Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

hind, 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 that most likely to be felt by you in your present state of mind. It is merely an appeal to your self-love and self-interest. Yet it will afford a test of your principles, that may convince you of the impolicy and inexpediency of maintaining them. Imagine yourself come to that dying bed, which some where and 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 support in 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 sunk 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, ( 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 vaunted 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 yourself, 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 specdily it

shall arise upon your benighted heart“ with healing in his wings,” Mal. iv. 2. 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.

CHAPTER II.

THE UNDECIDED.

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 are to be convinced by an examination of the evi. dences, 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 profess 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 the truth verbally, but withhold a practical conformity to its precepts. They serve it with their understandings, but withhold their hearts; or they admit the Bible to be true, but, most inconsistently, refuse to make the sacrifice it requires. Now, assuredly, the indecision of such, their hesitation to conform themselves in practice to that which they admit to be Divine, incurs a high degree of criminality, and must appear to themselves obvi. ously inconsistent, as well as involve them in manifest self-condemnation. For how can he that admits the Bible to be true and Divine, justify the delay of a single hour in obeying its injunctions ? Such delay or indecision is palliated by some persons, under the excuse of wishing to take time for the consideration of so important a step, because it would incur risk or actual loss; or because they feel reluctant to lay themselves under the solemn obligation which it involves : they think that to become decided Christians lays them under a sort of vow or pledge, which they fear they might be tempted to violate, and then they think they would incur a condemnation, which they avoid by remaining in their present undecided state.

But religious duty stands quite independent of all such considerations, and the very strongest of them have been met and set aside in those words of Christ, “ Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple,” Luke xiv. 33. “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life,” Matt. xix. 29. It is clear from

these, and similar passages, that there is left to us no option as to the duty of confessing Christ before men; and it is, therefore, a most serious question which those ought to entertain who decline this duty, whether they have not distinctly rejected the Saviour's authority, or whether their faith can be any thing more than a mere name, when it fails to lead them to a conscientious and entire subjection of themselves to the revealed will of God. Clear it is that they do not fulfil their Saviour's command, and it seems equally clear that their hesitation arises from no reason which he will admit, from none which even their conscience, when properly informed, can deem sufficient. They must, therefore, allow me to state, that their indecision upon this point argues a total insensibility to the claims of Christ; and a sinful deficiency of that kind of faith which, if sincere and divine, would lead to action, and to a noble braving of all temporal consequences, and a calm committing of themselves to the promised Divine support in carrying out their profession. I would not have such persons imagine that they really love Christ at all, if they are unwilling to do his commands; and I would rather have them conclude, that they possess no faith beyond the mere speculative assent to the Scriptures generally, than suppose that a true and saving faith could be productive of such gross and glaring inconsistency. It is, indeed, necessary that such persons should be faithfully forewarned of the self-delusion they are practising, and affectionately admonished to seek, in connexion with a full consideration of what Christ requires, that Divine grace which would effectually constrain and decide their heart to yield itself unto God. Reader, if this is your

« AnteriorContinuar »