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Wherefore it is certain that if left to ourselves, we shall go on sowing to the flesh, and shall reap corruption and death.
But God has interposed; and now the nature of the crop may be changed. Christ hath expiated the guilt of our sinful living, and provision is made to arrest the consequences of our sinful living. Now, he who, whatever evil seeds he may have scattered, and however long sown to the flesh, sows in tears, indicative of true repentance, shall reap in joy. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall return with joy, having his sheaves with him.” Now, he who looks on him whom he has pierced and mourns; he who beholds the Lamb of God, shall have his sin taken away. Nothing now but faith and repentance will produce eternal life ; and this they begin to produce even here. You have sown that from which
reap disquiet only; but Christ says, "Come unto me and ye shall have rest unto your souls." He descended, died, rose, went up, took his seat on the throne, ever lives to intercede. You rejoice; but why? Have you any interest in him? Do you love him? Are you following him, obeying him ? Is his yoke on you, his Spirit in you? A Saviour he is; but is he your's ? Hast thou looked on him as pierced by thee and mourned ? seen him through thy tears? If not, thou art a lost, condemned being still; and, remaining so till death, lost forever, worse lost than if there were no Christ.
How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek
not the honor that cometh from God only ?—John v. 44.
Is it not strange, say some, very strange, how can it be accounted for, if Christianity comes well attested, if the evidence in support of revelation is sufficient, that there have always been and are now so many infidels and that so large a proportion of the talent, learning, and distinction of the world should be found on the side of infidelity? Is it not singular, does it not look suspicious, must there not be some capital defect in the evidences of Christianity, that so many minds, and highly-gifted minds should not admit their sufficiency? Can that be true which so many of the sons of genius, literature and philosophy reject as untrue? It is upon this train of thought that many go off into infidelity. It is thus that many of the young men of the nation reason themselves into scepticism. They are drawn away from the faith into which they were baptized by the attraction of some great intellect, that went off in the pur. suit of some phantom of ambition, which the faith of Christ exposes, or for the indulgence of some lust which the pure system of Christianity condemns. They think it manly to follow where such a one leads, and if it be to err, yet they cannot think it very dangerous to err in such company. I do not know that it is any more respectable to be led by a philosopher or politician, than to be led by a priest. It is unworthy of an intelligent and accountable being servilely and blindly to follow any mere man or class of men; and the Protestant priest, (I speak for him, let the Catholic speak for himself,) desires no followers, but points all who would be his disciples to his, and their master, one to follow whom involves no degradation of mind, nor any danger of mistake or mischief. But not to go off too far on this track, suppose it is strange and hard to be accounted for that there should be so many infidels, and infidels of so much literary and intellectual respectability, is it not equally strange, indeed may I not say more strange that there should be so many believers, and so much intellect and learning on the side of the faith. How can it in any way be accounted for, if Christianity is not well attested, that it should be believed by so many, and by such men as Newton, Locke, Bacon and Grotius, men that occupied higher places of intellect than any infidel ever reached. Have we not reason to suspect the cause of infidelity, when such numbers, and so much talent and learning are arrayed against it? The infidel has something to account for, as well as the believer. Will he say, those men did not believe Christianity, they could not have believed such a system; it is true, they found it convenient to profess their belief of it? Then they were hypocrites; and this is the charity and good breeding of infidelity, that when their boast of great names, (a vain boast under any circumstances,) is met by a boast of greater names, they turn round and will have it that these more eminent men were but infidels in disguise. A cheap kind of logic this ! how conclusive it is judge ye.
I contend that however it may be now, yet in the primitive ages of Christianity, the difficulty is not to account for the existence of unbelievers, but for the existence of believers, on any other supposition than that which admits the truth and complete evidence of the system. There was nothing in Christianity to attract the men of those ages, but its truth. Its beauty and utility appeared not until after it was believed ; they depend on its truth.
There was no temptation to become a Christian. Every worldly consideration dissuaded from it. Until the fourth century of the Christian era all the suffering was on the side of the Christians. They inflicted nothing. It was all endurance. “ If in this life only we have hope," says Paul in writing to the Corinthians, “we are of all men most miserable." Now was this avowal well calculated to make converts to Christianity? or the prominent exhibition of this indispensible condition of discipleship, “So then whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple ?" How could such a system have been received by so many, and at so great a sacrifice, if not true and well attested to be true ? That question has never been answered, and never can be. Let the infidel cease to sneer, the blush better becomes him, and be ashamed of his infidelity, as one day, when the grounds of his unbelief are revealed, he will.
I have for the sake of argument admitted the supposition that it is strange and not easy to be explained, that there should be so many infidels, and infidels so distinguished. But I do not admit the fact that it is strange. I wonder not that there are
so many infidels. I wonder that there are not more. I wonder that every great man is not an infidel. I know that all such men are not infidels, and I rejoice that they are not. I rejoice on their own account, not on account of Christianity, and for the credit which their adherance gives to the Christian cause. The Christian religion stands in no need of their testimony. It has higher and more satisfactory attestation than any man or all men can give it. Were they only the poor, the illiterate and the despised of men that embraced it, still its credentials would be complete, for they are divine. It has the signature and seal of God to it. It has received the repeated homage of nature to it. It is a fact, which comes to us on evidence as complete as any moral evidence can be, that nature's great laws were suspended to bear it witness. And on almost its every page there shines a light sent back from futurity, and revealing to man the things that are to be hereafter. And it attracts and fixes the profound attention and profounder admiration of minds which are to ours, what ours are to the scanty and equivocal intelligence of the brutes ; minds, of the expansion and growth of six thousand years; minds whose bare intuitions penetrate deeper far than our most studious investi