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before which Cherubim and Seraphim veil their faces! Shall we, who are but as of yesterday, attempt to comprehend him who is “ from everlasting to everlasting !" Limited and feeble as are our powers, shall we aim to attain a full knowledge of that transcendantly glorious. Being, whom the highest order of created intelligences but imperfectly know! One moment's sober exercise of our reason would teach us that these expectations are vain and presumptuous. One moment's impartial consideration would convince us that in a revelation which respects the Divine mind and the unseen things of eternity, and our own spiritual and immortal soul, there must be truths above our comprehension. A religion in which no truth transcends his reason never was given, never can be given to man. But
II. Wise and good purposes are accomplished by the mystery which surrounds certain truths of religion.
As intelligent and accountable beings, it seems fit that we should be trained, by a course of moral discipline, for virtue and happiness. As dependant creatures, humility and submission are among the highest virtues that can adorn our characters. Here then is the moral excellence of that mystery which envelopes the truths of religion, and defying the keen researches of the human mind, humbles its aspiring pretensions. If the whole circle of religious truths were level to our comprehension, there would be no circumstance calculated to repress a proud confidence in our own powers and attainments. The virtues of submission and resignation would be stripped of their highest merit, if all the counsels and ways of God were perfectly clear and agreeable to our reason. As our Sovereign Lawgiver, God possesses a supreme claim, in the judgment even of human reason, to our obedience and our trust. And these virtues are most meritorious in the exercise, when his exactions are most mysterious, and his dispensations most dark.
Our Almighty Maker and Sovereign can never indeed require us to believe what directly contradicts that reason which he has given us to regulate our principles and to guide our conduct. Nor are any of the truths of religion contrary to reason. There may be something in them which human reason cannot fully discover; and of which therefore she is not a competent judge. For we cannot pronounce any truths contrary to reason, until we can completely discern them in all their relations and properties. Thus the doctrine of the Trinity, which the Church this day celebrates, though above the comprehension of reason, is in no respect contradictory to it. The mode of the existence of three persons in one God is utterly incomprehensible. But surely our knowledge of the divine mind, and of the essence and mode of existence of the infinite and eternal God, is too imperfect to authorize us to consider this union of three persons in one God impossible. We cannot therefore pronounce the doctrine contrary to
Instead then of assailing the incomprehensible truths of revelation with presumptuous cavils, reason dictates that we consider them as the trial of our submission, and the test of our obedience. The human parent, in order to form his child to habits of submission, often requires obedience on the single ground of authority. And that child would deserve reprehension and punishment, who should refuse obedience until he comprehended the propriety of parental discipline, and the reasonableness of parental requisitions. And, my brethren, in reference to his almighty Parent, what are the highest wisdom, discernment and knowledge of man, but the ignorance, the weakness, and the folly of a child, “Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God.”
III. Further. Certain truths of revelation being incomprehensible, constitutes no just objection to them; because the same objection applies with equal force to universally acknowledged truths.
€ Rom. ix. 20.
If the objection of their being incomprehensible subverts some truths of revealed religion, it also subverts many other acknowledged truths. If, because they are incomprehensible, we become sceptics as to certain doctrines of revelation, consistency demands that we reject many others which reason admits. The mysteriousness which affects the credibility of the former assails also the credibility of the latter. On this subject, the argument is addressed not to him who doubts the sufficiency of the evidence of the divine origin of Christianity, but to him who, admitting the sufficiency of this evidence, doubts or rejects particular doctrines because they are incomprehensible. But on the same principle he would become a sceptic in regard to those truths of nature and religion which he does not hesitate to receive. He explores the recesses of nature; investigates her phenomena ; and determines her laws. And does he never meet with any thing that baffles his researches ? Has he penetrated the essences of things, and unfolded the reasons of their constitution and their various phenomena? Has he discovered the causes of those properties which give to matter its endless variety and use?
« Has he entered into the springs of the sea ?
Has he walked in the search of the depth? Can he bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Has he perceived the breadth
of the earth ? Let him declare if he knoweth it all ?" No! In his enquiries into nature, mystery has met him at every step. He has ascertained only the properties, the external appearances of the objects which surround him. The causes which produce these appearances, and the particular constitution of matter that gives rise to these properties, defy his research. . But he does not doubt (this he would deem the highest folly) what he has ascertained, because he cannot ascertain all. He does not reject what is known, because much remains unknown.
Nor is it in the appearances of nature alone that we meet with mystery. Do we doubt the existence of the various faculties of the soul, because the mode of their operation, and the principle that connects them in one intellectual and moral agent, are inscrutable? Are we able to. comprehend the fundamental truth of religion, the First Cause of all things, himself without cause, infinite in his nature, eternal in his existence, pervading all space!
“ Can we, by searching, find out God? Can we find out the Almighty unto perfection ?” In regard to many truths of nature and religion, difficulties do not confound us ; mysteries do not induce doubt. Is it not most extraordinary then, that in respect to other truths of religion, men should depart
d Job xxxviii. 16. 31. 18.