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tions and entanglements, all the intricacies of the questions in dispute. These intricate principles and energies have developed themselves in the various phenomena which transpire in conversion, without exposing their process to the detection and analysis of men. One party of divines have retired to their cells with one class of phenomena, another party with another class; and both have speculated with equal ability and equal learning — and the conclusions of both have been equally inconclusive, because they all “ put asunder what God had joined together.” Both are right as far as they go; and both are wrong on the lines where they stop: for the inductions of the Scriptures show that BOTH these agencies have been in active operation in producing the phenomenon of conversion.
In these circumstances the theologian finds, what the mathematician finds in his physical investigations, the presence of two energies, distinct from each other — both free, whether acting upon, or influenced by, the other; neither of them destroying the properties of the other. It is not the province of either theologian or philosopher to explain how two agencies, unlike and different, can combine to produce a result. The philosopher and the divine find, in their respective departments of science, that IT IS so. The theologian is only “the minister and interpreter” of Scripture. He is not to speculate on what ought to be, or might be, in the Scripture; much less is he to settle what must be, and shall be there. As a divine, he is to be conversant with nothing but what is there; and, as an inductive divine, he is to give “all acceptation ” to every thing there, and to every thing as it is there.
It is as “the minister and interpreter” of Scripture only that the author wishes to investigate and discuss the great subject of this book. He wishes to present it to others, simply and entirely, as he thinks that he discovers it in the Scripture. If it can be shown that the results of his inquiry are not founded on Scripture induction, -- then, let them be rejected; but if they are thus founded, — then with the Scripture let them stand or fall.
REALITY AND VARIETY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES.
THE REALITY AND VARIETY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES.
GOD, with whom we have to do, is everywhere, and pervades all beings, without displacing their positions, or disturbing their operations. His infinite essence is united to the principles, the elements, and the constitutions, of all created existences; they all move within the range of his presence, and act and work within the sphere of his energy and influence. Yet the presence of God is not his essence. All the phenomena of the material universe are only the tokens of his influences, and the influences are the signals of his presence; but none of these are manifestations and displays of his essence, none of these are God.
The disciples of theology may be easily taunted with the demand for a definition of Divine influences, or a description of what is meant by “ God being present.” It would appear unreasonable to write a book on a subject which, confessedly, neither the reader nor the writer can define what it is. There are few that have proceeded far in mental and moral investigations, who have not learnt that it is only when a definition has become useless that the meaning of its terms are fully and completely understood ; and that those terms are much better ascertained, by their use in the discussion, than by the explanations in the logical statement. In the present case, we think that the best terms, which we could use, would be those which would most powerfully express our utter ignorance of the depths of this profound mystery.
WHAT IS THE PRESENCE OF Gon? or what is the influence that betokens the Divine presence? The full and clear answer to these questions is, probably, what Moses requested of God himself, when he prayed him to show him his glory. It was after Moses had been admitted into the ineffable splendors of his presence, that he preferred this sublime entreaty. The response, which the Blessed God gave, intimates that we cannot understand this and live; it announces that the vast comprehension, and inscrutable combinations, of his all-present and ever vigorous agency are beyond the range, and surpass the analysis, of intellectual capacities which think and feel in body and sense. It is hardly possible to distinguish
between the influences and the presence of God, except, as in case of any agent in nature, the influences always prove the presence. As far as can be inferred, from the use of the phrase in theological investigations, Divine influence designates that energy, tendency, and efficaciousness to produce effect, which the First Cause gives, or has imparted, to the action of second causes as means to an end. The Divine presence designates a local manifestation of his agency, in which he peculiarly and evidently exercises his influences and energy.
If theologians be further interrogated, “ What is this Energy ?” the ingenious and the honest must avow that they do not know, and that they cannot define it. Notwithstanding this humbling confession, the scholars of theology can claim to sit on the same forms of intellectual dignity with the disciples of Experiment and Induction, and with the exalted Optimi of Demonstration. Who among these sons of wisdom will define that energy which attracts all things to its own centre; which flings its influences through solids, fluids, gases, rays, ever lessening in proportion to the square of the distance, yet never destroyed, but extending indefinitely beyond the farthest remove to which thought has strayed ; or renewing in freshness where imagination has flagged? Who will venture to define GRAVITATION? that influence which has a centre in every molecule, that is dormant nowhere, that acts everywhere? Who will define or describe what those subtile and complicated energies are which surround, and yet pervade, every atom ; which, in the densest mass, isolate every particle; which give to every grain of matter polarity, affinity, attraction, repulsion ? These powers, energies, and influences are not the less real, because they escape the crucible of analysis, or elude the grasp of definition.
After all attempts at definition, the influence, or presence, of God is rather a name for an effect of a cause than the cause itself; for that which is meant by influence is rather a phenomenon than the cause of a phenomenon. Our habits of perception, and our modes of conception are those of limited creatures; and, consequently, we are apt to apply to the Incomprehensible God, lines of extension and diffusion ; forgetting, in the effort of speculation, that these are the attributes of body, and not the properties of spirit. When we think of the divine energy acting and influencing everywhere, we are apt to imagine some power, force, principle, afflatus, or fluid of inappreciable tenuity, and of inscrutable subtility, penetrating, pervading, filling, and moving everything, beginning in every point and terminating in none. To the paradoxical propositions that the Divine Essence is intimately near to, and equally in, every atom of the creation; and that it is equally remote from every particle, we must yield a cordial assent; because - his nature has no relations to space: it is neither excluded from any point, nor included in any extent.
Mind working in flesh can form no conceptions of spirit without relations to space and form. It is only by severe and painful efforts that it can make an approach to a ray of light, to a gas, to the electric fluid, or to the force of a magnet; yet these are bulky masses of material bodies compared with what is in real verity, SPIRIT. Who, then, by searching can find out God, or who can find out the Almighty to perfection? Could the intellect of man sound the unfathomable depths of the Divine nature, or penetrate into the sacred arcana of the Divine operations, still it could not convey its discoveries to others, for the symbols and representatives of his thoughts would fail him. Language, the most precise and accurate, is inadequate to a full and clear expression of a spirit; much more so of the Original and Supreme spirit of the universe. The language and symbols which the Great God has employed in the sacred Scriptures, to give us information concerning himself, are conveyed in our own forms, are adapted to our modes of thought, and, without professing metaphysical precision, are suited to all the purposes of our probation, our holiness, and happiness. All words and combinations of words, the loftiest and largest form of expression,* fall short, infinitely short, of the Divine nature as He is.
To aid in giving distinctness and comprehension to our conceptions of God, the Scriptures inform us that “He worketh, though we see him not,” that “He worketh all things in all things ; ” that He is “ All in all,” and that in the exercise of his energy, “ He fainteth not, neither is weary." Our God is not a God of metaphysical guesses, or of logical deductions ; but a God living, acting, working, producing, and sustaining, his productions without intermission. When matter started forth into existence from the hand of God, there was a period when its mass and form were fresh with the impress of his
* Homini potius utilis habeatur quam Deo apta. - Hilar. DE TRIN.
power, energy, and presence :— when God was indeed there, and at work. This is evident from the marks of design and contrivance in the elements and adaptations of matter. This matter, when endowed with these adaptations, cannot perpetuate them ; for it cannot continue itself, without a constant emanation of the creative influence to sustain it. As soon as we conceive a production finished by the Creator, we see the necessity of his sending forth some plenitude of energy to let it “consist.” If there be one interval between his presence and it; if his influence be not in perpetual contact with it, it must fail and perish. Therefore, where his hand or energy is sustaining, there his presence is according to the capacity of the subject.
If there be any approach to accuracy in this account of Divine influences, it is obvious that erroneous sentiments on this subject are numerous, prevalent, and stubborn. These fetter and bind down the healthy energies of the Christian church, destroy the mighty force of truth, and reduce all the requirements and overtures of God into metaphysical problems and logical exercises. The preceding pages have assumed the Divine Influence to be that energy, tendency, and adaptation to produce effect, which God has communicated to the action of causes, agents, and means, in their respective combinations. In the sentiments most generally entertained, it is supposed that in influencing, God is TO DO something beside and above the settled arrangement and combination ; or something beyond the adapted action of means; as if, when the magnet acts, by the Divine adjustment, on the needle, God himself does something more than, and beyond, the energy given to the magnet to influence the needle. In the present disquisition, by “ influencing” is meant a given agent, principle, truth, or fact, operating on a given subject according to given laws of combination, fitted and intended to produce a corresponding result. No fresh impulse is, in the process, added to the Agent or principle, and no ascititious energy is introduced to modify the given laws of action.
An enlarged and intimate acquaintance with the various classes of Energies by the operations of which, God acts and works in the universe,* would be of great service, to the
*"The great mysterious Being, who made and governs the whole system, has set a part of the chain of causes in our view ; but we find, that as He himself is too high for our comprehension, so his more immediate instruments in the universe are also involved in an obscurity that philosophy is