« PreviousContinue »
2. These books are little read, for few of them are in circulation. Inquire in an ordinary village for ten such authors, and you will not be able to find them. The minister perhaps may have one or two.
These few are not much read for the following reasons. Per. haps here is a man who has prevailed on an unbeliever to read a certain volume. He finishes it and informs his Christian friends that he is more encompassed in cloud than he was before. They are disheartened, and he is not benefited. They perhaps ask another to read the same work, hoping to see a happy result in the second
The man, perhaps, looks into the book occasion. ally, and lays it down, takes it up again, and thinks it hard to comprehend—thinks it does not touch the points which perplex him. He lays it down again, the world presses, his business harasses, amusements divert; and after some months, they find he has not read, and they lose all hope in the case. After meeting a few similar results, they believe that Almighty power could save, but they have little confidence in means. If soldiers of the cross had a full assortment of truthful volumes, and were to make a prayerful effort, they would meet cases where unbelieving friends and neighbours could be in. duced to read six or eight volumes ; and perhaps repeat a part of the research. In these instances they would scarcely ever find one (if ever,) who would still dispute the
message of high heaven. They would meet those who would refuse, and those who would only half perform; but one case of a soul snatched from the gulf, would
repay all the labour. We might here name some who have written on the evidences of Christianity, so that out of the list some six or ten may be asked after by any inquirer. From the following list, it is a matter
of comparative indifference which is selected, so that enough is chosen and read, until the subject is mastered. It is strangely true, that these books are not known to christians. The few that are in circulation, are scat. tered and invisible. Enough of them can rarely be found together to inform extensively the mind and heart dis. posed to cavil. The following books are a few out of the many which are more than worth the cost of possession.
Evidences of Christianity, by Grotius.
do. Campbell's do.
do. Sherlock's do.
do. Lyttleton's do.
do. Le Clerc's do.
do. West's do.
do. Douglass' do.
do. Leslie's do.
do. Lardner's do.
do. Soame Jenyns'
do. Jones' do.
do. Burnet's do.
do. Watson's Apology.
Jews' Letters to Voltaire.
The reason why many, on beginning to read tr. advocates for Christianity, sink deeper into the mire of their infidelity, is worthy of our notice. It is intimately connected with the transaction of the garden and the forbidden fruit. The author who writes on the Evi. dences of Christianity begins, very commonly, to overturn the cavils and sophisms of unbelievers ; such as he has heard urged, or such as are often made. The young reader perhaps never heard these objections urged against our religion. (He certainly never did hear or see the one half of those in use.) He did not know that they existed. As soon as he sees them on
of the Christian writer, for the purpose of refutation, the objection seizes the powers of his soul! The answer he does not receive; he cannot notice! Such is the nature of fallen man. This is true of those who would be glad to believe the Book of God. Darkness has for their souls a superior attraction. It is not until he reads the work the second or the third time that he begins to ob. serve the quibble less, and the answer more.
Concluding remarks concerning the powerful remedy.-We must shortly endeavour to look at the all-powerful remedy, at the remedy which never fails when used. In this concluding chapter on the powerful remedy, we must not neglect to observe something of the amount of evidence which God has furnished in this remedy. We have been writing of the external evidences of Christiana ity; we now ask as to the extent and the force of this evidence. How much of this external testimony has the Creator furnished ? The answer is, He has given enough to prove the truth and inspiration of the Scriptures, and no more. He did not intend any thing farther. Let us not be misunderstood. We do not mean that this point is not proved again and again, times out of number; but this kind of testimony does nothing more than prove it, and can do no more. Take the verbal testimony of a score of credible witnesses to a given fact, in a court of justice, and the incident is proved ; bring in ten thousand others, and it is not more than proved. There may be a man who disbelieves still. But if we place the incident before his eyes, it is established then, as verbal testimony could not do it. If he refuse to receive the testimony of one hundred respectable wit. nesses,
may discover to us an unloveliness of soul by such a position; nevertheless, we would confess that eyesight is of the two the stronger testimony. That the Bible is the Book of Heaven is shown by this external
evidence with a frequency which cannot be counted. But it is only proved. No coercion was ever designed. Men may yet disbelieve. It never was intended to make it impossible for a man to ruin hinself, if obstinately bent in that direction. If man's rationality, his judging for himself, were taken away from him, it would not please earth, and we suppose it would not rejoice heaven. Man does judge wrong, and choose to his own hurt; but he does not wish to be turned into a piece of thinking, necessary mechanism. Reader, no matter how many historical facts; no matter how many prophetic veri. ties and accomplishments; no matter how many celes. tial sentiments and beauties, call to you to say “This book is from heaven,” you can disbelieve it. It is not only possible, but it is of easy performance. You can continue uninformed concerning the history, or you may forget the facts once noticed. Others you can neglect to apply
soul with sin until inca. pable of feeling the heavenly sentiment. You may close your eyes and ears, and harden your heart, until you can believe or disbelieve any thing. It has been tried. All the evidence of this character which could be given may be resisted. Testimony of this description, piled higher than the mountains, has been gainsayed! We come to notice in the next chapter a kind of testimony which cannot be resisted—the remedy which is infalli. ble. But before we reach this, we will look at one more case which exhibits the fall of man. It reminds us of our love for darkness more than light. It is one out of the millions that exist every day, telling us that all tes. timony may be resisted where the heart sets in a different direction.
Concluding case.—There was an agriculturist of the