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one of the noblest offices of philosophy to point out the particular indications of it. In proportion as these are more clear and express, as they converge from more distant and unlooked-for quarters, and bear more directly upon man's happiness, is the evidence of divine contrivance.
In like manner, it will be found, that in the matter and form of divine revelation, there is an adaptation as clear, as widely spread over all the parts of it, as various and important in its bearings upon human happiness; converging from points as distant and unlooked for, as in the works of the same divine Archi. tect in creation. The book of nature and the book of revelation are written by the same hand, and bear evident traces of the same manner and style." So that as the performances of a great painter are recognized by a similarity of outline and colouring, and by other peculiarities of his art; the books of nature and Christianity are recognized as performances of the same divine Artist, by the similarity of adaptation and contrivance, for the faculties and wants of the beings for whose use they were designed.
The Christian revelation, ihen, is suited to man, as it speaks A DECISIVE LANGUAGE, and gives repose to the mind in the most perplexing difficulties--as it UNFOLDS THE MYSTERIES OF HIS CONDITION-as it provides A REMEDY FOR ALL HIS wants-and as it is calculated FOR UNIVERSAL DIFFUSION.
1. The BIBLE IS SUITED TO MAN AS IT SPEAKS A CLEAR AND DECISIVE LANGUAGE, AND
GIVES REPOSE AND SATISFACTION TO THE MIND OF MAN IN THE GREATEST AND MOST PERPLEXING DIFFICULTIES.
No mark of adaptation can be stronger than the obvious fitness of revelation, in its contents generally,
14 J. Scott.
to the state and wants of those to whom it is sent. What sort of a book is the Bible ? In what sort of manner does it address us ? On what kind of topics does it treat ? What doubtful things does it composé and settle ? What peace does it bring to the mind agitated with conflicting opinions and disturbed with inward remorse? These are the questions which most naturally arise.
The answer is, the Bible determines all the points essential to man's happiness; and determines them with so much clearness and decision, as to exempt him from doubt and fluctuation, and give repose to his inmost desires.
Man was wandering in the darkness of nature. The faint traces of an original revelation were almost
Endless disputes without authority, and perplexities without a clue, bewildered him. Nothing was settled, even about the existence of God, or the immortality of the soul, or a future state.
In the midst of this confusion, Revelation comes in and silences, with the authority of a master, “the babblings of science falsely so called.” 15 It disputes not, it condescends not to reason with man: it decides. This is exactly what man, after four thousand years of interminable contests, wanted. The authority which revelation claims by its external evidences is thus in harmony with the tone and language which it assumes in its instructions. You are astonished at the display of the miracles—you view with surprise the other proofs of a divine religion. You open the sacred Record. You are assured beforehand that it will be most worthy of the great God from whom it came, though you presume not to say in what manner that will appear. On inaking yourself acquainted with the contents of it, you perceive that it uses the natural language and style of its divine Author; you
15 1 Tim, vi. 20.
seem to hear the very voice of God himself. You feel that the revelation takes the becoming attitude of superiority and command ; and addresses you as an ignorant, weak, dependent creature.
This is altogether different from the style of any other book. This is quite distinct from the arrogancy of human presumption, as well as from the uncertainties of human reasoning. All is as it should be: God speaks; man is silent-God teaches; man learns -God determines; man obeys.
It is scarcely possible to read a single discourse of the holy prophets in the Old Testament, or of our Lord and his apostles in the New, without feeling that they “ speak as those having authority, and not as the scribes.” 16
The great principles of natural or essential religion are supposed to be known. The being of one Almighty and perfect God—the creation of the world by him out of nothing—the immortal and accountable nature of man-a future state of rewards and punishment—the obligation of loving, worshipping, and obeying God—the several branches of duty to our fellow-creatures: these principles revelation scarcely ever formally declares, much less stops to prove. It looks on them as known-it considers them as sufficiently established by the works of creation, the fragments of man's moral nature, the tradition of the original revelation, the voice of conscience. It goes on to something further. It proceeds to teach men lessons of its own, which may bring into action these principles of natural religion, clear up their imperfections, and give them a new force and application. Revelation begins where nature ends.
In doing this, revelation preserves an uniform dignity and authority, springing from its innate truth, and bearing the impress of, what it really is, the Great
16 Matt. vii. 29.
God teaching his creature man. It passes over inferior matters. It deigns not to notice the interests of earth, the politics of princes, the petty projects of legislation. It treats only of the greatest and most important concerns. It is God's book; and contains nothing trifling, nothing unimportant, nothing superfluous. It speaks of eternity and eternal things. It reveals pardon and grace; it marks out the ways of peace and holiness. It shows exactly those things which it most concerns us to know, and which we could never understand nor settle of ourselves. Now all this is exactly adapted to man.
He is weak, ignorant, sinful; distracted with conflicting opinions, and wandering in the darkness and sorrows which his rebellion has occasioned. Still he is accountable. As such, the Scripture addresses him : so that no other creature but man could understand such a book as the Bible.
It is to him, however, the precise Revelation he needs. He finds peace of mind in its authoritative dictates. He feels the ground firm under him. He flies from human conjecture and the intricacies of opposing systeins, to repose in the authority of the Bible. Man, when his attention is awakened to the subject, knows in his inmost soul that he wants direction—he knows that to make out truth for himself, in the way of discussion, is impossible. Though, when attacked, he will defend his powers of understanding, and liberty of directing his own path, yet he is sensible of his weakness; and, when he speaks the real language of his heart, says,
“ What I want is a sure and unerring guide.” When Revelation, then, comes to him with the credentials of outward evidences, and speaks to him in the tone of authority and decision, he follows her directions, as those of a friend, and the perturbation and anxieties of his mind about religious truth. immediately subside.
A traveller who has lost his way amongst the snows
of the Alps, doth not more rejoice when he meets an experienced guide, who shows him the credentials of his appointment by the lord of the country, and then bids him boldly to follow his steps ; than inan rejoices, when, bewildered in the mazes of human reasonings, he meets with the authorized guide of life, and, having seen his credentials, is invited to follow him without distrust, till he is extricated from the labyrinth of error and sin.
II. But Christianity is suitable to man, because it UNFOLDS ALL THE MYSTERIES OF HIS CONDITION, ACCOUNTS FOR THE APPARENT CONTRADICTION OF HIS STATE, AND ADDRESSES HIM IN THIS CONDITION, AND NO OTHER.
1. If the matter of Revelation be adapted to his ignorance and weakness, because it speaks with decision and treats of the most important concerns; it is also equally adapted to his perplexities and anxieties, because it tells him the MYSTERIES of his state in this world, opens to him all his character, and explains the whole of his circumstances, difficulties, and miseries. This is a step in the adaptation yet higher and more important, because it touches him more nearly, and is more out of the reach of unassisted
The Heathen philosophy can give no consistent account of man? actual history. It guesses, but it cannot explain. Something it knows of his weaknesses, his sorrows, his corruptions, his tendencies to evil, the contradictions between his reason and his passions—but nothing adequately, nothing distinctly, nothing as to the source and extent of the evil, nothing definitely as to the original purity and subsequent fall of man, nothing as to the Divine image in which he was created and which he lost by sin, nothing of the proper end of man, the enjoyment of God.