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pendent, lowly, believing, humble, and spiritual frame, may be no less considered an answer to prayer, than if particularly specified. But the hand of God appears still more evident, when duty, necessity, piety, and prudence have suggested the asking of a particular good in Christ's name, and it offers itself to us in that shape or form we humbly requested. "In all thy ways acknowledge him," &c. 6th, If added to these, the call presents a wider door of usefulness, or a greater share of needful comfort and support, than a present situation may admit of; or when it opens a way out of a particular temptation; or affords a more extensive opportunity of glorifying God, and serving the church of Christ, we may more reasonably conclude that it is of God.
“After having discovered and obeyed such a call is it lawful to recede?”
That the hand of God, in providence, has been seen in the call; or that we have in consequence, dutifully complied with it, are no arguments wherefore we may not recede, provided we find sufficient reason so to do. The plainest intimations of Providence are not designed to suppress the exercise of reason and reflection; but rather suppose
and enjoin, in such a case, the proper use of both. At the same time, fickleness is no mark of having properly consulted the Divine will and pleasure; nor does it establish the wisdom of character: "He that believeth shall not make haste."
It may, however, be both lawful and expedient sometimes to recede from engagements into which an acknowledged providence may have guided us. This will appear from the following cases which I shall produce, in order to illustrate the point in hand; and with
these conclude, as the ingenious querist may readily suppose others of a similar kind.
I have wished to engage in some trade or profession: I seek God for direction in this, and providence presents an opening; which, after mature deliberation, I embrace. But when I am fixed therein, I perceive, from better acquaintance with affairs, that I am incompetent to continue in it, or am likely to injure my circumstances, or may be exposed to sin by remaining in my post: in either or all of these cases it is both lawful and expedient to recede.
I will suppose another case: I am called to be a pastor over a congregation; in the introduction to which I endeavor to follow the leadings of providence. I obey the call; but when settled over the flock, circumstances may alter, so as to render the situation unfriendly to my peace, or prove inadequate to my support in life. In this case it is lawful, after due trial, to embrace another opening in providence, and quit my present situation.
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,
A roung Inquirer is much perplexed to know how she
should understand those words in the Lord's Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation;" which to her seem to imply, that God is the Author of temptation. She would be much obliged by a few observations tending to clear up the difficulty.
The following observations are submitted to your consideration, in answer to the “Young Inquirer,” on that part of the Lord's prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.”
It is, doubtless, the eaiest, as well as the safest and most judicious way, when any difficult passage occurs, to search out its agreement with the general tenor of the sacred word. This mode of investigation may enable us to obviate this seeming difficulty. The word “temptation,” sometimes means any trial.* It is asserted ihat God tempted Abraham;t that is, he put his faith and sincerity to the test: it is explained in Heb. xi. 17. The more Abraham's affections were fixed upon his son Isaac, the more evidently would his sincerity towards God appear, in his readiness to offer him as a sacrifice. God still, by various means, proves the strength of faith and reality of love, in the souls of his people. I
At other times, this word is to be taken in a bad sense, as when it refers to the devices of Satan. By his temptations he designs to deceive, seduce, and destroy: Thus he tempted our first parents to take of the forbidden fruit. His first effort was to persuade them that they had misunderstood the Divine sentence, or that God did not mean to execute his threatening; and that so far from sustaining any evii by a participation, it would be the mean of inci easing their wisdom.
This is the process he still carries on with his temptations to misguide the judgment, suduce from the path of duty, and thus ruin immortal souls: and, through the depravity of the human heart, he is, alas! too successful.
* Revelation iii. 10. † Genesis xxii. 1. Psalm xi. 5.
It is impossible, however, that God should tempt men in this sense, for three reasons:
1. Because, By making Him the author of temptations, we make him the author of sin; and this would destroy the attribute of his holiness.
2. It would argue against his mercy, and would go to prove that he both delights in the death of sinners, and uses means to promote it.
3. It would plainly contradict Scripture, which gives us this caution: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted of evil; neither tempteth he any man."*
The passage under consideration is thus paraphrased by the excellent Dr. Guyse: “We humbly intreat that thou wilt keep us out of the way of such trials as might prove too hard for us; or if at any time temptation lies before us, grant us help and victory over it.” To the same purpose are Baxter and Doddridge.
Every situation exposes to dangers, some situations more than others; and the dangers are in proportion to the nature and strength of our easily-besetting sin: this therefore is an humble request to be guided as to the one, and kept from the other. Agar prayed in the same manner. Sensible of the plague of his own heart, he dreaded poverty, lest he should murmur against the Lord, and be tempted of injustice; and, on the other hand, he did not wish great worldly prosperity, lest it should wean his heart from God, and he should think more of the gift than of the Giver. Thus I think the prayer is designed to teach us to be much with God, imploring him to fix us in such situations, and so to regulate all our concerns, as shall be least favorable to the evil propensities of a treacherous heart, and the machinations of a tempting devil.
* James i. 13,
† Proverbs xxx. 7, 8, 9,
Is it lawful for Christians to adventure in Lotteries? Is
it a commendable practice? Is it what a Christian minister should countenance, or blame? Or should he leave it as a matter wholly indifferent?
I ask, What is a lottery? It is, without doubt, a game of chance; and if it be lawful, we may inquire, What description of gaming is unlawful? But all gaming must be, I think, a breach of the Tenth Commandment, as we thereby covet what God, in his providence, has not given us, and which we cannot receive, but by the loss of our neighbor.* Besides, lotteries are a species of
* The Rev. Mr. Scott, in his Exposition of the Ten Command. ments (see his Essays, No. iv.) says, on the last Commandment, “All gaming, public or private, is coveting our neighbor's goods, to increase our wealth by his loss; and is, therefore, a direct violation of the com• mand:” to which he adds, in a note: “Not excepting lotteries, or even tontines: these latter constitute a kind of complicated wager about longevity, to be decided by Providence in favor of the survivors; and must, therefore, be equally culpable with other games of chance." To which we may add, that any use of a lot (which is an appeal to the decision of Providence) for the purpose of amusement or gain, or in any case without a serious desire that God would decide for us what we cannot otherwise decide, seems to be, and is generally by religious persons held to be, indefensible.