God has spoken to us through the majesty and beauty of the world that he has made. But there is another way, still apart from the Bible, in which God has spoken to his creatures. He has spoken not only in the wonders of the world outside of us but also through his voice within. He has planted his laws in our hearts. He speaks to all men through the voice of conscience.

The Bible sets the stamp of its approval upon that revelation of God through conscience, as it sets the stamp of its approval upon the revelation that comes through the external world. Paul says, for example, in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Romans: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another …” (Rom. 2:14 f.). Here the Apostle does seem clearly to teach that the voice of conscience, which speaks in the very constitution of man’s nature, is the voice of God. He does not mean that men really obey that law as it ought to be obeyed. On the contrary, he is very clear indeed in teaching that all have disobeyed. They have disobeyed the law, but at least the law is there, in their hearts. Because of their disobedience they are under the condemnation of the law: the law can therefore of itself never give them any hope. But that is not the fault of the law; the moral law is written in the very constitution of their being, and if they do not heed it they are without excuse.

Thus God the great lawgiver is revealed in the voice of conscience as he is in the wonders of the world without. These two may be grouped together as constituting the revelation of God through nature, if nature be taken to include the nature of man.

But he has not only revealed himself through nature; he has also revealed himself in an entirely different way. That other revelation of God, different from his revelation of himself through nature, is supernatural.

God acts and speaks in two very different ways. In the first place he acts and speaks by means of the world that he has made; and in the second place he acts and speaks directly, without the use of means.

It was in this latter way that God acted when he first created the world, and it was in this latter way that he acted when he wrought the miracles recorded in the Bible and when he spoke to men in the supernatural revelation with which we are dealing just now.

Why was this supernatural revelation needed?

It was needed for two reasons.

In the first place, God’s revelation of himself through nature has been hidden from our eyes by sin. The wonders of the external world reveal the glory of God. But men are blinded so that they do not see. That is even more clearly true of the revelation of God through his voice within. Have you never experienced yourselves, my friends, the way in which conscience becomes blunted? Have you never first looked upon some foul thing with horror, and then slipped into that thing by insensible degrees, so that what seemed wrong to you before is now treated as a matter of course, until at some sad hour you come to yourself and see that you are already wallowing in the mire? Ah yes, the voice of conscience is silenced by a life of sin. We can detect that dreadful hardening process in ourselves, and very terribly is it set forth in the Bible as a punishment for sin. How terrible, too, are the perversions of the conscience among men! It is certainly true that the revelation of God through conscience has been hidden from men’s eyes by sin.

There is need of supernatural revelation, therefore, to show us again those things which sin has hidden.

But is that all the supernatural revelation that there is? If it were, we should be of all men most miserable. Suppose we had had revealed to us the terrible majesty of God; suppose the voice of conscience had spoken to us with perfect clearness of the justice of God and of our disobedience. How terrible that would be!

No, thank God. He has also, in his supernatural revelation, told us other things. He has told us again in supernatural fashion things that we ought to have learned through nature, but then he has told us other things of which nature gives no slightest hint. He has told us, namely, of his grace. He has told us of the way in which sinners who have offended against his holy law and deserve nothing but his wrath have been made his children at infinite cost and will live as his children for evermore.

Where shall we find that supernatural revelation? I want to say very plainly that I think all that we can know of it now is found in the pages of one Book.

There have, indeed, been men in our day who have claimed to be the recipients of supernatural revelation, who have claimed to be prophets, who have said as they have come forward: “Thus saith the Lord; God has spoken directly to me, and my voice therefore is the voice of God.”

But those who have said that in our times are false prophets one and all; the real supernatural revelation that we know is recorded in one blessed book, the Bible.—J. G. M.

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