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xlv. 21-25 .........
The duty of acquiring a correct knowledge of revealed truth.—The doctrine of a Saviour the primary truth of revelation.— Importance of the question concerning his Person.-Design of this work.
'o a serious inquirer, whose mind is attentive to evidence and open to reasonable conviction, the proofs of the divine origin of Christianity must appear to involve the notion of its infinite import
Information given by the Author of all truth and wisdom, could not but wear the characters of his supreme excellence, and would not have been made but for the most solid reason, and in the contemplation of final purposes worthy of his own perfection. It cannot be a matter of indifference, with respect to their accountableness and their moral state, whether the rational creatures of God accept or reject the revelation which
he has given; surrounded as it is with a copiousness and variety of evidence, which grows stronger with age and brighter from scrutiny. So, neither, when we have obtained the result of a diligent and candid research, and have yielded our assent to the general truth of the scriptures, are we at liberty to rest at this point; as if it were not interesting, or at least not obligatory, to acquire just conceptions of the contents of those scriptures, the truths which they discover, and the designs which they propose. In a right knowledge of the one, and a practical enjoyment of the other, lies the possession of true virtue and happiness.
The revelation of heaven bears on its front, as its PRIMARY and CAPITAL TRUTH the doctrine of a great DELIVERER from sin and misery, promised under one dispensation and given under another, and it represents him as the Founder of our faith, the Light of the world, the Lord of glory, the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him. “Who, then, is He, that we may believe on him ?" Can the question be frivolous or unnecessary? Rather, can we be acquitted of a criminal and insulting indifference, if we neglect to propose
pursue the inquiry, till we arrive at a rational satisfaction? Is not a “ belief of the truth” constantly represented in the scriptures as actually necessary to salvation? Is not this subject evidently a prime and capital part of that truth? Is it not, in the highest degree, probable that the reception of this branch of the truth has a necessary association with such a state of mind as is indispensable to the enjoyment of the blessings which that Great Deliverer came to bestow?
On this subject, as is too well known, a considerable diversity of opinion has subsisted for many ages: and, at the present period, this diversity forms, unquestionably, the most momentous controversy among Christians. It is not less obvious that this circumstance increases the difficulty, as well as the interest, of the investigation. Yet the subject does not lie among the metaphysics of religion, the more abstruse and less vital parts of revealed doctrine. It touches all the springs of life and action in our faith and our practice. It is not a topic whose interest is confined to the men of learned retirement and deep theological research: but it, at this moment, engages, as it ought to engage, the most serious attention of thousands in the middle and the inferior classes; persons who, though usually called unlearned, are not ignorant or uncultivated, but addicted to useful reading in their own tongue, and