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that their dying friend had become a Christian. They called to see him, and actually told him that they came on purpose to advise him now to embrace Christianity; “ because," said they, “if it be false, it can do you no harm; but if it should prove true, you will be a great gainer." This was the united advice of a number of unbelievers to their dying friend. What a slender basis, then, must they have had for their objections! How trifling did those objections appear when weighed against the hope of eternal felicity! But it is not my intention to argue the question of evidence with the reason of the unbeliever. I rather wish to put it to each reader in that state, whether he is not conscious of an inward dislike to Christianity first of all; and whether it is not that dislike which has really stimulated him to seek for or invent objections, to hail the discovery of them with satisfaction, and slight arguments in its favour; and whether, therefore, he may not rather find the source of all his unbelief in the depravity of his own heart, than in any lack of weight in the evidences of revelation.
Let such an unbeliever, if such a one perchance reads these pages, reflect upon the moral guilt of so treating the book which claims to be of Divine inspiration. Let him but suppose that such guilt may be chargeable upon him. He cannot but know that human nature is corrupt and prejudiced, that his own may be so in this case; and that, after all, what he has taken for a defect of evidence in revelation, may, possibly, be nothing but the repugnance of his own heart to its truth; which, he must admit, is no reason for rejecting it, and which, indeed, becomes an additional argument why he should receive it, because this depravity
of his heart is itself essentially evil, and he is conscious that it is so; and, further, because the revelation he has rejected condemns nothing in sin but what his own mind may readily perceive to be evil. Hence, he ought to observe the very serious position in which he is placed, if, under the influence of depravity, or prejudices excited by depravity, he rejects the authority of his Maker. If he can suppose that he is really in such a situationand he cannot affirm that it is quite impossible, or even improbable-surely he will, then, admit that his case requires the most serious and grave consideration; since by resisting the truth of God, and rejecting what is obviously worthy of God's purity, and sustained by Divine authority, he may be incurring that awful displeasure which, he may readily admit, the supreme Being must feel towards finite creatures who resist his will, and thrust from them his most precious gifts. The very thought that he may be thus wickedly hardening himself against God, and contending with his Maker, ought, surely, to lead him to pause, and impose upon himself the duty of a most faithful and close scrutiny of his own heart. He ought, as a rational creature, to shrink with horror from the thought of a wicked contempt or defiance of God. He would not, if a father, tolerate for a moment a parallel defiance from one of his own little children; and yet his children approach much nearer to an equality with himself than he does to God. He must, therefore, admit thus much, that if he is guilty of rejecting God's commands, he stands exposed to the utmost peril of eternal misery. The very possibility of his sinking into such a fearful condemnation demands of him a serious review of the state of his heart; and to that I now call him, forewarning him, that if he shrinks from it, and here absolutely declines it, he virtually admits the charge of prejudice as true, and in his own conscience must be self-condemned; and therefore, in such a condemnation, he may find the matter and the foundation of a far more serious and awful condemnation yet to come. As, therefore, he is a man of reason and feeling, so gifted by Providence as to foresee impending evil, and guard against it, he is seriously and affectionately forewarned to use his reason and reflection in thoroughly investigating his own case, that he may not bring upon himself that final condemnation which such delinquency deserves. He cannot be insensible to the fact, that human nature does include, and frequently displays, great moral pravity. He perceives it, and condemns it in many instances, in his daily intercourse with his fellow men; he cannot suppose himself altogether exempted from the like depravity; and if it is constantly exhibited in the social intercourse of men with each other, he can. not doubt that it may display itself in his own conduct towards the supreme moral Governor : nor, indeed, can it be denied, that the very wickedness which is perpetrated first against man, is virtually directed against God, because it is against his will, and from that circumstance derives a far higher character of guilt and demerit than from its being directed merely against man. Hence, every act of rebellion against the Divine laws, whether laws of nature or laws of revelation, must be a mat. ter of far more serious consequence than acts of immorality against the rights of our fellow creatures, considered simply as done against finite beings, who are our equals, or against the laws of society.
numbers of those who once entertained the strongest, and, as they thought, the best-founded objections to revelation, have, upon more close and serious thought, detected the true seat of their disbelief, and have confessed that they were under the influence of a prejudice, arising almost exclusively from their dislike of the gospel. They have openly condemned themselves for rejecting, under the influence of this depravity, what they subsequently found was so much for their benefit, their moral improvement and happiness. They have not been ashamed to acknowledge, that it was the wickedness of their own hearts that made them dislike and reject the gospel ; and that, as soon as they were led to suspect, and by degrees to feel the depravity of their nature, they immediately began to perceive the ample evidence of Divine authority in the Bible: thus showing that the only true source of their infidelity, was the repugnance of a sinful and revolted nature to the authority of those precepts, which are infinitely pure and perfect, because they are of God. Now, what has taken place in hundreds and thousands of instances of this kind, corroborated as it is, moreover, by the sentiment, of which every converted person is an illustration, that, while in a state of unconversion, they felt strong propensities to disbelieve and deny the Bible altogether; and by the existence of such a bias in human nature generally, of which all the unconverted, most probably, are conscious, that they all secretly wish to find the Bible false ; these, taken all together, may make it certain, and ought to convince you, if you are an unbeliever, that there does prevail, to a fearful extent, a prejudice against God's word, which has its sole root in the depravity of the human heart. The Bible is both
too good for such as they are, and they themselves are too wicked to agree with it: hence the opposition; and hence, too, the urgent necessity for a change in them-a thorough change of their heart, which is conversion. This change must take place in us, to bring us into harmony with the will and law of God; for we may be quite sure, neither God nor his word can ever undergo any change, much less such a one as might bring that word more into harmony with our corrupt and perverse hearts.
Is there not, then, a sufficient ground in the fact of your own depravity, which I assume you cannot before God deny; in the unquestionable moral excellence of the gospel doctrine, and in the lamentable fact of your prejudice against it; is there not in these things sufficient ground seriously to call upon you to examine into the state of your own heart? Suffer one who can have, in this appeal to you, no motive but that of your best interest, solemnly to charge you to let conscience freely and faithfully perform its office. You know that you have depraved desires and affections ; that you have often violated your own conscientious convictions of right and purity--have been sensible of many sinful thoughts, words, and actions, and must know that you have treated the Bible with an indifference, a scorn, or even a hatred, which, upon the supposition of its being God's word, must be exceedingly displeasing to Him. You must, further, be conscious, that you have never entered calmly, candidly, and seriously into the examination of its evidences-perhaps never read it through, nor any of the numerous volumes which have been written to display and state its evidences: whereas you have, on the