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influence is as various as the different shapes of sin and diversities of human character. Indeed, it often changes its form in the same breast; and, when driven from one " refuge of lies,” finds a hold in some other.
1. Unbelief doubts the possibility of Divine influence." I can trace,” says one,“ within my own mind no symptoms of foreign guidance or aid. I discover there nothing but the regular and uninterrupted flow of my own thoughts, emotions, and purposes-no supernatural suggestions—nothing that is not connected with something preceding. I always act from motives, and as reason dictates, without any sudden and unaccountable starts of aversion to vice or love of virtue. Indeed, were it not so, I should cease to be free. Place me under Divine influence with regard to moral objects of thought or action, and you make me a mere machine; you destroy my responsibility to God.”
2. Pride disdains this influence.—“ Am I not,” is its language, “ the absolute sovereign of my own thoughts, affections, and conduct, and capable, as a free agent, of controlling and directing them as I please ? Must I be still influenced and guided by God in the exercise of that very power which he has given me, of choosing the good and refusing the evil ?
3. Self-righteousness does not want this influ. ence." All the commandments of God have I kept from my youth up,” it exclaims : " what lack s yet ? Why need I be drawn by God to a re
JOHN vi. 44.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath
Perhaps there is scarcely any doctrine of Scripiure more repugnant to the feelings of sinful man, than the necessity of a Divine influence in whatever relates to the salvation of the soul. And yet there is none, which, when rightly understood and duly appreciated, is more full of encouragement and consolation. How it happens, that we, worms of the dust, ignorant, weak, and wicked, are unwilling to be enlightened by that Being whose understand ing is infinite; to be “ strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;" and to have him 66 work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure ;" how this happens, is surely to be accounted for in no other way, than that sin, the most deep and dreadful, hath “ darkened our foolish hearts," rendered us blind to our own true interest, and urged us to rush onward to perdition ; refusing to be rescued by that arm which alone is mighty to save. This opposition to the doctrine of Divine
and all of them often, are to be traced to the depravity of the human heart.
I. In the first place, then, Unbelief doubts the possibility of Divine influence and why? Because it can discover no traces of this influence in its own mind, and because it deems it to be inconsistent with the freedom of human agency.
Let us attend to these two particulars.
Unbelief can discover no traces of a Divine influence in its own mind.-But surely this is a very unsatisfactory argument to prove that it has not affected the minds of others. Shall the sickly invalid, who has from his very birth, laboured under the constant pressure of lassitude and disease, be justified in concluding that no one feels the benign influence of health, because he has never been conscious of it? Strong and unequivocal is the testimony of thousands, whose clearness of apprehension, sobriety of judgment, and veracity of assertion, in all other cases, are never called in question that they discover within themselves a wonderful transformation of temper and conduct wbich manifests itself to be the effect of a Divine influence, by marks the most distinct and certain. Now, surely, it is neither the part of candour nor good sense, to deny the reality of that which is attested by the most respectable witnesses. But Infidelity is not satisfied with this reply to its objection. It starts another difficuly, more subtle and ingenious,
“ Every one." it says,
even the advocate for a Divine influence, who is careful to turn his view inward and examine attentively what passes
within his own mind, will discover there nothing but his own thoughts, emotions and purposes. He will soon find, that these succeed each other in a certain order; that one, as it were, grows out of some other preceding it; that all are under the guidance of his will, though subject in a certain sense to that principle of association which is one of the fundamental laws of the human mind.” Now, adınitting all this to be true, what does it prove? Why this precisely, and this only, that the human mind is subject to certain laws, which so control it as to produce a regular and connected train of thought and action. And is this inconsistent with the possibility of a Divine influence ? Who gave the human mind these laws ? Who sustains their operation ? The Father of spirits. And cannot he through the instrumentality of these laws, have access to those very souls which he supports in being, so as to guide and direct them as he pleases ? But to press the unbeliever more closely—let him tell what these laws are ; what
whether of Providence, of Nature, or of Grace, but a certain uniformity of operation which the Divine Being has seen fit to adopt in the exhibition which he makes of himself to his intelligent creatures. It is this very uniformity which displays him, in the greatness of his strength, moving onward in silent majesty to the completion of his vast and incomprehensible purposes. And
yet it is this very uniformity which leads us blind and sinful mortals to overlook, to forget, and even to deny the interposition of his power and his grace. “ In him we live, and move, and have our being," although many of the most important processes of our animal frame go on so silently, and secretly, that we are entirely unconscious of them. They go on in such exact conformity to the laws of the human body, that we are unable to discover the mode ; and yet we acknowledge the reality of that Divine Agency which sustains and manages our corporeal existence. What symmetry, order, and harmony pervade the world of nature that surrounds us, from the lily of the field which unfolds its beauties by a gradual and regular process, to those vast lights in the firmament of heaven, which are there placed, and continue their accustomed rounds, " for signs, and for seasons, and for days and for years." Every thing goes on under the direction of what we call the Laws of Nature ; and yet it is the great Creator of all things who “ clothes the grass of the field,” causes the day-spring to know his place," - binds the sweet influence of Pleiades,” “ looses the bands of Orion,” “ brings forth Mazaroth in his season,” and “ guides Arcturus with his sons.” Now we do not deny the influence of God upon our bodies, or upon the material world, because we see this influence only in its effects, or because it acts with constant and regular uniformity. How unwise, then, nay how wicked, is the unbeliever who rejects and treats with contempt the Doctrine of a Divine