for Peter, that his faith might not fail, was that prayer ineffectual? Peter's faith did fail in the hour of trial; the ardent apostle, overcome with fear, denied his Lord; but was that prayer of Jesus ineffectual? Was it not answered, when at that look of his kind Lord, Peter came to himself and wept ? Was it not answered, when he whose faith had failed under that trial, rose from his fall with a faith stronger, because more humble; with a love deeper and purer, because dwelling in a heart more thoroughly contrite ? So when you prayed for the life of your sick and dying friend, and God saw that it was not wise to grant you that which you requested, who can say that, therefore, your prayer was ineffectual: Who can tell what blessings God, out of regard to your prayer, has brought upon your soul and upon others, perhaps by the ministration of that very affliction which you so deprecated? Or when you prayed so earnestly for the conversion of that neighbor or relative who still remains unreconciled to God, who shall assure you, that those prayers were ineffectual? Perhaps when you arrive at heaven, you will see, that God was not unmindful of those prayers, and that they have been connected with glorious results.
The objection from speculation may be stated thus : It is credible, that such a being as God can be moved by the desire men; and still more incredible, that he can regard or value the mality of an express offering of those desires. To this object in whatever form it may be urged, there is always one suffici answer, namely: God is a moral governor, and acting as such; sees it to be important, that there should be maintained between and his intelligent creatures, a direct intercourse in the form of pra and praise ; and therefore he has commanded such an intercou to be maintained. Prayer is bis institution,-his institution, so as we know, for all worlds,-his institution, established to prome we know not in how many ways, the great purposes of his mo government; and therefore, through the channel of that insti tion, he chooses to bestow peculiar and unnumbered favors.
Without stopping to look at the various forms which this obj tion assumes, we may at once apply to it the simple and touchi analogy already referred to. Is the superior wisdom and strong love of the parent, a reason why the child should ask favors, and offer no expressions of gratitude ? Suppose that w dom and love to be perfect; suppose that father to know perfect all the feelings of the child, all his wants, and all the means which those wants may be most judiciously gratified; and suppos that at the same time his love to his child is as perfect as his wi dom ; ought the child to be prevented by this, from going to b father with the expression of his wants ?
Let us receive then to our hearts, with the simplicity of chi dren, the great truth of the efficacy of prayer with God. Th God of nature, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the rewarde of them who diligently seek him. He is a father, delighting in the petitions of his children, and smiling on the expressions of thei homage, their dependence, and their love. Let no doubt, no speculation, no theory, no philosophy, hinder us from acknowledging all the force of this encouragement to meek, simple, earnest devotion. Ask, and ye shall receive. The energetic prayer (dénois svepyouuévn) of the righteous man availeth much.
If these views of prayer are correct, they are instructive as to the manner and style of praying. Prayer is not a rapture, a rhapsody, a Aight into the ihird heaven. It is not the proud ascent of the imagination into some high region of splendors and sublime abstractions. It is not necessarily the ecstacy of the soul overwhelmed with a rushing tide of irresistible emotions. It is a simple, every-day business. It is simply communing with God, communing with him, not in heaven among the seraphim, not in some mid region of the air, remote from the range of human businesses, and trials, and burdens; but here on earth, just where we need bis grace and help. In order to this communion, God does
not call us up to himself; he comes down to us, down to the level of our infirmity. Thus he makes prayer a simple thing, as simple as the expression of a child's desires, whispered into the ear of a kind father. * If you would see what prayer is, or rather what it ought to be, study the Lord's prayer, that model of christian devotion. How little do you see there of sublime imagination ; how little of enraptured sensibility; how little of intellectual abstraction and effort; how much of a common-sense plainness, and a childlike simplicity, in matter and in manner ! After this manner, therefore, pray ye,
Much that has the appearance and the name of prayer, is not prayer, in the proper application of that word. There is no such thing, as genuine prayer which is offered without a belief in God, as the hearer of prayer. There is no genuine prayer which is not offered under the power of an expectation, that it will take effect on the mind and counsels of God. Prayer that is uttered mechanically, and as a mere ceremony, for decency's sake, is not prayer. Prayer that is poured forth merely for the sake of an expected reaction, or an accompanying excitement on the mind of the worshiper, is not prayer. In like manner, the prayer, that is prosounced with a leading view to produce an effect on the mind of an audience, is not prayer. Whatever may be the design of him who leads a congregation, or a family, or a little praying circle, in their prosessed addresses to God,-whether it be to argue them indirectly into a certain opinion, or to kindle them into a certain excitement, whether it be, as sometimes happens, to decry and calumniate one man, or to exalt and praise another,—whatever design he may have, other than to lead the minds of that assembly to God, and to give form and utterance to their desires, in all simplicity and humility; so far as that design influences him, his prayer is not prayer. So if the congregation merely hear the prayer which is offered in their name ; if they hear it only to sit in judgment on its diction, its tones, its spirit, and power; if they hear it only to surrender themselves to the flow of delighted sensibility, awakened by the voice, the imagery, the fervor of the speaker, it may be prayer on the part of him who gives it utterance, but it is not their prayer; it is not united prayer ; the listeners are not praying.
This, -need we say it distinctly ?-accounts for the inefficacy of many prayers
, not only such as are cold and lifeless, but such as have much glow of feeling, and much power of solitary or
* This thought is admirably illustrated in “Natural History of Enthusiasm,” pp. 31-3. That work, and “Fansticism,” by the same author, stands in the first rank
among the productions of the human mind. They are works which, though read by the few and not by' the many, are to affect, irresistibly and greatly, the destinies of the human race. VOL. VI.
social excitement. There may be feeling where there is no faith. There may be excitement in the prayer-meeting, or in the closet, where there is no humble, simple-hearted supplication. How often is this illustrated in the history of a revival of religion! The commencement and progress of such a work in a congregation, is characterized by nothing, perhaps, so much as by a tenderness and directness of faith, and a simplicity of aim, in the prayers of the church, for their unconverted children, friends, and neighbors. The minds of those who pray, are filled only with the object and the subject of their supplications. They pray, because they believe that the unconverted must perish, unless God interpose to save them, and because they confidently hope, that God will interpose at their request. Theirs is the energetic prayer, the dénois evɛpyouusun, that prevails with God. How happy are such worshipers; how sweet the fervor of such prayers! The worshipers are happy, without thinking of it; happy, because their minds are fully occupied with subjects worthy to fill their spiritual and immortal faculties. There is a sweetness in those prayers, which is nothing else than the sweetness of a bumble and child-like communion with the Father of spirits. But let the happy excitement, inseparable from the exercise of devout affections, begin to be spoken of, and thought of, among those christians, till they have learned to come together for the sake of excitement-for the luxury of mingling their sensibilities in a prayer-meeting, more than for the business of praying, and the revival is already far gone in its decline. It is easy to account for it, that such prayers are not answered.
Nothing is more needed in the present exigences of the kingdom of Christ, than prayer,—the prayer that availeth much. The times, unless all men mistake them, are full of great events, that must soon be decided and developed. In the churches there is a spirit of enterprise, which seems ready to send the outward means of salvation every where. Zeal for the propagation of christianity, has already given birth to an organization, adequate, it would seem, to combine and direct all the efforts which the strength of christendom can put forth. There are changes among the nations, – • perplexities, tossings, fears, the murmurs of thetempest ere it rushes on its errand, the heaving and groaps of the yet suppressed volcano. Our own country is the scene of agitations that may well alarm the soberest patriot, and that ought to compel the saints of God to try the utmost power of prayer. Party spirit, continually breaking forth anew, threatens the subversion of our institutions and each successive explosion of its fury not only rocks, but weakens the foundations of the republic. At the same time, a spirit of unkindness, of mutual detraction and denunciation, of strife and rancor, a spirit most alarmingly at variance with all that is gentle and lovely in christianity, breathes over the churches, and menaces them with barrenness and blighting; a spirit which alienates brother from brother, and pastor from pastor; which watches over old divisions, and seeks to build new walls of separation; and which, unless it shall be counteracted and subdued by the mightier Spirit of the God of peace, will infect the churches more and more, till the blessed influences of religion are changed to poison and death. What can we need in times like these, as we need prayer? Prayer, humble and unsophisticated, prayer, that in the simplicity of faith takes hold on the strength of God, can save us. It can save the dying nations. Who can doubt, that I the thousands that believe were now instant in prayer, praying with unshaken faith, and unperverted fervor, the great results would soon be thickening on the world? How soon, if such were the fact, would the word of God have free course and prosper! How soon would the darkness of long and weary ages flee away, and the Rosy dawn be spread upon the mountains ! How rapidly would the bright day come on, when the earth shall be one temple, and the Lord God and the Lamb the light thereof!
ART. VII.-WinslOW ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. Discourses on the nature, evidence, and moral value, of the Doctrine of the Trinity. Br HOBBARD WINslow, Pastor of the Bowdoin Sireet Church, Boston. Bogtro; Perkins, Marvin & Co. Philadelphia: Henry Perkins.
We have no hope, that the Unitarian controversy will ever be setled by a simple appeal to passages of scripture, however clear and unambiguous their testimony. Proof of the doctrine of the trinity, most decisive in its nature, and sufficient to compel the assent of any candid and unbiased mind, exists, we believe, in the word of God. The fact, it is true, is not declared in direct terms; but all that is included in the doctrine, is frequently and clearly expressed or implied. On any other subject, one tenth part of the evidence which may be adduced in its favor, would be deemed by Unitarians themselves amply sufficient to remove every doubt. The real difficulty is, that they approach the subject in a state of mind which precludes all reasoning upon it from the scriptures. They begin by taking for granted the intrinsic absurdity of the doctrine. This is their avowed principle; and it is on this point, therefore, that the controversy must ever turn. The whole force of the Unitarian reasoning consists either in a petitio principii, or in arguing against mere theories or hypotheses, propounded by the advocates of the trinity. Some Trinitarian writers have certainly gone too far in their attempts to illustrate and explain the simple statements contained in the bible ; and have thus laid themselves open to their keen-sighted adversaries, who have not been ingenuous enough to admit what they could scarcely fail to perceive, that the entire demolition of a theory does not necessarily af