By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
By divine revelation is meant a supernatural communication of truth from God to man. By supernatural is meant beyond the light of nature or reason.
All who believe in a God of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, must admit the possibility of his revealing himself to men in the manner he pleases, in order to convince and assure them that such communication is from himself.
The probability of divine revelation appears when we consider, first, that mankind have in every age confessed their need of it, and, secondly, that he is a very unnatural father who never speaks to his children. Some of the wisest philosophers, as Socrates, have expressed their hope of such a revelation, while the more ignorant have given credit to pretended ones. This proves that the human soul has a natural and unappeasable appetite for a book revelation of religious truth. Most of the forms of paganism express themselves through books. (Begin questions. 1. What is meant by a divine revelation? Is revelation impossible? Give two reasons for its probability.)
The necessity of this revelation is manifest from various considerations.
a.) Human opinions are not a sufficient guide of life and the rule of conduct, as they are various and contradictory.
(b.) Human reason is insufficient; for among those who profess to be guided by it, some worship the true God, some his works, some their own works, and some no God at all, though all ages have the same book of nature and the same power from which to derive moral rules. Though a few philosophers have arrived at sublime views of God, yet the mass of pagans have been sunken in moral character, even in the most splendid eras of Grecian and Roman civilization. Acts 17:18-23; Rom. 1:18-23.
c.) The law of God, which is the only sufficient rule, can be perfectly known only by revelation. (2. What is said of philosphers? Of the masses? Of the highest civilizations?) Hence revelation is needed to furnish adequate motives to virtue and piety.
d.) The moral character of God, the model of all moral excellence, cannot be fully disclosed through the material wor1d any more than that of the mechanic can be clearly revealed by the machine which he has made.
c.) The moral condition of the ancient heathens is proof of this necessity. To this the sacred writers, considered merely as historians, bear testimony. Rom. 1:21-31; 3:9-18; I Cor 6:9, 10; Eph. 2:2,3.
Heathen writers themselves testify that the greatest crimes were countenanced by the arguments and examples of their moralists and philosophers. Infanticide, theft, and crimes against nature, the detail of which modesty forbids, were not only tolerated, but even enjoined, by their legislators and praised by their poets. This would not have been had not public opinion consented to and, in some measure, invited them.
(3. Of God's law? Of his moral character? Illustrate. What is the moral character of the ancient heathens? What is the only suffcient rule of human conduct? How can this be know? What do you learn from the moral condition of the ancient heathen? What is the testimony of sacred writers on this subject? Of heathen writers? What crimes are tolerated? What of public opinion?)
Even their religions sanctioned gross vices. In Corinth was a temple of Venus with a thousand female votaries bringing to her treasury the gains of their impurity. The Babylonians had a temple to which every virgin was religiously taught to resort for unchaste purposes.
SOCRATES made morality the only subject of his philosophy, yet he recommended divination, and was himself addicted to fornication.
PLATO, the great disciple of Socrates, taught that to lie was honorable.
CICERO, as favorable a specimen of heathen excellence as can be found, pleads for fornication, and commends, and at length practices, suicide.
CATO, extolled as a perfect model of virtue, was guilty of prostitution and drunkenness, and advocated, and finally practiced, self-murder.
Such was the moral condition of the ancient heathen; from which we argue the necessity of something superior to the religion of nature.
The moral condition of MODERN HEATHEN is further proof of this necessity. The inhabitants of CEYLON worship devils.
The HINDUS acknowledge one Supreme Being, but never worship him. Their writings encourage self-murder, human sacrifices, and the burning of widows, to an alarming extent. (4. Of their religions? Of Socrates? Plato? Cicero? Cato? What further proof of this necessity? What of the inhabitants of Ceylon?)
The CHINESE burn gold paper before their idols, supposing it will become money in an other world, and help the departed spirits of the poor to pay their way to heaven.
The inhabitants of BENGAL acknowledge three hundred and thirty millions of gods, among which are the monkey, the serpent, logs of wood, etc., etc. They believe that when a man dies he will rise again in the form of a cat, dog, worm, etc.
The Thugs of INDIA waylay and murder strangers as acts of religious duty. Their impurity surpasses description. In slander and deception they are adepts. Their females are despised as soon as born; among some tribes immediately put to death.
They are never allowed an education, or cultivation of any kind. When the husband dies the wife is either buried alive or burns on the funeral pile.
The NEW ZEALANDERS glory in war. They kill and eat their prisoners, and consider the Supreme Being as a great invisible man-eater. (5. Hindus? Chinese? Inhabitants of Bengal? India? Their impurity, etc.? Females? New Zealand?)
In some parts they suspend themselves in the air by large hooks thrust through their backs. Others Cast themselves from a stage upon open knives inserted in packs of cotton.
Now it is the Bible alone which makes us to differ from all these nations. Without it we should soon be like them-ignorant, superstitious, impure, and cruel. Ps. 29:7-1l; 129:9; Prov. 6:20-23.
We prove this from the characters of those among us who have, as far as possible, extricated themselves from the influence of the Bible. See lives of Herbert, Hobbes, Bolingbroke, Hume, Rousseau, and Paine.
2. REVELATION, ORAL AND WRITTEN.
Revelation is distinguished into ORAL and WRITTEN. By oral is meant traditional, or such as is transmitted by word of mouth from one age to another.
Such were the revelations made to the patriarchs, and the longevity peculiar to the age served to preserve them from being corrupted.
These original truths were thus handed down to Moses, who, by the direction of God on Sinai finally wrote them in five books, called the Pentateuch. (6. Some other parts? What makes us to differ from them? How do you prove this? What is meant by oral revelation? Where is an instance?)
The leading facts of the Pentateuch are, the creation of the world; of man; of primeval happiness; his fall; promise of a Savior; the deluge; preservation of a few; Babel; the call of Abraham; the bondage of Israel in Egypt; the exodus; and the giving of the law.
These are all supported by the combined testimony of universal tradition, history, and modern science.
A large portion of what Moses records fell under his personal observation.
Of those facts which preceded his time he had ample means of information in the longevity of the ancients. Moses was contemporary with the contemporaries of Abraham; Abraham with Noah; and Noah with the contemporaries of Adam.
In this way, under the divine guidance, the important facts of the antediluvian world were probably gathered by Moses. Respecting those which took place prior to man's Creation, there must have been direct communication from God. (7. Who finally wrote these revelations? What are the leading facts of the Pentateuch? How are these supported? Was Moses a personal witness of what he relates? How could he know concerning the facts that preceded him? With whom was Moses contemporary? Abraham? Noah?)
3. GENUINENESS AND AUTHENTICITY.
A genuine book is one that is written by its professed authors
. We have ocular demonstration that the Bible exists. It must have been written by some one; if not by those whose names it bears, it is difficult to know who did write it.
Wicked men would not be likely to produce a book like the Bible, which continually condemns them. Job 20:4-7, 29; Ps. 7:11; 9:17; 11:5,6; 50:16-22; Isa. 57:20, 21; Phil. 3:19; II Thess. I:8, 9; II Pet. 2: 1-19; Rev. 22:12, 19.
GOOD men could not be guilty of imposing their own works on the world as the work of God.
The records of the Church uniformly declare that the prophets and apostles wrote the Scriptures. And the Christian Church has the same evidence of the existence of her fathers that we have of the existence of our ancestors. (8. What of those facts which took place prior to man's creation? Is it likely that wicked men, or good men uninspired, would write such a book as the Bible? How do you prove that the Scriptures were written by the prophets and the apostles? What evidence has the Christian Church of the existence of her fathers?)
An AUTHENTIC book is one in which matters-of-fact are related as they really occurred.
The sacred writers repeatedly assert that they wrote by inspiration from God. Isa. 8:1; Jer. 2:1; Ezek. 1:3. Paul, by specifying passages in his epistles " written not by commandment," implies their inspiration. I Cor. 7: 6; IICor 8:8;9:17; and claims it in Rom. 9:1
To prove the truth of their assertion they pointed to MIRACLES, which were publicly wrought, and universally acknowledged, at the time as real. II Pet. 1:16-18.
For this they also suffered every thing, even death itself. This they would not have done to support what they knew to be false.
4. MODE OF INSPIRATION.
Respecting the particular MANNER of divine inspiration there are two opinions extant: -1. That the Spirit of God inspired the thoughts; but that the writers were left to express themselves in their own words and phrases, but they were so guided that they were kept from theological errors. (9. What is an authentic book? Do the sacred writers assert their inspiration? How did they attest the truth of their assertions? What further evidence did they give? What of those facts which took place prior to man's creation? Is there more than one opinion concerning the manner of inspiration? What is the first?)
2. That every WORD was suggested to them by the Spirit of God, and that the writers did nothing but write. This is verbal inspiration.
The following texts seem to favor the latter opinion: "The Holy Ghost by the month of David spake." Acts 1:16. "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet." Acts 28:25. "Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." II Pet. 1:21. "The Spirit speaketh expressly," (in express words.) I Tim. 4:1.
Both views secure the Scriptures from all error.
A UNIFORMITY OF STYLE AND MANNER in the different writers was by no means essential to this kind of inspiration, which is called plenary; that is, full. God may speak in as great a variety of styles as the thirty-five or more different writers of the sixty-six books of the Bible.
The peculiar style of each writer, instead of being removed, was probably enriched, and appropriated to his own design by the Holy Ghost. (10. Second? What opinion does Scripture seem to favor? Repeat a few passages. What is this kind of inspiration called? Why? Is uniformity of style essential?)