Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the simple, humble, spiritual mind; but they are, in the end, the means of enlightening and settling it.

There are but two sorts of people in the world. Some walk by the light of the Lord, and all others lie in the wicked one in darkness and in the shadow of death. Where there is not an enlightened, simple, humble, spiritual mind, notions and opinions are of little consequence. The impudent and refuted misrepresentations of infidels may turn a dark mind to some other notions and way of thinking; but it is in the dark still. Till a man sees by the light of the Lord, every change of opinions is only putting a new dress on a dead carcase, and calling it alive.

The grace of God must give simplicity. Whereever that is, it is a security against dangerous error: is wherever it is not, erroneous opinions may perhaps

less predispose the mind against the truth of God s in its lively power on the soul, than true notions

destitute of all life and influence do.

Yet the writings of infidels must be read with caution and fear. There are cold, intellectual, speculative, malignant foes to Christianity. I dare not tamper with such, when I am in my right mind, I have received serious injury, for a time, even when my duty has called me to read what they have to say. The daring impiety of Belsham's answer to Wilberforce ruffled the calm of my spirit. I read it over while at Bath, in the Autumn of 1798. I waked in pain, about two o'clock in the morning. I tried to cheer myself by an exercise of faith on Jesus Christ. I lifted up my heart to Him, as sympathizing with me, and engaged to support me. Many times have I thus obtained quiet and repose: but now I could lay no hold on him: I had given the enemy an advantage over me; my habit had imbibed poison:my nerves trembled:my strength was gone! "Jesus Christ sympathize with you, and relieve you! It is all enthusiasm! It is idolatry?

Jesus Christ has preached his sermons, and done his duty, and is gone to heaven! And there he is, as other good inen are! Address your prayers to the Supreme Being!"_I obtain relief in such cases, by dismissing from my thoughts all that enemies or friends can say. I will have nothing to do with Belsham or with Wilberforce. I come to Christ Himself. I hear what He says, I turn over the Gospels. I read his conversations. I dwell especially on his farewell discourse with his disciples, in St. John's Gospel. If there be meaning in words, and if Christ were not a deceiver or deceived, the reality of the Christian's life, in Hin and from Him by faith, is written there as with a sun-beam.

This temptation besets me to this day, and I know not that I have any other which is so particular in its attacks upon me. I am sometimes restless in bed; and, when I find myself so, I generally think that the parenthesis cannot be so well employed as in prayer. While my mind is thus ascending to Christ and communing with him, it often comes across me-"What a fool art thou, to imagine these mental effusions can be known to any other Being! what a senseless enthusiast, to imagine that the man who was nailed to a cross can have any knowledge of these secrets of thy soul!" On one of these occasions it struck me with great and commanding evidence."Why might not St. John, in the Isle of Patmos imprisoned perhaps in a cave-why might not he have said so? Why might not he have doubted whether Christ the crucified could have knowledge of his feelings, when he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day? He had no doubt communion with Christ in the Spirit, before he had those palpable evidences of his presence which ime mediately followed."

In the permission of certain bold in fidel characters and writings, we may discera plaiu evidences of

that awful system of judicial government, with which God has been pleased to rule the world. Where there is a moral indisposition, where men are inclined to be deceived, where they are waiting as it were for a leader-there he sends such men or such writings, as harden them in their impiety: while a teachable and humble mind will discern the true character of such men or writings, and escape the danger.

I can conceive a character much more perniciou's in its influence, than the daring and impudent in

fidel. A man in the estimation of all the world modest, amiable, benevolent-who should, witli deep concern, lament the obligation under which he feels himself to depart from the religion of Europe, the religion of his country, the religion of his family; and should profess his unfeigned desire to find this religion true, but that he cannot possibly bring his mind to believe it, and that for such and such reasons: when he should thus introduce all the strongest points that can be urged on the subject. :

But God governs the world. It is not in his design to permit such men to arise. The infidel has always had something about him, which has ascertained his obliquity to the eye, that has not been dimmed by the moral indisposition of the heart.

The low and scurrilous writers against Revelation carry their own condemnation with them. They are like an ill-looking fellow, who comes into a Court of Justice to give evidence, but carries the aspect, on the first glance, of a town-bully, ready to swear whatever shall be suggested to him.

BURKE has painted the spirit of Democracy to the life. I have fallen in with some Democrats, who knew nothing of me. They have been subjects of great curiosity, when I could forget the b rid

play of sin that was before me. I saw a malignant eye-a ferocity-an intensity of mind on their point. Viewed in its temper and tendencies, Jacobinism is Devilism-Belialism. It takes the yoke of God and man--puts it on the ground and stamps on it. Every man is called out into exertion against it. It is an inveterate, malignant, blaspheming, atheistical, fierce spirit. It seems a tossup with these men, whether Satan himself shall govern the world. Before such men, I say not a word. Our Master has commanded us not to cast pearls before swine. I am vastly delighted with char. acter-true and original character: but this is an awful and affecting display of it.

The church has endured a PAGAN and a PAPAL persecution. There remains for her an INFIDEL persecution-general, bitter, purifying, cementing.

It is, perhaps, impossible, in the very nature of things, that such another scheme as Popery could be invented. It is in truth, the mystery of ini. quity; that it should be able to work itself into the simple, grand, sublime, holy institution of Christianity, and so to interweave its abominations with the truth, as to occupy the strongest passions of the soul, and to control the strongest understandings! While Pascal can speak of Popery as he does, its influence over the mass of the people can excite no surprise. Those two master principles-That we must believe as the church ordains, and

That there is no salvation out of this church-oppose, in the ignorance and fear which they beget, an almost insuperable barrier against the truth.

I HAVE not such expectations of a Millennium as many entertain; yet I believe that the figures and

expressions of propliecy have never received their accomplishment. They are too grand and ample, to have been fufilled by any state, which the church has hitherto seen. Christianity has yet had no face suitable to its dignity. It has savored hitherto too much of man-of his institutions of his prejudices

of this follies--of his sin. It must be drawn out -depicted-exhibited demonstrated to the world. Its chief enemies have been the men by whom, under the professions of Hail, Master! it has been distorted, abused, and vilified.

Popery was the master-piece of Satan. I believe him utterly incapable of such another contrivance. It was a systematic and infallible plan, for forming manacles and mufflers for the human mind. It was a wel laid design to render Christianity contemptible, by the abuse of its principles and its institutions. It was formed to overwhelm-to enchant to sit as the great whore, making the earth drunk with her fornications.

The infidel conspiracy approaches nearest to Popery. But infidelity is a suicide. It dies by its own malignity. It is known and read of all men. No man was ever injured essentially by it, who was fortified with a small portion of the genuine spirit of Christianity-its contrition and its docility. Nor is it one in its efforts: its end is one; but its means are disjointed, various, and often clashing. Popery debases and alloys Christianity; but infidelity is a furnace, wherein it is purified and refined. The injuries done to it by Popery, will be repaired by the very attacks of in fidelity.

In the mean time, Christianity wears an enchanting form to all, who can penetrate through the mists thrown round it by its false friends and its avowed foes. The exiled French Priest raises the pity and indignation of all Christians, while he describes the

« AnteriorContinuar »