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and vulgarity, was received as the truth, in the place of the Holy Bible.
But the moment of reflection came, and he awoke to rational thought. By slow, yet perceptible degrees, consumption was wasting his youthful strength; and this, by bringing him more into retirement, furnished favourable opportunity for thought about his final state. In his musings he enquired, with startling interest: "What must be my situation, if ultimately the Bible should prove true? Many, very many are the infidel objections that are crowded into my mind; but in the issue that the Bible proves true, am I not left without a solace in death's trying hour? And were I a firm believer in the Bible, I could suffer no loss, if at last infidelity should be found truth, and the Bible a fiction. In case of such a result, I should be as safe as the boldest infidel.”
Natural and affecting enquiries, that sprung up in his mind without human agency. And but for these enquiries, started in living power, as is believed, by the Spirit of God, this youth might have perished under the delusion of infidelity. But to the praise of God's everlasting grace be it spoken, the starting of these thoughts in his mind seems to have been the commencement of a new and blessed life.
He now, like the Psalmist, thought on his ways-his infidel ways—and withered under the apprehension, that, after all, the Bible might prove true, and turned away from infidelity to the testimony of God. He renounced with peculiar abhorrence the former, and most firmly and cordially embraced the latter. He now felt not only that infidelity was a delusion, but the most fearful of all delusions. His language was, “ It makes me shudder, to reflect how near eternal destruction infidelity had brought me;" while as yet he had no convictions of personal guilt, or fears of immediate death. But escaping from the darkness of infidelity to the light and reception of the truth, as might be expected, it was but a short time before he was deeply distressed on account of his own guilt in the sight of God. He had no doubt but that he deserved eternal banishment from the presence of God, for his wilfully grieving and resisting his Spirit, and wickedly hiding away from the truth in infidelity. He felt deeply the patience and forbearance of God; and now he prayed day and night till the Lord seemed to hear his prayer, and forgive his sins; and from that moment till his death he had peace in believing, though down to the last moment of his life he retained a deep sense of his guilt and unworthiness.
With emphasis, he once said, “I am young, but I have been a great sinner; what a wonder is it that I am not now in hell!” From this moment, as is natural to the new creature, his anxiety and care was not for himself
, but for others; and the remnant of his strength during life was spent in efforts to benefit his friends. Often, when asked by the servant of God who visited him, “What will you have me pray for ?” his answer was, “Pray for my brothers and sisters. Oh! I could die in peace, if I thought they would meet me in heaven." "Many were his entreaties and counsels, especially to his youngest brother, for whom he ever entertained a peculiar affection. “Be sure,” says he, “my brother, to love the precious Bible. Oh! had I read it instead of Paine, and other infidel books, how much better had it been with me now.”
Between these brothers a memorable and touching scene occurred. With deepest affection he entreated his brother never to read infidel books; and when that brother seemed indifferent to his entreaty, he wept, and exclaimed, “Oh! I have helped to make my brother an infidel." But his tears and touching exclamation reached the heart of his young brother, and the dying believer then made him a present of his own pocket Bible; and, according to the wishes of a weeping brother, the younger now in his presence wrote in that same Bible, and signed it with his own name, “At the request of my dying brother, I promise never to read or countenance the reading of infidel books.”
In the same manner did he entreat others. To a
young friend who watched with him, he said, “O! make your peace with God before you come upon a sick bed. Believe, believe the Bible, and always attend church."
To those who had furnished infidel books, he bore an affecting testimony to the last, that infidelity was false, and the Bible true; and even remarked of the light reading, now so widely circulated, “It is not worthy to be read by a man that is going to die.”
How changed his entire view of infidelity-of the Bible, and the employments of man, when the inspiration of the Almighty quickened into living reality, the superlative value of the soul, and its immortal interests !
“COMB NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER."
ISAIAH i. 18. My dear reader! can you conceive of greater kindness and condescension than is seen in this invitation? You are told by wicked men, that the character and ways
of God, as they are described in the Bible, are hard and unjust; and sometimes the feelings of your own hearts agree but too well with this testimony, especially when you reflect upon his commands and prohibitions; but instead of treating you as a rebel and an enemy, he kindly invites you to come, and with candour and honesty look over the whole ground. He, who is your Creator and Judge, who has protected and sustained you, while you have rejected his authority and mercy, instead of letting you go on in your own way, till you shall reap the consequences of your hard and evil thoughts, offers to reason with you. Now, what can you gain by shutting your ears to this invitation ? Come then, and reason with him.
1. Do you doubt the truth of his word? Are not many things, predicted by the prophets and the Saviour, precisely as they have taken place? Did not the prophets describe the plan of the Saviour's birth, and the disposal of his vesture among the soldiers? Have not the prophets very plainly shewn us the present condition of the Jews—the destruction of Tyre, and Babylon, and of Petræ? Did not the apostles testify to the miracles and the resurrection of Jesus Christ? And would they testify to what they knew to be false, when all that they could get by doing it, would be persecution and death? Does not the Bible, in giving the character of men, describe just such a heart as yours? Are you not compelled to adopt, whether you are willing or not, some of the main principles of the Bible? Do you not always require repentance, when you have been injured, before you can be reconciled ? Do you not always determine the character of men by their motives or intentions? If a man intends to do that which is wrong, and is prevented, do you not consider him guilty ? Besides, if men are not responsible to God, then he has nothing against them, and why should he afflict them so frequently, and deprive them of the little happiness that this world might afford them, when they are not to blame? How can the God of Providence be kind or benevolent in the afflictions, and trials, and uncertainty of life, unless we are to live in another state, and he could teach us by these things “to place our affections on things above?"
2. Do you doubt whether the requirements of God'sholy law are just? Does the law require anything more for others than for yourself? What does the law require more, than that justice should be rendered to every being? Is it not as just, that he who made you, and sustains you, should require your heart, as that you should require of your neighbour what is strictly, your due? If God is a holy and just being, he is aiming to have his kingdom to be a state of perfect purity and peace; is he not, then, under the necessity, so to speak, of requiring nothing short of perfect love? Is it not, then, a plain and palpable fact, that the only thing that makes the law appear hard, is because the hearts of men are so bad? If every man lived as the law requires, it is easy to see that the perfect peace and happiness of heaven would be the effect.
3. Do you doubt whether the penalty of the law or the punishment of sin, as it is described in the Bible, is just? It is to be borne in mind, dear reader, that it is not the decision of the Judge merely, that has made sin to be guilty as it is; it is because that it is a violation of law that secures the rights of all beings. The violation of any law must be a sin, equal to the importance of the law. If a law for the protection of life were guarded only by a penalty of a few pence, it is easy to see that life would not be secure. The true interest of every sinner, requires that the demands and the penalty of the law should be what they are, and that the law should either be obeyed, or its penalty executed. The true interest of every sinner requires this, in proportion to its importance, as much as it is required by the honour of God, or the peace and happiness of heaven. If a man refuses to obey God's law, he says, by his conduct, that it ought not to be obeyed, and no thanks to him, if it were not throughout the universe trodden under feet. Who does not perceive, that this would be an infinite evil? The decision, then, of the Judge, that “the wages of sin is death," is only the expression of that which is immutably just in the nature of things. In this, dear reader, you see a reason why no being but one, who was “God manifest in the flesh," could make an atonement for sin. How could the Judge of the world say more impressively that sin is deserving an infinite punishment, than by furnishing an infinite sacrifice, in order to lay a foundation for its pardon? This view of the subject shews us, also, why the condition of men should excite so deeply the sympathy and benevolence of God. Men are under the penalty of a law, that is so infinitely important, that nothing on their part, less than everlasting death, could satisfy its demands. This was the reason that led him to give his only begotten Son to die for men, and to beseech them, by his ministers, and by his Holy Spirit, to become reconciled to him. This view of the subject shews why the inspired apostles, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself, manifested such anxiety that sinners should repent and embrace the Gospel. They saw the danger to which sin had exposed them, and some of them, with unutterable tenderness, for the space of months and years, went from house to house, warning and entreating men with tears, "to flee