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agonies must have been felt on the death-beds of such men ! Pride, resolution, shame, and a miscalled heroism, have no doubt constrained the greater part to conceal the festering wound, and to be silent. But quite enough has escaped some of their class to expose the unsoundness of their principles, and warn others against them. Oh that these heart-rending warnings, these thrilling lessons, might prove to you as a chevaux de frise around the brink of that terrible abyss! You would greatly prefer to close your mortal life as Christians do, and would feel, even if there were no future reality in a Christian's hopes, that his principles impart in this life vastly more felicity, and comport better with the character of a rational and moral being, than infidelity. You cannot but perceive that the faith of a Christian saves him from an amazing amount of mental suffering, which the unbeliever cannot avoid, and never does avoid, in the immediate anticipation of death. In every view, therefore, the change included in conversion would be an advantageous one to such a being as yourself; and there is every reason why you should desire to undergo it, and not a single valid reason why you should resist and repel it. It is a change fraught with the most salutary moral effects upon the character ; highly conducive to the peace and establishment of the mind; and full of the purest and sublimest joy in the prospect of quitting this life, and entering upon another.
But, possibly, you do not rank yourself with direct infidels, you dwell upon doubts and difficulties which make you hesitate to attach full confidence to the Bible. Now, without attempting here to vindicate the doctrine of God's word, or meet the particular objections that individuals have felt or imagined, which would require a large space, and is already ably done in many an elaborate treatise; we may endeavour briefly to show, that all the difficulties that men find, or fancy, are either comparatively inconsiderable, or originate entirely in their own captious spirit, and would never be discovered if they did not wish to find fault. All ought to know that the human heart is constantly liable to prejudice, and that prejudice will go great lengths, and show great ingenuity. An unwilling heart never wants an excuse; and an unbelieving heart rejoices in an occasion of stumbling at the word, being disobedient, 1 Pet. ii. 8. Many of the statements of Scripture are humiliating to our nature, mortifying to our pride of reason, hostile to our love of sensual gratification. To borrow an allusion from the healing art, we may say, the patient shrinks from the surgeon's knife, and finds his medicine nauseous. Yet, are these things to be allowed to influence our resolution when the question relates to health or life? Who refuses to submit even to a painful operation, or a disgusting dose, if he feels convinced that to do so is to throw away the last hope of life ? Even the bare chance of success makes men heroes in suffering. “All that a man hath will he give for his life,” Job ii. 4. How much more, then, ought a man willingly to bear in a case that involves the life of his spirit! He that can suffer trifling objections, mere doubts, obscurities, or superficial blemishes, to prevent him from embracing the gospel promise, shows, that he has never seriously felt his need of salvation, and never realized his situation in the grasp of death, without a hope in the mercy of God. He that is rioting in luxury, or has lost his appetite by a surfeit, may loathe plain fare, and find a thousand faults in the way in which it is served to him. But a famishing man cavils not at the dish, nor the cooking. He seizes upon the nutritious substance. It gives him life and strength. How trifling does every cavil and objection appear, when it is considered, that to refuse the gospel is to cast away the only hope of a sinful man! The case before you is not between this hope, and something that promises as much, or is quite as good, or nearly as good ; but between this or nothing, this or despair, this or destruction. The question, therefore, which you have to decide is too serious for trifling, too momentous for quibbles. Sincerity and candour are essential to a right determination. Treat it as a jury would a cause, where the evidence, if not all that every one could have wished, is yet conclusive, and if not quite perfect, yet leaves no room for serious doubts. Your cavilling at the doctrines or evidences of Scripture, is at best but a cover for an unwillingness to admit its statements. Did they find favour in your eyes, were they altogether agreeable, your doubts would disappear. They would not weigh a feather if the case related to a temporal inheritance. You would be glad to take it upon such a title. You would laugh in the face of the man who should dare to allege such inconsiderable or imaginary defects as sufficient to in. validate your title.
Let me, then, entreat every one who feels any objections or difficulties upon this subject to remember, that the Bible requires of him nothing that is evil, calls upon him to renounce nothing that is good, asks him to believe nothing that is irrational; but, on the contrary, it secures to him
the highest good at the cost of renouncing only what is evil. Why, then, should there be felt any reluctance to admit its authority; why cavil to the detriment of your own soul? Can any man say that it is not to his real interest fully to admit the Bible? Can any man say that he is not a loser, a loser to an infinite amount, by hesitating to accept it? “ There is one thing," said Mr. S., to a companion in sin and scepticism, “ which mars all the pleasure of my life. “Ah,” replied the other, “what is that?” “Why, I am afraid the Bible is true. If I could but certainly know that death is an eternal sleep, I should be happy; my joy would be complete. But here is the thorn that stings me! This is the sword that pierces my very soul. If the Bible be true, I am lost for ever. Every prospect is gone, and I am lost for ever!” What a confession was this! Yet it might well become every doubter. What a paltry happiness is that which depends on an animal nature! What a worthless joy is that which would be completed by the assurance of an eternal sleep, or which looks for annihilation at the end of life! “If the Bible is true, I am lost for ever!” On how weak a supposition, then, does the hope of the unbeliever rest! Surely he must himself admit that the probabilities are against him? Be entreated, O doubter, to consider in what a predicament you place yourself, if you renounce the Bible for the sake of a human notion, or under the pressure of difficulties, which, after all, you must admit, may be rather apparent than real; and which derive their whole force from some ignorance or mistake of your own; and which a little more knowledge, or candour, or reading, might completely remove. Have you not often found it
so with other subjects ? Have you not observed many times how men alter their opinions when they become better informed, when they shake off prejudices, when they perceive that their interest lies in the way of conviction ? Have you done all in your power to remove difficulties, and to gain more knowledge? Have you asked instruction and advice of those who are convinced of the Divine authority of Scripture? Have you sought to be set right, and candidly stated your difficulties? Is it not worth while to inquire for some wise friend who might be able to remove them? Do not take it for granted that they are insurmountable. It is next to certain that there is nothing new in them, that they have occurred to others, and been thoroughly explained to the conviction of the ablest reasoners. Similar attention, research, and anxiety on your part to be right, may remove all your objections, and set your mind at rest. Consider the infinite importance of this matter. It is your salvation, or your everlasting destruction, which depends upon your decision. Ought that decision to be made passionately, hastily, rashly, under the influence of ignorance and prejudice? If the Bible is of God, and you reject it, upon the ground of some mere cavil at its doctrines or its evidences, you forfeit all its ad. vantages, and incur all its awful penalties. You are a lost man, and lost for ever. If your objection is valid, what do you gain by it? You are not, even in this life, so happy as the Christian, since you must be perpetually tormented by the fear, that perhaps the Bible is true. You never can feel quite sure that you are right. It is impossible you should be certified of the truth of your principles. There may yet be evidence be