And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you…
I. REVELATION NECESSARY FOR MAN.
1. To give us more light respecting God. The light of nature shows us that there is one God, who is intelligent, powerful, righteous, good. But what do you find flooding almost the entire world? Polytheism — the belief that there is not simply one God, but many. And not only so; there is not a single instance of a nation rising out of its belief in many gods, and by its own culture attaining to the knowledge of one God.
2. To give us more light in reference to our duty. Some heathen moralists taught much and admirably respecting human duty, but they also taught what was the very reverse. But we have to look not at what one or two have reached through their unaided powers, but at what have been the prevalent views and moral practices of the world. Read the close of the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans. A man will in character take after the being he worships. The heathen gods were immoral. What could you expect, therefore, but to find the people as vile at least as the imaginary beings they worshipped. Nay, immorality of the foulest kind was a part of the worship of the gods. Both Cicero and Cato throw their apologetic mantle over the grossest vices.
3. To give us more light on human destiny. Taking the light of nature alone, there is good ground for the conclusion that the soul is immortal, and that sin will not go unpunished. But philosophers, who reasoned well of a future state, lost faith in their own conclusions. And then how dim and shadowy the notions of the future world! The druids believed in something like the transmigration of souls. The Scandinavians had their Flame world and their Mist world, and their Valhalla for the brave, and their Hellheim for the coward. The Greeks and Romans had their Tartarus and their Elysium.
4. To give us new power. We not only need more power than nature gives, but more power than nature has. The heathen moralists knew a great deal more than they practised. Whatever their amount of light, they never acted up to it, and had no power to act up to it. What was also needed was a new passion. Suppose, as some have averred, that you can extract a perfect code of morals from heathen teachers, there is one thing you cannot do, and that is make men love it. Kindle in the heart such a flame of love as burned in the heart of Paul, and then you will have done something to establish your position.
5. To give man comfort. Human sorrow is a great subject; and what is the root of our sorrow? It is sin. The conscience is guilty, and hence remorse, anxiety, and fear. Nature spake of God's goodness, but when man cried for mercy there was no answer. Nature spake of righteousness, and told him that sin would be punished; but when he asked if there could be no forgiveness, nature was dumb. That man might have peace for his conscience, joy in his grief, and hope in his death, a revelation from God was needed assuring him that there is forgiveness with Him.
II. REVELATION LIKELY FOR GUN. The grounds of this hope are —
1. The constitution of the human race. Humanity has descended from a single pair, and is continuing to multiply. The population of the globe is over 1,200,000,000, add to this the millions that have died, and the question raised is: Is it likely that God would have made man to multiply, if He had had no intention of counteracting in some way the ruin of his sin? I hardly think it, and therefore I see here something which begets the hope of a revelation.
2. The struggle which we see everywhere between good and evil. Sin certainly has the mastery, but it is not a mastery which is unchallenged. Now, if man had been abandoned of God, I can hardly think we should have had this struggle. Nay, more, look at the world, and say if it seems made for a race of beings who are as certainly given over to extinction. Is this not a world in which there is much goodness? "Thou hast sinned, but hope still; these are the two sayings that predominate in the vast murmur of nature."
3. The fatherly relationship of God to man. This idea is certainly one which obtains full recognition only in Christ, but wherever God has been acknowledged, He has been understood and worshipped as a Father. Now, we know what an earthly father's feelings are. Can we suppose that they are less strong and less tender in God? Now look at man's necessities on the one hand, and God's fatherly compassion on the other, and then say if it is likely that God would make no revelation of Himself, and give no relief.
(A. Oliver, B. A .)
Parallel VersesKJV: And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
WEB: "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them;