Imágenes de páginas

creation and providence return us no answer. We are stopped, therefore, at the commencement of our investigation; and compelled to return in the anxiety of suspense and the gloom of disappointment, to the spot whence we set out.

5thly. Should a book, professing to be a revelation, extensively contravene our preconceptions of what a revelation ought to be ; such a fact would not at all lessen its claims to this character.

A revelation must of course be a work of God. All the other works of God are of such a nature, as plainly to contravene our preconceptions. This, it is presumed, has been clearly shown to be their general character. But, if all other works of God are of this nature, it is reasonably supposed that a revelation, which is a work of the same Being, should possess the same nature also. Every agent works like himself: and whatever he does must be expected to have imprinted on it more or less of his own cha. racter.

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament profess themselves to be a revelation from God; and have always been assailed with a multitude of objections, because they have in many ways not answered to the previous opinions of mankind; at least, of the objectors themselves. But, if these observations are just, every objection derived from this source is groundless.

This subject deserves to be examined with some particularity. I therefore observe, that the manner in which the Scriptures are written has been objected to their authority as a revelation. They are partly historical : and the bistory, which they contain, is principally confined to a single nation; and extensively to individuals of that nation. That nation also was through a great part of its national existence, and has been ever since, distinguished by being generally and very grossly sinful: while not a small number of the individuals, whose actions are recorded, sustained a similar character.

Another part of these writings consists of a Code of laws both civil and religious. The religious laws were never designed for any other people, and have long since been abolished. The civil laws were, in many instances, unsuited to the circumstances of any other people; and were, therefore, never intended to regulate their affairs. Hence it would seem, that, thus far, both were useless to the rest of mankind.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Another part of the Scriptures is poetical. There are those, who regard poetry as a trifling art; claiming little regard from men of sense, and still less becoming the dignity of Inspiration, Another considerable part of the same volume is made up

of familiar letters. This kind of writing is supposed to be much inferior in gravity, solemnity, and dignity, to a formal, didactic, or philosophical, work: the kind of writing, which the objectors, if the subject had been left to their determination, would have probably preferred to every other.

Similar objections have been made to the manner, in which certain parts of the Scriptures are written. Particularly the Prophecies have been sometimes censured, because they are too general and obscure ; and sometimes, because they are too particular and explicit. The style, in the view of some individuals, is too simple; in the view of others, too abrupt; and, in the view of many, too devoid of art and elegance.

Another source of objections to the Scriptures is found in their Doctrines. Particularly, multitudes have been dissatisfied with them because they are mysterious. Of this class are those, concerning the Decrees of God; the Trinity ; the Deity, and Humanity, of Christ; the Personality, and Agency, of the Holy Spirit; the Incarnation ; the Atonement; the Renovation of the human soul; the Resurrection; and the endless Punishment of the wicked. It is hardly necessary for me to remark how numerous the objections against these have been ; or how often they have been repeated.

The Precepts of the Scriptures have not been less censured; particularly for their strictness, their extent, their unbending nature, and their want of adaptation to the nature and circumstances of man.

i at le

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

I am well aware, that many answers have been given to these objections, and that more might be given, amply sufficient to remove them out of the way. It might be shown with no great difficulty, that the manner in which the Scriptures are written, is happier than any which it has been proposed to substitute for it; that, so far as they are intelligible to us, the doctrines accord with truth, and the precepts with righteousness; and that, where they are mysterious, there is nothing in them which violates the dic


The on


tates of our reason; although there are many things which transcend the limits of our investigation. To do this, however, or any part of it, is not at all included in my present design. I am perfectly willing, for my present purpose, that as many of the things specified as the objectors please, shall be considered as difficult, mysterious and inexplicable.

But the objectors are bound to remember, and if possessed of any candour must willingly remember,

First, That a Revelation is the work of God. As, therefore, all the other works of God are mysterious and inexplicable; it ought to be taken for granted, that a Revelation must sustain the same character. Should I be asked, Why, if it is thus mysterious, it is called a Revelation, since to reveal is to discover; the answer is at hand. It does actually discover innumerable things, before unknown by man; explains and settles innumerable more, which would otherwise have been, as without its assistance they had ever been, obscure and doubtful; and that it discloses with suf. ficient clearness parts of many other subjects, with respect to each of which the whole is necessarily incomprehensible by us. The parts revealed were necessary to us; and are therefore revealed : while that which is unnecessary is withheld. A Revelation, formed in this manner, is beyond a doubt all that we need. Accordingly, the Scriptures have been found perfectly competent to all the wants of mankind, both as a rule of duty and as a guide to eternal life. It is remarkable that plain men have ever found them sufficiently clear and comprehensive, for their own use : and none, but those who were professedly learned, have ever been troubled with these difficulties.

Secondly, A Revelation is necessarily an account of the thoughts and ways of God, which we every where see, so far as we see them at all, attended with many mysteries, incomprehensible, and inexplicable. If then, a Revelation is to be a true and just account of these inexplicable things; it must of course and to a considerable extent be mysterious. The very things, which are the most plain and obvious, are in the very nature of the case connected with others less plain. These, again, are inseparable from others still more obscure ; and these with others still more remote from our investigation. Wherever, therefore, a Revelation should

[ocr errors]


to us;

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

stop; such an one I mean as would be of any serious importance

such an one as would at all deserve the name; it must necessarily be mysterious: both because it must be an account of the character, agency, and works, of God; and because, from the inseparable connection of things in the created system, a disclosure of the plainest must involve a partial disclosure of others eluding our research.

Thirdly, if the Scriptures contained nothing mysterious; they would want one proof of being a Revelation. What one man could completely comprehend, another, for aught that appears, might have devised. The very mysteries, objected to the Scriptures, carry with them decisive evidence, that they neither were nor could be invented by man. 6thly: Objections against a Revelation from what, it is

supposed, God ought to do, are destitute of weight, as well as of decency.

" Who," saith St. Paul, “ hath knows the mind of the Lord, and who hath been his counsellor ?!! Let me vary this phraseology, and ask; Who can know the mind of the Lord, and who can be his counsellor? Who can determine what ought to be done by a Mind, boundless in its attributes ; designing and acting for immensity and eternity? Who can tell the nature and design of even a minute part of what he has done? Who, much more, can tell or even remotely conjecture, what he ought to do?

On these subjects to philosophize is folly in the abstract. They are so entirely removed beyond our reach, that it is impossible for us to know any thing which can be of any value. No efforts of the most capacious human mind have, hitherto, been able even to lay hold on them. Very many ingenious men have employed themselves, with no small labour, in attempting to form schemes of creation and providence; and in determining what was proper, and what was improper, to be done by the Ruler of all things. Unsatisfied with that which is disclosed in the Bible, they have wished to substitute a plan of their own for that of God. By this plan they have not only chosen to interpret the designs, for which the beings and events, which compose the great system, were formed; but have strenuously insisted that their fellow-men should adopt this interpretation. To the same plan they have not only bent their own creed, but, with a sufficient degree of as

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

surance, have required the Creator to conform his conduct. Wretched philosophers ! Miserable men! How much more rationally, and justly, would they have acted, had they exclaimed with a man incomparably wiser than themselves, " Such kuowledge is too wonderful for me : it is high ; I cannot attain to it.”

What is it, that we attempt to comprehend, and explain? The thoughts and works of an Infinite mind : plans, filling eternity and immensity: a train of causes and effects, begun here and reaching in a regular chain through endless duration : causes and effects, now existing, to be explained by consequences, situated in the remote regions of being. Who are we, that thus resolutely enter upon this mighty task ?

this mighty task? Worms of the dust. When were we born? Yesterday. What do we know ? Nothing.

« AnteriorContinuar »