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to-night with the intention, if it were possible, to make some disturbance, but he found the people too devout, he found the people too prayerful, he found the people too attentive to observe it-who can tell but that such an one may be taught the error of his way ? O what joy would it be to me to know that some scoffing infidel had, in answer to your prayers this night, been led to seek for mercy; this night led, as he goes out of the church, to say from the bottom of his heart, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
Well, brethren, I have done; I have finished the work that God in this place has given me to do. I have finished it with many infirmities: I have all along had to cast myself upon your indulgence. I never came to you upon the stilts of professional importance: I always had to tell you that I was a poor helpless sinner, as helpless and as sinful as any of you: but I tried "to hold up a large cross"
(to borrow a term which a dear friend of mine in one of his publications makes use of)—a large cross; not a large crucifix―no, but full salvation through the blood of Jesus, a rich, and a free, and a mighty Gospel.
Well, may we all meet in a blessed eternity! May none of you at the last day have to wish that God had never set me here! I have spoken plain things: I have never sought to please you-I have sought to save you; and I hope to hear good tidings of your faith and charity; that you are a united people. O don't be a divided people. I don't know any thing more painful than that to a faithful minister. When I found, some few years ago, that there were divisions, and heart-burnings, and jealousies among my flock, I wept over it in secret; and so did that dear sainted woman who was then the companion of my sorrow, and the joy of my heart. And it was then that I determined, if the good providence of God opened me a way, that I would go from a scene of division and party-spirit. Let my successor come to enjoy better things: let him come to find a people rallying around him, praying much for him to God, and holding up his hands: and then I will engage for him, he shall be found to come to you in all the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace. Long years be granted to him! Great success rest upon him, and upon all labouring in this district, and upon all faithful ministers of Christ throughout the world; till at length the last sinner is brought to God, the last soul converted from the error of his way, the trumpet sounding, the dead rising, the saints meeting the Lord in the air, and the faithful servants of God going to be for ever with their Lord!
THE NATURE AND DESIGN OF A DIVINE REVELATION*.
REV. J. BLACKBURN,
SILVER STREET CHAPEL, OCTOBER 6, 1836.
"He spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began." LUKE, i. 70.
THAT there exists in the universe by which we are surrounded an intelligent first cause of all things-the immortal, independent, and unchangeable Jehovah, is a proposition which, I suppose, there is scarcely any one in this assembly who will dispute. The more we study the works of that blessed Being in the scenes of nature, the more we shall be impressed with a deep and profound veneration, not only of the power, the sagacity, and the wisdom, but of the goodness of the great Father of all. But whilst we are thus taught by the contemplation of his works that he is powerful, wise, and benevolent, we learn little of his moral perfections, and nothing of his spiritual. We know not what service he requires at our hand, nor what we must do to secure the favour which he alone can bestow. Our own eternal destinies, also, are alike uncertain and obscure, for we are but of yesterday, and know nothing. It is obvious, indeed, that one generation passes away, and another cometh; but whither they go, and how they shall return again, and what is their final destiny, are all matters of perfect uncertainty on the principles of natural religion; clouds and darkness rest upon them.
We may therefore attend with gratitude to the subject we are this evening called to contemplate-the nature and design of a divine revelation. The word "revelation," which is used to express the supernatural communication of truth to the minds of men, properly signifies the throwing back of the veil. This is the very idea that we shall now seek to illustrate, because we believe that Jehovah, by the inspiration of his holy servants, "the prophets who have been since the world began," has unveiled to our view the mysteries of his nature and government, or, in other words, has employed men *First of a Course of Thirteen Lectures, by Ministers in Connexio with the Christian Instruction Society.
to be the channels of communicating his mind and will to their fellow-men from the apostacy of our race.
It is my intention, to-night, with all possible brevity, to show you that such a revelation is most desirable; that such a revelation is actually possessed; and that such a revelation is truly beneficial.
In the first place, I am anxious to show you that A REVELATION FROM GOD WAS MOST DESIRABLE. It is so on many accounts, I will only present to you two considerations.
First, because the uncertainty of human opinions has been realized. When the notions of men are examined concerning the nature of God, and the principles by which their own conduct is to be governed, it is obvious that they are at once vague, contradictory, and absurd. We find in many barbarous nations that the existence of the Creator is unknown. It has, indeed, been often affirmed, that all men believe that there is a God; but among the African and Indian tribes individuals have been found who appeared to have no conception of a great First Cause at all. The majority of mankind, however, have such a conviction; and how they have obtained it is an interesting question which we need not at the present moment discuss. It is obvious, that where men have the knowledge of the existence of the great Parent of the universe, it must either be by the traditions of their forefathers, handing down the fact which had been known by preceding generations from the primeval age, or else by a process of induction from the works of creation which they contemplate on every hand.
Now it is very certain that individuals may know something about the existence of God, who know nothing about the duty they owe to him and their fellow-men. It is said, that these may be ascertained by the inductions of reason. That is at best a very precarious, and, I think I can show you, is a hopeless process. Men, you say, are to deduce the principles of their duty to God and their fellows from the testimony of nature. But how is this to be done? Men are confessedly diversified in their powers of reasoning: some have a natural acuteness, and others are remarkably obtuse; some have had their intellectual faculties sharpened by discipline and an extended education, and others have had no educational advantages at all. Now, it is said, Let men infer their duty from the works of God. But how is it possible that men who bring to the process such a great diversity of intellectual power can effect this? It is like assigning to a company of men the performance of a certain
distinguish between the pretender to inspiration and the divinely commissioned seer, by a reference to their miraculous credentials. Take the case of Mohammed, for instance. He pretended to be inspired; but when he was challenged to work a miracle, he replied, that the Jewish prophets and Jesus Christ had worked miracles enough already, and when required to predict some event that was to come to pass, he owned that the keys of futurity did not hang at his girdle. Thus he neither ventured to confirm his mission by miracles, nor to authenticate his embassy by a prediction; and the lapse of ages has witnessed the decay of his empire, and the growing scepticism of his followers. Such was not the case with the prophets and apostles of the church: they proved their mission by a miraculous authority, by accurate predictions, and by the extraordinary harmony which prevailed throughout their common testimony. Let us look at these in detail.
We regard the authors of the Holy Scriptures to have been divinely inspired, because of the authority their injunctions exercised. The messages they delivered to the Jewish people were often opposed to their tastes and habits; they often reproved their sins, and censured their national polity; and yet the people received those messages, obeyed those precepts, acted on those self-denying commandments. Now what, we ask, could induce such a nation as the Jews to obey the commandments of their prophets, and observe things which were in no way acceptable to them, unless they were convinced of their divine authority? And can we be surprised at their conviction? Moses, in the presence of the people, brought down from mount Sinai the code of moral law which is contained in the decalogue, and which had been given him by God himself. This communication was accompanied by thunder and lightning, fire and earthquake, about which there could be no mistake. And let none suppose that these phenomena were a fortunate coincidence to help an imposture, for Moses had announced to all the people the solemnity of the scene three days before it occurred. To deny the truth of these historical facts, or any other connected with the history of the Israelites, requires extraordinary hardihood, because there are no facts in the history of the world which can be compared with them for the completeness of their historical evidence. An individual who indulges in a spirit of scepticism respecting these and analogous facts, should study the evidence upon which all history is based, and after he has weighed the method of historical proof in general, if he possess an honest mind, we doubt not that he will
admit that the record of the Mosaic miracles comes down to us on evidence more satisfactory than the ordinary facts of history possess.
The argument, then, is this: we have a well authenticated record that the Jewish prophets confirmed their messages by miracles, which were witnessed by a million or two of people, who obeyed their messages on the authority of those miracles. Surely these men were the mighty power of God, or they never could have carried with them the minds of a reluctant people after this fashion.
Secondly, we regard these writings to be a revelation from God, because of the harmony of their testimonies. I have heard individuals confess that they could not understand the Bible, that its numerous and detached books, without order or connexion, on various subjects and in different styles, only confused them. It is true that there are sixty-six books in the Old and New Testaments, that those books were composed by thirty different persons of all classes of society, and of very different degrees of intellectual and literary attainments, during a period of more than one thousand years. It ought not to be expected, then, that there should be an entire agreement in style, or that there should be one consecutive narrative: but this we say, that in the whole volume there is an unity of sentiment, and a oneness of mind, which marks the impress of the great Author of the whole. Compare one part of the book with another, you will uniformly find a reverence for holiness, a regard to equity and truth, a compassion for the poor and needy, indignation against the oppressor, the unjust, and the unholy. You will find, that though the books were written by so many different persons, and at such remote periods, yet they happily accord in these grand characteristics. The church of St. Peter's, at Rome, was built by the treasures of nineteen popes, during the long period of one hundred and forty-five years, by twelve successive architects: but when completed, every spectator felt that the building was one great whole-it has unity of design, harmony and proportion in all its parts; and why? Because it was finished after the splendid conceptions of its great projector, Michael Angelo. And thus it is in the edifice of revelation, though it slowly rose during the period of a thousand years, though there were thirty different labourers employed in its erection, though they brought their materials from different sources, and fashioned them into different forms, yet still there is a harmony, a consistency, and a unity about the whole, which proclaim its origin in the mind of the Eternal.
Thirdly, we account this book to be the revelation of God, because of the accuracy of its various predictions. I wish every candid