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and possess us consistently with our rational nature.
6. As a man thinketh in his heart (or mind), so is he." " This is life eternal to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” They that know Thy name shall put their trust in Thee.”
But the Gospel, simple though it be, is a set or system of truths. Take its very simplest expression. Is it “God is love"? But a whole
a theology lies in that very first word God. Who is He? What is He? How stands He related to us ? and How has this relation become affected by our sin? So with any other Gospel epitome; its terms are so many inclosing buds of far-reaching truths. These we must study, and that in
sequence and system : “Hold fast the form of sound words."
Many are the spurious varieties to which intelligent hearing stands opposed : for example, sensational hearing, which doats on the maudlin sentiment, the vapid anecdote, the loves of kindred effusively touched, or panoramas of heaven with the colours well laid on : Esthetic hearing, which takes note only of the artistic in manner, gesture, flourish, finish, and in a voice as the sound of a very pleasant instrument :” Negative kearing, a growing variety in these days, which flouts at dogma ; crying up the wine, yet staving in the containing cask, belauding the brain, and then smashing in the protecting skull: Athenian hearing, which lightly parts with the true for the sake of the new : Undiscriminating hearing, that has a swallow for whatever the preacher chooses to give, whose motto, instead of “Prove all things ” is “ Eat all things ;" or, as Boston puts it, “ There are four different kinds of hearers of the word,
-those like a sponge, that suck up good and bad together, and let both run out immediately ; those like a sand-glass, that let what enters in at one ear pass out at the other; those like a strainer, letting go the good, and retaining the bad ; and those like a sieve, letting go the chaff, and retaining the good grain."
IV. They are receptive hearers. “They receive the word " it in Mark. For Matthew's word “understand,” Mark has “receive,” which is the more comprehensive word of the two. This, however, for want of space, we must leave unillustrated ; as we must also do with the other varieties that remain.
V. They are retentive hearers. As we read in Luke, "Having heard the word, they keep it.” They contrast, therefore, not only with the wayside hearers who tempt the very devil to pick it off, but also, in their varying degrees, with the rocky and thorny ground hearers. They not only “prove all things,” they “hold fast that which is good.
" They thus “lay up a good store against the time to come;" text after text coming up when needed in the hour of temptation and trial, and reappearing as ministering angels on the bed of death.
: so stands
VI. They are patient hearers : “ With patience," says Luke, yea, and with “perseverance,” the word denoting not only the passive, but also this active virtue.
VII. They are useful hearers, overflowing in well-doing to others : “They bring forth fruit.” This, indeed, is their crowning characteristic; in varying degrees, but in all some; and in all, that some ought to be much. “ Bear much fruit,” says Jesus, "so shall ye be My disciples" : So shall ye be, and such will ye thereby prove yourselves to be.
VIII. And finally, they are hearers that are blessed in their own souls; for all their good-doing returns sevenfold into their own bosom. “Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Blessing he is blessed, and blessed he becomes yet more a blessing; and so the circle of benign reaction divinely runs its ceaseless round.
Prayer is a Force. All change in the universe is the result of force in action. There is in nature a multitude of forces, each one of which produces changes or effects corresponding to the nature and intensity of the force in action. Solidity is due to the force of cohesion. Solution results from the force of adhesion. The tendency of masses of matter toward each other is owing to the force of gravitation. Chemical force is detected in compound bodies. Heat, light, electricity, and magnetism are natural forces familiar to the scientist. There is vital force likewise in vegetable and animal. A higher grade of force still, is mind force, exhibited in thought, emotion, and will. Atoms and masses, the ponderable and the imponderable, the organic and the inorganic, the living and the dead, are all replete with force. From central core to wide circumference, nature is a teeming magazine of forces. Operating, as they must and do, on every inorganic atom and every fibre of vegetable and animal substance, a rushing tide of never-pausing motion, change, sweeps round in endless revolution, or on and forward to the “ final consummation.”
All change in the wide universe is the result of force. It is self-evident that no change can by possibility occur but by the exertion of force. The converse of this principle is equally true—that every force in active exertion must and will result in change--must and will produce an effect in kind and measure in accurate correspondence to the nature and intensity or amount of force exerted. This is a principle in natural dynamics, not only universally admitted but universally insisted upon by scientists-quite as strenuously by materialists who denominate prayer a superstitious folly, as by Christian. scientists who teach the efficacy of prayer.
If, then, prayer is a force, and if every force produces a result, it neces
sarily and unavoidably follows that prayer is efficacious ; that it is not a superstitious folly, and that answer to it is not a scientific impossibility ; but that, on the contrary, it harmonises perfectly with the well-established principles and universal teachings of science, and that it is scientifically impossible that it should not be answered.
But prayer is a force. Prayer is as really and truly a force as that which binds the atom to its fellow, or propels the wheeling planet—as truly as that which moves and guides the tool that builds the ship, or that shapes and drives the engine-as truly as that which elaborates the thought and utters the words that sway the multitude, or that mould the character and shape the destiny of nations. Indeed, the force, the power of thought, of emotion, of will, of language, and of prayer, cannot be widely different from each other. "Mind governs matter is a form of expression denoting force, and is a universally accepted truth. So also “knowledge is power.” Mind is not only itself a force, but a prolific generator of forces. Thought and emotion are forces. So also are faith and hope, love and hate, fear, desire and will. Every mind-product, indeed, however manifested, is a force. Some mental forces are, it may be, subjective, some objective, nevertheless they are forces. However complex or compound prayer may as a force be, still all its elements are dynamic ; and when exerted it is scientifically and philosophically impossible that it should fail to effect its proper and legitimate result-a result in all respects corresponding to the nature and the sum of its conjunct and co-operating elements. The effect must always follow where the force operates freely.
Assuming, then, as established, that prayer is a force, the chief, if not the entire, difficulty of those who insist that answer to prayer is a scientific imossibility at once disappears. In fact, if prayer is admitted to be a force, Scientists are compelled either to insist that it is efficacious, or to abandon the undamental principle of causation.
But perhaps a fertile source of difficulty in the minds of scientists and others is the neglect or failure on the part of the advocates of the power of prayer, to define satisfactorily its legitimate scope and sphere—its limits. All forces have limits to their operation. Cohesion operates upon the par. ticles of matter of the same kind. This is its limit. It cannot change the weight nor affect the temperature of a body. Gravitation causes bodies to approach each other. This is its limit-its scope and sphere of operation. It does not render bodies luminous, nor does it elevate their temperature. Neither does it cause elementary substances to combine into chemical compounds. As a force it exhausts itself upon bodies in the mass, and in the single direction indicated. Thus far it can go, and no farther. The same is true of every force. Each has its function in the economy of nature ; each is assigned a sphere in which it may operate, and each has its appointed bounds beyond which it cannot go. All forces are special, having their functions respectively assigned them; and all are partial, having their limits fixed. The same is unquestionably true of prayer.
It is not a force of unbounded scope and universal operation. The advocates of its efficacy have
never so insisted. Like other forces which operate in 'the 'wide empire of Jehovah, it is special and partial. Its function is assigned, its limit fixed. What is its function, and what its scope and limits, may be learned from nature, reason, and revelation.
Again, all forces are co-active, consistent, and essentially harmonious. One force does not antagonise another. They cannot clash. They are all harmoniously co-operative. Forces may be related and correlated. They may combine and co-act. They may modify each other. But they never confront and antagonise each other. They all move,
so to speak, in the same direction. There is no dynamic war in the universe. There can be no conflict between natural forces in the sense of hostile disorder or destructive antagonism. Legitimate prayer affords no exception to the principle enunciated. It has full and unobstructed operation in its appointed sphere. Outside of its appointed limits, scientifically speaking, it is either inoperative, or is neutralised by incompatible forces. It may, however, operate in conjunction with other forces, as heat co-operates with chemical affinity. It may, in some sense, oppose other forces, as heat opposes cohesion. It may modify other forces, as light modifies the action of vital forces in plants and animals. Yet it harmonises essentially and substantially with all other forces. Prayer does not antagonise gravitation. It cannot overturn the pyramid, nor pluck the moon from its orbit. Prayer does not antagonise cohesion. It cannot dissolve the granite rock, nor reduce the earth to molten chaos. Yet prayer
is a force, and never fails to produce its legitimate result when exerted.
This law of prayer, as well as its scope and limit, is distinctly enunciated in the Holy Scriptures. “ Ask, and ye shall receive." This is the law. It is identical with the law of causation. Cause and effect, force and result, are distinctly set forth. Yet no conflict of force with force, or law with law, is either expressed, intimated, or implied. The contrary rather. Prayer does not call upon God to alter the established order of His administration, but to act conformably to it. Prayer, and the answer to prayer, have been provided for in the constitution of things, and the Divine government of man, and of things that in any way affect man, as fully as has been done for
any other force and its effect. Prayer seeks to excite no new inclination, nor to engender any new purpose in the Divine mind. God is not like man, whose judgment may be convinced by arguments, and whose affection and favour may be won by persuasion. Yet men pray expecting that He will do for them, in consequence of their prayers, what He would not have done had they not prayed. And yet this does not imply that He is a changeable Being, nor does it involve any interference with the established order of things. The connection between prayer and its object is strikingly analogous, if not identical, with the connection between means and ends in the economy of nature. God bestows blessings because men ask. He gives the harvest becarise men labour. Man's need would not procure the blessing. Neither would man's need produce the harvest. Man's desire would not obtain the blessing. Neither would man's desire procure the harvest.
( od does not promise to those who want that they shall have, but to those who
ask. He does not promise bread to those who are hungry, but to those who work. The law is : “ Ask not, and ye shall not receive.” “ Labour not, and ye shall not reap." “Ask, and ye shall receive. Labour, and
Labour is a force, so is prayer. Labour is a means to an end, so is prayer. Labour does not require the Almighty to alter His plan in order to reap its reward. Neither does prayer. Labour is a subordinate force which may or may not be exerted without deranging the established order of things. The same is true of prayer. Muscular effort in labour may be feeble, and the result will be small. The same principle holds true as to prayer. Labour may be misdirected through ignorance or other cause, and fail of its expected result. So may prayer. Labour may ignorantly or presumptuously transcend its divinely appointed limits, and undertake what in the nature of things is impossible. Prayer often does the same thing with a similar result. In short, the results of labour, in any given case, bear a direct ratio to the sum of the effective elements of force exerted, and are governed and estimated by the general law of causation. The same general and comprehensive principle applies to prayer, however numerous and various may be the elements which enter into its composition as a force.
The relation of force to force, and of other qualities, substances and agents, are, as to particular facts but imperfectly understood, even by the most learned scientists. That there are relations beyond the ken of mere physical science, who can doubt? That there are forces in operation outside of and above the empire of the material, both reason and revelation clearly teach. What relation those forces sustain to the material, how, to what extent, and according to what law they affect the material, and in turn are affected by it, involve inquiries of the gravest and most difficult character for both the scientist and the theologian. What the function and scope of prayer in this ultra-material domain ; what the nature and extent of its connection with the material; and what.the means and the law of its influence over the material, are inquiries of the highest moment to which the analogies of empirical science, the comprehensive conditioning of principles of reason, and the divine light of revelation may, by possibility, be able by friendly cooperation to furnish a satisfactory answer. The relation of mind to matter, of the spiritual to the material, and the harmonious consolidation of their respective forces to each other, are all suggestive of grave and momentous inquiry. Harmony is preserved among the natural forces by the yielding of the weaker to the stronger, when they come in conflict. Chemical forces control in general the forces of inorganic matter ; vital plant forces control chemical forces ; and the forces of animal vitality control the forces of vegetable life. Are not mental, moral, spiritual forces of a still higher grade? Is not prayer, then, as a force super-material ? If so, may it not be safely inferred that in the gradation of the dynamics of nature it holds the highest rank, and that it controls all other inferior forces with which it may incidentally come in conflict within the legitimate scope and limits of its operation ?
Lire.--I t not the stream of your life always be a murmuring stream.