« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Thus, though there is a fence put up between fatalism and the assertion of human freedom, it is so gauze-like—so aerial—that nothing is easier than, by adroit evolution, to be upon both sides of it.
It is now time to bring these strictures to a close.
An undervaluation of Professor Upham, I hope has not been suspected in the course of the foregoing remarks. My purpose has been to dwell upon some points in which I thought the earlier of the two works, at least, requires emendation.
That the metaphysics is tinged with a certain theology, seems plain. Yet, I do not suspect the author of a concealed aim. Not in the least. But, it is worth while to have an eye upon these matters; and, if it be not possible to have a prop without an inclination, let there be a prop upon the other side of the house which shall lean the other way. In other words, if bias there must be, let one bias counteract another...
The earlier view of the will, propounded by Mr. Upham, is substantially the metaphysics of Calvinism, both old and new.
However, the above strictures are not based upon any theological views :—they have been made entirely irrespective of theology.
The learning and activity of our Presbyterian brethren have enabled them to engross to themselves almost all the departments of elenientary instruction. Not only have they the learned men, but almost all the books, involving principles cognate to those of theology, come from Calvinistic hands.
I do not object. Our Presbyterian brethren are right. Howbeit, while in malice we are children, in understanding let us be men. Cannot some one of our accomplished men supply the desideratum of an American authority on the subject of Intellectual Philosophy? The work under notice is defective. Lucid and simple, it lacks discrimination and compass of thought.
Among human sciences, Intellectual Philosophy is the grand science. There is a man among us equal to it; equal to it in mental discipline, in knowledge, and, for aught I know, in adventitious circumstances. Will he find himself out and address himself to the task ?
THE HIBERNIAN SOCIETY. From the report of this society made in May last, it appears that it has, during the thirty years of its existence, given education to six HUNDRED THOUSAND CHILDREN, many of whom have since grown up to manhood, and by their conduct proved that the charity consecrated to this benevolent institution had not been misapplied. The number of day, Sunday, and adult schools, was, at the time of making the report, 1,962; and the number of scholars, 115,323. There had been an increase of seventeen schools, and eight hundred and thirty-seven pupils. In the day schools there were 77,762 scholars, of whom 29,600 were Roman Catholics. The principal complaint,
as indicated by the report, was the want of sufficient funds efficiently to carry on the operations of the society. The receipts of the last year amounted to £10,412. 98. 10 d.; which was £1,375. 18. 9d. above those of the preceding year.
· REVIVAL OF THE WORK OF GOD.
ILLUSTRATION, ETC. Within a few months past we have received from our correspondents several communications calling our attention to the subject of revivals, of discipline, and of other matters, which they deem to have a bearing upon the state of religion in the Church. One of these directs our mind particularly to the prayer of the prophet, “O Lord, revive thy work," and desires an illustration of its meaning. All these we should have replied to in the Advocate and Journal, had it been suitable and convenient; but it would necessarily have involved much repetition to have stated and answered them separately; and some of them especially would have required a more extended concatenation of propositions and illustrations than would be suitable for the columns of a weekly periodical. Our own views and feelings in regard to the subject generally could be more conveniently expressed in something like a formal essay on the main point, conducted in a way to include the more subordinate ones. This we have done in the following discourse, which we wish our correspondents to consider as embracing that notice of their several communications which they may have expected in another form. It was intended to pay this merited attention to the communications of our friends at an earlier period; but circum. stances have prevented. We make no claim for the discourse other than that it exhibits our views and feelings on the subject of the state of religion in the Church, and the true grounds on which we are encouraged to hope and labor for revival.
Habakkuk iii, 2. O Lord, revive thy work. In order properly to understand the import of this prayer, we must inquire into the nature and application of the terms of which it is composed.
1. What do we understand by the phrase, “thy work," as it is used in the text? This is our first inquiry. The term “work" is used to signify both the act of an agent by which something is produced, and the thing produced by such act. Thus God is said to work. “I will work, and who shall let it."— I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.? “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
In this active form, the phrase, “work of God," conveys an idea of that operative and powerful agency by which he is acknowledged to interpose in the affairs of man in this world.
But the term is also used when reference is had to the object of an action, or the thing produced or affected by it. Thus the Decalogue written by the finger of Jehovah is, in the language of Scripture, denominated the “ work of God." So also are the earth, the heavens, and the wondrous things brought about by his providential care and judgments in the wise administration of his government among men. “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all !"-"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work." Hence, to create is the work of God; and that which he creates is his work. So also it is his work to give life; and the life he gives is his work.
The same remarks apply to the dispensations of his providence. Judgment is his strange work; yet in vindication of his righteous law he sometimes executes it, in a way to show his wrath, and to make his power known. Thus he did in the destruction of the old world by the flood, the overthrow of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, the desolation of the cities of the plain by fire, and the long threat. ened retribution which he brought upon his own people the Jews, for their disobedience and rebellion. In all these summary visitations, he seemed to say, “ Do not I the Lord do all these things ?" But the effect produced by these dispensations has been, in each case, denominated the work of God.
The great and glorious work of redemption is also ascribed to him in the most direct and glowing terms :“Sing, O heavens, for the Lord hath done it; shout, ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein, for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel." “Sing unto the Lord, for he hath done marvellous things;-declare his marvellous works among all nations." In view of his goings forth to execute the deep and mysterious counsels of his wisdom and grace, the redeemed before his throne sing, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."
The same direct and operative agency is acknowledged in the awakening and salvation of sinners :-“It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.” In order to our salvation, our minds must be illuminated, our consciences awakened, and our souls pardoned, renewed, and cleansed. “All these worketh that one and the same Spirit.”—“For it is the same God that worketh all and in all.” They therefore who are thus prepared as the children of God for the communion of saints, and are " raised up together to sit together in heavenly places," are said to be “created anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works ;” and the Church, so constituted by the Divine agency and influence, is appropriately denominated “a new creation." By the spirit of his grace he worketh in us to prepare us as lively stones for a place in the spiritual temple, and the temple constituted of such lively stones is " the work of God.” This distinction it is important to observe in illustrating the subject under consideration.
By the work of God," as used in the text, many understand the influences of the Spirit in the awakening and conversion of sinners;
and with them a revival of religion, or of the work of God, which they use synonymously, is the prevalence of awakenings and conversions among the people. Thus, when they pray in the language of the text, “O Lord, revive thy work,” they pray solely for the awakening and conversion of sinners. Few probably embrace any other object in their desires or thoughts, or suppose their petition is to be answered in any other way. This, therefore, is really their prayer, when they use these terms; for “God looketh at the heart;" and they cannot be supposed to pray for what enters not into the thoughts of their hearts. But was it the prayer of the prophet? was there no other object which interested his feelings, and called forth the holiest aspirations of his soul in the use of these expressions of ardent supplication? It is believed there was. By the expression, “thy work," the prophet undoubtedly meant the CHURCH or God.
This was the object upon which his feelings were fixed with intense desire; and he therefore earnestly prayed for its de. liverance and prosperity. He viewed it in a languishing state; he saw it encircled by enemies and evils, which gave him anxious concern for its safety; and for it primarily and principally he invoked the healthful spirit of quickening grace. The prayer, it is true, as we shall have occasion to show, includes the influences of the Divine Spirit in all their operations; for these invariably accompany a revival of the Church. These are indeed parts of the general work of revival. But that these influences are not primarily intended, in the use of the term “ thy work,” in the prayer of the prophet, is evident from this, that they are implied in the operation of that agency by which God revives his work; and if by the term “work" the prophet meant the influences of the Divine Spirit in their various operations, and these only, the import of the prayer was, O Lord, revive thy revival,--an unintelligible and absurd solecism. It is believed, therefore, that by the term “work," as used by the prophet in this prayer, is intended the Church of God upon earth. In this light I shall consider it in the following remarks.
2. The term revival signifies a "return, recall, or recovery to life from death, or apparent death ;" which is, according to its radical import,“ to live again." To revive, when used intransitively, means to “ recover life," to "recuscitate," or to “rise from the dead." " To this end Christ both died, rose, and revived." When used in a way to imply an action and an object, it means “ to bring again to life," " to reanimate," or "to restore to strength and vigor from a state of deep languor and depression.” In this sense it is used in the prayer of the prophet. God is humbly and ardently implored to restore the wasted energies of the Church, and to give it new life and vigor.
I. That we may profitably use this prayer, let us first contemplate the Church as the work of God, and therefore an object of the affectionate regards of all who love and fear him.
1. By the Church of God I understand that institution in which are recognised the forms of religious worship, such as he acknowledges and approves. To this institution it is essential that there be external form, and the principle of life. In both these respects we understand it to be the work of God. By external form is meant that organization of a system of service and worship by which
VOL. VII. -July, 1836. 36
God is publicly acknowledged and revered in the ordinances which he has ordained. In such an institution pure religion has a habitation among men; and through it the Gospel of the grace of God is communicated to a fallen world. God himself has honored it by giving it the sanction of his own name, and by promising it his peculiar care and protection. By the principle of life is understood the direct witness of the Spirit, enjoyed by such as worship God in spirit and in truth. * 2. It will be observed, the term Church is used here in its most general sense, to signify the instituted worship of God, such as he has been pleased to acknowledge and accept in all ages and under all dispensations. Such was the worship of Abel, who through faith offered an acceptable sacrifice unto God, and "obtained witness that he was righteous.” The antediluvian saints had their altars, their sacrifices, and their worship. Thus Enoch walked with God, and Noah was a preacher of righteousness to the corrupt age in which he lived.
To the institution of his Church God gave a more definite and fixed character in his covenant with Abraham, and in the tabernacle and the temple which were formed and raised by his express command, we discover enlarged privileges for sacrificial offerings and public oblations under the old dispensation, and a symbolic representation of acceptable worship under the new. These were constructed according to the pattern he gave. With them he identified his name and his honor. Here we find the oracle, the ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat, all lively representations of better things to come. Here, too, was manifested the sensible presence of the Deity, in the pillar of cloud and of fire, and in the glory which filled the temple. All these representations were fulfilled in the Christian Church, whose privileges were extended to embrace the Gentiles, and rendered more spiritual and simple, to suit the dispensation. The carnal ordinances of the Jews having subsided, and the Holy Ghost being given in its full measure to qualify the ministry for their labors, and to edify believers in their communion, the work was consummated for all succeeding ages. Such as it was then it is now, and ever will be. We may be allowed to add here, that whatever external changes and modifications the Church has undergone from the beginning, to suit it to the different dispensations, in its essential elements it is identical. In no instance has one Church been displaced for the institution of another. It was founded in the promise of a Messiah ; and under all the forms and variations of its external aspect, the true worship of the one living and true God, through Christ the Redeemer and Mediator, has been the object. And wherever, at any time, among the ancients in days past, or in any community of devout worshippers at the present, such worship has been or now is practised, there is the Church; and the Most High deigns to own and acknowledge such worshippers as his people—his Church.
3. This institution we say, then, is the work of God. Such the Scriptures represent it to be in all the figures and forms of expression employed by the sacred writers. In the use of the lively images of inspiration it is denominated the city of God, the house of God, the sanctuary, and the temple of God, God's heritage, his vineyard,