And one is, that this doctrine is favorable to self-renunciation. The desire of definite and specific answers naturally reacts upon the inward nature and tends to keep alive the selfish or egotistical principle. On the contrary, the disposition to know only what God would have us know, and to leave the dearest objects of our hearts in the sublime keeping of the general and unspecific belief that God is now answering our prayers in his own time and way, and in the best manner, involves a present process of inward crucifixion, which is obviously unfavorable to the growth and even existence of the life of self.
We remark again, that a disposition to seek a specific, or rather a visible answer to our prayers, in distinction from an answer addressed to our faith, tends to weaken the principle of faith. The visible system, if we may be permitted so to call it, implies that we will trust God only so far as we can see him. It requires, as one may say, ready payment, cash in hand, a mortgage of real estate, something seen or tangible. It cannot live upon what it calls mere air; it is not disposed to trust any thing to a mere word, a mere promise, though it be the word or promise of the Almighty. Such, on a close examination, will be found to be the spirit of the specific or visible system; a system which will answer, to some extent, in our intercourse with men, but not in our intercourse with God. It is easy to see, in addition to other evils resulting from it, that it is adverse to the growth of faith; which, in accordance with a well known law of our mental and religious nature, nourishes by exercise, and withers by repression. If the system, which is not satisfied without seeing or knowing, should prevail generally, faith would necessarily be banished from the world, and God would be banished with it.
The system, which requires a present and visible or ascertained answer, in distinction from the system of faith, which believes that it has an answer, but does not require God to make it known, till he sees best to make it known, is full of danger. It tends to self-confidence, because it implies that we can command God, and make him unlock the secrets of his hidden counsels whenever we please. It tends to self-delusion, because we are always liable to mistake the workings of our own imaginations or our own feelings, or the intimations of Satan, for the true voice of God. It tends to cause jealousies and divisions in the church of Christ, because he, who supposes that he has a specific or known answer, which is the same, so far as it goes, as a specific revelation, is naturally bound and led by such supposition, and thus is oftentimes led to strike out a course for himself, which is at variance with the feelings and judgments of his brethren. Incalculable are the evils, which, in every age of the Christian history, have resulted from this source.
— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 17.