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divine revelation, is greatly below the real truth of the case? Do you not feel that every step safely taken, is taken with Christianity as your guide?
But why press an argument further, which defies enumeration in its details? I speak to the docile student who is truly desirous to know the will of God, and I ask him—after this review of the state of the world before the coming of Christ, of unbelievers scattered now in Christian countries, of the heathen nations around us, and of Christian people in proportion as revelation is only partially known and obeyed—whether a revelation from God was not indispensably necessary for man; necessary to teach the unity and perfections of God; necessary to teach the state of man and his obligations; necessary to teach the way of expiation and atonement for sin; necessary to teach the rule of duty, the immortality of the soul, and a future state of rewards and punishments; necessary to teach the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, as renewing and consoling the heart, and applying to it the remedy which God has provided for all the wants of a fallen world.
Having brought my young enquirer to this point, I would now turn round to him, and
LECT. 111.] OF THE NEED OF REVELATION. 87
add two or three additional topics of the greatest importance. I would inform him that a general impression has actually prevailed throughout the world, that God has granted some communication of himself to man; that supposed revelations have obtained credit solely on the ground of the great likelihood of such a blessing; that any notion of natural religion doing all that is necessary for us, is opposed to the general sense and belief of mankind in all ages; and that the spontaneous dictate of the weakness of man is to crave a divine direction. Surely this is a remarkable fact : but this is not all.
I would inform him further, that the wisest and greatest amongst the antient Heathen, have confessed their despair of remedying, by any means known to us, the vices and miseries of mankind, and have desired a divine guidance; and that Socrates, more especially, cries out as it were for help, and tells his disciples to wait patiently till some revelation were made.
Having called his attention to these circumstances, I would then ask him to recollect the admitted benevolence, wisdom, and goodness of the Deity; and that he has confessedly provided remedies and palliatives for every other evil in life, except, on the idea of there being no revelation, for the greatest of all, moral depravity.
I would next beg to ask him, as man, by the admission of unbelievers themselves, may come at some future period, and in another state of being, to a more enlarged knowledge of God and of himself, by an emanation of the divine favour; whether the obvious inference is not that the beginnings of such future communication may be looked for now in the intermediate accession of knowledge contained in a divine revelation ?
Let the candid enquirer lay these things together, and let him say whether it be so extremely improbable that God has granted to his fallen but accountable creatures, some kind of divine aid and guide and hope of deliverance.
For, be it well remembered, that infidelity blots out, not only the revelation properly called Christian, but the preceding revelation also to Moses and the prophets, (from which all the faint traces of truth discernible in the sacrifices, the incense, the purifications, the oracles of the heathen world, had their rise,) and leaves a total blank in the creation of God from the fall to the present hour—a blank which it pretends not to fill, except by vapid declamations on the sufficiency of reason. But there is
10 See Davison on Prophecy. Serinon I.
no other revelation-no counter-system-no choice of religions proposed to man. The question is between Christianity and nothing; between Christianity and a dark uncertain hesitation as to every point of faith and practice here, and a gloomy and impenetrable obscurity bereafter.
But no, my brethren, I cannot longer dwell on a supposition so frightful, so dishonourable to our Almighty Father and Preserver-so full of dark despair to man. No, my brethren, the God of mercy and creation has not deserted us in our fallen state: he has not left us without a guide. The unbeliever, in the scornful spirit which I described in my last discourse, may take the miserable part of exalting beyond all measure, the light of reason, and may shut his eyes to the glories of Christianity; he may attempt to rekindle his faded taper at the blazing torch of revelation, and then claim it as his own, and try to extinguish the very luminary to which he owes all his feeble irradiation. But we are not so lost to reason and conscience; we are not so lost to all feelings of gratitude to God; we are not so lost to all the dictates of experience and truth, as to follow him in his infatuated wanderings. We derive from the very necessities of man, connected as
they are with the other direct'testimonies which we shall soon review, an invincible argument in favour of our religion.
I. Let me then, in conclusion, urge upon all before me, the practical application of the topic which we have been thus considering. Let me remind them of that temper of teachableness and prayer in which the question is to be studied. Let me urge every one to examine, in this temper, the proofs of the necessity of revelation. Let each ask himself what he ever knew, or what he now knows practically, of the being and perfections of God, the holy law, the atonement for sin, the means of overcoming temptation, and actually living a holy and humble life, except as revelation shines with its friendly light? I do not wait for his reply. I know that in proportion as he imbibes the right disposition of mind, he will acquire, by his own observation, an increased capacity of judging of the need there is of a divine revelation. He will confess, that, whatever others may say or think, he feels that without Christianity man can never be rescued from the gulf of sin and misery in which he is involved. His own necessities expound to the practical student the common state of mankind.