« ForrigeFortsett »
moral influence of truth on his own mind, in coincidence with the dictates of conscience, is attributable to the operation of the Father of Spirits, than that the vital action of his frame is sustained by the Divine power of Him who made it. Truth, though in every case the instrument, can in no instance be the adequate cause of any moral effect. This is clear, since otherwise its effect would be uniform, like that of any mechanical cause, under the same circumstances. The reason why the same truth does not operate with the same force at all times, must be, that it is not an efficient cause, but only an instrumental one. The efficient cause, the Christian well knows, lies not in himself: it must, therefore, be referrible to the Supreme Cause,--to Him " who worketh all in all."
It is conceded, that truth, when believed and entertained by the mind, will produce its proper moral effect as a motive; but the belief and consideration of truth is precisely that antecedent effect, to the cause of which we are now adverting. It is not enough that truth should be exhibited to the mind, or that the mind should be capable of receiving and being affected by it: no consequence necessarily follows from this, analogous to what takes place as the result of mechanical impulse communicated to inert matter, Moral influence is an effect to which the mind itself, so to speak, must lend itself: there must be a concurrence of the spiritual principle with the means of influence, that is, truth, in order to such effect. And as this principle is so often dormant, there is required something more than the means, to call it into action. We are aware that we have expressed ourselves in a manner rather too metaphysical, but the illustration supplied by familiar facts, will make plain the truth of the proposition.
• Millions,' it is remarked in the Tract before us,' read the word of God with a professed belief of its contents, without receiving the slightest salutary influence from its lessons: a number perhaps equal, or still greater, hear the word preached, without seeming to think it at all necessary that they should be doers of the word as well as hearers.'
• The reason of this is doubtless, that these persons have no life in them. They want a principle which no agency less than a divine, is capable of bestowing upon them. If the instrumentality of the written word, and of human teaching alone was sufficient, they would long since have been made alive unto righteousness. Before they can rise into life, a quickening power must descend upon them from above. To understand the full force of this assertion it must be recollected, that the natural state of man is that of death in trespasses and sins, without holiness, without grace, without the least spiritual feeling ;-at the fall he received a shock which paralysed and numbed every limb, every nerve of the internal man, and left him a blasted withered form of humanity without so much as
a power to feel his misery. While he remains in this condition, the simple application of external means is incapable of imparting the least degree of salutary influence. The feelings of his nature may, indeed, in some measure, be wrought upon-as the fibres of once animated but now lifeless matter may be put in motion by the operations of Galvanism, but a sensation truly vital and spiritual it cannot awaken. He must be spiritually revived, before he can spiritually feel; he must be endued with a celestial principle which will act as a soul within a soul, before he can experience the emotions and perform the functions of a living being: And as the total failure of the outward machinery of religion, while unaccompanied by a quickening energy, proves the indispensable necessity of a Divine Power to render it effectual in any case, so those particular instances in which it is found successful, are equally illustrative of the same truth. It is the primary basis of all reasoning and philosophy, that similar causes produce similar effects or, to exhibit the same idea in a modified and somewhat expanded form; that a similar agency, operating upon similar subjects, will result in the display of the same general phenomena. In the application of this principle to the point under consideration, we remark, that the agency generally employed consists of the various modes of instruction, by providential occurrences, by written records, and more especially by ministerial labours. The subjects to which this agency is directed, are human beings, all by na. ture equally
corrupt, equally degraded, equally destitute of life and holiness. On a supposition of the identity or perfect similarity of the influence exerted, we must have inevitably expected an uniformity of result, either invariably successful, or invariably abortive. But the fact is totally otherwise. While the great majority of mankind remains untouched, unaffected, unrenewed; some discover no uncertain or equivocal symptoms of an almost entire transformation of character having been wrought in them. Assuming it as an allowed and established point, that all the individuals of the human species, are, by nature, equally tainted with the stain of pollution, and present equal impediments to the renovating operations of divine grace, the circumstance of some being awakened from their fatal slumbers, and of the rest continuing to sleep in perilous indifference upon the brink of everlasting ruin, seems capable of no other mode of ex. planation, than the supposition of an influence being made to operate upon the one class which does not reach to the other.'
There is such a thing as being familiar with a principle of mechanical philosophy, in its practical application, and yet not being able to understand it when technically stated as a principle of science. The same thing occurs in matters of religion. Every Christian, in the act of prayer, recognises the principle, that he stands in constant need of Divine influence, and is capable of receiving it. Every thinking man, who is not an intidel, will readily acknowledge, that wisdom and good
ness are as much the gifts of God as riches and health. But wisdom and goodness can be communicated only by means of Divine influence on the mind. In asking wisdom of God, in imploring bis guidance, above all, in supplicating his Holy Spirit, the believer acts on the inherent belief, that such Divine communications are continually afforded, and may confidently be anticipated in answer to prayer. It never interferes with this belief as a practical difficulty, that he is not able to dislinguish such communications from the action of his own mind; any more than it shakes his belief in Divine Providence, to find things taking place in concurrence with his own exertions. There are physical influences of which he has no more distinct consciousness, than he has of any Divine influence on his mind. Nay, there is the moral influence of suasion, of example, of temptation, perpetually operating upon him, yet still as undistinguishable from the voluntary operations of thought, as influence of a supernatural kind; as there are chemical and mechanical processes constantly going forward throughout the animal system, of which we have no sensible intimation. It is not till a man begins to speculate on the mode of Divine influence, its bearing on the subject of human responsibility, and other metaphysical questions, that he feels any difficulty on the subject.
But when an attempt is made to analyse and discriminate the supposed various kinds of Divine influence,-as common or saving Grace, as resistible or irresistible, and so forth, what wonder is it that the mind gets bewildered, and that faith isilost in the mazes of doubtful speculation? Thus much we may safely assume of all moral influence, that its specific operation will vary according to the medium or instrument, and the subject of influence. Truth of some kind, or seeming truth, is the only conceivable means of influencing an intelligent agent. But there are some truths evidently adapted to act upon the conscience of the individual; other truths which tend more directly to operate on the affections; and their specific effect, therefore, will be different. In concurrence with such truths, a Divine influence also may be exerted on the conscience, and terminate there ; or it may exert itself on the heart. As the dictates of conscience may be resisted, so, we should not err in saying, that the influence of the Spirit may be resisted, so far as the conscience alone is brought under its operation, and the truth received is of that nature which tends only to awaken the conscience. But truths affecting the heart cannot be received, by virtue of the gracious influence of God's Holy Spirit, without a correspondent moral effect. The affections, the will, are
the very subject of such influence; and at once to receive and to resist it, is impossible : it involves a contradiction.
But, stripped of all metaphysics, what is the fact ? From the Spirit of God, ' all holy desires, all good counsels, and all * just works proceed.' And He " will give his holy Spirit “ to them who ask it.” It is a fixed law of the Divine government, that this spiritual aid should uniformly be afforded in answer to prayer. The concurrence of the Divine agency with human effort and rational means, in the physical operations of nature,-the processes of nutrition, growth, and healing, is not more certain, or less mysterious, than that which is the source of life, and growth, and healing in the spiritual world. To make this fact an excuse for the neglect of means, is the grossest fanaticism: to overlook it, or explain it away, is atheism.
The tract before us, is designed to make a brief applica• tion of the doctrine to the circumstances of the present • period.' We cordially recommend its perusal to our readers. Indistinct and erroneous notions on this subject have hitherto had too extensive an influence on the minds of Christians, paralysing their exertions, and repressing the spirit of prayer. This doctrine, properly viewed, is the strongest motive to exertion, the very element of spiritual might. The hope of the world rests upon the fact, in connexion with the promise, of Divine influence. That the moral world has not as yet been brought more generally under its quickening and fertilizing energy, notwithstanding the vast machinery put in action, and the Divine adaptation of the means,—is owing, in the first place, to the incalculable inaptitude of human beings, as depraved, to yield to any moral means; but, next to this, is attributable to nothing more than the weakness of faith and the languid half heartedness of our prayers.
Art. X. SELECT LITERARY INFORMATION.
Gentlemen and Publishers who have works in the Press, will oblige the Conductors of the Eclectic Review, by sending information (post paid) of the subject, extent, and probable price of such works ; which they may depend upon being communicated to the public, if consistent with its plar.
A Series of Letters to an Attorney'g the Rise and Progress of the various Articled Clerk, containing Direction for Political lastitutions that have subsisted his Studies and General Conduct, which throughout the world, and an Account was commenced and left unfinished by of the present State and distinguisbing the late A. C. Buckland, Esq. Author of Features of the Governments now in Letters on Early Rising, bas been com- Existence. By the late James Tyson, pleted by his Brother Mr. W. H. Buck Esq. Jand, and will be published in a few Aids to Reflection, in a Series of Prudays in one Volume.
dential, Moral, and Spiritual Aphorisms, Prose Pictures, a Series of Descrip extracted chiefly from the Works of tive Letters and Essays by Edward Her Archbishop Leighton, with Notes and bert, Esq. with etchings by George interposed Remarks, by S. T. ColeCruikshank, will be publisbed in a few ridge, Esq. weeks.
Dr. Conquest is preparing a Work for The Translator of Dante, the Rev. H. the press, which will contain a reference F. Cary, has in the press a Translation to every Publication on Midwifery, and of the Birds of Aristophanes in Englislı a register of the innumerable essays and verse, with Notes and illustrations. cases which are scattered througb peri
Essays and Sketches of Character, by odical pamphlets, and the transactions the late R. Ayton, Esq. with a Me of various societies, or casually referred moir, and a Frontispiece by R. Westall, to in works not exclusively obstetrie. R. A. will be published in the ensuing
This will form a second volume to the month.
third edition of his “ Outlmes," and Mr. Landor's Imaginary Conversations will be speedily followed by a similar of Literary Men and Statesmen will publication, on the Diseases of Woinen appear early in December.
and children. It would be a waste of The Journal of Llewellyn Penrose,
time to advert to the great advantages a Seaman, in one volume, with En which must result from such a concengravings from Drawings by Bird and tration and arrangement of all that bas Pocock, is in the press.
been published on these interesting and The Rev. Harrey Marriott has in the important subjects, press a Third Course of Practical Ser. Preparing for publication, a Treatise mons for Families.
on Organic Chemistry, containing the Mr. John Curtis has in the press the analyses of animal and vegetable subfirst No. of his Illustrations of English stances, founded on the work of Pro Insects. The Intention of the Author is, fessor Gonclin on liie same subject, by to publish highly finished figures of Mr. Donglison, member of several such species of insects (with the Plants learned societies, foreign and domestie, upon which they are found) as constitute and one of the Editors of the Medical the British Genera, with accurate repre Repository. sentations of the parts on which the In the course of December will be characters are founded, and descriptive published, Travels in the Interior of letter-press to each plate; giving, as Southern Africa. By William J. Bar. far as possible, the habits and economy chell, Esq. With numerons coloured of the subjects selected. The Work will Engravings, Vignettes, &c. from the be published Monthly, to cominence Author's original Drawings. The Second the 1st of January, 1824.
volume, in 410. which completes the In the press, Elements of the History work. of Civil Government, being a View of A Tale of Paraguay. By kobere