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lowest forms, has been developed from inert matter. Says President Hitchcock, in an admirable discourse upon “Special Divine Interpositions in Nature :'
“How were these [forms of life] introduced ? If miraculous interposition be not necessary here, we know of no exigency in which it can be. Just see what the problem is : nothing less than to take a world of rock, more or less comminuted by water, and to convert it into essentially such a world as the present; to take a world utterly dead and desolate, and spread through its atmosphere, its waters and its solid surface, ten thousand ferms of life and beauty. Has nature any hidden inherent power to do this? Why then can we not lay our finger upon a single manifestation of creative power in nature in these latter times ? 0 that power is the prerogative of the Deity alone. Who shall have the boldness and even the impiety to transfer to blind, unintelligent law what demands infinite intelligence, infinite power ?”
If this be so, if the introduction of life into this world proves special interposition, then does the introduction of each successive genus prove as many such interpositions, We have therefore innumerable instances,-attested not by men; written, not upon parchment, but attested by the Creator himself, written by his finger upon the rocks, and in the life that now animates this earth,—of special interpositions. This fact completely overthrows the argument of Hume against miracles—viz., the uniformity of nature ; since it proves that there is no uniformity of nature unvaried by these interpositions. In fact it clearly shows that interposition is a part of the order of the divine government in the physical world; just as revelation declares it to be in the moral. If then, when prayer is offered to God, he do not choose, as we believe he commonly does, to make use of the ordinary laws of nature in granting an answer, he may, in equal conformity to the order of his government, interpose specially in behalf of the suppliant. And in no case can Skepticism rear a barrier between the prayer of faith and the God of prayer. will allow us but a remark or two on the
question, How can the efficacy of prayer be made out consistently with the immutability of the divine character and government?
It is evident that the plan which God has adopted, and which is now being unfolded, involves very largely the em
ployment of second causes. Matter with its properties, mind with its attributes, are causal links in the chain of events, and so wonderfully have infinite wisdom and skill arranged and adapted the whole, that to every voluntary agent there has been left the most perfect freedom ; compatible with which,-nay, in and by the very exercise of which, the vast plan, though to our finite apprehension exhibiting often the most utter and alarming confusion, moves ever directly and harmoniously on.
Now wherever the relation of cause and effect exists, even in a modified degree, the latter is conditioned upon the former; and is made really and necessarily dependent upon it. Now among these various causal connections in the moral and spiritual world, we may place prayer. God may have established such a relation between prayer and those blessings which he confers upon the suppliant. We have reason to believe that this relationship exists far more perfectly in the realm of mind, where free intelligences are agents, than in the lower region of matter. It is a part of God's plan-a large part of his revealed plan, to save sinners; but who can tell the links of connection which depend one from another, and one upon another, between this purpose, and its consummation, in the provision of a Savior, the proclamation of the Gospel, the operation of the Spirit, the repentance, faith and obedience of the sinner?
If it be said, that such a connection between prayer and what we claim as its answer, cannot be proved; we reply that we are not required to prove it; we present it as a hypothesis which cannot be disproved; and this is all that is necessary to meet and silence the objector.
We here part company with the objector; and repeat what was said in the onset: that the efficacy of prayer is a question of fact, and its proof must be drawn from testimony. If this be clear and undoubted, it scatters all the plausible arguments and metaphysical objections that can be urged against it. It was thus that the apostle put to rout the whole force of sophistical argument which the subtle Greeks had brought against the doctrine of the Resurrection ;-by the incontrovertible fact, “But now is Christ risen
from the dead." And so the devoted Christian, be he ever 80 lowly, ever so unable to unmask the fallacies of learned and presumptuous skepticism, triumphs over them, when he can say with the assurance of the Psalmist, “ Verily, God hath heard me, he hath attended unto the voice of my supplication.”
Is it true then that prayer is an agency of such immense power for good : that besides all the kindly influences which its exercise brings upon the soul, by calling into action and prompting the growth of the purest and noblest parts of our nature, it actually reaches God, brings down from him, though by the hand of second causes it may be, yet really from him, the things which our necessities so much require, and his benevolence is so ready to bestow? And is there a
mercy seat," upon which sits our gracious God and Fatber, accessible at all times, in all places, and to all men, with the assurance direct from the lips of Eternal Truth, “He that asketh receireth ?” How strange that this should be believed, and yet this agency so little used !
This subject is one of inconceivable practical moment. It is in answer to prayer that those great moral and religious movements which are going on in the world, and which are carrying forward the history and the destiny of our race, are to continue. It may be questioned whether there be a step taken in the triumphant march of Truth, whether an obstacle ever be removed from its path, except in answer to pray
“ Thus saith the Lord, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do this thing for them.” And generally, the progress of piety in our own hearts, in the churches and communities of our own land, and on the mission fields abroad, will be in proportion to the amount of fervent effectual prayer, not merely because such prayer leads to corresponding effort, but as well because it fulfills the conditions upon which He acts," who worketh all things after the counsels of his own will."
Recent Sermons.*-The recent multiplication of volumes of sermons' and their rapid sale, indicate an increased appetite on the part of the public, for this kind of religious reading. It is well that the supply furnished by our religious publishers so adequately meets the demand. We have in the sermons of Caird, Bushnell, Wayland and Spurgeon, a fine illustration of the ease and power with which Christian truth can be molded to adapt itself to different classes of mind. The Scotch preacher is the very antipodes of John Knox. There is hardly a thunderbolt in all his discourses. They are rather illuminated from beginning to end by incessant flashes of heat-lightning, exceedingly beautiful, but noiseless and harmless. He is a polished Christian scholar, uttering the grand truths of the Gospel in the smoothest and most finished language, with not a word of coarseness or rudeness to jar the sensibilities of the refined, with sufficient elevation of thought to please the intellectual, but without that stern grappling with the conscience, that direct, forcible appeal to the heart which is essential to the model preacher. Some of the sermons in this volume are, in our judgment, fully equal to his “Religion in Common Life," by which he gained, as we are told, almost a fortune, and a reputation.
Dr. Bushnell, on the contrary, generally polishes his discourses but little. We are reminded by him of John Foster's "massy fragments of originality tumbling suddenly down,” and his style is well described by the same author, as resembling,“ a wall that has the striking irregularity of pilasters, pictures, niches and statues.” Sometimes obscure, too much 80 for a speaker, whose language ought to be transparent, sometimes indefinite, if not erroneous in his theological views, he yet enchains the reader with the rapid succession of new and striking thoughts which he pours forth, the accurate knowledge of human nature he displays, and the vigor and power of his burning words.
There is great variety in the discourses in this volume. Some of them are plain, unadorned, practical—others elaborate, eloquent and full of illustrations. One of the most impressive is that entitled, “ Dignity of Human Nature shown from its Ruins." We question if there are many discourses of recent date, which equal in magnificence this fearful yet splendid description of “the desolated majesty of man.” We have no sympathy with Dr. Bushnell's views of “ Christian nurture,” which occa sionally appear in these sermons, and we think some of his theological speculations of doubtful character, but we admire his abilities, and owe him our thanks for the pleasure and profit this volume has afforded us.
Dr. Wayland is unlike either of the others, and approaches much nearer our standard of a model preacher than either. The duty of individual
* 1. Sermons. By the Rev. Joux CAIRD, M.A , Minister of the Park Church, Glasgow New York: R. Carter & Bros; 12mo; pp. 398.
2. SERMONS FOR THE NEW LIFE. Bv HORACE BUSHNELL. Third Edition. New York: Chas. Scribner; 12mo; pp. 456.
3. SERMONS TO THE CHURCHES. By FRANCIS WAYLAND. New York: Sheldon, Blako man & Co.; 12mo; pp. 281.
4. SPURGEON'S Gems: Being brilliant passages from the Discourses of the Rev. C. 8. SPURGEON. New York : Sheldon, Blakeman & Co.; 12 mo; pp. 354.
and entire consecration to Christ is his key-note. He does not, like Caird, polish the “sword of the Spirit” till it almost loses its edge, nor, like Bushnell
, grapple with the deep problems of theology, and lose himself and his hearers in their profound abysses—but selecting practical themes adapted to the present character of the churches, he bends all his powers to the task of settling them upon immutable principles, and pressing them upon the conscience with the utmost clearness and force. Few men have more common sense than he, and this volume, like his previous writings, abounds with useful suggestions, as well as earnest appeals. We wish every rich man in our churches would read the sermon on "The Perils of Riches.” The adoption of Dr. Wayland's suggestions there would be the inauguration of a new era in our missionary enterprises. If we have any fault to find with these sermons, it is that Dr. Wayland finds too much fault with the Christianity of the present age. It is far from perfect, we know, but it is more active and liberal than that of any age since apostolic days, and let us not exaggerate its defects, at the same time ignoring its good qualities.
PURGEON is emphatically the people's preacher." Let critics blame him as they will, his unparalleled popularity both as a preacher and an author, proves that he possesses the rarest gifts for impressing and affecting the multitude. These “gems,” culled from his discourses, furnish a very fair specimen of his style, and may induce many to become better acquainted with his sermons. We are not, however, partial to such miscellaneous collections of fragmentary thoughts, brilliant as many of them are, especially when, as in this case, they are arranged in no order what
If a second edition is demanded, we hope that this want of ar rangement will be remedied.
THE LITERARY ATTRACTIONS OF THE BIBLE; or, a Plea for the Word of God, considered as a Classic. By Le Roy J. Halsey, D.D. (New York: C. Scribner, 12 mo; pp. 441.)
Without any claim to originality, Dr. Halsey has here presented in a very pleasing manner, illustrations of the poetry and bards of the Bible, its eloquence and oratory, its science and sages, sketches of its types of female character, and a representative young men,” the objects of sublimity and beauty it reveals, and its claims as a classic and a book of general education. It is written with sufficient beauty to render it attractive, and though rather diffuse, contains much valuable information. It is designed chiefly for the young, and its tendency cannot fail to be salutary, for no one can rise from its perusal without a deeper appreciation of that wonderful book which it aims to commend, not only as a guide to heaven, but as replete with stores of more than mortal eloquence and wisdom.
The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK, explained by Joseph Addison Alexander. (N. Y.: C. Scribner ; 12mo; pp. 444.)
This is the largest and most exhaustive Commentary on Mark with which we are acquainted. The learned author takes the positions, “that Augustine’s notion as to Mark's dependence upon Matthew, although acquiesced in for a course of ages, is a hurtful error;" that “the book is not a desultory series of mere anecdotes or random recollections, but a systematic history, in which the topics are selected and arranged with constant view to a specific purpose. The analysis and interpretation of each chapter are accordingly based upon these views, and serve to confirm them.
The notes are rather long, but in the main eminently judicious, and, while exhibiting the results of patient investigation, are plain to every English reader. The bias of the author in favor of Pedobaptist views may be very clearly discerned in several places, and it has led him on