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Mr. Combe, although, as usual, in more cautious terms, endorses substantially the same theory.
We do not deny this influence of prayer upon the suppliant, or upon him in whose behalf he prays. Such influences do undoubtedly exist, and they produce blessed and glorious effects. But the appropriate question for us at present is, are these all the effects which the Scriptures ascribe to prayer? Do they not attribute other results to it, which are directly opposed to the views here propounded ? That this is the fact is plain from declarations like these : “ The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions with us, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months, and he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” We remember how Peter was delivered from prison in answer to prayer ; how an angel of God visited and instructed Manoah through the same agency; how the dream of Nebuchadnezzar was revealed to Daniel as its result, and how God restored life to the son of the Shunamite, in consequence of the prayer of Elisha. In fine, throughout the volume of inspiration God is distinctly revealed as the hearer and answerer of prayer. We do not propose to enter into any discussion of the metaphysical questions here involved, although we think the views of Mr. Fowler might be thoroughly refuted, even on these grounds; our only object, at present, is to show their direct antagonism to some of the plainest teachings of the Bible. That affirms, over and over again, by example, and by the plainest teaching, that prayer does change effects, by changing their causes, and he who denies this opposes some of the clearest declarations, and some of the most precious encouragements of revealed truth.
One word upon another point involved in the last extract from Mr. Fowler. He affirms that “God himself is governed by immutable, unalterable laws.” Upon this view, God is no longer the Governor of the universe. He no longer sits upon the throne, and holds in his hands the sceptre of universal dominion. He is a subject, and not
the supreme Disposer of events. The Scriptures represent God as the Creator of the universe, and of all the laws by which that universe is controlled, but this, according to Mr. Fowler, is a grand mistake. He is subject to the same control which directs and guides the work which his hands have formed. Instead of being the efficient cause of all things, in whom they all “ live and move and have their being,” he himself is directed by something which Mr. Fowler calls “ laws.' Who made them? Who gives to them efficiency and authority? To whose intelligence are they subject, and whose final glory do they subserve? This philosophy is essentially unscriptural and heathenish in its character. It is the worst feature of the Stoical system, grafted most incongruously upon the Epicurean ethics. It robs God of his supremacy, and places a blind and undiscerning fatality upon the throne of the universe.
There are other points of difference between these writers and the records of Divine truth, to which we had designed to direct attention. But the length to which this article has already extended, admonishes us to forbear. Enough has been said, we apprehend, to show the direct antago-. nism between this whole system and the teachings of the Bible, as well as the opposition of its chief disciples to one another, and to any correct system of mental philosophy.
Let us say that neither Phrenology, nor natural science in general, is responsible for these aberrations. They have no natural connection with it. It is only by wresting and misinterpreting its teachings, that it can be made to render them even the appearance of support. It would be an easy task to show how untenable the positions of these men are, even on phrenological grounds. To this work we may at some future time address ourselves.
We cannot close this article without noticing the tone of oracular confidence and self-glorification with which these men give utterance to their crude inconsistencies, as well as the reproaches which they so liberally heap upon all who venture to differ from them. These they do not hesitate at once to denominate ignorant and bigoted, and none are either liberal or enlightened who do not choose meekly to
sit at their feet and learn of them. Verily, in their own esteem at least, “they are the men, and wisdom will die with them.” Such a spirit betokens any thing but the Christian gentleman, the real philosopher, or the genuine scholar. They have need to be taught both the first principles of science, and the first elements of good breeding.
ARTICLE III.-RANDALL, AND THE FREE-WILL
Memoir of Elder Benjamin Randall. By Elder John Buz
ZELL, Parsonsfield, Maine. 1827.
CHRISTIANITY has raised up many great men, who shine as bright stars in the Church of Christ. Among these some shine more brightly than others. We may not expect that all excellences will centre in one man. Bunyan has taken a high rank among religious writers; but some have pronounced him vulgar, and wanting in refinement. Andrew Fuller was a great theologian, yet he had not that fluency which many of his inferiors have. Carey had an acquaintance with numerous languages, though he was not perfect in any one. Edwards was a deep and logical divine, but though a powerful preacher, he could not be called eloquent. Whitefield was truly eloquent, and successful in winning souls, but he had not the scholarship of Wesley, nor his tact to organize and edify those converted under his ministry. All these were men of faith, though not all entirely harmonious in their views of Gospel truth. Yet they lived to bless the world, died in hope, ascended to glory, and harmonize there in the whole truth.
Other men have shone as lights in the world. Many who have done valiantly, though perhaps unknown to the learned, are none the less known in heaven. A knowledge of these men, by subsequent generations, may be useful.
The interest felt by each denomination of Christians recognizing a particular man as their founder, is increased by information concerning him. Thus the Episcopal Methodists hold in reverence their Wesley. The Congregationalists have their Robinson; the Presbyterians their Calvin, and the Free-Will Baptists have their RANDALL. The Memoir of Benjamin Randall, written in 1827, by Elder John Buzzell, Parsonsfield, Maine, has lately fallen into the hands of the writer. In this review of it which he now attempts, he hopes to be actuated by love of truth and Christian charity.
Benjamin Randall vas born in Newcastle, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, February 7, 1749. He commenced preaching in 1778, was ordained at New Durham, New Hampshire, 1780, and died in 1808, at the age of fifty-nine, having preached thirty years, twenty-eight from the time of his ordination. In this short period, he was the means of raising up a people who now spread extensively through many of our States. Randall, though he cannot be called a great man, in the ordinary sense of that term, and though of limited education, yet was one of the most successful Christian ministers our country has known.
The early associations of Randall were with a Congregational people, who, at that time, had greatly departed from evangelical religion. Yet in youth he was exercised with deep religious impressions. But dancing parties, composed of church members and others, drew him into the ballroom. His conscience, however, was much tried, and was relieved only by the thought that it must be innocent to dance, because professors set the example. He was in the habit of praying; but this only blinded him in self-righteousness. Yet at times he was in great distress of mind. At the age of twenty-one he heard Whitefield, in his last visit to this country, preach three times at Portsmouth. The young man was deeply affected and alarmed, but bitterly opposed the preacher. By resisting the truth he endeavored to still his conscience. But the death of Whitefield, which soon occurred, proved an arrow in his heart, which brought him to the feet of Jesus. Thus, by the
power of the Divine Spirit, Whitefield, at his death, slew Randall.
We here give the experience of Randall as written by himself:
“The next Sabbath, September 30, 1770, that memorable day! that blessed day to Whitefield! that blessed day to me! the minister of our town went to Portsmouth to preach at the great meeting house, and I went with him. At noon, as I went from the place of worship, I stopped with an individual at Packer's corner, and a man came riding along, and as he rode he cried— Mr. Whitefield is dead. Hs died this morning at Newbury about six o'clock.' As soon as this voice reached my ears, an arrow from the quiver of the Almighty struck through my heart, and a mental voice struck through my soul, louder than ever thunder struck through my ears. The first thoughts that passed through my mind were-Whitefield is now in heaven, and I am in the road to hell. I shall never hear his voice any more. He was a man of God, and I have reviled him, and spoken reproachfully of him. He has taught the way to heaven, but I regarded it not-Oh! that voice is now silent in death. I would sacrifice any thing if I could hear it again. But ah! never more shall I hear it in this life. Oh! with what a loss have I met; but it cannot be recalled. He will be a powerful witness against me in the judgment of the great day.' I trembled. Every part of my body was affected, as well as of my mind. I thought, Oh ! that I could be hid ; that no one might know how I felt; for I felt nothing but shame, hell and condemnation. I tried to conceal my feelings till I got home. I then took my room, and kept my distress, as much as possible, to myself; for I thought no person ever felt such horror as I did. My former religion appeared altogether worthless, and fled from me, as though it had never been. It seemed as if there never was a person so vile as I, nor any one possessed of such heart-alienation and enmity to God, in all his nature, and to the manifestation of his Spirit and power ; no one that felt such unreconciliation to God in every sense of the word. A query would sometimes arise in my mind—why should I be so distressed ? I bave never been so bad as such and such people-I have never cursed and sworn like them. But soon I would think again-Ah! their sins were all outward ; they never had such a heart as mine.
“I sometimes felt a little calmed, and wrote a little, and made some remarks on the preaching of Mr. Whitefield ; for in the time of my distress all his preaching was brought to my remembrance; and then my distress would roll again upon my mind like a flood ; and I became so distracted that I rose from my seat and walked the floor, and was ready, seemingly, to pull the hair out of my head. If any thing like comfort came into my mind, I could not, I would not have it, for it appeared impossible that it could be for me. Yet I believed that God was merciful enough to save me and every body else; but how it could be possible for him to be just and save me, I could not see. Notwithstanding my distress, I felt as if I could not bear any one of God's attributes should be infringed upon. Oh! that blessed, just God and a Saviour was such a mystery to me, that I could not get any discovery of it. At length I came to this conclusion, viz. : that it would be better for me to be damn ed, than that God's justice should be infringed. Mind, I do not say that I felt willing to be damned. Some say that a soul can never be converted until it is willing to be damned. But I do not believe this idea ; for if the Scriptures be true, and I believe they are, God is not willing that any should perish, and he never requires that any of his creatures should