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THE CERTITUDE OF THE TRUTH OF THE REVEALED DOCTRINES · OF CHRISTIANITY CAN BE OBTAINED ONLY BY THE MEDIUM , OF EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE, OR BY THE TESTIMONY OF GOD, GIVEN IN THE ACT OF THE DIVINE REVELATION OF THESE
DOCTRINES.-Shewn from the nature of the question from the · reasoning of St. Paul—from the natural method of coming to - the true and certain knowledge of the will of a Legislator..,
Ir bas been shewn that the certitude of the truth of the revealed doctrines of Christianity cannot be obtained by the mediumn of intrinsic evidence; it follows, therefore, that it can be obtained only by extrinsic evidence, or by the evidence of the testimony of God.' *.".1!4;.
reibis . The testimony of God must be, in the nature of things, the only proper medium of ascertaining the truth of these revealed doctrines; because these doctrines have for their objects, either the nature of God or the designs and works of God. To whom is the nature of God perfectly known, but to God himself? To whom are the designs and works of God perfectly known, but to God himself? God only has a perfect and comprehensive knowledge of his own nature, designs, and works; therefore, his manifestation or revelation of them is the proper medium by which the truth of them can be ascertained.
The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. The knowledge of the designs and works of God in favour of man could never have been acquired, either by the testimony of the senses, or by the demonstrations of human reason. But to us God HATH REVEALED them by his spirit. For the spirit of God searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. No other can know his designs or intentions, unless he manifest them. For what man knoweth the things (the dispositions and intentions) of a man, but the spirit . of man, that is in him ? So the things, also (the will and
designs), that are of God, no man knoweth but the spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of this world, but the spirit that is of God; THAT WE MAY KNOW the things that are given us of God.—1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, 11, 12.
No knowledge can be more true than this, which God has of his own nature, designs, and works; because he knows them as they are in themselves. Nothing can be more certain to us than the truth of that which is revealed to us by the God of truth, concerning his nature, designs, and works. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is grcater. John, v. 9. The testimony of God is assuredly the most solid basis of the most absolute certitude of truth.
If, therefore, God, who perfectly knows himself, his own designs and works, positively declares that in his own infinitely perfect nature there are three distinct persons; that in Christ there are, since lris incarnation, two natures united in the person of God the Son; that the posterity of Adam are born in the guilt of original sin ; that atonement has been made for sin by the death of Christ on the cross; that baptism is instituted for the remission of sins; that every man will be judged immediately after his death; that Christ will come from heaven at the last day, to judge all men according to their works; that our bodies shall be raised to ļife; that the good will be rewarded with eternal happiness, and the wicked punished with eternal torments : 'if GOD declares these things, they are most true and certain ; and this declaration or testimony of God is the proper medium by which the truth of these doctrines can be ascertained. i • The doctrines of Christianity are the law of Christ. How is the knowledge of what a legislator freely commands, to be obtained, but by the declaration or manifestation which he himself makes of his will ?
The Fact Of The Divine REVELATION OF THE CHRISTIAN
RELIGION.--The Christian Religion was taught by Christ.Christ, as Man, was divinely commissioned to teach it. The , Nature and Effect of Miracles.—The divine Mission of Christ proved by Miracles.-Christ, who taught the Christian Religion, is Himself true God. His Divinity shewn, principally by the Fact of his Resurrection.--Consequences—in Proof of the divine Revelation of the Christian Religion, and of the Obligation of observing its Precepts.
TAAT, about 1800 years ago, a person called Jesus Christ lived in Judea, is an historical fact. That he taught certain religious doctrines, that he delivered certain moral precepts, that he instituted certain sacred rites, are so many facts, supported by the strongest testimonies of written histories, and of universal tradition.
If Christ, as man, was commissioned by God to deliver these doctrines, precepts, and institutions, as the doctrines, precepts, and institutions of God; if Christ, who delivered them, is himself God: the fact of the divine revelation and institution of the Christian religion is established. These two positions are true and certain. . · Ist. It is a fact that Christ, as man, was commissioned by God to that effect. He declared that the doctrine which he delivered was not of his own invention, as man, but the doctrine which he had received from God, who sent him. John vii, 16. He proved the fact of his divine mission by the most evident miracles.
These miracles were public acts of omnipotence, which no other but God could perform, and by which the Almighty God of Truth sensibly interposed, to give his sanction to the authority of Christ, as commissioned by him, to declare his truths and will to man. What stronger testimony of the divine sanction, or commission, could be given, or be reasonably required ? The King's seal affixed to an instrument commissioning a person officially to make known the will of the King, is a sufficient proof that such commission does really proceed from the sovereign; and it gives the same force to the communication made by the commissioner, as if the King had delivered it in person. A miracle, wrought to sanction the authority of a teacher, as delivering the truths of God, is the seal of the Almighty; and it gives to the doctrine, or to the testimony of the teacher, the same authority and certitude of truth, as if God himself had spoken. Hence, to those whom Christ had instructed, and whom, after he had proved his divine authority by evident miracles, he commissioned to teach in his name, he said, He that heareth you heareth me. Luke x, 16.
Christ appealed to his miracles to prove his divine mission. John the Baptist had given testimony to the authority of Christ. But Christ said, I have a greater testimony than that of John. For the WORKS which the Father hath given me to perfect, the works themselves which I do, give testimony of me; thut the Father HATH SENT ME. And the Father himself, WHO HATH SENT ME, hath given testimony of me. John v, 36, 37. He whom GOD HATH SENT, speaketh the words of God. Jobn, iii, 34.
What was the nature of these works, to which Christ appealed in proof of his divine mission ? They were acts of divine, of omnipotent power; acts by which he exercised dominion over all nature. A man born blind is presented to him; Christ says, that this calamity had been permitted to befal the man, that the works of God should be mude manifest in him. Adding, I must work the works of Him THAT SENT ME. John, ix, 3, 4. He restored sight to this man, and it was acknowledged to be a miracle.-Lazarus is sick: Christ declares that this sickness is for the glory of God ; that the Son of God may be glorified by it. Lazarus dies, and is four days in the grave. Jesus goes to the place; he gives thanks to the Father, in presence of the people standing about; that they may believe, said he to his father, that THOU HAST SENT ME. He cried out, Lazarus, come forth; and presently he that had been dead came forth living. Many in consequence believed in him. The chief priests, therefore,
and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said : what ao me, for this man doth many miracles? If we let him alonè so, all men will believe in him. John xi, 4, 42, 43, 45, 47, 48. $ · Thus Christ proves his divine mission, by facts 'which his enemies acknowledge to be miraculous. Therefore his authority, bis ministry, his doctrine, are evidently sanctioned by the Almighty God of Truth; his doctrine is the doctrine of hint who sent him; he spoke the words of God. John iii, 34.
2d. Christ; who delivered the doctrines, precepts, and institutions of Christianity, as the doctrines, precepts, and institutions of God, is himself God, the Son of God; though a distinct person, yet of the same nature with his father. '
In the prophecies relating to the Messias, which were all accomplished in Jesus, the attributes of the divine, no less than the properties of the human nature, are predicated of hin. If Isaias foretels that he is to be conceived and born of a virgin, he calls him at the same time Emmanuel, or God with us. If Micheas announces that he is to go forth from Bethlehem, the place of his natural birth, he ascribes to him another procession from the days of eternity, which is his divine birth, as Son of God, from his eternal Father.
In the course of his mortal life, Jesus occasionally displayed the glory of his divine nature, by the exercise of infinite wisdom and infinite power, in the splendid miracles, which he wrought. But.the sole fact of his resurrection from the dead, will ever stand as irresistible evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ. · When Jesus was challenged by the Jews to give proof of the justice of his claim to the divine title of Son of God, which he claimed as his own right and prerogative, he on two occasions, in particular, referred them to the future event of his resurrection, as to the grand proof of his being the Messias, and the Son of God. John ii, 16~22, and Matt. xii, 38-41. His resurrection from the dead conld not be effected but by the power of God; nor could the power of God be employed to support a false pretension to a divine title. Tlierefore the act of his résurrection from the dead, which Jesus had appealed to as the illustrious proof of his being the Son of God, was, ipso facto, a divine sanction of the justice of his claim to that glorious character. But if the fact of the resurrection of Jesus be considered,