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particular circumstances, we may therefore expect it to be repeated. Let us then take sober reasoning and calm judgment to our assistance in the present inquiry. If not a single fact appears, from which it can be truly concluded that either any individual, or any collective body of men, do, at the present æra, possess any portion of extraordinary illumination from above, let us lay aside such an idea as entirely out of the question. If, on the other hand, we cannot reasonably doubt (on the principle I have just adverted to) that there may be, and is, a communication between the spirit of God and the spirit of man, in a natural and intelligible way, let us endeavour to obtain clear views of it, that we may improve it to useful and important purposes.
I will adventure then, in the outset, to lay down this as an axiom-That the divine influence is, and always has been, imparted to the human mind, in such a way as not to set aside, but to be consistent with the sound and discretionary use of its rational faculties. I do not mean to make a reserve even with respect to miraculous influences. Except in a very few instances, to which I adverted in my last discourse, and which will admit of an easy explanation, we are always led to understand, that the natural powers were not superseded, but, as it were, brightened, extended, invigorated, and a suggestion conveyed that they were, on certain emergencies, to be employed in something which they were not otherwise capable of accomplishing. In several such instances we are told that the persons acting were full of, or filled with, the holy spirit. But that the free'dom of the mind, in such circumstances, remained unimpaired, need not be a subject of doubt, when we
read such passages as the following:-" It seemed good to the holy spirit and to us"-" My conscience bearing me witness in the holy spirit"-" The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits"-" I will pray with the spirit, I will pray with the understanding also." Thus moreover, I conceive, we have a clue whereby to form a proper idea of the inspiration under which the sacred writings were penned. The declaration of our Lord to the apostles (of course including the evangelists) that the spirit should bring all things he had said to their remembrance, did not imply that an absolute controul was to be exercised over their natural powers of recollection; consequently room was left for those inconsiderable variations, which, without any impeachment of their veracity, would be almost sure to happen when four different persons undertook to write a narrative of the same events. To this it may be added, that we find, on several occasions, the apostles acting like other men under the guidance of their own judgment
-sometimes indeed of a mistaken judgment. Thus Paul and Barnabas, though both said to have been full of the holy spirit, had a sharp contention concerning the taking of Mark with them on one of their visitations, and separated in consequence. So Paul withstood Peter at Antioch because he was to be blamed. Paul's miraculous powers of healing seem also to have been withdrawn, when he mentions the sickness of two of his friends, for whose recovery he would no doubt have gladly exercised them. And these influences were not only not constantly and irresistibly operative upon the mind, but might be counteracted, as is evident from the exhortations and cautions given in some of the epistles in that behalf;
nay even grossly abused, as appears from Paul's reproofs of the Corinthian converts. And from all this we may infer, that those who are said to have been led by the spirit, must have followed of their own free will.
I hope I have so far established my position, that during the period when extraordinary communications of the spirit of God were made, it was in a way that did not infringe the natural freedom of the mind, but that a co-operation of its powers with them was necessary to effect the purposes intended. Let us now pursue the thread of the argument into present times and circumstances. And I propose to consider the subject in a natural and moral view, and to show, in both respects, why we must work because God worketh in us.
I have already called your attention to the astonishing effects produced by the divine energy, or in other words by the spirit of God, in the system of the universe, and to those operations in our own frame which seem to be carried on without our immediate concurrence. I shall not now repeat them, nor say any thing on the subject of instinct, which seems to form an intermediate link between voluntary and involuntary action, partaking of the nature of each. 1 shall confine my remarks to some particulars, evidently ascribable to divine agency, which require the consentaneous operation of the human faculties to give them their full effect. To begin with a matter of universal concern and primary importance
Christ has, with the utmost propriety, taught us to pray," Give us our daily bread." That God is the giver of our daily bread, we cannot hesitate a
moment to admit, when we consider that it is he who has fixed the laws of vegetation, and given to every seed its own body-that it is his sun that shines, and his rain that falls. But in vain would the sun shine and the rain descend, if man were not to prepare the ground, sow the seed, and gather in the produce, which would otherwise be scattered abroad and lost. In like manner, the fruits which are given by the munificent Creator for our refreshment and delight, are, when wild, of inferior quality, but by attentive cultüre are brought to perfection, and made to yield their most exquisite flavour. Every thing which the hand of the Almighty has bestowed with the utmost liberality and profuseness-light, air, water, fire, minerals, metals all require the labour and ingenuity of man to be productive of their greatest benefits. The like may be said of the animal kingdom-their physical strength, the covering of their bodies, their various instincts and habits, are made to contribute to our convenience and support, but not without skilful management. With respect to ourselves, although we know but little of the manner in which our bodies grow, are nourished, and supported, and of the wonderful processes that are constantly carrying on in the interior of our frame, yet their preservation in health depends in no small degree upon our own care, caution, and prudence. When a limb is frac&tured, a fluid exudes from the extremities of the fracture which soon becomes as solid as the bone itself; and thus a wonderful provision is made for the reunion of the parts. This is done without any consciousness or contrivance of ours; but unless we take care to adjust the broken pieces, and preserve their natural position, the limb becomes distorted and use
less. The like may be said of many other bodily injuries, which are no sooner received, than nature (speaking in common language) instantly sets about doing her part towards the cure, expecting us to do ours likewise. Let it be observed, that in these calls upon the industry, care, and attention of man, there is no coercion-no absolute uncontrollable necessity; strong motives are indeed presented, but he may, if he will, counteract them. If he does so, he becomes culpable, and suffers in consequence. In all these in'stances, nothing can be more evident than that we are, in the language of our great apostle on another Coccasion, "workers together with God"-and it is equally evident, that such language would carry no meaning with it, if man were not endued with liberty of acting.
Let us then inquire whether he be not possessed of similar freedom as a moral agent. Here we build upon the same foundation, namely, that all our moral, as well as our rational faculties, are the gift of our Creator. By our moral faculties, I would be understood to mean in general, our perception of the intrinsic difference between moral good and evil. Being thus given, it is our's for the time we are to exercise it. It is the talent concerning which, having put it into our hands, he has said, “ Occupy (or traffic with it) till I come. Like other gifts, it does indeed comprehend a vast variety of circumstances and degrees; and although, among nations extremely barbarous, this moral sense may seem to be much obscured, and scarcely apparent, still the principle is as inherent in human nature as that of fertility in the earth under proper cultivation, though barren without it, or of vegetation in the seed, which, though