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personate many when I say this. They perceive that, if the Bible be a book of truth, there is no good ground for that self complacency which they have been wont to indulge, and no foundation for that confidence with which they have been accustomed to look forward to the future. They see the contempt it pours on human pride, the condemnation it passes on the course which the men of the world are pursuing, the dark colors in which it portrays the character of man, the humiliation to which it would bring him down, the change of heart and life which it pronounces necessary to his salvation, and the infinitely fearful consequences if he goes on in the path, which they are conscious they are pursuing. They see that there is no chance for them, if the Bible be true, unless they submit to a change, to which now they feel a mortal aversion. If they admit its truth, unless they can interpret away its plainest statements, they can have no more peace, remaining as they are; they must repent or perish; they must renounce sin or be ruined by it. Now they have no disposition to repent; they have no objection to be a little sorry, but they like the course they are pursuing too well to abandon it. How can they, under such circumstances, believe ? How easily they can disbelieve! With how little difficulty they can overlook or set aside the evidence in favor of a book which tells them such things ! There is the whole heart persuading them to it; and have you yet to learn how great an influence the heart has upon the understanding ? Ah ! this is the way
that infidels are made. Let them look at it and be ashamed at the process by which they arrive at their scepticism. They adopt a practice incompatible with the principles of the Bible, and not willing to change their practice, and not willing to entertain principles which condemn their practice, they reject them as unsound. They are bent on doing evil, and “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” The free thinker is apt to be first a free liver. Show us a praying infidel; let us see a holy sceptic, an unbeliever, who from religious considerations crucifies his lusts, and denies himself; show us a society of infidels laboriously exerting themselves and liberally contributing to do good to mankind, and for the existence of such infidels we may find it hard to account; but how there should be such as are, it is no difficult matter to say. They never pray; they ask no favors even of God; and what they call their gratitude, is rendered to nature; they have no fear of Jehovah before their eyes; religious considerations have no weight with them; and what is the good some of them would do? They would dissolve the holy tie of marriage, they would break in upon the family circle, and overturn the domestic altar, and consign the education of children to those who have no natural affection to secure their fidelity, they would trespass on the sacred right of property, and give to the winds the consolations and hopes of Christianity, and all, that men may be freed from the superstition of fearing God, and foreboding
a future punishment of their crimes ; this is the good they would do. And to this is the tendency of all infidelity ; though some stop short of this extreme.
The term faith means in the Bible not merely speculative belief, assent to the truth of Christianity in view of its evidences. It frequently stands for the whole of religion. To believe is to be a Christian. Now if there are moral dispositions, which are incompatible with even theoretical faith, how much more are they with experimental and practical Christianity. How can they believe, that is, be real Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, who court honor, who are bent on the pursuits of ambition, who are greedy after fame, and seek more a reputation among men, than to be in good repute with God? How can they cordially adopt and submit themselves to the system of Christianity? I may ask the same question of others; how can they who are so bent on the accumulation of wealth, as to be in God's sight guilty of that covetousness, which is idolatry equally as Hindooism is; how can they believe, who supremely love this world in any of its forms; they who enamoured of pleasure, pursue her in all her paths, and follow her into all her haunts; who serve divers lusts and passions, or one only; they who supremely seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ's; they who cannot consent to deny themselves and take the cross, how can they be Christians ? they who tread what is called the path of honor; that cringe and bow for popular favor; that follow in the train of fashion, how can they believe, how can ye believe, my hearers?
Are there not many things in your character and conduct incompatible with saving Christianity ? See, if there be not, and what they are. Must there not be a great change in you, before you can be recognized as Christians in view of the statements of the word of God ? Here is this you must do, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ requires it, and there is that you must leave undone, for the same Gospel forbids it; and some of you have formed habits which you must break off, and selected companies that you must forsake, whatever be the sacrifice, else how can ye believe and be saved ? There are obstacles which you have raised up in your way, and must surmount; difficulties that you have created, and must remove. You must repent and be converted, or else realize the doom of unbelief, die in your sins, and where Christ is be forever forbidden to come.
How can ye believe that receive honor one of another? And will ye not renounce and forsake and deny yourselves that, whatever it be, which is incompatible with your being Christians, that which hinders you from going to Christ, and will hinder you from going to heaven? Oh ! pluck out the right eye and cut off the right hand, though it pain, incommode and deform you, if it be necessary to enter into life. You know the sin that besets you, the lust you indulge, the reason you are not a Christian, and will you cling to it? What if the fruit be luscious, the core is poison.
What if the first draughts of the cup are sweet, the dregs are death and hell; if you drink on, you must drink all.
Strive to enter in at the strait gate.—Luke xiii. 24.
How much of human life, short enough at best for the business that is allotted to it, and always to be presumed to be short in the remainder of it by its subject, ignorant as he is of the future, is occupied with mere impertinences! How we waste that of which we have none to spare, and which may be worth as much to us, as the very soul itself, in curious questions, in fruitless speculations, or in action that has no bearing on any of the mighty and momentous objects for which we live. Do we not sometimes think within ourselves, and perhaps in a spirit of murmuring, that it is a very short season indeed which God has allotted us for a long, long eternity ; that he might have allowed us more time; that the magnitude of the work we have to do, requires a day of greater and less precious length? And yet we seem to have enough and some to spare. Why should we complain that we have so little, when we make no more use of that we have? If we began our work in the morning as soon as we are capable of understanding what we have to do, and thence forward labored diligently and constantly at our work, and wasted none of the day in unnecessary