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with due submission to the will of difference in the manner of our com
ing at a knowledge of God's purposes; There is great weight in this exam- and this circumstance may tend to reple. Here was the divine purpose flect light upon the duty of prayer. made known respecting an event, (cer- The divine purpose, undoubtedly may tainly with as much clearness as any be made known concerning an event one can pretend it is respecting the in such a manner as to preclude the imperfect state of christians in this life,)||propriety of prayer: and it may be
and yet he who was perfect prayed fervently that it might not be.
From this example, it may surely be inferred that it is right for us to pray that those events, which will involve us in criminality, might not take place, although the divine purpose respecting their existence be made known to us. Our Savior's conduct appears fully to support the principle that it is right to pray for any favor which we need, with submission, except we are absolutely and finally forbidden to do it.
made known in such a manner as not to preclude it.
In respect of the imperfect state of christians in this life, we are left to infer the divine purpose, instead of being taught it by any absolute declaration. This, therefore, may not be that kind of knowledge of God's purpose respecting this subject, which precludes the propriety of praying for immediate perfection in holiness.
The want of distinction, however, as to the manner in which we obtain a knowledge of the divine purposes, is not the principal defect in the aforesaid argument. But this lies in the want of distinction as to the nature of events. I insist that such may be the nature of an event, that it is our duty to pray that it may, or may not take place, although we know the divine
I say absolutely and finally; for God has sometimes declared that he would do certain things, and yet, in consequence of the importunate cries of men, has forborne to do them. The case of Moses who stood in the gap before the Lord to turn away his anger from Israel, when he said he would consume them, and that of the Nine-purpose to the contrary. vites who were threatened with dis- It is further argued in favor of the truction within forty days, may be ci-negative side of this question, that" to ted as examples. pray for immediate perfection in holi
It is not to be supposed, that in ei-ness is inconsistent with the ends we ther of these instances, or in any other, are to keep in view in prayer;" such the eternal counsel of God varied.-as the glory of God, as the chief endHe only varied his providence as there bringing ourselves into submission to was occasion. And he took this the divine will--the accomplishment course to try men. of the divine purposes in general-the It hence appears, however, that it is greatest good of believers-and the often attended with difficulty to ascer-best interest of the Redeemer's kingtain what the fixed purpose of God is dom." I am unable to see that prayrespecting events: and that it is dutying for immediate perfection in holiin many cases to pray for events whichness, is inconsistent with either of these are apparently contrary to his purpose. ends; unless we admit that a person By the mouth of the prophet, God in sinning can really aim at the glory told Hezekiah that he should die and of God, and the best,good of the sysnot live. To pray in this case for tem. For if this be not the case; if a the continuance of life, seems to have person in sinning acts in opposition to been praying for that which he knew God; then, just so far as a christian to be contrary to the divine purpose.comes short of sinless perfection, he Yet the king's prayer was heard; and fifteen years were added to his life.
Such instances show that there is a
opposes the glory of God, his own best good, and the good of the universe. He cannot seek the divinė glory in
that degree in which he ought to seek tradiction; and if the truth of the case it without being perfectly holy. So is that chritians are concerned for the that the notion of its being necessary divine glory, and active in promoting in order to his having a thorough re- it, only so far as they are sanctified, gard to the glory of God, that he should and honestly pray and strive to be hoconsent to remain, during this life, in ly; they act in perfect consistency a state of partial sinfulness, and that he with all the true ends of prayer in prayshould forbear to pray for immediate ing for immediate perfection in holiperfection in holiness, involves a con- ness. Let prayer be viewed as an extradiction. He seeks the glory of God pression of our desires for the promono further than he prays and strives to tion of God's glory, or as a mean of be holy. Therefore, instead of its in- obtaining his blessing, and of preparterfering with a due regard to the di-ing us to receive it, or in any other vine glory, to desire, and pray for im-light which is proper; and it will apmediate perfection in holiness, this is pear to be perfectly consistent to pray the very course of conduct to which for immediate perfection in holiness. such a regard leads. And so far as It is not seen how a person can forthe christian does not desire and pray bear to do this without regarding inifor such a state, he does actually op-quity in some degree in his heart. pose the divine glory.
It is further said, that "to pray God will undoubtedly overrule the for immediate perfection in holiness, imperfections of christians to his glory. would be inconsistent with the manner Therefore, all things considered, it is in which all acceptable prayer is to be not best that he should wholly sanctify || offered up, i. e. with submission to them in this life. But this furnishes no God's will," and "in faith." rule for them to walk by. For it is a But how can this be inconsistent with settled principle that we are not to do submission to God's will? Has he ever evil that good may come. To sup-required us to submit to a continuance pose, because God can overrule sin to his glory, and the best good of the system, that a creature in sinning, or in not praying for immediate perfection in holiness, can unite with him in this end, appears to be a perfect contradiction.
It is presumed that no one would directly assert that a sinner in sinning can unite with God in the promotion of his glory. But the scheme which I am opposing evidently implies that this is the case in a degree. For what else is a christian's not praying for immediate perfection in holiness, but a consent to continue a partial course of sinning. All moral imperfection is sin. And if, for the present, the christian must not desire any other state besides an imperfect one, in order to keep up a due regard for the glory of God; it will certainly follow that in consenting to sin he can be really united with God in seeking his glory and the interest of his kingdom. Therefore, if this be a palpable conVOL. 2G g
in a state of sin? Does he not rather require us immediately to come out of such a state, and be holy as he is holy? Continuance in sin, in any degree, is not a thing about which we are required to exercise submission. Christians are unsubmissive, just so far as they are imperfect. And it is no more inconsistent with the prayer of faith, to pray for immediate perfection in holiness, than it is to labor for such a state.
These are the principal arguments which are adduced in support of the negative side of this question. But when they are thoroughly examined, they all appear to be inconclusive. Whatever force they have against the duty of praying for sinless perfection in this life, lies equally against the duty of being immediately perfect, or of laboring to be so. But as in the latter case, it amounts to nothing, it does the same in the former.
Each one of these arguments, appears to imply that, in this matter,
are to take the divine purpose for our it is expressed in his holy and righteous rule of conduct instead of the divine law, without being disposed to plead law. But this is, surely, a mistake. The divine law is our rule of conduct. || This requires immediate perfection in holiness. Here, therefore, our duty is determined. And to this mark we are to aim with all holy prayerfulness, watchfulness and zeal.
for present strength to do it perfectly.
In further confirmation of the opinion which I have advanced, I will cite the following passages of scripture. In 1 Thess. iv. 23. the apostle manifestly prays that the saints might be made perfectly holy in this life. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." He utters a similar prayer in Hebrews xiii. 20, 21. "Now the God of peace-make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus The Directors, in compliance Christ." The following petition in the with their duty, as required by the conLord's prayer is much in point, "Thy || stitution, respectfully subunit the folwill be done in earth as it is in hea-lowing REPORT:
The FOURTH REPORT of the Di
reclors of the Oneida Bible Society, at their annual society meeting in the village of New-Hartford, January 18, 1815.
ven." It is very manifest that this pe- The amount of receipts into the tition implies sinless perfection. And funds of the Society, by subscriptions, it is one which all christians are direct- donations and contributions, during ed to make. And the words naturally the last year, as may be seen in the import that we are to pray that the schedule of the Treasurer's report, is will of God may now be done in earth || $466 26; being $86 56 more than as it is in heaven. To these passages the amount of receipts for the year we may add Ps. li. 2. "Wash me preceding. thoroughly from mine iniquity, and At the date of the last annual report, cleanse me from my sin." This was the balance in the hands of the purevidently a prayer for immediate per- chasing committee was $81 50 1-2. fection in holiness. So that the affirm-They were then indebted to Messrs ative of the present question is sup-Hudson and Goodwin, of Hartford, ported by the example of very emi- $58 25. They still remain indebted nent saints. And these prayers ap- for the transportation of bibles for two pear perfectly to accord with the na- years, having never been able to obture of holy affections. He who is tru-tain the account.
ly brought to see the evil of sin, and The Committee have received the beauty of holiness, cannot but de- from the Treasurer, the last year, $200, sire, immediately, a complete deliver-leaving a balance in his hands of ance from the one, and a perfect possession of the other. If, therefore, he expresses the real language of his renewed nature in prayer, he will pray o be made immediately sinless. He annot rightly love the will of God, as
$11 22. They have purchased 300 bibles, at sixty two and half cents each, amounting to $187 50. They have paid Messrs. Hudson and Goodwin $60, and would have paid for the bibles, but for the difficulty of making
remittances, which difficulty is now the object of their association, have removed by the procurement of eas been small; yet, it is a source of the tern bills; and the money will be im- purest joy and satisfaction, that they mediately remitted. The latenéss are honored as instruments of commuof the season, in which the purchase nicating the word of life to many of of bibles was made, has hitherto pre- the ignorant and destitute of their felvented their reception. The commit-low mortals. tee have now on hand $232, which It is with pleasure that the Direc will be sufficient to pay the debts tors contemplate the growing imporof the Society, and for the trans- fance of this institution; and it is with portation of bibles already purchased. the liveliest emotions of gratitude to The Treasurer has paid over to the the GREAT DISPOSER of events, Bible Society of New-York $200, that that they view the animated and inhad been previously appropriated by creasing exertions which are now mathe directors, as mentioned in the re-king, not only in the United States, port of the last year, to aid in the work of printing the bible in the French language.
but throughout the christian world, to extend the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
The Distributing Cammillee, at the There are, at present, 62 bible sodate of the last annual report, had cieties within the territory of the Uniton hand 600 bibles; they have received States; extending into every state ed none since. During the last year. in the union, and embracing all denothey have distributed 525 bibles, of nations of christians. These have which 437 have been delivered to a all been instituțed since the 12th of gents in the counties of Oneida, Herki- December 1808; and no less than 22 mer, Montgomery, Madison, Lewis and of them have been established the Chenango; and 88 they have distri-past year. Of these societies, there is buted with their own hands. They 1 in New-Hampshire, 7 in Massachuhave 75 still remaining for distribution.setts; 1 in Rhode-Island; 1 in ConThe whole number of bibles, that has necticut; 2 in Vermont; 12 in Newbeen distributed by the society, since York; & in New-Jersey; 8 in Pennits formation is 2575. sylvania; 2 in Maryland; 1 in DelAt a meeting of the directors, in aware; 1 in the District of ColumDecember last, it was resolved that nobia; 11 in Virginia; 1 in North-Carocompensation shall be received for any lina; 2 in South-Carolina; 1 in Georbibles, that are distributed by the a-gia; 3 in Ohio; 1 in Kentucky; 1 in gents of this society. It was also re- Tennessee; 1 in Mississippi Territory, solved that each member of the so- and 1 in Louisiana. ciety may receive one bible, annually, for distribution at his pleasure.
It is pleasing to behold, in this number, 8 female societies; 1 in MassaConsidering the great importance of chusetts, in the town of Boston; 2 in friendly intercourse with similar in-New-York, at Geneva and Poughkeepstitutions, and of particular informa-sie; 1 in New-Jersey, at Burlington; tion respecting their success in pro- 3 in Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, moting the general object for which Carlisle and Newville; and 1 in Virthis society is established, it was re-ginia, at Manchester. These have all solved that a copy of this report bebeen organized the past year, except sent to each of the Bible Societies in that in Geneva, which was formed in the United States: And the Directors June 1813. carnestly request from each society a The Societies existing in this state copy of the report of its proceedings are ablished, 3 at New-York; 2 at annually, in return. Albany; 1 in Orange county: 1 in Although the means, which the socie-Otsego county; 1 in Washington con ty have hitherto enjoyed for promoting ty; 1 in Schoharie county; and 1
Oneida county;-besides the 2 fe-tricts. They have also four special male societies above mentioned. Of agents, residing in different parts of these, 2 only have been instituted the the state, who serve as general depospast year. itories of the scriptures, for the purpose Believing that the Society will feel of furnishing them, as they are ordera deep interest in the success of simi-ed by the managers and agents, in lar institutions, the Directors will ex- their respective bounds." hibit, with pleasure, a brief sketch of the most interesting particulars from the reports of other societies, that have come to their knowledge.
The New-York Bible Society have distributed, gratuitously, in the course of the past year, in various parts of this state 1675 bibles. The whole number of bibles, that have been distributed by this society, since its formation in Nov. 1809, is 10,114.
The Auxiliary New-York Bible Society have distributed, during the year past, 1000 bibles,
The Bible Society of Salem, and itş vicinity (in Massachusetts) have circulated, in the course of the past year, 320 bibles in the neighboring towns. The whole number distributed by this society, since its formation in Sept. 1810, is 860 bibles, and 90 New-Tes taments.
The Connecticut Bible Society, as appears from their fifth annual report, are continuing their benevolent exer tions, undiminished. During the past year they have purchased 2500 bibles, and have contributed $500, to the The Bible Society of Washington New-York Bible Society, to aid in County, formed in Jan. 1813, distribu- printing the bible in the French lanted in the course of that year 500 bi-guage. They have circulated in their bles, and had the prospect of destrib- own state, 943 bibles, and have sent uting a greater number the succeed-1579 for gratuitous distribution elseing year. where. The whole number that has The Bible Society in Otsego county, been distributed by this Society, since established in June 1812, "had distri-its formation in May 1809, is 10,141 buted, in the course of the year, 340 bibles, and 100 New-Testaments. Of bibles and 200 New-Testaments, in these, 5914 bibles have been circulatfourteen towns of their vicinity. For ed within the limits of the state, and the purpose of better ascertaining and 4227 in other places. supplying the wants of the inhabitants The Bible Society of Philadelphia have within their district, they have organi-distributed, by agents the past year, zed bible associations in twelve towns, 500 bibles and 700 New-Testaments, in Otsego county'; all formed on the besides many copies circulated by the same plan, and acting as auxiliaries Managers. "Since their stereotype to the parent institution, for the pur-press has been in operation, they have pose of procuring funds and distribut-struck off 14,125 bibles and 3250 Newing bibles. These associations annu- Testaments. Their edition of 6000 ally render an account of their pro-copies of the New-Testamentin French ceedings to the general society at was completed some time since, and Cooperstown, and pay into its treasury the amount of their collections. They, on the other hand, receive from the county depository, the scriptures for distribution, as they are wanted.", The New-Jersey Bible Society have adopted a plan similar to that in Otse- While such extensive and vigorous go county. They have appointed a exertions are making to spread the Board of Agents" in each county, Holy Scriptures through every part of ⚫ collect contributions, and to dis-our own country, it is animating to beribute bibles, in their respective dis-hold the unlimited benevolence which
the destribution of a considerable number of them committed to the care of the Rev. Mr. Mills, who is on his second Missionary tour through the south-western regions of this country."