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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
The act of revealing or making a thing public that was before unknown; it is also used for the discoveries made by God to his prophets, and by them to the world; and more particularly for the books of the Old and New Testament. A revelation is, in the first place, possible. God may, for any thing we can certainly tell, think proper to make some discovery to his creatures which they knew not before. As he is a being of infinite power, we may be assured he cannot be at a loss for means to communicate his will, and that in such a manner as will sufficiently mark it his own.
2. It is desirable. For, whatever the light of nature could do for man before reason was depraved, it is evident that it has done little for man since. Though reason be necessary to examine the authority of divine revelation, yet, in the present state, it is incapable of giving us proper discoveries of God, the way of salvation, or of bringing us into a state of communion with God. It therefore follows.
3. That it is necessary. Without it we can attain to no certain knowledge of God, of Christ, of the Holy Ghost, of pardon, of justification, of sanctification, of happiness, of a future state of rewards and punishments.
4. No revelation, as Mr. Brown observes, relative to the redemption of mankind, could answer its respective ends, unless it were sufficiently marked with internal and external evidences. That the Bible hath internal evidence, is evident from the ideas it gives us of God's perfections, of the law of nature, of redemption, of the state of man, &c. As to its external evidence, it is easily seen by the characters of the men who composed it, the miracles wrought, its success, the fulfillment of its predictions, &c. (
5. The contents of revelation are agreeable to reason. It is true there are some things above the reach of reason; but a revelation containing such things is no contradiction, as long as it is not against reason; for if every thing be rejected which cannot be exactly comprehended, we must become unbelievers at once of almost every thing around us. The doctrines, the institutions, the threatenings, the precepts, the promises, of the Bible, are every way reasonable. The matter, form, and exhibition of revelation are consonant with reason.
6. The revelation contained in our Bible is perfectly credible. It is an address to the reason, judgment, and affections of men. The Old Testament abounds with the finest specimens of history, sublimity, and interesting scenes of Providence. The facts of the New Testament are supported by undoubted evidence from enemies and friends. The attestations to the early existence of Christianity are numerous from Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenxus, Justin Martyr, and Tatian, who were Christians; and by Tactitus, Sueton, Serenus, Pliny, &c. who were Heathens. (
7. The revelations contained in our Bible are divinely inspired. The matter, the manner, the scope, the predictions, miracles, preservation, &c. &c. all prove this. (
8. Revelation is intended for universal benefit. It is a common objection to it, that hitherto it has been confined to few, and therefore could not come from God who is so benevolent; but this mode of arguing will equally hold good against the permission of sin, the inequalities of Providence, the dreadful evils and miseries of mankind which God could have prevented. It must be farther observed, that none deserve a revelation; that men have despised and abused the early revelations he gave to his people. This revelation, we have reason to believe, shall be made known to mankind. Already it is spreading its genuine influence. In the cold regions of the north, in the burning regions of the south, the Bible begins to be known; and, from the predictions it contains, we believe the glorious sun of revelation shall shine and illuminate the whole globe.
9. The effects of revelation which have already taken place in the world have been astonishing. In proportion as the Bible has been known, arts and sciences have been cultivated, peace and liberty have been diffused, civil and moral obligation have been attended to. Nations have emerged from ignorance and barbarity, whole communities have been morally reformed, unnatural practices abolished, and wise laws instituted. Its spiritual effects have been wonderful. Kings and peasants, conquerors and philosophers, the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, have been brought to the foot of the cross; yea, millions have been enlightened, improved, reformed, and made happy by its influences. Let any one deny this, and he must be a hardened, ignorant infidel, indeed. Great is the truth, and must prevail.
See Dr. Leland's Necessity of Revelation. "This work, " says Mr. Ryland, "has had no answer, and I am persuaded it never will meet with a solid confutation." Halyburton against the Deists; Leland's View of Deistical Writers; Brown's compendium of Natural and Revealed Religion; Stillingfleet's Origines Sacrae, is, perhaps, one of the ablest defences of revealed religion ever written. Delany's Revelation examined with Candour; Arch. Campbell on Revelation; Ellis on Divine Things; Gale's Court of the Gentiles.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Revelation'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/r/revelation.html. 1802.