« PrécédentContinuer »
what is evil. Why, then, should there be felt any reluctance to admit its authority; why cavil to the detriment of your own soul? Can any man say that it is not for his real interest fully to admit the Bible? Can any man say that he is not a loser, a loser to an infinite amount, by hesitating to ac
“There is one thing,” said Mr. S. to å companion in sin and skepticism, “ which mars all the pleasure of my life." "Ah,” replied the other, “what is that?" Why, I am afraid the Bible is true. If I could but certainly know that death is an eternal sleep, I should be happy; my joy would be complete. But here is the thorn that stings me! This is the sword that pierces my very soul. If the Bible be true, I am lost forever. Every prospect is gone, and I am lost for
What a confession was this ! Yet it might well become every doubter. What a paltry happiness is that which depends on an animal nature! What a worthless joy is that which would be completed by the assurance of an eternal sleep, or which looks for annihilation at the end of life! “ If the Bible is true, I am lost forever!” On how weak a supposition, then, does the hope of the unbeliever rest! Surely he must himself admit that the probabilities are against him? Be en treated, O doubter, to consider in what a predica ment you place yourself, if you renounce the Bible for the sake of a human notion, or under the pressure of difficulties which, after all, you must admit
may be rather apparent than real; and which derive their whole force from some ignorance or mistake of your own; and which a little more knowledge, or candour, or reading, might completely remove. Have you not often found it 80 with other subjects? Have you not observed
many times how men alter their opinions when they become better informed, when they shake off prejudices, when they perceive that their interest lies in the way of conviction?. Have you done all in your power to remove difficulties and to gain more knowledge ? Have you asked instruction and advice of those who are convinced of the divine authority of Scripture? Have you sought to be set right, and candidly stated your difficulties? Is it not worth while to inquire for some nise friend who might be able to remove them? Do not take it for granted that they are insurmountable. It is next to certain that there is nothing new in them, that they have occurred to others, and been thoroughly explained to the conviction of the ablest reasoners. Similar attention, research and anxiety on your part to be right, may remove all your objections and set your mind at rest. Consider the infinite importance of this matter. It is your salvation, or your everlasting destruction, which depends upon your decision. Ought that decision to be made passionately, hastily, fashly, under the influence of ignorance and prejudice? If the Bible is of God, and yoa reject it, apon the ground of some mere cavil at its doctrines or its evidences, you forfeit all its advantages and incur all its awful penalties. You are a lost man, and lost forever. If your objection is valid, what do you gain by it? You are not, even in this life, so happy as the Christian since you must be perpetually tormented by the fear, that perhaps the Bible is true.
You never can feel quite sure that you are right. It is impossible you should be certified of the truth of your principles. There may yet be evidence behind, possessed by some minds, by which even
you might be convinced. Are, then, the advantages of doubt, the pleasures of cavilling, such as to justify you, even to your own understanding, in running such a fearful risk? Let us bring the matter to the following test. It is low ground to assume, and much higher might be taken, for our appeal; but we take this, because it is most likely to be felt by you in your present state of mind. It is merely an appeal to your self-love and selfinterest: Yet it will afford a test of your principles, that may convince you of the impolicy and inexpediency of maintaining them. Imagine yourself upon that dying bed which somewhere and at some day awaits you, and ask yourself, Which has most weight now, my cavil, or the Bible ? Which should I now like to feel true, the principles of infidelity, or the promises of the Bible? Which will administer the best
my weakness and terror, in my pangs of body, (perhaps of conscience, the hope of immortality supplied by the Bible, or the cobweb sophistry, the human speculation, the mere imagination of an eternal sleepthe perhaps “I may be annihilated.” Which of these opposite prospects would you wish your wife, your child, to entertain, as they sink into the arms of death ?
Colonel Allen, who had written several books setting forth objections to the Christian religion, evinced his distrust in his own arguments on an occasion that put him fairly to the test. While once reading some of his own writings to a friend who was on a visit at his house, he received information that his daughter was at the point of death. His lady was a pious woman, and had anxiously instructed her daughter in the principles of Christianity. When the colonel appeared at
the bedside of his daughter, she appealed to him thus: “I am about to die: shall I believe in the principles you have taught me, or shall I believe in what my mother has taught me?" On hearing this question he was much agitated. Well he might be. What father, though an infidel, could resist the impulses of natural affection, of conscience and of truth at such a moment? A deep and solemn conflict passed within, and, after waiting a few minutes in silence, he replied, “ Believe in what your mother has taught you."
Look, then, I beseech you, O doubter, look again at the nature of your difficulties, at the means you may command to remove them, and at the blaze of evidence which shines on every side and from every page of the Bible. Consider well the liability of human reason to error, even in its Taunted philosophy; and observe carefully the subjection of the human heart to that prejudice and passion which constantly becloud the eye of reason; and finally consider, how many doubters and cavillers like yoursell have at length discovered their own error and sin, have declared themselves convinced and satisfied that the book which announces salvation is the word of eternal truth, and worthy of all acceptation. Could you but be brought, in like manner, to perceive the irresistible evidence of God's truth, you would confess that all your objections were but the light dust of the balance, the mere films of your own diseased vision, which had concealed from your view the beauty and radiance of the heavenly luminary. Look with the eye of faith—a faith that is well warranted by the evidences of inspiration; look to the Sun of righteousness, and speedily he shall arise upon your benighted hearts with heal
ing in his wings."* Your night, dreary and fearful as it has proved to you thus far, would then be turned into day, your doubts be exchanged for hope, your cavilling turned into confidence and thanksgiving: for here, in the Scriptures of truth, in the doctrine of conversion, and here alone, you would find rest to your soul, in the hope that is full of immortality,
THERE is a large class whom I cannot better designate than by this term, because they neither profess to be unbelievers, nor do they feel themselves entirely bound by the obligations of Christianity. Their indecision may relate either to the question at issue between the infidel and the believer; or they may feel satisfied that the Bible is true and of God, but they may hesitate whether they shall become its disciples. I shall not here attempt to meet the case of those who halt in their decision about the truth of the Bible, because they
re to be convinced by an examination of the evidences, which this work is not designed to discuss; but I shall principally address this chapter to those who admit the divine authority of the Scriptures but hesitate to declare themselves bound to pro fess Christianity, or to be openly on the Lord's side. They maintain, as they suppose, a wise neutrality, and seem to vacillate between two opinions; or, perhaps, more properly, they confess
* Mal. iv. 2.