Revelation of God

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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Next Mr. N. says (I would repeat it with reverence), that when God teaches He should explain the logical grounds of faith to man without dictating; as that could not be allowed in the propagator of a new religion.
I say, that if God reveals Himself, He would give all that love could of the display of Himself, in nature, conduct, word, and work, which would not destroy the responsibility of man1-that He would give the display of His nature in act, doctrine, and power. He would give, in a word, the grounds for faith in its object, not the logical grounds of faith. He would present what the conscience, heart, and intelligence of man ought to recognize as a revelation of who was there. That was what He, He alone, could do for man-what would be a revelation-what man wants; not an humble conversation on what grounds a man might believe; carried on by one not allowed to dictate. That He condescended, as we have seen, to plead with man on the grounds he had for faith, is most true. Nothing was too low for His love, if it might be a blessing to man; but that is another thing.
If Mr. N. merely means that he is quite ignorant of what the grounds of faith are, and wants instruction as to them-that I believe is true. He does not even know what the question is. But that is a strange reason for writing a book on it. His theory is, There can be no possible grounds for believing. Let me suggest, that when we seek a ground for faith, we must look for it in the proofs given of the thing proposed to us to be believed, not in discussing the abstract principles in which the human mind can believe, and neglecting the proofs of what it is called upon to believe; for the grounds of divine faith can be given only by divine testimony, by what God reveals (and hence known only in looking at that), not by settling whether one kind of proof is to be believed on account of the other, where both are direct proofs of something else-proofs which confirm each other.
But further, if God presents Himself as the object of faith- He who is the sole and perfect source of blessing, our alienation from whom is our ruin, can He do anything else than call on men to believe on Him? Can He give reasons for doing it other than the adequate display of Himself? Having given them to believe in Himself is everything as to human responsibility, and the necessary pursuit of divine love. He could do nothing but call men to this faith if He meant to bless. And what shall we say of the reasoning of one who compares God calling unhappy man to come to Himself for blessing, to the act of "an ambitious, unscrupulous Church, that desires, by fair means or foul, to make men's minds bow down to her?" It may be said that I am begging the question in saying "God calling." But this is a mistake, because we are inquiring what is suitable if God does address Himself to man. Mr. N. says, "But God cannot thus speak to man." I reply, He must thus speak to man. He must claim obedience as necessary in virtue of the revelation of Himself. He must call men to believe on Him if He means to bless. The Church's pretension to do it sets aside God-God's pretension to do it brings Him in. He must show that the rejecting of Himself will be everlasting ruin.
If He be really God, it cannot be otherwise. If it be He, He cannot claim less than absolute obedience, nor do otherwise than call to believe in Himself. The taking any other ground would prove it was not He, however He may condescend in grace as to the means of display and proof. Mr. N. is blaming the character of address, as not suiting God if He does speak. Hence His speaking is necessarily assumed. If God speaks, He must do what Mr. N. blames; and what Mr. N. requires is the most unfitting and monstrous thing possible (that is, that if God reveals Himself, He is to discuss the logical grounds on which men are to receive evidence, instead of giving adequate evidence, and throwing upon them the responsibility of receiving Him). The evidence God has graciously offered, in contrast with that afforded by false religions or corrupt systems, is here avoided by Mr. N.; and he puts in his argument "an ambitious Church-Hindooism—Mahommedanism "-on the same ground as God, excluding the only real question (that is, the evidence attached to each), in order to discuss the human grounds of judging, without introducing the object about which he is to judge. Now, though God in grace can afford every kind of evidence, and has done so, He cannot subject Himself to man's ά priori judgment, but must place man under responsibility to Him, and call him to come to Him, if He means to bless him. And this is what we find in the gospel. God, by positive truth, has met every kind of working in the human mind, groping after means of truth. He has, working in men, adapted His reasonings to their condition. But the thing revealed is always itself, and in its own divine perfection. The manner of revealing and teaching is grace; the thing taught is truth itself, and (blessed be God!) is grace also.
1. The question of the grace that overcomes an "antagonistic will" in quickening power, is not what occupies us here, but the revelation of the object of faith.