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bread, for rescue in time of danger, for success in battle, for speedy peace, for the spread of the gospel.
It is perhaps conceivable, that God himself, on such occasion, might introduce some new physical force, just as man is qualified to do,-modifying results without innovating natural order. This is rendered plausible by the supposition that he probably would not deny to himself a liberty which he gives to creature wills; he may choose thus to interpose or not. But we have no evidence of such part taken by the Author of nature with the working of natural causes; and if we had, it would then become practically impossible to distinguish the miraculous. This view also assumes an insufficiency in natural law to the purposes of the law maker, a need to be supplemented from time to time, which is inadmissible. It is based upon the erroneous notion before mentioned, that God having created matter and force, then stepped aside, and is now a looker on, watching and superintending natural evolutions, ready to interpose, and actually interposing, to re-adjust, or overrule, or counteract them for special purposes. Whereas, God is in every natural process, not as the superintending, but as the ever present determining power; by which we do not mean the physical force itself, but that which makes force constant in its efficiency, just as his ever present sustaining power makes matter constant in its being.
All natural tendencies perfectly express God's will, and their ends fulfill it. Nature, thus considered, must be sufficient, constant, and predetermined. The word “interpose" cannot rightly express an act of God, and the power of man is so limited and regulated, that his interposition can never accomplish counteraction. God's will of command, a moral law, may be violated; but his will of purpose, never, either in the moral or physical world. That his will of command does not always coincide with his will of purpose, is a mystery involving the doctrine concerning sin. Our finite minds shrink from the edge of this profound, unfathomable gulf.
The discussion has led us to the conclusion, that prayer does not induce any suspension or modification of the operation of physical law, but that nevertheless, it is answered by ordinary and extraordinary, yet legitimate events,—the essence of every prayer being answered by what comes to pass.
We cannot hope for a clear solution of the philosophical difficulties that arise out of this question. Descartes, pushing beyond the solid ground, fell into occasionalism; the God-intoxicated Spinoza, into pantheism; and Leibnitz sought refuge in his preëstablished harmony. Let us pause, satisfied that no logical contradiction is involved, and
that no practical difficulty remains to embarrass us in offering our petitions. It is worthy of note, however, that the theologies usually offer solutions, as they call them, which will not bear analysis. For example, one of the chief difficulties is sometimes stated thus: Since God is immutable, as even the least intense schools of theology teach, then prayer cannot move him. Fixed unalterably in his
I cannot obtain by prayer aught but what will nevertheless certainly occur, and may be had by simply waiting without praying. Hence, prayer is objectively of no avail. It is usual to meet this by saying that prayer is one link in the chain of moral sequences which necessarily precede the event, through which or by means of which it is brought to pass, so that, should it be omitted, the sequences would occur in different order, and determine a different event. This removes the difficulty somewhat out of reach, perhaps, but not out of sight; certainly it is no solution. It is unsatisfactory, because it assumes that moral sequences are of the nature of physical cause and effect, which cannot be proved; it asserts the answer to be merely a result, the natural consequence of a law governing moral sequences, which contradicts its immediateness; it regards prayer as something other than it seems and claims to be, hence as untrue, which reduces it to theatrical formality. To avoid such objections, the reply takes this shape: The prayer also is preördained, and will as certainly occur as the subsequent event, its answer. No doubt; but that does not help us, as it involves the inscrutable mystery of free agency and preördination.
It is idle to attempt a clear and positive solution of these difficulties. Our finite minds cannot grasp and handle the doctrine of God's immutability. Such a concept is beyond us. Our logic has no terms by which to compress it into positive propositions ; hence it can give us only negative conclusions, and involves us in fallacy, when we try to combine it positively with the doctrine of wrestling and prevailing prayer. It is a burden for faith, that any act of the unchangeable is conditioned on free asking.
It has been our object only to indicate a test drawn from the innermost spirit of prayer, which may remove practical difficulties, and perhaps enlarge our intelligent freedom in petition. We must never forget that prayer does not seek to change the purposes of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, and that it is the object of our profoundest concern to be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding We must seek in prayer that angelic ecstacy wherein our desires are listed into perfect accord with the holy will of God, our hearts panting after the constant fulfillment of his wise and righteous designs. This accord is pleasing to him, and secures to us his favor, the sum of all conceivable blessings. The genuineness and efficacy of prayer is to be tested, or rather ascertained, not by setting it counter to natural order or to moral order; not by observing whether or not it can literally cast mountains into the sea, or convert a nation in a day; not by placing the human will in conflict with the divine will, and observing which prevails; but by observing whether its seeking is in perfect harmony with God's own purposes,—whether it can all be resolved into this : " Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven."
Scripture examples abound. Daniel prayed most fervently that God would accomplish the restoration he had promised. He knew his purpose, and the set time. He asked for no change, not even that God would hasten the day, but that he would “defer not.” This prayer was approved, and moreover the angel Gabriel was instantly sent to enlarge his knowledge of God's purposes. The most impressive illustration, with one exception, is to be found in the manifest spirit of the Psalms. They especially teach us how to pray; for in the other scriptures God speaks to man; in these man addresses God. We find throughout not merely submission to God's will, but a fervent longing for the perfecting of his counsels. The imprecations receive, on this principle, the happiest solution, as expressing, not a vindictive spirit in the Psalmist, but an earnest, unqualified approval of God's purposed judgments, however terrible.
The exception referred to is found in the prayers of our Lord. They are all evolved from this : "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." Every ejaculation, but especially the amazing high-priestly prayer, renews the vow. In the deep valley of Gethsemane, the conflict is between shuddering nature and invincible will. It is not, as the Anti-Monothelites bave it, a subjective struggle between coëxistent divine and human wills, but a striving of the personal will with the weakness of humanity; it is the so painful essay of a willing spirit to nerve a flesh so weak, that it welcomes angelic strengthening. "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup,” not the appointed, approved, and announced cup in near prospect, but this present cup concerning which the Father's will is not so fully known. Silence reveals it. Then see his own will, I would not say, sinking into absolute submission, but soaring into sublime coïncidence. Casting off the last trace of difference with the cry, "Not my will,” there is instantly a flow of desire and purpose into perfect harmony with immutable decree, and his last perfected expression is, “but thine be done."
Towards this loftiest height Christian prayer ascends on the Holy Spirit's wing. There it lays bold hand on the very sceptre, there is seated on the throne, there it is assimilated to the partaking of the operation of the holy will of God,-“ For we are God's fellowlaborers."
NOAH K. DAVIS. BETHEL COLLEGE, Ky.
Darwin and Wallace, has arrested very general attention among both the learned and unlearned. The development hypothesis is a Proteus, and of hoary years. Said the old Egyptian :
This earth-globe was at first a ball of wet clay; the clay drying in the sun, little blisters arose; these becoming impregnated by some subtle physical influence, became the embryos of all future terrestrial organisms, and, upon the bursting of the clayey shells, the earth became peopled by creatures of low grade, which in time, were developed into the beauty and perfection of the living forms (man included) now inhabiting the earth.
The Epicureans held that men were orginally formed from little bags in the earth, which, when they became ripe, they burst open, and their souls were formed of the smoothest, roundest atoms.
Which," quaintly remarks old John Howe, “are of the neatest fashion, and every way, you must suppose, the best conditioned the country can afford." Lucretius, the interpreter of this school, declares the earth to have