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OBSERVATIONS ON DIVINE REVELATION,
1. Agreeably to my promise, I shall now make a few general remarks respecting a divine revelation. I stated in my last that the minister who gave me the first instructions in the Christian religion pointed out to me the evidences of a divine revelation, which were then of great use to me. However, I had a still better opportunity afterward of examining that subject more extensively, and more carefully, in the Missionary Seminary, under the care of the late Rev. Dr. Bogue, at Gosport, in England. Permit me, my dear Benjamin, to embrace this opportunity of publicly acknowle'zing the kind providence of God, and of thanking the directors of the London Missionary Society, for sending and supporting me in their Seminary, where it pleased my dear Lord and Savior further to enlighten my mind, to rectify my judgment, and to establish my heart in the truth of the Gospel by the parental and judicious instructions of my ever-revered tutor, who lately entered his rest, after having spent a life of more than threescore years and ten in the most laborious, indefatigable, and useful manner. To return to our subject, the doctor's M. S. lectures on " divine revelation," and his printed essay on the “divine authority of the New Testament,” exceed all I ever met with on the subject.
§ 2. In treating on this subject, one is not at a loss what to say or to write, but how to arrange the mass of matter crowded at once into the mind. I need not inform you, my brother, that it is possible for God to make known to men many things which, otherwise, they could not have known. However wise men may be, still God is infinitely wiser. We are but creatures of a day, that know nothing, whilst his wisdom and knowledge are past finding out. His power too is almighty. He can never be at a loss for means to accomplish whatever he may wish to have done. For "he that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that teaches men knowledge, shall he not know ?" He who has endowed us with power and ability to signify and communicate to others our inten. tions, desires, and commands, cannot be deficient in ability to make us acquainted with his own will and mind. To deny God such an ability is as foolish and sinful as to deny his very
existence. § 3. Nor shall I need many arguments to convince you of the necessity of a divine revelation. Whatever
have been the knowledge of our first parents before they sinned, it is very evident that since their fall a new revelation be. came necessary. Without it they and their posterity must have remained blind, wretched, and miserable. To enjoy true happiness we need a correct knowledge of God, of the way
of deliverance from the guilt and power of sin, and of the nature and certainty of a future state. You have, no doubt, heard of the boasted light of nature, called “ reason, sentiment, moral sense, a spark or monitor within," Pray, wherein does it consist? Where is it to be found? What has it effected in the world ? Among the three hundred millions of the inhabitants of China, have any of them ever fanned
up this “spark” into a flame sufficiently clear to lead them from their dumb idols to serve the living God? Has the "monitor within ” ever taught them how to per. form their duty, and brought them to realize true happiness? Alas! generation after generation have lived "without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world." And if this be the state of the ingenious and civilized Chi nese, who have a knowledge of, and intercourse with those who have long enjoyed a divine revelation, what can be expected from the rest of the heathen nations who have, perhaps, never heard of the Bible, or the God of the Bible? A slight acquaintance with history assures us that it is not more true that God, in the beginning, made man in his own (holy) image, and after his own (glorious and blessed) likeness, than that men have made their gods in their own de. praved image, and after their own guilty likeness. Whilst our blessed God is glorious in holiness, perfectly free from every blemish, and possessed of every excellency, infinite and unchangeable, their gods gloried in their shame, and are represented as having committed every crime with greediness. Now, what else could be expected from the worshippers of such gods, or from the subjects of such sove reigns, than what is exhibited in the history of the worship and wars of the enlightened Egyptians, Greeks, and Ro mans, viz. that they found pleasure in doing that which was most vile, horrid, hurtful, and unnatural. This awful description of the historian is confirmed by the testimony of the inspired Apostle of the Gentiles, in his Epistle addressed to the church at Rome, the capital of the world. Rom. 1: 18-32. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse : because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing them. selves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to
uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise alsс the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient: being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Nor hath any nation since grown wiser or better where the enlightening, quickening, and fructifying beams of the Sun of Righteousness have not yet shone. Among them the picture drawn by the pencil of inspiration will be found to be not overcharged, that "their understanding is darkness itself, their judgment perverse, their memory treacherous, their will, enmity against God, their affections earthly, sensual, and devilish, and their members the members of unrighteousness.” Many of the wisest heathen have acknowledged that human nature,
its present vile and corrupt state, could never have been made so by a wise, holy, and benevolent God; but that, by some means or other, some change for the worse must have taken place; but how or when this change took place they could not tell, much less could they
find out a way to restore men to holiness or happiness. Their wisest philosophers, too, have tried to reform the world; but their attempts have been as fruitless as if they had attempted to change the Ethiopian's skin or the leopard's spots. The words of my blessed Savior are truly applicable to them: “ They be blind leaders of the blind, and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Matt. 15 : 14. In the next place: How to obtain the pardon of sin, and to be reconciled to God, is another impor. tant defect of the light of nature, and makes a divine revelation desirable and necessary. Such is the importance of the pardon of sin, that no man can be blessed without it, nor miserable with it. David, the royal psalmist, expressed himself thus: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit is no guile.” Ps. 32 : 1, 2. And the Lord of David hath said, " What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" Matt. 16 : 26. The assurance of the divine favor is the very essence of happiness, and the life of religion. Who would not join in the choice of the king of Israel, saying: "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness into my
heart more than in the time that their corn and wine increased." Ps. 4:6, 7. That neither repentance, &c. &c. or any thing we can do, is of any avail in this respect, I shall show in a future letter, nor shall I add any more on this head.
§ 4. It might, indeed, be considered more rational to question God's willingness--whether He would condescend to give a new revelation to his guilty and ungrateful creatures, than to doubt its necessity. Yea, doubtless, great has often been the trembling apprehension of many a poor sinner, when brought to a sense of his guilty and helpless condition. From this fear, however, he will be relieved, by con.