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The sun shines, or the rain ceases according to his occasions. Is he in want, God at once, and in a remarkable manner, sends him a supply. Is he opposed, the judgments of God fall upon his opposers. Is he doubtful on any point, the Spirit of God reveals it to him. Is he disposed to act in any extraordinary manner, the ordinary rules even of morals are to yield to his convenience. He and those immediately connected with him have a peculiar dispensation; they are the particular favourites of God, and all are to minister to their exclusive good.
“ Let me not be misunderstood. "All things shall' unquestionably work together for good to them that love God; to them who are the called according to his purpose. But does this imply that we are to look for new revelations from heaven, or for miraculous interferences of Providence in our behalf? Or that we are to deduce our duty, not from scripture, but from the circumstance that events have smoothed the way for the accomplishment of our wishes;—a rule of duty which might often be pleaded by the most criminal of mankind ? Or that we are to regard as special marks of the divine favour to us, those gifts of his bounty which are common to all his creatures? He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.'”
Now, I need only to observe here, that if the sentiments in the above extract are not erroneous in their principles, and injurious to the cause of truth, they are contradictory to the belief of most bumble Christians :-at least, if I do not misunderstand the Christian Observer in this, and, indeed, in many other places. For, if “ the daily hair-breadth escapes” from immediate destruction, while performing the ordinary duties of our respective callings, cannot be accounted for in a natural way, which no human foresight could anticipate, but must be ascribed “ to the good providence of God," what has “nature,” or those “ gifts common to all,” to do here? Verily, such sort of deliverances cannot be much less than miraculous. What abundant reason we have to be at all times exceedingly thankful to God for his merciful preservations! And how highly necessary it is to be continually, yes, momentarily looking to him for his gracious protection and guidance !
But what of all these quibbles or objections about miracles? Truly, they are not ceased. Why marvel at the foregoing déliverances, as though by their own power and holiness they were so delivered, that they experienced those “ hair-breadth escapes ?” It is for want of faith in the power of God that we do not work miracles in our day; as it was in a certain case with the disciples, even in Christ's day: for when they (the disciples) came to Jesus apart, and asked him why they could not perform a miraele on a certain lunatic, Jesus said unto them, “ Because of your UNBELIEF: for verily I say unto. you, if ye have FAITH as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove ; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matt. xvii. 18. 20.
But what wouldst thou think, reader, of such a
MIRACLE, if all the world should become QUA KERS? That such an extraordinary miracle will be wrought, I firmly believe; “ when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the water covereth the face of the seas:"_" when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ.” But let us take heed unto repentance and conversion, “ that our sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heavens must receive till the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began.” Acts iii. 19, 20.
Miracles, however, as a very learned and intelligent writer observes, “ are not the only test of real inspiration of God's Holy Spirit; but love, good works, and holding fast the faith which was once delivered to the saints: these are the fruits by which we are to judge of the tree; and without these, even miracles are to be suspected of delusion, and are to be esteemed rather as lying wonders of Satan, than as the works of God! The power of working miracles, therefore, is not such an extraordinary gift, as we have any right to look for or to expect under the present dispensation of the Christian religion; and yet (take notice !) the gift of God's Holy Spirit (which every true Christian has a right to expect, according to the unquestionable promises of Christ) is certainly an extraordinary gift; and is as certainly • imparted' to ALL that duly ask it in the meritorious name of our Redeemer, if we may confide in the truth of the holy scriptures! It is always an extra. ordinary gift, (though imparted according to the ordinary dispensation of our religion), because it supports and endows pious and worthy men, on many occasions, far beyond their ordinary or natural abilities and strength. It is, I say, a real addition to the ordinary nature of man, and therefore always an extraordinary gift; being nothing less than a real participation of the Divine Nature, of which we may, if we will, be partakers,”* “ through the exceeding great and precious promises” of that Divine Person that hath called us to glory and virtue.” 2 Pet. i. 3, 4.
Now, I observe here, human nature, thus clothed, thus furnished with “extraordinary gifts and graces,” I should not think it too much if, “on a particular occasion," it were permitted to work a miracle,_"a miracle wrought on purpose!” But whatever the idea of this learned man may be, as it respects the “ will,” and his own will, it is evident from the said work, that he calls in the aid of carnal weapons56 the sword of justice," as it is called, to subdue " the
* Here the “ dead language" (greek) as well as the dead author must rest undisturbed for me: but I desire to
---..“ tread softly!
Vide his “ Account of the Constitutional English Polity of Congregational Courts,"..." the View of Frank pledge,” &c. &c. p. 361---2. A work worthy of the notice of the Legislature of the nation; and which, if acted upon, would go very far towards removing all the “ bribery, impositions, and corruptions" so much complained of by the advocates for reform in Parliament; though perhaps it is not exactly what I should choose for law. will ” of others! My will is, I would gladly partake of these “exceeding great and precious promises ;" but, as saith the great apostle, “ I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”—“Oh, wretched man that I am !” (Rom. vii. 18.) But, he blesseth God, for giving him “ the victory" over this evil will, “through Jesus Christ,” which he saith is " by faith revealed (preced. chap. 1. 16–18); and by the pow. erful operation of “the Spirit.” (chap. viji.)
But I have a few remarks more to make, as it respects Christians-“Quakers ”“bringing down the Holy Spirit,” consulting God “in the eommon concerns of their lives.” If your esteemed advocate, Thomas Clarkson, mean to insinuate that your Soci ety do not acknowledge God in all the “temporal concerns of their lives," as well as admitting his divine proceedings in their spiritual, I certainly should prefer the writings which contain the “mira. culous stories” of “the small-clothes,” « the surtout coat,” “ the tea-kettle and the partridges,” yea, even “the rivers of the pool,” are “obsequious to the wishes” of the faithful, as may be seen in " the Bank of Faith,” by the late extraordinary "Tichfield-Street apostle, William Huntington.
: That the modern deists and philosophers may make light of these stories, is no wonder; but surely 6 the Finger of Providence” may be seen in hatting, as well as in writing a book; in or “ from cobbling, and carting, and coal-heaving,” according to William Huntington's own testimony, without a man be