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of man rendered intercourse with beings of superior wisdom and power necessary to his welfare. It was thus that the defects of reason would be supplied. What man knew not, the gods could teach him; and it was chiefly to the temple of Apollo, the god of wisdom, that the Greeks, and persons from other nations, repaired, to obtain the responses of the oracle in matters of public and private interest.

Revelation would be desirable, even although reason were capable of discovering all the truths of natural religion. It would not follow, upon that supposition, that they were so obvious as to be discovered without any labour. The exercise of our mental powers would be necessary to collect the proofs of the existence and government of God, and to trace our duty in its manifold ramifications. There are no innate ideas in the human mind, no ideas with which we are born, and which we perceive intuitively as soon as reason begins to dawn; all our knowledge is derived from observation and experience. Hence it is evident, that a revelation would facilitate the acquisition of knowledge to all, and particularly to those whose intellectual faculties were originally not strong, and had not been improved by education, and whose daily occupations afforded them little leisure for inquiry and reflection. It cannot be denied, that a great part of mankind labour under disadvantages for the discovery of truth ; that they are apt to be misled by false opinions, and distracted by worldly cares, and to neglect those objects which require abstraction of mind and patient investigation. The infidel himself is compelled, by indisputable facts, to acknowledge, that, whatever power he ascribes to reason, it has generally failed to lead men to a rational system of religion ; nay, that such a system was never established by its aid, in any nation, or even in any school of philosophy. It is manifest, therefore, that if a revelation had been granted to point out at once the conclusions at which reason could have arrived only by a tedious process, it would have been an invaluable gist to the world. Upon this subject, we can entertain no doubt. A revelation has been granted, and what is the consequence? The doctrines of natural religion are better understood than they were at any former period; they are known not only to men of studious and contemplative minds, but to the illiterate; we become acquainted with them at the outset of life; and there are thousands of young persons in a Christian country, whose knowledge far exceeds that of the most distinguished heathen philosopher. They have learned by a few lessons more than he could acquire by the painful researches of a long life.

We have proved, however, that reason is not sufficient to discover the truths of natural religion ; and, consequently, that revelation was not only desirable, but necessary, to deliver men from a state of ignorance at once shameful and perilous. And this necessity will be more apparent, if we consider that they were not only ignorant but guilty, fallen from innocence and happiness, condemned by the law of nature, a clearer discovery of which would have served only to impress more strongly on their minds a conviction of demerit, and to heighten the dread of their offended Creator. The republication of the law of nature would have done nothing to quiet their apprehensions and revive their hopes; on the contrary, it would have had the same effect as would take place in the case of a criminal, who, suspecting that he was doomed to punishment, should have the sentence of death put into his hands, distinctly written, and authenticated by the signature of the judge. Still he knows that his prince can reprieve him ; but whether he will extend mercy to him, he cannot learn from the law which has condemned him, but by a new communication, transmitted in a different channel. The situation of men, in consequence of sin, is like that of the criminal. The law under which they were made has pronounced sentence upon them ; the lawgiver, according to the best conceptions which they can form of his character, is just, and able to maintain the authority of his law. There is, indeed, a display of goodness and patience in his administration, but it is so intermixed with tokens of his wrath, that the hope to which it may give rise is faint and fluctuating ; and unbiassed reason must come to this conclusion, that the guilty have every thing to fear. If the lawgiver has any merciful design towards his rebellious subjects, it is a secret in his own breast, and all our speculations on the subject are conjectural and presumptuous. In the commencement of our course, while we have not yet proved that a revelation has been given, I cannot quote any parts of it as possessing more authority than belongs to the sayings of an ordinary man, which are agreeable to the dictates of reason and common sense. The following words of the apostle of the Gentiles are brought forward merely as a just representation of the state of the case:-“ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so, the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."'* As the thoughts of a man are known to none but himself; as he alone is conscious of them, and they remain concealed from others, unless he disclose them by external signs; so the counsels of God with respect to his fallen creatures are a mystery, hidden from every eye but his own, a secret which no sagacity could explore. And those counsels are so much above our conceptions, so different from any thing which appears in creation and providence, that no idea of them would have ever occurred to the human mind in its loftiest excursions. It is evident, therefore, that a revelation is necessary for the information of man, in the new circumstances in which he was placed. He wanted to know whether the Deity was placable; whether he was disposed to exercise clemency to offenders ; upon what terms he would receive them into favour, and by what expedient he would adjust the claims of mercy and justice. Who does not see, that in reference to points so interesting, but so obscure, none could give him satisfaction but God himself? If a revelation had not been granted, there would not have been any religion in the world. What natural religion actually is, you will learn, not from the factitious systems of Christian writers, but from its state among heathen nations; and although it is hardly worthy to be accounted religion, yet if you are disposed to give it this name, remember that any portion of truth which it contains is not derived from unassisted reason, but from tradition, and that it is probably owing to this cause that it has not become utterly extinct. Revelation is indisputably the sole origin of the religion which we profess. Without it, we should have been profoundly ignorant of the Saviour in whom we believe, and of the promises which are the ground of our hope.

I have endeavoured to show that a revelation is possible and desirat le, and proceeding a step farther, have affirmed that it is necessary. This necessity arises from the ignorance of mankind respecting points of the greatest importance, which could be remedied by no other means. It was necessary that light should be thrown upon those primary truths, in which we conceive man to have been at first instructed by his Maker, but which his dim-sighted reason could no longer discern in their original purity and beauty; and that new discoveries should be made to him, adapted to the exigencies of the new situation in which he had been placed by his apostacy from God. This general view of the design of revelation leads me to inquire what, upon a calm and unbiassed view of the subject, we might previously expect to be its nature and character.

* 1 Cor. ü. 9-11.

First,—we might expect it to contain all the information which man wants, as a moral and accountable being. We cannot conceive any design with which it should be given, but to communicate to us the knowledge of God, and of our duty to him, and to point out the means of regaining his favour, and rising to perfection and felicity. Proceeding as it does, according to the hypothesis, from the Fountain of wisdom and goodness, it must be perfect, like his other works; that is, it must be fitted to answer its end. Neither defect nor redundance would be consistent with the character of its author. But remember that its end is religion; and that if it accomplish this end, it is worthy of God, although there should be many other ends, and these, too, of importance to mankind, to which it is not adapted. There is much knowledge which is useful and necessary to us in the present life, but which it would be unreasonable to expect that a divine revelation should teach us. There is the knowledge of the arts, by which human life is sustained, and cheered, and adorned, and the knowledge of the sciences, which not only gratify curiosity, but lend their aid to improve the arts, and promote in various ways our temporal interests. But revelation says nothing about them, because they are not connected with its main design, and here reason is perfectly sufficient. There are also many questions, relative to the nature of God and our own, the constitution of the universe, the phenomena of the moral world, and a future state of existence, of which it would gratify us much to obtain a satisfactory solution ; and to some idle speculatists, information concerning them would be more acceptable than communications of unspeakably greater importance. But these questions have nothing to do with our duty, and although they were all answered to our complete satisfaction, they would make us neither wiser nor better; they would not relieve a guilty conscience, or console an afslieted heart. It is for purposes of greater moment that the God of heaven will deviate from his usual course ; it is to send down some rays of celestial light to our benighted world, to show us the path to glory and immortality.

Secondly,—we might expect a revelation to deliver its instructions rather in an authoritative than in an argumentative manner. The argumentative manner is proper, when we are addressed by men who have no title to be heard, unless they give reasons for what they say, or content themselves with the idle labour of repeating self-evident propositions. The authoritative manner has been sometimes adopted by certain professed teachers of wisdom, but they had to deal with a very credulous audience, or they had contrived previously to establish a belief of their superior attainments. Pythagoras enjoined silence upon his disciples for a certain number of years, during which they were to give an implicit assent; and autos son, he said it, passed current among them as sufficient authority. But, whatever blind submission there may be among manhind to the dictates of others, it is generally reprobated as unworthy of our rational nature. It is demanded of him who pretends to teach others, that he should prove what he affirms, because it is evidence only which can produce rational conviction, and no man has a right to call upon others to follow him, unless he can show them that the way is safe. But a different procedure is suitable to a divine revelation. It comes from the Source of wisdom, who is not liable to err, and can have no intention to deceive us ; from the Author of our being, who has a right to require that we should serve him with the submission of our understandings, as well as with the love of our hearts. Revelation is not a counsel, but a law. It is not proposed as a subject of deliberation, which may be accepted or rejected according to the result; but it is a declaration of the will of the supreme Lord, which all, to whom it is published, are bound to obey. Nothing would be more unjust than to object against a revelation, because it was propounded in a tone of authority. The

objection, however, was made when the Christian revelation was promulgated; and we find Celsus, who expressed the sentiments of other philosophers, exclaiming against our religion and its ministers, because, instead of reasoning with men, they required them to believe. The objection would have been well founded, if, without producing any proof of the divine origin of the gospel, they had insisted that men should believe it; but after the evidence had been exhibited they acted in character when, speaking in the name of God, they commanded their hearers to acquiesce in the dictates of his wisdom, without murmuring and disputing. If in this stage of the business I may be allowed to appeal to the revelation which has been given to the world, it will be found that although reasoning is employed on particular occasions, upon the whole it is delivered in an authoritative form. There is a striking example at the beginning of it, for the account of the creation is not supported by a single argument, but is delivered in a simple narrative, to be received upon the authority of the writer or rather of God, by whom he was inspired.

Lastly,—we might expect that there would be some difficulties in a divine revelation. At first it might seem that difficulties would be inconsistent with its design, which is, as the word imports, to discover what is unknown, and to illuminate what is obscure. But a little reflection would convince us that even here perfect light is not to be looked for. Such a degree might be reasonably expected, as should fully assure us of the great doctrines and duties of religion, but not so much as to give us complete satisfaction respecting all the points of which we might wish to be informed. Revelation speaks of the things of God; and how could they be made plain to our understandings ? Language, being the vehicle of human thought, could not convey a distinct account of subjects which the human faculties are unable to comprehend. There are facts relative to the essence and the dispensations of the Almighty which it may be necessary that we should know, because our duty may be intimately connected with them, but which it may be impossible to explain to to us. Revelation demands faith ; and pure faith is an act of the mind, by which it assents to certain facts, or propositions upon the authority of testimony, without having any other evidence of their truth. Faith is therefore more perfect, in proportion as the thing to be believed possesses less credibility in itself, and rests solely upon the veracity of the testifier. Hence we may conceive a great moral purpose to be served by the difficulties which are found in revelation. Whether in some cases they might not have been avoided, is a question which we are not competent to discuss; but they are so far from counteracting, that they promote the design of revelation, which is to make us not only wise, but good, to exercise our moral as well as our intellectual powers. Difficulties are a trial of man's dispositions, like our Lord himself in the state of humiliation and suffering, who to some was precious, but to others a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. They call for docility and humble submission to divine authority; and wherever these tempers are, revelation will be cordially received. But the men who are elated by the pride of science will not stoop to authority, and refuse to believe what they cannot comprehend. They must do as they have a mind. If, notwithstanding the luminous evidence with which revelation is attended, they will reject it because every part is not adjusted by the square and compass of reason, they only betray their own folly and presumption, and they must abide the consequences.

LECTURE IV.

EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.

Has a Revelation been given ?-Inquiry confined to Christianity-On the genuineness of

the Christian Scriptures: Account of the Books of the Old Testament; The Pentateuch; Historical and circumstantial Evidence of its Genuineness stated; General Observations respecting the other Books—Apocryphal Books.

In the preceding lecture, I showed that a revelation is possible; that it is desirable; and that it is necessary. Iconcluded by stating the general expectations which might be previously entertained respecting its contents.

Let us now proceed to inquire whether a revelation has been actually given; whether there is ground to believe that what reason could not teach us, has been made known to us by supernatural means. Pretensions to revelation have been common, of which we have examples in the Sybilline Oracles of the Romans, and the sacred books of the Persians and Hindoos; but it is not necessary to examine their claims, since, with one consent, they are acknowledged to be impostures. Nor shall we spend our time in considering the pretended revelation of Mahomet, which has been received by a large portion of the human race in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Its author was able to produce no evidence of its divine origin, but his own affirmation that it was communicated to him by the angel Gabriel. If he talked of miracles, they were such as had been witnessed by himself alone, and consequently were no ground of belief to others. He appealed, indeed, to the intrinsic excellence of the Koran, as an evidence that it had emanated from a higher source than human ingenuity, and has thus subjected it to the test of criticism. The beauty of the style has been extolled by competent judges, but this amounts only io a proof of the taste of the composer, and, at the most, entitles it to be ranked with the elegant productions of other ages and countries. But it is the language only which has a claim to admiration; an acquaintance with the matter is sufficient to convince us that it is the work of a man, and of a man by no means pre-eminent in intellectual attainments. It is a farrago of incoherent rhapsodies; it abounds in silly and puerile remarks; and, had it appeared among a people whose taste and judgment were disciplined by literature and science, it would have excited universal disgust and contempt. A few passages have been often quoted as specimens of the true sublime, but they have obtained praise much beyond their merit, in consequence of the wretched stuff amidst which they appear, as a green spot planted with trees and abounding in springs, seems a paradise to the traveller who has been journeying for many days in the parched and sandy desert. After all, the passages which have been so much extolled are not original, but have evidently been borrowed from our Scriptures, and have suffered injury in passing through the clumsy hands of the impostor. Posterior to the Jewish and Christian revelations, the Koran is indebted to them for any portion of truth, for any noble sentiments which it contains; and these are neutralized by its falsehoods and immoralities. It does not exhibit a single character of divinity ; it is fraught with ridiculous stories and superstitious precepts; while, without any reason, it inculcates total abstinence from wine, it grants almost unbounded licerse to the sexual appetite ; the punishments which it denounces in the future state, although terrible to our animal nature, have been conceived by a low and childish imagination; and the paradise which it promises to his followers is a brothel. We presume,

Vol. 1.-5

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