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ON THE NECESSITY AND THEREFORE THE PROBABILITY OF A REVELATION.
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power, and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; but were eye-witnesses to his Majesty.”— 2 PETER i. 16.
THE design of the apostle, in this epistle, was more especially to caution the Christians to whom he wrote, to beware on the one hand, of the false apostles, and teachers who perverted the Gospel; and on the other, to warn them against the unbelief of those profane scoffers, who started objections to its truth. Accordingly, in the chapter before us, after having saluted his brethren, and expatiated on the blessings to which, by the Gospel, they had been called; he proceeds earnestly to exhort them, to "make their calling and election
sure," by adding good works to their faith; intermingling, at the same time, suitable warnings, and encouragements. Aware of his approaching martyrdom, the apostle is the more diligent in his admonitions, that they might remember these things after his decease. urges the evidence of what he had seen, and heard in confirmation of his testimony; and concludes the chapter by referring them to the more sure word of prophecy, and by instructing them in its interpretation and source. "Wherefore," saith he, at the twelfth verse, "I will not be negligent, to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance; knowing, that shortly, I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Moreover, I will endeavour, that ye might be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power, and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; but were eye
witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honour, and glory, when there came such a voice to him, from the excellent glory, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice, which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with him, in the holy Mount."
Such being the design of the apostle, I shall take occasion, from the words of our text, to bring to your remembrance, some of those reasons we possess for believing, that in professing the Christian religion, we have not followed cunningly devised fables; and that Christianity is, what it professes to be, a revelation from God. These reasons may be arranged, under the three following heads:
I. The necessity, and therefore the probability of a Revelation.
II. The External Evidence we possess, that Christianity is such a Revelation; and
III. The Evidence arising from the Nature, and Excellency of the Religion itself; or from what is termed its Internal Evidence.
The first species of Evidence, arising from the necessity, and therefore the probability of a Revelation, will occupy our present attention.
With regard to Revelation in general, it cannot be denied, with the least appearance of reason, by any who admit the existence of a Supreme and Almighty Being; that God can, if it seem good to his infinite wisdom, make extraordinary discoveries of his will to men, to be by them communicated to others, in his name. And as the possibility of the Almighty making an extraordinary revelation of his will, must be acknowledged; so also the probability that he would make such a revelation, will appear, if we consider the necessity of such a discovery, arising from the deplorable state of ignorance and corruption, into which mankind had fallen, before the appearance of our Saviour upon earth. They who are acquainted with ancient history must know, that there is no one fact more certain, and more notorious than this: that for many ages before our Saviour appeared upon earth, and at the time he actually did appear, the whole heathen world, even the most learned nations, the politest, and most civilized,