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considered, that nothing would be calls for ministers from various gained by giving ministers large parts of our land, calls again and salaries under the expectation that again reiterated ; and often ceasthey would make a better use of ing, only because those who make property than its present posses- them, despair of obtaining the ob
I should object utterly, to ject of their wishes. But, secondtheir engaging in any lucrative bu- ly; The supply of Christian minissiness. And with the venerable ters can never, strictly speaking, Mr. Scott, I have many fears on be said to exceed the demand, unthe subject of their marrying rich til every portion of the inhabitants wives. Nor should I in any case of the globe shall be furnished with be willing to see a rich man enter a minister. This is an object at the ministry, unless his mind was which the Christian church should fully made up to consecrate him- steadily aim; nor should they relas self and his property both, to the their exertions, until it is accomservice of his Lord. But if they plished. How far removed this are distinguished by genuine Christ. point is, may easily be ascertained, ian humility, self-denial, and at- by computing the number of ministachment to Christ and his king- ters requisite to form an adequate dom, rich men may become emi. supply for Christian countries, and nent instruments of ministerial use. adding to this the number demanfulness. They may occupy sta
ded by the millions of the heathen. tions from which other ministers The only prudential question wbich are ordinarily precluded. They can properly be raised on this may enter the waste places of many subject, is, whether there is dangenerations, and raise them up ger that ministers may be mulfrom their ruins, they may pro. tiplied faster than they can find claim the unsearchable riches of access into destitute and antichrist. Christ in newly settled regions, ian countries. If we were to prowhere but for them no herald of vide ministers only for those who mercy would be seen, they may already are prepared to receive exhibit the light of truth in places and support them, though even on where destructive error holds an this principle, the present rate of almost universal sway; or if called supply is greatly inferior to the in the providence of God to minis- demand, our work would be conter to firmly established Christian tracted within comparatively parsocieties, there are ways enough in row limits. But the whole world which they may do good with their is to be supplied with ministers. property, and under circumstances And reason and experience alike calculated to give increased weight teach that they must depend princito their ordinary ministerial la- pally for their support upon Christbours.
ian beneficence. Is there not danTo the general object of increas- ger then that ministers may be muling the number of ministers, an tiplied faster than they can be ohjection is made which it may be placed and maintained in proper of use to consider. It is asked, is spheres of action ? This has indeed there not danger that the number been alleged. But when we conof ministers will exceed the de- sider, that the number of places in mand for them? To this I answer, various parts of the world, able first ; The danger, if it exist, must and willing, in whole or in part, to be very remote; as must be evi- maintain ministers for themselves, dent to every one who is but par. is continually increasing, and that tially acquainted with the numerous the more extensively Christianity
is diffused, the more numerous and THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD rapid will be the additions to the SIDERED WITH REFERENCE TO number of these places; when it is considered also, that very many ministers make for themselves fields
THE nature of the divine immuof labour without any demand upon
tability with its bearings on practhe general benevolence of Christ. tical religion affords a highly interians; and when it is farther con esting though oft-trodden field of sidered that by giving a new im- theological discussion. It is the pulse to one department of Christ. design of this essay to describe the ian enterprise a similar impulse is
view of the immutability of God communicated to
which seems most consonant with every
kindred department of Christian enterprise reason and Scripture, and then to -that by promoting the cause of consider more particularly its bearministerial education, we promote ing on the duty of prayer. also the cause of Christian missions
Some suppose that God is immu—when all this is considered with table in such a sense as to exclude a comprehensive view of the past is incompatible with existence from
all succession. Change, it is said, history of the church, and the ent state of the world, we shall be eternity. But this is not self-evi
dent. constrained, I think, to admit, that
Succession is compatible as fast as ministers are raised up,
with an eternity to come. Why God in bis providence will open I apprehend this argument is an
not equally so with an eternity past. for them a door of utterance, to publish the glad tidings of salva. invention of those who have wished tion.
to prove a priori the creation of the To give an additional impulse to
world out of nothing. Matter is the cause of ministerial education, not from eternity because mutable ; 80 intimately connected with the
for change is incompatible with great cause of evangelizing the
existence from eternity. Is it realworld, is the sole object of this ly better than a groundless asser
tion? paper. If the particular subject of it be important, and the views
It is said, again, there is no sucexhibited be found just, let the cession with God, because to him, Christian public affirm, more deci. past, present, and future, are the dedly and more emphatically than
same; in short, time is in no sense they have yet done, that is the duty predicable of Deity. And what is of pious young men of property to
an devote themselves to the ministry;
the qualities or relations of things, let parents cheerfully educate their it may be replied, are perceived or pious sons for the great and good conceived by us according as we work of converting this sinful world
are formed to be impressed by unto
them. And on beings differently men of property, remembering that constituted, things may produce where much is given, much also very different impressions. Thus, will be required, rejoice to conse
forms, colours, and sounds, we cancrate themselves peculiarly to the
not suppose, are perceived by beservice of Him who has redeemed ings without our bodily senses as
So the more them by his blood, and sanctified they are by us. them by his Spirit.
abstract relations of things, such as Bm.
time and space, analogy leads us to conclude, are viewed differently by minds differently formed. Now as the Infinite Spirit is not invested with the bodily organs of hearing effect teaches that every event and taste and sight and smell, and must be immediately connected therefore cannot be supposed to with its cause in time, if not in perceive as we perceive, the cor- place; and can it still be said that responding qualities of material ob- the creative volition was exacuy jects, so we may suppose that things, the same in all respects, exactly as as succeeding each other in time, efficient, one thousand years before, do not produce the same impression as at the moment when the world on the divine mind as on ours. sprung into existence? The same Aside from this analogical argu- reasoning will equally apply to erment I know of no ground for the ery other instance of the divine opinion that time is in no sense agency. Have we not reason, tben, applicable to the Deity, and this to suppose successive volitions with argument is obviously of little God worth.
Once more ; it was said above Once more; it is said there is that God perceives all events as no succession with God because they rise. We may advance farchange implies imperfection. But ther, and say that he perceives this, as a universal proposition, is them with corresponding emotions. by no means self-evident, nor do I Before conversion, God abhors the know that any thing can be said in sinner. After conversion, he loves its support.
the Christian. Must we not sup. A few considerations appear to pose, then, successive affections render it probable, on the other with God ? Is it replied that God hand, that there is succession with immutably hates sin, and immutably God.
loves holiness? True. But this The created universe presents a is a general proposition describing scene of perpetual change. Every the abstract character of God; and changing atom of this universe is instead of disproving, positively under the continual observation of implies, that whenever an individual its Creator. To every change, then, passes from sin to holiness, there is of every particle, it would seem, a corresponding change in the parthere must be a corresponding per- ticular affection of God towards ception, change of state, in the him. divine mind. Must we not suppose, In thus attributing succession to then, successive perceptions with the Deity, successive perceptions, God?
successive volitions, and successive Again, when we conceive of the affections, let it be understood, Deity as creating the world, we nothing is meant that shall in the necessarily conceive of him as ex- least detract from the divine per. ercising an act of will directed to fection. It is simply saying there that specific object. Now an act of is time with God. His knowledge will spread out through eternity is in all respects perfect, yet he is inconceiveable ; or if supposed, knows events as past, present, and would either produce no effect at to come ; his knowledge of things all, or a uniform eternal effect. past is perfect remembrance ; his Such a volition supposes no reason knowledge of things to come, perwhatever, why any event, as for fect anticipation. And so in the example, the creation of the world, exercise of volition and affection, should take place at one moment he has continual and distinct refof duration rather than another. * erence to the past, the present, and The universal law of cause and the future.
Whether God is immutable in * Ch. Sp. Vol. I. p. 417.
such a sense as to exclude all suc
session, is, perhaps, a question omnipotence. That Jehovah will which we can never with certainty not voluntarily resign his power we decide. I would only say that are well assured; and it is an abreason offers nothing of any weight surdity in terms to say that any in favor of such an opinion, much foreign force can diminish the powagainst it, and that the Scriptures er of him who is omnipotent. every where present views of Deity In presenting the Scripture proof, more intelligible, and more agreea. I shall cite only those passages ble to the common sense of mankind. which are most explicit and direct.
The question returns, in what “ The counsel of the Lord standeth respects is God immutable ? I an- forever, the thoughts of his heart to swer, the only immutability which all generations.” “I am God and the divine perfection requires, and there is none else ; I am God and the Bible upholds, is immutability there is none like me; declaring of knowledge, immutability of dis- the end from the beginning, and position, as the necessary result of from ancient times the things that these, immutability of purpose, and are not yet done; saying, My counlastly, immutability of power,
sel shall stand, and I will do all my 1. God is unchangeable in his om- pleasure.”
" But he is in one niscience. It would be absurd to mind, and who can turn him." suppose that by any act of his own, These passages variously assert the his knowledge should be diminish. immutability of the divine purpose. ed; and with regard to external The two following no less explicitly causes he is infinitely, above their declare the general immutability of influence.
God. “I am the Lord, I change 2. God is unchangeable in his not.” Every good gift and every infinite goodness. Such benevo- perfect gift cometh down from the lence of disposition must be an Father of lights, with whom is no unfailing source of the greatest variableness neither shadow of turnand purest enjoyment. In himself, ing." therefore, he cannot but choose to A difficulty is wont to attend this remain thus kindly disposed; and subject in the minds of some in against his choice it is certain that regard to the efficacy of prayer. no external influence can prevail. If God is thus unchangeable, how
3. If God is unchangeable in his may we hope that our prayers will omniscience, and unchangeable in avail aught before his throne. Here his infinite goodness, we infer that reference is not had to that haphe is unchangeable likewise in his py immediate influence which the purposes. To effect a change of prayer of sincerity must always expurpose in any mind, you must ert on the mind of the suppliant, effect a previous change either in throwing it into the humble and its view of circumstances, or in its penitent frame which alone bedisposition, or in both. But if God comes sinful creatures like us, and is unchangeably omniscient, his which best prepares us for enjoyviews of circumstances are unalter- ment as well as duty. This kind able. He can never know either of influence the difficulty does not more or less than he has known contemplate. It regards, rather, from eternity. If God is unchange. if we may so speak, the procuring ably good, his disposition is unal- efficacy of prayer, that which seterable. And hence, as in knowl. cures the particular blessing desired edge and goodness he changes not, and requested. To state the diffiso his purposes must be forever the culty again, how can our prayers same.
procure from God the favors we 4. God is unchangeable in his desire, unless we first suppose some change effected in the divine erly, of one's desires, towards an purpose ?
acknowledged superior. WhenThis difficulty, it is apprehended, ever we address a prayer to a finite may be removed by a careful ob- being, we expect, however faintly, servation of the nature of prayer, first, that our prayer will prove to and the mode of its procuring effio have been the means of a desired cacy.
end ; secondly, that this end will We derive our conceptions of be accomplished through the agenGod, of the mode of his existence, cy of the person addressed ; thirdof his attributes, and of bis relations ly, that this agency will arise from to the created universe, very much a corresponding change of purpose, by analogical reasonings from what and fourthly, that this change of we find in ourselves. To a certain purpose will be the effect of inforextent, this is perfectly proper, mation we have to communicate, and indeed indispensable. When or if this be already possessed, of the Scriptures tell us that God is influence we can otherwise exert infinitely powerful, to comprehend over the disposition and feelings of their meaning, we must first form the individual. If we despair in some conception of power from any one of these points, we despair our own experience, and then ex- of success, and withhold our retend that conception to the utmost quest; indeed, we should think it limits of imagination. So probably irrational and absurd to present it. all our conceptions of the infinitely Such were probably the prayers glorious attributes of Deity, must anciently offered to the pagan dei. be derived ultimately from their ties. And such, in far too great a faint shadowings in the frail imper- degree, we have reason to fear, are fect creature man. And perhaps the prayers often offered by unreall our knowledge of God must be flecting mortals at the throne of found in our own minds by a simi- Jehovah. lar analogy. But we are in con- But the infinite Majesty of heartinual danger of forming erroneous en whom we adore is not altogether conclusions by extending our con- such an one as ourselves; and parison too far, till we have made when we address our petitions to the infinite God almost if not alto- the throne of his grace, it becomes gether such an one as ourselves. us to remember into whose presWhen we would arrive at a correct ence we have ventured to approach, apprehension of any part of the di and by the conceptions, feeble as vine character, we are not to satisfy they must be, which we form of ourselves by simply ascertaining his nature and perfections, restrain what is that trait as it exists among and modify our hope of acceptmankind. We are to view it in connexion with the other proper- Now let us examine these parties of Deity, and modify our con- ticulars which enter into the import ception of it, till it shall perfectly of prayer as addressed to a finite harmonize with the rest. In this being, and observe in how many of way then let us contemplate God these partieulars the import of prayas the hearer and answerer of pray. er is changed when addressed io er. In other words, let us thus en- the infinite Jehovah. To consider deavor to ascertain what is prayer, them in the reverse order, we can and what the mode of its procuring never expect, in the first place, to efficacy with God.
communicate any information to the Prayer, in the most general ac- Deity, or in any way to change his ceptation of the term, is the expres- disposition. We can neither insion of one's feelings, or more prop- crease nor diminish his knowledge