In the Christian revelation, there is an evident purpose of infinite wisdom, that in all the provisions for man’s salvation, his moral agency should be left free and uncontrolled. Instead of accommodation to human prejudices, there is ample scope for captious objections. And if additional proof were needed, of the divine origin of the Bible, it would be found in this characteristic. Were it a system agreeable to the narrow views, in unison with the selfish feelings, and gratifying to the depraved taste of human nature, it would more resemble the fabrication of man, than the workmanship of God. But as the current of its doctrines is so entirely opposed to our natural inclinations, as to render a moral renovation indispensable to a perception of the glory of revealed truth; all such ground of skepticism is removed.
Thus the obscurities and difficulties of revelation are admirably adapted to exhibit human character, and constitute this state of existence a real probation. For if the light of truth came upon the mind with resistless energy, and the operations of the divine government were clearly disclosed; if the motives and designs of infinite wisdom were fully explained, and the realities of the spiritual world completely laid open to view; one principal aim of this dispensation would be frustrated. On the one hand, there would be no field for the exercise of faith and humble confidence on the part of Christians; and thus a precious test of their submission and obedience would be destroyed. On the other, there could not be a full disclosure of the true feelings of the unrenewed heart. Because, as all would be evident as the noon-day sun, there would remain no choice in the matter of embracing the truth—no means of evincing whether its reception were cordial or compulsory.
In this respect; there is displayed a matchless skill, as well as a gracious condescension, in adapting revelation to the actual character and condition of our race. While sufficient light is afforded to guide the sincere inquirer, there is an obscurity to perplex and offend the proud and self-confident. While the truth is accompanied by evidence abundantly satisfactory to every mind open to conviction, enough of mystery remains, to form an impassable barrier to those who are inclined to disbelieve the testimony of God. While to the eye of faith there appears a glorious system of wisdom and mercy, depraved reason and prejudice may discover little else than an assemblage of inconsistencies and absurdities.
It is not without design, then, that the great facts of revelation are made liable to misrepresentation; that its essential principles are arrayed against the pride of human wisdom; and that its blessed institutions are so obnoxious to abuse and opposition. Such a constitution of things is evidently intended to furnish a decisive criterion of human character—to exhibit, in striking contrast, the humble votaries of faith, who reverently bow to the authority of Scripture; and the adherents of a haughty, self-confident rationality, who will receive the testimony of God himself, no farther than it accords with their opinions and prejudices—and thus to elicit a fair and full manifestation of every man’s real disposition and feelings.