תמונות בעמוד

Reason, in its operations is fourfold. "The first and highest” degree of it “is the discovering and finding out of truths ; the second, the regular and methodical disposition of them ; the third is, the perceiving their connexion ; and the fourth, making a right conclusion" from them. The first and great object of reason is to discover truth. This it attempts to accomplish by a careful examination and comparison of things and principles which are known to exist,—by following causes to the various effects which they are capable of producing; or by searching out these causes,from the effects which obviously have been produced. In this manner, many important and useful truths are brought to light ;many of the operations and phenomena of nature are discovered and satisfactorily explained ; and in this manner we are enabled to "look through nature, up to nature's God.” But thers is a point beyond which human reason cannot go; and although it teaches us that there must be an infinite First Cause of all thiugs, yet it can tell us nothing of his character, or of his purpose ir giving us existence. There are other important and interesting questions which it cannot solve ; whether we shall exist beyond the grave; and if so, what will be our constitutions in eternity, are inquiries beyond its reach. Hence, in order to answer these questions satisfactorily, revelation becomes indespensable. But how are we to satisfy ourselves that such a revelation has been given us? or admitting it has been given, how are we to ascertain the truths it contains, but by the aid of reason? In short, why are the Holy scriptures any more a revelation to man than the beasts of the field, if it be not on the ground that man is capable by his reason of understanding them ?

We may now notice the connexion subsisting betwecn reason and revelation ; and also the

proper office of reason in the concerns of relia gion Revelation is addressed to reasonable beings; its principles and requirements are all reasonable ; and it is only through the medium of reason, that we are convinced the scriptures contain a revelation from God to man.

Hence, as the justly celebrated writer already mentioned observes, "Reason is natural revelation, whereby the Eternal Father of light, and fountain of all knowledge, communicates to mankind that portion of truth which he has laid within the reach of their natural faculties; rculation is natural reason enlarged by a new set of discoveries communicated by God immediately, which reason Vouches the truth of, by the testimony and proofs it gives that they came from God. So that he who takes away reason, to make way for revelation, puts out the light of both ; and does much the same, as if he would persuade a man to put out his eyes, the better to receive the light of an invisible star by a telescope.”

Our senses are the inlets of all our knowledge. By them we discover the existence of objects without ourselves. But it is reason which arranges these objects with regularity in our minds, and perfects that which was only begun by the operations of sense. Hence every thing which is placed by our bountiful Creator within the scope of human ability, is siezed upon by the senses, and converted to useful purposes by the instrumentality of reason.

There some truths so plain and obvious, eitherito our powers of perception, or faculties of judgement, that we can no more doubt them than we existence; and consequently we can never admit as true, any principle which contradicts, or denies them. Of this sort are those propositions which assert that no effect can exist without a cause adequate to its productions,—that no organ



our own

ization can exist without an organizer,--that there can be no law, either moral or physical without a lawgiver, and that no effect can possibly exceed its cause.

From these clear and obvious principles we irresistibly infer the existence of a Supreme intelligent Being, who is the first cause of all things. Any proposition, therefore, which denies the infinite wisdom, or the Almighty power of God, we must reject as vntrue. We have also, in the profuse bounties of his providence, an equally convincing evidence of his infinite and impartial goodness; and consequently any thing which denies this must also be rejected. Admitting these propositions, reason will teach us, 1. That it is possible for him wbo constituted the mind of man to enlighten it by revelation. 2. That, as a revelation which points out an immortal existence to man beyond the grave, will increase his happiness ; and as God is infi-' nitely good, it is consistent with his character, and therefore probable that he would make such revelation. 3. That such revelation, coming from him, cannot possibly contradict any principle which he has imparted to us as undeniable truth, through any other medium.

From what has been said, we are able to discover, not only the nature of human reason, but also its office in the affairs of revealed religion, or truth. But we should not infer from hence, that we are to reject every thing in revelation which does not come perfectly within the scope of reason. It has already been observed that there are many things which we know, or acknowledge to be true, which are above the

perfect comprehension of reason. The object of revelation, as has been shown, is to make new discoveries to the mind, which reason could not reach, but which it vouches for as true, by convincing us they are from God, If therefore, we

were to reject every thing in revelation which our reason could not completely comprehend, it would become altogether useles, and the end for which it was given to us, would be entirely subverted.

That man is capable of exercising his reason to advantage, and that it is his duty thus to exercise it, in the important concerns of religion, is obvious from the language of the text, as well as from other scriptures. Our Saviour calls on those he addresses to judge of themselves ; 'what is right.” Now if we adopt the supposition that man is destitute of the natural or moral ability of judging correctly, we must consider our Lord as extremely arbitrary and unreasonable in his requirements; in fact, we must consider him as requireing contrary to his own instructions concerning the requisitions of God on his creatures. In the chapter from which our text is selected, Christ plainly teaches us that no more is required of us than we are able to perform ; and that we shall be guilty in the sight of God in proportion to our neglect of known duties. “That servant,” says he, “which knew bis Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not,"and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required." God himself, by the prophet, calls on us in a plain and explicit manner to exercise our reason, and promises us great blessings in doing it. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”. But, I need not multiply quotations to prove the propriety and reasonableness of reasoning on this subject. I shall, therefore proceed directly to

« הקודםהמשך »