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further, that the peculiarities of Christianity-the doctrines of repentance and of forgiveness of sins through the intervention of a divine Mediator really contain nothing irrational, but seem to be perfectly adapted to the consciousness of moral imperfection which we all have; and involve neither any thing unreasonable nor unjust, but, on the contrary, meet our guilty and helpless nature with assisting grace and pardoning mercy. Fur ther, that Christianity, in requiring conversion and a change of heart, as essential to your acceptance with your Maker and your final happiness, is in perfect accordance with the great fact, of which our own hearts, as well as the state of things around us, afford abundant evidence—that we are a race of fallen, guilty, and erring creatures. Reason itself assures us, that an agreement of our moral nature with the moral nature of God must be an essential condition of our happiness, both in this life and in that which is to come. Your own experience will afford sufficient proof, both in your sufferings of body and your afflictions and embarrassments of mind; in the contrariety between your judgment and your passions, your conscience and yonr inclinations; that you need a change, a radical and entire change of heart, to bring you into a state of accordance with the will and nature of your Creator. And surely you can never hope to attain to immortal life, while you continue uncoriscious of that harmony of will and affection; or while
you labour to detach your mind and heart from the thought of submission to God and dependence upon him? Again, look at the miserable end of infidels; at the darkness and dread of their last hours; at the absence, to say the least, of any emotions, any aspirations, or any prospects
in their last hours, worthy of immortal beings about to pass into the presence of their Maker, and ascend to their final state of being. Surely there is nothing inviting, nothing exhilarating, nothing joyful in such scenes as the following, selected out of many equally appalling. A respectable writer says—"Some years ago, I occasionally met with a disciple of the late Dr. Darwin. He had drunk so deeply into the system and spirit of his master as to consider him the very first philosopher of the age. I have heard him expatiate with enthusiasm on his writings and character, and revile the Holy Scriptures with all the vaunt of vulgar blasphemy. A few months after my last interview with this gentleman, I heard that he was
Struck with the event, I was solicitous to know how he died. The account I received was, that, as death approached, the confidence he had before expressed in his deistical opinions forsook him, and deep horror seized his mind. A short time before his departure, supposing himself alone, he was overheard, by an unobserved attendant, giving vent to the agonies of a tortured conscience. With despair, he expostulated with Dr. Darwin, whom he now reproached as his deceiver; and after loading his name with execrations which I dare not put on paper, he closed in some such terms as the following: Monster! wretch! Is this the end of your boasted philosophy? Have you brought me to this ?" —Are these the confessions of infidel philosophers? If such sayings as these have escaped theni occasionally, what convulsive emotions must have been hidden in thousands of hearts! What unexpressed agonies must have been felt on the death-beds of such men! Pride, resolution, shame, and a mis
called heroism, have no doubt constrained the greater part to conceal the festering wound, and to be silent. But quite enough has escaped some of their class to expose the unsoundness of their principles, and warn others against them. O that these heart-rending warnings, these thrilling lessons, might prove to you as a frightful barrier around the brink of that terrible abyss! You would greatly prefer to close your mortal life as Christians do, and would feel, even if there were no future reality in a Christian's hopes, that his principles impart in this life vastly more felicity, and comport better with the character of a rational and moral being, than infidelity. You cannot but perceive that the faith of a Christian saves him from an amazing amount of mental suffering, which the unbeliever cannot avoid, and never does avoid, in the immediate anticipation of death. In every view, therefore, the change included in conversion would be an advantageous one to such a being as yourself; and there is every reason why you should desire to undergo it, and not a single valid reason why you should resist and repel it. It is a change fraught with the most salutary moral effects upon the character; highly conducive to the peace and establishment of the mind; and full of the purest and sublimest joy in the prospect of quitting this life and enter ing upon another.
But, possibly, you do not rank yourself with direct infidels ; you only dwell upon doubts and difficulties which make you hesitate to attach full confidence to the Bible. Now, without attempting to vindicate the doctrine of God's word, or meet the particular objections that individuals have felt or imagined, which would require a
large space, and is already ably done in many an elaborate treatise ; we may endeavour briefly to show, that all the difficulties that men find or fancy, are either comparatively inconsiderable, or originate entirely in their own captious spirit, and would never be discovered if they did not wish to find fault. All ought to know that the human heart is constantly liable to prejudice, and that preiudice will go great lengths and show great ingenuity. An unwilling heart never wants an excuse; and an unbelieving heart rejoices in an occasion of stumbling at the word, being disobedient.* Many of the statements of Scripture are humiliating to our nature, mortifying to our pride of reason, and hostile to our love of sensual gratification. To borrow an allusion from the healing art, we may say, the patient shrinks from the surgeon's knife, and finds his medicine nauseous. Yet, are these things to be allowed to influence our resolution when the question relates to health or life? Who refuses to submit even to a painful operation or à disgusting dose, if he feels convinced that to do so is to throw away the last hope of life? Even the bare chance of success makes men heroes in suffering. “All that a man hath will he give for his life.”+ How much more, then, ought a man willingly to bear in a case that involves the life of his spirit! He that can suffer trifling objections, mere doubts, obscurities, or superficial blemishes, to prevent him from embracing the gospel promise, shows, that he has never seriously felt his need of salvation, and never realized his situation in the grasp of death, without a hope in the mercy of God. He that is rioting in luxury, or has lost his appetite by a surfeit, may loathe # 1 Pet. ii. 8.
† Job ii. 4.
plein fare, and find a thousand faults in the way in which it is served to him. But a famishing man cavils not at the dish nor the cooking. He seizes upon the nutritious substance. It gives him life and strength. How trifling does every cavil and objection appear, when it is considered, that to refuse the gospel is to cast away the only hope of a sinful man The case before you is not be tween this hope and something that promises as much, or is quite as good, or nearly as good; bu between this or nothing, this or despair, this or destruction. The question, therefore, which you have to decide is too serious for trifling, too momentous for quibbles. Sincerity and candour are essential to a right determination. Treat it as a jury would a cause, where the evidence, if not all that every one could have wished, is yet conclusive, and if not quite perfect, yet leaves no room for serious doubts. Your cavilling at the doctrines or evidences of Scripture is at best but a cover for an unwillingness to admit its statements. Did they find favour in your eyes, were they altogether agreeable, your doubts would disappear. They would not weigh a feather if the case related to a temporal inheritance. You would be glad to take it upon such a title. You would laugh in the face of the man who should dare to allege such inconsiderable or imaginary defects as sufficient to invalidate your title.
Let me, then, entreat every one who feels any objections or difficulties upon this subject to remember, that the Bible requires of him nothing that is evil, calls upon him to renounce nothing that is good, asks him to believe nothing that is irrational; but, on the contrary, it secures to him the highest good at the cost of renouncing only