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In reality, supplications to the Deity for our friends and kindred, and all in whose welfare we are concerned, are no less natural than supplications for ourselves. And are they not also reasonable? What is there in them that is not worthy the most exalted benevolence? May it not be fit that a wise and good Being should pay a regard to them ? And may not the regarding and answering of them, and in general, granting blessings to some on account of the virtue of others, be a proper method of encouraging and honouring virtue, and of rewarding the benevolence of beings to one another ? Perliaps there may not be a better way of encouraging righteousness in the creation, than by making it as much as possible the cause of happiness, not only to the agent himself, but to all connected with him ; since there is no virtuons being, who would not, in many circumstances, choose to be rewarded with a grant of blessings to his fellow beings, rather than to himself.”—Price's Four Dissertations, pp. 221–227.
This mode of meeting the philosophical difficulty, though I do not intire y approve of some of the phraseology of Dr. Price, is, I think, very satisfactory ; as far as philosophy enables us to meet such questions. Those who would follow out this part of the subject further, must consult his “ Four Dissertations," where a good deal more will be found than I have quoted; “ Hartley on Man, Prop. clxxii;” “ Woolaston's Religion of Nature.”
But I cannot bring this Note, long as it is, to a close, without noticing that Christianity appears to me the difficulty in a way peculiar to itself, by one of those extraordinary provisions which strikingly display the manifold wisdom of God in this extraordinary system. It meets it by the provision, of what I may be justified in calling, a double intercession. My meaning will appear by quoting the words of the apostle :-“ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not wliat we should pray for as
we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the sairts according to the will of God.”-Rom. viii. 26, 27.
In this passage, our ignorance of what is good for ourselves and others, as to what we should pray for, is strongly expressed. That deficiency is made up by the communication of the Holy Spirit, who maketh intercession, or pleadeth on behalf of the saints, with uputterable groanings. At the same time, the Redeemer, who is at God's right hand, who knoweth the mind or intention of the Spirit in these groanings, maketh intercession for us, and secures the blessings which we need. Thus in the economy of redemption, we furnished with a revelation of the will of God to direct our prayers and wishes, with the Spirit of God to excite holy desires, and with a divine Intercessor, acquainted with all that is going on, and regulating the whole, to secure the ubject, and to bless it with success.
According to this view of the matter, there can be no inconsistency or clashing between the purposes of God, and the commanded duties of his people. He is our Father, our Governor, and our King. He has contrived the scheme of government according to his infinite wisdom and benevolence. One part of that scheme requires that we should make our requests known to him by prayer and supplication; this exercise is not the procuring cause, but the sine qua non, the necessary means of obtaining blessings for ourselves and others. And he who expects to be blessed himself, or that the world shall be blessed without believing, importunate prayer, must be looking for blessedness according to another economy than that of Christianity.
I beg to recommend to the reader, Jonathan Edwards's “ Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and
Visible Union of God's People in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion, and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom on Earth.” I would also add another valuable little work, which has lately appeared, “ The Achievements of Prayer." By Joseph Fincher, Esq.
Note [CC]. page 128.
For the translation of these verses in Hosea, I am indebted to the elegant and learned work of Bishop Horsley, on that difficult prophet. I shall here transcribe the Bishop's Note in support of his version.
“The primary and most proper meaning of the verb ny, I take to be, 'to re-act.' When B re-acts npon A, in consequence of a prior action of A upon B. But more largely it predicates reciprocal, correspondent, or cor-relate action. Thus it signifies the proper action of one thing upon another, according to established physical sympathies in the material world ; or, among intelligent beings, according to the rule of moral order. It has always reference to a system of agency ; and may be applied to any individual agent, in a system of agents, whose action regularly excites, or is excited by, the action of the rest. Thus it may be applied to the act of the first mover, which sets all the rest a-going, as well as to the acts of the subordinate agents. As in vocal music, it is applicable to the singing of the first voice, as well as to the inferior performers who follow him. And in this passage it is applied, first, to the action of God himself upon the powers of nature; then, to the subordinate action of the parts of nature upon one another; and last of all, to the subservience of the elements, and their physical productions, to the benefit of man; and, ultimately, by the direction of God's over-ruling providence, to the exclusive benefit of the godly. In short, it expresses generally one agent performing its proper part upon another. And to this general notion all the particular senses of the word are reducible.”—Horsley on Hosea, chap. ii. 21.
Note [DD]. page 142.
The revivals of religion, as they are called, in America, are peculiarly entitled to the consideration of Christians in other places, on various accounts. A remark made by the late Dr. Henry, of Charleston, when in this country, that we had the means of producing these revivals among ourselves, and that if they do not occur the fault is our own, struck me forcibly at the time; though circumstances prevented my inquiring what he fully intended by it. The orthodox views of that respectable and excellent man, whose death is a serions loss to the cause of Christ in the world, forbids the idea that he held any sentiment, under that remark, wbich is subversive of the doctrine of divine grace, or the sovereign influences of the Holy Spirit. I believe Dr. Henry held no other doctrine than what I have endeavoured feebly to advocate :—that if Christians do their part fully and faithfully, God will not fail to do his.
That revivals of religion have occurred in many parts of America during the last century, in which a great number of persons have been brought to the knowledge of the truth, many of whom continued to adorn the doctrine of Christ to their dying day, has been proved by a body of evidence, which aves no reasonable ground for doubt. They have been the subject of the closest and most careful investigation, by men every way qualified to detect imposition, had there been any, and to expose delusion, had it taken place, either among the parties themselves, or in the public mind. Jcna
than Edwards's “ Narrative of the surprising work of God, in the conversion of many hundred souls, in and about Northampton and its vicinity,” was republished by Drs. Watts and Guyse, with the expression of their high satisfaction of the reality of the work which had taken place. “Some thoughts concerning the present revival of religion in New England, and the way in which it ought to be acknowledged and promoted ;” and “ The Distinguishing Marks of a work of the Spirit of God, applied to that uncommon operation which lias lately appeared on the minds of the people of New England : with a particular consideration of the extraordinary circumstances with which this is attended,” by the same writer, contain full information on the subject, as well as much interesting matter, which highly deserves the attention of the reader.
These revivals, during the early and middle part of last century, were not limited to America; they took place in several parts of Scotland, in precisely the same way, and were carried on by the same means. Robe's Narrative of the work of God at Cambuslang, Kilsyth, and other places; his Defences of that work against the Seceders of that period, who opposed it; his “ Monthly History, or account of the revival and progress of Religion abroad and at home;' “ Prince's Christian History of the revival and propagation of Religion in Great Britain and America ;” which was published at Boston in New England, in 1743 and 1744, are full of the most valuable and authentic information on this subject. These works are all in my possession; but as they are now of rare occurrence, the reader will find the substance of much that is contained in them in a valuable work by Dr. Gillies of Glasgow, “ Historical Collections, relating to remarkable periods of the success of the Gospel, and eminent instruments employed in promoting it,” Glas. 1754. 2 vols. 8vo. To this an Appendix was published by the Author in 1761,