Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

he hates such a God as that. Just so it is with the Deist. He gives to God a character which he thinks rational ; he loves that character; it resembles, in some main points, the man who frames it. He cannot think that the carnal mind is enmity against God; for he esteems God a Being who has done, and will do, very much in accordance with a plan which he himself esteems rational and proper. It is true, we cannot ex. hibit the case of Deists, as to what they love or hate, as plainly as the case of others, because there is such an unending variety in their creed. Go to one hundred Deists, and you will rarely find two of them believing alike. They all agree in rejecting the Bible ; but on many very important considerations, whether God will or will not punish the wicked, whether the soul goes out, or certainly lives on after death,whether the world is to meet ruin, or continue for ever,--if the wicked are to be chastised, what sins are most dangerous, &c. &c. &c.,—they have no sameness in their plans. Many Deists on questions of breathless interest, will refuse to give you any answer, they will tell you they do not know; they have no belief on the point, however interesting. At other times, you will find them maintaining that man’s reason was given him as a lamp to enlighten, and as a guide to direct him in these matters. But ask them what kind of conduct here will most add to, or diminish from, happiness hereafter; or what kind of life we may certainly look for in the next existence, and no two of them will give you the same instructions as to these inquiries. The reason of a thousand of them seems to have led in different directions. That Christian denominations should dif. fer, appears to them exceedingly absurd and reproach.

ful; but that Reason, which they say. God has given as our only teacher, should give either no opinion, or a very different opinion amongst their own number, does not call forth a bitter remark. If the Bible is disclaim. ed, thus far they all agree; farther than this they do not ask after agreement, or regret it, should there be a thousand different creeds. A God according to the Bible, they do not love; one conformed to their own vague ideas, they do not hate.

2. Man's Love of Falsehood. 6 Men have loved darkness rather than light.— In this assertion, light stands for truth ; and the word darkness means falsehood. It does not seem to any one that he prefers falsehood to truth. The most prejudiced man thinks himself impartial. It is so on any subject. The most vehement politician thinks himself unbiassed in his judgment; the most deadly enemy, in speaking of the one he hates, will tell you that his views are not the offspring of passion; yet he certainly would believe evil of his neighbour more readily than good, even when this good is true. We might then very certainly expect, that the man who wishes to live forever; to whom annihilation has no pleasing look, and who even wishes strongly to believe the Bible, would be far from feeling, or believing, that on this subject he would cherish darkness rather than light. Nevetheless it is true. Although not in à situation as deplorable as the man who gnashes his teeth on religion,-still it is true, that one small cunningly devised falsehood will influence ' him further than one hundred plain and forcible arguments in favour of Revelation. A man may stand on the side

of a precipitous mountain, and long for the top ; yet the impetus of an ounce will push him farther down, than many times that force will cast him up. One who desires the valley below, can go there without a. struggle. The man who has sinned, may desire the summit of truth ; but he stands on the declivity of a sinful nature. Every transgression, or sensual indul. gence, has added to the darkness of his soul, without his knowing it. Some examples of this must be given in the following chapter, to make the fact easily understood.

[blocks in formation]

EXAMPLE 1.-An English traveller (Brydone) wrote and published a description of Mount Etna. He describes her craters and her extended slope, covered occasionally for twenty miles or more, along the side of the mountain, with vines, villages, and luxuriance. These are sometimes destroyed by the river of melted lava, which issues from the mountain above, many feet deep, and a mile (perhaps more, sometimes less) in width, bearing all before it, until it reaches the sea and drives back its boiling waves. After this burning stream has cooled, there is seen, instead of blooming gardens, a naked, dreary, metallic rock. Sometimes many eruptions occur in the course of a year, breaking out at different parts of the mountain, and sometimes none for half a century. The traveller

found a stream of lava congealed on the side of the mountain, which attracted his notice more than others. He thought it must have been thrown out by an eruption, which was mentioned by (perhaps) Polybius, as occurring nearly seventeen hundred years since. There was no soil on it. It was as naked as when first arrested there. The particles of dust floating through the air had not fallen there, so as to furnish hold for vegetation, and these vegetables had not grown and decayed again and again, thus adding to the depth of the soil. Such a work had not even commenced. He tells us that on some part of that mountain, near the foot, if you will sink a pit, you must pass through seven different strata of lava, with two feet of soil between them. Upon the supposition that two thousand years are requisite for the increase of earth just named, he asks how seven different layers could be formed in less than fourteen thousand years. The chronology of Moses makes the world not half as old. The Englishman was jocular at this discovery; and his admirers were delighted at what seemed to them a con. futation of the book of heaven. How many thousands through Europe renounced their belief of Revelation with this discovery for their prop, the author of this treatise is unable even to conjecture. It seems that many parts of Europe almost rang at the news of the analogical theory. True, the traveller only conjectur. ed that he had found the lava mentioned by the ancient writer ; but no matter, supposition only was strong enough to rivet their unbelief. The author has con. versed with those in America, aud on her western plains, who would declare they believed not a word of the Bible, because there was no soil on a stratum of

lava, which, in all probability, had been there long. Another learned Englishman, an admirer of the books of Moses, wrote to those who seemed to joy so greatly in their new system. He told them that, inasmuch as they seemed fond of arguing from analogies, he would give them an additional one. He reminded them that the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii were buried by the eruption, in which the elder Pliny lost his life, near seventeen hundred years since. Those cities have lately been discovered ; and in digging down to search their streets, six different strata of lava are passed through, with two feet of earth between them. And the famous Watson tells them, that if six different soils near Vesuvius could be formed in seventeen hun. dred years, perhaps seven might be made elsewhere in five thousand years. Might we not suppose, that those who had renounced their belief of Christianity, after reading some conjectures concerning Etna, would have resumed their faith as soon as these Vesuvian facts were placed before them? No, it was not so. It was easy to descend, but they never re-ascended. Men love darkness rather than light. Thousands who snatched at the objection with joyful avidity, never read the confutation. They never inquired for an

Those who read, were afterwards silent, but remained unaltered. A lawyer who stood so high with his fellow-citizens, for worth and intelligence, that he filled many offices of trust, had his credence of the sacred page shaken by reading the imaginary system, built on the surface of Etna's lava streams. He took the book to a friend, to show him what reason we have for casting off our reverence for the Bible. This friend turned over a few pages of the book, where this same

answer.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »