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sand times no! it was the clamoring of a blood-stained heart.
So do men's determinations of their life scheme determine to a great degree also the religious views they advocate. And when I look out on the Universe around and behold the rocky stubbornness of facts in the face of passionate desires and vehement objections, I see no shadow of a reason to suppose that the certainties of the future will be in the slightest degree affected by the uncertainties or positive objections of Harriet Martineau; that the passionate protests of Robert Ingersoll will suspend the retributions of eternity; or that for the accommodation of atheists like La Mettrie and Gustave Flourens, God will retire into non-existence. “What if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect ?”
It is necessary, then, and it is right also, that God should hold men thus responsible. Is it also a fact ?
III. The Word of God has declared the fact that he will hold men responsible for their religious principles.
(1) The Bible uniformly ascribes fundamentally wrong views and practice to wrong affections. Says the Gospel : “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” How firm and clear and sweeping is the declaration ! Christ said of the unbelief of his countrymen: “They have no cloak for their sin.” When “seeing they saw not,” it was
because “their heart was waxed gross.” He said : “They have both seen and hated both me and my Father;” “ye therefore hear not [my words] because ye are not of God." The Gentile world are declared to be given over to a reprobate mind “because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” and “held [down] the truth in unrighteousness." They were “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Who indeed can look upon the not infrequent high ethics and the low mythology of heathendom and fail to see that Jupiter and Mars and Venus were enthroned in heaven, not by its reason and its conscience, but by its passions and its lusts? So also the scoffers of the last time are described as “willingly ignorant of” the agency of God; and they “that perish ” are they who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” The Word pronounces “without excuse” those under the light of nature, who “when they knew God" yet “glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.”
(2) The Word of God utters its condemnation on all its rejecters alike, whatever may be the reasons they render. “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart ... shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah.” Men perish “because they received not the love of the truth ;” and though under “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” it is still added “that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” God's Word concedes to no man the right to reject it. It has no saving clause for unfortunate doubters, nor even for “honest skeptics." It boldly assumes that its claims to attention are infinite, its evidence enough, and its vital truths obvious and clear. It makes no apology for its exclusiveness, nor glosses over its tremendous stringency. It speaks in no timid undertones, but its “voice is to the sons of man.” Sublimely indifferent to all cavils and all oppositions, it marches right onward with the watchword, “Go ye into all the world,” while around its progress rings the trumpet-note, “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
From this discussion it follows that earnestly to seek, firmly to hold, and vigorously to maintain the great truths of our holy religion is the only tenable and impregnable position. Thus only does our path lie in the line of Providence and Law, of Reason and God. Nothing in the universe accords with the theory of religious nescience and indifference. To be careless in science is to gain only contempt. To undermine the truth of history is to be held in dishonor. To be regardless of the facts of common life is certain disaster. To defy established law is to incur inevitable penalty. Disregard of the truth is a solecism in the theory of humanity. It has no resting place in the wide world ; why should it find a shelter in the Church
of God? Charity cannot compass it, for no Christian charity can dispense with Christ and his authority.
It is idle to waive essential truth of God in order to conciliate the opposer. He will not thus be conciliated. Surrender the miracles, and he expects you to surrender the claims. Give up the penalty, and he adds, Give up the law. Tell him of “the power that makes for righteousness," and he will say, How for righteousness? And when you have abandoned all but the duty of the soul to love God, John Morley replies : “There are two momentous questions : first, whether there is a God, and, second, whether the soul is immortal ;” to which Tyndall adds a third : whether there is a soul except as an “hypothesis” or “a poetic rendering” of certain inexplicable phenomena. Compromise on vital points is but another name for defeat.
Amidst the tumultuous upheaval of opinions we are called wisely to take and firmly to hold our position. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, miracle, redemption, conversion, faith, holy living, a pure Church, a sound ministry, the sacraments, resurrection, retribution we are driven to defend, or we are driven to the wall. It may be thought we have fallen on specially evil times. But no: it is only the old and perpetual conflict. Truth is stronger to-day and has a better vantage ground and greater hosts of adherents than ever before. It is her progress that evokes her foes. She still lives in the midst of heathen forces — only that Epicurus now comes with his compound microscope and declares that he can find neither duty nor the soul. Zeno sweeps
the heavens with his great telescope and affirms that nowhere can he see God or immortality. Paul's Corinthian has risen from the dead to ask, Are the dead raised ? And the predicted “scoffers of the last day” are saying that “all things continue as they were." The same old story that has been heard for eighteen hundred years is still courageously told, that Christianity is dying out; and it was part of Harriet Martineau's swan-song that “its overthrow is certain.” But its overthrow has always been like that of its Founder when they sealed him in a new-made tomb, or like that of his great apostle at Lystra, when he was stoned and left for dead, and rose up and went on his way, preaching and founding churches.
So we move on our way, charged with the same eternal principles of righteousness. Retreat and concession must have an end, or there will be no place to retreat to, and nothing left to concede. Nor shall we hold fast by silence and negations. Aggressions must be met by movements equally positive and aggressive. While we heed the warning to choose our positions with wise circumspection, and while we will evermore “speak the truth in love," we will yet speak it out in round words and unfaltering faith, “the truth as it is in Jesus."
Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class: I have addressed you to-day on this theme, because I recog. nize here one of the chief dangers of the day — the special device of the Adversary to ensnare young