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had never thought on these points :-they are not of the character which he is inclined to notice.
Let not the young reader suppose for one moment, that if the many octavo volumes which might be made, were really filled by the compilation of such items, and placed in his hands, this would constitute the evidences of Christianity. Far from it. These books would scarcely form an introduction to that entire subject. Such corroborative history or traditional fragments are mentioned here, because they serve to exhibit the fact, that man is inclined to the side of error, (without knowing it,) in matters of religion. The way in which things have been and are received, exhibits our disposition unequivocally; and it is so important that we know plainly, whether men, by nature, do or do not turn away from holy light, that we will pursue this branch of the subject a little farther. The cases to be cited are merely referred to as examples, out of a multitude, almost endless, which any one may notice who is much in the habit of exchanging sentiments with his fellow-men.
MEN RECEIVE TRUTH SLOWLY BUT ERROR PROMPTLY.
THE author once conversed with an able statesman, and in the confidence of a private and social interview, inquired after the main prop of his unbelief. He answered that he had read a statement in a respectable print, which seemed to him strong indeed, against the
common faith. It was, that at a given spot in Europe, bones had been found under a rock six hundred feet in depth. He said the Mosaic account allowed the world a youthful date: but that to him it was utterly incredible that a sheet of rock could be formed and grow above these bones, six hundred feet thick, within the space of five thousand years! After a class of facts connected with such subterranean discoveries, he did not seem to have enquired. It is a fact, that God's record speaks of the fountains of the great deep having been broken up. It is a fact, that if those waters were ever called to the surface, so as to cover our highest mountains, they retired again, for they are not there now. It is a fact, that the billows of a sinking ocean would be strong enough to carry bones, or more massy bodies, under the largest rocks, and into the deepest caverns of the earth ; and the turmoil of the mighty deep could sweep hills of clay or sand upon that which was once exposed. It is as hard to believe that bones remained undecayed during the growth of six hundred feet of rock above them, as it is to suppose that a rushing stream carried them far along into a rocky cave. If this learned man were asked to account for the forests which were found with an hundred feet of earth heaped over them; or how it is, that all really learned chemists and geologists agree, that the present surface of the earth is a young surface, he did not seem to have thought on such facts. If asked concerning extracts from Berosus the Chaldean; Nicolaus of Damascus ; Manetho the Egyptian, or others: what they may have said of the ruins of a great ship, in their day remaining in the mountains of Armenia, he did not appear to have read, or to have noticed points of this nature. Whether any an◄
cient author mentioned the remains of this vessel as covered with pitch, which the natives used as a charm against disease, stating that a man once landed there when the world was covered with water-why a vil lage at the foot of mount Ararat, should always have borne a name which signifies the city of the descent, or of a thousand incidents of this nature, he seemed never to have enquired. He knew nothing of historic fragments of this kind; but that bones had been found deep under a rock, and that therefore the Bible was not to be obeyed, he seemed to conclude readily, and to remain confident.
That men love darkness rather than light, will be exhibited in another form, and by a different process, in the following chapters.
SCOFFERS SHALL COME.
"Knowing this, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, saying, where is the promise of his coming ?" 2 Pet. 3:3-5. IN the preceding chapters, some objections often urged against Revelation, have been noticed. They are certainly characterized by imbecility. It is more than probable that the youthful reader is ready to exclaim,-" These are not my objections: my difficulties are of another kind; and remain unanswered in all the productions I have ever read in favour of Christianity." And they are likely to remain unanswered, unless some author should be able to write a book as extensive as all the volumes contained in a well-filled library. There
are many faces belonging to the inhabitants of earth, now alive, but no two of them are just the same. So it is with the unending difficulties and objections in the minds of those who lean towards error, rather than the light of the sacred volume. We might remind any one reader, that we do not know what his particular objections are, therefore cannot answer, unless we could take up the millions of cavils on the surface of the ocean of darkness. If your difficulties could be known, they would resemble such as have been noticed and met by many authors. Some additional examples will be given, as we attempt fairly to hold up to view the general principle, or the cause of unbelief, viz—wilful ignorance. But before we proceed, it will be necessary to guard by preliminaries against mistake.
Many are ready to suppose, that the wilfully ignorant have no desire for knowledge. This is a misunderstanding, against which we should be well guarded. The boy at college, who has passed off his weeks of study in idleness and frivolous amusement, as the day of public examination approaches, has a very strong desire to know as much as his classmates. He is still censured as wilfully ignorant. The careless, loitering, and work-hating apprentice may have a desire for knowledge and skill in the business of his employer; yet his deficiencies are punished as wilful ignorance. Many unbelievers desire knowledge on the great subject, but they never undergo the labour of research. We suppose that of all the scoffers who were to come in the last days, and who were to be wilfully ignorant, there is scarcely one but would be willing to receive historic knowledge at least, provided an angel could just grasp it in his hand, and throw it into his brain, without any exertion on his part. But the
toil of research he never encounters. He may snatch at some plausible objection to truth, as he hears it repeated; but to impartial investigation he is an utter stranger. As for those who think they have investigated very laboriously, but who have not investigated at all, we will notice them in considering another part of this subject. The millions of scoffers who have come, and who now live, are ignorant of Bible facts and Bible language. The profound and the unlettered; the wealthy and the indigent; the talented and the stupid, are ignorant of Bible facts and Bible language! To some, this may sound strange, but it is not hard to prove. The matter may be easily tested. The scoffers live now; and you may approach and converse with them. During a ten year's search, you are not likely to find one exception to the general statement. There was one who tried this for eighteen years, to see if he could meet with any one who cast away the Bible, and who was at the same time acquainted with its contents, and with the ancient literature connected with the Bible. He found some who at first declared themselves acquainted with the subject, but really were not. After asking them, in an affection. ate manner, a few questions, they generally confessed that their knowledge did not extend far. But this fact can be seen more clearly whilst looking at examples of wilful ignorance.