Page images

any religion should actually point us to a life which would not close, and to pleasures without a defect, I should call it more valuable than much wealth.

2d. The counterfeit often appears to the incompetent, brighter and more captivating then the genuine orig. inal.

3d. We are called upon to struggle for qualifications, to decide and to aim after superior judgment, in propor. tion as our interest is threatened, and in accordance with the value of the thing presented. No one can become skilled in any branch of useful knowledge, without thought, industry, and research. The acquisition of that which is most valuable, generally calls for most toil. The same benevolence which gave iron for our use, planned that we shouid dig it from the hills. The same kindness which formed the grains for our table, deter. mined that we should rake the fields in the sun, before our bodies were thus nourished. To judge ably of things exceedingly valuable, is worth uncommon in. dustry.

4th. Men never complain of any thing being liable to counterfeit pretensions, religion excepted; and they never complain of the necessity of their exertions to qualify themselves for judging between truth and falsehood in any case, but in that of religious truth.

5th. Men never do say that because it is difficult to tell false gold or silver from the genuine coin, therefore they will cast all away ; (thousands and millions are poor judges in such cases, from want of attention.)

6th. Men do not say that there is no such thing as honour, or probity, or modesty, or benevolence, or sen. sibility, because such things may be skilfully counter

feited, so as to call for judgment and experience to de. tect the falsehood.

7th. We might make out a very (seemingly) pathetic case, of thousands of the youthful and inexperienced, who had little opportunity to become judicious; and were liable to imposition every hour, and in connection with every coin and every character which could be named. We might say that we did not believe that our Creator would leave these unskilful creatures of his, to be liable to the loss of every earthly blessing, every hour, and even to the loss of that life which his own kind hand had just bestowed, &c. &c. &c. We might declaim with (as it were) marvellous wisdom, and appa. rent sensibility, yet it would not alter the case in any respect : he has made the millions around us as we see them exposed, and calls to them for action.

Application.—After observing that God had made every thing which I had ever noticed, liable to false pretensions, and had called upon me to learn, and to improve, and to act wisely in all life's pursuits, I was afraid he had done so in one more instance; and, if ex. ertion were necessary, to obtain knowledge, by which earthly blessings might be acquired or retained, then it might be necessary where things of still greater value were at stake. Perhaps the Creator might be so con. sistent, that a train of uniformity could be seen to run through all his works.

These, and similar facts, with their collateral truths and unavoidable deductions, caused me to lay down the volume of the Ruins of Empires, unquieted and unsup ported. Indeed I felt inuch more restless when, after looking down into his notes at the bottom of his page

for historic references, I there found, again, falsehoods unalloyed with other material, and these untruths were of the most notorious kind, and of the most malignant texture. I was indeed discouraged, as these facts thus influenced me; and, since the controversy has been settled in my mind, I have made certain discoveries, which I think it would not be amiss to mention, and here is the proper place for their introduction.


COUNTERFEITS-CONTINUED. I asked a man, on the bank of the Illinois river, (a swearing, Sabbath-hating man from New England, something concerning his observance of Bible precepts. He raised his broad face with a satisfied grin, and asked me which Bible. He stated that the Mormons had a Bible, and that being a poor illiterate man, he was unable to decide which was the word of God. The exultation within him, seemed to say, “I have at last found out how to cast away that thirty years of preaching which I was compelled to hear in the land of the pilgrims.”

The following are some of the facts which I was able to see plainly before me at that time.

1st. This man is very capable, when it is necessary to distinguish between a valuable horse and one that is inferior. He can tell a dollar of real silver, from one of copper only plated with silver, as speedily as many a chemist.

2d. He is a better judge of a good or a bad bargain,

than many of the most able arithmeticians of the nation. It would be easier to cheat many a profound ma. thematician, than to overreach him. He has laboured to qualify himself in many things, and has succeeded so far that his knowledge, in these matters, surpasses that of millions of his race.

3d. He has not striven to acquaint himself with the Bible ; for, although reared in a land of Bibles and of schools, he is not able to tell the most common incidents on the holy page. Of the chronology of Scriptural events, he is perfectly ignorant. He does not know whether Abraham or Cyrus of Persia, lived first. You might tell him that Pilate and Cæsar were Israelites, and he would know no better.

4th. If he had put forth one half of the vigorous research after Bible knowledge, which he has expended after skill in gainful pursuits, he would not have been ignorant; yet his ignorance is now his excuse why he is unable to judge concerning revelation.

If we were to receive a kind letter from some power. ful earthly monarch, some splendid king, making us many very rich offers, and proposing to us honour and wealth, telling the terms over and over that we might not mistake, it would be expected of us, that we should inform ourselves perfectly, as to who brought it, its contents, its authenticity, &c. If we were to have it a full

year, and never read it at all, it would be deemed strange indeed.

5th. Most unbelievers, like this man, do not know one-fortieth part of the great King's letter, nor onefortieth part of the evidence of its genuineness, nor one. fortieth part of its beauties, its grandeur, its proposals, promises, or threatenings; whilst one half the time they

[ocr errors]

waste in wickedness, or, at least, in nonsense and frivo. lity, would be enough to furnish them with that knowledge, the want of which aids in their ruin.

Finally.The decisive characteristics, and distin. guishing marks between the true and the false religions in the world, are more numerous and more notorious than are the marks between counterfeit coin and pure gold or silver; yet men become judges in the last case, and remain uninformed in the other.

If a young man were to hold up an article formed of brass, but made to resemble gold, and were to exclaim, “I can see but little difference between this and gold ; I do not know that there is any. This seems as bright, and as smooth, and as beautiful as any I have seen;" his friends would tell him that there was a difference between pure and pretended gold; that they were to be distinguished by the sight, and by the ring, and by trial or chemical tests. They would tell him that unless he would inform himself in this matter, he must suffer; but that by noting two or three signs scrupulously, he might decide without danger.


1. True miracles are usually performed in the presence of enemies and haters of the religion about to be introduced; whilst false miracles are only pretended to be done in the company of the friends of the system upheld.

2. True miracles are performed year after year, so as to call the attention of all, and before the eyes of vast crowds of opposers, whilst the opposite of this belongs to pretension.

« PreviousContinue »