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delightful in the history, character, and teaching of Jesus, which he could not reconcile with his imposture, any more than he could reconcile the doctrines he had been taught with his truth. Here, then, was another distressing embarrassment. At length, he strove to escape from it by avoiding the subject altogether. He put away his Bible, he neglected public worship, he involved himself in other studies and active pursuits, and tried to forget all he had ever known or thought about revealed religion.

His

But he could not succeed. It came to his thoughts in spite of him, and never suffered him to be at rest. mind often misgave him; he became anxious, melancholy, fitful, unsettled; an unbeliever, yet longing to believe; striving to think himself wiser and happier than others, yet secretly hoping he should one day be like them; with a fixed abhorrence of what had been urged on him as the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, yet conscious that human wisdom could have no light, and human weakness no hope, except from the declared mercy of Heaven.

Such was Mr. Garstone when I knew him. And I may truly say, that I never have seen the man more deserving of compassion; nor can I imagine a more sad picture of the deplorable effects of unbelief. I bent my knee in devout gratitude for the felicity I enjoyed in the glorious faith and hope of Christ, and breathed an earnest prayer, that I might be enabled to heal the errors, and comfort the spirit, of this unhappy and mistaken man.

6*

CHAPTER XVI.

My first object was to gain the confidence of Mr. Garstone; for it was, above all, important that he should not be prejudiced against the person who would endeavor to remove his prejudice against the Christian revelation. In this attempt I had reason to think that I did not fail; and, having secured his friendship, I lay in wait for an opportunity to use it.

I was not long in finding one. It was after the death of· Mr. Ellerton, his friend and my friend. I spoke of his character, and of the loss we sustained in his removal, with the feelings of a friend, and of his prospect in a better world, with the hope of a Christian. I dwelt, at some length, on the assurance of our immortality, derived from the instructions and resurrection of Christ, and, with all the emphasis I could command, pictured the blessedness of a believer's hope. I could perceive that Mr. Garstone was moved. I had touched a string which vibrated powerfully to every word I uttered.

66

"but

These are delightful thoughts," he said, after a pause;
He hesitated and stopped.

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I took the word from his mouth. "But there is no assurance of this truth, except from the voice of revelation. All is doubt, except from the instructions of Jesus Christ. His resurrection makes all clear."

"Mr. Anderson," said my friend, "my respect for you, and for the opinions of those with whom I live, has always prevented me from obtruding my own sentiments on subjects of this nature. You cannot, however, be ignorant of my mind, and it were better, perhaps, that we should be silent where we cannot agree.”

I felt that this was the decisive moment; and, with a violent effort, said the first thing that occurred to me, lest I should be unable to say any thing. "I know," said I," that you have doubts as to the Christian revelation; but I hope they do not extend to the immortality of the soul. And I see not why we should not converse on the subject. I do long to know on what your doubts are grounded."

"I do believe in the immortality of the soul," he replied; "and for this very reason I cannot believe in the Christian religion. For how can I suppose that immortal beings are formed by their Creator, in a bondage so degrading and so hopeless as that system teaches; from which only a small proportion of them can ever be rescued, and they only by the sufferings and death of the Creator himself in human form? How can I imagine him to be divinely commissioned, who proclaims to me such horrors, and yet calls them glad tidings and a message of peace, though only calculated to harass and torment the soul, as they once did mine? It is true he teaches the doctrine of a future life; but how can I believe that life suspended on so unequal conditions?"

He spoke with a deep and convulsive emphasis, that showed how strongly he felt. I asked him if he saw no evidence in favor of Christ's pretensions.

He answered, that all the evidence in the world would not be sufficient to prove what all nature and reason contradict. "Who has tried to believe more than I?" he continued. "Who has more earnestly longed to believe? and who has been more wretched for want of believing? Yet I might as well have tried to persuade myself that I could walk upon a sunbeam. But it is all past; let us say no more about it. It is a subject on which I have not talked, nor read, for years. I cannot bear it."

over,

But now that the ice was broken, and the first feeling I found him ready and disposed to converse, for he saw that he might entirely trust himself with me. I soon drew from him the acknowledgment, that there was much evidence in favor of the Christian system, too strong to be satisfactorily set aside; that the character of Jesus was inconsistent with imposture," and not less so," he added, "with the doctrines which he taught;" and that a revelation was, in itself, neither an incredible nor an undesirable

thing.

“Then it appears,” I remarked, "that what decides you against it, is the character of the religion itself?"

Yes, together with its consequences

miseries of its followers."

- the divisions and

"How long since you made up your mind in this way?" I inquired.

"More than twenty years," was the answer.

"And during this period you have not pursued the investigation at all?”

No-he had avoided the subject as much as possible— had read no books-held no conversation not once opened the Bible.

-

I asked him if he thought it safe to put this confidence in the decision of his youthful judgment, and to retain this obstinate prejudice on so momentous a subject. I reminded him that Christians differ in understanding their religion; and how could he tell that another interpretation of it would not solve all his difficulties?

He said that, in his view, this very circumstance destroyed all its claims to the certainty of a divine origin; for if God should teach men, he would do it clearly, and leave no room to doubt his meaning.

I gave

the obvious and satisfactory solution of this diffi

tion.

culty, drawn from the moral nature and probationary state of man, and then went on with the topic I had commenced. I endeavored to show him that the objections he felt to the Christian system were, in fact, objections only to a certain mode of interpreting that system, and that, therefore, he had no right to reject it, unless he had satisfied himself, from faithful inquiry, that this was the only true interpreta"For myself," said I, "I freely declare that I think it a very erroneous interpretation. I have hardly less dislike to it than you have yourself. I think it an incredible system. But I still receive the instructions of Jesus with the greatest delight and comfort. You have shut yourself out from these, by taking the representations of your Catechism for a true picture of the Bible, and never doing yourself the justice to ascertain whether they were so or not." I went on to expostulate on the unreasonableness of this conduct; I illustrated, at large, my own views of the Christian faith; I explained to him their consistency with the noblest reason and the best affections, with all we delight to think concerning God, and all we ought to do as moral agents; and I entreated him, by all that is dear and sacred, to open his mind once more to inquiry, to read the Scriptures again, and try to welcome Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.

I was very earnest, and I did not speak in vain. Mr. Garstone once more opened the book which he had thrown by so long, and read it with the sober judgment of mature life; not interpreting it, as before, by the standard of Westminster, but by the light of a careful and sound comparison of itself with itself. Long and zealously he studied. Other matters were neglected, other studies put aside. Light on this great question he longed for, and he sought after it far and near. He did not pause till his mind settled in a firm conviction of the truth; and with devout and happy

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