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able in all cases save in the history of the man of prayer, in whose behalf the laws of nature are liable to be held in check. There may be among Christian men considerable diversity in the clearness of apprehension with which they grasp the meaning of the divine promise to answer prayer; but there is no one taught by the Scriptures as to the privilege of prayer, who thinks of it as implying that the laws of the universe are liable to be held in suspension because the desires of his heart are rising to God in humble, earnest supplication. The man trained to recognize this truth affecting God's government that “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust,” does not readily fall into the mistake of supposing that all the laws of the universe are at His bidding, because of the divine encouragement to prayer. The Christian prays only under divine warrant, and this does not convey any such suggestion.
First, then, we can clear away at once the cruder thoughts of the unintelligent believer in the power of prayer; and those of the scientific objector to prayer, who is not instructed in scriptural doctrine. Prayer does not imply a probable reversal of the laws of nature; but it does imply a moral government in the midst of the physical world, and the subordination of the physical to the moral under regulation of an all-wise and almighty Ruler. The question before us concerns this subordination, and the possibilities which it implies.
Towards the attainment of exact conceptions here the first requisite is a clear un- derstanding of the scientific. doctrine of the
government of the world by fixed law. In whatever sense we take the word “law” as applicable to God's government of the universe, there is no law which is fluctuating, or liable to have one signification at one time, and a quite different signification at another time; a narrower range of application at one period, and a wider range at a later. Such fluctuation would imply a suspension of a law of nature, and the conception of such a thing is inconsistent with absolute rational government, alien equally to the principles of science and of religion. Laws physical, moral, and spiritual are equally fixed laws.
But the laws of the universe are a harmony, and in the midst of the interdependence of laws distinct in character, the harmony of the whole is secured by the subordination of physical law to moral and spiritual. It is in the midst of this harmonized relationship of the diverse laws of the divine government that the spirit of prayer lives, and makes good its rational consistency. And it is only on condition of acknowledgment of diverse laws, including moral with physical, that the scientific man can interpose any criticism as to the efficacy of prayer. Any denial of a moral government in the midst of the physical universe, under sway of a God of righteousness, places an objector entirely out of the sphere in which criticism can proceed. Physical law determining conditions of bodily life is fixed law; moral law deciding the conditions of right conduct in intelligent life is fixed law; spiritual law deciding the conditions of fellowship with the Father of our spirits is fixed law. The believer in the Bible has no hesitancy in acknowledgment of all this; he is a believer in fixed law in a higher and grander sense than scientific teaching indicates, and he believes in the harmony of all existence under an unchangeable government, notwithstanding all the wrong doing in the world, and the dreadful misery resulting from it. His belief in the harmony of the universe rests on his belief in the fixedness of law physical as well as moral, and moral as well as physical.
But the fixedness belonging to various orders of law, subsisting in a state of interdependence, and involving subordination of lower to higher, needs some more exact interpretation. The fixedness of law, physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, in no case involves fixedness of result, but varying results according to diversity of conditions. There is fixedness of physical law, but withal there is diversity of weather, and seasons, and harvests, and that because a variety of conditions are harmonized under fixed law. There is fixedness of intellectual law in accordance with which accuracy of thought is determined, but diversity of result according to the materials with which we deal. And so it is with moral and spiritual law, providing for the regulation of our higher life.
What then needs to be pondered by way of reaching an ampler interpretation of the formula of “fixed law" is that it does not in any case imply an iron rigidity of result, an
undeviating uniformity of occurrence. There is no region in which perpetual change can be more accurately postulated than in the physical world. But there is order and system in these changes, admirably illustrated in the weather forecasts of the present advanced stage of physical science, which are attainable only by continual watching of shifting conditions with application of fixed law to the appearance of wind and cloud and rain. But there are no forecasts without these two things, fixed laws and varying conditions for their application. With the wider generalization which admits of recognition of fixed law, there is always the narrower, concerned with variable conditions to which the wider is to be applied. So it is under moral law, and so under spiritual. So also does it hold when our observation is directed on interdependence of two orders of law, such as the moral and physical. This combination we have in human life, as it is subjected to both. Physical law reigns in human history as illustrated by the laws of health, which are fixed irrespective of moral law, so that sewerage gas will be prejudicial to health, apart from the moral character of a man. Moral law reigns