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Revelation, my brethren, does not overlook or supersede the use of reason and argument; it employs them in proposing and enforcing its doctrines and precepts •, but it is by no means on the conclusions of reason, however just and incontrovertible they may be, or supposed to be, that they rest their faith Who are favoured with a revelation from heaven. The doctrines of revelation cannot but be true: the inspired preach the words of truth and soberness: messengers of God publish doctrines according to godliness, and whatsoever is pure excellent and venerable. These characters of a revelation from heaven, pre-eminently belong to the Gospel. The superior excellence of the morals exhibited and required in the Gospel, I cannot omit observing, by the way, in the circumstances of its first teachers, and in the period and plact of its being first proposed, cannot be explained, in any rational consistent manner, but by admitting that the characters it describes did exist, and that the doctrines and precepts they deliver were communicated from heaven. Convinced that the Scripture is given by inspiration, whatever it contains is received without hesitation. ,
An An implicit faith in revelation is not, and cannot be, refused: it is not rational only, it is necessary. Criticism and candid inquiry, however, are by no means restrained and interdicted by admitting that the Scriptures are the word of God. Searching the Scriptures, inquiring into and ascertaining what they contain, are required and commanded by our Lord, and his apostles: but what they contain must be received, as the truths and commands of God, not the dictates and decisions of our own minds. It is readilv admitted that, in the sacred volume, there are some things, concerning which the most confirmed believer may not think precisely in the same manner that another concieves of them, who is as sound and established in the faith of Christ as himself: there are others which all who receive the Gospel must receive without the least hesitation. There are truths interwoven in every part of this revelation, and essential to its objects and end. There are fundamental truths, the removing of which would overturn the whole fabric. Among these essential truths, that there is a state of perfection and bliss beyond the grava holds a distinguished place.
Much learning and ingenuity have been employed to shew that the Jewish dispensation or law, considered in itself, and as contrasted with the Christian, does not propose a state of future bliss or misery. The maintainers of this opinion, however, cannot but allow that, considered as connected with the Gospel, and introducing the more perfect law and better covenant, the old covenant and the histories of the Old Testament, encourage the belief in that life and immortality, which Christianity places in the clearest and fullest light. They cannot but admit that the Psalms and the prophecies refer to a future world and a future judgment.
When we read the history of Abel, we cannot believe it possible that he, to whom the Lord of all had respect in his worship, and who was hated on account of his worthy character, and who was murdered because he was accepted of God, was extinguished for ever. It is impossible to reconcile the approbation and favour of God with his violent and cruel death, but in believing that he was received into a state of exalted happiness in a better world. *
The translation of Enoch; the history, wanderings and sufferings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the friends of God, to whom precious promises were addressed; the fiery chariot of Elijah; are not presumptions but proofs and demonstrations of a happy state beyond the grave. So are their faith and sufferings, " who subdued kingdoms, wrought "righteousness, obtained promises, stopped "the mouths of lions, quenched the violence "of sire, escaped the edge of the sword, 6ut "of weakness were made strong, waxed va"liant in fight, turned to flight the armies "of the aliens; women received their dead "raised to life again, and others were tor"tured not accepting deliverance, that they "might obtain a better resurrection. And "others," adds the apostle, in the passage I refer to, " had trial of cruel mockings and "scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and "imprisonment: they were stoned, they "were sawn asunder, were tempted, were "slain with the sword; they wandered about "in sheep skins and goat skins, being desti"tute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the "world was not worthy :) they wandered in "deserts and in mountains, and in dens and
S s 2 "caves "caves of the earth. And these all having "obtained a good report, through faith, re"ceived not the promise: God having pro"vided some better thing for us, that they "without us, should not be made perfect;" that is, the perfect dispensation in the prospect of which they rejoiced, was reserved for the days of the Messiah, for those to whom his Gospel is proposed and preached.
St. Paul, in pleading for himself before King Agrippa, shews the unreasonableness and inconsistency of his countrymen, in their determined opposition to him and the first Christians, for aflerting the very things which "the twelve tribes instantly serving God w day and night," expected, when he preached to them Christ and a resurrection.
But though a blesled futurity is revealed, in the old Scriptures, it is in the New Testament more fully, explicitly and clearly proposed. The dawn of Judaism ushered in the Sun of Righteousness. The mists and clouds of uncertainty and suspicion, are dispelled. The grace of God brings salvation. Christ j?ath abolished death. What the Amen, the