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The Author's Farewel. omething disclosed or made known, that not known before to constitute revelation Fly and properly so called ; so, consequentwhatever is mysterious and unintelligible, so as it is unintelligible, cannot be revelation 292y fenfe ; because there is nothing laid o1, or revealed, or brought to rememance, nor is the attention at all awakenin , or engaged ; nor, indeed, are there any her images impressed upon
the mind bereby, than the unconnected ideas of chaaffers and founds. If one man, by speech, writing, or otherwise, communicates knowedge to, or refreshes the memory, or awaens the attention of another, as aforesaid, his is called human revelation; if the Dei, by a particular and special application of is
power and providence, communicates nowledge to, or awakens the attention, or freshes the memories of his creatures, as aresaid, this is called divine revelation ; it
and therefore, we can only take into consi deration those ways of which it is said tha he has communicated knowledge as afore faid, and which I apprehend to be ther four; viz. by visions, by voices; by dreams, or by impresions on men's minds. Now whether it be by one, or by another, or by all these ways, that God communicates knowledge to men, it must be a matter of uncertainty whether the revelation be divine, or not; because we have no rule to judge, and from which we may distinguish, with certainty, divine revelation from delusion; at least, there has no such rule come within my notice, or that my discerning faculty has enabled me to discover. Suppese a revelation be made by a vision, or by a voice; as we have no criterion, no way by which we can distinguish, with certainty, divine visions from other visions, nor divine voices from other voices; therefore, it must be uncertain whether the revelation produced by them be divine, or not. Or suppose a revelation be made by a dream, or by an ima pression on the mind, as we have no certain rule by which we can distinguish divine dreams from other dreams, nor divine impressions from other impressions ; therefore,
ing denominated divine, or human,not from e subject matter revealed, but from the rsonal character of the revealer. The ay in which God communicates knowledge men, by an extraordinary divine intersition (supposing at any time he does) anot, I think, certainly be determined;
it must, in the nature of the thing, be a matter of uncertainty whether such revelation be divine, or not.
And if this be the case of those who receive the revelation at first hand, then, surely, it must be uncertain to those who receive it from them, And though the subject matter of a divine revelation cannot be known what it is, before it be promulged ; yet it may be known what it is not, antecedent to such promulgation. For, as the moral character of the Deity may be known, independent of revelation; so the negative moral conduct of the Deity, or what God will not do, may be known, independent of revelation also. God is absolutely and perfectly wise and good, and he is known to be so, independent of revelation ; this, I presume,is a proposition that is universally admitted ; and therefore, as nature does not afford a motive or temptation to the Deity to act below, or unworthy of such a character; so this affords a moral certainty to us, that he never will do so. Besides, when we take a view of the works of God, so far as they come within our notice, it evidently appears, that the divine power and the divine intelligence have been constantly and uniformly employed in promoting a 3.
public or general good; and if nature is thus directed, then, whatever is preter-natural, (as divine revelation must be) it will, surely, be directed to the same end. So that, whatever view we see the case in, it is evident, that the divine conduct is always, and in all instances and cafes, directed by the most perfect wisdom and goodness. And therefore, though the goodness and propriety of any thing that is revealed is no token or proof that the revelation is divine; yet the unworthiness and the impropriety of what is revealed, or it's being contrary to wisdom and goodness, is a manifest token of the contrary ; that is it is a proof that the revelation is noi divine; and this affords a negative rule to us,or a standard by which all revelation may
be tried, and from which we may judge, with certainty, what revelations are not divine, though we cannot, from this rule, form a like judgment what revelations certainly are so. If a revelation comes forth under a beavenly character, and if, upon examination, it appears to be below and unworthy of the most perfect wisdom and goodness, this is an evident token that it is not divine ; and which, surely, will justify our rejecting it; but then, if it should apB 4
pear to be worthy of God, such worthinefs would not prove it to be divine ; because there are a inultitude of propositions worthy of the Deity, which are knowable and promulgable, independent of divine revelation. And as the human understanding has truth both natural and moral for it's object, and which it naturally pursueth ; so it as naturally gives judgment according to the evi-, dence that appears, whether it be for or against the question in debate; and whether it be certain, or probable, or whether it judges the evidence to be equal on both sides of the question ; I say, this will be the case, except the judgment, by craft or violence, is led or constrained to the contrary. As to those miscarriages in judgment that arise from carelessness and inattention, these I do not bring into the account ; and as to craft and violence, I do not mean by these any thing external to a man's self, but only what takes place in his own breast, and by which his judgment is led, or pused on to assent upon weak evidence, or, perhaps, upon what has only the light appearance of being so, against evidence that is obviously much stronger, when fairly examined, or suffered to appear in it's proper light. And,
3 The Author's Farewel. pear to be worthy of God, such worthiness would not prove it to be divine; because here are a multitude of propofitions worthy of the Deity, which are knowable and pronulgable, independent of divine revelation. And as the human understanding has truth noth natural and moral for it's object, and hich it naturally pursueth; so it as natually gives judgment according to the evience that appears, whether it be for or gainst the question in debate; and whether be certain, or probable, or whether it dges the evidence to be equal on both sides:
the question ; I say, this will be the case, cept the judgment, by craft or violence, led or constrained to the contrary.
As those miscarriages in judgment that arise m carelessness and inattention, these I do
bring into the account ; and as to craft
so, against evidence that is obviously
The Author's Farewel. as the human judgment is capable of bei prejudiced, or rather over-ruled, by appetit passion, corrupt views of interest,
par zeal, and the like; fo, I apprehend, the are no subjects upon which that judgme has more frequently suffered shipwreci than those that relate to religion and divin. revelation; and this should engage us care fully and cautiously to examine all question of this kind, left we should be craftily be trayed, or violently pushed into error, fa want of being fufficiently upon our guard this being what the importance of thos. subjects seem to require at our hands. And,
As divine revelation is preter-natural, o above and out of the ordinary course of nature ; so we can have no previous ground to presume or expect that there is or will be any such thing, until it has appeared and proved itself to be so. The system of nature, surely, like it's author, is most compleat and perfeet, as being altogether suficient to anfwer the intention of it's founder, without any thing superadded ; because otherwise the author of nature would not have done justice to his own design. As to the evils that may be supposed to result from human agency', these are no blemish, no de
red to appear in it's proper light. And,