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SYSTEM OF DOCTRINES.
CONCERNING DIVINE REVELATION.
IT is evident from reason, fact and experience, that mankind stand in need of a revelation from God, in or. der to know what God is—what is their own true state and moral character-whether he be reconcileable to them, who have rebelled against him--and if he be, what is the method he has appointed, in which he will be reconciled ; and what man must be and do, in order to find acceptance in his sight : Wherein true happiness consists-whether there be another state—what are the favours he will grant in a future state, to those who serve and please him in this life—what are his grand designs in creating and governing the world, &c. rance and uncertainty, with respect to these most important points, in which all men have been and still are, who have enjoyed no such revelation, is a constant, striking evidence of this.
There are, indeed, those who refuse to admit this evidence ; and insist that human reason alone, unassisted by any revelation, except what is made in the works of creation and providence, is sufficient to investigate every necessary and important truth; and therefore think themselves authorized to reject and despise every other
revelation that pretends to come from God, as the contrivance and production of designing, or weak, deluded men. But while they entertain so high an opinion of human reason, and especially their own, in the face of the glaring cvidence from fact and experiment, just now mentioned, they have produced an incontestible evidence of their own sad mistake ; for upon examination, the writings of the deists are found to contain numerous contradictions to each other, on points of the highest mo. ment ; and most of them have embraced for truth, many tenets most unreasonable and absurd.
Thus, when they have renounced revelation, and boasted of their own reason, and relied upon that, as a sufficient and infallible guide, they have all, or most of them, run into darkness and delusion. And at the same time, there is abundant evidence, that all the real light and knowledge they appear to have in divine things, which they attribute to the unassisted exercise of their own reason, and which is more than the benighted heathen have, originated from that very revelation, which they discard and despise. With great propriety therefore they have been compared to a man who is in a room, illuminated by the bright shining of a candle, and thereby is assisted to behold the objects around him distinctly : But being ignorant of the assistance which he has from the candle, imagines he discerns those objects by the strength of his own sight ; and therefore despises and endeavours to extinguish that light, which, if withdrawn, would leave him wholly in the dark. * Besides, there is this farther evidence against them, and in favour of the revelation which they renounce, viz. It does not appear, that by all their writings and attempts, they have made any reformation in the morals of men, or that so much as one man has been reclaimed from a vicious course of life, and become sober, humble, benevolent, pious and devout, by being made a convert to them : But, on the contrary, most, if not all their disciples, are of a character directly the reverse of this ; and they are most admired by men of vicious character, or who at least are evidently without
See Leland's Vicw of the Deistical Writers. And Clarke on revealed religion. Proposition vii.
those virtues which are essential to constitute a truly religious man.
Moreover, if the revelation they discard represents men to be in such a state of depravity and vicious blindness, as to be disposed to shut their eyes against the clearest light, and to treat it as these men in fact do treat the Bible; and foretells this same treatment and conduct of theirs, as it certainly does; while they are thus slighting and rejecting it, they are really giving a strong evidence of its divine original.
But, to return : The usefulness and necessity of such a revelation is abundantly evident from fact, and has been implicitly or expressly acknowledged by many of the most wise and inquisitive among the heathen.* Hence we may conclude, that God has given one to men: And when we find ourselves in possession of a book which has all the marks and evidence that we can reasonably expect or desire, that it is indeed from God, and suited to answer all the ends of a divine revelation, we shall be very criminal, if we do not re. ceive it with gratitude, and improve it to promote all the important purposes for which it is given.
Such a revelation we find to be contained in the book called the Bible, or the holy scriptures. For while all other pretended revelations from God, which have been, or now are found among men, are without all proper evidence of their being such, and carry evident marks of imposture, which has been abundantly demonstrated, by those who have examined them: This has stood the test of the severest scrutiny both of its friends and ene. mies, and the more it has been examined, the more clearly does it appear, that all the objections which have been made against it are futile and groundless ; and that there is sufficient and abundant evidence, that it is from God, suited to give satisfaction and a well grounded assurance of its divine original, to every impartial, honest mind.
The first part of this book was written by Moses, after he had given abundant evidence, by a series of as. tonishing miracles, done in the sight of the Egyptians,
See Dr. Clarke on the truth and certainty of the christian revelation. Proposition pii.